Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(82) by Susan Mallery
“She knew. Don’t you think she knew? You asked her to come live with you in her time of need. You opened your heart and your life. You were saving money so you wouldn’t have to work her last months. She knew all that. She would have loved you anyway, but she loved you for that. She respected and admired you. She told me.”
Lori felt her eyes fill and for the first time since hearing that her sister had died, she cried.
Big, fat, hot tears spilled down her cheeks. Sobs shook her body.
“I m-miss her,” she said, her voice thick and broken. “I miss her so much. I want her back. I know she had to try with the transplant and I’ll always be grateful she died with hope, but, God, I miss her.”
“I know you do.”
They held on to each other, connected by a grief that seemed endless. Eventually the tears slowed. Lori wiped her face.
“Mom, do you want to come live with me?”
Her mother smiled at her. “I appreciate the offer, but we’re both too stubborn for that to ever work. But I would like us to be close. We have each other and I don’t want to waste a moment of that.”
BETWEEN HER NEW JOB and helping Lori and her mother through the funeral, Dani hadn’t had much free time. So it was another week before she found an empty afternoon and the courage to face Gloria.
She parked in front of the large, old house and stared up at the sparkling windows. As a child, the house had terrified her. As a teenager, it had represented a place to escape from. She’d never been comfortable inside the well-decorated walls and she didn’t expect to feel any better at the end of this meeting. But she had to try.
She’d called Gloria and had asked for a meeting, explaining the purpose and, despite the older woman’s civilized behavior at the funeral, had expected to be shut down. But the woman she would always think of as her grandmother had agreed.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Dani muttered to herself as she climbed out of her car, then walked toward the front door. “She just wants to torture me in person.”
There was no other logical explanation for Gloria’s agreeing to see her. Still, she couldn’t help the spark of hope that burned inside.
She was let in by Reid who gave her a thumbs-up after he led her to Gloria’s room. Apparently the accident meant she couldn’t climb stairs because Gloria sat in a wing chair in the study. The room had been converted to a comfortable bedroom, complete with an adjustable bed and large television.
“Hello, Dani,” Gloria said. “Have a seat.”
“Thanks.” Dani crossed to the other chair in the room and sank down. “You’re doing much better. You seemed to be getting around pretty well at Madeline’s funeral.”
Gloria shrugged. “I’m healing, but still getting older and older. It sucks, but there we are.”
Dani blinked. She’d never heard her grandmother use the word “sucks” before. It was kind of scary to hear it now.
“I understand you went to work for Bella Roma? An interesting choice.”
“I’m happy with it. Bernie is great to work for.”
“His mother can be a bit of a challenge.”
Dani remembered that Mama Giuseppe hadn’t had very much nice to say about Gloria and wondered about a past the two might share.
“I’m enjoying the new place,” Dani said, going for a neutral response. “It is challenging, but fun. Great people, great customers and the food is amazing.”
Gloria studied her. “I haven’t seen much of you lately.”
“Why is that?”
Dani stared at the other woman, unable to believe the question. “You made it clear I wasn’t family in the cruelest way possible. You deliberately hurt me. Why would I want to come back for more and why would you want me to?”
Gloria looked down. “Yes, I suppose when you put it like that…”
There was an uncomfortable silence. Dani found herself feeling almost guilty, which really pissed her off. None of this was her fault. She hadn’t done anything wrong. So why did she feel like apologizing?
“I don’t want to keep you,” Gloria said, pointing to a folder on the bookcase. “That’s for you. There’s basic information about your father inside. I didn’t bother with anything else because you’ll be able to find out whatever most interests you yourself.”
Dani stared at the folder, but didn’t reach for it at once. “You’re going to tell me his name?”
“Of course, Dani. I understand why you’re doing this, but please be careful. A man in your father’s position…” She sighed. “It won’t be easy. You have to understand that.”
Dani stood up and grabbed the folder, but didn’t open it. “What aren’t you telling me? Is he a murderer? Someone I’ll hate?”
“Not at all. He’s—” She waved at the folder. “Open it, for heaven’s sake. Then you’ll understand what I mean.”
Dani sucked in a breath, then flipped open the folder. The top sheet of paper showed a picture of a man in his early fifties. His face was handsome, smiling and incredibly familiar.
Shock held her frozen. She couldn’t read the words underneath or bring herself to turn the page. She looked back at Gloria.
“Mark Canfield?” she asked, her voice breathless. “Senator Canfield?”
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