Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(58) by Susan Mallery
“As he’s made millions with The Daily Grind, I don’t see that as a big problem.” Penny stood. “I don’t know what you want, Gloria, but you’re not going to get it here. Go torture someone else. I’m not interested in your games.”
Gloria rose. “You can’t dismiss me.”
“Seems that she just did,” Naomi said from the doorway. “I couldn’t help overhearing some of that. Wow. It’s all so ugly.” Naomi smiled broadly. “While we’re sharing, I’ve slept with Reid and Walker. Not at the same time, of course, because that would be tacky. But both of them. That should give you something to chew on.”
“Slut,” Gloria hissed.
Naomi laughed. “If that’s the best you can do, I’m not sure why so many people are afraid of you.”
Gloria grabbed her coat and walked out. Naomi moved over to the desk and she and Penny gave each other a high five.
“Talk about someone needing an attitude adjustment,” Naomi said. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” Penny eyed her friend. “Are you really sleeping with Walker?”
“I just saved your butt. How about thanking me and offering me a big raise?”
“I appreciate the rescue, even if I didn’t need it. Are you really sleeping with Walker?”
Naomi shrugged. “Just once. It was nice, but now it’s over.” She frowned. “We’re friends. Weird, because I don’t believe in guy friends, but there we are.”
Penny didn’t know what to say. First of all, Naomi loved to talk about her conquests. She always said that was nearly the best part. Second, friends?
“Don’t look so confused,” Naomi said. “He’s different. I like him.”
“Like as in romantic affection?”
“No. Just like as in like.” Her expression tightened. “This is private information and you are never to talk about it with anyone.”
Penny grinned. “Blackmail material. Cool.”
CAL RETURNED to the restaurant just before five. As he walked into the kitchen, he smiled at the familiar chaos that preceded the genius that was Penny’s menu.
“How’s it going?” he asked, raising his voice to be heard over the noise.
“Great,” Penny said.
Naomi reached for two salads. “Your grandmother was here and threatened Penny.”
He swore. “I warned her if she meddled, I would walk.”
Penny shook her head, as if warning him off. Naomi rolled her eyes.
“Oh, right. She acts up and you bail. So we’re stuck having to deal with her on our own. Very manly. Remind me to call you first in a crisis.”
With that, she picked up a third salad, spun and walked out of the kitchen.
“I haven’t even taken my coat off and I’ve lost a battle with her,” he said.
Penny sighed. “With Naomi, it’s a real gift. She can make any man think he’s incapable of winning. I tried to get you to stop, but no. You had to keep talking.”
He eyed her. “You seem plenty cheerful. Obviously Gloria didn’t do any serious damage.”
“I held my own.”
“Did Gloria stop by to see you or me?”
“Me,” Penny said.
“What did she want to talk about?”
“The usual. How she was important and I wasn’t. Then Naomi popped in to tell her she was sleeping with Reid and Walker. I would say it was a draw.”
“Remind me to thank her later.”
He dumped his coat in his office, then toured the dining room. They were booked through nine, which wasn’t bad for a Wednesday night. The tables were already full and there were several couples waiting in the bar.
He returned to the kitchen. “Looks good out there,” he told Penny. “Want to tell me the real reason Gloria stopped by?”
“Because it doesn’t matter. She’s a bitter old woman and she wants everyone else in her sphere to be equally unhappy. I refuse.”
“Good for you,” he told her. He sidestepped a cook lugging a huge pot of clam chowder. “I should get out of your way.”
“Yes, you should,” she said, but she was smiling.
There was something about her eyes, he thought. They were so pretty. And her smile. Before he realized what was going on, the wanting had returned. Funny how the past week had sort of sucked it out of him. Her anger, the baby, everything else. But now he could imagine taking her to bed.
Talk about twisted, he told himself and started toward his office.
Naomi stepped into the kitchen. “Cal, there’s someone here to see you. Tracy somebody. Are you dating her? Do I need to let the air out of your tires?”
“Tracy?” He only knew one woman by that name. “Lindsey’s mom?”
Penny moved to his side. “Does she come to see you often?”
“Almost never. The last time was when Lindsey was sick. She wanted to tell me in person.” His insides clutched. Had the cancer returned?
No. He shook off the fear. He’d seen her less than two weeks ago at the school play and she’d looked great. Without thinking, he took Penny’s hand.
“Maybe she wants to meet me.” After all this time, maybe his daughter had decided she wanted to know about him.
Still holding Penny’s hand, he walked out of the kitchen. She shuffled along behind him.
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