He had received a letter from school that he had been late three times. It hadn’t been surprising since Jackal had been the only one responsible for getting himself dressed and walking to school since he had usually missed the school bus. It had been a blessing in disguise when Bulldog had broken his arm. An ER physician had reported his father to the cops, and Jackal had been placed in foster care. It had taken Bulldog three months to get custody back. What had followed were years of being in and out of foster care. Then, when the beatings had become severe enough to send him back to the ER, Jackal had asked his father why he had even bothered to get him back from foster care. His answer had run chills down his back.
“I made sure that bitch you called a mother didn’t take you when she tried to leave me, and I’m fucking sure as shit not letting you leave me unless you’re in a casket.”
Bulldog had done his damnedest to keep his word. The scar that marked his face was the reason his father had received a prison sentence that was almost over.
“We’re not going to a hotel?”
“No, Hennessy wants to take a break.”
“Don’t make me regret my decision to let you take her in with us,” Hennessy warned.
Jackal wrapped his arm around Penni’s waist as they walked toward the restaurant to keep her from replying to Hennessy’s warning.
The town was filled with motorcycle clubs showing off during the Spring Rally. Several bikers eyed them as they neared the doorway of the restaurant, but none of them spoke. Jackal wondered which of their group they were most cautious of starting a fight with: his scarred face was a hostile mask; Hennessy’s height easily towered over the rest of them; and Cruz at the rear was no slouch, his muscular build drawing their attention.
Inside, Jackal led Penni to a booth near the front door. She slid in, and then he slid in after her. Hennessy and Cruz sat down across from them while the rest of the Road Kingz took two other booths beside them.
Jackal ignored Penni’s attempt to put more space between them, sliding another inch to pin her closer against the wall. If shit went down inside the restaurant, he would be able to block her from getting hurt.
“Do you mind?” Penni tried to push him back.
“No. I have plenty of room.”
“Good for you,” she snapped. “But you’re squishing me.”
“You could come over here and sit next to me,” Hennessey offered. “Cruz can sit at another table.”
“Never mind.” Penni quickly looked down at the menu she took from the waitress.
Jackal and Hennessy shared a grin across the table. It reminded him of the old times from before Hennessy had become consumed with watching out for DJ.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asked.
“I’ll take a steak and baked potato,” Jackal ordered.
“I’ll take the same,” Hennessy ordered, leaning back against the booth. “You’re buying.”
“Me, too,” Cruz repeated.
“I hope I have enough in my account to pay,” Jackal complained.
When Penni didn’t order, he looked at her then almost laughed out loud. She had kept up her pretense of being a vegetarian. He had taken several of her meals that they had ordered for them, but he had eaten his last veggie burger or bean burrito. She was on her own.
She pushed her short, blonde hair back from her cheek as she studied her menu, frowning. When she bit her lip, Jackal broke. Damn, he was a sucker when she did that. It sent a lightning bolt to his dick.
“Give her the same as me. You can blame me later. You’re going to need the protein for what I’m going to do to you tonight.”
Her mouth dropped open as the waitress snickered while she walked away. Penni’s face turned a bright red.
Leaning down, he brushed her hair back. “You want me to order you something else?” he teased then jerked back when she dug her nails into his thigh under the table.
“I can order for myself.”
He stared back at her, finally understanding why Penni had claimed to be a vegetarian. She had resented them making the choice for her instead of being asked what she wanted to eat. Penni was a control freak. Jackal wasn’t surprised. Penni and Shade didn’t share the same father, but they did have the same mother. The apple must not have fallen far from that particular tree.
“Aw, don’t feel bad about last night. I’m sure it happens to all men,” Penni cooed with a malicious glint in her eye.
Hennessy and Cruz shook their heads. “Not me,” they spoke at the same time.
When the Road Kingz looked with sympathy at him while they shook their heads, Jackal was tempted to spank her ass in front of the whole restaurant.