Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(67) by Susan Mallery
He put the last label on the box, then stacked that container with the others. After glancing at his watch, he said, “Zoe will be home soon. I should go. You don’t want to have to explain me to her or your mother.”
She’d forgotten about the fight she’d had with her mother. All her anger and confusion returned in a rush.
He kissed her once and left. It was only after he was gone that she realized he hadn’t said anything about seeing her again. Did he plan to? Had anything changed for him or was this just the long version of a one-night stand?
She hated the questions nearly as much as she hated herself for asking them. If she wanted to know, she should be a grown-up and ask. But before she could, she heard a car in the driveway.
By the time she got to the door, Zoe was already out and racing toward her.
“Mommy, Mommy, I had the best time,” her daughter yelled. “I have so much to tell you!”
Elissa crouched down and held out her arms. Zoe rushed into them. Elissa glanced over her daughter’s head and saw that her mother wasn’t alone in the car. Elissa’s father was with her.
Had he come along to say goodbye or was he to provide a buffer between the two women?
Elissa straightened as her parents got out of the car and walked toward her.
“Hi,” she said, not looking at her mother. “It sounds like Zoe had fun.”
“I did!” her daughter said. “I want to stay over again.”
“If that’s not a problem,” her mother said stiffly. “We’d love to have her.”
“Sure. That would be great. We’ll have to work something out.”
Her father handed her Zoe’s small suitcase and kissed Elissa’s cheek. “You know we love you, Elissa, don’t you? You understand things happened?”
Meaning what? They were allowed to be pissed she’d left but she wasn’t supposed to care that they’d stopped looking?
“Of course.” She forced herself to smile.
She could tell he thought everything was fine now, but she knew differently and from the way her mother avoided her gaze, she, too, understood that all was not well.
“We won’t keep you,” her father said. “Let’s talk soon.”
She and Zoe waved while her parents drove away, then she led her daughter into the apartment.
“All right,” she said with a smile. “Start at the beginning and tell me everything you did.”
Zoe threw her arms around her. “I missed you, Mommy, but I had really, really big fun.”
“Did you? Tell me.”
“First, we went shopping. Grandma said I could pick out new sheets for my bed there. So we got pink sheets with princesses on them. Then we went home and we made cookies. Then in the afternoon…”
Zoe kept talking, but Elissa found it difficult to concentrate. She kept thinking about the fight she’d had with her mother and wondering if they would ever come to terms. She also kept remembering her time with Walker and wishing he were with her now.
While she loved Zoe with all her heart, for the first time in a long time, she felt lonely and out of place.
LORI JOHNSTON WAS everything Reid didn’t like in a woman. Disapproving, plain and completely uninterested in him. She glanced around the sports bar with the same lack of enthusiasm she’d shown at being introduced to him.
“We should go into my office,” he said over the yells of the afternoon crowd in for a Mariners game, then took her total lack of response as agreement.
Once there, he motioned for her to take the seat opposite his desk while he settled on a corner. Not so much to look down on her, he told himself, as to, well, maintain control of the interview process.
She adjusted her glasses before handing him a copy of her résumé. “The agency recommended me for this assignment because I’ve had a lot of experience with difficult patients. I’ve been doing private duty nursing for two years. Before that I was on the orthopedic ward. I’ve worked with several heart patients recently. I believe those are the two issues your grandmother will be facing—recovery from both a heart attack and a broken hip?”
She spoke the way she looked, sensibly and with nothing wasted on the frivolous, which made him uncomfortable.
“I could put the game on here,” he said, jerking his head toward the TV in the corner. “The Mariners are tied.”
She blinked at him. “I don’t follow sports.”
Why was he not surprised? “So you don’t know who I am.”
Ouch. “Sure. I’m a famous major league pitcher.”
“Then why do you work in a bar?”
“I blew out my shoulder.”
“Given the effort and daily stress necessary in that line of work, I’m not surprised. The body has limits, Mr. Buchanan. No matter how much we would like that reality to be different, it simply will not change.”
She reminded him of every teacher he’d never liked, all self-righteous and…and…priggy, he thought with no idea of where the word had come from.
She wore a long-sleeved shirt tucked into a boring skirt that fell well below her knees. Her shoes were ugly, she didn’t wear jewelry or makeup and if she narrowed her eyes at him any more, she was going to go cross-eyed. Her only redeeming feature—thick reddish-gold hair that she’d pulled back into a horrible braid—was wasted on her.
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