Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(53) by Susan Mallery
“No one cares.”
They had to make a trip to the car to dump all the packages. Lori thought they were finished, but Madeline dragged her back into the mall and steered her toward a familiar store. Well, familiar from seeing it on the outside. Technically, Lori had never been inside.
“No way,” she said, balking at the entrance. “I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine. You wear ordinary panties and your bras are too plain. You’re with a great guy. He deserves a little lace and silk.”
With that, Madeline pushed her into Victoria’s Secret. “Trust me, he’ll love it.”
If he wanted to see her in her underwear again, Lori thought, both intrigued by the prospect of something sexy and nervous about Reid’s reaction to the new her.
Madeline began collecting scraps of silk and lace, beautiful bras with matching bikini panties. When she paused by a display of thongs, Lori shook her head.
“There is absolutely no way in hell you’re getting me into one of those.”
Madeline’s grin broadened. “Want to bet?”
REID WALKED INTO Cal’s office at the corporate headquarters of The Daily Grind and slumped into the leather chair opposite his brother’s desk.
“What’s up?” Cal asked. “You look beat.”
“I’m good. Still reading all the mail that was sent over. I’ve sorted it into piles by date.”
“It’s hell. So many kids write to me. Some of them want something but most of them are just trying to connect with me. They think that if they can see me or talk to me that it’s a big deal.”
“You’re a famous guy.”
“Famous for what?” Right now Reid felt about as important as last season’s program. “I’ve wasted the past year of my life. I got injured and it was my own damn fault.”
Cal leaned forward. “When you blew out your shoulder? That wasn’t your fault. You swerved to avoid some kids on the mountain. It just happened.”
“That’s what I told you,” Reid said, finally ready to admit the truth. “There weren’t any kids. I was drunk. That’s why I lost control and snowboarded into a tree. That’s why I lost my career. I was drunk and stupid. Then I read about these sick kids and I realized I don’t have the right to complain about anything. I should spend every day making their lives better.”
“That’s not your job,” Cal told him. “Life doesn’t work that way.”
“Then how does it work? I can’t be useless anymore. I’ve gotta make some of this right. I just don’t know how.” He slumped lower in his seat. “The press is still all over me. I get chased a lot when I go out.”
“It was a story designed to capture the world’s attention.”
“You know what? That doesn’t even bother me so much anymore.” What did he care about some woman he couldn’t remember? He knew how good things had been with Lori. Funny how that mattered a whole lot more now.
“I want to leave the sports bar,” Reid said. “I’m going to talk to Walker later.”
“You just said the press thing didn’t bother you anymore.”
“It’s not about that. I need to do something different. I’m not the right guy for the job. I don’t want to sit around and tell stories all day. I want to…” That was the hell of it. He didn’t know what he wanted to do.
“You’re rich, right?” Cal asked.
“Need a loan?”
“I’m good. I was thinking about you. You’ve got more money than you can ever spend.”
“So start a foundation. A real one. Endow it with enough money that it functions off the interest, then set it loose on the world.”
Reid straightened. He didn’t know anything about foundations except that they did good stuff. He remembered how much he’d enjoyed watching those kids get that sports equipment. “I could focus on what I wanted,” he said more to himself than to Cal. “Kids and sports.”
“More than that,” his brother said. “You’re the guy everyone is interested in. You can get in places the rest of us can’t. You can get people to notice just by showing up.”
Reid knew that was true. When he made a call, he got through. “I could give without anyone knowing it’s me.”
“Is that what you want?”
Reid thought about all those letters and requests and how coldly they’d been answered.
“I don’t need credit for doing the right thing,” he said quietly. “Not anymore.”
LORI WALKED INTO Gloria’s room and braced herself for any number of comments. She was wearing new jeans and a fitted sweater. Despite her inexperience, she’d managed to reproduce Ramon’s riot of curls and she’d done the makeup thing without poking herself in the eye with the mascara wand.
But now that she was here, she felt awkward and foolish. Like a goat trying to pass as a gazelle.
“Good morning,” Gloria said, looking up from her paper. “Did you enjoy your day off?”
“Yes. How are you feeling?”
“Like an old woman with a broken hip. It aches a little this morning, but I’ll survive.”
“I was hoping for life on a higher plane. Just surviving isn’t fun.”
Gloria smiled. “You think you can perky your way out of me noticing the changes, but you’re wrong. Now stand in the middle of the room and turn slowly.”
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