Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(83) by Susan Mallery
“You seen Penny yet?”
“For a couple of seconds. She’s tired but happy. There’s some test for newborns and the baby did great, so that’s good.”
Walker knew both Cal and Penny had to be relieved. Penny had miscarried their first baby years ago.
“Dani’s here,” Reid told him as he led him to the elevator and pushed the up button. “She was the standby coach in case Cal couldn’t do it, but he managed. Said he nearly passed out a couple of times.” Reid grimaced. “I never much thought about having kids. Now I’m thinking I won’t.”
“Based on Cal’s one experience?” Walker asked. “You might want to come up with a better reason.”
They stepped onto the elevator. “Do I need one?” Reid asked. “Do you?” He narrowed his gaze. “It’s Elissa, isn’t it? Her daughter’s getting to you.”
Walker wasn’t about to admit that. “Zoe’s a good kid, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to be a father.”
He’d never thought about having a family because he’d long ago decided he would never get married. Connections weren’t for him. He couldn’t be trusted.
Except the familiar litany no longer had such a ring of truth. After all these years, was he willing to let the past go? Was he willing to forgive himself?
They stepped off the elevator and onto a long corridor. The maternity ward was bright and airy, but the underlying smell of hospital was still there. Walker flashed back to visiting soldiers in makeshift wards after a battle and then he remembered visiting Charlotte after her first surgery. How she’d been scared and he’d promised she would be fine.
He’d been wrong. And then he’d left. He swore silently as he remembered her tears when she figured out he was leaving, that he wasn’t going to stick around and watch her die.
He should have stayed. He should have been there for her. They’d been in love, and when the going had gotten tough…
So did he have the right to forgive himself? Did he have the right to acknowledge the mistake and move on? She had told him to. Maybe that’s what made this all so difficult—that she’d been able to see what no one else had. His coward’s heart.
He’d faced death, had sent men to die. He’d been wounded, taken prisoner for an ugly three weeks and had lived to tell the tale. But did that change who he was inside? He wasn’t as concerned about anyone else trusting him as he was about trusting himself.
“Hey, big guy.”
Walker turned at the sound of the familiar voice. But the woman walking toward him wasn’t exactly the tall, brunette bombshell he remembered. She still wore leather pants and come-fuck-me boots, but her walk, her smile, everything else was different. Softer. Happy.
She smiled, shrugged, then moved toward him and hugged him. “In the flesh, so to speak.”
“You look good,” he said.
“I feel good,” she told him as she stepped back.
“You’re still hot.”
“I do okay.” She linked arms with him. “Have you seen the baby?”
“Then let me show you. She’s beautiful.” She led him down the corridor. “How are you doing? Penny told me you’ve taken over Buchanan Enterprises. I would never have predicted that happening.”
“Me, either. But there wasn’t anyone else.”
“There’s always someone else. But I’m sure they appreciate you stepping up and saving them from the job.”
They stopped in front of the nursery. Naomi glanced around. “Oh, they’re still fussing with her. She’ll be along in a few minutes. So are you happy?”
“Are you?” he asked, sidestepping a typically blunt Naomi question.
She smiled. “Yes. Blissfully so. My husband and I are back together. The old fool didn’t bother to fall out of love with me, which makes no sense.”
“You’d be hard to replace.”
“Aren’t you sweet for saying that.” She sighed. “We have a lot of work to do on the relationship, but we’re determined. We’re also going to adopt a little girl from China. We’ve sent in the paperwork and we’re very hopeful.”
He knew about the loss of her son and how she’d nearly lost herself in the grief. “Good for you.”
“Have you found Ashley?”
He didn’t want to think of failing Ben, but he was running out of names on the list. “Not yet. I’m beginning to think she doesn’t exist.”
“She does and you’ll find her,” Naomi told him. “Have faith.”
“There’s not a lot of that going around.”
“There should be.” She faced him and took his hands in hers. “You’re a good man, Walker Buchanan. One of the best I know, and I’ve known plenty. Don’t give up on yourself or the world and don’t stop saving people, especially yourself.”
“I haven’t saved anyone,” he said gruffly, not believing a word of it, but also unwilling to get trapped into an emotional moment.
“You saved me,” she said quietly. “You saved my life in more ways than you can know.” She raised herself onto her toes and lightly kissed his mouth. “For old times’ sake, whatever the hell that means.”
He touched her cheek. “I’m glad you found your way.”
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