Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(46) by Susan Mallery
And where the hell was he, anyway?
He didn’t appear, but shortly after nine there was another visitor in the kitchen. Penny glanced up as Gloria entered. The older woman was well-dressed and looked very happy. The latter was never good news.
“Penny, I wanted to stop by and say how wonderful everything was tonight. I’m here with friends who are very impressed.”
“Thanks,” Penny said. “The special is doing well.”
“Yes. I noticed that. Although it seemed a little over-priced. Still, you and Cal are making the decisions these days.”
Penny forced herself to keep smiling. She’d felt her baby move for the first time that day and nothing the old bat was going to say could upset her.
“Speaking of Cal,” Gloria said, “I don’t know if you noticed he’s not here.”
“I had noticed. Did you want me to give him a message?”
“Oh, not at all. I know where he is.”
Uh-oh. Penny recognized potential trouble when she heard it. “Good. I’ll tell him you stopped by.”
“If you’d like, dear. But you’re the reason I’m here. I thought you’d want to know where Cal is tonight.”
Penny had been curious, right up until Gloria had offered to tell her. Now she felt a little queasy.
“I’m really busy,” she said. “Maybe another time.”
“This won’t take but a moment,” Gloria said, pulling a piece of colored paper out of her purse. She smoothed the paper on the metal counter. “It’s a flyer for a local high school play. They’re doing a musical—The King and I. Look at the girl playing Anna. Isn’t she pretty? Her name is Lindsey. She’s seventeen. Do you know about her?”
Penny couldn’t speak. She could only stare at the picture. There was something about the teenager—something familiar.
“Cal’s daughter,” Gloria said. “Didn’t he mention her to you? I would have thought he might have, seeing as you were married. Hmm, maybe not. She’s a lovely girl with a beautiful voice. So lovely. She was sick a few years ago. Cancer, I believe. But she’s fine now. She’ll be going to college in the fall. Cal adores her. He’s never missed a school production. He hated giving her up, but he was just a teenager himself. What choice did he have? Still, he’s been a wonderful, caring father. He always wanted children. Just not with you, dear. Just not with you.”
CAL WALKED INTO The Waterfront a little before ten. The dining room was surprisingly full, with three couples still waiting to be seated. It was going to be a late night.
He nodded at the hostess, then looked around for Randy. His assistant was a little new to have been left in charge on a Friday night, but Cal hadn’t had much choice. He wanted a report, then he wanted to check in with Penny.
As he crossed the dining room, he saw Randy race out of his office. The younger man slowed his pace slightly as he approached. He grabbed Cal’s arm and pulled him to the side.
“We ran out of wine,” he said, his voice low and thick with tension. “For the tasting dinner. Penny’s really mad. I mean really mad. She picked a different wine and wouldn’t let me run the numbers, so I don’t know if we’re losing money or not.”
Cal groaned. “We ran out of the pinot? How did that happen?”
“Great. Let me go calm Penny down, then we’ll get through the evening and sort it out in the morning. There’s a decent pinot for the dinner now, isn’t there?”
“I think so. Penny didn’t want me involved in the decision.”
“Okay. I’ll take care of things.”
He patted Randy on the back, then started for the kitchen. He stepped through the swinging door and into the madness that was a kitchen at capacity.
“Penny, I heard there was a—”
Something whizzed past his head and slammed into the door frame. He turned and saw a meat cleaver sticking out of the wood. Except for the hiss of the steamer and the roar of fire at the burners, the kitchen went silent.
“What the hell?” He turned and saw Penny standing by the counter, glaring at him.
“Oops,” she said, not sounding the least bit sincere or concerned. “I must have slipped.”
He couldn’t believe it. “You threw a knife at me,” he said, more stunned than furious.
She shrugged, a casual enough gesture, but he could see the rage in her eyes.
She’d thrown a knife at him and she was mad? “What the hell is wrong with you?” he demanded.
“Gosh, I don’t know. Like I said, it slipped.”
She turned back to the plates she was assembling. Conversation began again in the kitchen. Cal stared at her, not sure what was going on. Penny couldn’t be this mad because they were out of wine.
Penny thrust the plates at him. “Table sixteen. Did Randy tell you we’re out of the pinot for the tasting menu?”
“He mentioned it.”
“Next time you take off on our busiest night of the week, you might want to leave someone competent in charge.”
She turned her back on him and began calling out the new orders that popped out of the small printer. Cal stared at her for a second, then walked out into the dining room. Something was up, but he didn’t have any idea what.
After delivering the meal and chatting briefly with several guests, he walked toward his office. He stepped into the small space and found Naomi waiting for him.
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