Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(40) by Susan Mallery
“I know. Naomi’s already making moves on one of the busboys. She’s amazing.”
“I hear Edouard has a new man in his life,” Cal said, throwing on peppers and onions.
“That’s the rumor.”
He glanced at her, remembering what Edouard had said about her not getting any. Did she want to?
Her eyes narrowed. “I know what you’re thinking. Stop it.”
“What am I thinking?”
She sniffed. “I’m gestating right now. Sex isn’t important to me.”
“Good to know.” He thought about how she’d responded to his kisses. She might be pregnant, but it wasn’t keeping her completely occupied. If he asked, would she say yes? Did he want her to?
Penny sniffed again. “Ah, is that burning?”
“I’M IMPRESSED,” Penny said as she made another fajita. “This is great.”
“Thanks.” Cal accepted the compliment, although he looked a little suspicious.
“I mean it. I love when someone cooks for me and this is really delicious. You used plenty of cilantro.”
“I knew you were having a craving.”
“That seems to come with the territory. At least I haven’t run into a food I can’t either buy or fix.”
They were eating in Cal’s dining room. He’d put her with her back to the kitchen, so she wouldn’t have to look at the red walls. A sweet gesture, she thought. Any more like that and in her present hormonal state she would start sobbing.
There was also something familiar about their dinner. Just the two of them at a table, talking about restaurants, food, life. How many evenings had they spent together around a table? Their world had been food, work and each other.
Where had their relationship gone wrong? She knew Cal changing his mind about wanting a baby was a big part of it, but there had been plenty of cracks before the crumble.
“Why did you start The Daily Grind?” she asked. “How much of it was wanting something of your own and how much of it was getting away from Gloria?”
He shrugged. “It was about equal.” He leaned toward her. “Oh, I see. Now you believe me about Gloria.”
She smiled. “I never had to work with her before. I’ll admit that when we were first married I thought you exaggerated her personality. I’ve had a few recent encounters with her that have changed my mind. She’s the most controlling person I’ve ever met.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Speaking of telling, have you thought any more about telling Dani the truth about her father? I know it would hurt her initially, but I suspect that after a while she’d find the information very freeing.”
“I don’t know what to do,” he admitted. “I’ve always looked out for Dani. I always wanted to protect her from the world. Now she’s all grown up and I still find myself wanting to shield her from things.”
He kept talking, but suddenly Penny couldn’t hear him. There was an ache deep inside that told her his words confirmed what she’d always believed: Cal would have been a terrific father.
He instinctively took care of those who weren’t as strong. Those in need. She could imagine him adoring a toddler while teaching him or her how to go forward in the world.
Why had he changed his mind? Why hadn’t he wanted children with her?
She opened her mouth, then closed it. The evening was going too well. She didn’t want to spoil the mood by fighting—and discussions about children and babies always led to fights.
He picked up his margarita. “I’ve been thinking about what you said,” he told her. “Better the information come from me than from Gloria. I just have to figure out the best time.”
Penny wasn’t sure there was a good time to shatter someone’s view of their world, but she trusted Cal to be sensitive about the whole thing.
“She’ll want to leave Burger Heaven,” Penny said.
“I know. Maybe I could offer her a job at The Daily Grind. We’re always looking for good managers. I’ve tried to hire her before but she claimed one incident of nepotism in her life was enough. I told her I would have hired her even if we weren’t family, but she didn’t believe me.”
Penny had a feeling Dani would want to escape family-owned businesses for a while, but she didn’t say that.
“You’ve done well for yourself,” she said instead. “The company is really growing.”
He grinned. “It’s even more impressive when you consider we’re in the city where Starbucks started. Talk about competition.”
“Good point. Obviously you’ve filled a niche and we’re a society of obsessive coffee drinkers.” She sighed. “I miss coffee. And before you remind me I can have decaf, I’ll tell you that it’s just not the same.”
“I know. Only a few more months.” He eyed her stomach. “Is your mom going to come out and stay with you when you have the baby?”
“Yes. She says she was there with all her other grandchildren. She’ll be here for the birth of this one.” Penny rested her hand on her belly. “I can’t help thinking she’s disappointed.”
Cal frowned. “At having another grandchild? Not possible.”
“Oh, I know she’ll be happy about the baby. It’s me being pregnant this way. My two sisters did everything exactly right. I bounced around for nearly five years before I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I flunked out of college twice, worked at dozens of jobs. I know my parents were frustrated. Now I’m pregnant by a man they’ll never meet and about whom we know nothing. I have a list of characteristics and a brief medical history.”
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