Jack and he had created a list of all the schools Sylvie might have enrolled Brooke in, even the fancy, expensive ones. Jack was working on contacting them all.

“No.” Jack grabbed a chair and sat, propping his feet up on the other one.

“What about day care?”

“Sylvie isn’t going to put Brooke in day care. Too expensive and visible.”

“She might not have a choice.” Why, Morgan didn’t know, but anything was possible. She had to support them somehow. She had to have some type of job, didn’t she?

Jack was silent, staring at the toes of his battered running shoes for a long time. Finally, he looked up, frowning. “So, you’re planning to come back to the office?” he asked softly.

Morgan straddled the bench for sit-ups and focused on that. “Yeah, I guess. Maybe you can take some time off.”

Jack glared at him. Morgan had never shrunk away from his brother’s intense anger, and he wasn’t about to now.

Unfortunately, when Jack got that look in his eye, it reminded Morgan too much of Dad. Of that mean, angry drunk who came home half-toasted and finished off the task in front of the TV with Monday Night Football and a twelve-pack. “Back off, Jack.”

“Why?”

Morgan didn’t move, didn’t dare. As a kid, he’d been the older brother, the one who had to be stronger, in control. Not that he’d always accomplished it. There’d been plenty of black eyes inflicted between them.

“Just like that, you’re giving up?”

“Did I say that?” Morgan glared back. “I’m just letting someone else take the lead. I’m not going to argue with you.”

“Maybe you should.”

“Why in the world would I?”

“Shit, Morgan.” Jack took a step toward him. “You’re a shadow of yourself. Since Sylvie left, you’re a closed, shut-off ass.”

“A what?”

“You heard me.”

Morgan actually felt laughter bubble inside his chest. “Name-calling, really?” He picked up the towel from the workout bench and after wiping the sweat off his face, looped it around his neck and fisted the ends. “Nice try.”

Jack laughed, too. But it wasn’t as filled with mirth as it should be. “Don’t let Sylvie do this to you, Morgan.” Jack’s voice was deceptively soft. “She’s done enough damage. You’ll never forgive yourself if you quit now.”

“What exactly do you mean by that?” Now he didn’t feel like laughing—he felt his anger rising, that ever-present sense that he should protect her, even if she didn’t want that protection—or him—anymore.

“Oh, come on.” Jack was in his face. “Do you even feel anything anymore except that damned need to chase her? How are you going to turn that off and focus on office work when she’s still out there?” He pointed at the door.

Morgan’s knuckles went white. “What do you suggest I do?” His voice was loud now. “I’ve spent a year hunting for her. A year. I’ve accomplished nothing.”

“You said yesterday you had a good feeling about the leads. You were heading to the bars to ask questions. What happened with that?”

“Nothing.” Morgan should get up and move. He needed to shower before he did anything.

“You’ve driven every flippin’ highway in this state, as well as half a dozen others. You don’t come home. You sit in that damned truck and drive until you can’t stay awake anymore. You’re no quitter, so why are you stopping now?”

Morgan speared Jack with a look he knew was as cold and mean as Dad’s had ever been. “Didn’t I tell you to back off?”

Jack didn’t move. They were silent for a long minute, both men finishing bottles of water before speaking. Jack crushed his with a loud crunch and pitched it into the trash.

“Forget I asked. What about the place where Sylvie applied to work? They might be a big help. Guess the PI will just take care of it all, right?” Jack glared but didn’t say any more. He stalked to the door and slammed it behind him so hard the entire apartment shook. The tenants upstairs probably felt the impact.

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