Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(15) by Susan Mallery
“You don’t know. And that woman he married. She was pregnant with another man’s baby. That child he’s raising isn’t his.”
And people thought home care could be boring. “Did she cheat on him?”
“No. She was pregnant before they got together.”
“So technically she didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Actually it is the point. Is Cal happy?”
“Any fool can be happy.”
“I’ll take that as a yes.” She leaned against the side of the bed. “You might want to be careful about pushing people away too many times. Eventually they stop trying to get close.”
“You must know this from experience,” Gloria said, turning to look at her.
Lori blinked. “Excuse me? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you do. But it’s not so comfortable to have someone analyzing you, is it?” Gloria looked her up and down. “How long have you done your best to ignore your appearance? One might even say you play down your looks.”
Lori did her best not to react, and that included blushing. “I wear scrubs because it’s appropriate for my job.”
“They’re shapeless and ugly. Your hair isn’t horrible, but you pull it back in that ridiculous braid. No makeup, those glasses.”
“They help me see,” Lori said. “Blind nurses are much harder to employ.”
“You use humor as a weapon. I would say I’m not the only one pushing people away. So what’s your excuse? When did you stop trying?”
A long, long time ago, Lori thought grimly. When she’d realized her older sister was totally perfect and that she, Lori, would never measure up.
“So, now you don’t have quite so much to say,” Gloria said calmly.
“I prefer telling other people what’s wrong with them, but I can handle whatever you say. I wear my hair back because it’s practical. I dress like this because it’s appropriate. I don’t wear makeup because I have limited time in the morning and I’d rather spend it on a run than painting my face.”
“Excellent excuses. Have you used them before or did you come up with them all right now?”
Lori stared at her patient. The good news was Gloria was showing a healthy, if slightly twisted interest in life. The bad news was she’d shot a few unpleasant truths right into Lori’s gut while doing it.
“What do you want from me?” Lori asked. “Is there a purpose or are your comments their own kind of fun?”
“I want you to wear regular clothes. Jeans and a sweater. Looking at you in those…what did you call them?”
“Right. Looking at you in those scrubs is depressing. I’m already near death. I don’t need my demise hurried along by looking at your ugly clothes.”
Lori flipped up the hem of her shirt and pretended to look for a tag. “There’s no warning label that being seen in scrubs can cause death.”
“Crabby old biddy.”
Gloria pressed her lips together, as if holding in a smile. “You will wear regular clothes starting tomorrow.”
“You actually can’t make me.”
Gloria ignored her. “In return, there is a slight chance I might be willing to see one of my grandchildren.”
That was a victory. And worth wearing jeans. “You have a deal.”
Gloria eyed her head. “We also need to do something about your hair.”
“Not likely. The price for that is you singing karaoke.”
DANI WAITED for her large nonfat latte at the crowded Daily Grind across the street from the downtown Nordstrom.
This had always been her favorite of Seattle’s Daily Grinds—probably because it was the first one her brother Cal had opened. She’d stood in line the very first day while Cal had worked the counter and waited to see if his business would take off.
It had. Now there were Daily Grinds all over the West Coast. The company was expanding and giving Starbucks a run for its money.
Of course, thinking about Cal’s success made her own life look just a tad more grim, she thought with a wry smile. Decisions were going to have to be made. No, that wasn’t right. She’d already made the decisions. What she lacked was action.
The barista called her name and she grabbed her coffee. It was time to give notice at The Waterfront and go look for a new job. One where she would succeed or fail based on her performance and not because of her family.
She turned, only to have someone bump into her from behind. She glanced over her shoulder and saw a pleasant-looking man backing away.
“Sorry,” he said, shaking his head. “I zigged when I should have zagged.”
“That’s okay,” Dani said.
“Did you spill?” he asked.
She liked that he visually inspected her coat instead of taking the chance to touch her.
“No. You look good.” Instantly he took another step back. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. Not that you don’t look good. You do. But I wasn’t trying to compliment you. Not that I wouldn’t want to, it’s just…”
He stood there looking so uncomfortable, she momentarily forgot her rule of never again speaking to an unrelated man under the age of seventy-five.
“It’s okay,” she said with a smile. “I totally know what you were trying to say. My coat looks untouched by any form of coffee.”
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