Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(69) by Susan Mallery
Complications, he thought. Getting involved with Penny would be nothing but complications. Another reason to resist his need for her. But he sure was tempted.
They rode up to their floor, then stepped into the corridor.
“We have to check in,” he said. “Tracy, Lindsey’s mom, said they’ll explain about the mask and gown we have to wear. Her immune system is still recovering. Apparently she’s doing much better than anyone expected and she’ll be out of the hospital in a few weeks, but until then, we all have to be careful.”
Penny touched his arm. “You’re nervous. That’s normal, but I’m still only going as far as the door. This is a private moment.”
“I don’t know how to talk to her. I’ve known about her all her life, but she’s never given me any thought. What do I say?”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “Speak from your heart. Your goal here is to connect. Just establish some easy conversation, then sort of slide into the fact that you’re her father.”
Cal tried to imagine himself saying the words, but it was impossible. He’d kept the secret for too long.
“Tracy will be there, right?” Penny asked.
He nodded. “She and I agreed it’s important for Lindsey to have her mother around.”
Penny smiled. “You always say ‘her mother’ or ‘her father.’ Never ‘her adoptive mother.’”
“Tracy is her mother. Alison’s role in Lindsey’s life was to provide an egg and rental space for nine months. Nothing else.”
And his role had been even less. He’d given his daughter some DNA and then he’d cut her loose.
Penny moved close and stared into his eyes. “Don’t go there. You did more than just offer up sperm. Despite wanting to keep her, you made a conscious choice to make her life better. You did everything in your power to make sure she would be happy.”
“I didn’t want to let her go.”
“Knowing what you know now, do you think you made the wrong decision?”
Good question. Could he have raised Lindsey better? Could he have made her more happy? He’d still been a kid himself. What about Gloria and her need to meddle in every aspect of everyone’s life? What about Lindsey getting sick?
“This was the right choice,” he said slowly. “I know that.”
“Then maybe it’s time to give yourself a break, Cal. Maybe you should let go of the guilt and be happy your daughter is alive and getting better. How long are you going to punish yourself for giving her the best of everything in the world?”
He stared at Penny. Was it really that simple? Had he been punishing himself for doing what was obviously the best for his daughter?
“You have your moments,” he said.
“I know.” She smiled. “I can be brilliant on demand. It’s a gift.”
“Okay. Be brilliant now and tell me what to say to Lindsey.”
“How about telling her that you’re her father and that you love her very much?”
Before he could answer, Tracy came out of a room at the far end of the hall. She wore a long hospital gown.
“Hi,” she said as she approached. “Right on time. Are you ready to get all covered up? Lindsey’s doing great. Even better than we’d all hoped. It looks like she’ll be able to come home fairly soon. Not that she can go back to school. No crowds for her for a while, but still. We’re happy and so very grateful.”
She was nervous. Cal could see it in her eyes and hear it in her fast-paced words.
“Tracy,” he began.
She shook her head. “It’s fine. Really. This is for the best. Lindsey wants to meet the man who saved her life and you want to meet your daughter. I didn’t tell her. I…” She swallowed. “I didn’t know how,” she admitted. “Which is probably a good thing. You’ve been waiting to tell her for a long time. You’ve more than earned this, Cal. Really. Tom and I are so grateful.”
“Thank you,” he said.
He felt Penny take his hand. He laced his fingers with hers and squeezed. At least he’d been smart enough to bring her along. He had a feeling he was going to need a friend through all this.
Speaking of which…“Tracy, this is Penny Jackson.”
Penny leaned forward and shook hands. “It’s lovely to meet you. I’m so pleased your daughter is doing well. You’ve been through such a difficult time and deserve to hear good news.”
“Thank you.” Tracy stared at Penny’s stomach. “Your first?”
Penny hesitated only a second, then nodded. “I’m due in September and getting bigger by the second.”
Tracy’s smile faded. “We wanted children, but I wasn’t able to carry a baby past the twelfth week. There’s a complex medical term for it. So we decided to adopt. Cal gave us Lindsey and she’s been a blessing to us every day.”
“I’m glad,” he told her.
Penny’s hold on his hand tightened.
“All right, let’s go,” Tracy said. “Lindsey’s doing great. At first she was really sick, but that faded quickly. Now she’s just waiting until she’s able to go home. Oh, you know she lost her hair in chemo, right?”
Cal hadn’t. It made sense, but he hated the thought of her beautiful blond hair falling out.
“She’s hoping she’ll get some curl when it grows back in,” Tracy continued. “Did her biological mother have curly hair?”
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