Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(6) by Susan Mallery
Gloria looked her up and down, then sniffed. “You’re shabby and poor. I can smell the poverty on you.”
“Is that from personal experience? After all, you started out poor. Wasn’t your first job working as a maid in a hotel?”
Gloria glared at her. “I will not discuss my past with you.”
“Why not? I’m actually interested in how you got from there to here. You were running an empire at a time when most women were afraid to dream that big. You’re a pioneer. I respect that.”
“You think I care about your opinion on anything?”
Lori thought for a second, then smiled. “Yeah, I do. Not enough people respect you, which is their loss.” She pushed the table back over the bed and nudged the tray a tiny bit closer to Gloria. “I picked out the meals for the first few days, but the catering service left a menu. I’m happy to let you look it over and choose your own food. Or if you’d prefer to hire a cook, that’s fine, too.”
Gloria kept her expression neutral, but Lori thought she saw a flash of emotion. She just couldn’t tell which one.
“You’re very free with my money,” Gloria muttered.
Lori laughed, even though she knew the other woman wasn’t trying to be funny. “One of the perks of the job. Do you want me to cut up your chicken?”
Gloria’s gaze narrowed. “Only if you want me to stab you with my fork.”
“I’m pretty spry. You’d have to move quickly.”
“I would be motivated.”
At last—a flash of something very close to humor. A good sign. “Okay—I’ll let you eat in peace. Do you want the television on?” She opened the cabinet doors, exposing the television and DVD player, then left the remote on the bed. “Call if you need anything.”
BY FOUR-THIRTY that afternoon, Lori felt as if she’d been the victim of a hit-and-run. Her momentary breakthrough with Gloria was nothing more than a distant memory once the older woman finished complaining that her bed was too hard, her pillows too soft, that her sheets had an odd smell and that the television buzzed.
“I’ll get a serviceman in here as soon as possible,” Lori said, doing her best to be patient. She also had to keep herself from looking at her watch. This had been the longest afternoon of her life. And to think it had only been a half day with Gloria.
She kept telling herself that Gloria was unhappy for a reason and that things would get better.
A little after five she headed for the kitchen and found a tall, pretty, large-breasted woman unpacking a giant tote bag. Her uniform marked her as a nurse. Her physical description told Lori who had done the hiring.
“Hi,” the woman said, smiling brightly. “I’m Sandy Larson, twilight nurse. Which is a first. Usually I’m the night nurse. On call when it’s dark. Hey, that sounds like the title of a book. Or a p**n movie.” Sandy grinned. “Not sure which I’d rather be in. On a good day…”
Lori did her best to greet the woman pleasantly, despite the sudden knot in her stomach. What on earth was wrong with her? So Reid had gone true to type with the other nurse. What did Lori care?
Lori brought Sandy up to speed on Gloria’s care. “She’s tired so she’s a little difficult, but not awful.”
“I can handle her,” Sandy said. “If my patients give me any trouble, I start talking about my favorite soap opera. That usually bores them into falling asleep. It’s why I love the night shift. You day girls work too hard.” She leaned toward Lori. “Gotta love this job, though. Twelve hours of pay for an eight hour shift.”
“It’s great. I’ll just go and tell Gloria goodbye.”
“Sure thing. See you tomorrow.”
Lori nodded and returned to the study. “I’m heading out,” she told Gloria. “I’ll be back in the morning.”
Gloria looked up from the magazine she’d been reading and stared at Lori over her glasses. “I can’t imagine why you would think I would care about your comings and goings. Stay or go. It doesn’t matter the least to me.”
Lori grinned. “I had a good day, too, Gloria. You’re more than welcome.”
REID PARKED his Corvette behind the Downtown Sports Bar and climbed out. He stood staring at the rear door for a full minute, then told himself it wouldn’t be so bad.
Ever since he’d blown out his arm and had to retire from baseball, he’d been working at the family sports bar. “Working” being a loose definition of what he did. In theory he was the general manager. In reality he came and went as he wanted, occasionally worked behind the bar, entertained customers with stories about his baseball career and life and hired the female staff. He’d always thought of the sports bar as a refuge—a place to hang where he was known and admired. Today it was nothing more than a house of shame.
Everyone inside knew him and he was willing to bet his impressive bank account that each one of them had read the morning paper.
“Goddamn it all to hell,” he grumbled, then used his key to let himself in the back door.
Figuring he might as well get it over with as quickly as possible, he bypassed the relative safety of his office and walked into the bar.
Instantly the low rumble of conversation stilled and all eyes focused on him. Reid kept moving.
“Hey, hon,” one of the waitresses called, her mouth twisted in some weird almost-normal smile. “Good to see you.”
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