Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(80) by Susan Mallery
Dani hung up the phone and waved him over.
“I’ve talked to the hospital and I have the information on when they’re going to release Madeline’s body. They need the name of the funeral home. Not right now, but probably by tomorrow. I also called my boss. He’s given me today and tomorrow off so I can stay here and make arrangements.”
Reid leaned down and kissed the top of his sister’s head. Penny was great with food and Dani could organize an army. Together they would all get things done.
“Thanks, kid,” he said.
“I want to help.”
He wanted to make things better, but how?
He felt a soft touch on his arm and turned to find Lori standing behind him.
“We should call some people,” she said. “Friends and stuff. We have a few relatives.”
“I’ll do it,” Dani said gently. “If you show me where to find the names and numbers, I’ll make the calls.”
“Okay.” Lori was pale and looked as if she weren’t quite sure where she was. “There will be a funeral. There has to be.”
“We’ll all help with that,” Reid said. “We can take care of the details. You don’t have to do anything.”
Her lower lip quivered. He reached out and pulled her against him just as she collapsed. He grabbed her, then lifted her into his arms and carried her into her bedroom. From the corner of his eye, he saw Dani sitting next to Lori’s mother and putting an arm around her.
“She’s gone,” Lori whispered. “I can’t believe she’s gone. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
He set Lori on the bed and stretched out next to her. She curled up against him. He wrapped his arms around her.
“It hurts,” she said, her voice shaking. “It hurts so much. I don’t want her to be dead. I don’t. It’s awful and I can’t cry.”
“You will,” he told her, as he stroked her hair. “You have plenty of time for tears.”
A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER, Reid drove back to Gloria’s house. Dani and Penny would sit with Lori and her mom for a while, so he could take care of a few things. Then he would return to Lori’s house to do what he could there.
Anger grew inside of him. Anger and guilt and the need to fight someone…anyone. But who? The only person to blame was himself.
“You couldn’t call?” Gloria said when he walked into her room. “I’ve been waiting by the phone. It’s not as if I had anywhere to go, but I’ve been worried. It’s a complicated surgery and…” She drew in a breath. “What happened? You look terrible.”
He sat on the edge of the bed and took Gloria’s hand in his. “Madeline died during surgery.”
The color fled his grandmother’s face. In a matter of seconds she looked old and frail.
“No,” she whispered. “No. That can’t be. She was supposed to be fine. She was supposed to make it. She can’t have died. Poor Lori. And her mother. They must be devastated.”
“That poor child.”
“She won’t be coming into work for a while. I’ll try to pick up as much of the slack as I can. Sandy said she’d fill in a little extra. Is that enough or do you want me to hire another nurse?”
Gloria’s eyes filled with tears. “No one else,” she whispered. “I’m fine. Getting stronger every day. I’ll be all right.”
“I know you will be.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead.
“I want to help,” Gloria said. “Do they need something?”
“It’s all taken care of. Dani is arranging the funeral and making calls to family and friends. Penny’s getting food in the house. Walker and Cal are running errands.”
“I want to go to the funeral. I can make it,” she added before he could say anything.
“Then you should go.” He released her. “I’m going upstairs. I have to make some calls, but I’ll be back down in an hour or so. You’ll be all right?”
“Go. I’m fine.”
She waved him away and he left. When he reached his room, he closed the door, walked to the sofa and sank down. Only then did he let his emotions loose. They swept over him, surrounding him, speaking the truth in a volume he couldn’t help but hear.
Madeline was dead because of him. He’d killed her as surely as if he’d stopped her heart himself.
He’d been so intent on proving himself by finding her a donor. He’d been so damned proud of himself. He’d wanted to be the hero and instead he was the reason Madeline had lost the last year she was going to live.
She could have still been alive today—living with Lori, talking, laughing, being. Maybe there would have been a cure, or a better donor. Maybe she would have been ready.
He’d heard what she’d said the day before the surgery. That she wanted more time. Because she felt responsible for him going on television, she’d gone forward with the surgery.
It was his fault. He had to go and try to fix things. To show off. To try to make up for all the other screw-ups. But look what had happened.
He’d ruined things when he hadn’t been trying and he’d made things worse when he’d been doing his best. He couldn’t win for losing.
He sat there for a long time, feeling the anger and regret. Knowing that Lori could never forgive him for taking the most precious part of her life and killing it. All he’d wanted was to help the woman he loved and instead he’d destroyed her.
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