Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(16) by Susan Mallery
“I was wrong.”
The lady lawyer grinned. “Care to embroider that on a pillow? Women everywhere would love to see it.”
Cal excused them and they moved to another group of local business people. He introduced her and then let her explain about her philosophy as far as using local ingredients whenever possible.
“We live in a wonderful part of the country,” she said. “Why not take advantage of that?”
A reporter from the Seattle Times moved closer. “Are you going to be featuring Washington wines?”
“Of course. And those from Oregon and British Columbia. Obviously, we’ll have selections from California, France and other places, but our focus is regional.”
The next two hours were a blur of introductions and sound bites to sell the restaurant. Cal stayed close except when she ducked into the kitchen to check on things. When she returned to the dining room, it was to find Naomi leading Gloria Buchanan toward her.
They were an odd couple. Gloria was small, with white hair and piercing blue eyes. Her clothes cost more than the national debt of several small island nations. Naomi towered over her, six feet of Amazon beauty. Her wavy dark hair fell down her back, and her green eyes seemed to laugh at the world. But it was the heart tattoo on her bare shoulder and the way her br**sts moved in the black halter top that really caught one’s attention.
“Lookee who I found,” Naomi said, releasing Gloria’s arm and grinning. “Don’t you know her?”
Gloria adjusted the sleeve of her winter-white wool suit jacket and sniffed. “Who is this person?” she demanded.
“Hello, Gloria,” Penny said, forcing a smile. Gloria had made it very clear she would never forgive Penny for leaving her precious grandson. After all, in Gloria’s mind, marriage to a Buchanan was a pinnacle few could hope to achieve. “Nice to see you. This is my friend Naomi.”
Gloria glanced at the other woman, then turned back to Penny. “If you say so.”
“Oh, Penny and I go way back,” Naomi said cheerfully. “We met while she was still at the culinary institute. I was her next-door neighbor and she came over to complain that I was making too much noise.”
Penny winced, knowing what was to come.
Naomi lowered her voice. “It was the sex. I have this thing for younger men and that can get kinda noisy. I felt really bad. But Penny was great about it and we became friends.”
Gloria’s expression didn’t change, but her mouth tightened. It was what gave her away—a trait she shared with her grandson.
Cal joined them. Gloria looked at him. “Do you know this woman?” she demanded, pointing at Naomi.
Cal groaned. “Oh, yeah.”
Naomi sighed. “Tell her about the time I saw you naked,” she said, then strolled off.
Cal looked from Naomi to his grandmother, then excused himself. Under the circumstances, Penny couldn’t exactly blame him. Unfortunately, his action left her alone with Gloria.
“So, Callister hired you,” the older woman said, her voice laced with displeasure.
“That he did. I have a three-year contract.”
“Have you tasted the food?”
Gloria glanced at a passing tray. “I have a delicate stomach.”
The insult was so blatant, it was almost funny. Almost. Penny wasn’t surprised to hear she wasn’t Gloria’s first choice. For some reason, the old bat had never liked her and it was hard to feel affection for someone so determined to keep her on the outside.
“Too bad,” Penny said. “We’re getting rave reviews.”
“The food is free, dear. What did you expect?”
Sort of what Penny had thought. Not that she was going to admit it.
“Well, this has been great,” she said. “Nice to see you again, but I have to—”
Gloria grabbed her arm. “You won’t get him back, you know.”
“Callister. He’s over you. I’m not sure what he ever saw in you.”
“Yes, I know. You made that very clear.” Penny pulled her arm free and wished her mother had been just a little less insistent on one being polite to one’s elders.
Cal might have let her go without a whimper, but Gloria had practically had a party to celebrate the divorce. At least that’s what Reid had told her.
“You were never right for him,” Gloria said. “You never cared enough. What kind of woman walks out on her marriage?”
The unfairness of the accusation caused Penny to abruptly excuse herself. As she walked away, she found herself wanting to turn around and announce that she had cared. She’d loved Cal with her whole heart. She would have done anything for him—anything but not have a child. Having a family of her own was the one thing she wouldn’t compromise on.
“Stupid old woman,” she muttered, then grabbed a cup of bisque from a passing waiter and drank it down.
“I saw the smoke so I came running.”
Penny turned and saw Reid behind her. She leaned against him. “Your grandmother is horrible. I’d forgotten how bad.”
“No one ever really forgets about her. You just repressed the memory. We all do. It’s how we survive.”
He wrapped both arms around her and kissed the top of her head. “The party is great. People are raving about the food. I think you’re a hit.”
“I hope so.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online