Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(74) by Susan Mallery
Penny held in a wince. Hopefully her mother wouldn’t figure out any glow came from her very recent close encounter with Cal.
“I have an idea,” Joe said. He wrapped an arm around Penny. “Let’s go to the restaurant. We can have a look at that fancy place of hers, then go to the hotel.”
“Great idea,” Fay said. “We won’t keep you too long. We know it’s one of your busiest nights.”
“Don’t be silly.” Penny did a quick head count. “Sure. We can go to the restaurant now and look around, then you can come back for dinner at, say, seven.” She looked at her sisters. “Is that too late for the kids?”
Emily, her oldest sister, grinned. “No. It’s perfect. Sean’s mom lives in the area and she’s taking all the kids tonight and tomorrow for the day. Isn’t that the best? Julie and I will each have a room completely to ourselves. I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you—you get to be alone whenever you want. But for us, it’s heaven.”
“Unheard-of heaven,” Julie added. “I plan to close the bathroom door and not worry about anyone trying to call me or get in or need something. I may even take a bath.”
Penny grinned. “Okay, I’ll make sure to cook fast so you can have a maximum of bathroom time.”
“You don’t have to do that,” her mom said as she slipped her arm through Penny’s and hugged her close. “Your sisters are exaggerating about wanting to be alone.”
From behind Fay’s back both Julie and Emily mouthed, “No, we’re not!”
BY SEVEN THAT NIGHT, the kitchen was in its usual Saturday night pandemonium.
“Shallots,” one of the cooks yelled. “Who the f**k took my shallots?”
Penny grimaced. Stealing setup supplies was a clear invitation to be stabbed in the back. Literally.
Edouard clucked and hurried to the walk-in. He came back with shallots and made sure everyone was supplied before returning to his demiglaze.
“Thanks,” Penny told him.
“You are lucky I am in a good mood,” he said.
“Things happy at home?”
“Bliss,” he told her with a satisfied smile. “George wants to move in. We are talking about getting a cat together.”
“You can’t have Al. We need him here.”
“You’ll have to send him somewhere when the health department comes calling,” Edouard said.
“I know, but he’s worth it.” She grabbed a plate of salmon as it came past and slid on a small corn cake topped with crab.
“Order up,” she yelled.
Naomi appeared at her side. “Your parents are here. And your sisters. No kids or husbands. Should I be worried?”
“Husbands are at home, kids are with Grandma.”
“That’s the way to do it.” She picked up a second plate. “Should I offer to take them bar hopping?”
Penny didn’t want to think about her very married sisters hanging out in Naomi’s wild world.
“They’re kind of focused on having rooms to themselves and taking baths.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to get in the way of that,” Naomi said as she hurried out of the kitchen.
Penny glanced around to make sure that everything seemed in order, then she left Edouard in charge as she made her way into the dining room. She smiled at Cal, who stood by the hostess station, then crossed to the table by the water where her family sat.
“Hi,” she said as she pulled up an empty chair. “Have you ordered?”
“Not yet,” her father said. “We were waiting to get a recommendation from the chef.”
Emily leaned close. “This place is terrific. Fabulous view. Did we know you were working with your ex-husband?”
“Oh, you saw Cal?” she asked, hoping to sound friendly and calm, not at all as if she’d spent a fair amount of the afternoon naked and begging for more.
“She told us,” her mother said. “I’m sure I mentioned it.” Fay glanced at him and waved. “I always thought it was a shame the two of you couldn’t work things out. Any sparks?”
“Not really,” Penny said, and hoped her mother had lost the ability to tell when she was lying.
Julie shook her head. “Let it go, Mom. Penny’s moved on, obviously. She’s having a baby on her own. She’s the perfect modern woman.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Penny said, although she appreciated the vote of confidence.
“Speaking of the baby,” her mother said. “Are you sure you’d still like me to come out for a couple of weeks when it’s born? I don’t want to intrude or get in the way or—”
“Yes,” Penny said, cutting her off in midsentence. “I would love the help. I’m terrified of being on my own with the baby.”
Her mother beamed at her. “You’ll be fine, but I’m happy to help. We’ll work out the details later. Now let’s order some food.”
Penny made several suggestions, then excused herself to go back to the kitchen. Her mother rose and walked with her.
“You’ve done a wonderful job here, darling,” Fay said. “We’re all so proud and happy for you.”
“Thanks. It’s nice to hear. Especially after all the years I spent screwing up.”
Fay frowned. “Don’t say that. We never thought of it that way. You were trying to find what was right for you, that’s all.”
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