Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(17) by Susan Mallery
“How are you feeling?” he asked, his voice low.
“I have a horrible craving for orange sherbet. I’m surrounded by all this amazing food and that’s all I can think about.”
“That’s what I’m thinking.”
Cal walked up, dragging Naomi behind him.
“Do something,” he told Penny. “She’s asking my opinion about waiters.”
“There are so many to choose from,” Naomi said, suddenly focused on Reid. “Well, hello. You didn’t head off to spring training.”
“Not this year.”
“That’s too bad. I always enjoy watching you work. You move really well.”
Penny shivered. “Stop it. You guys are my friends. I can’t deal with this.”
Reid flashed her a grin. “You’re going to have to get over it.” He held out his hand to Naomi. “Shall we?”
They strolled off together.
Penny watched them go. “I don’t know which one to worry about. I suppose it’s been inevitable. They’ve known each other for years. But Reid was always coming or going and Naomi…” She paused. “I’m not sure why she waited this long. At least she’ll help keep his mind off the season starting.”
“Nothing against your friend, but no woman could do that.”
“Then she’ll be a distraction.”
Cal shrugged. “Probably.”
“Naomi can handle him. She can handle anyone.”
“She’s had the practice.”
Penny was about to take offense for her friend when she realized Cal wasn’t talking to her. Oh, he’d faced her and was therefore pointing in the right direction, but his attention was far more on her chest than her face.
She’d never had the kind of body that commanded men’s attention and it felt good to have it now. Twisted, but good.
“Shall we?” she asked, pointing to the crowd.
They dove back in.
CAL WOKE UP in a great mood. The party the previous night had gone well and he was expecting a lot of positive press from the event. Even more important, people would talk about Penny’s food and that would bring in customers as much as any article. If the opening went as smoothly as the party, then he would have achieved the success he wanted in four months and he could bow out and return to The Daily Grind.
He showered, shaved and was about to pick out his clothes for the day when his phone rang. He glanced at the clock. Who the hell would be calling at ten past seven in the morning?
He instantly thought of Walker. Had something happened to his brother? He reached for the phone.
“Dammit, Cal, this is your fault,” Penny yelled before he had a chance to say hello. “Get down here right now. To the restaurant,” she added. “I mean it. You have twenty minutes.” Then she hung up.
A push, but he made it with forty-five seconds to spare. Whatever the crisis was, he planned to have a little talk with her about manager-chef relationships. She might be in charge of the kitchen but that didn’t make her boss of the world.
He pulled into the parking lot and circled around back. As he’d suspected, the morning deliveries were stacked outside the rear of the building. Penny stood there with a very tousled Naomi at her side.
He didn’t want to think about what Naomi had done with her night. Not when his brother was involved. So he parked and climbed out of his car. Penny saw him and raced toward him.
“Smell this,” she said, thrusting a large piece of fish in his face. “Smell it.”
He inhaled, then wished he hadn’t. Good fish shouldn’t have a smell at all. Old fish smelled fishy. This fish smelled as if it had died three weeks ago.
“It’s all crap,” she said, her eyes bright with temper, her cheeks blazing as red as her hair. “You could tie the celery in knots and it wouldn’t break. The shallots are practically a liquid. Crap. Did I tell you? Did I say there was a reason this restaurant had closed? Did you listen?”
She sucked in a breath. “Do you know how many reservations we have for tonight? The house is full. Full. Starting at six and going through until ten, we have every seat taken. We’re talking about dinner for just over three hundred. You want to know how much food I have? None. None! I have a damn box of cornstarch and three leeks and I have to provide dinner for three hundred.”
She ignored him. “I said they could screw up one time. Well, they have. I’ll get my own people in here, which is great, but I still have dinner for three hundred tonight. I want someone’s head on a platter. I want it now and I want it raw. I’ll cook it myself.”
With that she turned on her heel and stalked into the restaurant.
He was equally torn between admiring her spirit and dealing with the disaster at hand.
Naomi stared at him. “Don’t go there, big guy. You already screwed that one up once.”
Cal ignored that. “Tell the guy to pack up and send it all back.” He would call later and cancel the contract, but right now there was a bigger problem. Dinner for three hundred.
He went into the restaurant and found Penny in the cold storage, taking inventory.
“I have shrimp,” she said, a note of hysteria in her voice. “Great. If we cut them in half, then everyone gets a serving. Fabulous. Come to The Waterfront and enjoy half a shrimp.” She turned and saw him. “Get out of my way.”
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