Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(76) by Susan Mallery
“Because I’ve earned the chance to prove myself somewhere else.” She swallowed, then braced herself. “I either want to be promoted within the company or I’m resigning.”
Gloria didn’t react at all. Not a lash flickered, not a muscle moved. She regarded Dani for several seconds before saying, “I will not tolerate being threatened by you, young lady.”
Dani ignored the young lady bit. “I’m not threatening you. I’m stating a fact. I have both the education and experience to take on more responsibility. This is my career and I refuse to spend it managing Burger Heaven. If you don’t want to give me a chance, then I’ll find a company that does.”
“I doubt you’ll find many,” Gloria said with a sniff.
Dani ignored the hurt that jabbed her. She’d known this was going to go badly. She had to remember why she was here and stay on topic.
“I disagree,” she said. “My employment record and accomplishments speak for themselves. I won’t have any trouble finding another job and moving up. We both know that. So why do you have a problem with me? Why are you always treating me as if I’m second best? Is it because I’m a woman? I can’t believe that of you. You’re a woman and look what you’ve accomplished.”
“You’re right,” Gloria told her, a flicker of anger in her eyes. “I have brought this company to greatness. I am responsible for our success. Don’t you dare come to me with your stupid request—”
“It’s not stupid. It’s reasonable. You haven’t held anyone back the way you’ve kept me down. So why?”
Her grandmother leaned toward her. The air seemed to dip ten degrees. “Be very careful before you ask me that,” she said, her voice low. “I don’t think you’re prepared to hear the truth.”
“I think I’m up to it, Gloria,” she said, suddenly not the least bit afraid. After all, what could the woman say?
“All right. But when I’ve told you, don’t come crying to me, saying it’s all too much.”
“Sure. Whatever.” Talk about a love of melodrama.
Gloria leaned back in her chair. “Many years ago, before you were born, your mother took up with a man. She was unfaithful to my son. My son. Their affair continued for several years and produced a child—you, Danielle. You are your mother’s bastard and not a Buchanan at all. I kept quiet to spare my son the shame. But I’ve never forgotten. Every time I look at you, I see proof that bitch betrayed my son. You are your mother’s daughter and you are nothing to me.”
Dani heard the words, but they didn’t make sense. They couldn’t. Not a Buchanan? But she had always been a Buchanan.
“You’re lying,” she said.
“I am not, but if it would make you happy, we could have one of those DNA tests done. I’m confident it will show you are not one of us.”
Dani didn’t remember standing, but suddenly she was by the door.
“Burger Heaven is as much as you deserve,” Gloria told her. “Be grateful I let you have that much.”
Funny how an hour ago Dani had thought her life couldn’t get any worse. Obviously, she’d been wrong.
“You can have it back,” she told her grandmother. “I quit.”
“Of course I can. If I’m a bitch like my mother, I can do any damn thing I please.”
PENNY WALKED OUT of the kitchen just ahead of the desserts. As she crossed the dining room toward her family’s table, they all stood and began to clap.
Stunned, she froze in place.
“My daughter is the chef,” her father said loudly to the other patrons. “Wasn’t your meal great?”
To her astonishment, everyone else stood and began applauding. She glanced around at the smiling faces and didn’t have a clue as to what she should do now.
The door to the kitchen opened. Penny turned toward it, hoping for a rescue or a reason to escape. Instead Naomi appeared with most of the kitchen staff. They started clapping, too. Cal came out last. He walked over to Penny and stood next to her.
“Did I hire the right person or what?” he asked. Everyone laughed.
Servers appeared with glasses of champagne.
“Didn’t we recently do the toast thing?” she whispered to him.
“That was about the success of the restaurant,” he said. “This is about you. Smile and drink your club soda.”
She took the glass he handed to her and waited until everyone had been served.
“To Penny,” Cal said.
“To Penny,” echoed the crowd.
Fifteen minutes later, when order had been restored to the dining room, Penny went looking for Cal and found him in his office.
“That was surreal,” she said. “Did you plan it?”
“No. Naomi came into the kitchen and said that you were getting a standing ovation in the dining room and I said to break out the champagne. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
“I am,” she said. “But I never expected a reaction like that.” She sat down. “When I spoke with my mom earlier, I mentioned that she and my dad must be happy that I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I thought they were disappointed that I went from career to career, flunked out of college. All that stuff. But she said she was glad I’d taken the time to really figure out what I wanted to do. She liked that I didn’t settle.”
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