Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(43) by Susan Mallery
Elissa glanced at the pregnant woman who sat at the small table with Zoe. They were both sipping their bright red drinks. Zoe giggled at something Penny said.
This was nice, Elissa thought. Walker’s family might be wealthy, but they were just like everyone else. No one seemed to be in competition with Gloria for an evil witch award, which was comforting. She was having a good time and even more important, Zoe was getting out and seeing a big family in action.
Elissa thought of her own family. They’d been on her mind ever since she’d found out Bobby was trying to get in touch with her. Sometimes she understood why her parents had made the decision they had, and sometimes she wondered why they couldn’t love her enough to give her a second chance. They were missing out on their own grandchild. Zoe was growing up and these years could never be recaptured.
It had been their decision, she reminded herself. Their loss. Only now, watching the love and affection in Walker’s family, she understood it was her loss, too.
“SHE’S NICE,” DANI SAID, coming up to stand behind Walker as they watched Penny open a huge box her friend Naomi had sent.
“I think so.”
“I like her daughter, too.”
He looked at Zoe, who sat at her mother’s feet watching intently as the presents were opened.
“She’s a good kid.”
“I’m glad you’re dating,” Dani said.
His sister leaned close. “You can pretend all you want, big brother, but you have it bad.”
“At the risk of sounding like an eight-year-old, do not.”
“You can lie to yourself all you want, but don’t lie to me. It’s all there. The way you watch her, the way she watches you. We can all feel the heat.”
He didn’t bother to tell her that heat wasn’t a relationship. Of course he wanted Elissa—what man wouldn’t? She was an irresistible combination of sweetness, intelligence and caring. Plus, he’d kissed her and now he knew how good it could be between them.
“There are complications,” he said, hoping to deflect Dani.
“Such as your reluctance to make a commitment? Why is that? If you let this one get away, you’re a fool.”
There was so much she didn’t know, he thought. So much she would never know. They were, as Penny had said, a family of secrets and he certainly had his share.
Penny picked up the two boxes Elissa had brought. “You don’t even know me,” she said. “You really didn’t have to do this.”
Elissa grinned. “I’ve tasted your cooking now. Think of them as gifts of worship.”
Penny laughed. “Okay, that kind of praise I can handle.”
She opened the smaller box first. Inside were a pair of dangling earrings. Walker recognized them as Elissa’s work. Penny gasped. “I love them.”
Dani pushed past them and bent over the jewelry. “Me, too. Where did you get them?”
“I made them,” Elissa said with a small shrug. “It’s sort of a part-time job.”
“I want them,” Dani said.
Penny snatched them out of reach. “Get your own.”
“I’d like to.” She looked at Elissa. “Can you make a pair like that?”
“Ah, sure. Or I can do something different. I have a lot of designs.”
Dani plopped down next to her. “Good. We’ll talk when this one is done with her presents.”
Penny reached for the second box. “I would like to point out that Elissa was the only one sensitive enough to bring the expectant mother a gift just for herself.”
Cal patted her arm. “The baby is your present.”
“Ha.” Penny ripped the wrapping paper, then opened the white box. She reached inside and held up a small blanket in shades of yellow. “It’s lovely. Did you crochet it yourself?”
“I wish,” Elissa said. “My neighbor makes them. Doesn’t she do beautiful work? I love how soft the yarn is.”
“Mrs. Ford made me a blanket,” Zoe said. “It’s pink and has gold trim.”
Penny leaned forward and touched the girl’s nose. “It sounds like the perfect blanket for a princess.”
Zoe beamed. “It is.”
“We should have brought her,” Walker said. Maybe with the old lady along, people would get off of him about dating Elissa.
“She’s on one of her day trips to a casino,” Elissa told him, then looked back at Penny. “My neighbor is fabulous. She’s in her nineties and does exactly what she wants. She’s sweet and feisty and I adore her.”
“Sounds like everything Gloria isn’t,” Dani muttered.
“Elissa met her,” Walker said.
Dani patted her arm. “You have my sympathy.”
WHILE THE WATERFRONT was all about light and air and the view of the water, Buchanan’s was about old-world atmosphere and intimacy.
Walker arrived at the restaurant shortly after lunch for his meeting with the staff and let himself in the front door. As he stepped into the cool, dim interior, he tried to remember the last time he’d been in the place. Two years ago? Three?
High-backed booths lined the perimeter of the main dining room, with more rows of booths in the middle. The only tables were for large parties and they were set up in the two alcoves and the private dining room.
He could hear voices coming from the back. The cooks would be prepping for dinner. Buchanan’s had an in-house butcher who was responsible for cutting all the meat, which was responsible for earning Buchanan’s its reputation. The regular menu had a token chicken dish along with a couple of pasta choices. The specials always included a single fish choice. But people came to Buchanan’s to eat good steaks.
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