Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(77) by Susan Mallery
“If you’re giving up on guys, you’ll have time to devote yourself to your work. Lord knows I did that plenty,” Penny said.
Dani nodded, then reached for a pen sticking out from under a stack of paperwork. “I’ve been thinking about getting in touch with my dad.”
Penny leaned back in her chair. “That’s a big step. Did you find out more about him?”
Dani shook her head. “I don’t even know his name. I talked to a private investigator, but she told me what I’ve already guessed. Without more information, I’m screwed. I need something to go on. I asked my brothers, but they don’t know anything, either.”
“You know what the next step has to be,” Penny said gently.
Dani’s stomach tightened. “I’m not giving Gloria another chance to screw with my life. Once was enough.”
“She’s the only one who knows anything. Just think about it,” Penny said. “She’s changed. I don’t know why or how. Maybe she hit her head when she fell or maybe the day nurse really did work a miracle. I just know she’s not the same awful woman you know.”
“I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of begging. It means she wins.”
“Doesn’t she also win if you spend your whole life wondering?”
Dani didn’t answer—they both already knew Penny was right. But ask Gloria for help?
“I’ll think about it,” she said slowly. “I hate that she still has control over me.”
“She doesn’t. Not if you don’t let her.”
LORI STOOD at the end of the hospital corridor and watched the swinging doors close behind her sister. She sent up a quick prayer that everything would be all right, then walked back to the waiting room where she would spend the day anxious for news.
But as she stepped into the open space, she saw it wasn’t the same airy, empty room it had been an hour before. Now the three sofas and dozen or so chairs were overflowing with people and supplies.
Penny looked up and saw her first. She smiled kindly. “We invaded,” she announced. “I brought plenty to eat because it’s going to be a long day and, hello, hospital food? I don’t think so.” She motioned to several coolers stacked along the wall. “Drinks, salads, entrees, desserts. Sugar seems mandatory at times like these. How are you holding up?”
Lori felt overwhelmed, but managed to nod. “I’m good.”
Reid walked up and hugged her. “Did you tell dirty jokes?” he asked.
It had been his bizarre and yet oddly charming suggestion to fill the few minutes before Madeline was taken to surgery.
“Tried?” he repeated. “I gave you great material.”
“I know, but she was already pretty out of it. She laughed, though.”
That was the image Lori would hold in her mind. Madeline laughing at the lesbian frog joke.
“So my family is here,” he said unnecessarily.
Lori glanced around. Cal held baby Allison in his arms. Walker and Elissa unpacked bags filled with paper plates and glasses. Zoe, Elissa’s daughter, lined up several stuffed animals as if she was going to hold class.
“You didn’t have to ask them to come,” she said, surprised by their willingness to be a part of a very long day.
“I didn’t ask them. I told them I was going to be here with you and they came on their own.”
Her throat tightened. “You’re really good to me,” she whispered, staring into his dark eyes. “I want you to know that I’m incredibly grateful. You went on television and let those reporters torture you, all so my sister could have a chance. Now she’s getting a new liver and it’s all because of you.”
He stroked her cheek. “Don’t give me too much credit. A donor might have been found regardless.”
“I don’t think so. You’re the best man I know.”
He gazed into her eyes. “Lori, I—”
Lori turned and saw a pretty, petite woman walk into the waiting room. She was in her late twenties, with big eyes and a familiar smile.
“My sister, Dani,” Reid told Lori. “Come say hi.”
Dani had already greeted her brothers, Elissa and Penny. She turned to Lori.
“Hi. It’s great to finally meet you,” Dani said. “I’m sorry it has to be like this, with your sister in surgery.”
“Thanks for coming.”
“Not a problem. We Buchanans hang together.” Dani grinned. “Besides, how could I not want to meet the woman who trapped the infamous Reid Buchanan?”
Lori felt herself blush. “I didn’t exactly trap him.”
“I’m not trapped,” Reid grumbled. “I’m here willingly.”
“Uh-huh.” Dani’s expression was knowing. “Call it what you want. You’re off the market and hearts are breaking across this great nation.”
Lori didn’t know what to say to that. Dani excused herself and went to take her niece from Cal. Reid wrapped his arms around Lori.
She let herself relax into his embrace and felt her tension ease away. Funny how being close to him made her feel so safe.
“They don’t have to stay,” she said quietly. “The operation is going to take all day and maybe into the night. No one has to stay.”
“They know,” he whispered in her ear. “I told them they’re free to leave, but I’m guessing they’ll be here for the duration. So you’re stuck with us.”
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