“Stop it, Tara. I may get banged up, but have faith in me. I’ve won plenty of these fights.”
“Winning doesn’t mean you don’t get hurt.”
He took a deep breath and she held hers, hoping he was at least considering it. The hard glare he turned on her deflated all that hope. “Go to work, Tara. I’ll be fine.”
The passenger door closed with a wham, and Tara climbed out, as well. She pulled open the back door of the diner as the big engine roared to life. Her heart sank.
Would she find him at the back door again tonight? Would they take another trip to the urgent care, or worse yet, the ER? She couldn’t think about it. Couldn’t let herself worry for an entire day.
Maybe she should just call the police herself. And tell them what? She had no clue where the fights were going to be. She didn’t know anything except rumor, really. All she’d accomplish would be to, most likely, get Morgan arrested and ruin any chances he had at finding Sylvie and Brooke.
And Tara would probably lose him.
But maybe it would be worth it if it kept him alive and in one, uninjured piece.
The diner was nearly full, and her staff hustled to and from the kitchen. She had to focus on that, had to remind herself once again that this was her life, her livelihood, her dream.
She was surprised, however, to walk into the dining room and find her sisters sitting in a booth. Little Lucas was nestled in his carrier on one of the toddler seats. Seeing their smiling faces brightened up the otherwise gloomy day.
“What are you guys doing here?”
Addie looked at Mandy. “Why wouldn’t we be here?” She winked. “This is the best restaurant in town.”
“Thanks.” Tara smirked. “But I think you’re a bit biased.”
“She’s telling the truth.” Mandy waved at the plate in front of her. “This is like visiting Mom.”
“You were able to use the recipe cards.” Addie grinned. “I’m pleased.”
“Some of them. Others don’t transfer as well, but I’m still working on them.” Tara hadn’t had much time lately to work on any new items for the menu.
Mandy took a bite of the French toast. “Keep working. Need any help with taste testing?” She laughed. They all did.
It felt good to be with her family where she understood them, and on the whole, they tried to understand her.
“There’s one recipe I’d like to add to the collection,” Tara hinted, settling on the edge of the booth next to Addie.
“That’s not open for discussion, Tara.” Addie’s smile faded and Tara regretted taking it away, but having Addie’s amazing cookies here would be good for business. It would pay homage not only to Mom but their entire family.
“I know. And I understand. Really. I just love those cookies, and I know my customers would love them as much.”
“Maybe Addie could make the cookies for you. Then you don’t have to give up your recipe.” Mandy suggested.
“Oh, Addie, would you?” Tara’s heart leaped. For the first time in days, something besides Morgan and the frustrations of him took the forefront in her mind.
“I’ll think about it.” Addie actually looked like she was considering the idea.
Tara threw her arms around her. “I’d love you forever if you did.” She pulled a line from when she’d been the baby of the house and wanted something badly. It had worked then, and she hoped it worked now.
And just like when she’d been a kid, Addie slipped an arm around her. It felt so good. She wanted so badly to confide in them, wanted to talk to her sisters like she had over the years. They’d always been there for her, and she knew they’d be there for her now, but she didn’t know what to say or even how to explain.
She didn’t understand what was happening in her world.
“What’s the matter?” Addie hugged her, running a hand over Tara’s hair much like Mom used to do.
With a deep sigh, Tara pulled slowly away. “Maybe I’m just tired. It’s a good tired. Business is good.”
“You sure that’s all?” Addie knew her too well. Tara had never successfully lied to her.
“I—” She shrugged, then nodded. The look on Addie’s face said she wasn’t buying it.