Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(63) by Susan Mallery
“I remember Lori nagging me to eat,” Madeline said. “Or at least eat better than I was.”
“She did the same with me,” Evie added. “I can see that sweet little girl, standing in the kitchen, holding a big pot and yelling that we were all going to sit down and eat together, even if she had to physically make us.”
Lori felt a rush of memories, most of them bad. She pushed them away, as she always did, but her mother kept talking about how much Lori had done.
“I would have been lost without you,” Evie said. “Have I told you that? It’s true.”
Lori felt incredibly uncomfortable. She and her mother didn’t get along. Bonding wasn’t allowed. “I didn’t do that much.”
“Of course you did. Part of recovery is acknowledging what the alcohol did to your family. In your case, Lori, my drinking forced you to grow up too soon. You became the mom. I never wanted that.”
Lori squirmed in her seat. “It’s fine,” she murmured, wishing they could talk about something else. She didn’t want to hear any of this.
“It’s not fine,” her mother said. “I wish things had been different.” She frowned. “Where are your glasses? Did you get contacts?”
“She had Lasik surgery,” Madeline said, sounding smug. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
“She’ll never be as pretty as you,” her mother said.
The comment made Madeline grimace, but helped put Lori’s world back in perspective.
“Eye surgery?” Evie asked. “I didn’t think you’d want to do something like that.”
“I can’t wear contacts,” Lori said. “I tried and there’s just no way. Now I don’t have to worry about glasses.”
“Is there a man?” her mother asked bluntly. “Women always do stupid things for a man.”
Lori distinctly remembered wishing for a change in topic. Now that it was here, she was having second thoughts.
“I didn’t do it for a man,” Lori said firmly. “I like being able to see without glasses.”
Her mother looked unimpressed.
Lori hated sounding like she’d changed herself for Reid. He’d been the catalyst but not the reason. “Okay, fine. I am kind of seeing someone. It’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing,” Madeline said. “It’s fabulous and so is he. Remember Reid Buchanan? He’s that hunky baseball player who blew out his shoulder last year and had to retire.”
“I don’t remember that,” Evie told her. “But wasn’t there a mean article about him in the paper recently? Something about him not being…” Her mother’s voice trailed off.
Lori didn’t know what to say. This was a true definition of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. “It wasn’t true,” she said at last. “Not any of it.”
Evie and Madeline exchanged a look. Lori didn’t want to know what either of them were thinking.
“He’s great,” Madeline said. “He adores Lori.”
“I’m glad.” Evie smiled. “It’s time you found someone.”
Lori supposed life was never all one way and neither were people. Evie was trying. Failing, but trying.
LORI SCOOPED some orange chicken onto her plate. “This is really good,” she said. “Where’s the takeout place?”
“A couple of streets down. I’ll show you. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but the food is great.”
She and Reid sat on the floor, backs against the sofa in his living room in Gloria’s house. The coffee table was covered with open takeout containers. Reid had provided dinner and a chilled bottle of Chardonnay. While Lori was confident they would move into the bedroom later, it felt good just to hang out. More normal, maybe.
“It was strange last night with my mother,” she said, returning to their previous topic of conversation. “I know she’s trying to reach out and I’m beginning to believe she feels badly for what happened all those years she was drinking. I know forgiving her is the right thing to do.”
Reid looked at her. “You will when you’re ready.”
Sometimes she wanted to forgive all and get close to her mother and sometimes she was so angry, she wanted the other woman punished forever.
She still remembered being ten years old and breaking her mother’s favorite glass. It had been tall and slender, perfect for mixing drinks without too much ice getting in the way of the alcohol.
Lori had been washing the dishes and the glass had slipped, breaking into dozens of sharp shards. Her mother had been drunk and angry. When Lori had confessed, Evie had started screaming.
“You’re useless,” she’d yelled. “I’m sorry you were born. You’re nothing but an accident. An accident I didn’t want. I have one perfect daughter—why would I want a horrible girl like you?”
The pain still cut as easily as those pieces of the broken glass.
“I know when Madeline’s gone, she’ll be the only family I have left. That should mean something. I keep thinking if I tried harder, I could get over everything.”
“No one is saying you have to,” he told her.
“I know, but I feel guilty for not accepting her changes and moving on. It’s weird. We were talking about the past. I realized we all remember different situations or the same incident, but in a different way. I guess that’s about perspective. I saw what mattered to me, Madeline saw what mattered to her.”
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