Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(24) by Susan Mallery
“Thanking me isn’t your job.”
“Not many people would have bothered.”
“I don’t know many who would have let an old woman bleed to death.”
“You know what I mean. You’ve been great and you didn’t have to be.” She smiled. “I still think it’s a surprise you’re not married. There had to have been women.”
“Why are we talking about this?”
“We don’t have to if you don’t want to. Is it a commitment issue?”
He groaned. “Elissa, let it go. You told me you didn’t want to have sex with me and I believed you. So you should believe me. I’m very content being alone. Don’t try to save me. I’m not worth it.”
“Of course you are, but it’s interesting that you don’t believe it. Besides, no one really wants to be alone.”
“Using your argument I could say no one really wants to go without sex.”
“I’m trying to make smart choices.”
Too bad she wasn’t trying to drive him crazy because then this conversation would be a big win for her.
“So am I,” he said.
“Fine. Dinner is in two hours. I’ll be taking care of Mrs. Ford, so you’ll have to come get your meal instead of me delivering it. Want me to pound on the floor when it’s ready?” she asked with a grin.
“Sure. Or you could just call.”
“Far less interesting, but okay.”
He started to leave, then paused. “I didn’t know who else to phone,” he said. “For Mrs. Ford. Family. When she didn’t suggest anyone, I didn’t want to pry.”
“There isn’t anyone else,” Elissa said with a sigh. “She lost both her sons in the Korean War. Her only grandson died in Vietnam. All her brothers and sisters are already gone. She’s all alone in the world.”
“No. She has you and Zoe.”
“You’re right. We’re each other’s family.”
He nodded and left. But as he climbed the stairs, he wondered about Elissa’s family. She’d mentioned growing up in the area. Where were her parents, siblings, aunts and uncles? Was she as alone as Mrs. Ford or did she have people who cared about her? And if she did, why weren’t they the ones watching out for her?
ELISSA KNEW IT WAS TACKY and even borderline embarrassing. Only someone really desperate would let her five-year-old daughter manipulate the situation. But here she was, being that person.
“I put out the napkins with flowers, Mommy,” Zoe said as she stood back and admired the table. “They’re pretty.”
Elissa took in the three place settings. Three because when Elissa had explained that Mrs. Ford wouldn’t be joining them that night, Zoe had said Walker could have her place. Now if he wanted to explain to Zoe why he couldn’t make it, that was fine. But Elissa was willing to bet he couldn’t.
She’d already delivered a light dinner of soup and toast to her elderly neighbor. Mrs. Ford had eaten a few bites, then gone back to sleep. Elissa made a mental note to check on her in a couple of hours. In the meantime, she had another neighbor to deal with.
There was a knock at the door. “I’ll get it,” Zoe called as she ran to the front of the house. “Hi, Walker. Mommy made spaghetti, ’cause it’s my favorite. There’s a really big salad, too. But not with onions. I don’t like onions. Are you hungry? We have brownies for dessert. I frosted them all by myself and I made a design. It’s supposed to be bows, but it kinda doesn’t look like bows. That’s why I’m telling you what it is, so you’ll know.”
They walked into the kitchen with Zoe dragging an obviously reluctant Walker behind her.
“You’ll sit here,” Zoe said, pointing to a chair. “Mrs. Ford is still sleeping, but that’s okay ’cause now we have you.”
She smiled winningly. He shot Elissa a trapped look, which she ignored.
“Did you wash your hands?” she asked her daughter. “Dinner is ready.”
“Okay.” Zoe raced toward the bathroom. “Walker, come on. You have to wash your hands.”
He chose not to follow her to the bathroom. Instead he moved close to Elissa and said in a quiet voice, “Pretty low, Towers, using your kid against me.”
She held in a smile. “‘Using’ is such a strong word. Zoe’s been curious about you. I know you’re concerned about her bonding or whatever, but she sees you practically every day. One dinner isn’t going to scar her for life. I’m trying to say thank you, here.”
“It doesn’t occur to you to thank me by adhering to my wishes?” he asked.
“What if I ignored yours?”
His dark eyes claimed hers as she recalled vehemently stating she did not want to have sex with him. What if he ignored her wishes and made a pass at her?
She should be so lucky.
“I’m ready, Mommy,” Zoe said as she bounced back in the room.
The next few minutes were a scramble of getting food to the table, drinks poured and seats taken. Once everyone had been served, Zoe leaned toward Walker and smiled.
“Do you have any kids?” she asked.
“Do you like kids? Some grown-ups don’t. Do you?”
“Do you like The Lion King? I love Simba and Pumba the best. Mommy took to me to see the play.” Her hazel eyes widened. “It was in a theater and I’d never been to a theater before. There were people playing the animals. It wasn’t like the cartoon. It was magic and there was singing.”
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