Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(72) by Susan Mallery
She smiled. “That would be kind of scary.”
She looked at him, at the kindness in his eyes, at the smile that had become familiar to her. She liked him. She trusted him. He was a good man.
“Everything about leaving was scary,” he told her. “I’d been on exactly one date in my life before I made my decision to become a priest. I’d never held a job, lived totally alone, been a normal person. I’m still adjusting, but I like it. This is where I’m meant to be. Are you okay with that?”
Was she? She opened her mouth to say she was, but then she couldn’t. The knot in her gut hadn’t gone away.
“I have the most uncomfortable feeling that God is sending me a really big message. He’s telling me I’m not supposed to be with anyone right now,” she said. “For once, I think I’m going to listen. I’m sorry, Gary.”
She grabbed her purse and stood. He rose, but didn’t try to stop her. Disappointment darkened his pale eyes.
“Maybe if you took some time to get used to the idea,” he began.
She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’d like to stay friends, but I understand if you don’t want to do that. If you expected more.”
“I’d hoped,” he admitted.
Guilt flooded her. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she couldn’t ignore how she felt.
“I’m sorry,” she said and hurried away.
THE DOWNTOWN SPORTS BAR was crowded for a Thursday night—the Seahawks were playing so the place was busy and loud.
Reid stood behind the bar and leaned toward Mandy, one of the waitresses, to hear her drink order.
He hadn’t worked in weeks—not since the article in the paper. His only visits to the bar had been off-hours and low-key. But tonight he was filling in for a guy who’d gotten sick. He was taking a lot of crap from patrons, but he was dealing.
He poured two beers, then grabbed the bottles to make an apple martini. Not his choice for a football game, or anytime, but it wasn’t for him. He poured in the right amounts of the various liquors, dumped the ice from the martini glass, filled it up and set it on Mandy’s tray.
“Hey, Reid,” some guy at the bar yelled.
Reid turned toward the voice, but he couldn’t see who had spoken. They were two and three deep at the bar.
“Is it true you’re really lousy in bed?”
So far all the comments had been joking and friendly. This was the first direct confrontation.
Despite the fact that the Seahawks had the ball and were inches from a first down, the space around the bar went quiet. He wondered if the guy would have the guts to show himself.
The decision was made for the man when several people moved away, leaving a short, balding guy in his late thirties standing alone.
Reid looked at him, gave a slight smile, then asked, “You want to know for yourself?”
There was a moment of silence followed by an explosion of laughter. The guy shifted uncomfortably, muttered “No,” and slunk away.
“Anyone else interested?” Reid asked. “I’m here, I’m working. Take your best shot. I can handle it.”
“That’s not what that woman in the paper said,” another man called.
“Want your wife to give me a recommendation?” Reid asked with a grin. “She will.”
The guy grumbled, but didn’t show himself.
“Anyone else?” Reid asked. “You’ve got to have better lines than the ones I’ve been hearing. Come on. Nail me.”
A woman leaning on the bar smiled at him. “Why aren’t you mad? Guys I know would want that reporter’s blood.”
He took another order from one of the servers, then began to pour more beer.
“I was pissed at first,” he admitted. “Embarrassed, but then I realized it didn’t matter. I was a pitcher for a lot of years. Everybody who watched the game had an opinion about what I did and how I did it. Yet not one of them could come close to doing what I did. I learned there’s always some ass**le who can do a hell of a job on play-by-play but can’t last a second in the game. It’s the same with sex.”
The woman grinned and several of the guys around him laughed.
“The thing is,” Reid continued. “As many women as I’ve been with, I had to learn something. Right?”
“I know you did, darlin’,” the woman said with a smile that told him she was one of the many.
Not that he remembered anything about whatever time he’d spent with her.
Well, hell. What did that say about him? He could only imagine the choice words Lori would have for him if she knew there were women who had been in his bed and he didn’t remember anything about them. He couldn’t even pick them out of a line-up.
He continued filling drink orders and talking to the customers. No one else made any cracks about him, but he barely noticed. There was only one opinion that mattered. And the only way to keep her coming back was to make sure he was the kind of man she would want to be with for the rest of her life.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON, Reid got back to Gloria’s place about four-thirty. He took the stairs two at a time. Lori was working until six, and then she was joining him upstairs. He had big plans for the night. He’d ordered a great dinner, then he was going to seduce Lori three or four times, after which they’d have dessert.
As he’d spent a couple of hours in the gym, he wanted a shower before she showed up. He walked into his bedroom just as he pulled off his sweatshirt. So he didn’t see his surprise right away.
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