Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(32) by Susan Mallery
He’d been bugging her about it for a while, so she’d decided to give in to him. She’d invited him over to dinner and he’d accepted. She knew exactly what would happen when he walked in the door. It was the same thing that had happened with every other guy she’d ever brought home—not that there had been that many.
He would take one look at Madeline and fall for her instantly. After the third time it had happened, Lori had stopped bringing guys around. Until now.
It would be like ripping off a bandage, she told herself. Sharp momentary pain, but then it would be over. She would watch Reid succumb to her sister’s charms and she would finally be able to squash her own feelings for him.
“It’s not going to happen,” Madeline said quietly.
Lori looked at her. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Interesting, because I know exactly what you’re thinking. You can’t stand that you have a thing for Reid so you’ve brought him here, thinking he’s going to fall for me.”
Lori shrugged. “It’s a good plan.”
“It’s a stupid plan. He’s not going to be interested.”
“You don’t know that.” Lori smiled. “I’ll even put money on it.”
“Did it occur to you that the other guys weren’t as interested in me as you think they were? That by expecting the worst, you pushed them away?”
The unfairness of the accusation really bugged her. “Excuse me? Once they met you, you were all they talked about. Face it, Madeline, you never went through an awkward stage. You grew up beautiful. I had to work my ass off to pass for average. I’ve made peace with that. I have a life I’m proud of. I’m doing the best I can.”
“No, you’re not. You’re hiding. You don’t try because it’s easier not to have expectations.”
Madeline’s words hurt. “Thanks, Ms. Perfect. It’s always exciting to get your professional take on things. Whether you want to accept it or not, the bottom line is, guys adore you.”
Two words spoken so quietly that someone in the next room couldn’t have heard them. Lori swallowed, her anger fading to dust.
“Vance is a total loser who is possibly the stupidest man on the planet,” she said.
“Don’t say that,” Madeline told her, her large brown eyes filling with tears. “He was my husband.”
Lori hated that her sister had any feelings left for Vance. The bastard had taken off the second Madeline had been diagnosed. Apparently the marriage vows hadn’t meant anything to him.
Before Lori could figure out what to say, the doorbell rang.
“Your young man,” Madeline teased.
Lori glared at her. “Don’t make me kill you. I’m more than capable.”
Lori huffed out a breath, then stalked to the front door and pulled it open.
Any ideas she had for a clever greeting flew out of her head when she saw Reid standing on her tiny porch, smiling at her.
The overhead light illuminated his handsome face. His leather jacket emphasized his broad shoulders and narrow hips. He looked sexy, masculine and as out of reach as the moons of Saturn.
“Hi,” he said and thrust a paper-wrapped spray of flowers at her. “I was going to bring wine, but I went on the Internet and it said someone with your sister’s disease shouldn’t drink.”
She stared from him to the beautiful flowers. “So these are for Madeline?”
“What? No. They’re for you. These are, too.” He handed her a box from Oh! Chocolates.
Okay, now she was confused. He’d brought her flowers and chocolates? Her?
“Come in,” she said, stepping back.
He stepped into the house, turned and kissed her.
Just like that. A quick brush of mouth on mouth, then he was shrugging out of his jacket and looking around.
“Nice place,” he said.
Lori couldn’t move. She also couldn’t think or breathe or very possibly stay alive much longer.
He’d kissed her. Kissed her. As if…As if…Damn, she didn’t know as if what, but it was weird. They didn’t kiss. Well, there had been that one time, but since then, nothing. They weren’t dating. This wasn’t a date. Did he think this was a date?
Before she could begin to function again, Madeline walked in the room.
“You must be Reid,” she said, crossing the room looking tall and beautiful and oh so delicate. “I’m Madeline.”
“Hi. Nice to meet you.”
They shook hands.
Lori braced herself for the lightning strike. Oddly, Reid looked away from her sister.
“I was telling Lori this place is really nice,” he said.
“Isn’t it?” Madeline smiled. “Lori and I grew up pretty poor. We lived in a double-wide until we moved out. We both vowed to have a real home of our own. I wanted a trendy high-rise condo, but Lori always said she wanted a house where she could own the ground it stood on.”
Lori cringed in embarrassment, but Reid nodded. “Makes sense.” Then he actually turned his back on Madeline and looked at her. “You’d hate my place. I live on a houseboat. No land at all.”
She didn’t know what to say or how to respond. He was talking to her. Her and not Madeline. How was that possible?
“I, ah…” She began and then pressed her lips together. “The, ah, houseboat sounds very nice. Everyone loves being on the water, right?”
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