Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(13) by Susan Mallery
“How could you?” she demanded.
“Dammit, Dani, I didn’t have a choice. You know I don’t want to get back in the business. I sure don’t want to work for Gloria. I knew I could either take the job or watch the restaurant go down the toilet. None of us would want that.”
“Ha. Why would you care? You couldn’t wait to get away from it all.”
“I don’t care,” he said gently. “But you do. Reid’s in the business now. Walker may want to be a part of things when he retires from the marines.”
Dani reached for her beer. “All great reasons. You left out kids. Won’t we want this great company to pass on to our kids? Not that any of us has them. I don’t see them in my future anytime soon, and I’m the only one who’s married, but hey, it could happen. Maybe one of you guys could slip up and get a girl pregnant. Then we could have yet another generation in the family business.”
He knew she was bitter and he couldn’t blame her. Ironically, her words hit closer to the truth than she realized. He had gotten a girl pregnant. Seventeen years ago his daughter had been born. Gloria was the only one in his family who knew.
Thinking of his daughter now made him wonder if Lindsey would ever be interested in the family business. Not that she considered herself a Buchanan. She was adopted and aware of the fact but had no curiosity about her birth parents.
“I’m not making a career of The Waterfront,” he said, then thanked Lucy as she delivered his beer. “I’m back for four months and I have no desire ever to run the company.”
“Too bad, because Gloria would hand it over to you in a heartbeat.” Dani tucked her short dark hair behind her ears. “She’s a powerful woman. You’d think she’d respect that I want to be just as powerful, although a lot less bitchy. But does she care?”
Before he could figure out how to respond to that, Reid walked over.
“Hey, boys and girls.”
Dani glared at him. “You already knew, didn’t you?”
“Knew what?” Reid’s expression was innocent as he slid in next to Dani and put his arm around her. “That I’m the best looking of the Buchanan brothers? Not that it’s a tough competition.”
Cal shook his head. “One day your ego is going to come crashing back to earth and crush you like the insignificant bug you are.”
“Unlikely. My bevy of beauties will protect me.”
“Anything falling from the sky will just bounce off their implants,” Dani said. “You need to get him from below.”
Cal grinned. “She has a point.”
“And so do I,” Dani said. She shrugged off Reid’s arm. “You knew about Cal running The Waterfront.”
“Sure. Penny told me when she came by to say she had the job as executive chef.”
Cal winced as Dani slammed her hands down on the table. “Why am I always the last to know?” she asked. “Can’t you guys keep me in the loop on anything?”
“Why would you care who’s the chef?” Reid asked. “It’s not like it’s your restaurant.”
Cal glared at his brother. “Shut up.” He turned to Dani. “I was going to tell you tonight.”
Dani stared at him. “You hired your ex-wife to cook at your restaurant?”
“She’s good, she has a name that’ll bring in customers and she was available.”
“Just perfect,” Dani muttered. “At least it’s late enough that I don’t have to worry about my day getting too much worse.”
Cal didn’t know what to say. He hated that when it came to the family business, Dani always got screwed.
“Penny’s a great chef,” Reid said. “She’ll make the old place a success. Don’t you want that? Aren’t you the one so interested in seeing the company succeed?”
“That’s not the point,” Dani said.
Lucy arrived with a massive plate of nachos. They dug in and for a few minutes there was only small talk about who had heard from Walker and whether or not the Mariners would have a decent season.
Cal glanced at his sister. He could feel the tension in her and knew she wasn’t happy. Maybe it was because he was the oldest and she was the youngest or maybe it was because she was the only girl, but he’d always looked out for her. Nobody messed with Dani without going through him first, and that went for his brothers as well.
But she wasn’t that little girl anymore and he couldn’t keep the whole world at bay.
“How are you doing?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Fine. The new low-calorie selections are doing great. We’re getting the dieting mom crowd in. The kids can scarf down on burgers and fries and mom can stay on program.”
She didn’t sound very enthused. Not that he could blame her. Dani had a master’s in restaurant management. She’d returned to Seattle, fully intending to work her way up the ranks. But instead of putting her in a junior position at The Waterfront, or Buchanan’s, the family’s steak house, Gloria had sent Dani to Tukwila to run Burger Heaven. She’d started as a hostess, been a fry cook and two years ago had been made manager. But no matter how hard Dani worked or how many times she talked with Gloria, the old woman refused to move her.
“You let her get to you,” Reid said. “If it doesn’t matter, she can’t hurt you.”
“I don’t know how not to care,” Dani said simply.
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