Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(8) by Susan Mallery
“Dinner,” he said quietly. “I was talking about a few meals. You cook every night and I can smell it. I’ve been existing on frozen dinners and bumming meals off my sister-in-law. When I said a trade, that’s what I meant. That’s all I meant.”
He wasn’t touching her, yet she felt his nearness. He was so much bigger than she was—she should have been afraid. She was nervous, but that was different.
Dinner, huh? It, ah, made sense. The more she thought about it, the more sense it made. Because, honestly, who would expect sex after replacing a cheap tire?
“Sorry,” she said, dropping her gaze to the center of his chest. “I thought you were…”
“I got that. I wasn’t. I wouldn’t.”
Wouldn’t what? Want sex with her? Not that she was doing that sort of thing these days, or for many days to come, but why was he so able to dismiss her? She might be wholesome, but she was kind of pretty. And smart. Smart counted, didn’t it?
Maybe he had a girlfriend. Maybe he was engaged. Maybe he was g*y.
That last thought made her smile. Somehow she didn’t think Walker was g*y.
“Let’s start over,” he said. “I bought the tire because I didn’t think yours could take one more patch. Randy charged me forty-five dollars for it. I’ll accept the pie and money. You can continue to pay me back as slowly as you’d like. Forget what I said about dinner, okay? The money is fine.”
He was doing everything right. So why did she want to argue with him?
“That works for me,” she said.
“Then we have a deal.”
He shifted the pie to his left hand and held out his right so they could shake on it.
She pressed her palm against his and nodded. “Good.”
His fingers were warm and strong. She felt a little quiver low in her belly. The unexpected reaction made her pull away and take a step back.
Danger came in all shapes and sizes. This particular form was big, powerful and far too sexy for her peace of mind. She still had thirteen years of celibacy ahead of her. Hanging around with Walker wasn’t going to make it easy.
Not that they were hanging. Nope. Not a single hang here.
“I should, ah, go,” she murmured as she edged around him and started down the stairs. “Enjoy the pie.”
“I will. Thank you, Elissa.”
She raced into her house and quickly closed the door behind her. Once there, she leaned against the wood until her heart rate returned to normal.
It was only then she noticed she was still holding the five dollars she’d tried to give him. There was no way she was going back up there tonight. She would leave it in his mailbox or something.
It was painfully obvious she should avoid Walker at all costs. He might be nice on the surface, but her original premise was still true. If she was attracted to him, then there was something seriously wrong with him. Right now, she couldn’t afford another male disaster in her life. She was still paying for the last one.
WALKER DIDN’T HAVE a chance to knock on his brother’s front door. He was barely halfway up the walk when the door was flung open and a very pregnant Penny raced—well, waddled—out to greet him.
“You have a toolbox,” she said as she hugged him as tightly as her large stomach would allow. “Tell me there are tools inside. Real tools with handles and metal ends and unknown purposes?”
He wrapped one arm around her while he hoisted the metal toolbox with the other. “I left my pretend tools at home. When you asked me to bring tools, I thought you meant the real ones.”
“Thank you,” she breathed. “I did. I love Cal. He’s brilliant and charming and other things I won’t mention out of respect for the two of you being brothers, but he’s not so handy.”
“I heard that,” Cal grumbled from the doorway. “I’m very handy.”
“Of course, dear,” Penny said as she pushed past him. “Are you sure this is okay?” she asked Walker. “Helping out?”
He bent down and kissed her cheek, then closed his hand into a fist and bumped it against his brother’s closed fingers. “Happy to be here. You’re pregnant, you’re still working and Cal’s busy running an empire. I’ve got time.”
He followed them through a living room piled with boxes. Penny had moved into Cal’s house shortly after the wedding in early July. Even though that was nearly six weeks ago, she hadn’t done much in the way of unpacking.
“You’re judging me,” Penny called over her shoulder. “I can feel it. I know this mess violates your military code of honor or whatever, but just go with it.”
“Did I say anything?” Walker asked with a grin.
“You didn’t have to.”
She tucked her long auburn curls behind her ear and paused in front of the kitchen. “The rest of the place may be a mess, but the kitchen is perfect.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Walker glanced at his brother. “How many boxes did you have to find room for?”
“I lost count,” Cal said easily. “When I hit twenty-five, I figured there was no point in knowing.”
Penny was the executive chef at The Waterfront, one of four restaurants owned by Buchanan Enterprises. It was, in theory, a family-owned business, but only one of the Buchanan siblings worked there.
“I need the right equipment,” Penny said as she stepped aside and motioned for Walker to enter the kitchen. “You can’t create magic from crap.”
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