Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(62) by Susan Mallery
“I would very much like you to let me do this for you. If you need a little time to think it over, then let me give you my phone number. You can call me back.”
She gave a little laugh. “Mr. Buchanan, I might have trouble getting through the day, but I’m not totally crazy. Justin would love this and honestly, so would I. Of course we’ll go. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I’m going to have a travel agent call you in a couple of hours. She’ll make all the arrangements. But I want you to take my personal number as well. If you have any trouble, anything at all, you call me.”
“This is amazing. Thank you.”
“Just take your boy and have a good time.”
They hung up. Reid leaned back in his chair and stared down at the list of arrangements that had to be made. While the travel agent he’d spoken with had promised to stay on top of things, he knew he would be calling around and checking himself. He didn’t want another repeat of the no return tickets disaster.
He pulled out a pad of paper and added to the ongoing list. If the foundation wasn’t going to have an in-house travel agent, then he wanted to make sure there was someone who would follow up on the arrangements made. There weren’t going to be any more screw-ups on his watch.
LORI ARRIVED HOME shortly before five and saw a familiar car in the driveway. She pulled into the garage, closed the door behind her and walked into the kitchen. She could hear Madeline and her mother laughing in the living room and her stomach clenched.
She didn’t mind that her sister invited people over—this was Madeline’s house, too—but why did it have to be their mother? No matter how the evening went, Lori always ended up feeling like the odd one out.
“Hi, I’m home,” she called as she walked into the kitchen and set her purse on the counter.
“We’re in the living room,” Madeline called. “Come join us.”
Lori stood in the kitchen and wished for an excuse to escape to the quiet of her room. If only Reid had wanted to seduce her tonight. But he hadn’t been around when her shift had ended and she hadn’t been comfortable calling him on his cell to find out his plans. They might be physically involved, but she didn’t know or understand the parameters of their relationship. She had a feeling that answers were only a conversation away. But she was afraid to ask.
Talk about dumb, she told herself. She should be willing to ask what he was thinking and explain her own needs and desires. She prided herself on being a take-charge person, and she was. Everywhere but with Reid and her mother.
Evie walked into the kitchen and smiled at her. “Hi, Lori. Did you have a good day?”
“Yes, thanks. Gloria is doing better and better. I’d been concerned about how she would heal, but she’s moving forward all the time. She should be back to her regular life in a couple of months.”
Her mother linked arms with her and dragged her into the living room, then forced her onto the sofa and settled next to her.
“Your sister and I have a confession,” Evie said, then looked at Madeline and they both burst out laughing.
Lori glanced between them, not getting the joke. “What happened?”
Madeline waved her hand in the air. “It’s not a bad thing,” she said, barely able to speak between gasps of laughter. “Unless you’re the chicken.”
That set them off again. Lori tried to be patient, even though she felt a powerful need to scream. What was so damn funny?
“We were supposed to have chicken for dinner,” Evie said as she wiped at her eyes. “I came over to help Madeline get things started. We were seasoning the chicken. It was wet and slippery and it went flying across the room.”
She started to laugh again and couldn’t stop. Lori could see how an unruly chicken could be humorous, but this was a little extreme.
“Okay,” she said slowly. “And?”
Madeline pressed a hand to her chest. “I picked it up and when we were washing it off, it got away from us again. That chicken was determined not to go in the oven.”
“It’s true,” her mother said. “We dropped it twice more, but we finally got it seasoned and in the pan. We put it in the oven and came in here to recover. Then about five minutes before you got home we realized—” She erupted in laughter.
Madeline joined in, then gasped. “We forgot to turn on the oven.”
This set them off again. Lori tried to figure out the humor of forgetting to turn on the oven. Apparently it was one of those moments that had to be experienced in real time.
“The thing is,” her mother told her. “You would never have forgotten. That’s what I was telling Madeline when you came home. You were always the solid one, Lori. Not flaky like your sister and me.”
Lori held back an automatic protest that her sister wasn’t flaky.
Her mother’s laughter faded. “Oh, Lori, you were such a good little girl. I could depend on you to take care of things. In my sober moments, I used to think that wasn’t a good thing. Not that I blamed you. You’re the only reason we all survived. But with you around, I didn’t have to worry about what was happening at home. It was all taken care of.”
Lori didn’t know what to say to that. Her recollections were similar but she’d never thought of them in the context of holding the family together. She’d done what needed to be done because her mother was always drunk and Madeline was busy with her life.
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