Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(19) by Susan Mallery
Hugh, Dani’s husband, raised his glass of wine in her direction. “To Penny—chef extraordinaire.”
Everyone joined in. Penny smiled. “Thanks. I appreciate it. Now one of you volunteer to take care of my shift tomorrow and I’ll be really grateful.”
“Not a good idea,” Naomi said from her place next to Reid. “You’re the talented one.”
“That is the rumor.”
Penny picked up her glass of water. She’d been fake-drinking her wine for nearly half an hour and was ready to give up the game. Half the people at the table knew the truth. She did, of course. Naomi and Reid. Which left Dani, Hugh and Cal as the only ones who didn’t.
Penny looked at Dani and her husband. Dani sat on her husband’s lap, her legs hanging over the arm of his wheelchair. Hugh was tall and muscled, a former star football player at the University of Washington. He’d been injured his senior year, a hit gone wrong paralyzing him from the waist down. Dani had stuck by him through his recovery and rehab, her love never wavering.
Penny didn’t know anything about their sex life, although with Hugh’s injuries it was unlikely to be completely conventional. What would happen when they wanted children?
On the off chance word of her pregnancy might send Dani to a bad place, Penny decided to keep the news to herself for now. She would have to come clean with Cal sooner rather than later, but not tonight.
Speaking of Cal—she turned her attention to her ex-husband. She was still pissed off that he’d insisted she use his suppliers who had then totally screwed her, but she had to admit he’d taken the fall like a gentleman and had done everything he could to help. He’d always been a great guy to have around in an emergency. It was the day-to-day stuff he wasn’t so good at.
“Your fish and chips were a hit,” Cal said, with a nod of his head. “I bow to your superior cooking skills.”
“As you should,” Naomi told him.
“It’s our first victory,” Penny said. “Let’s hope there are others that follow.”
He stood. “I need some more wine,” he said. “Anyone want any?”
There was a chorus of nos. Cal had a feeling the party was going to break up soon. Both Dani and Hugh had to be up early, and Reid and Naomi were looking at each other like sharks eyeing bait. He guessed they’d be heading out shortly to do things he didn’t want to think about.
He nudged Penny’s chair. “Come into the kitchen for a second,” he said.
She pushed herself to her feet and followed him. “If we’ve got rats, I don’t want to know.”
“It’s a restaurant in an old building. What do you think?”
She shuddered. “I know it’s inevitable, but I don’t want to see them.”
“I’ve got a great exterminator.”
“You’d better. I hate rats. It’s the tails. They’re so scaly looking. Why can’t their tails be furry?”
“Not my department.”
He crossed to the freezer and stepped inside. The carton Reid had brought earlier was right where Cal had left it. Orange sherbet didn’t sound the least bit like anything Penny—the queen of fussy eating—would want, but Naomi was too happy with Reid to lie. So he pulled out the container and slapped it on the counter.
“I heard you had a taste for this,” he said. “It’s my way of saying thanks for doing a hell of a job tonight.”
Penny took a step back. “Who told you to buy this?”
“Naomi. I think she felt bad because I heard you planning to kill me.”
Penny grabbed a bowl and a spoon. “I only threatened to take out your liver. There’s a difference.”
“It’s a subtle one.”
“No, thanks. Not my favorite flavor.”
“More for me.”
She scooped out the sherbet and pushed the carton toward him so he could put it away. When he stepped back into the kitchen, she’d raised herself onto the stainless-steel counter and was happily chowing down on sherbet that was a very unnatural color of orange.
“Couldn’t you just drink juice?” he asked.
“Not the same.”
“If you say so.” He leaned against the counter opposite hers. “You did good tonight.”
“Thanks. You did okay, too.”
He chuckled. “Gee, thanks. You still mad?”
“Not so much. Everything worked out.” She raised her head. “I’m good at my job, Cal. That’s why you hired me.”
“Then stay the hell out of my way. Do I come into the dining room and tell you how to fold napkins?”
“There’s more to my job than that.”
“You get my point.”
“I do and it’s well taken. The kitchen is your responsibility.”
“Except for the rats.”
“Fine. The rats are mine,” he said.
She licked her spoon. “Gloria didn’t come. I thought she might.”
“She was here last night.”
“Oh, I know.”
He frowned. “Did she bother you?”
Penny shrugged. “Was she breathing?”
“Want to talk about it?”
“Not really. She’s a cold old woman. That hasn’t changed. She didn’t exactly scare me when we were married, but I never wanted us to be best friends.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online