Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(56) by Susan Mallery
Her dream job was out there…it had to be. She would keep looking until she found it, no matter how long that took.
LORI HOVERED by the stairs for most of the afternoon, wanting to see Reid, but in a casual way. The most sensible plan was to simply go up to his rooms, knock on the door and talk to him. It was the mature thing to do. The problem was, she wasn’t feeling especially mature these days.
She’d been lurking for so long that she was startled when he finally appeared and she didn’t know what to say.
She stood at the foot of the stairs for his whole journey down and still couldn’t come up with a way to say what she needed to.
“I was scared,” she said at last, which without an explanation probably didn’t make much sense.
Reid stood in front of her and waited.
“I don’t want to do this,” she continued. “I don’t want to try. I don’t want to risk the pain.”
“Are you breaking up with me?”
She tried to read his expression and couldn’t. What was he thinking? Did they have enough of a relationship for there to be a breakup?”
“It’s too hard,” she admitted. “I’d done all this stuff and sure, some of it was me, but it was mostly for you and what if you didn’t notice or didn’t care? What if I’m yet another in a long line of one-night stands? Does any of this matter to you? Am I getting involved with someone who has no plans to be involved with me? I’ve never gone out with a guy like you. I don’t know the rules. I’ve been warned to protect myself from you and while I appreciate the information I want to know why no one is warning you. Maybe I’ll break your heart.”
“Maybe you will,” he said.
“I’m not saying I want to,” she clarified.
“Yes, you do.”
Did he really think that? “No. I just want to be equals in this. I want to be more than a supplicant at the altar of Reid.”
“I have an altar?”
“You know what I mean.” She shrugged. “That was all.” She turned to leave.
He grabbed her arm and held her in place. Then he moved close, put his hands on her waist and drew her against him.
“Why do you doubt yourself?” he asked. “You look great. You looked great before. If you’re happy with what you did, then I’m happy. You don’t have to change to get me interested.” He smiled, but continued to stare into her eyes. “I think I’ve already proved that. Several times over.”
She appreciated the reassurance and refused to let herself point out that there hadn’t been a repeat performance of that single, amazing night. She stepped back.
“I’m not looking for a one-night stand,” he continued. “As for you hurting me, of course it could happen, Lori. I have as much on the line as you do. You’re right—we’re not equals. You have the advantage.”
“Oh, please.” Who was he kidding?
“You don’t trust me,” he said. “Why?”
“Because…Because you’re Reid Buchanan and I don’t know how to be in a relationship. Because I’m afraid. Because this is hard.”
“So you run?”
“It seems a good plan.”
“Maybe you could find another one.”
She stared at him, not sure what to say. Did she want to stay? Not because he asked or because Madeline said it was a good idea, but for herself?
“I’m not running,” he said. “You think that doesn’t terrify me?”
“You’re trapped here.”
He touched her face. “You’re wrong. There are a thousand places I could be. I’m here. With you.”
She liked how that sounded. In the past, she’d always avoided making the effort. Maybe it was time to change that.
“I’ll stay,” she whispered.
DR. GRAYSON WAS a friendly woman who listened as Lori told her sad tale of being unable to wear contacts.
“How long has it been since you tried?” the doctor asked. “The new soft lenses are mostly water and many of my patients don’t feel them at all.”
“It’s been about five years,” Lori said. “Maybe longer.”
“Do you want to try a pair now?”
Lori really didn’t but somehow her makeover seemed incomplete. Besides, as spineless as it made her, her recent encounter with Reid had inspired her to go to the next level, or at least talk about it.
Dr. Grayson pulled out a plastic container of contacts. “You’re a perfect candidate for Lasik,” she said. “If that interests you.”
Lori was too caught up in watching the doctor put liquid onto a seemingly innocent piece of flexible plastic to do more than murmur, “I’m not wild about the idea.”
She swallowed hard, then tried to relax as the contact got closer and closer to her eye. When it was nearly touching, she flinched.
Dr. Grayson chuckled. “This goes better if you leave your eye open. Do you want to try putting it in yourself?”
“Not even for money.”
“Okay. Deep breath. Here we go.”
The contact slipped onto her eye. Lori could instantly see better out of that one eye, which was kind of nice. Maybe this wasn’t so bad. Maybe she’d overreacted to the whole contact lenses issue. Then she blinked.
It was like having a boulder in her eye. Pain shot through to the back of head and tears poured down her cheek.
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