“I was pretty sure you’d dumped me here and left,” he said.

“I thought about it.”

“Thanks for sticking around.” His slight grunt of pain as he fought the smile made her heart contract.

“You’re welcome, I think. Can you leave now?”

“Yeah, the doc’s done with me.” He followed her to the doors that slid open as they approached. “I really do appreciate this, Tara.”

She stopped, turning around so swiftly he had to catch himself before running into her. “I’m guessing you’re not going to explain what all this is about, are you?”

Morgan shook his head. “I…” He barely stopped himself from running a hand down his face. That would probably hurt like hell and undo a great deal of the doctor’s handiwork. “I will. Eventually. But not right now.”

Whatever had happened, it wasn’t good, and he was still suffering, both physically and emotionally.

“Okay, you’re off the hook for now. But I want your promise you’ll tell me.”

“I promise.”

He didn’t cross his fingers behind his back—she leaned around to look—which made him laugh, painfully again. Without a time frame, who knew when he’d tell her anything? She was too tired to fight, and he was in too much pain. She’d let him off the hook for now, but she would get answers.

* * *

“WHAT THE HECK happened to you?” Wendy’s voice cut across the din of the diner the next morning. Tara wasn’t sure why the comment made her look up, but it did. She wished she hadn’t. Morgan sat at the counter, a cup of coffee in his hands, steam wafting in front of his face.

A face that sported bruises, a black eye and several lacerations. She had to stop herself from stepping toward him. It hadn’t been that long since she’d dropped him off at the truck. Was it possible he looked worse now?

“Nothing serious,” he mumbled and focused on the newspaper he’d spread out. “Hey, can you get me a special?” he ordered without looking up.

Tara watched Wendy stare at him for a long minute before she answered. “Sure.” The waitress headed to the kitchen, silent.

Before Wendy caught her watching, Tara scurried around the corner and focused on the dessert tray she was prepping for lunch. She did not want to discuss Morgan with Wendy, and she certainly wasn’t explaining why she already knew about his injuries.

Her cheeks burned as other memories of yesterday followed. She focused on the frosting she was piping onto the cupcake. It had to be perfect…

“Hey,” Wendy whispered at her elbow and she slipped, blue frosting spilling off the edge of the chocolate in a glop.

“Hey, what?”

“Did you see Morgan?”

How was she supposed to answer that? She either lied and said no or admitted she knew. Wendy saved her from answering, by speaking again. “He looks awful.”

Morgan didn’t know how to look awful. Tara dragged her mind from that path. “Wh-what do you mean?”

“He’s hurt.”

He had injuries, but Tara wasn’t sure he hurt. Did the man even know how to feel? Okay, she was being uncharitable, but the ache at how he shut her out was too acute still, too painful. She wasn’t ready to forgive him yet. “He’s a customer, Wendy.” She pulled out a knife and tried to repair the damaged frosting. “His private life is none of our business.”

“Yeah, but…”

Tara hated that phrase. It always preceded something inappropriate. “No ‘yeah buts.’ He’s not our concern. Serve him and move on. I need you to focus on your job today.”

They didn’t have time to get caught up in every customer’s little problems. Lord knew there were plenty of them here. Which reminded her. “Have you seen that little girl in here again?”

Wendy focused on the order tray, prepping Morgan’s special. “Which one, the little girl with the purple dragon?”

“Yeah.”

“No, I haven’t.”

The swinging doors slammed open, the metal frame smacking the edge of the counter hard enough to scare them both. Tara nearly dropped the frosting bag, and Wendy did drop the plate of toast she’d been about to set on the tray.

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