Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(10) by Susan Mallery
“Fine. Four months,” she said. “I heard who you hired as the chef.”
Her tone indicated he might have made a deal with the devil.
“She does great work and her name will bring in customers,” he said. “She drove a hard bargain, but I got her and that’s what matters.”
“I see.” Gloria didn’t sound as if she could see at all. She sounded annoyed.
Cal wondered what the old bat had against Penny, aside from the fact that she, Gloria, hadn’t handpicked her.
He knew Penny hadn’t believed that he’d done his damnedest to keep her off his grandmother’s radar when they’d been married. Back then he’d been afraid of what the old woman could do.
Now, everything was different. Penny had a reputation for being tough. He was willing to bet she could hold her own against Gloria. They would butt heads eventually; he only hoped he was around to see the show.
“If Penny cooks, they will come,” he said.
Gloria shifted in her seat. “I hope there won’t be any unfortunate incidents in our establishment.”
Cal knew he was being set up, but his curiosity was too strong for him to ignore the lure. The only thing he knew about Penny’s life since the divorce were the odd bits Reid dropped in casual conversation.
“What incidents?” he asked.
“She once stabbed a member of her staff. Apparently the man wouldn’t do what she said, so she took a kitchen knife to him.”
Cal started to laugh. Gloria glared at him.
“It’s not funny. She’s practically a murderer.”
He continued to chuckle. “Was she charged with anything?”
“I’m sure I don’t know.”
Which meant she hadn’t been. “I hope the story’s true,” he said, still amused. “I can’t wait to ask her for all the details.”
“IT’S ALL FINE and good to look at qualifications,” Naomi said. “But I want someone I can have sex with.”
Penny ignored her friend and glanced at the application in front of her. “I hear good things about him,” she said, making notes on a pad. “Put him on the list.”
“But he’s married and he doesn’t cheat.” There was a definite whine in Naomi’s voice. “I can accept one, but not the other.”
“We are talking about raising a restaurant from the dead. Not your sex life.”
“Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? I can be a good employee and have a great sex life. In fact, getting laid on a regular basis keeps me cheerful.”
Penny looked at her papers so Naomi wouldn’t see her smile. “Focus,” she said.
Naomi sighed. “You’re less fun now that you’re in charge.”
“And likely to stay that way. Who’s next?”
While Naomi shuffled through papers, Penny glanced around the transformed dining room. The place had been painted and there were new window coverings. The old carpet was up and the floors had been refinished. The scent of varnish competed with the smell of cleanser and bleach coming from the kitchen. The horrible odor of rotting food had been driven from the place, which made Penny grateful. She was well into her fourth month and she didn’t want to experience morning sickness at this late date.
“Asshole alert at ten o’clock,” Naomi muttered.
Penny turned and saw Cal walking toward them. He looked good—tall and handsome, wearing a black leather bomber jacket and jeans. He walked with an easy, loose-hipped grace that all the Buchanan men had. Good genes, she thought, which, unfortunately, came from Gloria. Penny might not like the old woman but she knew her stubbornness and determination had been passed on to her grandchildren.
“He’s not an ass**le anymore,” Penny said, ignoring the sudden quivering in her belly. “He’s our boss.”
“To me, he’ll always be the jerk who made you cry for two weeks straight when he walked out on you.”
Technically Penny had been the one to move out of the apartment, but she knew what Naomi meant. Cal had done nothing to keep her and certainly hadn’t come after her.
“That was a long time ago,” Penny reminded her. “I’ve let it go. You should work on that, too.”
Cal approached the table. “Ladies.” He held out a cardboard container with three cups of coffee. “A little something to help with the hiring process.”
Naomi grabbed a cup and looked at The Daily Grind logo. “I’m more a Starbucks person, but any port in a storm.”
“Nice,” Cal said, looking at her. “Hello, Naomi. It’s been a long time.”
“It has.” She stood. In her black leather boots, she was nearly eye-to-eye with Cal. “How’s it going?”
“I hear you’re in charge.”
She took a sip of the coffee. “Every time I go into one of your stores, I remember the time I saw you naked. It always gives me a little giggle.”
With that, she strolled away.
Penny closed her eyes and winced. Unfortunately Naomi had seen Cal naked. She’d walked in on them making love, once. After retreating, she’d stood behind the closed door and complained bitterly about people who didn’t have the common courtesy to at least make some noise while doing it so the world could know what they were up to and not accidentally walk in.
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