Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(9) by Susan Mallery
“You’re warning me off,” Lori said, suddenly getting it. She grinned. “You’re worried about me.”
For once, Lori did as she asked, mostly because she wanted to read the article.
She settled at the kitchen table and spread out the paper, then scanned the first couple of paragraphs and winced. No guy wants to be told he’s not good in bed, especially in public and in print. That had to hurt.
She almost felt sorry for Reid. While she had no sense of his sexual skill, he had to have learned something with all his experience. Didn’t he?
The object of her speculation walked into the kitchen, looking rumpled and exhausted. He’d pulled on jeans and nothing else, his hair was mussed and he needed a shave.
He was fifteen kinds of gorgeous.
Lori watched him as he crossed the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. His impressive muscles flexed and rippled with each movement. He looked warm and sexy and deep inside her stomach she felt the beginnings of a quiver.
He glanced up and saw her.
“Morning,” he mumbled, then left.
She didn’t exist to him. Never had, never would. Being attracted to him put her so far in the idiot camp that she would never find her way out.
She was an embarrassment to intelligent women everywhere. Worse, there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it.
LORI PULLED INTO her driveway a little after five. Her neighborhood was light-years away from Gloria’s street of gated mansions, but Lori didn’t mind. She loved everything about her house.
Its two-bedroom, two-bath size suited her perfectly. She loved the details of the Craftsman style, the built-ins, the moldings. She loved that she’d painted every wall herself and had done most of the remodeling without help. She loved the colors, the garden, the porch, the way the house looked solid…and made her feel safe.
She walked inside and breathed in the scent of garlic. “You’re cooking,” she yelled by way of greeting. “You’re not supposed to be cooking.”
Madeline stepped out of the kitchen and grinned. “I don’t believe that was in the contract I signed, but I’ll have to go check. Besides, I’m having a good day. On good days I want to cook.”
Lori studied her sister’s face, searching for lines of fatigue or paleness in her coloring. Neither was there. Instead Madeline looked serenely beautiful, as she always had.
In Lori’s mind, the family gene pool had a killer sense of humor. Lori was average height, Madeline a few inches taller. Lori had inherited awful orange curls that had thankfully faded to a more muted reddish-gold. Madeline had auburn waves. She woke up looking like a 1940s movie star. With a little effort and some mascara, she looked like a goddess. It had taken Lori most of her life, but she’d finally learned not to be bitter.
“How was day two?” Madeline asked. “Gloria still a challenge?”
“She defines the term. This morning she nearly hinted that she liked having me around and then spent the rest of the day insulting me. I have to say there’s nothing wrong with her brain. She’s really good at the one-line put-down.”
Madeline folded her arms across her University of Washington sweatshirt. “You still like her?”
“I do. I know I shouldn’t. There’s a power struggle in our future and I’m going to win, but still, there’s something about her. She’s trying too hard to be a bitch and I can’t figure out why. Is it a defense mechanism? A way of coping? Did she have to be a bitch to get ahead all those years ago and forget to turn it off? One of her grandsons called. This guy named Cal. He wanted to come by and check on her. Gloria wouldn’t take the call and told me to tell him that she would be dead soon and then he could be happy.”
Madeline shook her head. “You didn’t tell him that, did you?”
“No, but it made me wonder.”
“Not every sick person is a saint. Aren’t most of them exactly like they were in their regular life?”
“Yes, in theory. But I just don’t want that to be true in Gloria’s case. I keep thinking something’s there. Maybe it’s because Reid was so insistent that she was awful. When I interviewed for the job, he made her sound like the devil.”
Madeline grinned. “Oh, so we’re back to talking about Reid. You do have him on the brain.”
Lori willed herself not to blush. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She sniffed. “I smell garlic but nothing else. What’s for dinner?”
“Don’t try to change the subject. Admit it. You have a thing for Reid Buchanan. My practical sister has totally fallen for a sports hero.”
“Not exactly fallen,” Lori muttered. “I have a stupid crush on him, okay? It’s chemical, which means it’s not my fault. I react to him. But it doesn’t mean anything. I’ll get over it. I’m smarter than him.”
“Being smart doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
“So my hormones keep telling me.”
“Maybe you should go out with him,” Madeline told her. “Maybe he’s better than you think.”
Madeline was possibly one of the nicest people on the planet. She saw good in everyone and believed in miracles. But Lori had never been a believer, and most people got on her nerves.
In Madeline’s fairy-tale universe, men like Reid Buchanan would absolutely date women like Lori. They would probably find them fascinating. Unfortunately, Lori didn’t live in that universe.
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