Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(29) by Susan Mallery
“Command performance,” Walker explained by way of greeting. “Gloria called and asked us both to come by.”
Elissa bit her lower lip. “You’re sure about the both of us part? I’m sure she just meant you. She doesn’t like me and I find her really, really scary.”
Walker smiled down at the woman standing next to him. “You can wait here with Reid, if you want. I’m not going to force you.”
She sighed. “Of course you’re not, because that’s the kind of guy you are. But because you’re being so nice, I’ll feel guilty for being afraid, so I’m just going to come in with you and be polite. I can do that. I was raised by very nice people.”
Reid thought about reassuring Elissa, telling her that Gloria had been through something of a change. But as he wasn’t completely sure the change was going to last, he decided to keep quiet.
“I can come in with you, if you want,” he offered. “If it gets ugly, I’ll take Elissa out so you’re not forced to kill your grandmother.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Walker said. “How’s your life going?”
Reid led the way down the hall. “I’m still doing damage control. Every day some other woman comes forward and says the earth didn’t move for her. It’s grim and humiliating, but at least it’s a distraction. I fired my manager and I’m going through all the boxes he sent over. There are so many requests and letters that went unanswered. I hate knowing there are kids out there assuming I’m an ass.”
“What are you going to do to fix it?” Walker asked.
“I’m still trying to figure that out.”
Reid wasn’t so sure what to do. The job was daunting.
LORI SMOOTHED the sheet on Gloria’s bed, then tucked in the end, all the while wishing she weren’t so on edge.
She’d spent the last couple of days trying to ignore Reid. After that kiss they’d shared, she didn’t know what to say to him. Just as annoying, she hadn’t run into him, which made her miss him, which really bugged her. She hated that with a simple brush of mouths she’d gone from a completely capable in-charge woman to a sighing, mooning giggler desperate to see the man of her dreams.
Yesterday she’d taken both a morning and evening run, in an effort to tire herself out enough to let her sleep. It hadn’t worked. The second she’d closed her eyes, she’d seen his face and felt the damp heat of his kiss. Reliving the sensations over and over had kept her up half the night.
“Ladies,” Reid said as he entered the room. “We have company,” he told his grandmother, who sat reading in a chair, then gave her, Lori, a wink. “My brother. Two for the price of one. Of course, he’s taken.”
Lori straightened and tried to speak, but it wasn’t possible. With less than a couple dozen words, he’d reduced her to brainless silence. It was so humiliating.
A second man walked into the room. He looked enough like Reid for her to be able to guess their relationship. With him was an attractive woman with long brown hair and blue eyes.
“So you came,” Gloria announced. “Good. Walker, Elissa, nice to see you. This is Lori, one of my nurses. Lori, my grandson and his girlfriend. Oh, did you bring your adorable daughter, Elissa? I’m sorry, I can’t remember her name.”
“Ah, Zoe,” Elissa said, a puzzled look on her face. “She’s in school.”
“Too bad. Maybe she could come along next time. Children add such positive energy to a room.”
Lori glanced at everyone’s stunned expressions and took that as her cue to leave. Gloria was working the program. Sure, it would take time to convince her family that the change was genuine, but Lori was confident that would happen.
“You didn’t hit her over the head, did you?” Reid asked as he walked out beside her. “I checked her medication so I know you’re not drugging her.”
She tried to ignore his nearness and how she was so aware of his breathing. “Why can’t you simply accept that she wanted to make a change, so she did?”
“You should have come along sooner,” he muttered. “Life would have been much better. The last time Gloria met Elissa, she threatened to have her fired, evicted and maybe arrested. All because Elissa dared to date Walker.”
“She’s not like that anymore.”
They’d reached the kitchen. Lori moved to put the island between them—she had a feeling a physical barrier would help her maintain control—but Reid grabbed her hand and held her in place.
“It’s because of you,” he told her. “You’re the reason for the change.”
It was difficult to think with his fingers touching hers. “She’s the one who made the decision. I simply pointed out that being nicer might be in her best interest.”
“Why don’t you want to take credit?” he asked.
“It’s not necessary.”
She tugged free and took a step back. She didn’t want to stand there anymore, having him look at her as if she mattered. As if she were someone special in his life. How could she ever believe that?
Why him? Why couldn’t she have had a strong physical reaction to someone else? Someone not so far out of reach. She didn’t mind that she could never have Reid. What she hated was being pathetic and knowing that if he ever figured out how much of a crush she had on him he would pity her. That would be the worst.
A few minutes later Walker came out for coffee.
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