Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(7) by Susan Mallery
“Let me guess,” she said dryly. “I’m not going to like who you’ve hired.”
“I don’t know.” He shrugged, then smiled. “It’s me.”
She’d been expecting either a name she didn’t recognize or someone she’d worked with in the past and hadn’t liked. But Cal? Her stomach heaved once as emotion flooded her.
No. Not Cal. So not a good idea.
“You won’t have time,” she said quickly. Oh, sure, he was good—she remembered that much. He’d walked away from the family steak house to start his own thing, but it hadn’t been because he was failing. On the contrary, profits had been up substantially. But here? Now?
“I’m taking a leave for four months,” he said. “I’ll still go in to The Daily Grind office, but just for a few hours a week. My focus is The Waterfront.”
“Why didn’t you tell me when I asked the first time?”
“I thought you’d turn down the job.”
Would she have? She wasn’t sure. Not that she would let him know she wasn’t sure.
She laughed. “Gee, Cal, I thought your brother was the one with the big ego. Now I see it runs in the family.”
He didn’t even look uncomfortable, which was just like him. Instead he stared at her.
“Given our past, it was a reasonable assumption. Working together under any circumstances could be challenging, but in a restaurant…” His voice trailed off.
She turned away. Her point exactly. “I don’t care who I work with as long as he or she is good at the job. So show up, give a hundred and fifty percent, and we’ll be fine.”
She breathed deeply, not wanting to give in to the anger inside of her. Deep, buried anger that made her want to lash out. It was the past, she told herself. It was long over. She had to remember that.
But her list of grievances—his wrongs—wouldn’t go away. She wanted to scream them all and demand explanations. Talk about unreasonable.
Still, she couldn’t help venting about at least one of them. An easy one that didn’t really matter anymore.
She turned back to him and put her hands on her hips. “What the hell was wrong with you?” she demanded. “I was your wife. It was a dumb entry-level job. Salads, Cal. Just salads. Why couldn’t you pick up the phone and put in a good word for me? Was it because you thought I couldn’t handle it?”
That’s what she’d always wondered, but hadn’t been able to ask. That he hadn’t believed in her. Because what else could it be? But she hadn’t been sure, and now she wanted to know.
He took a step toward her, then stopped and shook his head. “You make me crazy. It’s been what, four years since that job interview? Does it really matter?”
“Yes. It does.”
He shifted. “You won’t believe me.”
“It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in you. Never that. You were great. The best. It was about my family.”
She frowned. “What? That your grandmother would see your wife working? She already knew I had a job, Cal. It wouldn’t have been a surprise.”
“No. I didn’t want you involved with her. Exposed to her.”
Penny knew he and Gloria had never been close, but she had a hard time believing that was the reason.
“I grew up with two sisters, and the three of us had to share a bathroom,” she said. “I know how to play well with others.”
“I didn’t want to risk it. I didn’t want to risk you. It was never about you doing the job.”
She didn’t actually believe him, but as he’d mentioned, what was the point in fighting about it now? He’d come back, begging her to work for him and she’d agreed.
“Whatever,” she said with a shrug. “I’ll accept you as the temporary GM. Just don’t get in my way.”
“Not my style.”
“It is interesting,” she told him. “I distinctly remember you once telling me hell would freeze over before we would ever work together.”
“You’re taking that out of context. We were married at the time. A restaurant is too small for a married couple to coexist in.”
“You sure made a lot of pronouncements back then. How many of them were accurate?”
She expected him to be annoyed that she’d dared to question him. Instead he grinned. “I figure about sixty percent.”
“You’re being generous.”
“That’s because of the subject matter.”
The grin broadened. “Who else?”
“Men,” she grumbled, shrugging out of her coat and dropping it onto the counter. She was careful to keep her back to him so he wouldn’t see her smile.
She could see that Cal still had the ability to make her want to chop him up into matchstick-size pieces, but he’d never been boring.
“We’re not married now,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll do fine together, as long as you remember where your authority ends.” She turned to him and pointed at the entrance to the kitchen. “This is my world. Don’t even think about stepping into it and taking charge.”
“Fair enough. And Gloria has promised to stay out of the restaurant, except as a customer. It was part of the deal to get me back. She won’t be bothering you, either.”
“Good to know.” While she didn’t think his grandmother was the demon he did, she and the older woman had never been exactly close. Whenever Penny was around, Gloria had a way of sniffing the air as if the odor was unpleasant.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online