Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(37) by Susan Mallery
As Gloria was currently in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, that wasn’t going to be difficult.
“Thanks, Frank,” she said as she stood. “I appreciate you talking to me.”
“Anytime. You have a problem, you come to me. Nobody gets to my girls.”
She smiled and left. But as she walked into the back room and crossed to her locker, her smile faded. How could she have been so stupid? How could she have let one mean old woman frighten her so much? Why hadn’t she thought things through instead of running?
It was her past, she acknowledged. Those first couple of years after she’d had Zoe had been awful. She’d had to work while caring for a baby and paying for day care. She’d always been one step away from disaster. She’d learned to lie low. Apparently the scars from that time hadn’t completely faded. And that, combined with Neil’s ongoing threats, had a way of making her jump to conclusions.
No more, she told herself. She wasn’t going to let anyone run her life. Next time a rich old woman threatened her, she would stand her ground.
A fairly safe promise, she thought as she got her purse and her car keys out of her locker. How many other rich old women were going to bother with her?
Still, she felt better for having made the decision. And for knowing her job was safe. As she headed toward her car, she had the urge to talk to Walker and tell him what had happened. She wanted to share her relief—and, okay, she wanted to hear his voice.
It was the kiss, she was forced to admit. It had changed everything. Not only had she experienced passion for the first time in over five years, she’d done so with a man she trusted.
How long had it been since she’d felt that for any guy? Not that it mattered. Even if she was willing to break her “no sex for thirteen more years” rule, Walker wasn’t. He’d made it clear that he wasn’t willing to take things to the next level.
Better for them both, she thought, then sighed. Lying to herself was never a good sign.
WALKER ENTERED Gloria’s office at seven in the morning. He’d put off going in for three days, but he no longer had a choice. He’d agreed to take responsibility for Buchanan Enterprises and he would. Hating every minute of it didn’t count.
He stepped off the executive floor and headed for his grandmother’s office. The hallway was quiet and dark, which made him want to look for snipers. He ignored the urge and kept moving.
Apparently he was the first to arrive. Or so he thought until he rounded the corner and saw a small, dark-haired woman putting her purse into the bottom drawer of her desk.
She looked up when she saw him and offered a smile that made her look both uncomfortable and afraid.
“Mr. Buchanan,” she said. “Good morning. I’m Vicki, one of your grandmother’s assistants. We spoke on the phone a couple of days ago. Let me again say how sorry we all are to hear about what happened. Our prayers are with Mrs. Buchanan through her recovery.”
The speech was really nice, but it would have been a whole lot more meaningful if she’d been able to say it without looking as if she would bolt at any second.
“Thank you,” he told her. “The family appreciates everyone’s concern.”
She nodded. “Would you like me to show you around the floor? Or would you prefer to see the office? There’s coffee, of course. Kit sets it up on a timer every evening before she leaves.”
“Kit is my grandmother’s other assistant?”
“Yes, Kit works from two in the afternoon until midnight. We trade off our weekends and there are two other executive assistants who have the training to take over if one of us has to be gone.”
She reminded him of a nervous dog. He would swear he could see her trembling as she spoke.
“Let’s take things slowly,” he said, his voice as calm as he could make it. “I’ll need to see my grandmother’s calendar for the next couple of weeks. Also, if you could let me know about monthly and quarterly meetings that might be coming up.”
“Of course.” She pulled a small pad out of her skirt pocket and wrote quickly. “Is ten minutes sufficient? I could work faster.”
“How about any time before nine this morning?”
Vicki blinked at him. “But that’s a two-hour window.”
“All right. Let me show you the office, then I’ll get your coffee.”
Walker had never been an officer, so he’d never been in a position to have someone bring him anything. He could only imagine what would have happened if he’d asked.
“Why don’t you show me where the coffee is and I’ll get it myself?”
“But you can’t,” she breathed. “Mr. Buchanan—”
“Walker,” he said. “Call me Walker. I don’t know how my grandmother ran things, Vicki. To be honest, I don’t know much about the company. I’m here to keep things from falling apart until she gets better. So you’re going to have to be patient with me.”
“Of course,” she said, looking terrified. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t being critical.”
She was like a wounded wild animal, ready to run for cover. It made him tired just to be here.
“You weren’t critical. You offered to get me coffee. There’s a difference. Now let’s go see where I can get my caffeine fix for the next hour.”
She led the way into a small kitchen, then watched as he poured himself a mug of the steaming coffee.
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