“I’m really a nice person! Did I call the cops when you let me go? No!” Penni took a deep breath then resumed her tirade. “Did I jump on the chance to go out with you when you asked me? No, I don’t like the way you manhandle me. For your information, throwing a woman over your shoulder stopped with the cavemen!” She took another breath. “The women you go out with might appreciate it, but I do not! I think they need their heads examined to put up with the games you play with them.”
Penni pointed a finger in his direction when he attempted to stop her tirade. “Most of the women who work at Purple Pussycat all know you fuck them individually depending on the day of the week. The only one who thinks it’s a secret is you. You’re a manwhore. I was smart not to fall for that bullshit in high school, and I’m damn sure not going to fall for it now.” Before she finished, Penni wanted to get something that bugged her the most about Jackal off her chest. “And don’t ever call me a bitch again!”
When Jackal didn’t say anything, she couldn’t stand the silence. “I’m a really nice person.”
“You said that three times; I believe you. If I promise not to call you a bitch, do you think we can start over?”
How could she say no without coming off as the bitch he believed her to be?
“Okay.” Penni tried not to look like she was about to eat a burger with secret sauce.
“You don’t look like you mean it.”
“I do.” Penni pictured a baby duck in her mind, trying to appear more convincing.
Jackal brought his hand to the back of her neck. “Prove it.” He brushed his lips against hers.
She placed her hands on his chest, expecting him to take advantage of the opportunity. Before she could pull away, Jackal was already backing up.
Penni stared back, struck dumb. She cleared her throat.
“Friends,” she agreed softly.
“I’m going to take a shower. If you need anything, yell out.”
Nodding, she watched as he closed the bathroom door. A second later, she heard the shower.
The tender kiss Jackal had pressed against her lips had been exactly like she had always imagined the man she had loved since being a teenager would kiss her.
Immediately, she pressed her hands upward, throwing her worry to the universe. Usually, the simple gesture provided a calming effect, but not this time. Neither the universe nor Shade were going to help her out of this mess. She was on her own.
“We’re five minutes away.” Jackal raised his voice so Penni could hear him above the wind. He felt her perk up at his back.
He was as relieved as she was. If her ass was as numb as his was, she was going to be in bad shape. Should he offer to massage it for her? He laughed, knowing she couldn’t hear him. Since the first night they had stopped, he had made sure to treat her the same way he had seen her girlfriends behave when they were together.
Suspicious at first, she had gradually become more comfortable around him. Riding a motorcycle practically nonstop would do that for you, Jackal thought sardonically. He didn’t know why he hadn’t tried the friend trap before.
Parking his bike next to Cruz, Jackal helped Penni off. When she would have fallen, Jackal caught her by the waist.
Jackal kept her at arm’s length, solicitously releasing her as soon as she caught her balance.
He was wound so tightly from being near Penni it was everything he could do not to throw her down on the nearest bed. Jesus, he was being a fucking saint. The Road Kingz and the Predators would laugh their asses off at the dick-less way he was treating her. He was doing everything but painting her fingernails. He had never put so much work into getting a bitch in his bed, and he couldn’t explain to himself why he was now.
He had learned at an early age not to become a dependent on a particular woman. Jackal’s father had beaten that into him when his mother had left.
His mother had disappeared one day when he had gone to school. At eight years old, he had waited for her to come back. His father had told him that she wasn’t going to, that she had taken off with another man. Jackal hadn’t believed him at first. Then, as the days and months had passed, he had finally accepted that she wasn’t returning.
His father hadn’t seemed to miss her. Women would show up and stay a day or two then leave after an argument. Jackal was ten when he had begun calling him the nickname his drinking buddies called him. Bulldog had been waiting for him one day after school. From his furious expression, Jackal had known he was going to get a beating.