Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(2) by Susan Mallery
The delivery men finished assembling the state-of-the-art hospital bed and stepped back for her inspection. She stretched out on the mattress to check for bumps and low spots. What might just be annoying to someone healthy could be impossible to endure when one had a broken hip.
When the mattress passed inspection, she worked the controls.
“There’s a squeak when I raise the bed,” she said. “Can you fix that?”
The men shared an exasperated glance, but she didn’t care. Trying to get comfortable while in pain was bad enough, but an annoying noise could make things worse.
Next she checked out the bedside table on wheels, which was fine, as were the wheelchair and the walker.
While the workmen dealt with the squeak, Lori hurried into the massive kitchen where the catering staff sorted through the meals they’d brought.
“The chili?” a woman in a white uniform asked.
“Has to go.” Lori pointed to the list she’d posted on the refrigerator. “This is a woman in her seventies. She’s had a heart attack and surgery on a broken hip. She’s on medication. I said tasty, but not spicy. We want to encourage her to eat, but she may still have stomach issues from all the medication. She doesn’t need to lose weight, so that’s not a problem. Healthy, tempting dishes. Not chili, not sushi, nothing fancy.”
She’d been so specific on the phone, too, she thought with minor exasperation.
Still, she would prevail and when the details were handled, she would stop at Dilettante Chocolates for a little something. Chocolate always brightened her day.
“You could beat them. That would get their attention.”
That voice. Lori didn’t have to turn around to know who was standing in the doorway of the kitchen. They’d only met once, at her interview. During the twenty-minute session, she discovered it was possible to be desperately attracted to someone she despised. Everything about him was burned into her brain, including the sound of his voice. For a moment, it made her consider a lobotomy.
She braced herself for the impact of the dark, knowing eyes, the handsome-but-just-shy-of-too-handsome face and the casual slouch that should have annoyed the heck out of her, but instead made her want to melt like a twelve-year-old at a Jesse McCartney concert.
Reid Buchanan was everything she disliked in a man. He’d always had it easy, so nothing had value. Women threw themselves at him. He’d had a brilliant career playing baseball, although she’d never followed sports and didn’t know any details. And he’d never once in his entire life bothered with a woman as ordinary as her.
“Don’t you have something better to do than just show up and annoy me?” she asked as she turned toward him.
Her reaction to his physical presence was immediate. She found it difficult to breathe, let alone think.
“Annoying you is an unexpected bonus,” he said, “but not the reason I’m here. My grandmother’s coming home today.”
“I know that. I arranged it.”
“I thought I’d stop by to visit her.”
“I’m sure knowing you stopped by four hours before she was due home will brighten her day so much that the healing process will be cut in half.”
She pushed past him, ignoring the quick brush of her arm against his and the humiliating burst of heat that ignited inside her. She was pathetic. No, she was worse than pathetic—one day she would grow enough to achieve pathetic and that would be a victory.
“She won’t be here until this afternoon?” he asked as he followed her back into the library.
“Unfortunately, no. But it was thrilling to see you. So sorry you can’t stay.”
He leaned against the door frame. He did that a lot. He must know how good he looked doing it, Lori thought grimly. No doubt he practiced at home.
She knew Reid was shallow and selfish and only interested in women as perfect as himself, so why was she attracted to him? She was intelligent. She should know better. And she did…in her head. It was the rest of her that was the problem.
She was a total and complete cliché—a smart, average-looking woman pining after the unobtainable. The bookstores probably contained an entire shelf of self-help books dedicated to her condition. If she believed in self-help books, she could go get herself healed.
As it was, she was stuck with enduring.
“Don’t you have to go away?” she asked.
“For now, but I’ll be back.”
“I’ll count the hours.”
“You do that.” He stayed where he was, apparently unmovable.
“What?” she asked. “Are we waiting for something?”
He smiled, a slow, sexy smile that caused her heart to actually skip a beat. It was a new low.
“You don’t read the paper, do you?” he asked.
“No. I go running in the morning and I listen to music.”
The smile brightened. “Good. I’ll see you later.”
“You could wait until the evening nurse shows up and visit then. Wouldn’t that be a great plan?”
“But then you’d miss me. Snarling at me is the best part of your day. ’Bye, Lori.”
And then he was gone.
“YOU’RE GLORIA BUCHANAN’S home-care nurse?” the woman at the main nurses’ station asked. “Oh, honey, you have my sympathy.”
Lori was far more interested in getting her patient home and settled than chatting with the rehab facility staff, but she knew the importance of getting as much information as she could up front. The more she knew, the better plan she could develop.
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