Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(60) by Susan Mallery
“Dani’s the only one who keeps trying to please that bitch.”
She was fighting a losing battle, Penny thought. Gloria would never accept Dani because she wasn’t a Buchanan.
She wondered if Cal had told his sister the truth, then figured he hadn’t had the time. But he needed to and soon. If he didn’t, Penny had a bad feeling it would come back to bite him in the ass.
“Just talking about Cal and his family makes me realize how normal I am,” Penny said. “Who would have thought that was possible?”
“What are you talking about? You’re not so bad.”
“I’m pregnant through a medical procedure by a man I’ll never meet, and working for my ex-husband.” Sleeping with him as well, she thought, although she didn’t say that. Naomi might have guessed, but she wouldn’t ask and Penny wouldn’t confirm anything.
But speaking of people sleeping together…“How’s the friendship thing working out with you and Walker?” she asked.
“Ha. Like I believe that. There’s something you’re not telling me.”
There had to be. Naomi was actually squirming in her seat. Penny had never seen her act this way about a guy.
“Are you in love with him?” she asked, trying not to sound too incredulous.
“What? No. Of course not.” Naomi wrinkled her nose. “It’s not like that at all.”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.” She sighed. “We don’t even have sex anymore.” She reached for her can of soda. “We’re friends, which is strange.”
Penny didn’t know what to think. “When you say you’re not having sex, you mean…”
Naomi shrugged. “No sex. Honestly, I can’t imagine us ever doing it again. We don’t…we…talk.”
“Talking is good.”
“No, it’s not. This isn’t natural. Friends with a man. Oh, please.”
Penny did her best to keep from smiling. “So you’re having a relationship. That’s great.”
“No, it’s odd. This is nothing romantic and yet I care about him. I don’t want to care about anyone.”
“You care about me.”
Her friend smiled. “Yes, I do, but girl love is different. Caring about a guy…”
Her voice trailed off as sadness filled her eyes. She looked at Penny. “I might have to leave.”
Penny had a feeling she didn’t just mean that evening. Panic and pain gripped her. She needed Naomi and she would miss her horribly if she went away.
“Want to tell me why?”
Her friend smiled. “Thanks for not instantly saying I can’t.”
“I want to, but I’m holding back.”
Naomi reached for another chip. “I have family back in Ohio. Parents. A couple of brothers and sisters. A husband.” She chewed then swallowed. “Actually, I’m not sure about the husband. He might have divorced me. I’ve been gone a long time.”
Penny blinked. “I don’t know what to say. You never mentioned anyone.”
“I didn’t just hatch.”
Penny had always figured there had to be someone. But a whole family? A husband?
“Something happened,” Naomi continued. “I don’t want to get into it, but I did something bad and I couldn’t live with myself. Or them. So I left. I just drove and I ended up here. I met you a few weeks later.”
Penny felt her heart breaking. She didn’t want to lose her friend. “If you think you have to go back, it’s fine.”
Naomi scowled at her. “You’re going to be brave, aren’t you? Dammit, I hate that. I don’t want to leave, but I think it’s time. I have to go mend some fences. I think I’m still in love with him. Talk about insane.”
Penny nodded because if she spoke, she would start to cry.
“I wouldn’t just leave you,” Naomi said. “I’d make sure there were some people in place. To help with the baby and at the restaurant.”
“I’ll be fine,” Penny said. “Don’t worry about me.”
Naomi gone! It wasn’t possible. Who else would she talk to in the middle of the night when she’d just watched a sad movie and couldn’t stop crying? Who else would understand the need to never eat blue M& M’s on even days of the month? Who else would coach her through delivery and stay with her for the first couple of weeks after the baby was born?
Naomi swore and got to her feet.
“What?” Penny asked.
Penny sniffed. “It doesn’t mean anything. I’m hormonal.”
She stood and her friend walked around the table. They held on to each other.
“You’re the best friend I’ve ever had,” Naomi whispered. “I won’t ever forget that.”
Naomi sighed. “See. This is why love sucks. If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care if I had to leave.”
“If you didn’t love me after all we’ve been through, I’d throw a meat cleaver at your head.”
DANI GLARED at Cal. “I can’t believe you never told me you had a daughter. All this time.” Her gaze narrowed. “Walker and Reid know, don’t they? You guys always stick together.”
Cal put his arm around Dani as they walked from the parking lot on the University of Washington campus. “I didn’t know they knew, if that makes you feel any better. I thought it was a secret.”
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