Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(51) by Susan Mallery
Cal knew his brother wasn’t kidding. “You were right. I should have told her about Lindsey.”
He waited for the crowing “I told you so,” but Reid only sipped his coffee. The silence told Cal how bad things were.
He wondered if his brother knew that he and Penny had slept together. That night had been spectacular—and not just for the hot sex. There had been something about being with her again….
Warning signs flashed on and off in his brain. No emotions allowed, he reminded himself. No feeling. It wasn’t smart, it wasn’t safe and in the end, everyone suffered.
“I hate that bitch,” Reid said.
It took Cal a second to realize he meant Gloria. “She loves to screw with us.”
“It’s because we won’t do what she wants.”
“I have,” Cal said. “More than once.”
Reid glanced at him. “That’s because you were the oldest and were trying to protect the rest of us.”
True enough, but that didn’t make him feel any better about his decisions. “Gloria’s been on my ass about taking over the company,” he said. “Why would she pull something like this? She has to know it’ll piss me off.”
“She wants to make sure you don’t get back together with Penny more than she wants you to run the corporation. She can’t forgive Penny for walking out on one of her precious grandsons.”
Made sense, Cal thought. “Still, it’s my fault Gloria had ammunition in the first place. If I’d told Penny about Lindsey, Gloria couldn’t have f**ked things up.”
“We’ve all made bad choices,” Reid said. “Now you’ll deal with yours.”
He regretted having to make the confession more than he could say. “She thinks I’m glad she lost the baby. I’m not. I wasn’t back then, either. I never wished anything bad would happen to our child.”
“Maybe not, but you were relieved.”
Cal opened his mouth and closed it. His brother spoke the truth. He remembered his initial happiness fading as a sense of being trapped took over. How was he supposed to have another child and care about it when he’d simply walked away from Lindsey? He’d been confused and hadn’t had anyone he could talk to. Or so he thought. Now he knew he could have discussed it with his brothers. Or Penny. He hadn’t trusted her to understand. What if she had? What if they’d been able to pull together instead of being pulled apart?
“I didn’t have all the answers,” he said at last.
“No one ever expected you to. Except you. Cal, none of us is perfect. It’s time you stopped trying to be. Get over it. Yes, you had a kid. You didn’t want to give her up, but you did. She’s great. Happy, living a good life. Move on.”
Advice he should listen to. “Penny has. She’s excited about the baby.”
“Of course she is. She’s always wanted kids.”
Cal knew that. In some ways, that was his greatest sin. “She was right—I changed the rules. When we were first together, I wanted kids as much as she. It was the reality of having a baby I could keep that screwed me up. When I told her I’d changed my mind…” He could still see the disbelief and hurt on her face. “I owe her.”
“Big time. But that’s the past. Let it go. She’s moved on.” Reid looked at him again. “Your timing sucks.”
“What do you mean?”
“Friday, when all this hit the fan, she’d just felt the baby move for the first time. She wanted to tell you. How’s that for a kick in the teeth? There she was all excited and doing the happy dance.”
The baby moved? “She never felt that with ours. She lost it too soon.” He could imagine her delight and excitement. “Did you feel it, too?”
“I tried, but it was too faint. There she was, all happy and then Gloria dumps the first load on her and you dump the second. Way to go, big brother.”
Cal swore. He felt like shit. “I never meant…”
Right. Because meaning or not meaning didn’t matter to anyone. Penny didn’t deserve any of this from him. She hadn’t done anything wrong. All she’d done was show up every damn day of their marriage. She’d taken a whole lot longer to give up than she should have and he’d let her go without a word.
“You should beat the crap out of me,” Cal muttered.
“That would only make you feel better and right now I’m not interested in doing that. She has a doctor’s appointment in a couple of days. An ultrasound. She’s pretty sure she doesn’t want to know if it’s a boy or a girl. And jeez, the names she’s talking about. Poor kid. But I think she’ll come around. Penny’s pretty smart.”
Penny was a lot of things, Cal thought, fighting a sudden aching sense of loss for all he’d missed with her.
He reminded himself that he was fine with that—being a part of something wasn’t his goal. Love didn’t last. Hadn’t he had that proved to him over and over?
“Naomi was in last night,” Reid said. “She left with Walker.”
“You okay with that?”
Reid shrugged. “Sure. Why not? There were never any promises between us.”
Not wanting a permanent commitment was one thing, but Reid’s lifestyle made no sense to him.
“Don’t you ever want more than a parade of women through your life?”
His brother frowned. “No. Why?”
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