Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(35) by Susan Mallery
Two hours later he was parked across the street from a beat-up old building. About thirty kids gathered around the large delivery truck. They cheered when the equipment was unloaded.
“I don’t understand,” an older woman was saying. “This man just called and asked if we needed it. Are you sure it’s free?”
“Everything’s been paid for,” the delivery guy said. “Just sign that you received it and we’re good.”
The woman smiled, then signed.
Reid shifted into first and drove away.
REID ARRIVED back at Gloria’s house to find Lori waiting for him. It was after four and her shift had officially ended. Sandy’s car was parked in the large circular drive, which meant Lori had no reason to stay.
Except to see him.
Watching those kids with their new sports equipment had gone a long way to making him feel less like a loser. Having Lori hanging around to see him cemented his good feelings.
“You stayed,” he said as he smiled at her.
“I have to talk to you. Privately.”
He liked the sound of that. For reasons he couldn’t explain he kept remembering that kiss. He’d wanted to repeat it, but had never found the right opportunity.
He followed Lori to the back of the house. There was a small den, with a television and stereo equipment on one wall.
Lori shut the door behind him. He moved toward her expectantly. She stopped him with a single sentence.
“Some TV producer called here, looking for you,” she said.
His desire froze and disappeared.
“What did you tell him?”
She pressed her lips together. “Her. I lied. I said I didn’t know who you were and that I had no idea what she was talking about.”
“Not thanks. I don’t want to have to do that sort of thing. The reporter looking to ambush someone was bad enough. Now this.”
“I can’t stop them. What do you want me to do?”
“Not be this way. I don’t get it. I can’t begin to understand who or what you are. On the one hand, you have moments of kindness and intelligence. On the other hand, you seem willing to have sex with most women in this country. Or any country, I’m guessing. None of this makes sense.”
Her energy went beyond annoyance. She seemed as much confused as frustrated.
She put her hands on her hips as she faced him. “How can you be so interested in volume? How can you not care about the person inside?”
“Because for you it’s all about the person inside,” he said.
“Of course. I want to have a relationship to go with my sexual encounter. That probably sounds really backwards to you.”
“It doesn’t,” he said as he wondered about the men in her life. Who were they and why wasn’t she married? Had she been the one to resist or hadn’t anyone asked?
“Are you seeing anyone?” he asked.
“What? No, but that isn’t the point.”
“I get the point. I was just curious.”
She folded her arms over her chest. “We’re not talking about me. Explain the thought process, Reid,” she said. “Why on earth do you act this way?”
There were a hundred different answers he could give. Slick lines he’d used before. But he didn’t want to share any of them with Lori, so he settled for the truth.
“I’m not the kind of guy women marry,” he said. “I’m not the kind of guy women get serious with.”
Lori waited a few seconds, opened her mouth, then closed it. “That’s it? You’re a dog when it comes to women because it’s not your fault?”
“I’m not a dog. I’m very clear on what’s going to happen and what isn’t. I tell the truth.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” She crossed to the leather sofa and sat down. “You’re saying you act this way because the world has low expectations and you’ve chosen to live down to them?”
Not exactly how he would have phrased it, he thought, feeling uncomfortable. How had they gotten onto this topic to begin with?
He crossed the room and sat at the other end of the sofa.
“You don’t think very much of me,” he said.
“You don’t give me reason to think better.”
She was right. Most of the time he didn’t care what women thought of him. Enough worshiped him that he didn’t give a damn about the rest. But for some reason Lori was different.
He drew in a breath. “There was a girl,” he said slowly. “Jenny. I met her when I was drafted into a farm team.”
He looked at Lori. “That’s a minor league baseball team. All the major league teams have farm teams to groom players.”
She smiled and even with her glasses, he could see the corner of her eyes crinkle. “I know what a farm team is,” she told him. “I’m not a huge fan, but I’m not totally ignorant.”
“Good. So I met Jenny and it was amazing from the beginning. She was pretty and smart and funny and I was crazy about her.”
Lori shifted on the sofa. Her mouth twisted slightly, then she said. “So you were normal once.”
“More than that. I was in love.”
He didn’t like remembering how it had been back then. The good times with Jenny had been the best, but the crash…he’d wondered if he would ever recover.
Lori’s hazel eyes darkened slightly. “I can’t imagine you in love. You mean like being faithful and wanting a future in love?”
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