Delicious(Buchanans, Book 1)(87) by Susan Mallery
He went from feeling like slime to feeling like slime was only something he could aspire to.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked.
“To me? Nothing. I’m not the problem.”
He knew that. But Penny had been so angry—not without cause, he admitted. “I should have told her,” he muttered. “I should have made it clear.”
“Not many people get a second chance,” Dani told him.
“I know. I lost Penny before. I’m not going to lose her again.” He couldn’t. She’d come to matter too much to him.
Three months ago, he’d been eager to leave Seattle, to try something new, but now…
“Is she all right?” he asked. “She was upset, and with the baby and all.”
“Upset? You call that upset?”
His insides clenched as he swore. “I should let Reid beat on me some more.”
“That will only help you. There’s someone more important to worry about.”
“How much have I blown it?” he asked.
“A lot, but Penny isn’t unreasonable. Lucky for you, she’s especially vulnerable right now. Naomi’s leaving.”
“What? Leaving for where?”
“Ohio. But that’s not important. What are you going to do?”
Beg and crawl, he thought. Hope the words came to him and if they didn’t, he was going to camp out on her doorstep until she finally agreed they belonged together.
He stood. Every muscle in his body complained loudly. “I’m too old for this crap,” he muttered. “Tell Reid and Walker I went to see Penny.”
Dani glanced at her watch. “She’ll be there the rest of the night.”
“Good. Don’t let her know I’m coming. I have another stop to make first, and I don’t know how long it’s going to take me.”
Dani glared at him. “You’re not going directly there?”
“No, and get off of me. I know what I’m doing.”
“Oh, that’s clear. We should all allow you to run our lives. You’re doing such a great job of your own.”
He bent down and kissed Dani’s cheek. “I love you, too.”
THIRTY MINUTES LATER Cal walked into Gloria’s office. His grandmother took one look at him and jumped out of her chair.
“What on earth happened?” she asked. “My God, you have stitches and a black eye. Is your lip cut?”
He waved away her questions. “Not important,” he said. “That’s not what I’m here about.”
“All right.” Gloria sank back in her chair. “Then why are you here? Not that I’m not delighted to see my oldest grandson.”
She even smiled, he thought in amazement. As if nothing had happened. As if she hadn’t tried to destroy Penny and any chance he had with her.
“You crossed the line,” he said, doing his best to stay calm. Gloria might be the devil, but she was still old and female. He had to respect that, if not her.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said easily.
“Bullshit. You know exactly what’s going on and don’t pretend you don’t.”
“Callister, I will not allow you to speak to me that way.”
He leaned forward and braced his hands on her desk. “I don’t give a good goddamn what you will or will not allow. You’ve had more chances than you’ve deserved and I’m through with you. You screwed up, Gloria. You messed with Penny and I won’t have anyone doing that.”
She sniffed. “Is this all about that woman? She left you, Callister, a fact I remember, even if you don’t.”
“This is about me protecting the ones I love. I’m through with you.” He straightened.
She stared at him. “What are you talking about? You can’t be through with me. I’m your grandmother. Your family.”
“We might be related by blood, but you’re not family. You don’t know how to be. You don’t know how to be anything other than an emotional vampire. You take and you take. You always have to be in control.” He shook his head. “We’re not kids anymore. You can’t make us do anything. You have officially meddled and per the contract I’m out of The Waterfront.”
She stood. “You can’t leave. The restaurant needs you.”
As always, business came first, he thought grimly. “The restaurant will be fine. Randy will take over and you’ll still have Penny as the chef. But don’t screw with her too much. I put an escape clause in her contract, too. If you start micromanaging, not only does she get to walk, but she takes all her recipes with her. You wouldn’t want that.”
“How dare you?”
“I dare because you don’t give me a choice. I wanted to care about you, Gloria. But you make it impossible. You want to own us and we weren’t about to let that happen. One by one, you’ve driven off your grandchildren until only Dani was left. But you refused to accept her and now she’s gone as well.”
“You can’t leave,” Gloria insisted. “This is who you are. This is your heritage.”
“This is not who I am. This is never who I’ve been.” He looked at her for a long time. “I thought I’d hate you, but I don’t. I feel sorry for you.”
He walked to the door.
“I’ll bring you back,” she called after him. “All of you.”
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