Tara frowned, wondering what had caused the sadness in the older man’s eyes. She frowned and looked at Emily. Wyatt stared into his coffee, and the men around the table were silent.
“What am I missing?” Tara asked.
Emily was the one who answered, her voice soft. “Dutch lost his son several years ago. He was just eighteen.” Emily paused to take a slow sip of her tea before she finished. “He drowned.”
“If you hadn’t been there for Brooke, she’d have probably been caught in the flooding last night.” Wyatt finally looked up. “You probably saved her life.”
“How bad is it?” She hadn’t asked Dutch about the damage in town, more concerned about him taking Brooke. Silence stretched out. Obviously, it wasn’t good.
“The creek banks broke,” Wyatt explained. “The east side of town got at least three feet of water.”
The Someday Café, her work, her dream, sat on the east side of town, right on the banks of that creek. Her eyes burned and she blinked hard, fast, refusing to fall apart—yet. No one said it, no one had to. It was gone. Everything had to be destroyed.
Closing her eyes, she visualized every inch of the place she’d worked so hard to build. The blue paint she’d spent days putting on the walls. The eclectic collection of furniture from every garage sale she could find. The industrial stove that she, Wade and Robbie used to make all those amazing meals. Their pride and joy. The counter stool where Morgan had sat, watching and waiting to find Brooke.
Brooke. The idea of her, of anyone out in that raging water all alone, made her shiver.
Where was Morgan?
* * *
TIME PASSED SLOWLY. The men went about their chores but stayed close in the yard, not riding out on the range. Wyatt was with them, as was DJ. Emily stayed in the house with Tara and Brooke.
News came slowly from town, and Juanita was in the kitchen watching the early morning news, giving them updates every few minutes. When she came rushing into the den, both women looked up. “Hurry, come see.” She waved them toward the television.
A helicopter was flying over Haskins Corners, the town hardest hit by the flooding, according to the news anchor. “The small town has been cut off since yesterday, though rescue workers have been working through the night to help people out of their homes. Let’s show you some of that footage now.”
“Is that our town?” Brooke asked and crawled up on Tara’s lap, the purple dragon still in tow.
“Yes, it is. Oh, look.” Juanita pointed at the screen. “There’s your diner.”
They all watched as the helicopter dipped toward the creek bank where it had broken. Where the worst of the water had come out of the creek. A giant pine was on its side—Tara hastily stood and moved closer, sitting Brooke on the chair.
“That’s Morgan’s truck.” Tara lowered her trembling voice, glancing at Brooke. “Under—” her heart beat in her ears “—the tree.”
“Are you sure?” Emily asked.
“Positive.” How many times had she looked at that truck? When had he gotten there? The truck’s cab was badly damaged—the broad branches of the tree covered over half the trailer and blocked the view of the whole back of the building. Water still rushed across the entire property.
There weren’t any other vehicles in the parking lot, and Tara let herself believe that Wade had kept his word and gotten out of there as soon as she left.
The helicopter moved over the rest of town. Main Street looked like a river, and cars sat in the middle of the wide, flowing water, abandoned, ruined.
“Tara?” Brooke squirmed on the chair, her purple dragon clasped in a tight hug. The photo of Morgan was still snuggled inside, and Tara wondered if it would survive all this.
“What if…what if Daddy doesn’t come?” She was staring at the television with wide, frightened eyes.
Emily looked over at her, one eyebrow lifted.
“What?” Tara asked.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Emily whispered, even though they both knew Brooke could hear them.
“He’ll be here,” she repeated, convinced she was telling the truth.