Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(50) by Susan Mallery
She still had a hold of his arm. She moved her hand down until their fingers laced together.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I know that’s lame and meaningless, but I’m really sorry. I won’t say anything.”
“Keeping my secrets?” he asked.
Tears filled her eyes. She might be forty, but she was damn beautiful. Her full mouth quivered. A single tear rolled down her cheek. He brushed it away.
He’d always thought it must be a good thing to be able to cry. To ease the pain that built up inside. He never managed it himself. Not even when he’d crouched there, holding Ben’s body.
“I know how much it hurts,” she whispered.
He appreciated the sentiment, even as he dismissed it. She squeezed his hand.
“Walker, I know,” she told him. “I was married once. A long time ago. I had a child. A son. He was great. Smart and funny and curious and just the greatest kid ever.”
Another tear rolled down her cheek.
“I loved him. I didn’t know it was possible to love that much until I had him and then it was as if my heart couldn’t hold all that love. I would have done anything for him. I would have died a thousand times for him.”
There was another tear, then another. She brushed them away.
Walker wanted to bolt from the room. He wanted to be anywhere but here, because whatever Naomi had to tell him, he didn’t want to hear.
But he stayed because he knew if he left, she would be alone, and he couldn’t bring himself to do that to her.
“He was twelve,” she said. “We were in the car, just talking and having fun. I went to put a tape in. I’d done it a thousand times before. The tape slipped, I reached down to pick it up. It just took a second.”
Her breath caught. She pulled her fingers free and covered her face with her hands.
“Just one second. And then there was a car. It plowed right into us, hitting his side. He was killed instantly. I walked away without a scratch and my baby died. Not even in my arms. Just there, in the seat. I screamed and reached for him, but he was already gone.”
Walker shifted in his chair and pulled her against him. He could feel her sobs. He didn’t try to comfort her with meaningless words. Instead he held her tight.
“So I know,” she said against his chest. “I know how much it hurts. I know what it’s like to never forgive yourself, because I couldn’t. Everyone said it was just one of those things. That it wasn’t my fault. Even my husband. But they were wrong. It was my fault. It was me. I wanted to die. I took some pills and they locked me away for a while. When they let me out, I got in a car and I drove and I drove until the road ended. I was here, in Seattle. I lived in my car for a while, but no matter how much I suffered, I couldn’t forget what I’d done.”
He touched his fingers to her chin and forced her to look at him. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“God, it hurts,” she said. “Every minute of every day it hurts.”
He felt her pain. It mingled with his own.
“I loved him,” she whispered. “Why couldn’t I save him?”
“We can never save the ones we love,” he told her.
Then he stood and pulled her to her feet. After tossing a twenty on the table, he led her out to his car.
As he opened the door, she stared at him. “That’s why I do it. To help me forget.”
The men. He’d figured there was a reason. “Does it help?”
“For a little while. And then I remember and my heart breaks all over again.”
“I’d like to forget,” he said and pulled her close.
She went willingly into his arms. He kissed her with a desperation borne of far more than just sexual need. She clung to him, responding as if she would die if she didn’t have him.
Perhaps she would, he thought, as desire took over and clouded his mind. Perhaps they both would.
TWO DAYS LATER, things weren’t much better with Penny. Cal appreciated that she’d stopped assaulting him with deadly weapons, but she still wasn’t speaking to him. After thinking over their conversation he realized that admitting he hadn’t really loved her while they’d been married had probably put him at the top of the list for idiot of the year.
He parked next to Reid’s Corvette and climbed out of his car. The day was sunny but he could feel the dampness of the lake in the chilly morning. Still, the view was impressive as he stared east toward Bellevue and Kirkland.
He walked along the dock, then stepped onto his brother’s houseboat and knocked on the front door.
“It’s Cal,” he called in warning. “Don’t answer the door naked.”
Reid pulled open the front door and grinned. “Don’t want to be intimidated, huh?”
“Like that would happen.”
Reid, dressed in sweats and barefoot, led the way into the kitchen. “Let’s not have that conversation. Coffee?”
Reid poured them each a cup from the pot. Without speaking, they walked into the living room and sat down.
Houseboat didn’t fully describe the remodeled twenty-two-hundred-square-foot luxury home on the water. There was every modern convenience and the added pleasure of being directly on LakeWashington.
“Penny wants you skinned alive and served with salsa,” Reid said conversationally.
“She mentioned that, huh?”
“She ranted and yelled. Then she cried.” Reid looked at Cal. “You get that one for free this time, but don’t let it happen again.”
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