Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(9) by Susan Mallery
“And a restaurant with a reputation for serving horrible food. You’re only here for four months, Cal. I know what that means. You want to dazzle, then get out. I’m fine with that, but dazzle don’t come cheap.”
“Keep it reasonable.”
“I’ll do what it takes.”
He liked that she pushed back. She’d come into her own.
“Let’s meet on Monday and see where we are,” he said. “Say noon?”
“I’ll be here, holding interviews. Come by when it’s convenient.” She put down her pad. “I’m going to stay and look over the kitchen.”
“You have the keys. Just lock up when you’re ready to go.”
“Sure.” She smiled and turned away, which put her in profile. His gaze dropped to her br**sts. What the hell was up with that?
AFTER HIS MEETING with Penny, Cal returned to his office at the headquarters of The Daily Grind. He’d nearly cleared up everything for his four-month absence, but there were a few final details.
He made his way to his office and checked his messages. His assistant would contact him directly at The Waterfront if anything came up while he was gone and he would have biweekly meetings with his partners during that period.
The corporate headquarters were on the top floor of an old manufacturing building by the 5 freeway. He could see across much of downtown, toward Lake Union and the Space Needle. On a clear day, he could see farther, but this was Seattle and there weren’t that many clear days. Even now a light rain fell against his floor-to-ceiling windows and the skylights overhead.
He settled into work, only to have his assistant buzz him twenty minutes later.
“Your grandmother is here,” she murmured.
Cal wished briefly for an excuse not to see her. Unfortunately the downside of saving The Waterfront was closer contact with the old woman.
“Send her in.”
He rose and walked around the desk to greet her. Gloria Buchanan swept into the office with the grace and style of someone born in a much more elegant age.
She was slender and of medium height. She stood straight, despite her seventy-plus years, wearing a tailored suit and dangerously high heels. Her hair was white and always perfect, her face relatively unlined. Dani, his sister, swore Gloria had had cosmetic surgery. That, or she really was a witch and could summon supernatural forces to keep her looking good.
“Gloria,” he said as he pulled out a chair.
She nodded and took the seat. As he sat across from her, he thought about the fact that he had never called her Grandmother. Not even when he’d been young. She’d discouraged it from the start.
She shrugged out of her white fur-trimmed coat and set her pale-blue purse on the carpet next to her feet.
“I assume you’re ready to make the transition,” she said.
He nodded. “I’ll be at my office at The Waterfront starting tomorrow.”
She glanced around the spacious office and sniffed. “It’s not as if you’ll miss this place.”
“Of course I will. We started with nothing and built an empire worth millions.” Something a normal person would respect, he thought grimly.
“Oh, yes. Beverages and cookies. Quite the empire,” Gloria said.
Cal had learned there was no point in arguing with her. She saw the world as she wanted to, and from what he could tell, her view was cold and depressing.
“You’re not here to talk about The Daily Grind,” he said. “So why don’t you get to the point?”
“I want to talk about the restaurant,” she said.
“No, you don’t.”
Her dark blue eyes widened slightly. “Excuse me?”
“Tread carefully,” he told her. “There are specific rules in play. If you get in my face about any detail of the restaurant, I quit. I promised you a turnaround in four months, on the condition that you stay away. I meant it. One word of advice, one suggestion and it’s all over.”
“You’d really walk away from your legacy?” she asked, her expression both annoyed and imperious.
“I already have. It’s easier than you’d think.”
“I have bled for this family and our company,” she told him, her voice icy. “I have given up a life of my own.”
He’d heard it all before. “You’ve done exactly what you wanted,” he reminded her. “Anyone who stood in your way got taken down and thrown to the side of the road.”
She’d lived and breathed the family business for as long as he had been alive and he suspected the obsession had started long before then. Gloria would do anything to promote the Buchanan name. The irony was she wasn’t even a blood Buchanan. She’d married into the family.
“Let’s be clear,” he said. “I’m not doing this for you. I’m only coming in to help because of my brothers and Dani. Hell, Dani should be the one saving The Waterfront. She cares about it more than the rest of us combined.”
Gloria’s eyes narrowed. “Dani isn’t—”
He cut her off with a shake of his head. “Spare me the lecture. It’s boring. Like I said, I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it in case one of us has kids who care. I’m putting in my four months and then I’m walking away without looking back.”
“You make it sound like a prison sentence.”
“In some ways it is.”
He looked at her and for the first time she actually seemed old. Frail, even. But he knew better than to be sucked in by her tricks. She was a wily old bird and he’d been pecked more than once.
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