Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(42) by Susan Mallery
“Reid has a houseboat. Dani’s currently staying in Penny’s old place.” He glanced at her. “Why are you upset?”
“I’m not. It’s just…” She shrugged. “I’m fine,” she said, not willing to admit the obvious wealth freaked her out. She’d read about the houseboats in Seattle. The crappy ones went for a million, while she’d had to pay off a fifty-dollar tire five bucks at a time.
They pulled in front of a pretty brick-fronted two-story house. While Zoe turned off the CD player and unfastened her seat belt, Elissa followed Walker around to the back where she collected the two boxes she’d brought and he grabbed the wrapped car seat.
“Ready?” he asked.
She was starting to question her judgment in accepting his invitation. What if his siblings were more like Gloria than like him? What if they resented her or looked down on her because she worked in a diner and hadn’t finished high school? What if—
The front door opened and a petite, pretty woman with hazel eyes and a fabulous haircut stepped out to greet them.
“Walker,” she said with a smile, but her gaze locked on Elissa and Zoe. “You made it.”
“Hey, Dani.” He paused and urged Zoe in front of him, then put his hand on Elissa’s back. “This is Elissa. She lives in my building. And her daughter, Zoe.”
Dani’s smiled widened. “Wow. Okay. Nice to meet you. Come in. Everyone else is here. Hey, guys, it’s Walker. And he brought a friend.”
Elissa groaned, then elbowed Walker in the ribs. “You didn’t tell them you were bringing me?”
“Penny always makes more than enough food,” he said, obviously confused about her dismay.
“It’s not about food,” she muttered, wondering if it was good news to realize that in some things, Walker was just as clueless as every other man on earth.
He escorted her and Zoe into a large open living room filled with presents and trays of food. Two men stood by a table. They looked enough like Walker for her to guess their identity.
A very pregnant auburn-haired woman waddled in. “A friend,” she said, then stopped when she spotted Elissa and Zoe. “How nice.” She smiled. “I’m Penny Buchanan. Oh, goodie. You brought me presents.”
Despite her nerves, Elissa found herself laughing. “Congratulations on the baby,” she said as she handed over her two boxes.
“Thank you.” Penny eyed the box Walker held. “That looks big enough to be a car seat.”
“You said it’s what you wanted,” he said, sounding slightly uncomfortable.
“And it is. Come on,” Penny said, taking Elissa’s arm. “You met Dani already. This is Reid,” she said, pointing to the man on the right. “And Cal, my husband. This is Elissa and Zoe. Walker’s friends.”
“So we heard,” Cal said pleasantly and shook her hand. “Welcome.”
“Thank you.” Elissa turned her attention to the other man and froze. He looked familiar. Incredibly familiar. The name clicked. “Oh my God. You’re Reid Buchanan.”
The Reid Buchanan. A Seattle native who had pitched major league baseball for ten years. He’d quit last season because of a blown shoulder. She still remembered—
“Hey, baby,” he said smoothly.
Eek! She’d worked at a restaurant long enough to recognize that particular tone of voice. It came from a man who assumed a woman was interested. Uh-oh.
She carefully took a step back and leaned against Walker. “I’ve always been a bit of a baseball fan,” she said. “This year I’ve been too busy to follow the season much, but usually I’m right there on my sofa, cheering.”
Cal chuckled. “Nicely done, Elissa. Good deflection, quick recovery.” He lightly punched Reid in the arm. “You gotta get over yourself, guy. Not every woman wants to be with you.”
Reid shrugged good-naturedly. “Most of them do.”
Elissa looked at Zoe, who was listening intently, and held in a groan. Hopefully her five-year-old would miss the nuance of the conversation.
Penny bent down to Zoe. “I’ve made margaritas for everyone else. They’re a grown-up drink I don’t think you’d like. But I also made these really cool berry slushies. I thought I was going to have to drink them all by myself, but maybe you could try one and if you like it, you’ll have some.”
Zoe nodded tentatively.
Penny straightened and held out her hand. “Why don’t you and your mom come into the kitchen and you can have a taste?”
Zoe took Penny’s hand. Elissa followed them and everyone trailed along behind.
Dozens of delicious smells filled the bright kitchen. While Penny poured a bright red drink from a blender into a glass, she glanced at the stove.
“Dani, give the front two pots a stir, will you? Cal, honey, check the bread in the oven. It should be toasted by now. Pull it out and put in the pastries. Reid, I need fifteen minutes on the timer. Elissa, are you up to zesting? I need one orange and three limes zested. Everything is in that bowl. Walker, there’s a couple of big flank steaks on the counter. Could you cube them, please?”
In a matter of seconds, everyone was hard at work. Elissa zested her limes elbow-to-elbow with Walker.
“She really knows her way around a kitchen, huh?” Elissa said in a whisper.
“She could have been an Admiral,” Walker murmured back. “Penny knows how to be in charge.”
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