He was silent a long time. “I always am. Trust me, Tara. I do.”
She didn’t let herself think about that reference too much. He’d taken precautions with her that she’d have tossed to the wind. He’d stepped in to help her without thinking twice. He’d taken care of Jack for so long, and he was driving himself into exhaustion to save his daughter from a horrible situation.
He was exactly what Jack had called him. A very good man.
And she’d fallen in love with him. Head over heels, no-holds-barred in love with him.
Wide-eyed, Tara looked over at her big sister Addie, and after Morgan hung up, she sank to the bench beside her. Addie enveloped her in a warm reassuring hug and didn’t even ask why.
* * *
A STEADY STREAM of diners kept Tara’s worry at bay and her just busy enough to fill her mind with orders and inane conversation for the rest of the shift. She put together the list for next week’s groceries and even had time to work the line, putting together some plates. She didn’t often get that opportunity anymore.
Work filled her mind so that she wasn’t thinking about Morgan. At least that’s what she kept telling herself. Still, where was he now? What was he doing? looped when she wasn’t focused.
She grabbed two plates of pie for the party at table eleven. Coffee. They’d both ordered coffee. She’d just reached for the creamer when the door opened. She automatically looked, reprimanding herself. It wouldn’t be Morgan.
When her brother DJ came in, she smiled. “I’ll be right back.” She delivered the plates, then hustled to where he sat. “Tammie still having problems? Pie or a burger?” She knew she was rushing to talk, wanting something to distract herself.
“Tammie’s not the problem.” He wasn’t smiling.
“Then why are you here?” He crossed his arms over his chest. Uh-oh. “What happened?”
“Oh, nothing’s happened—yet.”
“What do you mean?”
“Damn it, Tara.” He leaned forward. “Imagine my surprise when I go to my older sister’s house to help her move some furniture, and she tells me you’re seeing some guy named Morgan.”
Tara’s smile faded. She should have known there were no secrets in this family. “And?” She leaned against the counter, waiting for the usual lecture.
When he didn’t immediately start in on her, she was surprised. “I’m waiting, DJ. Go ahead, give me hell.” With a huff, she gathered dishes and prepared to ignore him.
That made her stop. She turned around, hands full of plates. “How did you know?”
He cursed again, this time getting a dirty look from the older couple at table four.
“He is not someone you should be involved with.”
“And you know this how?”
DJ ran a hand through his hair. “He’s involved in things you don’t know about.”
Tara rolled her eyes. “If you mean the fighting, I know.” She walked to the counter. “The question I have is, how do you know about it?”
She set the plates down before she either dropped them or threw them at him. “You better tell me, brother dear.”
This time, DJ was the one who rolled his eyes. “It’s not that big a secret.” He threw up his hands. “There’s been talk around town about an underground fight. It’s not that odd. The hands go to ’em sometimes.” He was referring to the men who worked on Wyatt’s ranch. “I’ve been to a couple over the years. They’re pretty rough.”
“You know about them? How come I’ve never heard about it before?”
DJ shrugged. “We always knew about them, even when we were kids. Maybe because you were a girl?”
“Does Addie know?”
“You’ll have to ask her.”
Then a thought crossed her mind. “Do you know where they are?” She came around the counter, grabbing his arm. “Do you know where this one is?”
“Oh, no.” DJ shook his head. “I see those wheels turning in your head. No. That’s no place for you.”
“That’s not your choice.”