Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(83) by Susan Mallery
She’d been hurt before—mostly by Cal—but somehow this felt worse. Maybe because she’d thought she’d figured everything out. She thought she’d found the solution, only to realize she’d been wrong about everything.
Despite the ache around her heart and the sense that she would never again draw breath without wanting to scream, she knew she had to do her best to get past what had happened. At least the physical part. Her trembling, sobbing, angry state couldn’t be good for the baby.
“You guys are great,” she said, trying to focus on them instead of herself. “For being here with me.”
“Hey, I don’t have a job,” Dani said with a sigh. “Where else would I be?”
Penny did her best to smile. “Good point.”
“I work for you,” Naomi said. “You’re the boss. You say jump, I say how high.”
“So we’re not here because we care,” Dani said.
Penny sniffed. “That’ll put me in my place.”
The two women leaned in and hugged her.
“I’m sorry,” Dani whispered in her ear. “I never knew my brother was such a big butthead.”
“Yeah,” Naomi said. “I’d nearly forgiven him for being a bastard the last time. I’ll never forgive him for this.”
“That’ll show him,” Penny said, then choked on a sob. “Oh, God. I don’t think I can get through this. I know wounds heal and time helps and all that crap, but right now, I don’t think I can do it.”
“We’re here,” Naomi told her.
“Not going anywhere,” Dani added.
“I just thought this time was different,” Penny said as she wiped her face with another tissue. “I thought he was different. I thought I mattered. I fell back in love with him.”
“Men’ll get you every time,” Dani said as she leaned against Penny’s shoulder. “I just didn’t think Cal…” She paused, then said. “I’m sorry. I’m fighting the urge to defend him. I want to tell you that he had a hard time, being the oldest. Gloria, trying to protect us. The usual. But I won’t.”
“You can,” Penny said. “How sick is that? I wouldn’t mind listening to you defend him.”
“Typical,” Naomi murmured. “I forgive you.”
“Thanks.” She drew in a deep breath and did her best to absorb the support from her friends. “I thought he was different. I thought he would be willing to take a chance on us. I was so stupid.”
“Loving someone is never stupid,” Naomi said. “It can hurt like hell, but it’s never stupid.”
“I agree,” Dani said. “I say that even as I feel like the world’s biggest idiot. I mean, my soon-to-be ex-husband is currently sleeping with one of his students. So I’m not just stupid, I’m a bad cliché. But there’s hope. I can still laugh at things and I have you guys.”
“I’m glad we’re together,” Penny said, putting her arms around both of them. “You’re right. This will get better. I have so much in my life. The restaurant, the baby. My family. And the good news is with Cal leaving, I don’t have to worry about running into him anywhere. I would really hate that.”
More tears filled her eyes. “I seem to be leaking again.”
“That’s okay. Things could be worse,” Naomi told her. “I’m not sure how, but they could.”
Penny laughed. “You are always a ray of sunshine.”
Penny looked at her friend. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
Naomi straightened. “What are you talking about? I’m not going anywhere.”
“Of course you are. I’ve known you a long time and I know you’re not the type of person who runs away from things. You’ve always lived on your own terms.”
Naomi snorted. “I’m the queen of running away. I’ve been on the run nearly eight years.”
“It’s time to go back.”
Naomi shook her head. “I haven’t decided.”
“Of course you have. You wouldn’t have told me about your son if you weren’t already halfway out the door.” She glanced at Dani. “Do you know what we’re talking about?”
Dani nodded. “We’ve been talking.”
Penny glanced between them. “About what?”
“About nothing,” Naomi said firmly. “I’m not going to leave. You need me.”
Penny did. She couldn’t imagine having to go through all this without her friend, but it was wrong to expect Naomi to put her life on hold because she, Penny, had been stupid enough to get her heart broken twice by the same man.
“Of course you’re going,” Penny said briskly. “Like you said, you’ve been the queen of running away for eight years. It’s time to go connect with your family. To find out what you still have there in the way of a life.”
“You might still be married,” Dani said. “Given what you’ve been doing, wouldn’t that be interesting?”
Naomi shook her head. “Sam wouldn’t have waited. Not his style. I’m sure he’s divorced me by now,” she said, but her tone was wistful, as if she wanted to believe in the possibilities.
“See? You have to go,” Penny said quietly.
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