Maybe the woman from the T-shirt booth would call him today. He’d gladly stop by the booth again, but what good would that do? Frustration made him edgy. He kept walking to burn off energy.
He could go back and talk to Tara. Maybe she had more info about Sylvie from her application? An address maybe? But then she’d wonder why he needed it. Friends kept in contact.
He wasn’t going to explain to anyone here about Sylvie. He couldn’t risk it. He’d trusted before and been betrayed when they’d tipped Sylvie off. She’d run, and he’d had to start his search all over. He wasn’t sure he could go through that again.
He certainly couldn’t afford to.
Inside the cab, Morgan booted up his laptop and used the diner’s Wi-Fi to get online. He had nearly a hundred emails to get through; instead, he did a quick search that resulted in nothing. Who was that guy at the T-shirt stand? There was something there. He just didn’t know what it was.
Rubbing his eyes in tired frustration, Morgan sat back on the bunk, pulling the laptop with him.
The article about last year’s fire still stuck in his mind. Curious, he did another search. The Someday Café had a fairly good internet presence. The pretty owner, Tara, had paid decent money for the website. Hmm…they had takeout. He’d have to remember that.
Might be safer than sitting at that counter watching her move around…
There were promo photos of the diner, one of her in full chef regalia. She smiled at the camera, stirring a big pot in an obviously posed photo. A pretty picture.
Who was she? Really?
She hadn’t grown up in Haskins Corners, but a good chunk of the inhabitants knew her. He stumbled across an article from a small, regional culinary magazine. It referred to the fire and talked about how the volunteers had created meals for the fire crews in a school kitchen.
There, in the middle of the group, laughing in pure abandon was Tara Hawkins. She wasn’t dressed to cook, but in shorts and a tank top that left her arms and legs bare. Tanned and bare.
He liked the way she looked in this picture. At the diner, she’d looked pretty but stressed. In this picture, her hair hung loose and wavy past her shoulders. Not pulled tight against her scalp.
Reading on, he found her connection to this community. Her brother owned a ranch nearby. Had it been damaged in the fire? That wasn’t the focus of the article, so Morgan didn’t learn any more. If nothing else, it made him more curious about her.
His phone rang then, and after saving the picture to his hard drive, he answered.
“Any luck?” Jack didn’t bother with the niceties.
Neither did Morgan as he explained yesterday’s events. “Nothing great. I did find a place where she applied for a job. They didn’t hire her.”
“Damn. That would’ve made life easier.”
“I’m going to stick around for a couple days. But I gotta look like I’m here for a reason. Anything local I can do?” If he could do short hauls in the area, maybe that would buy him more time.
“I can see. I’ll call if I find anything.” The sound of rustling papers came through the line. “Anyplace else she might have applied for a job?”
“There’s not much here. Retail. The diner. That’s about all she’s qualified for.” He tried to envision the small town in his mind. “Maybe a couple of bars.”
“Check ’em out.” Jack’s voice was tinny all of a sudden.
“Did you put me on speaker?” Morgan hated not knowing who could hear him.
“Yeah.” Jack laughed. “One-handed typing sucks, so get over it, bro. I need your help with these numbers.”
For the next few hours, they worked on financials and tried to figure out budgets for the next six months. The places Morgan was going to check would be open well into the night, so he could afford to give Jack the time.
The rain was relenting and letting the clouds temporarily part when he finally stumbled out of the cab. He needed to find something to eat before he continued his search. Morgan thought about going to the diner, but besides the distraction it would prove, he did need to look elsewhere. While the sidewalks in this town practically rolled up at night, there were a couple bars.