Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(58) by Susan Mallery
“I should have done this ages ago,” she murmured.
Ryan raised his head. “Done what?”
MONDAY MORNING WALKER woke up in a crappy mood. He wasn’t sure of the cause. Maybe the awkwardness yesterday between himself and Elissa was to blame. Maybe it was the need to keep moving that had begun to bother him more than usual. Maybe it was the growing sense that he wasn’t going to be able to find Ben’s Ashley.
Whatever the cause, he started the day ready to rip someone’s head off. As that wasn’t possible, he did the next best thing. He visited his grandmother. The way he was feeling, Gloria couldn’t do much damage.
He found her on the cardiac care ward, in a large private room. She was sitting up in bed, several pillows behind her head. The TV was off and a book lay on the table next to her, but when he entered the room, she was staring out the window.
“It took you long enough to visit,” she said by way of greeting.
“Good morning. How are you feeling?”
“I’ve had a heart attack and I broke my hip. How do you think I feel?”
“But your spirit remains intact.”
She glared at him. “I’ve spoken with the doctors. I should be leaving here in a few days. Apparently there is no way around two weeks in a skilled nursing facility. But once the break heals enough, I’ll be going home.”
“So he told us. Reid is already looking into hiring private duty nurses.”
“Reid,” she said with a sniff. “How wonderful. I’ll have attendants with large br**sts and no brains. That should speed my recovery.”
He smiled for the first time that morning. “Reid will choose competent people,” he said, thinking they would also have to be patient and thick-skinned to deal with Gloria for eight hours straight.
“What’s happening at the company?” she asked. “What changes are you making? I know you are, so don’t try to deny it. You won’t be able to resist meddling.”
“Business is great,” he said easily, ignoring the insult as he pulled up a chair and sat down. “No one has quit in nearly a week.”
“You say that like it’s a good thing. If they’re too feeble to handle the pressure, they should go.”
“Why do you feel compelled to frighten your staff?” he asked conversationally. “Who does it help?”
“I don’t frighten them. I have high standards.”
“You have a love of terrorizing.”
“What do you know about business? You’ve been playing soldier for the past fifteen years.”
More than playing, he thought. But he wasn’t going to get into that with her. Despite the tough words, she looked…frail. Not a word he would have ever used to describe Gloria. But it was true. She was pale and without her carefully applied makeup, she seemed much older. Her white hair hung limp and even in what he would guess was a designer nightgown, she appeared small and helpless.
“You’re not still seeing that woman, are you?” she asked. “She’s a complete waste of your time.”
All his worry for her evaporated. “Not your business,” he told her, not willing to give her the pleasure of saying he wasn’t. Not in the way Gloria thought.
“I forbid it,” she told him.
“By what power? Are you going to fire me?”
“I’m your family. You will respect me and do what I say.”
“Not so much,” he said as he stood. “I’m going to head to the office now. I’m sure Cal and Reid will be by soon.”
“As they should,” she told him. “But not Dani. Tell her I don’t need to see her. She’s not family.”
ELISSA TOSSED ASIDE the tiger’s eye she’d been working with. The small stone bounced on the desk and came to a stop by a few freshwater pearls.
Nothing was going the way it should tonight, she thought irritably. She felt more restless than creative. How had everything gotten so out of hand so quickly? Her life used to be relatively simple. Sure, it was a financial struggle, but everything else was fine. Suddenly she was dealing with family and Walker and too many orders for her jewelry. Although based on how Walker had bolted after taking her tire in to be fixed, she had a feeling he was going to be less of an issue in the future.
Which was starting to piss her off. How dare he do that to her and then disappear? It wasn’t polite. It wasn’t reasonable. Why did he get to decide?
Zoe was already in bed, so when Elissa heard Walker drive up, she hurried to her front door and stepped out into the night. She waited until he was nearly at the stairs leading up to his apartment, then said, “I’d like to talk to you.”
He didn’t appear startled, which probably meant he had known she was there all along. Had he planned to just walk past her without stopping?
She motioned to her open front door, then waited until he’d gone inside to follow him. But once they stood facing each other, she suddenly didn’t know what to say.
“How was work?” she asked, feeling stupid.
“Good. Busy. I stopped by to see my grandmother and that always puts things in perspective.”
Gloria Buchanan was not a topic to make Elissa sleep better that night.
“I…I’m sorry you had to come to my parents’,” she said, which wasn’t at all what she’d planned but now seemed appropriate. “It can’t have been comfortable.”
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