Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(77) by Susan Mallery
“So they surprised you in a good way.”
“It’s more than that. Their opinion of me was never what I thought it was and it never occurred to me to ask. I guess I didn’t want my worst fears confirmed. I made a lot of assumptions.”
“You know what they say about that.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that. My point is, what else was I wrong about?”
Or maybe everything. She’d been so sure that leaving Cal had been the right thing to do. She’d been so sure she knew everything about him. Now she was beginning to feel she knew nothing about anyone.
“Did I run away from our marriage?” she asked.
He shrugged. “A case could be made for that, but I sure as hell didn’t come after you. There was so much crap going on back then, Penny. We were both struggling to make sense of things. I should have told you about Lindsey.”
She considered that. “The information would have made a big difference.”
“But would it have changed the outcome? Back then I couldn’t imagine ever being ready to have another child.”
And now? On the one hand she knew that he was a different man—that he’d changed and grown. On the other, he’d admitted to never really loving her during their marriage.
“We couldn’t seem to find common ground,” he said. “I wanted to protect you. You didn’t think you needed it and saw my actions as walking all over your dreams.”
“Because you didn’t help me get the job at Buchanan’s.”
“I’m sorry about that,” he said.
“It’s okay. I understand now what you were doing.”
“But you didn’t back then. I hurt you and I never wanted to do that. I’m sorry.” He’d obviously cared. So why not love? Had he been afraid?
Her heart swelled, making her chest ache. “I’m sorry, too,” she whispered.
They’d had so much and then they’d lost it. If only they could have talked back then.
Or was this the way it was supposed to be? Did they need a chance to grow and change to find themselves at this point in time?
Naomi stuck her head in the office. “Sorry to interrupt, but the kitchen’s on fire.”
Penny scrambled to her feet. “You’re kidding, right?”
Cal followed her. They walked into a smoke-filled kitchen.
“Just some grease,” Edouard said, fanning the air. “It’s out now.”
The printer kicked to life, spitting out several more orders.
“Can we get back to business?” she asked. “Is it manageable or do I need to kick someone’s ass?”
“We’re good,” Edouard said.
Cal’s cell phone rang. He flipped it open and said, “Hello.”
Penny went around the counter to deal with the residual cleanup from the fire. One of their pans was misshapen and two dinners had been ruined, but the flames were out and the vent system made short work of the smoke.
“Are these dinners at different tables?”
They would be. That was always the way, but a girl could hope.
Naomi confirmed the bad news.
“Get them up and cooking,” Penny called. “These are our priority, people.” She turned to say something to Edouard when she noticed Cal hanging up.
“What happened?” she asked as she took in his worried expression. “Is Lindsey okay?”
“What? Oh, she’s fine. That was Dani. She needs me to come by after work. Something happened. She sounded upset, but she won’t say what.”
One of the servers came into the kitchen. “Um, Penny? Your family is leaving. They’d like a chance to say goodbye.”
Cal touched her arm. “There’s nothing we can do now. I’ll come get you before I leave, then we’ll go over to your place together.”
“No. I think this is a family matter. I’ll stay here until you’ve talked to her. Then you can call and give me the all clear.”
“It’s not that big a deal.”
“You don’t know that, Cal. If Dani had wanted me there, she would have asked. I’ll stay here.”
While part of her brain processed details like the number of customers and orders yet to be filled, the rest of her mind turned over the problem of Cal.
Had she left their marriage too soon? If she’d stayed, could they have learned their lessons—him to give with his whole heart, her to believe he wanted her to succeed? They’d come a long way. If only he would love her—really love her.
Was it possible, or was she just wishing for the moon?
CAL PARKED behind Reid’s car and an unfamiliar truck he figured had to belong to Walker. Which meant Dani had called a family meeting. Maybe Penny had been right—this looked serious.
As he climbed out of the car, he wondered if Hugh had dropped another bombshell. If so, wheelchair or not, Cal was going to have to beat the crap out of the man.
He walked up to Penny’s front door, which opened before he could knock.
Reid greeted him. “Good. She wouldn’t say anything until we were all together. Why do I know Hugh just won bastard of the year?”
“That’s what I’m thinking, too. If so, we’ll take care of it.”
“You got that right.”
They walked into the living room, where Walker sat on the sofa. Dani stood by the small fireplace. She had a drink in her hand and a look of stark pain in her eyes.
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