“Do you take sugar?” Penni waved a packet of sugar in the air.
“Yes, please.” Grace opened a drawer next to her, looking for a spoon. “Why do you only have plastic silverware?”
Penni opened the package of sugar into the coffee cup in front of her then handed it to her friend. “I keep meaning to buy some more silverware. For some reason, they keep disappearing.” She poured herself a cup of coffee, leaving it black, as she watched Grace take a sip, wincing at the strong flavor. “Sorry. I like my coffee strong.”
“Now I know why you’re always so hyper.”
“I’m hyper without it. The coffee just makes it worse. I appreciate that you didn’t mind working here today instead of the office. I hate the smell of fresh paint. The building owners promised it should be finished by tomorrow, so we can go back to the office on Monday.” The owners were in the process of renovating the building, and the smell of the fresh paint had given her a persistent headache. Thankfully, that part of the renovations was almost over.
“No problem. It’s a nice change of pace. I brought my laptop to go over the venues for the tour dates.”
As tour manager of Mouth2Mouth, it was Penni’s job to set the tour schedule. Grace had proven invaluable as Penni’s assistant, handling the office when she went on tour with the group.
“Let me grab my laptop, and we can work at the kitchen table. I’ll be right back.” Penni went into her living room then carried her laptop back into the kitchen seconds later. She came to a stop when she saw Grace about to open the sliding door to her backyard.
“Don’t go out there!” Penni rushed forward, shutting the door quickly and locking it.
Grace stared at her, open-mouthed at her reaction. “Sorry. It’s really pretty outside, so I thought it would be nice to work in the fresh air.”
“I would love to; except, we wouldn’t get much work done if we went out there.” Penni pointed out the clear door. “Look at the bushes.”
She loved working in the backyard on the days when the weather was warm. It was small with a little table and chairs that had comfortable cushions. It had a five-foot stone wall that created privacy from her neighbors with a hedge of bushes in front. The bushes were what she was pointing at now. It didn’t take Grace long to see the problem.
“Good grief! How many of them are there?”
“I don’t want to know. I’m not going out there to count the mean fuckers.” Penni eyed the innocuous bushes that were very pretty … until you noticed the large amount of bees flying in and out of the greenery.
“Kill them,” Grace advised.
“I thought of that; believe me. The last time I got stung, I notified the landlord. I should have stayed in my apartment,” Penni admitted glumly, eyeing the bees that prevented her from going outside to indulge in her favorite pastimes of sunbathing or reading, which were the reasons she had decided to rent the house.
“So why didn’t he take care of it?”
“Did you know bees are becoming extinct?”
Grace shook her head. “No.”
“Neither did I. The exterminator my landlord hired notified Fish and Wildlife. Now, not only can I not kill them, but I have to put up with them another couple of weeks until they move the colony. The University is going to take them to a spot where they can be researched.”
“That’s a bummer.”
“No shit,” Penni replied caustically. Any sympathy she’d had for the bee population had disappeared after the first couple of stings.
Grace laughed, shaking her head at Penni. “They’ll be gone in a few weeks. Then you’ll have your backyard back. Look on the bright side; they’re a hell of a deterrent for burglars.”
Penni shook off her ill humor, mentally throwing her negative thoughts into the air. It was a habit she had developed for when she found herself focusing on only negative thoughts. She hated to be in a bad mood. Her brother Shade had that covered. He was in a perpetual bad mood. Well, he had been before he’d married her bestie, Lily.
“I don’t need bees for protection. I can take care of myself,” Penni boasted. She was sure she could handle any situation. Besides, her brother was an enforcer for The Last Riders, and he had taught her how to defend herself as soon as her mother had bought her first bra for her.
“Don’t jinx yourself,” Grace warned.
“I don’t believe in luck.” Penni felt the chill of foreboding going down her spine. Shrugging it off, she also threw that out into the air. “Let’s get to work before that badass husband of yours comes back to pick you up.”
Penni settled down to work, forgetting about Grace’s warning. It was a warning that would come back to haunt her.