Innumerable friends had been made through her life, but only Shade, her parents, and Lily were the few that she had felt a true attachment to. She had even added Grace to the short list, so she had been glad when Razer had let her borrow his cell phone to call her as they’d driven in to Treepoint.
Penni had felt terrible for Grace when she had told Penni she wouldn’t be returning for several weeks. Oceane was dying, and if a heart transplant couldn’t be found in time, the chances of her recovering were grim. Penni wanted to fly out to be by her side, but Grace had assured her it wasn’t necessary. Besides, Ice was on his way and so was Casey, Max’s wife.
She had noticed the two women becoming friends during the months since Casey and Max had married. In a way, they had become sisters in the Predators through marriage, and Penni didn’t belong to that club.
Lily handed John to her.
Penni blew raspberries on his cheek. “I’ve missed you, buddy.”
“I wish you lived closer.”
“I do, too.” She meant it. Penni had thought about moving closer. Her parents were only a state away in Ohio, and she wouldn’t miss out on John growing up. Only one thing kept her away: Train. It would hurt that he would be so near yet so far away. Shade had been right; he had never given the slightest hint that he cared about her.
“Is Train seeing someone?”
“No,” Lily answered. “Why don’t you stay a few weeks? Maybe he’ll finally open his eyes and see what he’s missing out on.”
“I might take you up on that. The band is taking a break. The work I have for booking their next tour, I could do from a computer at your house.”
“Shade’s got to be happy you’re going to stay.”
“I don’t know about that. He likes it when I keep my visits short and sweet.”
“He’s only joking,” Lily denied.
“Shade never jokes.”
“Yes, he does. He’s really funny. You’ll see. You staying here for a couple weeks will give you time to spend with him.”
“You’d better buy a couple of cases of beer and call Tate for an emergency delivery.”
“Now you’re exaggerating.”
They were distracted by the sounds of the motorcycles entering the parking lot.
Lily jumped up from the swing, and both of them moved to stand by the porch rail as the men approached the clubhouse.
“Do you mind?” Lily excitedly stepped toward the steps.
“Go for it.” Penni juggled John into a more comfortable position on her hip as Lily took off to meet Shade.
“Get used to it, John. Your mama is crazy over your papa.” It never failed to bring a lump to her throat when she saw her brother and sister-in-law together. It was as if they only existed when they were apart, becoming whole when they came together.
John tugged on her necklace, and she gently untangled it from his grip, tucking in the front of her shirt.
Shade had given it to her when she had graduated from high school. The delicate, gold chain was whisper thin with a gold charm in the shape of a compass. The back was engraved with the words: “Never lose your way.” She never took it off.
Penni gasped when she saw his face. Shade’s nose was swollen, and he had two black eyes. Lily was inspecting his injuries, moving aside to let the men walking behind him pass.
As she searched for Train to make sure he wasn’t in the same shape, it took a couple of seconds to become aware of the man with a distinctive mark on his cheek. It looked worse than Shade.
She stomped down the steps, swiftly walking toward Jackal.
“Why is he here? I told you not to hurt him!” Penni moved closer to look at Jackal’s poor face. “Are you okay?”
Penni ignored her brother’s raised brow as she gingerly reached out to touch his bruised cheek.
“Yeah. It looked worse before,” Jackal told her.
“It looks pretty damn bad. Do you want me to get you an ice bag?”
“No, most of the swelling has gone down.”
“It looked worse before?”
“You …” Penni was so furious she wanted to pound her big brother.
Jackal had made sure she hadn’t gotten hurt when Hennessy had kidnapped her, and how had she returned the favor? By letting her big brother beat him up!
“You do realize my son can hear every word you’re saying?”
“What?” She hadn’t realized she had been talking out loud.
Shade took his son out her arms. “Is your crazy auntie upsetting you?”
Penni snorted as John shoved his clenched fist in his mouth. Her nephew wasn’t in the least upset. The baby only had one thing on his mind, and that was to grab handfuls of his daddy’s hair.
“I’ll show you crazy if you hurt Jackal again.”
“I don’t need you to take up for me,” Jackal said defensively.