Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(39) by Susan Mallery
“Then I’ll see you there.”
HOW HARD COULD fajitas be? Cal had picked the dish deliberately. He’d bought beans, rice, salsa and guacamole from his favorite Mexican restaurant. All he had to do was chop up a few onions, peppers and cilantro, along with the steak and chicken and throw on the spices.
He’d already set the table and he had a blender of virgin margaritas in the freezer, so why wasn’t the meal coming together? Here it was, less than fifteen minutes before Penny was due to arrive and he’d suddenly realized he had no way to heat the beans.
“I need more pots, dammit,” he yelled as he flung open cupboards. Except he never cooked and he wouldn’t know a good pot from a bad one.
He finally found a casserole dish and dumped the beans into that. He would use the microwave and be done with it.
Just then the doorbell rang. He walked to open it.
“Right on time,” he said, before he got a look at Penny. Then he stepped back and jammed his mouth shut before his jaw dropped and he just stared like an idiot.
Penny looked great. A black-and-purple sweater clung to her newly impressive br**sts and her round tummy. Black jeans made already long legs seem to go on forever. Her hair was loose and hung nearly halfway down her back. The soft waves made him remember other times when her hair had been falling over his belly and thighs as she—
He slammed the door on that train of thought and invited her inside.
“You look great,” he said.
“Thanks. I’m really starting to show, but I’m still too small for maternity clothes. It’s hard finding things to wear. Love the house. Queen Anne is such a cool neighborhood. I saw you have a view. I’m jealous.” She shrugged out of her coat and handed it to him. “I stopped by the restaurant on my way over. Everything is fine. The cat is really settling in. We have to name it. Maybe we can hold a contest. With staff, I mean. Not customers. They don’t need to know about the cat or the rats.”
He closed the door and waited for her to talk herself out. The babbling meant she was nervous. Knowing he wasn’t the only one made things a little easier.
“So, ah, why am I here?” she asked as he hung up her coat.
“Because I asked you and you said yes.”
“I know that. Why did you ask me?”
“You passed the date.”
Tears filled her eyes. She blinked them away. “Hormones,” she said thickly. “I didn’t know you were keeping track.”
“It wasn’t hard. You only told me about the baby a couple of weeks ago. So when Naomi said you got the all clear from your doctor,” he said, “I wanted to celebrate.”
The idea had popped into his brain and he hadn’t been able to shake it loose. He’d decided to give in to the impulse and see what happened.
“You didn’t have to do this, but I’m glad you did,” she said, heading down the hall. “Is the kitchen this way?”
“Yeah. Turn right.”
He rounded the corner and plowed into her. She’d stopped just inside the room.
“What?” he asked, feeling the criticism rolling off her. “It’s big. There’s plenty of light. It’s a good stove.”
She eyed the six-burner stainless steel appliance that had come with the house. “Better than good, but jeez, Cal. It’s red.”
He nodded. “They’d just painted before they put the house on the market. I’ll change it.”
She winced. “You should do it soon. A red kitchen isn’t a good idea. You’ll never get the color right on your vegetables and it’s not appetizing. But I can live with it.”
“I’m glad, because I’m not painting today.”
She walked over to the stools at the island and plopped down. “So what are we having?”
“Fajitas. Steak and chicken.”
As she seemed to have settled in for the evening, he knew he wasn’t going to get out of cooking in front of her. “Want something to drink?” he asked, when he really wanted to offer her something to read, or a movie on TV. Anything so she wouldn’t see him fumbling around in the kitchen.
“Sure. What do you have?”
He poured them both drinks, then turned on the heat under the grill pan. He could see her eyeing the flame but didn’t know if he had it too high or too low.
“You want to do this?” he asked.
“No. I do it for a living. I like having you cook for me. It will be fine.”
She smiled. “Cal, it’s nothing more than a simple stir-fry on a grill pan. You’ll do great.”
“Yeah.” He was already sweating. Why had he thought this was a good idea?
“I didn’t see another car in the driveway,” she said. “Has Walker already moved out?”
“A couple of days ago. Reid offered him a bedroom on his houseboat, but Walker’s determined to have his own place.”
“I’m surprised he moved out of here,” she said after taking a sip of her margarita, “but who on earth would want to move in with Reid? There would be too many women coming and going. I heard he already has a new chickie. He and Naomi lasted what, two weeks? Maybe three?”
“They burn hot and bright,” he said as he dropped the meat onto the grill pan. “Then it’s over.”
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