Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(83) by Susan Mallery
“He’s my father?”
Dani didn’t know what to think. “He’s running for president. Of the United States. You’re telling me my father is running for president?”
“His campaign is still in the exploratory stage, but that’s what I’ve heard.”
Dani sank back into the chair and tried to catch her breath. She couldn’t get her mind around this life-altering reality.
“I can’t believe it,” she murmured. “Mark Canfield? I know who he is. I voted for him.”
“I’m sure he’ll be delighted to hear that,” Gloria said with a smile.
REID WOKE in the middle of the night and found himself alone in the bed. He lay there for a second before getting up and walking into the living room.
Lori sat curled up in a corner of the sofa. Outside, street light spilled through partially opened drapes and allowed him to see she was awake.
“Bad dreams?” he asked as he settled next to her.
She shrugged. “When I can sleep, which isn’t often.”
“You could take something.”
“I’m not ready to resort to medicating myself, although I’m close to giving in on that front.” She drew in a breath. “Why are you up?”
“You were gone.”
She didn’t answer that. He put his arm on her shoulder to draw her close, but there was a stiffness in her body that resisted his attempt to offer comfort. Uneasiness settled in his gut.
She was still deeply mourning the loss of her sister. This was hardly the time to talk about their relationship, yet he felt compelled to say something.
“You’ve been quiet,” he told her. “I know you’re going through a lot. I’ve been hanging around to help. Would you rather I wasn’t here?”
She turned to him, her eyes dark and unreadable in the half light. “I think that would be better. I need some space right now.”
It was as if she’d crawled inside his chest and drop-kicked his heart. The rejection was as sharp as it was instant. He didn’t know what to think, what to say. Lori didn’t want him around. Lori didn’t want him.
“I, ah, okay.” He stood. “I’ll go.”
He paused for a second, but when she didn’t say anything else, he had no choice but to leave.
As he got dressed he remembered all the times she’d worried that he would be the one crushing her. Looks like she’d spent too much time worrying and he hadn’t spent enough.
GLORIA THREW DOWN her napkin. “What’s wrong with you? You’re hanging around the house too much. Frankly, you’re starting to get on my nerves.”
Reid looked at his grandmother. “I can move out anytime.”
She sniffed. “I’m not ready for that, but I want to know why you’re so quiet and moody. While Madeline was a perfectly lovely young woman, you hardly knew her. So it can’t be that.”
It wasn’t. “I miss Lori,” he said quietly, knowing at this point there was no reason to hide from the truth. It slapped him in the face every single minute of the day. “I finally found the woman I want to be with and we can never have a relationship.”
“Why on earth not? The girl’s crazy about you. She has been from the beginning. I tried to warn her off, but would she listen? Of course not. Young people today.”
“She’s not crazy about me anymore. She barely speaks to me. About a week ago I asked her if she’d like me to stop coming around all the time, if she needed space. She said it would be better that way.” He stared at his uneaten dinner. “She can’t forgive me, which I understand. I can’t forgive myself.”
“For what?” his grandmother demanded. “What is your horrible crime?”
How could she not know? How could she want him to say it aloud? Unless this was her way of forcing him to take responsibility.
“I’m the reason Madeline died.”
“You’ve always had a flair for the dramatic,” Gloria muttered. “Dear God, Reid. You weren’t in the operating room. It’s not as if you ran her over with a car. How is any of this your fault?”
“I found the donor. I insisted on moving forward with that.”
“So she could have a chance. The new liver was supposed to save her life.”
“But it didn’t,” he said, feeling the helpless fury rise up inside of him. “It didn’t do a damn thing. If I’d just left things alone, she could have had another year. Do you know what that year would have meant to her? To Lori and her mother?”
“I do know,” Gloria told him. “But you’re taking your already overdeveloped sense of self-importance a little too far. Be logical for a moment. Madeline wanted a liver transplant. You didn’t force this upon her. Lori and her mother wanted it, as well. As far as they’re concerned, you made a miracle happen.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I have a good idea about it. Besides, based on what you told me, the doctor said Madeline would never have survived any major surgery. She had a heart condition no one knew about. So regardless of who found the donor, she would never have made it.”
“But she wouldn’t have died that day,” he said heatedly. “Maybe, with time, she would have had a chance.”
“Or not. You did the best you could. Reid, you put yourself up for public ridicule in an effort to save someone’s life. You acted as you did with the best of intentions. No one blames you. Not even Lori.”
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