Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(84) by Susan Mallery
“Me, too. I wish you could—” She sighed, then swore. “Okay, there’s a very attractive woman in her midtwenties glaring at me like I’m the devil with boobs. I’m guessing you know her.”
Walker held in a groan as he turned and saw Elissa standing about six feet away. She’d obviously gone home and changed because she wasn’t wearing her chicken uniform. She also didn’t look all that happy.
He stepped back from Naomi, but knew it was too little too late and that he was going to have a hell of a lot of explaining to do. Before he could figure out how to start or what to say, Naomi released his hands and walked over to Elissa.
“Hi, I’m Naomi,” she said with an easy smile. “I’m an old friend of Penny’s and a friend of the family. I mean that. I’ve even seen Cal naked—which is a fascinating story, if I do say so myself. I’m happily married and Walker never really saw me as anything significant anyway, but I will admit to trying.”
Too much information, Elissa thought, feeling both embarrassed and exposed. She felt as if she’d walked in on something intimate and she didn’t like being the outsider.
“Nice to meet you,” she said, forcing herself to smile and hoping she looked pleasant instead of shell-shocked. She’d known Walker had flaws, but she hadn’t considered kissing other women would be one of them.
“Okay. I’m going to go check on Penny,” the other woman said and strolled away.
Elissa watched her go. Naomi was everything she wasn’t—tall, elegant, confident and beautiful. Worse, Elissa could imagine Walker with her. They would have made a stunning couple. Both fiercely sexual and larger than life.
“Elissa,” Walker said awkwardly. “Naomi and I are friends. Nothing more.”
“Now,” Elissa murmured as she fought the sudden wave of nausea that swept over her. “Before you were a whole lot more.”
“We weren’t romantically involved,” he said. “I want you to know that.”
“But you were lovers.”
She didn’t mean to say that. The words simply popped out on their own.
He was silent for a long time, then admitted, “Once.”
Great. Once as in “one time” or once as in “once upon a time but it lasted for weeks and weeks?” Not sure she could handle the truth, she drew in a deep breath.
“No biggie,” she said, lying and hoping he couldn’t tell.
“It’s not,” he told her, moving close and gazing into her eyes. “I could have said we weren’t lovers, but I don’t want to lie to you. It was one time. We were lost souls looking for a little peace, nothing more.”
He was both making the situation better and worse, she thought, wishing she could see the humor in it. Maybe later, when she didn’t feel so raw. Intellectually she knew that his wanting to clear the air was a good thing. It meant his relationship with her was important. But why did he have to have slept with an Amazon beauty? Why not some silly mousy blonde with the personality of a cucumber?
“Are we all right?” he asked.
She nodded, then pointed as “Baby Buchanan” was placed in her bassinet.
They turned to stare at the infant. Walker said something about Reid saying she wasn’t all that much to look at but he thought she wasn’t so bad. Elissa may have responded. She wasn’t completely sure. Mostly because her brain had frozen, just like a computer in the middle of a glitch. There was only one thought in her head and it played over and over again until it had burned itself into her neurons or synapses or whatever it was in her brain.
That she could never be beautiful and amazing like Naomi or any of the other women Walker rescued. That she was just a lost soul, too, and wasn’t this a hell of a time to realize she was in love with him?
ELISSA FOUND HERSELF somewhere she wasn’t sure she was ever going to be again…standing in front of her parents’ house. She hadn’t meant to drive here. Somehow her car had gotten on the freeway and this was where she’d ended up.
Her whole body hurt and the list of reasons why seemed to stretch on forever. Just a few weeks ago, she’d felt really good about her life. Suddenly everything had changed and not necessarily for the better. She’d thought she was handling it, the stress of Neil, building her jewelry business, watching her baby grow up and start school. But seeing the stunning brunette in Walker’s arms had created the last crack in her already crumbling facade.
But to run here? Her last encounter with her mother had been less than friendly. To be honest, she wasn’t sure they were even speaking. This was crazy.
She turned to leave, then stopped when the front door opened. Her mother stood there.
“I thought I heard a car pull up,” she said, her expression unreadable. “Elissa. Are you all right?”
Elissa opened her mouth, closed it and stunned them both by bursting into tears.
“I’ll take that as a no,” her mother said, stepping out onto the porch and putting an arm around her. “Come on inside, honey. Whatever the problem is, I know we can fix it.”
Elissa allowed herself to be led into the house. It felt good to relinquish control of her life, even for a few minutes, to pretend to be that young girl who had always run home when there was trouble.
Why hadn’t she done that when she’d found out she was pregnant? Why had she taken the word of a thirteen-year-old?
“I was afraid you’d stopped loving me,” she said with a sob. “That’s why I believed Bobby. I knew I’d hurt you and I knew you’d be so mad. I thought you’d want to punish me and I was afraid if I came back you would tell me to go away.”
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