Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(31) by Susan Mallery
“All the waitresses still built and nearly naked?”
“You know Reid.”
Walker grinned. “I’ll have to stop by.”
“We should all meet there. How long’s your leave?”
Walker sipped his drink, then put it on the side table and leaned forward. “I left the corps.”
Cal stared at him. “Retired?”
“It’s been fourteen years, so that’s what they’re calling it.”
Cal couldn’t imagine his brother doing anything else. “Why?”
Walker shrugged. “It was time.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m not sure. I thought I’d stay here for a few days, then go get my own place.”
“Sure. Stay as long as you like. I’m working twelve, fifteen hours a day, so I’m never here. And my love life sucks, so you won’t get in the way of that.”
Walker picked up his drink. “Not seeing anyone?”
“Not in a while.” He thought of the kiss he’d shared with Penny and decided that didn’t count. If he couldn’t explain it to himself, he sure as hell wouldn’t be able to explain it to Walker.
“I thought you’d be in until they kicked you out,” Cal said. “Are you all right?”
Cal wasn’t sure he believed him. There was something about Walker’s eyes—something dark.
“Want to talk about it?” he asked.
Walker looked at him. “Have I ever?”
“No. Want to get drunk?”
Walker grinned. “I wouldn’t say no.”
“Good. I’ll call Reid.”
“Won’t you be interrupting?”
He thought about Reid and Naomi. “Probably,” he said cheerfully. “But why shouldn’t he suffer, too?”
“I WANT TO SAY it’s the salt,” Penny said as she picked through the bowl of nuts and fished out the hazelnuts. “But I think it’s more than that. If it was just about salt, then any nut would do. The craving is very specific.”
She glanced up to see Reid shudder.
“What?” she asked, holding in a laugh. “You don’t want to hear about my cravings?”
“Not especially. Some of them have grossed me out.”
“This from a guy who used to spit on national television.”
Reid wiped another glass and set it behind the bar. “I never spit.”
“All baseball players spit.”
“What is up with that, anyway? Why all the spitting? Don’t the mothers call and say it’s disgusting? Because it is. Yuck.” She touched her stomach. “Okay, change of subject. I’m making myself queasy.”
“Fine by me.”
Lucy came out of the kitchen and walked toward the bar. “Here you go, hon.”
Penny took the large root beer float and sighed. “You’re a goddess. Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me. I just turned in the order.” Lucy looked at her boss. “Want anything?”
“Not right now. Thanks.”
Lucy smiled and walked toward the lone table of customers in the bar.
It was three—that quiet time between lunch and happy hour. Penny knew she had to get back to The Waterfront fairly soon, but she fully intended to indulge herself first.
While Reid watched and pretended to gag, she dumped the hazelnuts into the float, then dug in with a spoon. The combination of cold, fizzy liquid, smooth, melting ice cream and crunchy, salty nut was pure heaven.
“You’re just jealous,” she said after she swallowed, “because you didn’t think of this combination.”
“Uh-huh. That’s me. Jealous.” He leaned back and folded his arms over his chest. “You seen Walker yet?”
“No, and I can’t wait to. I was so surprised when Cal told me he’d left the marines. I didn’t think that would ever happen.” She glanced around the empty bar. “Is he coming here?”
“At some point. You sure are happy about him being home.”
She grinned. “I am. And don’t worry. I’ll never love Walker the way I love you,” she teased.
“Like I care about that.”
He probably didn’t. She and Reid had been friends too long for him to sweat she would ever leave him. Sometimes she thought that she and Dani were the only consistent females in his life.
“Your real problem is Naomi,” she said as she scooped another spoonful of ice cream. “She’s never met Walker. You know how women fall for guys in the military.”
“It’s very possible she’ll be interested.”
She glanced at Reid. “That’s it? You don’t care if the woman you’re currently sleeping with wants to move on to someone else?”
“Naomi and I understand each other. We have a good time together.” He grinned. “A very good time.”
She winced. “I don’t want details.”
“Your friend is very—”
He chuckled. “Okay. I’ll play nice. Naomi and I are the same. We want to be involved as long as it’s good. When it stops being fun, or one party loses interest, it’s time to move on.”
She’d seen them in action long enough to believe he was telling the truth. But seeing and believing weren’t the same as understanding.
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