Sizzling(Buchanans, Book 3)(10) by Susan Mallery
She pushed up her glasses. “I don’t think I’m his type. I get on his nerves. I’m not deferential enough.” All excuses for the real thing—Reid would never see her as a sexual being. She was his grandmother’s nurse. Sort of a living appliance. No matter how much she wanted that to be different, it wasn’t.
“You’re funny and pretty and smart. Of course you’re his type.”
Lori avoided mirrors whenever possible, but she couldn’t escape them. Pretty? Not so much. She was average. Nothing more, nothing less.
“You’re an optimist,” she said. “Sometimes that’s annoying.”
Madeline laughed. “You can’t be mad at me. I made spaghetti with garlic bread.”
Lori’s mouth watered. “A carb fest for dinner?”
“Absolutely. I was in the mood.” Her sister linked arms with her and led her into the kitchen. “While we’re eating, we can strategize about Reid. What you can do to get his attention.”
“I don’t want his attention. He’s not anyone I would ever want to be with.”
It was an old pattern, but one that had always served Lori well. She found it really helpful to put down that which she couldn’t ever have. It made the doing without so much easier.
“I’VE MISSED EVERYTHING about this kitchen,” Penny Buchanan said as she ran her hands across The Waterfronts countertops, then lightly touched the control knobs on the stove. “It’s bigger than I remember. Is that possible?”
Dani Buchanan grinned at her sister-in-law. “No. You’re remembering the kitchen filled with people and now it’s empty.”
“But it will be full soon,” Penny said dreamily. “We’ll be cooking delicious food and it will be like I was never gone.”
She leaned against the counter, then stared at Dani. “Oh, God. Am I a horrible mother for being thrilled to be back at work? I am, aren’t I?”
Dani laughed. “Not at all.”
Penny shook her head. “No. It’s not natural. I shouldn’t have any interests other than the baby. What if Allison knew I loved my work more than her? She would be devastated.”
Dani grabbed Penny by the arm. “Hey, slow down. Take a breath. You’re fine. Loving your work is allowed, even encouraged. You need to be back in the kitchen because being a chef is part of who you are. As for the baby, Allison is incredibly spoiled and totally loved. Just be grateful you love your job.”
“You mean be rational,” Penny said with a slight smile. “Hard to do these days, when I’m living in a sea of hormones. But I’ll try. You’re right. I love Ally, but cooking will always be my passion.”
“See, I think you have a much bigger problem with Cal than with the baby. He’s not going to appreciate knowing he comes second to a bunch of pots and pans.”
Penny’s smile softened. “He knows I love him.”
Dani had liked Penny the first time Penny had married Cal. The second time was even better.
“So you’re back, you’re excited about being back,” Dani said. “This is a good thing.”
Penny eyed her. “I think I can guess why. You want to leave.”
Dani glanced around at the restaurant kitchen. Penny had given her a job when she’d desperately needed to do something with her life, but this wasn’t where she wanted to be in five years, or even five weeks.
“Let’s just say the thrill of sticking it to Gloria has faded,” Dani admitted. “You were great to give me a chance here, but I have to move on.”
“I understand,” Penny told her. “I don’t like it, but I understand. Do you have any idea what you’re going to do?”
“Try to make up for all the time I wasted trying to please Gloria.”
Penny touched her shoulder. “Maybe if you think about it as a growth experience…”
“So far, that’s not working. As mean as Gloria is, I still can’t believe she let me work for her all those years, let me believe I had a chance of moving up in the company, when she was never going to let it happen.”
Dani closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. If she continued to let Gloria upset her, then she continued to let the old bat win.
But it was hard to let it all go—and impossible to forget Gloria’s bombshell. That the reason Dani would never make it in the Buchanan empire was that she, Dani, wasn’t a real Buchanan.
“Look at the bright side,” Penny said, affection obvious in her voice. “You have a great résumé and fabulous letters of recommendation from me and Edouard.”
At the mention of the cook who had been left in charge of the kitchen while Penny had been out on maternity leave, Dani grinned. “Edouard said he wasn’t going to write me a letter of recommendation. He said I hadn’t been deferential enough while he was in charge. That I hadn’t supported his pain.”
“Oh, really? Then perhaps I’ll tell Edouard I’m not feeling ready to come back. I can leave him in charge a little longer.”
As Edouard had spent the last eight weeks whining about the extra work of covering for Penny, Dani knew it was the perfect threat.
“I’ll let you tell him,” she said.
“I can’t wait.”
LORI WAS STARTLED to find a woman lurking on Gloria’s front porch. In this upscale part of Seattle, the houses were mansion size, the lawns perfect and no one lurked.
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