Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(63) by Susan Mallery
“I think it’s a good idea. I offered to let her stay with me, but she didn’t want to.”
Penny wrinkled her nose. “It would be too much like moving back home. I would move in with a friend way before I would go live with one of my sisters. I would hate the daily reminder I hadn’t turned out like them.”
He put down her right foot and reached for her left. After pulling off her sock, he rolled up her jeans. “You don’t still worry about that, do you?” he asked.
Penny relaxed and gave herself over to the stroking pressure of his fingers on her heel.
“Sometimes. Before I figured out I wanted to be a chef, I was a complete failure. I flunked out of college.” She winced at the thought. “I lived two years of my life in Pullman thinking I could become a vet. Like I could ever pass those science classes.”
“But you regrouped and moved to Seattle.”
“Oh, right. I moved away from Spokane because my parents were done supporting my various screw-ups. For the first month, I was so broke, I slept in my car.”
“All the more reason to be proud of what you’ve become.”
“You’re right. My parents are excited about my career.” If not the baby, she thought. No, that wasn’t fair. They were happy to have another grandchild.
“You should invite them out,” Cal said.
She opened her eyes and stared at him. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Why not? They can see you at the restaurant, see the city.”
“Oh, right. Because I need more going on in my life. Don’t you dare say anything to them, either.”
He grinned. “We don’t talk much these days.”
“I guess not. As it is, my mother is going to come out when I have the baby.” That might be good, what with Naomi talking about leaving. “Families. Who thought up the concept?”
“You love your parents,” he said. “You know you do.”
She nodded. “They’re great. I love my sisters, too. I wish they weren’t so perfect, but I can handle it.”
Cal moved to the ball of her foot and dug in with his thumbs. “I’m going to have to talk to Dani about her father.”
“The whole not being a Buchanan thing?”
“Yes. She told me she wants to have a heart to heart with Gloria and find out the real reason she hasn’t been promoted. The conversation isn’t going to go well.”
“It’s better that she hears it from you instead of Gloria. Dani knows how much you care.”
He shrugged. “I accept that, but I still don’t want to be the one to tell her. It’s going to hurt her and she doesn’t need any more pain right now. I’m going to try to hold her off a week or so. Let her get settled.”
“Don’t wait too long.”
His cell phone rang. He grabbed for it with an eagerness that told her he’d been waiting. To find out if he was a match, she thought, as he glanced at the display.
“It’s Tracy,” he said before he pushed the talk button and said, “Hello?”
She looked at him and saw the worry in his dark eyes. Then his mouth curved and she knew even before he hung up.
“I’m a match!” he said with a grin. “Nearly a perfect one. I’ve got to get through some tests, but I’m healthy, so we’re going to assume we can go through with this. I can save her.”
And because she knew how much that meant to him, she put her confusion aside.
“I’m glad,” she said honestly, then leaned forward and hugged him. “Let’s celebrate. We can’t go out for a drink, but we can go eat. Or you drink and I’ll watch.”
“No liquor for me,” he said. “I want to be healthy. Let’s go get a salad.”
She laughed. “I can’t believe you actually said that.”
She smiled and squeezed his arms. “Let’s call the whole family and have them join us. Everyone will want to know.”
He reached for his cell phone.
As he contacted Reid, Walker and Dani, Penny put on her shoes and socks. Cal was such a good man—caring, determined. He was a good father to Lindsey. But his heart seemed to stop there. No one new got in. Which meant only a fool would expect him to change.
But as he laughed with Reid, she found herself wishing things had been different. That he could have let her in, that they could have stayed together and made a family of their own.
THERE WERE A FINITE NUMBER of high schools in the Seattle area and Walker had been lucky enough to find Ben on the first try. His friend had attended West Seattle High School his sophomore year. There had been seven Ashleys in his grade and nearly thirty attending the school that year.
After making a list of them, Walker spent some time on the Internet, tracking down marriages, name changes and locations. Several had moved away. Ben’s last physical contact had been right before he’d shipped off to Afghanistan, which meant any Ashleys moving more than eighteen months ago could be eliminated. Anyone married longer than that same period could also be taken off the list. Which still left him with eleven women.
The first, Ashley Beauman, lived in Bellevue, just east of Lake Washington. He turned onto the residential street shortly after ten on Tuesday morning. While he doubted he would find Ashley home, he could at least find her house and come back later.
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