Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(4) by Susan Mallery
She headed directly for the bar and leaned against the polished wood. “Hi, Mandy. Is he in?” she asked the very large-breasted blonde polishing glasses.
Mandy smiled. “Hi, Penny. Yeah. He’s in his office. Want me to bring you anything?”
Caffeine, Penny thought, then shook her head. “I’m good.”
She walked to the right of the bar, where a small alcove offered restroom choices, a pay phone and a door marked Employees. From there it was a short trip to Reid Buchanan’s cluttered office.
He sat behind a desk as big as a full-size mattress, his feet up on the corner, the telephone cradled between his ear and his shoulder. When he saw her, he rolled his eyes, pointed at the phone, then waved her in.
“I know,” he said as she wove her way around boxes he had yet to unpack. “It is an important event and I’d like to be there, but I have a prior engagement. Maybe next time. Uh-huh. Sure. You, too.”
He hung up the phone and groaned. “Some foreign government trade show crap,” he said.
“What did they want you to do?” she asked as she swept several folders off the only other chair in the office and sank onto the hard wood seat. She dumped the folders onto his already piled desk.
“Not a clue. Show up. Smile for pictures. Maybe give a speech.” He shrugged.
“How much were they willing to pay you?”
He dropped his feet to the floor and turned to face her. “Ten grand. It’s not like I need the money. I hate all that. It’s bogus. I used to play baseball and now I’m here. I’ve retired.”
Just last year, Penny thought. With the start of the regular season just weeks away, Reid had to be missing his former life.
She poked at one of the piles on the desk, then glanced at him. “I distinctly remember you saying you wanted a desk big enough to have sex on. It was a very specific requirement when we went shopping for one. But if you keep it this messy, no one will be interested in getting naked on its very impressive surface.”
He leaned back in his chair and grinned at her. “I don’t need the desk to get ’em naked.”
“So I’ve heard.”
Reid Buchanan was legendary. Not just for his incredible career as a major league pitcher, but for the way women adored him. Part of it was the Buchanan good looks and charm that all the brothers had. Part of it was that Reid just plain loved women. All women. Former girlfriends ranged from the traditional models and actresses to mother-earth tree huggers nearly a decade older than him. Smart, dumb, short, tall, skinny, curvy, he liked them all. And they liked him.
Penny had known Reid for years. She’d met him two days after meeting Cal. She liked to joke that it had been love at first sight with the latter and best friends at first sight with the former.
“You’ll never guess what I did today,” she said.
Reid raised his dark eyebrows. “Darlin’, the way you’ve been surprising me lately, I wouldn’t even try.”
“I had lunch with your brother.”
Reid leaned back in his chair. “I know you mean Cal because Walker is still stationed overseas. Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”
“He offered me a job. He wants me to be the executive chef at The Waterfront.”
Reid might be a part of the family but until he’d blown out his shoulder in the bottom of the third late last June, he’d never been involved in the business.
“That’s the fish place, right?” he asked.
She laughed. “Yeah. And Buchanan’s is the steak house and you’re running the sports bar and Dani takes care of Burger Heaven. Jeez, Reid, this is your heritage. You have a family empire going here.”
“No. What I have is a two-for-one appetizer special during happy hour. You gonna take the job?”
“I think so.” She leaned forward. “He’s paying me an outrageous salary and I get a percentage of the profits. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. In three years I’ll have enough money to open my own place.”
He looked at her. “I told you I’d give you that money. Just tell me how much and I’ll write you a check.”
She knew he could. Reid had millions invested in all kinds of businesses. But she wouldn’t take a loan from a friend. It was too much like being bailed out by her parents.
“I need to do this on my own,” she said. “You know that.”
“Yeah, yeah. You might want to think about getting that chip off your shoulder, Penny. It’s making you walk funny.”
She ignored that. “I like the idea of bringing back The Waterfront from the dead. I’ll become even more of a star, which will make my restaurant even more successful.”
“Not that you’re letting all this go to your head.”
She laughed. “Look who’s talking. Your ego barely fits inside an airplane hangar.”
Reid walked around the desk and crouched next to her. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her cheek. “If this is what you want, you know I’m there for you.”
“Thanks.” She brushed his dark hair off his forehead and knew that in many ways life would have been a lot simpler if she just could have fallen in love with Reid instead of Cal.
He stood and leaned against the desk. “When do you start?”
“As soon as the paperwork is signed. I’ve heard the old place needs a total renovation, but we don’t have time for that. We’re going to have to make do. I need to put together menus, hire a kitchen staff.”
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