“Figures,” Knox mumbled under his breath.
“Why?” Penni opened her soda.
“Men always get killed off in horror movies.” Knox kissed Diamond’s neck, and his wife giggled, pulling him down for a full blown kiss.
“That isn’t true,” Penni countered.
“It’s mostly true,” Diamond countered as if Knox had hung the moon.
Penni rolled her eyes. Of course Diamond would agree with her husband. They were practically necking on the living room floor.
“Why are you taking his side?”
“Because Knox is eating most of my popcorn, and since he’s seen it before, he can make some more.”
“I can make it—”
“Let him. The house still smells like the one you burnt, and this one is scorched, too.”
“I’ll do it.” Jackal went back to the kitchen.
“You’ve watched this numerous times; why didn’t you make the popcorn yourself?” Penni leaned over to look at Diamond who had pushed Knox back to use him as a big pillow.
“I wanted to ask what’s going on with Jackal.”
Penni was glad the living room was dark. “I like him.” She straightened, not meeting her discerning gaze.
“So you’re not serious about him, then?” Shade asked as he shifted Lily on his lap.
Penni thought about her answer. The plan was to make Train jealous, but two of his friends were in the room, so she couldn’t admit to that.
“We have a lot in common.” There. That was a safe answer. She congratulated herself for her quick thinking.
“Uh …” Penni’s mind drew a blank. “He likes animals.” At least, she hoped he did. Most men did, didn’t they?
“You don’t sound so sure.”
Shade wasn’t an idiot. She had to own this plan, or it wasn’t going to work. If she couldn’t convince Shade, Train wouldn’t believe it, and she would only end up making a fool of herself.
“I’m sure.” This time, she infused more conviction and warmth into her tone. “He helps feed the ducks for me when I’m out of town.” It might have been one time, but he had done it. He also hadn’t shot her neighbor’s dogs when he had jumped the fence at her house. Them not being dead was more than she had expected when he had told her the story.
“That’s sweet.” Lily patted Shade’s cheek at her husband’s incredulous look.
“I think it is. He protected me from Hennessy and his men, he’s funny, and I think he’s cute.”
Shade made gagging noises, which had Lily elbowing him in his stomach.
“I think he’s cute, too.” Lily raised her voice to be heard over the noises Shade was making.
Shade stopped, giving her an irritated glare. “I thought you said I’m the only one you think’s cute?”
Penni couldn’t help laughing at her brother’s jealously. Watching him go from his days of being an emotionless bachelor to being wrapped around his wife’s finger was endearing.
Penni tried to imagine Train after she managed to snare him. The weird thing was that she couldn’t form the picture.
Jackal came back into the room. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing.” She was about to grab another handful of popcorn, but Jackal stopped her, taking the one she had and giving her another bowl.
She took a bite and then another. “Why does this taste so good?” Penni leaned against Jackal’s shoulder, going gung-ho to give the impression they were a couple.
“Maybe because I didn’t scorch it, and I added some chili pepper.”
“It’s really good. Thank you.”
Toward the end of the second movie, Knox’s phone rang. Diamond stopped the movie while Knox talked to one of his deputies. When he ended the call, he stood up, helping Diamond to her feet.
“We’ll have to finish this another night. Lyon’s wife went into labor; I need to take over his shift.”
Lily yawned. “I’m ready for bed, anyway. John will be up early, expecting his breakfast.”
Penni gathered the empty popcorn bowls and soda cans as Knox and Diamond left after saying good-bye.
“You and Shade go to bed. I’ll take care of the dishes.”
“I can do it in the morning.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t mind. I might not be able to cook, but I can do the dishes.”
“All right, then. I’ll see you in the morning.” Lily stopped on the bottom step leading upstairs, looking at Shade. “Are you coming?”
Shade and Jackal remained sitting, neither man moving.
“Let’s go to bed.” Lily waited expectantly for her husband.
Sighing, she saw the men were determined to hold their ground. Since it was Shade’s home, though, Penni decided to bring an end to the stalemate. Going to the front door, she held it open.
“Good night, Jackal.”
Jackal rose and Shade stood, going to Lily’s side and following her up the steps.
Penni walked outside with Jackal behind her.
“Your brother is an ass.”
Penni gave a low laugh. “He’s just being protective.”
“You’re the same age Lily is.”
“Actually, she’s older. That doesn’t matter to Shade. I don’t think he likes you very much. I think he thinks you’re an ass, too. It’s kind of funny.”