Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(9) by Susan Mallery
“You should put that on your business card,” he said as he took in the pale, buttery walls and the large pot rack hanging above the island. Without the dark red paint, the kitchen looked bigger. Windows let in light and brought out the colors in the new tile backsplash.
“You put in a backsplash but you haven’t unpacked or gotten the baby’s furniture ready?” he asked before he could stop himself.
Cal looked at him pityingly. “You had to go there, didn’t you?”
Penny’s gaze sharpened. “I’m sorry. Were you being critical just then? Did you plan for me to cook for you today?”
“He didn’t mean it,” Cal said, stepping between them. “Not everyone understands how your incredible mind works.” He lowered his voice. “Walker brought tools, remember?”
Penny laughed. “I know. It’s okay. Just don’t make me feel guilty. My back hurts.”
“Sorry,” Walker told her, enjoying their banter. He’d always liked Cal and Penny as a couple and had been happy to see them get back together. “Now about the baby’s room.”
“It’s through here,” Penny said, leading the way. “We finished painting last week. Well, Cal did. I supervised.”
“From a distance,” Cal reminded her.
She sighed. “Right. I wasn’t allowed to breathe the fumes. We have the curtains up, too. Now all we need is furniture. We physically own everything—the dresser, changing table, crib—but it’s in boxes.”
“Very nice boxes,” Cal reminded her.
“Oh, yeah. They’re stunning. But imagine if we had actual places to put things.”
The baby’s room was at the back of the house, with a view of the garden. Several large boxes stood in the center of the room. The walls were a soft green, the trim had been painted white. Sheer curtains covered open miniblinds.
“The rocking chair is in the office,” Penny said. “Until we get this cleaned up, there’s no space for it. I have a big area rug, too, but Cal said we should wait to put it down.”
“After we put everything together, we’ll clean up, then put down the rug,” Cal said.
Walker nodded and set his toolbox on the hardwood floor. “Let’s see what you bought.”
Penny stepped into the hallway. “I’ll get started on lunch. We’re having seafood crepes with a light cream sauce, some kind of pasta, I haven’t decided yet, and chocolate mousse torte with fresh berries for dessert.”
Walker’s stomach growled. “Sounds great.” He waited until Penny left, then looked at his brother. “You eat like this all the time?”
Cal groaned. “I had to join a gym.”
“Worth the price of admission.”
“For Penny’s cooking? You bet.”
They moved the boxes out of the center of the floor and decided to start with the dresser.
“Thanks for doing this,” Cal told him as he ripped open the cardboard.
“I don’t mind.”
“Aren’t you still settling in?”
Walker shook his head. “It took me exactly two hours to move in to my apartment and unpack.”
“You had stuff in storage, didn’t you?”
“Not much.” No furniture. Just a few personal things he hadn’t wanted to lose. He’d had to buy a sofa, TV and bed.
“Do you like the place?” Cal asked.
“It works for now.”
His brother pulled out the sheet of directions and tossed them into the closet. “Why an apartment? You could have bought a house.”
“I don’t know where I want to live yet,” Walker admitted. Or what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He’d thought he would stay in the Marines until he retired. Then one day he’d realized it was time for him to leave. “No point in getting something permanent until I decide on a location.”
“You’re staying in Seattle, aren’t you?”
“That’s the plan.” As much as he had one.
“Want to come work for me?” Cal asked. “As a major stockholder, you’d be welcome.”
“No thanks. Coffee’s your thing.”
Several years ago, Cal and his partners had started The Daily Grind. Their initial three locations had grown into a popular West Coast chain that was rapidly expanding across the country. Walker had invested his savings in the start-up and the risk had paid off with a large chunk of shares that had steadily grown in value. He’d never bothered to calculate their exact worth, but he wasn’t thinking about getting a job because he needed the money.
“Still looking for Ashley?” Cal asked.
Walker shrugged. “Regularly. I went through another three and haven’t found her. But I will.”
“I don’t doubt it. Oh, Penny said the new general manager at The Waterfront quit.”
“Figures.” The family restaurants were successful businesses, but keeping executive staff was impossible. Gloria Buchanan, matriarch of the family and all-around bitch, drove the most talented away. “Gloria’s not getting in Penny’s face, is she?”
“No way.” Cal grinned. “I wrote the contract myself. Gloria isn’t allowed to step foot in the kitchen without permission.”
Walker set out the pieces of the dresser, then opened his toolbox. “Being married agrees with you.”
“We got it right the second time around. Six months ago, I wouldn’t have thought it possible. What about you?”
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