Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(12) by Susan Mallery
He flipped to the list of specials. “Corn cakes?” he asked. “I thought we were specializing in Northwest cuisine. Isn’t that Southwestern?”
“That depends on how they’re prepared.”
He shrugged, then shook his head. “Fish and chips? Do we really want to do that here? We’re going for an upscale experience, not cheap fast food on the pier.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Do I look annoyed?” she asked. “Because you’re really pissing me off here. Did you or did you not want a special menu?”
“Did you or did you not hire me to make the dining experience special?”
“Perhaps you’d like to give me a chance to do my job before you start complaining.”
“Penny,” he said, his voice low and commanding. “I get final say on the menu. That’s in the contract.”
He could practically hear her teeth grinding.
“Fine. Mark everything you consider questionable. Then be back here in two days. We’ll have a tasting. At that point, you will sample the foods you object to. I will be in the kitchen where you can crawl to me and beg my forgiveness, after which you’ll never, ever question my menu selections again.”
He chuckled. “I won’t be crawling and I will question as I see fit, but the tasting session sounds fine.” He pulled out his Palm Pilot. “What time?”
“Fine. Of course if I’m not impressed, I’ll be calling the shots on the menu,” he told her.
“Only if hell has frozen over.”
“I hear it’s getting cold down there.”
She muttered something he couldn’t hear, which made him hold in a smile.
She’d gotten tough in the years they’d been apart. He liked that about her. He doubted she would have any trouble controlling the kitchen staff. He thought about what Gloria had told him, that Penny had stabbed someone. He wanted to hear the story, but not just yet.
Cal looked over the menu again. “We should price what we’ve agreed on,” he said. “Somehow I think that will be an argument.”
“I have the costs here.”
She pulled out several more sheets, these printed out from a computer. They broke down the approximate size of each serving and the cost to prepare it. Store costs—labor, wait staff and the fixed costs of the building were arrived at by estimating the total number of dinners served per night and dividing that into store costs for the day.
“Your portions are too large,” he said. “We’ll have to charge too much.”
“Better that than they go home hungry and have to stop for a burger on the way.”
He braced himself for the battle to come. “Who needs ten ounces of halibut?”
“Fish is different from meat. A four-ounce portion isn’t normal.”
“We’re talking about a premium product.”
She tapped her pen on the table. “Gee, and I thought this was going to be a premium restaurant. Did I have that wrong?”
Before he could answer, Naomi walked into the dining room with a guy Cal didn’t recognize. Penny’s friend fell back a step, pointed to the newcomer and mouthed, “I want him!”
“It’s the wine guy,” Naomi said. “Who’s going to be ordering?”
“I am,” Cal and Penny said at the same time.
CAL WALKED INTO the Downtown Sports Bar a little after nine on Wednesday night. The happy hour crowd had faded with the end of the last game and now there were only the regulars and a few business people who didn’t want to go home. Which meant the crowd was about ninety percent female.
His brother, Reid, stood behind the bar, holding court while a dozen or so large-breasted beauties listened, laughed and openly invited him into their respective beds. Or maybe not so respective. With Reid, one never knew.
He’d always been like this, Cal thought with a grin as he waved at his brother and made his way to a booth in the corner. Back in high school, Reid had had more than his share of interested women. Some of it had been because he was the pitching star on the high school team, and some of it was because he was a Buchanan. The Buchanan boys had never lacked for female companionship.
As he approached the booth he saw his baby sister, Dani, already seated. She had a beer in front of her and an expression of betrayal that warned him she’d heard the news.
“How’s it going, kid?” he asked as he slid in next to her.
“How do you think? I’m still trying to pull the knife out of my back.”
If they’d still been children he would have tugged her close and tickled her until she yelled uncle. Then he would have held her while she cried. That was no longer an option and he didn’t know how to make her feel better.
He looked up and saw Lucy, one of the waitresses, walking toward him.
“The usual?” she asked.
“Dani ordered nachos,” she added. “Want it for two?”
“Make it three. Reid will be joining us.”
She turned, giving him a view of her rounded tush in tight khaki shorts. Only Reid could get away with making his staff wear shorts and cropped T-shirts in Seattle in winter.
Cal turned to his sister. He leaned close to kiss her cheek, but she pulled away. Her dark brown eyes sharpened with accusation.
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