“Take it easy on those. I want you to be sober enough to recognize Striker when you see him,” Jackal warned, reaching out to take her drink away.
“I don’t get drunk,” Penni bragged, moving out of the way.
Jackal helped the man seated next to her, who looked like he’d had too much drink, slip off the bar stool.
“What? I was tired of standing.” Jackal leaned back against the counter, his thigh brushing against hers.
Penni finished her drink in one swallow. How could his leg against hers feel so good? She tapped her glass with a fingernail.
“I don’t have time to keep filling her glass.” The bartender set the bottle down in front of her. “Who’s paying?”
Jackal reached into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. Penni laughed at his disgruntled expression when Hennessy poured himself another drink.
“Will you two remember why we’re here? I’m going to be broke before I get back to Queen City.”
“Was Jackal always such a sour puss when you were in the Predators?”
“On which bitch he had in his bed or who he was fighting.”
Penni wished she had keep her mouth shut. She really didn’t want to hear about even more of Jackal’s women or his criminal activities. The more she spent time with him, the more she wanted to know him better, especially when he was sweet, like sleeping on the floor or waking up early to get her a cup of coffee. The man she was beginning to care about didn’t match the image she had been given from others who knew him better.
Suddenly, her stool was spun around.
“Is that him?” Hennessy hissed.
Penni narrowed her eyes. It was difficult to see through the smoke-filled room. She had thought smoking in bars was a thing of the past. Then she recognized the smell assailing her nostrils, and it had her giving an appreciative sniff.
“Greer should come here. He would love to know what green they’re smoking.”
“Your bitch has the attention of a gnat.”
“Did you just insult me?”
“Yes. Is. That. Striker?”
Did he seriously just talk to me like I’m a child? Penni fumed, refusing to answer.
When he clenched his hands into fists, Jackal stepped from his stool, blocking Hennessy.
“Penni, in case you didn’t notice, Hennessy isn’t playing.”
“I’m not, either. It wasn’t Striker.”
“She couldn’t have answered that when I asked her?” Hennessy snarled at Jackal as if she weren’t there.
“Next time, don’t make me mad. Don’t call me a bitch, and especially don’t refer to me as Jackal’s woman.”
“Bitch, I’ll call you what—”
“She’ll be gone as soon we find Striker. Get Cruz to buy you a bud.” Jackal wound his arm around her waist.
“I need more than one to deal with her.”
Penni was so aggravated with Hennessy she almost didn’t tell him the man he was searching for had come into the bar. Jackal, providing a barrier from the Road Kingz, reminded her of the Predators who were waiting to go home, too. They were here because of Grace. As much as she hated the Road Kingz and didn’t want to help them, she despised Striker. He had left her without a second glance when she had begged for help. If the Road Kingz hadn’t shown up, Ricky would have raped and killed her, leaving her family and friends wondering for the rest of their lives what had happened to her.
“Let someone else have the table. Striker just came through the door.”
Penni was lifted off her feet before Jackal could block him again. The Road Kingz surrounded them.
“Don’t draw attention to yourself. I don’t want him taking off.”
Penni nodded at Hennessy. “He’s wearing a black jacket …” She kept trying to spot Striker again and couldn’t see him. “I can’t find him.” Frustrated, she tried to peer over Cruz and Jackal’s shoulders.
“What color was his shirt?”
“I didn’t notice,” Penni admitted.
“Fuck.” He glared warningly at her. “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll walk around the bar, and as soon as you see Striker, show me, and then Jackal will get you out of here. Understand?”
“I do understand English.”
Penni became afraid. Hennessy looked like Killyama when Penni had visited her in the hospital after the incident.
“Cool down, Hennessy.” Jackal gripped Hennessy’s hand. His knuckles were white as he tried to exert pressure to get her released from his hold. The men were fighting over her like two dogs fighting over a bone.
“We can stand here all night to see who wins this argument, or we can go find Striker. I’m going to get another drink. Let me know when you two goons make up your minds.”
Hennessy dropped his hand from her arm. “Let’s go. I’ll take the lead. When she sees Striker, tap me on my back.”
“Will do.” Jackal pulled her closer to his side.
As they began skirting the outer edge of the bar, Penni inspected each face for the one she was looking for. They were all either young or old, and some were downright scary. Penni pushed closer to Jackal until she wound her arm through his.