“Good luck, sweetie.”
Penni forced herself not stare at Misty’s breasts as she wished her good luck.
“You’re next.” Jackal’s quiet reminder was unnecessary.
“No shit, Sherlock.” Penni clenched her hands into fists as she watched Misty strut to the front of the stage.
“You need to take off your top.”
“If you say one more word, I’ll take your knife away and stab you.”
Jackal shut up.
The DJ started “Highway to Hell” as Misty began to walk to the rear of the stage where all the women were dancing in a line, giving the men in the audience a chance to choose who was going to be the winner.
Penni turned to see if she could let any other woman go, but the line was empty. She was the last one.
I’m going to have to do it, Penni kept telling herself as she lifted the bottom of the sweatshirt over her head. Goose bumps broke out over her body as she shivered. Maybe it was getting dark enough that the men wouldn’t be able to see her that well.
Someone at the edge of the stage flicked on a switch, surrounding the stage in blazing lights.
“That’s about right.”
“What did you say?” Jackal stepped back when she took a step toward him.
Penni looked down at her pretty dusty rose bra and unclipped it, tugging off the fragile material and handing it to Jackal.
“I want that back. It cost me a freaking fortune.”
She looked at the biker waiting with the water hose then at the women on stage, shorts plastered to their body. Reaching into her jean pocket, she pulled out her cell phone, handing it to Jackal.
He was smart enough not to open his mouth, simply shoving it into his jacket pocket with her bra.
Penni bravely walked toward the stage. When she got back to Queen City, she was going to make Henry give the women strippers a raise. It was worse than she thought, but it was easier than she imagined.
The man at the front of the stage who was pouring the water over the women’s bodies wasn’t given the chance to douse her. Jackal’s cruel visage had him handing the water hose over. She was so preoccupied with the freezing water hitting her body she didn’t have time to be embarrassed. The other women had been hit with the water on their breasts or pussy. Jackal aimed at the top of her shorts. Her breasts were still wet, but she wasn’t hit full force the way the other women had been.
Jackal jerked his head toward the crowd, reminding her of the reason for making a fool of herself.
She swayed toward the front of the stage, carefully scanning the audience for Striker.
Please be here, Penni pleaded to whatever powers in the universe that were listening as she tried to take her mind off the cold water. Of course, she didn’t hold out much hope anyone was listening with the loud music playing.
Her eyes were shifting from the middle of the crowd when she saw him. Excited, she turned toward Jackal.
“He’s over there, standing with the bikers with the orange happy faces on their jackets.”
Jackal immediately handed the water hose back to the biker he had taken from then took out his cell phone from his jacket. “You sure?”
“Yes.” Penni could barely answer him through her chattering teeth. She moved toward the steps off the stage as he talked to whomever was on the other end.
“Not yet.” Jackal blocked her before she could reach them. “What is he wearing?”
She had been so busy looking for his hair she hadn’t noticed his clothes. Penni turned to look again, but could not find him. She wanted to scream and cry at the same time. Where had he—
Then she saw him again when one of the men he was standing next to moved.
“He’s wearing an orange T-shirt—” Before she could say anything else, Jackal was leading her down the steps.
“Take her to the hotel room,” Jackal ordered, wrapping a large towel around her shoulder that he had taken from a stack by the steps.
“Did you see him?”
Penni grabbed a handful of his leather jacket before he could leave, excited that her ordeal was almost over.
“I saw him, baby. Get changed. When I get back, I’ll take you home.”
Penni lowered her lashes so he couldn’t see the happy tears in her eyes.
“No way. I used to envy anyone who rode a motorcycle. From now on, my ass is only sitting in a car.”
Where is he? Penni had expected Jackal back an hour ago.
She sat there, staring blankly at the television screen, not watching the movie she had turned on to fill the silence in the room.
She turned and jumped up when heard the door open, her expectant smile dying as she saw Cruz in the doorway instead of Jackal.
“Hennessy wants you.”
Confused, she slid her bare feet into her tennis shoes. “Where’s Jackal?”