Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(4) by Susan Mallery
Gloria’s expression tightened. “I do not pack my own belongings. Even if I did, my condition would prevent any such activity.”
So the momentary rapport was gone. Well, it had been good while it lasted.
“No problem. I’ll collect everything. Do you have a suitcase? If not, I’m sure there are some shopping bags in the staff’s lunch room.”
The older woman practically crackled with outrage. “You will not put anything of mine in a shopping bag. Do you know who I am?”
Lori was careful to keep her back to her patient as she pulled a suitcase out of the closet by the bathroom. Gloria knowing she found this conversation kind of funny wouldn’t help things. “Sure. You’re Gloria Buchanan. Speaking of which, I think I’m going to call you Gloria. Mrs. Buchanan is so formal and we’re going to be getting really close.”
“Not after I have you fired.”
Lori set the suitcase on the only chair in the room and opened it. “You don’t want to fire me, Gloria. I’m really good at my job. I have experience with both heart and orthopedic patients. I’m tough enough to bully you into doing everything you should be doing. That’s going to get you on your feet faster. Because here’s the thing. Old ladies who break their hips have one of two outcomes. They get better or they die. My patients don’t die.”
Gloria glared at her. “You’re not a very nice person.”
“Neither are you.”
Gloria stiffened. “How dare you? I am incredibly polite and thoughtful.”
“Really? Want to hear what the staff here has to say about you?”
“They’re a group of incompetent fools. Everything about this place is substandard.”
“Then you’re going to love my standards.” She leaned close and lowered her voice. “I’m a real bitch about getting it right. You should respect that.”
“You will not swear in my presence, young woman. I won’t tolerate it.”
“Fair enough. I won’t swear and you won’t act annoying.”
“I’m never annoying.”
“Should we take a vote of your peers?”
“I have no peers.”
Which, Lori remembered a little too late, was sadly correct. From what Reid had told her when he’d hired her, Gloria didn’t have any friends at all and her grandchildren rarely had anything to do with her. No wonder she was so difficult. It was heartbreaking.
Lori finished packing Gloria’s belongings. There had been a few nightgowns, some undergarments, the clothes she’d been wearing when they’d brought her in, two books and a few cosmetics. Nothing else. No flowers, no get-well teddy bear, nothing personal. Nothing from family.
It was one thing if the elderly were alone, Lori thought, getting really annoyed with the Buchanan grandchildren. But when there was plenty of family hanging around and they were all just too busy with their own precious lives, it really pissed her off.
Lori pushed aside her feelings and moved next to the bed.
“So here’s the plan,” she said, lightly touching Gloria’s arm. Physical contact helped with healing. “I’m going to get the nurse to give you something for the pain. The trip home is going to jar you and that will hurt. The stuff she’s using is pretty strong, so expect to be a little out of it for a while.”
Gloria’s eyes narrowed as she jerked her hand free of Lori’s touch. “There is no need to speak to me as if I’m eight. I’m completely capable of understanding without a lengthy and moronic explanation. Fine. Get the nurse in here. She’ll be delighted to indulge her sadomasochistic tendencies on my person one last time.”
“Okay, then. Be right back.”
Lori walked to the nurses’ station where Vicki was ready. “We’re good to go. If you want to give her the shot, we’ll head out.”
Vicki stepped from around the counter. “So? What did you think?”
“I like her.”
Vicki stopped in midstride and stared. “You’re kidding. You like her? Gloria Buchanan? She’s mean.”
“She’s alone and in pain and scared.”
“You’re giving her way too much credit, but, hey, if it gets her gone, I’m all for it.”
REID SAT in his houseboat and wished he’d bought a condo in a security building instead. Here, on the water, he was too exposed, too accessible. He’d closed all the blinds and pulled all the shades, but that hadn’t kept the press away, dammit. They were everywhere—setting up cameras on his dock, crawling up to his balcony. Speedboats kept zipping by outside.
They wanted a story and they wanted it now. No one cared that he was totally humiliated. His manager had told him the interest would die down in a few days and to just lay low until then. Great advice, but where was Reid supposed to go? This was his town. Everyone in Seattle knew who he was.
His cell phone rang. He glanced at the screen before answering it, then frowned when he saw his grandmother’s name and number. If she’d read the morning paper, he was going to be verbally beaten and left for dead.
“Yes?” he said, his voice clipped.
“It’s Lori Johnston. Your grandmother’s day nurse. Your grandmother is leaving the rehab facility now and should be home within the hour.”
He grinned. “Let me guess. You want me to stop by and cheer her up.” So much for Miss Priss’s disdain. She needed him. Eventually they all did.
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