Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(38) by Susan Mallery
Lori did her best not to look smug as she stepped out of the room and shut the door behind her.
AN HOUR LATER Cal arrived with Reid on his heels. Both men carried large takeout bags from the Downtown Sports Bar. Lori knew that was where Reid supposedly worked, although he hadn’t been going in much. Not that she blamed him. The whole world wanted to talk about how lousy he was in bed or find out if he wasn’t. Under those circumstances, she supposed that laying low made sense.
“Your wife and daughter are already here,” Lori said as she took the bags from Cal. “I’ll get this ready to serve. Do you want to eat in Gloria’s room or the dining room?”
Cal glanced back at Reid who tilted his head toward the study, where Penny and Allison were still entertaining Gloria.
Cal looked doubtful. “I want to be in the mood to eat.”
“You will be,” Reid told him. “Trust me. Go on. Say hello. Give it five minutes. If she bugs you, we’ll eat out here.”
“You’re setting me up. I can feel it.”
“Would I do that to you?” Reid asked, looking innocent.
“In a heartbeat.” Cal disappeared down the hall.
Reid followed Lori into the kitchen.
“How’s it going with Penny?” he asked.
“I haven’t heard any screaming, so that’s a good thing.”
He began unpacking the bags. She did the same, trying not to say anything as she opened containers of chicken wings and various sauces, spinach-and-artichoke dip with chips, fried shrimp, potato skins and taquitos.
Behind her, she heard a low chuckle. She turned to find Reid grinning at her.
“Say it,” he told her. “You’re dying to yell at me about the food, aren’t you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He was standing close enough for her to see the various shades of brown and gold that made up his irises. His lips curved into a smile that made her insides get all squishy. Suddenly nothing about the food bothered her. Instead she wanted to press up against him and have a second go-round of that kissing action.
Several things prevented her from acting on any impulses. For one thing, except for the brief greeting at her house, he’d never tried to kiss her again, which wasn’t a good sign. For another, they weren’t alone in the house. But the real reason was she was terrified of being rejected.
Reid was the kind of man who took what he wanted. She was right there, practically begging. His lack of response was answer enough.
“You hate the food,” he said.
It took her a second to figure out what he was talking about. “I’m sure it’s fine.”
“It’s not healthy.”
“I’m not going to be eating it.”
The right side of his smile curved up a little more. “Come on, Lori. Give in. You want to yell and I’m willing to listen. You might even get through to me. Look at all that fat, those empty calories. Not a vegetable in sight. Well, except the spinach and artichokes. So that’s something, right?”
Thoughts of kissing faded as indignation flared inside of her. She knew that he was baiting her and didn’t mind in the least. A loud argument about his disgusting eating habits might make her forget how much it hurt to want someone who didn’t want her back.
“You’re a grown man, not some teenager,” she said. “You know better. Worse, you’ve been a professional athlete. I know you’ve been educated on what is best for your body. If you expect any kind of peak performance, you have to give your body something to work with. This garbage will kill you. That’s the bad news. The good news is you’ll go slowly, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your fade to black.”
“That’s my girl,” he said.
She narrowed her gaze. “I’m serious. Eat a real vegetable. Some fruit. A lean protein. With this kind of food, you might as well drink drain cleaner and be done with it.”
“He’s not going to listen.”
She turned and saw Cal standing in the doorway to the kitchen. “I know. I’m ranting because I need to, not in an effort to change him.”
“That makes sense.” Cal walked toward her. “Although if anyone could get through to him, I’m guessing it would be you. You seem capable of working miracles.”
For a second her heart froze in her chest. She felt the absence of beating and a distinct coldness.
She could change Reid? How? Because he’d said something to his brother? He’d hinted that he cared about her, or that he…
“I don’t know what you did to Gloria,” Cal continued, “but it’s damned incredible.”
Oh. Right. Gloria.
Her heart resumed a disappointed beat.
“I only pointed out the possibilities,” she said, going for cheerful and hoping she didn’t fail. “She made the decision to change. It’s a work in progress and she’s doing great.”
“More than great,” Cal said. “I don’t know how to thank you.”
“No thanks are required.”
Reid put his arm around her shoulders and hugged her close. “Can I pick ’em or what?”
“You don’t get credit for me,” Lori told him, ignoring the heat his touch generated. “The nursing agency sent you a list of names and you picked me at random.”
Reid looked wounded. “You don’t know that.”
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