Tara turned and went inside. She had other things to worry about right now. Still, she looked over her shoulder one last time, wishing she knew if the animals were safe and sound.
“Here’s what we’re going to do,” she announced to Wade and Wendy once she’d closed the door. Time to make the right, adult decision.
“We’re closing. This is crazy. Wendy, hustle everyone else along and don’t seat anyone else. Wade, finish up those meals and start shutting down.” She headed toward where she’d left her paperwork. She’d take it with her and do it at her place. Was there anything else in the office she couldn’t afford to get wet?
“Great.” Wade stared at the fresh burgers he’d thrown on the grill with a scowl. “What am I supposed to do with these?”
Tara turned around, letting herself smile. “Put them out back just in case Tabby and Ricky show up.”
“Should I put them on a plate?” He was being sarcastic, but she saw him and Wendy exchange a smile. They cared about the little guys, too.
In less than half an hour, they had what they could pack up. Wendy had already left, and Wade was finishing putting supplies from the storeroom in his truck. Tara had all the paperwork in her car, ready to go.
A sound at the front door made her turn around. “I’m sorry, we’re—”
Tara stared at the little girl standing in the doorway, almost afraid to move, afraid Brooke would vanish. “Hello.”
“Hi.” The girl stepped inside, and Tara saw Brooke shiver. She pulled the wet, purple dragon close, almost as if the fluffy thing could keep her warm. The yellow T-shirt and soaked blue jeans weren’t doing much good in that department.
Tara wasn’t sure what to do. She didn’t want to scare Brooke and didn’t want to chase her away. It was too wet and dangerous outside, and Tara didn’t want the girl going back to where she’d come from. The adults in her world certainly weren’t paying attention.
“What can I do for you?” Tara cautiously asked.
“Um.” The girl stepped closer. “Lanara—” she held up the toy “—is hungry.”
Tara followed the girl’s lead. “She is? Well, that’s not good.” Tara pretended to ponder the problem. “I don’t know much about dragons. Can you help me figure out what to feed her?”
Brooke nodded, a smile beginning on the corner of her lips.
“What do dragons like?” Tara moved carefully behind the counter. “Do you two want to sit at the counter?”
Again, Brooke nodded, struggling to climb up on the stool where her father so frequently sat. Tara wanted to call Morgan but needed to get the girl settled first. “Is Lanara cold?” Tara asked. “I have a couple sweaters that you guys could borrow.”
Brooke frowned as if thinking about it. “I don’t know.” She shivered. “I guess that’d be okay.”
Tara didn’t want to leave the girl, afraid she’d disappear before she got back. She needed the sweaters, though, or the girl would catch pneumonia. As she hustled past the phone, she grabbed the handset. Trying to hurry and focus on the numbers flashing on the screen as she reviewed the previous calls list, she nearly stumbled. Which one was Morgan’s?
Forcing herself to focus, she put the phone in her pocket and grabbed the sweaters she and Wendy kept by the back door. She hustled back, breathing a huge sigh of relief to find the girl and her trusty dragon still seated at the counter.
“Here you go. Lanara and Brooke, right?”
“Yep. I’m Brooke.” She smiled and let Tara wrap the too-big, blue sweater around her—after she tucked the other around the stuffed toy.
“What a pretty name.” Tara moved behind the counter and pulled out two bowls. “Do dragons like stew?” There was still plenty in the pot.
Brooke wrinkled her nose. “No. They like samiches.”
“Ah.” Tara put the bowls back. At this point, she’d do anything for this kid, to keep her here and safe. She might still be upset with Morgan, but this girl needed to be taken care of by someone. “What kind of sandwiches?”