Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(17) by Susan Mallery
Growing up was challenging enough. She was going to do her best to make sure Zoe avoided all possible pitfalls.
“Jeans and T-shirts are easy,” Elissa said. “Thank goodness for Wal-Mart. But the rest of it…”
“You’ll do fine. Have you seen Walker recently?”
Elissa stirred the sauce. “Not your smoothest transition.”
“I’m old and therefore allowances are made. Have you?”
“Not really.” Not if one didn’t count his recent visit to the restaurant. She didn’t want to get into the reason why he’d been there and if she left that out, Mrs. Ford was likely to assume things were heating up, which they weren’t.
“You should consider him,” Mrs. Ford said. “You’ve often mentioned that Zoe needs a father figure in her life.”
If Elissa had been swallowing, she would have choked. “You’re suggesting Walker for the job?”
“Why not? He’s an honorable man.”
Elissa could imagine him doing a lot of things, but being a surrogate father to a five-year-old little girl? “There’s more to it than just being honorable. He’s not exactly emotionally accessible.”
“Neither are you, dear.”
Mrs. Ford shook her head. “I’m sorry if that sounded harsh, and I apologize in advance for speaking my mind. Elissa, you’re living like a nun. It’s not natural for a woman your age. You have a perfectly attractive, healthy man living less than ten feet over your head. You should do something about that. Use it or lose it, I always say.”
Elissa didn’t know what to think. Parts of her brain actually froze. Was her ninety-something neighbor suggesting she have sex with Walker? Sex?
“Actually, you don’t say that,” Elissa managed at last. “You said I had to be in love first. While I appreciate the advice…” Sort of. “The thing is, I don’t want Zoe hurt. I don’t want her to get attached only to have the guy leave.”
“Not all men leave.”
True. Sometimes you had to kick them out yourself.
Mrs. Ford’s dark eyes narrowed. “It’s important for Zoe to know what a healthy romantic relationship looks like. She needs to understand how a man and woman relate to each other.”
“That’s why we watch television,” Elissa said cheerfully. “There are plenty of perfect families there.”
SATURDAY ELISSA ARRIVED home with Zoe only to find Mrs. Ford standing on the front porch. It was warm and the old lady shouldn’t be out in the sun. The fact that she was gave Elissa a bad feeling.
“What’s wrong?” Elissa asked as she got out of the car.
“It’s the plumbing, dear,” Mrs. Ford said with a sigh. “It’s all backed up. I spoke to the answering service. Our landlord is on a cruise and the usual plumber isn’t answering his page. The service is trying to get someone here on an emergency basis, but they keep pointing out that it’s Saturday and it’s very expensive for that kind of call.”
Elissa groaned. Was that their way of only pretending to make the call?
“Let me call them,” she said. “Zoe, honey, stay out here with Mrs. Ford.”
“Why?” her daughter asked.
“Because when the plumbing backs up, it gets really stinky.”
Mrs. Ford smiled. “Stinky is a very good word.”
Seattle’s other name—the Emerald City—came from the abundance of trees and lots of rain. But the rain mostly fell in winter. Summer could be hot and sunny for weeks at a time, like now. Unfortunately, most apartments weren’t air-conditioned—no one thought it was worth the expense for only a few weeks out of the year.
Which meant Elissa’s apartment was not only stinky, it was stifling when she went inside.
The smell was thick and disgusting. She had the feeling it would never wash out of her hair. She quickly went around the apartment and opened all the windows, then did the same in Mrs. Ford’s place. On her tour, she noted that every sink and both tubs were backed up.
The same thing had happened right after she’d moved in. Tree roots caused the problem. A quick visit by the plumber with some nifty tool had cleared things up, leaving only the mess to contend with. She had an unfortunate feeling this time wasn’t going to be so easy.
She heard Walker calling her name and walked toward the sound. She found him in her kitchen.
“Hi,” she said. “Welcome to the neighborhood. Any chance I can convince you not to flush or run water?”
Being the upstairs apartment, Walker wouldn’t have the backup, although anything he did up there would spill into her place.
“Mrs. Ford said she didn’t think the service was trying that hard to find a plumber,” he said by way of answering.
“Apparently our usual guy isn’t answering his page. I was just going to call them and give them a stern talking-to. I’m guessing this is caused by tree roots. Our main line runs across the driveway and then into the grove of trees on the east side of the property. At least that’s what it was last time.”
Walker checked out her kitchen sink, then asked, “Do you know where the trap is?”
She led the way outside. Zoe danced over to stare at Walker. “Can you fix the stinky plumbing?”
Elissa held in a smile. Later she would explain that the plumbing itself wasn’t the culprit.
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