Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(78) by Susan Mallery
If this was stuck, she was all for it, she thought. Love welled up inside of her. Love and need and a sense of being very lucky. But this wasn’t the time and these weren’t the right circumstances for her confession. When she knew Madeline had come through she would tell Reid how she felt about him. She would take the step of faith and hope for good news. If he didn’t love her back, she would survive. At least she would know. She was done holding back because she was afraid.
She looked around, then frowned. “Where’s my mom?”
“In the chapel. She wanted to go pray, but she said she’d be back in a while. Penny showed off some of the food. If nothing else, that should entice her to come back.”
Lori didn’t think anything could make her or her mother eat today. Despite the distraction the Buchanan clan offered, part of her mind was focused only on the surgery. How far had they progressed? Had the donor liver arrived yet? And what about the other family—the one living with grief instead of hope? How was she ever to thank them for giving her sister a second chance?
An hour later, Lori’s mother returned to the waiting room. Lori and Reid introduced her to everyone, then Lori took her aside.
“How are you doing, Mom?” she asked, noting the older woman’s dark circles under her eyes and the pain bracketing her mouth.
“Just hanging in there. Everything is in God’s hands now. I’ve prayed until I’ve run out of words. In a few minutes, I’ll go back and pray some more.”
“That’s all we can do,” Lori told her.
Her mother nodded. “I have a good feeling about this. Madeline deserves a second chance.” Tears filled her eyes. She reached for Lori’s hands. “I know I don’t deserve one. I know I hurt you so much, for so long. I’m sorry for that. If you don’t believe anything else about me, believe that.”
Lori’s own eyes blurred as she tried not to cry. “Mom, you don’t have to—”
“Yes, I do. I should have said something a long time ago. I know you’re angry with me, Lori, and who can blame you? I want to blame the alcohol. I want to blame being drunk, but there’s no excuse. I hurt you and you were just a little girl. That’s what breaks my heart. You were a sweet, loving child and I never told you that. I never said that I loved you. But I did. I do. The only person I hated was myself. Can you understand that?”
Lori understood the intent behind the message if not the words themselves. She nodded slowly.
Her mother sighed. “I was not a happy drunk. You know that better than anyone. The things I said…” She shuddered. “If I could go back in time, I would take you in my arms and let you know how important and special I thought you were. I still think that. But I’m afraid you believe this is all because of Madeline. That because I might lose one daughter, I now want a relationship with you.”
Pride and old wounds battled with the need to move on. In the end, connection won. Whatever else existed between them, they were family. She reached out and took her mother’s hand.
“I know you’ve been trying to connect with me for a while now,” she said quietly. “It’s not about Madeline.”
“It’s not,” her mother insisted, fresh tears trickling down her cheeks. “It’s about all of us. You always talk about your sister being perfect. She was never that. None of us are. I love you both, so much. I want us to be a family.”
Lori swallowed. “I want that, too, Mom.”
Her mother brushed away her tears, then glanced around the crowded waiting area. They had a small corner to themselves and the Buchanans talked to each other, as if to give them privacy.
“I like your young man,” her mother said. “Oh, dear. That’s a horribly old expression my grandmother would have used.”
“I know what you mean,” Lori told her with a grin. “And I agree. He’s very special.”
“You should hang on to him.”
“I plan to.”
They hugged. Her mother’s embrace was unfamiliar, but Lori was determined it wouldn’t stay that way. Family was too important for them not to connect. All of them getting along would be a great incentive for Madeline to recover even more quickly.
Elissa inched toward them. “Are you two okay?” she asked. “Can I get you anything? Penny was thinking of serving lunch.” She looked at her watch. “Make that a late breakfast. There’s tons of food. I made pie, which now that I think about it is weird, but Walker loves my pies.” She stopped. “Sorry. I’m babbling. I don’t know what to say.”
Lori hadn’t spent much time with Elissa, but in that second, she found she really liked her a lot.
“You don’t have to say anything. Just you taking the time to be here means a lot. Mom and I appreciate the support.” Lori thought for a second. “You know what? I’d love a slice of pie.”
Her mother stared at her. “It’s barely nine in the morning.”
“I know, and I want pie.”
Her mother smiled. “I guess I do, too. Is there whipped cream?”
Elissa laughed. “I’m sure Penny brought some. She thought of everything.”
“Your daughter is great,” Lori said as Elissa sliced pie. “Really well behaved. At her age I would have been bouncing off the walls.”
“She’s always been easy,” Elissa told Lori. “It helps that she’s hanging out with Walker. She says he’s the handsome prince in our lives.”
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