Seeing it went a long way toward reassuring her that buying this place was a good idea. She’d fallen in love with the counter the first time she’d seen it, and it still amazed her it was now hers.

The scent of her favorite burger made her mouth water. “What’s this?” She climbed up on one of the low vinyl stools that were anchored on chrome pedestals to the floor. “Bribery?”

“A peace offering.” He had the grace to look chagrined. “We weren’t very supportive the other day.”

“You think?” She stared at him.

“Here.” He fished a burger out of the bag and put it on the counter. On the tail of that delicious aroma, the container of fries emitted a wonderful smell of grease and heat.

Tara bit into the luscious burger, savoring the warm juices that exploded in her mouth. She loved to cook, but years ago, she’d learned the value of letting someone else cook sometimes. This was one of those times. She did have a danged good burger on the menu, but this one she didn’t have to make herself.

And it tasted like heaven.

“If you love these burgers so much,” DJ said around a mouthful, “why don’t you make them yourself? Heck, I like yours better.”

“I could. But where’s the fun in that?”

“It’s looking good in here.” DJ nodded to the mostly blue walls.

“Yeah,” she agreed.

“Hey!” Another voice interrupted them. They both turned to find Addie standing there, a box in her arms, on top of which was an identical white bag emblazoned with the same logo.

“Beat you to it, sis.” DJ grinned, barely taking a break from his meal.

Addie came over and settled beside Tara. “Here I thought I had a good idea.”

“It is a good idea.” Tara reached for the new bag. “At least you all know my favorite junk food.” She grinned at Addie. “And she…” Tara nodded toward her sister with a pointed glance at DJ. “She remembered I like chocolate shakes with my fries.” She pulled out the tall cup and shoved the straw through the lid. “Yum!”

“I brought this, too.” Addie’s voice was nearly a whisper. The box from the night at Mom’s. The recipes. “Thought you might need it.”

“Thanks.” Tara ducked her head, concentrating on her food instead of the warm emotion flowing inside her.

They ate until the door opened again. Wyatt came in and froze halfway across the room. His frown made them all laugh.

“Hey, big brother,” Tara greeted him. “Come join us.” Looking at the size of the white bag in his hands, she said, “Hope you’re hungry, since there’s going to be a lot left. Is Emily with you?” She didn’t see his wife anywhere.

“No,” he growled as he settled next to Addie. “DJ, the leftovers are yours.” He shoved the bag down the counter.

“Was I just insulted?” DJ nabbed a spare pack of fries from the new bag with a wide grin. “Thanks for the fries.”


DJ shrugged. “What we don’t want, I can take home to Pork Chop and Hamlet.” His son’s pet pigs were going to feast tonight.

Tara smiled, enjoying the food and the company. “We’ve got enough for Mandy and Jason, too. Too bad they aren’t here.”

“Yeah.” Addie sat back, her eyes distant as she enjoyed her own shake. Strawberry—Tara knew without even looking—Addie’s favorite since they were kids. “I miss us all being together.” There was sadness in her voice.

“They aren’t missing us.” DJ laughed and they all joined in. Jason was in Europe on his belated honeymoon with his new bride, who was touring with a ballet company. And Mandy was with her fiancé, Lane, fighting a wildfire in Canada. Tara whispered a simple prayer that they all came home safe and sound.

“Are you going to be ready to open in time?” Addie started to gather the trash, always busy taking care of everyone.

“Relax, Ad.” Tara reached out to grasp her sister’s arm. “Just toss everything the pigs aren’t getting in that barrel.” The trash can was filled with a variety of boards, paintbrushes, plastic and everything she’d swept up. “Not like there’s anything to really clean yet.”