Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(70) by Susan Mallery
“But can you hit me?” he asked. “I’m not sure about your aim.”
“Where do you think you inherited your pitching ability?” Gloria’s mouth pulled on the corners, as if she were trying not to smile. “You’re in a good mood this morning. Why is that?”
Because, for once, his life was working. Ever since he blew out his shoulder and had to retire from baseball he’d wondered what the hell he was going to do with himself. Baseball had been his world. At last there were possibilities.
“I’m at one with the universe,” he joked. “I have a serene spirit.”
Gloria rolled her eyes. “You’re annoying, but I’m going to put up with it. Starting the foundation was the right decision.”
He didn’t need her approval, but it was good to hear the words. “I think so.”
“I’m not happy about your interviews. You’ve humiliated the entire family.”
No change was perfect, he thought as he pulled up a chair and sat down. “It’s necessary and the price of getting my message out.”
Gloria lay on her bed. She’d been dressing for the past couple of weeks and getting her hair done. Except for the fact that she wore casual clothing instead of power suits, she looked much as she always had. The frail and broken woman from a couple of months ago had disappeared.
“You’re healing,” he said. “That’s good.”
“It was get better or die,” his grandmother said. “Lori pushed me, but she was right to do it.” Her eyes narrowed. “I know you’re seeing her.”
Not a surprise. They hadn’t been subtle or secretive. “Yes, I am.”
“How serious are things?”
“I’m not discussing my personal life with you.”
“Why not? I’m your grandmother.”
He grinned. “I’m actually clear on our relationship. You’ve been my grandmother most of my life.”
She sighed. “You’re tremendously annoying.”
“Charming. You meant to say charming.”
“I did not. I want to talk about Lori.”
“I want to know what you’re doing with her.”
He knew she meant in a relationship sense, not a sexual sense, but either way, he wasn’t talking. There were a couple of reasons. Keeping Gloria out of his personal business made a lot of sense. Just as important, he didn’t know how to answer the question.
He knew Lori mattered. She mattered a lot. He didn’t want to think about his feelings or define them, but they were there. Growing. He felt good when he was around her and he missed her when he wasn’t. For now, that was enough.
“Reid,” his grandmother snapped. “I asked you a question.”
“Lori is off-limits.”
“I could say the same thing to you.”
“I know you care about her. So do I.”
“I’m not going to break her heart,” Gloria told him. “You very well may.”
“I won’t,” he said and meant it. “Besides, how do you know she won’t be the one hurting me?”
His grandmother didn’t say anything. Instead she looked out the window, as if she knew something she didn’t want to tell him. Had she and Lori talked? But before he could ask, his grandmother said, “I’ve heard there have been calls about donating. How is that going?”
“Good. No matches yet. Madeline’s blood type isn’t going to make matching easy, but it’s possible. The good news is a guy whose liver was seriously damaged in a car accident in Kansas is getting a new liver. So one life was saved.”
“Does that make it worth it?” she asked. “I’ve seen the interviews. They’re not being easy on you.”
If being publicly humiliated about his sexual performance on national television counted as “not being easy” then she was right.
“It’s worth it,” he told her. “Even if no one’s life was saved, it would still be worth it. People need to donate and I’m reminding them of that.”
His grandmother reached for his hand. He leaned forward and grabbed her fingers.
“I’m proud of you,” she told him.
“Thanks,” he said, and meant it. For reasons he couldn’t begin to explain her words mattered. A lot.
DANI TOSSED her car keys to the valet and then hurried into the restaurant. She saw Gary waiting by the window and rushed up to him.
“I’m late,” she said by way of greeting. “I’m sorry. It’s only my second day at the restaurant and there’s so much to learn. I lost track of time.”
Gary smiled at her, then stunned her by leaning in and kissing her cheek. “Hi. I’m not mad. You look happy.”
“I am. I love my job. I know it’s early and I’m still in the fun part of work, but I love it. I love the staff, the customers. I adore the food. It’s amazing. I may actually have to start exercising to keep from gaining weight.”
She kept talking—make that babbling—some from excitement, but mostly out of shock. Sure, Gary’s light brush across her cheek was hardly news-worthy, but his caress had been unexpected. Nice, but unexpected.
She resisted the need to put her fingers on the spot his mouth had been as she tried to figure out what she felt. There hadn’t been any kind of zing of excitement, but that was okay, right? Sex wasn’t everything. Gary might not make her thighs go up in flames, but she liked him.
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