Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(24) by Susan Mallery
“I’m going to give you ten seconds to take that back, then I’m going to wipe the floor with you,” Reid growled.
“What makes you think you could?”
The two men glared at each other. Reid backed off first. He released Cal and raised both hands in the air.
“No one slept with Penny,” Reid said. “It wasn’t like that.”
Cal released him. “What do you mean?”
“There’s no guy. Penny went to a sperm bank. You know, one from column A, one from column B. She picked the sperm out of a computer list. Crazy if you ask me, but she didn’t.” Reid poked him in the chest. “Why didn’t Penny tell you about the in vitro fertilization herself?”
Reid poked him again. “You didn’t give her a chance, did you? You jumped to conclusions. Dammit, Cal, why do you always think the worst of people?”
“Sure. You’re a regular ray of sunshine. You have to trust people to do the right thing. Penny would never get involved with a guy who would abandon a child, okay?”
Cal took a step back. He didn’t know what to say to his brother. Somehow Reid had gotten right to the heart of the matter. That’s what Cal couldn’t deal with—the thought of a man walking out on his own child. Because an adult would have choices—choices he hadn’t had at seventeen.
“You’re right,” Cal said. “Good point. I, ah…thanks for explaining things.”
His brother leaned back against the desk again and folded his arms over his chest. “You’re pretty screwed up, you know that?”
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“We all are. Thanks to Gloria.” Reid shook his head. “That bitch. The things she made us do. Always threatening us. So many damn secrets.” He looked at Cal. “Penny wants this baby. She’ll be a good mom.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Isn’t it? Are you all jacked up because of Lindsey?”
Cal stared at his brother, unable to believe what he’d just heard.
“You know?” he asked, his voice harsh with shock.
It had been seventeen years and Cal had never discussed his daughter with anyone in his family. Gloria had known—she always knew everything. While his high school girlfriend had been content to give the child up for adoption, Cal had wanted more for his daughter. He’d wanted to take care of her himself. But he’d been a senior in high school, with no way to support a kid, let alone raise one.
Then Gloria had offered. Cal could keep his child, but she, Gloria, would raise the infant.
Every fiber of his being had rebelled against that. She’d forced his hand and he’d given in to the idea of adoption.
He still remembered signing the papers. How wrong everything had felt. He’d been a few weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday—too old to cry. But he’d wanted to. He’d wanted to take the baby and run. Only the kindness of the adopting couple had allowed him to give Lindsey away.
“How did you find out about her?” Cal asked. “No one knew.”
“Maybe no one was supposed to, but Walker and I both did. We heard you arguing with Gloria about it. I don’t think Dani knows. She was pretty young.”
“You never said anything.”
“Why would we? It was your decision. Walker and I talked about what we would do if it was us. We agreed we both would have given up the kid without a second thought.”
“Easy to say when it hasn’t happened to you.”
“Maybe.” Reid shrugged. “Then it was done and we figured it was your secret to keep. If you wanted to talk, you knew where to find us.”
Reid seemed casual enough, but Cal wondered if there was more to it. A sense of betrayal that he hadn’t trusted his brothers with a decision that big.
“I was the oldest,” he said awkwardly.
“Right. Set a good example. Don’t tell your younger brothers you knocked up your girlfriend. We got that. We both became poster guys for safe sex. Don’t worry, big brother. Your experience served us well.”
Cal supposed that was something.
“How old is she now? Fifteen? Sixteen?” Reid asked.
“Seventeen. She’s a senior in high school.”
“You keep in touch with the family?”
“With the parents. They send me pictures and letters a couple of times a year. Lindsey knows she’s adopted, but isn’t interested in her birth parents.” Not that her birth mother cared. Alison had given birth, graduated and moved back east. Cal had never heard from her again and suspected she had no interest in the child she’d given away.
“I always felt bad,” Reid said. “You didn’t want to let her go.”
Now it was Cal’s turn to shrug. “I didn’t know how I could take care of her.”
“You did the right thing. You always do. It was a hell of a characteristic to have thrown in my face over and over again.”
“Thanks for not holding it against me.”
“No problem. But here’s the thing. Maybe it’s time to do the right thing for Penny. She didn’t get pregnant just to mess with your mind.”
“I’m sure she sees that as a fun bonus.”
“Maybe. But she wants this baby. You should respect that and get off her ass about it.”
His brother had a point. “I’ll think about it.”
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