Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(24) by Susan Mallery
“This isn’t real enough for you? Look at your life. There are Internet photos of you having sex. Reporters are chasing you down to talk about how lousy you are in bed. You’re being mocked on CNN. Do you sense a pattern here? You can’t even hire nurses for your sick grandmother without getting laid. You slept with Sandy and Kristie. During their interviews. People don’t do that. It’s tacky. It’s wrong. Honest to God, I’m not surprised to read that you’re bad in bed. Being good in bed would mean thinking about someone other than yourself.”
“HI,” LORI CALLED as she walked into her house after her shift.
“Hey, you,” Madeline said from the living room. “How was your day?”
“Not one I want to repeat.” Lori shrugged out of her coat as she crossed to the kitchen. Once there she dropped her coat on a chair, her purse on the kitchen table and opened the refrigerator. She always kept a bottle of Chardonnay on hand for emergencies and this certainly counted as a time of need.
“That bad?” Madeline asked as Lori dug in a drawer for a corkscrew.
“In some ways good. In others, worse.”
The cork popped out. Madeline collected a single glass and held it out. Lori took it and poured. Seconds later she swallowed a mouthful of the tart, fruity wine and sighed.
“Not better yet, but soon,” she breathed. “So how was your day?”
“Fine. Quiet. I had lunch with Julie. Do you remember her? She was my roommate in college and one of my bridesmaids.”
There had been eight and honestly, Lori hadn’t bothered to learn their names.
“Uh-huh,” she lied. “I’m glad you got out. You can’t hang out here all the time.”
Madeline tucked her auburn hair behind her ear and smiled. “I like hanging out here.”
Her sister didn’t fit the stereotype of the frail soon-to-be dead. She was a little pale and too thin, but that only added to her ethereal beauty. Madeline had been born beautiful and had never gone through anything resembling an awkward stage. It was one of life’s sassy attempts at humor.
Madeline ignored the bottle of wine—with her liver failing, she couldn’t drink. Not that she’d ever been very interested. Until recently, her sister hadn’t had to deal with very many upsets or disappointments. Lori supposed that getting a death sentence put other irritations in perspective.
“What happened?” her sister asked. “Gloria making you crazy?”
“Not so much. I think we had a breakthrough today.”
“Really? How did that happen?”
Lori explained about snapping and how Gloria had burst into tears and admitted to being lonely.
“She’s fully capable of changing,” Lori said. “The question is, will she?”
Madeline tilted her head. “I know you, Lori. That kind of moment with an elderly patient doesn’t send you to the wine bottle. It was something else. Something I’m going to guess is related to a certain ex-baseball player.”
Lori groaned. “Gloria lost it with me and I lost it with him. He was going on and on about how his agent screwed up and how horrible everything is.”
Her sister raised her eyebrows. “I’m going to guess you weren’t as supportive as he’d been hoping.”
“Not exactly.” She took another drink of the wine. “I didn’t mention this before because I didn’t want you to think…”
Lori paused. There was no way she could fool her sister. Madeline knew her too well.
“I was talking to Sandy a couple of days ago. Somehow it came up that Reid had slept with both her and Kristie during their interviews.” Her anger erupted again. “Can you believe it? Right there in his office at that stupid sports bar. It’s disgusting. He was supposed to be finding appropriate health care, not screwing the staff. Does he actually have a brain, or is that a myth? Are all men like that? Is he what they aspire to? Because I think he’s a nightmare on so many levels.”
Madeline’s green eyes were steady. “You’re upset that he slept with them and not you.”
“I am not. Never! I wouldn’t sleep with him if…” She swallowed, then nodded slowly. “More than upset. Humiliated. I’m not like them. I’ll never be like them. Guys like Reid don’t even see women like me, which is fine. I don’t want a man like him.”
“But you do,” her sister said softly. “You want exactly him.”
Lori scowled. “I’m working on the problem. I’ll get over him.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t try to.”
“Oh, please. He would never be interested in me and I can’t accept who he is on the inside. He’s like cotton candy. Dunk him in water and he dissolves.”
“But you like him.”
“No. I don’t like him. I despise him. I just have a powerful chemical reaction to him. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Sure it does. You’ve never reacted to a guy this way.”
“And I won’t ever again.” It wouldn’t work. He was everything she hated in men and she was invisible to him. Oh, yeah, that was a recipe for happiness and love.
She drew in a breath. “I told him off. It didn’t go well.”
“He’ll recover. Besides…” Madeline pushed off the counter and smiled. “Men are inherently stupid about women. You can use that to your advantage.”
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