Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(34) by Susan Mallery
Penny touched her arm. “You mean being stuck at Burger Heaven?”
“Yeah. Gloria’s driven away the third president in about fifteen months. The thing is, I’m willing to deal with her. But does she ask me? Does she even give me a chance? I’m not saying I should run the company, but there has to be another way for me to contribute.”
“Like running The Waterfront?” Penny said, feeling sympathetic.
“Not to take away from Cal, but yeah. I could have done it.”
Penny smiled. “He’s only there for four months. Why don’t you start a campaign now to take over when he’s gone?”
Dani’s eyes widened. “But you’re the chef there—we used to be related. Wouldn’t you be more comfortable with someone else as general manager?”
“I think we’d work well together,” she said. “I know you’d do a terrific job.”
“Really? Wow. That’s great. Maybe I’ll talk to Cal and see what he thinks.”
“Cal will think it’s a fabulous idea,” Penny said. The real problem was going to be Gloria.
“Then I’ll start campaigning,” Dani said. “I swear if I didn’t need the incredible medical insurance for Hugh I would have quit Burger Heaven years ago. As soon as he gets tenure, I’m leaving the company. Well, unless I’m running The Waterfront.”
“So you have a plan.”
“Pretty much.” Dani sipped her drink, then put the glass on the bar. “I know it’s none of my business, but how are you and Cal working together?”
“We’re doing really well.” Penny shrugged. “I guess we had to get divorced and spend three years apart before we could become friends. How twisted is that?”
“I’m not sure. It’s just too bad you couldn’t work things out before.”
Penny nodded as if she thought so, too, but it wasn’t true. There was no way she and Cal could have remained married. Not when he’d broken her heart so completely.
Before getting married, they’d agreed to have children. The only fight had been over how many—three or four. When she’d first gotten pregnant, he’d been as delighted as she. They’d held on to each other, excited, scared and determined to do the best for their baby.
Over time, Cal had changed. By her fourth month, she’d started to wonder if he wanted children with her at all. He wouldn’t talk about the baby or even come with her to the doctor. And then she’d miscarried.
The first cramps had terrified her. She’d rushed to her doctor, but by the time she made it to the examining room, it was all over.
Cal had said all the right things, he held her while she cried, but she hadn’t believed him. In some ways, he’d seemed more relieved than sad.
She’d told herself it was wrong to judge him—that people expressed grief in different ways. But her suspicions had been confirmed a few months later when she’d suggested they try again.
She still remembered how he’d sat at the other end of the sofa, staring at the wall rather than looking at her. He’d told her flat out he didn’t want children. Not now, not ever. And he wouldn’t say what had changed his mind.
Wondering if he still loved her, she’d done all she could to get his attention. But somehow he slipped further and further away until she couldn’t reach his heart. In a last-ditch effort to get him to admit he still cared, she’d left. Her hope had been he would come after her and beg her to return. Instead he’d told her it was for the best.
CAL RAN THE TOTALS for the day. They were still ahead of projections and the reservations showed no signs of slowing. He wanted to claim the new dining room or advertising was responsible, but he knew it was a whole lot more about Penny’s menu.
“Got any leftovers?”
He glanced up and saw Walker in the doorway to his office. “Sure. I’ll have Penny get you something.”
He buzzed the kitchen. Naomi picked up.
“Why are you calling?” she asked by way of greeting. “Because you’re too important to walk the twenty or thirty feet from your office to the kitchen?”
“Exactly. Ask Penny to come out, would you?”
“It’s not like she works for you,” Naomi said.
“You might want to check the contract. She does and you do, too.”
“Oh, fine. Throw your authority around. Penny. You’ve been summoned.”
The phone went dead. Cal looked back at his brother. “She’ll be right out.”
The door to the kitchen opened. Penny walked out, a dishtowel in her hand. “You’re buzzing me?” she asked as she turned toward his office. “There’s nothing in the contract about buzzing—”
She broke off when she saw Walker. Her face lit up, her mouth curved in a wide, open smile and she ran as if being chased by wolves.
“Walker! You’re back!”
She launched herself at him with the confidence of a woman who knows she’s going to be caught. Walker grinned and wrapped his arms round her.
“Hey, Penny,” he said and leaned his head toward hers.
She did the same, so their foreheads touched. “You’re back. My favorite ever marine is back.”
Cal knew that Penny adored his brothers. She claimed it was because she grew up with two sisters and was desperate for some male point of view in her life.
Until that moment, Cal hadn’t cared one way or the other. But right then, watching Walker turn in a slow circle, Penny in his arms, her feet kicking behind her, he felt a definite need to growl.
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