“What the hell is with you?” Robbie yelled from the kitchen.
Morgan stood in the doorway, his eye swollen and red-rimmed, his chin a once-bloody mess. He looked like he was on the verge of killing someone or morphing into a monster who would. Tara took a step back, not sure what to think. Was he having a reaction to those meds they’d given him?
Robbie stepped out from behind the wall between the kitchen and the prep area, his scrawny frame no match for Morgan, but the knife he had in his fist would sure do damage if need be.
Morgan’s eyes flashed with a fever’s level of emotion, something Tara couldn’t quite identify, but he tamped it down quickly, as if he’d had a lot of practice. He didn’t leave, and he didn’t retreat from the offensive stance, but he did relax. “You saw a girl with a purple dragon?” His gaze flew between Wendy and Tara. “Was she with Sylvie?”
“Who’s Sylvie?” Wendy asked.
“His friend,” Tara sneered the second word, figuring she was somehow a part of what had happened to him last night. Morgan glared at her but didn’t disabuse her of the notion.
“It wasn’t her.” Tara said, feeling a twinge of sympathy for him, just a twinge as pain sparked in his eyes. “It was a young woman, a girl really. She was here with her boyfriend. The little girl said she was her babysitter.”
Could a man, so big and strong, look crestfallen? If he could, Morgan did. “The little girl. What did she look like? How old was she?”
Something didn’t match here. Tara put the icing down and wiped her hands on the towel. “What’s going on, Morgan? Why would that matter?”
His hands were in fists at his side, and she could tell he was clenching his jaw. It had to hurt. He turned to leave. She couldn’t let him go. “She was five or six years old. Blond hair, in two ponytails.”
“What color were her eyes?”
“Uh—” She had to think. “Brown.”
“The dragon. How…how big?”
Tara frowned and tried to remember that, as well. “This big?” She spread her hands about a foot apart. “It had plastic black eyes and a green bow around its neck.”
The anguish in Morgan’s eyes was too painful to watch. Yet she couldn’t look away, unable to abandon him like this. “What aren’t you telling us?”
Morgan didn’t answer. He was pulling his phone out of his pocket and heading to the door. She didn’t know who he was calling, but the intensity on his battered face told her something had changed. Drastically.
* * *
MORGAN DIDN’T LIKE SURPRISES. So, the next morning when he walked into the diner and found Jack on the stool at the end of the counter where Morgan sat nearly every day, he stopped and glared at his brother. “What are you doing here, Jack?”
Wendy and Tara stood behind the counter, pretending to be busy, but both of them shot furtive glances between the brothers.
“Looking for you.”
Jack took his time taking a sip of his coffee. He set down the cup carefully, slowly, before looking at him again. “Someone—” he glanced over at the women, as if just noticing their interest “—told me you’re fighting again.” He took another deep drink of his coffee. “Looks like they were right.”
Damn Dewey. He’d only talked to him this morning. He had a lot of explaining to do, but Morgan would deal with him later.
“What of it?” Morgan moved closer to his brother and sat beside him. He gave Jack credit for having the chops not to move or flinch away.
“Morgan, are you nuts?” Jack turned on him, anger blazing in his eyes. “This isn’t the answer. We’ll find the money. Haul a few more—”
“This isn’t about the money.” He stared, incredulous, at Jack. “I’m not that stupid. Give me some credit.”
“Then you’d better start explaining.”
“She’s there,” Morgan whispered.
“No, idiot.” Morgan rolled his eyes. “Sylvie.”
“I don’t know.” He nearly pounded his fist on the counter as Jack’s words illustrated his frustration. But he didn’t want to startle Jack or Tara’s staff. He’d done enough damage yesterday when he’d lost it. “If I knew that, do you think I’d do this?”