Anna unlocked the back door of the diner and twisted the knob, the cold of the metal nearly soaking right through her soft gloves. Winter. Yeah, she couldn’t definitely do without it. She shivered as a blast of wind blew snow against her neck. Well, she’d had a chance to move, and she’d blown it. Now, she was just going to have to deal with it.
She flipped the lights on as she stepped into the kitchen. The left one flickered erratically for several moments before it finally stayed on. Anna blew out a breath. She’d have to mention that to Dana once again. Maybe her boss would finally see fit to get it fixed. Likely not since that would mean spending money on something the customers never saw.
Anna shook away the bitter thought and went to hang her coat and purse up in the little closet at the other end of the kitchen. She also stowed her heavy winter boots in there, changing into the shoes she’d wear all day at work. Once she got all the prep work done, and the diner actually opened for business, she’d be out running the register and waiting on tables. For now, she had some time to herself. She switched on the radio on the counter then got to work.
She didn’t mind that their cooks didn’t like coming in early. It was her favorite time of day anyway. And this was all so simple anyway. the dough was already prepared, she just had to separate it for bread and rolls and put them in the ovens. Take fresh vegetables out of the refrigerator and slice. Make sure everything was ready before the breakfast rush came in.
She pulled some of the sticky dough off her fingers before sticking them under the water. It ran down her hands swirling away into the drain. running the rough cloth of the towel over them, she swayed to the beat of the song on the radio. No one else was here, so she sang along with one of the older songs the radio still played by Lila Corelli. Anna giggled softly as she hauled out the tray of veggies, grabbing several small containers out to store them in once they were diced, sliced, or cubed. It wasn’t Lila Corelli anymore, she’d been Lila Akeley for the last four months, but no one cared since she left Nashville. Just like they wouldn’t have cared she was one of Anna’s best friends.
She’d just cut a green pepper in half when one of the lower pantry doors creaked open. The knife fell from her hand, and she was just glad she hadn’t sliced a finger off. Then, the strawberry blond head popped out of the pantry, and she put her hand to her chest. “Raina,” she said. “how in the he…world did you get in here?”
“I came in last night when Courtnay took the garbage out.”
Their newest dishwasher and general clean-up person. Anna would have a talk with her about being more observant. She picked the little girl up. “Where does your dad think you are?” If Morgan had realized she was missing, he’d be frantic. She doubted the town would be so quiet then.
“Mama had me this weekend,” the girl said, her voice such a soft whisper, Anna almost couldn’t hear her. “She brought a friend home last night, though, and he scared me. But she said I couldn’t go back to Daddy’s til Sunday night.”
Anna wanted to fist her hands, but with the girl in her arms, there was only so much she could do. How could that woman not realize her daughter was gone? Hadn’t she tried to tuck her in the night before? No, probably not. Raina had just recently gotten the cast off from breaking her arm when her mom had left her alone to go on a date. So, she wasn’t even sure why this surprised her. “You want to stay with me while I finish getting this ready? I’ll just send your daddy a message to let him know you’re here.”
Raina’s face brightened at that. Whether because she liked helping in the kitchen or she really didn’t want to go back to her mom’s, Anna wasn’t sure. She didn’t care either. If she saw this as a safe place, Anna wouldn’t make her leave.
She sent a message to Morgan, letting him know what was going on then put her phone back in her pocket. She imagined he’d show up soon enough, wanting to be sure his daughter was unharmed. Until then she’d let Raina give her a hand. And hopefully Morgan would be able to use this in the ongoing custody case. Maybe the system would finally see the harm that woman was doing to her daughter and finally do something about it.
She could hope, at least.
That turned out longer than I thought it would. I’m working on plotting Morgan and Anna’s story today, so I used the Story a Day prompt for that. I didn’t know Raina was going to show up, though.