Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(41) by Susan Mallery
“I see you’re still very comfortable judging me.”
“I don’t mean what I said in a bad way.”
“Of course not.” He studied her. “You’re angry I didn’t try to sleep with you.”
It was her worst nightmare come true. For possibly the third time in as many minutes, she felt hot with humiliation, only this experience was about a thousand times worse than the others. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe, could only try to brace herself for the fact that he was going to tell her exactly how unappealing he found her. He would be kind about it, of course. He would say something polite but the message would be the same. Not her, not ever.
“You didn’t ask,” he said, staring directly into her eyes. “You went out of your way to make sure I knew you thought I was a bug, which I could have handled. But the not asking?” He shrugged. “That’s why.”
She felt as if her brain was caught up in a feedback loop. Information swirled around, repeating itself over and over again.
“You slept with Sandy and Kristie because they asked?”
She opened her mouth, then closed it. There had to be more to this, she told herself. “You’re saying you only sleep with women who offer?”
“Pretty much. If they come on to me, or show up naked in my room, I’m game.”
She couldn’t believe it. “So you want a relationship where all you have to do is show up?”
“It’s not a relationship,” he told her. “It’s sex, and yes.”
“And women do this? They show up and offer themselves?”
“On a regular basis.”
“You have no other standard?”
“No husbands or serious boyfriends.” He grinned. “I don’t want my ass kicked.”
“But if you could take the guy, then married would be okay?”
He shook his head. “That was a joke, Lori.”
“I’m not sure it was. I can’t believe that’s your only benchmark. So any age? Any appearance?”
“I like women. All women. Always have.”
But there had to be something else driving this. “You aren’t that much of a dog,” she said. “You have feelings. You have to want more.”
“Why? Because you do?”
They were so not going to talk about her.
“Because you’re a real person, not a sexual machine.”
He grinned. “I like the idea of being a sexual machine.”
Sometimes he was such a guy. “Reid, I’m serious.”
“Why? What’s the big deal? You want to figure this out and you already know the answer. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. Women offer and I say yes. That’s it.”
She wanted to accuse him of lying, but she had a bad feeling he was telling the truth. “I’m offended by the stupidity of women who walk around offering.”
“Why? They’re getting what they want.”
She had a bad feeling he was right. “And you are, too?” she asked. “Your standard of answering the call of ‘come and get it’ is met? I can’t believe you don’t require more of yourself. Based on what you’re saying, if I’d walked in here and said ‘hey, big guy, want to get some?’ we’d be having sex right now?”
She hadn’t thought her question through. She’d just been talking. But now the words were out there and she couldn’t remember ever being more horrified.
Because the tension in the room had cranked up considerably and Reid was looking at her in a way he never had. She was hyper-aware of him, of his maleness, of how much she wanted him. She’d voiced her greatest desire and by doing so, had opened herself up to her greatest fear.
He was going to reject her.
Oh, sure, he liked her enough to do it nicely, but the result would be the same. He was going to be kind and she was going to be devastated.
“I need to get going,” she said as she stood and started to back out of the room. “You’re busy and I should get home. This has been great but…”
He stood and grabbed her hand. She tried to tug free of his hold, but he didn’t let her. Darkness invaded his eyes, but not in a scary, slasher-movie kind of way. Instead it was as if there was something smoldering in his gaze.
She groaned silently. Smoldering? Was she so far gone she was thinking words like that? What was wrong with her?
Stupid questions, she thought grimly. What was wrong with her was about six foot three, all muscle, charm and with some kind of body chemistry that reduced her to quivering without trying.
“I’m not your type,” he said, staring at her, as if trying to figure out what she was thinking.
She opened her mouth, then closed it. What was she supposed to say to that?
He took a step closer. Or maybe she’d just stopped pulling back. The humiliation was inevitable. Why not get it over with so she could hit bottom and start the healing process?
“You would never in a million years want a guy like me,” he continued. “You think I’m shallow and useless.”
What? “That’s not true,” she told him. “I think that you’re…”
She’d always read that people tended to use less than ten percent of their brains, which left a vast untapped wilderness of who knows what swirling around in there. Her eleventh percent suddenly jolted to life.
“You think I don’t like you,” she said, barely able to believe it was true. “You’re afraid I think you’re a total waste of space.”
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