Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(59) by Susan Mallery
“I shouldn’t be here,” she said.
“Yes, you should. I was there for you, with the baby.”
“This isn’t the same.”
He glanced at her. “It might be the closest I’m going to get.”
He recognized Tracy at once. She stood by the hostess station. But as he got closer, he saw the worry in her eyes and the pain in her expression.
He swore. This was not a happy woman. This was a frightened mother.
“What happened?” he asked.
Tracy glanced from him to Penny. “It’s Lindsey. I’m sorry to come here like this. I called your office and they said I could find you here.”
Cal gripped Penny’s hand harder. He knew. Just looking at Tracy, he knew the truth. “The cancer’s back.”
Tracy paled. “Yes. There have been signs for a few weeks. Apparently Lindsey did her best to keep them from us. She was determined to star in her school play, but she collapsed after the show that night. They’ve been doing tests, but we all knew…” She twisted her hands together.
“When it comes back like this,” she said, “so aggressively, they want to do more than chemo. They want to try a bone marrow transplant. I came here to find out if you’d be willing to be tested.”
“Of course. Right away. I can get in touch with Alison as well.” Although he had no idea where the woman was, her parents still lived in Seattle.
“Thank you.” Tracy shivered. “We love her so much. She’s our baby girl. When she was sick before and then got better, we were all so hopeful.” She swallowed. “Cal, you’ve been so good to us. You’ve never tried to get involved in her life.”
“She didn’t want that.” It hurt him to speak the words.
“I know, but you didn’t have to respect her wishes and you did. You’ve asked for so little. I…Tom and I have been talking and we think maybe it’s time for her to meet you.”
“I WANT YOU TO KNOW this is the first time I’ve resented your pregnancy,” Naomi said as she reached for a tortilla chip covered in cheese.
“I know,” Penny said from her place across the small table. “I understand completely. In your position, I’d feel the same way.”
Naomi made an inelegant sound that was halfway between a scoff and a snort. “Oh, please. I’m a much better person than you are. In my position, you’d be making margaritas.”
Penny laughed. “You’re probably right.”
Her friend had arrived less than a hour ago, bearing the fixings for nachos. After announcing she was in the mood to get drunk, she’d handed the food over to Penny and told her to have at it. As Naomi wasn’t the type to drink alone, she would accept eating as a poor substitute.
“I did my best with the nachos,” she said.
“They’re good,” Naomi said grudgingly. “But I’m still deeply offended that you’re pregnant at a time when I really need alcohol and someone to share it with.”
Penny didn’t point out that there was a massive list of men who would be oh-so-happy to indulge with Naomi. Penny had a feeling this was a “girls only” kind of thing.
“Have you heard any more about Lindsey?” her friend asked.
“Just that we’re waiting to find out if Cal’s a match. It shouldn’t be much longer. Another day or so. He’s really hoping he is. He wants to be the one to save his daughter.”
“What father wouldn’t?”
A fact that filled Penny with ambivalence. On the one hand, who could resent a man who loved the child he’d given up for adoption? On the other hand, who could trust a man who couldn’t open his heart to anyone else?
If he’d just told her everything all those years ago. She would have understood…eventually. Instead he’d withdrawn until he hadn’t wanted her or their baby.
“I hope it works out for Lindsey,” Penny said. “The poor kid has been through enough already. Apparently she had chemo when she was first diagnosed. That can’t have been fun. With the cancer returning, a bone marrow transplant is her best hope.”
“Any news on the Alison front?”
“She’s not a good match so everyone is hoping Cal is. If not him, they’ll have to look elsewhere, starting with his immediate family. At least if they find a donor, Lindsey will have a real chance of beating this once and for all.”
“I know I’ve had my issues with Cal,” Naomi said, reaching for more chips. “But I hope he’s a match. He needs to save someone.”
Penny looked at her. “Why do you say that?”
“Near as I can figure, it’s a Buchanan family trait. Not that any of them have managed it yet. I think it comes from Gloria, the way she emotionally beat up on them when they were kids.”
While Penny didn’t dispute Naomi’s assessment, she wondered about the source of her information. Had it come from Reid or Walker, or both?
The temptation to ask was strong, but she resisted. If Naomi wanted to tell her, she would.
“It’s just sad that they lost both their parents within a year of each other,” Penny said quietly. “I know Cal always felt he had to be the strong one. I never thought of it in terms of having to save anyone.” She remembered how he’d wanted to keep her out of the Buchanan dynasty because he’d been afraid of what Gloria would do. “Or maybe I didn’t see it.”
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