“I think so.” Addie looked up with a smile. “You’d know better than I would. They were in the back of the pantry.”

Tara’s throat ached as memories bloomed in her mind. Of Mom shuffling through these same cards. Sticking the needed card in between the loose frame of a cabinet door. Her gaze turned to that familiar cupboard door next to Addie now. It had never been repaired. Her vision blurred.

She swiped at her eyes and looked at Jason. She frowned. Why give her these today? “Did you tell them?”

He shook his head. “No, I didn’t say a thing.”

“Tell us what?” Wyatt asked. Seconds ticked by as Tara’s gaze locked with Jason’s. He simply shrugged. He wasn’t helping. It was up to her.

“I—” Her excitement grew and with an emerging smile that suddenly made it all feel real, she finished, “I bought the diner in Haskins Corners.” She hugged the precious recipe cards to her chest. “We closed the deal today.”

Tara looked around, hoping for smiles and congratulations. The silent stares were not what she’d expected. She knew she’d shocked them all, but this silence was heavy. The buzz of the timer going off was especially loud.

“Oh.” Addie broke the trance and pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven. The scent of chocolatey, peanut buttery deliciousness wound through the room, nudging everyone to awareness. They didn’t, however, smile.

She hadn’t expected total excitement from them, but neither had she expected this—what did she even call it—lack of support? Surprise?

“That’s an awfully big commitment.” DJ was frowning. “Especially for someone so—”

“Don’t say it.” She hated when they pointed out her faults.

“Young.” He leaned closer, his frown deepening, if that were possible. “Not saying it doesn’t make you any older.”

“Now, DJ.” Mandy hoisted Lucas up on her shoulder and gently patted his back in a rhythmic caress. “She’s always talked about this. That’s not a huge surprise.”

“But it is a bit of a surprise now.” Addie slowly scooped cookies off the sheet. “Why didn’t you tell us before you committed to it?”

“Because I didn’t need your help. Just Jason’s legal advice.”

“And you didn’t tell us?” Addie shook her spatula at Jason.

“Client-lawyer privilege. Sorry, it’s business.”

“That’s no excuse.” Addie roughly scooped dough from the bowl and plopped it onto the cookie sheet with an uncharacteristic thunk. “This is family.”

“Addie.” Wyatt’s voice filled with warning, and while Tara appreciated the support, his scowl told her he wasn’t any happier.

“Hon, don’t take this wrong.” Mandy put her hand over Tara’s. “We just care so much about you.”

“You all know me.” Tara’s indignation rose and her throat ached. She was not going to cry or lose her temper. She’d expected congratulations, not—not this. “You know I’ve dreamed about this since I was a kid.”

“Yes, but—” Addie wiped her hands on a towel. “This is such a big step. We expected you to work for someone else, in a fancy restaurant for a while. Learn about business before taking such a leap.”

“You know I wouldn’t let her go totally stupid, right?” Jason tried to reassure them, but that only made Tara angrier.

“It wasn’t your choice. Any of you.” She let her gaze move around the room, meeting everyone’s stare until landing on Jason’s. “I asked for your advice as a lawyer. That’s all.”

“And I gave it,” he reminded her. “It’s a good deal,” he told the rest of them. “She got a bargain and the interest rate on the loan was excellent.”

“Loan?” Wyatt snapped.

“Yes, loan.” Tara knew Wyatt’s philosophy on debt. Combine his overprotectiveness with his experience seeing his colleagues in the ranching industry fall under debt, and she knew she’d hit a nerve. “I used my inheritance for most of it, but it wasn’t enough.” She glared at Jason. They didn’t need to know the details. That’s why she hadn’t told them in the first place.

Source: www.StudyNovels.com