Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(85) by Susan Mallery
His temper surprised her, as did her reaction to it. She was more than ready to fight. “Because you have a long history of taking the easy way out. We’ve talked about it. You don’t hang around when things get difficult.”
“In my past,” he said. “When, with you, have I ever flaked out?”
Good question. “You haven’t had the chance.”
“Oh, great. So you’re just waiting around for me to screw up? Because that’s what I do, right?”
“No. I don’t mean that.” She didn’t. Not exactly.
“So what did you mean? You dumped me before I could dump you?”
“No,” she told him. “I’m in mourning here.”
“A convenient excuse.”
“You should know—you’re the king of them.”
He shook his head. “You talk about me. Sure I’ve spent my life taking the easy way out. Well, you’ve spent your life not even trying. At least I show up.”
The unfairness and the truthfulness of the statement cut her. “You don’t know anything about me,” she said, her voice getting loud. “You don’t know what it’s like to live in someone’s shadow.”
“Bullshit,” he said in a low voice. “You called me on using my sad past with Jenny as an excuse to hide. Allow me to return the favor. You stopped hanging out in Madeline’s shadow a long time ago. Sure the story worked while you were still a kid, but you’ve been on your own for a long time now. You have a career, a house, you’re more than capable of taking on the world. So why are you so damned afraid to step up and take a chance?”
How could he be hounding her like this? Didn’t he know what she was going through?
“Why were you always so convinced that I could never really want you?” he asked when she didn’t say anything.
“Because you couldn’t,” she yelled.
“So this has all just been a game? I’m playing you?”
“Maybe,” she muttered.
“Yes,” she told him. “Yes, this is easy and convenient and fun and when it gets hard, you won’t be here.”
Then she started to cry because as she said the words aloud, she knew that the last couple of weeks had been hard and he’d been with her every step of the way. He’d never flinched from any of the emotional messiness. She’d been the one hiding, the one afraid to believe she was worth loving.
“If that’s what you really think,” he said quietly, “then I don’t belong here.”
He turned to leave.
It was like drowning. In that second, Lori saw her entire life flash before her. But it wasn’t the years she’d already lived—it was the years to come. The old, empty years of regret. Years where she would search the local papers for some word of Reid. Where she would waste her life wondering how things could have been different.
She could see herself hiding in a crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, wishing he would look up and see her and give her another chance. She could see years of playing it safe.
She ran into the living room and grabbed his arm before he could reach the front door. “Don’t go. Please. Don’t.”
She brushed at the tears in her eyes so she could see him. “Reid, don’t go. I love you. I love you so much. I’m terrified you’ll leave and I’ll never survive that. So I thought it was better to get over you now. To hold back, to push you away. I’m afraid. But that’s not fair to either of us. I’ve always hidden because it was easy and safe. But it’s lonely and not how I want to live my life anymore.”
“What if I don’t love you back?” he asked.
She felt cold all over. “Then you’re really stupid,” she said, trying for bravado and failing. “It’ll hurt, but I’ll recover. It’s easier to get over a heartbreak than it is to try to heal from regrets. And I would regret pushing you away. I’d regret it for the rest of my life.”
She decided to be more honest with him than she’d ever been with anyone…including herself. “I’ve spent too long not trying. Giving up instead of risking. That stops now. I love you, no matter what. You are a part of who I am.”
“I love you, too.”
She blinked at him. “You do?”
“I do. I love you in a way I’ve never loved anyone. You bring out the best in me, Lori. You don’t let me get away with anything. You’re not easy, but you’re the greatest time I’ve ever had.” He grabbed her hands, raised them and kissed her knuckles.
“I love you,” he repeated. “Seriously, deeply, forever. I only want to be with you. I want to marry you. I want to have babies with you.”
“I love you so much,” she said as she threw her arms around him and pressed close. “How could I not? You’re everything to me.”
He grabbed her upper arms and held her far enough away so that he could see her face. “Yeah?”
She smiled. “Yeah.”
“And you’ll marry me?”
Something light and warm brushed against her arm. It wasn’t Reid and the air wasn’t blowing. Still she felt the touch and knew she’d made the right choice. For the first time since her sister died, her heart was at peace.
Thank you, she said silently.
The soft brush came again and with it, a faint whisper: “Be happy.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online