Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(80) by Susan Mallery
She opened her mouth to tell him no, but suddenly she couldn’t. He was right—she didn’t have anyone else in her life.
“Zoe’s father showed up on Sunday,” she said quietly. “He’s in Seattle with some band. He wanted money. It’s the same thing every time—either I pay him off or he’s going to become a part of Zoe’s life.”
“Did you give him money?”
“All I’d made that day.”
“And you think he’ll be back?”
“I know he will.”
Instead of speaking, Walker moved close and put his arms around her. She resisted the embrace.
“I’m fine,” she insisted. “I can handle this.”
“No one doubts that, but even the Marines sometimes call in reinforcements.”
He pulled her against him and she gave in because she didn’t have the strength to keep standing on her own.
“I’m so scared,” she whispered.
“I’m right here. We can handle this. I’ll help.”
She wanted to make him promise that he meant what he said. That he wouldn’t change his mind.
She was a woman who didn’t trust men in her life and he was a man who didn’t trust himself. But her gut said to go with him. Despite everything, Walker was turning out to be the best kind of hero.
DANI SPENT SO MUCH TIME on her hair and makeup that she felt like a beauty contestant. Ryan, aka the weasel loser, had called in sick for the past couple of days, but he was expected back and she needed to be braced to face him. Hence the extra time spent on her appearance, along with the decision to dress in a killer pair of black slacks and fitted silk blouse. If there was any kind of spillage from the kitchen, she would be crushed, but the risk was worth it. She wanted Ryan to regret what he’d lost. She wanted him to pay.
Unfortunately she’d yet to find out a way to make that happen, but she was working on it. Eventually something would come to her.
She got into work at her regular time and noted his car wasn’t in the parking lot yet. Good. She could load up on coffee and brace herself.
About a half hour later, while she was editing Edouard’s suggestions for specials, she heard familiar footsteps in the hallway. She didn’t glance up, but she took a second to brace herself to confront the lying cheat.
“Dani,” he said, his voice low and seductive. “Hi.”
She looked at him, at the handsome face, the killer eyes and knew she’d been duped by a master. “Ryan.”
“How are you? I’ve been worried about you.”
Had he? Oh, goody. Her life was now complete due to his amazing concern.
“Why?” she asked.
He stepped into the room and shut the door behind him. “Because of what happened. Jen coming here like that.” He sighed. “I really didn’t want you to find out that way.”
Oh. My. God. His words were so familiar, it was almost eerie. Were all men chronically unable to take responsibility? Hugh had said the same sort of thing to her, saying he felt so awful about her finding out about his affair but never apologizing for actually cheating, the bastard.
Like Hugh, Ryan wasn’t sorry for what he’d done, he was just upset about being caught.
“How did you want me to find out?” she asked cheerfully. “Or were you hoping I never would?”
“I, ah…” He looked startled, as if he hadn’t expected the question. “Dani—”
She cut him off with a flick of her fingers. “Here’s my question. Have you ever been faithful to your wife? Did you at least wait a couple of months before starting to cheat? Because there’s no way in hell I’m the first time. You’re too smooth at the lies.”
He stiffened. “I love my family.”
“Of course you do. I can see it in every move you make. Sleeping with me was such an incredible act of love. Is Jen grateful?”
“Are you threatening me?” he asked. “Are you going to tell her?”
“Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. I think you’re hurting her enough for both of us, so I don’t need to. Now that I realize what an ass**le you are, I would like to tell her the truth, but I suspect she wouldn’t believe me. I’m sure you’ve convinced her you’re all things wonderful. It’s funny. When I first found out I felt really sorry for myself, but I don’t anymore. I feel sorry for her. I’m in a position to walk away and never look back.”
He swallowed. “You’re going to have your brother fire me, aren’t you?”
“Not necessarily. You’re a decent general manager and with Penny out on maternity leave, the restaurant can’t handle any more changes right now. So as long as you don’t piss me off, you’re safe. But you will play it straight with every single woman who works here and every woman I may ever encounter. You’ll start the conversation by announcing you’re married and not even think about flirting. Do I make myself clear?”
“You’re still angry.”
She considered the statement. “You know, I’m not. I thought I would be, but I feel oddly cleansed by this conversation. Maybe because I finally get that I didn’t do anything wrong. That was the thing I hated, that I’d made such a lousy choice. But I didn’t. You set out to convince me you were exactly what I was looking for. I had no reason to mistrust you. You lied, I didn’t. Thanks to Al, our fabulous cat, you’re the only rat in this building, and I can live with that.”
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