Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(56) by Susan Mallery
He’d been so much a part of her past and now he was in her present. She wanted to hate him and couldn’t.
At least she no longer loved him. Only a fool would want her heart broken by the same man twice.
CAL CHECKED over the figures from the previous night. He glanced up as his office door opened and Dani stepped inside.
“Hi,” he said before he realized she was crying. He stood and walked around to hug her. “What’s wrong?”
Instead of answering, her tears turned into sobs. Her whole body shook as he held her. He felt her pain, even if he didn’t know what caused it, and he was more than willing to go do battle on her behalf.
“Whose ass do I have to kick?” he asked, as he rubbed her back and kissed the top of her head.
“I w-wish it was that simple,” she said, her voice muffled against his chest. She straightened and looked into his eyes. “It’s Hugh.”
Cal grimaced. He wasn’t comfortable picking a fight with a guy in a wheelchair, but if necessary…“What did he do?”
“He left me.”
“What?” Cal had expected to hear anything from a major disagreement to the unlikely statement of an affair. But not this.
“He left me,” she repeated.
“Not possible. He loves you.” What he was really thinking was that Hugh owed her. After his accident, she’d been the one to stand by him, to insist that they were still getting married, even if he was never going to walk again. She’d loved him and bullied him when necessary, all with the goal of making him want to live, despite being paralyzed from the waist down. She’d stayed at Burger Heaven to keep their insurance so he could continue with his physical therapy.
She’d succeeded. Hugh had slowly returned to the land of the living and he’d carved out a good life for himself.
“Maybe you misunderstood him.”
She gave a strangled laugh and walked to one of the chairs by his desk. He took the other, then leaned toward her and grabbed her hand.
“I don’t get it,” he said.
“That makes two of us.” She wiped her cheeks with her free hand, then fished in her coat pocket for a tissue. “I told him I wanted to talk about in vitro fertilization. We were going to need some help to get pregnant and I thought this was a good time. Okay, I was a little selfish because I knew I wasn’t going anywhere at Burger Heaven and I thought maybe this would distract me. Being a mom and all.” She sniffed. “It’s not that I didn’t want kids, it’s just that I thought I’d have my career together first.”
He tucked her short hair behind her ears. “So what happened when you mentioned getting pregnant?”
“He said he didn’t want to.” The waterworks started up again. “At first I thought it was about money, because the procedure is really expensive, but it wasn’t. He said that he wanted a divorce. He said he’d outgrown m-me.”
He shifted his chair closer, then pulled her close. She rested her forehead on his shoulder.
“He said he’s been growing and changing and I haven’t. He’s on the tenure track and I’m just the manager of Burger Heaven.” She looked at him. “He threw that in my face. As if I haven’t been trying to move up in the company. As if I hadn’t stayed there for him. I work damn hard. Harder than anyone has in that job.”
He cupped her head and kissed her nose. “That’s true. Even than me. You’ve been great and Gloria has never noticed.”
“That’s what I said. Hugh told me I was getting bitter and he didn’t want to live with someone like that. He didn’t want to live with me anymore.”
She stood up and shrugged off her jacket. “I can’t believe it. How dare he? I was there for him. I’ve always been there for him. He got really depressed after the accident. I don’t blame him, but he wasn’t very fun to be around. And I was there. Even more than his parents. But does he appreciate that? Does it matter now? No. He’s grown. La de da. He’s so sanctimonious. I really hate him.”
Cal thought about pointing out that hating Hugh would make the divorce easier, but something in his male brain told him to keep quiet.
“We’re short nearly five pounds of—” Penny looked up from the clipboard she held. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you had company.” She paused, then frowned. “Dani, are you all right?”
Dani sucked in a breath. “Hugh wants a divorce.”
“Oh, honey.” Penny dropped the clipboard onto the bookcase and held out her arms. Dani walked into them.
“He says he’s outgrown me,” his sister said.
“Men are such bastards.”
Cal wanted to protest, but he kept quiet. This was not the time to defend his gender.
“I was there for him. I loved him. I still love him,” Dani said.
Penny stroked her hair. “So do you want to try to work things out?”
“No. If he doesn’t want me, then that’s fine. I won’t be married to him. I don’t need him.” She started to cry again. “It just hurts. I loved him and he doesn’t love me back.”
Cal felt his sister’s pain and a good-sized serving of guilt. Was this what Penny had gone through when she’d left him and he hadn’t come after her?
“What do you want?” Penny asked. “Do you want him to suffer?”
“Yes. Big time. Cal offered to beat him up.”
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