Arlene burst into the small waitress station where Kara stood, her face flushed with a youthful glow. “There’s a gorgeous, bend-me-over-your-knee-and-spank-me, cowboy at table ten.”
“Another one?” Kara asked, dismissing her co-worker’s repetitious description of nearly every man under the age of fifty who walked through the restaurant doors wearing a Stetson. “That makes, what, twelve today?”
The question had been rhetorical and meant to stall Arlene while Kara focused on tallying Paul Braxton’s bill. Though she rarely made mistakes, she checked it twice. Paul was the president of the bank that held the mortgages on her parent’s ranch. She’d called four times in the last week to schedule an appointment with him. Maybe if she pleaded, he’d extend the grace period on the late payments.
She wasn’t above begging.
“But this one really is.” Arlene took Kara by the shoulders, and quickly guided her to the kitchen door. “See. Table ten.”
Kara looked through the small window and past the evening rush to the man at Rodger’s table.
“I told you he was gorgeous,” Arlene whispered as if the man could hear through the door and over the conversations of customers and the noise of their kitchen staff.
With his head down, Kara couldn’t see the upper part of his face, but she could pick Morgan Prescott’s mouth out of a police line-up. “Oh. My. God. It’s him.”
Kara dodged behind a stack of boxes when she saw him glance their way. “You don’t recognize him?”
“No,” a wide-eyed Arlene replied. “Should I?”
“Too bad you’re not a waiter, Arlene,” she said, bypassing the question. “You could have the privilege of waiting on him.”
“I don’t think so, sweetie. He asked for you specifically.”
“What?” Hot prickly needles speared Kara’s cheeks. “Me? Why?”
Arlene’s smile was implying. “You tell me.”
She closed her eyes and groaned. “I can’t.”
The only one who could provide that answer was the gorgeous, bend-me-over-your-knee-and-spank-me, cowboy sitting at table ten. Why was Morgan here? If revenge was what he wanted, he could just call Sage and have Kara fired. But would Sage give into Hollywood just because he was her husband’s brother? Kara had an impeccable work ethic. She’d never been late, always worked when the manager asked her to and never took a day off. But what was the saying? Blood was thicker than water. She couldn’t risk losing her waitressing job.
Don’t overreact. It’s a restaurant. He’s here to eat.
That was the most likely reason. After all, it wasn’t like he knew where she worked. If he’d asked, no one in town would tell a stranger anything about her.
“Make way!” Franky More, a member of the kitchen staff, hoisted a garbage bag over his shoulder as he squeezed past Kara and Arlene. “Coming through.”
Oh, no, Kara thought, fighting panic.
That’s why Morgan’s here. You have his clothes− his wallet!
After she’d punched him in the stomach, she’d peeled out of the lake house driveway and forgotten about the garbage bag.
Damn it. Now what?
Paul was at table two. She could easily give him the bill without Morgan seeing her. She could run to her truck and retrieve the wallet.
But then what? Stoll up to his table and say, “Today’s special is the pepper fillet. Oh, by the way, here’s your underwear and wallet?”
Kara laid a hand over her eyes and slid down the wall to sit on the floor. “How on earth did he find me?”
“He walked in with one of our pink Employee of the Month t-shirts in his hand.” The hostess clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “It’s yours, isn’t it?”
Kara cringed. In her rush to get away, she’d left it on the dining room chair. “Tell him I called in sick.”
“I will not.” Arlene took her hand and pulled her to her feet. “Besides, I get the impression he’d wait in the parking lot until we close just to see if I was telling the truth.”
Kara doubted he’d go that far.
“Okay,” she huffed. “Fine. I’ll go, but I’m not happy about it.”
Rodger swung the kitchen door open, his round face red with irritation. “What’s with the guy at table ten?”
“Kara’s got an admirer,” Arlene said, her smile immoral.
“Head’s up,” he replied. “He’s a real prick.”
Kara planted a hand on the door and pushed it open. “I know.”