Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(1) by Susan Mallery
UNTIL 6:45 ON THAT Thursday morning, women had always loved Reid Buchanan.
They’d started leaving notes in his locker long before he’d figured out the opposite sex could be anything but annoying. During his sophomore year of high school, his hormones had kicked in and he’d become aware of all the possibilities. Over spring break of that year, Misty O’Connell, a senior, seduced him in her parents’ basement on a rainy Seattle afternoon, during an MTV Real World marathon.
He’d adored women from that moment on and they had returned his affection. Until today, when he casually opened the morning paper to see his picture next to an article with the headline: Fame, absolutely. Fortune, you bet. But good in bed? Not so much.
Reid nearly spit out his coffee as he jerked to his feet and stared at the page. He blinked, then rubbed his eyes and read the headline again.
Not good in bed? NOT GOOD IN BED?
“She’s crazy,” he muttered, knowing the author had to be a woman he’d dated and dumped. This was about revenge. About getting back at him by humiliating him in public. Because he was good in bed, dammit. Better than good.
He made women scream on a regular basis. They clawed his back—he had the scars to prove it. They stole into his hotel room at night when he was on the road, they begged, they followed him home and offered him anything if he would just sleep with them again.
He was better than good, he was a god!
He was also completely and totally screwed, he thought as he sank back into his chair and scanned the article. Sure enough, the author had gone out with him. It had been one night of what she described as nearly charming conversation, almost funny stories from his past and a so-so couple of hours naked. It was all couched in “don’t sue me” language. Things like “Just one reporter’s opinion” and “Maybe it’s just me, but…”
She’d also claimed he regularly blew off charity events and kids in need—neither of which was true. He couldn’t blow off what he never agreed to do. And that was his standard rule—not to get personally involved in anything, including benefits.
He studied the name of the reporter, but it meant nothing. Not even a whisper of a memory. There wasn’t a picture, so he grabbed his laptop and went online to the paper’s Web site. Under the bio section he found a photo.
He studied the average-looking brunette and had a vague recollection of something. Okay, yeah, so maybe he’d slept with her, but just because he couldn’t remember what had happened didn’t mean it hadn’t been incredible.
But along with the fuzzy memories was the idea that he’d gone out with her during the playoffs, when his former team had been fighting for a chance to make the World Series and he’d been back in Seattle, in his first year of retirement. He’d been bitter and angry about being out of the game. He might also have been drunk.
“I was thinking about baseball instead of her. So sue me,” he muttered as he read the article again.
Deep, soul-shriveling embarrassment chilled him. Instead of calling him a bastard to all of her friends, this woman had chosen to humiliate him in public. How the hell was he supposed to fight back? In the courts? He’d been around long enough to know he didn’t have a case, and even if he did, how was he supposed to win? Parade a bunch of women around who would swear he made the earth move just by kissing them?
While he kind of liked that idea, he knew it wouldn’t make a difference. He’d been a famous baseball player once, and there was nothing the public liked more than to see the mighty fall.
His friends would read this. His family would read this. Everyone he knew in Seattle would read it. He could only imagine what would happen when he walked into his restaurant, the Downtown Sports Bar today.
At least it was local, he thought grimly. Contained. He wouldn’t have to deal with hearing from his old baseball buddies.
The phone rang. He grabbed it.
“Mr. Buchanan? Reid? Hi. I’m a producer here at Access Hollywood. I was wondering if you’d like to make a comment on the article in the Seattle paper this morning. The one about—”
“I know what it’s about,” he growled.
“Oh, good.” The young woman on the other end of the phone giggled. “How about an interview? I could have a crew there this morning. I’m sure you want to tell your side of things.”
He hung up with a curse. Access Hollywood? Already?
The phone rang again. He pulled the plug and thought about throwing it against the wall, but the damn phone wasn’t responsible for this disaster.
His cell rang. He hesitated before picking it up. The caller ID showed a familiar number. A friend from Atlanta. He exhaled with relief. Okay, this call he could take.
“Hey, Tommy. How’s it going?”
“Reid, buddy. Have you seen it? The article? It’s everywhere. Total bummer. And for the record, dude—too much information.”
IF LORI JOHNSTON HAD believed in reincarnation, she would have wondered if she’d been a general, or some other kind of tactical expert in one of her past lives. There was nothing she liked more than taking a few unrelated elements, mixing them together and creating the perfect solution to a problem.
This morning she had to deal with hospital equipment arriving the day after it was supposed to and a catering service delivery with every single entrée wrong. In her free time, she had her new patient to meet and safely deliver home, assuming the ambulance driver wasn’t late. Where other people would be screaming and making threats, Lori felt energized. She would meet this challenge as she met all others and she would be victorious.
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