Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(69) by Susan Mallery
“We have a good financial start,” one of the men said.
“I agree.” Reid leaned forward. “I’m hoping we’ll have more. I’ve never been one for endorsement deals, but I’m willing to do them now. All the money I earn for speaking for companies willing to pay will go back into the foundation. I’m going to use my name and my former career to get into places most people can’t. I want to bring attention to where it’s needed. If that means taking a couple of hits from the press, I’m willing to do it.”
He stood. “Each of you brings expertise to the table. For some of you, it’s managing money. Others have a gift for finding out where that money should go. If you’re wondering about Lori’s job.” He nodded at her. “She’s here to keep us grounded. Her professional background is in nursing. She knows how to deal with people going through a rough time. She’ll keep us on track.”
He smiled at her.
It was one of those melt-your-socks kind of smiles that made her pulse rate double. The woman sitting next to her leaned close.
“Okay, now I’m breathing hard and I’m happily married.”
“Tell me about it,” Lori whispered back.
Reid continued to talk about what he wanted them to accomplish. As she listened she wondered if this was a dream. All her life she’d been too afraid to go for the happy ending. This time she wanted it enough to try. Enough to risk her heart and the possible fall that waited just out of reach.
REID PARKED at the edge of the dock. “I know it’s not a restaurant. Is this okay?”
Lori looked around at the lake, the twinkling lights of the houses on the other side, and the tidy row of houseboats at the end of the dock.
“It’s great,” she said. “Are you cooking?”
He grinned. “Not a chance. Food will be delivered later. Come on. I’ve been gone long enough that there shouldn’t be any press lurking around.”
He led the way to the houseboat. As Lori breathed in the damp air and the scent of water and plants, she realized that if the press really had backed off, then Reid didn’t have any reason to stay at Gloria’s house much longer. Which meant she wouldn’t be seeing him as much.
The thought saddened her, so she pushed it away and instead concentrated on the two-story houseboat in front of her.
The structure was dark blue with white trim around the many windows and set away from the neighbors. Planters lined the walkway leading to the front door. Reid unlocked the door, then leaned in and hit a couple of light switches. Lori stepped into a surprisingly open space done in leather and wood.
There was a fireplace and a view of the lights, hardwood floors, warm area rugs and a staircase leading to the second floor.
Beyond the living room was a dining area and a doorway to what looked to be an impressive kitchen. On the other side was a study.
Everything was perfect. Bookshelves lined the angled stairway, taking advantage of unused space. There were trunks in corners, display shelves, welcoming colors and a real sense of home.
“It’s beautiful,” she told him. “Really perfect and amazing. I thought you’d be more the high-rise condo type.”
He shrugged. “I looked at some, but then I saw this place and I bought it the same day. It was old, so we gutted the place and built new.”
“We?” She did her best to hold in a wave of jealousy. “Let me guess. Tall, blond, big boobs and Southern?”
Reid moved toward her and kissed her. “You think you know everything, but you’re wrong. My decorator was a guy and I didn’t sleep with him.”
A guy? She liked that.
“Before you can ask,” he said, touching her face, then easing his fingers into her hair. “I don’t bring women here. This is my place. It’s private. You’re the first.”
If she hadn’t already been in love with him, that single statement probably would have pushed her over the edge. She drew in a breath, not sure what she wanted to say, only to be saved from possibly confessing something she might regret by a knock on the door.
Reid released her and let in a delivery guy. After paying the man, he took the two shopping bags from him and walked into the kitchen.
“Chicken marsala, pasta, a salad and a special decadent cake for dessert,” he told her. “I went with chocolate because I know you go crazy for it.” He grinned. “I’m trying to seduce you. How am I doing so far?”
He was the best-looking man she’d ever seen, but that didn’t seem to matter anymore. While the chemical attraction was still as powerful as ever and probably would be as long as she drew breath, it wasn’t the reason she was here.
She was here because of who he was. He hadn’t seduced her with his body—he’d seduced her with his soul. The man inside, the heart of him, called to her with a song she couldn’t resist.
She crossed to him, took the bags from him and set them on the counter. Then she leaned close and kissed him.
“I don’t need chocolate,” she whispered against his mouth. “Not when I have you.”
“Tonight you get to have both. Pretty close to heaven, huh?”
She smiled. “Closer than you know.”
“I’M GOING TO cut your sandwich into tiny bites and then feed them to you,” Reid said with a grin. “Later, I’ll read to you.”
His grandmother glared at him. “You’ll do no such thing. I might still be recovering from a broken hip, but I’m strong enough to throw things at your head.”
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