Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(70) by Susan Mallery
“Pick as many as you’d like,” Cal said.
“Yes, please,” Elissa said with a grin. “I’ll even give you a discount.”
“I don’t think so,” Penny told her. “Friends don’t let friends lose money. We’ll pay retail.”
She pointed to a pair of earrings, then another. Cal collected them and handed them to Elissa who rang up the total.
“Where’s Walker?” Penny asked while Cal counted out the money.
Elissa felt her cheeks flush at the assumption she would know where he was.
“He’s, ah, bringing my neighbor, Mrs. Ford, to the fair. She’s meeting up with some of her friends here and they’re heading off to a movie.”
“Good for them. I want to be like that when I get old,” Penny said. “Assuming I don’t simply pop like a balloon, with all my insides spilling out.”
Cal took the bag Elissa gave him and put his hand on the small of Penny’s back.
“On that happy visual, we’re going to go,” Cal said firmly. “Come on, Penny. Let’s find the car. I’ll take you home and rub your feet.”
He glanced over his shoulder. “Dani said to tell you she’d be by later.”
“Oh, good. Thanks. Feel better, Penny.”
“Not possible. I’m never going to feel better.”
An older woman laughed softly. “I felt the same way with all three of mine,” she said with a sigh. “Of course that was a long time ago. You have a lovely family.”
Elissa opened her mouth to explain they weren’t her family, then she decided to just smile and say, “Thank you.”
WALKER MOVED SLOWLY beside Mrs. Ford.
“I don’t usually bother with this,” she said as she leaned on him and steadied herself with a cane. “I was concerned with the crowd and getting jostled.” She gave him a teasing smile. “I knew if I asked you to protect me, innocent people would be risking life and limb. You’re just so strong.”
“Are you flirting with me?” he asked.
“Maybe a little. Although I know where your real interests lie, don’t I? With our pretty neighbor.”
“Elissa and I are friends,” he said, ignoring what had happened the previous weekend and how much he wanted to be with her again.
“Good friends.” Mrs. Ford sighed. “I used to have friends like that when I was younger. But after eighty, it’s nearly impossible to get a man. Still, I’m happy with my life. Not everyone can say that.”
He kept his left hand on her elbow and offered as much support as he could. It was warm and crowded and he didn’t think this was a good place for a woman well into her nineties. But Mrs. Ford had insisted and arguing with her was like reasoning with a tornado.
“Maybe if you weren’t so closed off emotionally,” she said. “I can certainly understand why it would happen. You’ve seen some horrible things. War has a way of changing a man.”
Honest to God, he didn’t know what to say to her.
“I’m only afraid that you’ll miss a perfectly wonderful opportunity with Elissa. She’s not like other women. You’re not likely to do better.”
“I’m not interested in doing better.”
“Then what’s the problem? You should have had her in bed by now. There’s nothing like a fabulous few days in bed to turn a woman into putty.”
He swore under his breath. “Did you want to do any shopping?” he asked, motioning to the crowded booths on either side of them.
She glanced at a display of kites. “I don’t think so, but you’re very sweet to offer. I know shopping is rarely a man’s first choice as a way to spend his free time. Do you think it’s a traumatic event from your past, or the way your mind works, or do you simply prefer being single?” She glanced at him. “I can’t imagine it’s being single. You strike me as someone who cares about family.”
Words failed him. Until this moment, he’d always really liked Mrs. Ford. This was the first time she’d tried to interrogate him. And as they hadn’t even reached Elissa’s booth, he was well and truly trapped.
“I’m not going to go running to Elissa, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Mrs. Ford said with a smile.
Just then he spotted Dani with Ryan and called out to them. Dani turned and smiled. As they approached, Walker noticed they were holding hands. Apparently things were progressing.
He wasn’t sure how he felt about his sister getting involved so quickly after the end of her marriage. Not that it was his business or that she would listen to anything he had to say on the subject.
“Mrs. Ford, this is my sister, Dani, and her friend Ryan. This is Mrs. Ford, one of my neighbors.”
“Hi,” Dani said. “Nice to meet you.”
“And you, dear.” Mrs. Ford eyed Ryan. “What do you do?”
“I’m the general manager of The Waterfront,” Ryan told her.
“Your restaurant,” Mrs. Ford said to Walker. “Dani, do you work there, as well?”
“Yes. That’s where Ryan and I met.” She looked at Walker. “Now it’s your restaurant?” she asked, her voice teasing.
He groaned. “Give me a break.”
“How lovely.” The old lady sighed. “An office romance. I always wanted an office romance. Of course I never really had a job, which made the situation more challenging. Oh, I worked on an assembly line during World War II, but there weren’t very many men around and as my husband was off serving his country, an office romance would have been unpatriotic, don’t you think?”
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