Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(51) by Susan Mallery
There was that look again, between her parents. What were they thinking? That she was nothing but a disappointment? That they’d expected no more of her?
“I can’t believe you thought we wouldn’t want to talk to you,” her mother said. “I loved you, Elissa. You were my daughter.”
Elissa did her best not to read too much into the past tense of the words. “I know, Mom. I was young and stupid and…” She almost said scared, but quickly changed it. “Confused. I felt a lot of guilt and what Bobby told me actually made sense at the time. Looking back, I know I should have asked more questions.”
Her mother pointed to the empty chair. “Sit down, Bobby. What you did was wrong, but we’ll talk about it later.”
Her brother did as requested, but he looked as if he wished he could disappear. For the first time since hearing his story, Elissa felt compassion for him. What he’d gone through couldn’t have been easy.
“I screwed up big-time,” she said honestly. “I’m so sorry. If I could change what I did, I would.”
Her mother attempted a smile. “It’s all right. You’re home. That’s enough, isn’t it, Kevin?”
Her father nodded slowly, as if he would need more convincing.
Elissa’s throat tightened. Somehow she’d expected open arms and unconditional acceptance. Not questions and a messy past.
Her mother drew in a breath and squared her shoulders. “So, what brought you back to Seattle?”
Interesting question, Elissa thought, not sure how much she wanted to tell her parents. “I got pregnant,” she said, knowing there was no point in hiding that. “That’s why I called home. I was scared…anyway, it all worked out.”
Her mother paled. “You have a baby? I have a grandchild?”
Elissa nodded. “Her name is Zoe. She’s five and about to start kindergarten. She’s wonderful, Mom. Smart and funny and curious about everything.”
“A grandchild? Oh, Kevin.” The tears started again.
“You named her Zoe?” her father asked, his voice a little warmer now.
“After Grandma Zoe.”
“She would have liked that,” he said gruffly.
“Who’s the father?” her mother asked. “I take it you two aren’t together anymore?”
“He’s dead,” she said, knowing there was no point in trying to explain the Neil portion of her life. Sometimes she still didn’t understand it herself.
“But he was a rock singer?” Her father asked the question in the same tone of voice he would use to ask if she recently picked up head lice.
“And a songwriter.” She drew in a deep breath. “I know I made a lot of mistakes. Everyone does—mine just had permanent consequences. But I survived. I have a good life. Zoe and I are happy together. I made it and I guess I owe a lot of that to what you taught me when I was growing up.”
“If you’d respected what we’d taught you—” her father said, but her mother cut him off with a shake of her head.
“What made you come back now?” her mother asked.
Elissa looked her brother. “Bobby hired a private detective to find me. He wanted me to know what he’d done and try to make things right. Once I knew you hadn’t turned your back on me, I wanted to get in touch.”
“Of course we wouldn’t turn our backs on you,” her mother said. “Elissa, you’re our daughter and we love you. We’ll always love you. No matter what.”
Would they? Did they? Then why had the detective who found her been hired by her brother rather than her parents? In L.A. she’d been living off the grid, but in Seattle she had a job, an apartment, credit cards. She wouldn’t have been that hard to track down. Neil did it on a regular basis. But they hadn’t.
She knew in her heart that if something had happened to Zoe, she would never have stopped looking, no matter what. So what had made that different for her parents?
ELISSA SPENT THE REST of the afternoon working on her jewelry and thinking about the meeting with her family. While they’d said all the right things and had expressed interest in meeting Zoe, she couldn’t help feeling that something was off.
Maybe it was her. Maybe her fantasy of the homecoming was so based in perfect television families that she couldn’t deal with reality. Maybe she was wishing for the moon.
Needing someone else’s counsel, Elissa waited until Zoe was asleep, then walked up to Walker’s apartment.
“I understand that we have an undefined relationship and that we both agree that we’re not getting involved,” she said when he’d opened his door. “But I like to think we’re friends, and right now I need someone to talk to, so you’re going to have to suck it up and be that person. Do you have a problem with that?”
He stared at her for a couple of seconds, grinned, then asked, “Do you want me to bring liquor?”
“Sure. If you have it.”
“I’ll be right down.”
He appeared at her front door less than a minute later. She sighed in appreciation at the bottles of vodka and tonic he brought nearly as much as the way he looked in worn jeans and a loose T-shirt. There was something to be said for a winning combination of potentially mind-numbing booze and male eye-candy.
“You have ice?” he asked.
“Always. I even have a lime.”
She led the way into the kitchen where she got out her ice tray, then collected two glasses. Her lime was a naked little thing, huddling in the fruit basket.
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