Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(31) by Susan Mallery
He had to give the old bat points—she didn’t flinch. “I will not speak with you looming over me. I am not a new recruit, Walker. You can’t frighten me.”
Which was a shame, he thought. She could use a good shaking up.
He took a step back and folded his arms across his chest. “What did you say to her?”
Gloria sank back onto the sofa and leaned against the white cushions. Her pale yellow suit provided the only spot of color in the room.
“I agree that she’s pretty,” Gloria said. “In a common sort of way. I would have thought she’d look harder, what with her background.”
Walker knew his grandmother well enough to guess she’d gone digging into Elissa’s past. She knew so much about her grandchildren, he’d long ago decided that she had them followed. Which would explain how she found out about Elissa.
He didn’t bother telling Gloria that there wasn’t anything about his neighbor that could shock him. He’d been to war—what could Elissa have done to come close to his sins?
“She traveled with rock bands,” Gloria said with relish. “Apparently she slept with various men to get jobs, or just because. I wasn’t clear on that. Her child’s father is a known drug addict whom she supports.” She stood. “Her own parents have refused to have anything to do with her for years. Is that what you want? A drug-using groupie and her bastard daughter?”
He smiled. “That’s the best you could do? I expected a lot more. So she slept around when she was young? I know who she is now.”
“You see what you want to see. Do you have any idea what your money would do for her? How it would change her life?”
He did. The problem was Elissa wasn’t interested in handouts. He would bet she never had been.
“She’s a whore,” Gloria insisted. “You’ve never had to pay for a woman before, Walker. Why start now?”
He felt no anger, only coldness. If she’d been someone else, if she’d shown any human feeling, he might have pitied her. As it was, he could only walk away.
He shook his head. “You blew it, Gloria. I was never interested in Elissa. Not in any way that was a threat to you. But you’ve played your hand. You’ve gotten into her life and screwed around. Now I have to make it right. That means spending more time with her. You should have left well enough alone.”
She stiffened. “I forbid you to see that woman.”
“You think I care? You haven’t been able to order me around for a long time. You forget—you don’t scare me.”
“You will listen to me. You will…”
She opened her mouth and gave a small gasp. Her hand rose to her throat, then fell away. Without warning she dropped to the ground.
Walker was at her side in an instant. Even as he rolled her onto her back to check her breathing, he pressed his fingers against her neck to feel for a pulse.
There wasn’t one.
CAL AND PENNY WERE the last to arrive at the hospital. Cal kept pace with his very slow-moving wife. Walker eyed Penny’s belly and had a feeling that she was even bigger than the last time he’d seen her, which he hadn’t thought possible. Wasn’t there a point beyond which a woman’s stomach simply couldn’t expand?
Everyone embraced, then Cal helped Penny into one of the chairs in the waiting room.
“What happened?” he asked when she was settled.
“We were arguing and she collapsed,” Walker said flatly. He’d already told Reid and Dani the story. “There was nothing dramatic. No chest clutching. She gasped and fell. She wasn’t breathing, so I called 911, then started CPR. She was breathing on her own by the time the ambulance arrived. My guess is she had a heart attack.”
“Who knew she had a heart?” Dani muttered.
Walker wasn’t surprised that no one complained about her comment. Each of them had a complicated relationship with Gloria. On the one hand, she had done nothing to endear herself to her relatives. On the other, she was an old woman who might still die.
Penny reached for Walker’s hand. “Are you all right?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I’m not the one who passed out.”
“I know, but you were with her. I don’t want you to blame yourself for what happened. It could have been any one of us. We’ve all argued with her.”
“Countless times,” Cal added.
“I don’t feel guilty,” Walker said. “Just uncomfortable.” He hadn’t liked seeing her unconscious. He hadn’t liked doing CPR on her. “Our fight wasn’t heated enough to bring this on.”
“Good.” Penny squeezed his fingers, then released them. “I can almost feel sorry for her.”
Dani sprawled next to her on the sofa. “Why would you?”
“Because her entire family is gathered here and no one really loves her. We don’t wish her ill or want her to die, but no one is worried.”
“She brought it on herself,” Cal said. “She pushed each of us away, time after time.”
“I know. It’s just the duty card. I hate that.” She looked at her husband. “You really love me, right?”
Cal bent over and kissed Penny on the mouth. “You’re not allowed to doubt me.”
“I know and I don’t. Not really. It’s just all this and the hormones and my back hurts.”
Just then the doctor walked in. She was tall and thin, in her late forties. “The Buchanan clan?” she asked with a weary smile.
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