No, she didn’t have time to get involved with anyone. She couldn’t afford the distraction if she was going to make this place a success. And that man at the counter? Oh, yeah, he’d definitely be a distraction.
He already was, if her staff’s reaction to him was any indication.
“Hey, Tara.” Wendy came through the doors. “Our hunky customer wants to talk to you to see if we’re hiring.”
“What?” She whipped around, staring at Wendy, who nearly doubled over in laughter.
“I take it you wouldn’t want him working here?”
Dear Lord, that would be the end of her. “No. Certainly not.” Sweat broke out as she imagined the big man lumbering through the kitchen, brushing past her, easily lifting the heavy trays with those big, strong arms.
“Just tell him we’re not hiring.” She didn’t dare talk to him, not with those images swimming in her head.
“Sure you don’t want to take the time to visit?” Wendy moved close. “He’s even better looking up close. Nice green eyes.”
“Yeah, I’m sure his eyes are what you’re looking at.”
“Maybe.” Wendy headed toward the door. “Well, if you’re not going to take advantage, I’m certainly going to enjoy.”
“I’m too busy anyway. I’m off to the fair.” She tried to look nonchalant as she grabbed the bag of flyers and headed out. It wasn’t like she was running away or anything.
* * *
AFTER FINISHING HIS delicious breakfast, Morgan left to walk around town. He found himself looking at every person he passed with a suspicious eye. At every glimpse of purple, which was oddly frequent, he nearly gave himself whiplash trying to see if it was Brooke or Sylvie.
It never was.
He’d gone up and down the narrow main street three times. He was pushing his luck. He fought the urge to go into every store to question the staff. He had a faded picture, but from what little he’d gathered about Sylvie, she looked different than she used to.
Her blond hair was now dark, not brown or black, but blue apparently. Or it had been a couple months ago. He had no idea what color it was now.
She’d gotten tattoos and piercings, which, while they weren’t that odd these days, they weren’t something she’d had before. They disguised her, making her look nothing like the pictures he had of her. Would he even recognize her?
Was he ever going to find them?
He grabbed a soda from a street vendor and settled under a big cottonwood tree in the center of the park. Maybe if he sat here and watched he’d see something.
The sun moved slowly across the sky, and he fought the growing disappointment. Other than going door-to-door, what was he supposed to do? He glanced wistfully at the playground. Had Brooke ever played there? She’d always loved to swing.
If he hung out here, would he find her or just get himself arrested for stalking little kids? As a dad, he knew he’d be suspicious of some guy hanging out at a playground.
A woman came down the sidewalk, a big bag hanging off her shoulder, the sun glinting in her bright golden hair. The curls rippled in the breeze as she walked, and he couldn’t tear his gaze away. She turned around, and for an instant, a flash of recognition shot through him. He didn’t know her, but she looked familiar. Where had he seen her before?
At the diner this morning. With her hair down, she looked different. She’d come and gone so quickly, he was surprised he recognized her now.
What had the waitress said her name was? Tina? No. Trudy? No, definitely not. Tara? That was it.
He watched her move. She went from booth to booth, looking at the items displayed, and, after she’d picked up something small and paid, she handed the clerk a piece of paper. A flyer? What was she doing? She moved easily through the crowd, passing out the flyers from her bag and sharing a smile with nearly everyone. Good advertising. He hoped it worked.
Just then, she looked at him. Their gazes met, held for an instant, then she looked away. Did she recognize him, too?
Something about the woman intrigued him. Rising, he followed her, her interactions amusing him. How long had the waitress said the restaurant had been open? A week? Before opening, had Tara been doing this? If she’d been running around glad-handing for the past month, especially during the busy weekends, had she seen Sylvie? Had she seen Brooke? His heart sped up, and so did he.