“No worries. Here, have some more.” Penni put another mound of salad on her plate. “Enjoy.”
“Thanks.” Raci moved away in relief.
I wish I had put another ten cloves of garlic on the salad, Penni fumed internally.
“Do you want me to turn down the crockpot? It looks done.” Genny’s hand went to the power switch.
“No. I will after lunch.”
Penni waited until all of the men were settled before she went to stand at the table where Viper was sitting with Shade, Jackal, and Ice.
“I want to talk to you.”
“Can it wait until after lunch?”
Viper sighed, starting to get up. “Fine, we can go in the living room.”
“Don’t bother. I just wanted to tell you I’m leaving.”
“You can’t leave yet …” Viper and Jackal spoke at the same time.
Penni put her hand in front of Jackal’s face. “Don’t talk to me. The only reason I’m talking to Viper is as a sign of respect for Winter.”
Viper’s face grew cold.
“I hired Alec to protect me, so there’s no reason for me to stay. I’m going to meet up with the band in Reno. With Alec and their force, I’ll be well protected. If anyone tries to stop me, Alec has my permission to call the State Police. He’s waiting for me in the parking lot now.”
“Shade?” Viper’s voice was hoarse with anger.
“She’ll be fine. Alec hired extra men, and he understands how dangerous the men he could be dealing with are.”
“I guess I have no choice other than to let you leave, then. I wish you would wait, but I won’t stop you.”
Penni nodded, turning toward the kitchen.
“This is horseshit. You’re not leaving!” Jackal tried to take her arm, but Penni jerked away.
“I told you last night not to touch me.” Penni strode by angrily as Shade and Viper stood up to make sure Jackal stayed seated.
Penni went to the kitchen counter, making a bowl of stew, then carried it to the table where Jackal was sitting.
“I made you a bowl of meatball stew.”
“I don’t want any fucking stew. I want you to listen to reason. There were reasons—”
Penni dumped the contents of the bowl on his lap.
Shade and Viper sprang away from him while Ice simply leaned away from the droplets of stew that were flung his way.
“You crazy bitch!” Jackal jumped to his feet, trying to tug the hot material away from his skin.
Penni picked his still full plate up then slammed it down on side of his head.
Jackal fell like a brick wall.
“I warned him not call me a bitch.”
“Is he breathing?”
Jackal blinked up at the ceiling, seeing Stump bent over him, filling his vision.
“Of course. She just rattled his brain.” Viper tried to lift him.
“Give me a minute.” Jackal was going to lose the small amount of food he had forced himself to eat.
“Whoa, brother, you need a breath mint.” Stump’s face disappeared from his sight.
“Ready?” Shade’s face took his place.
“Yeah.” Jackal let Shade and Viper lift him. Swaying a bit, he took a minute to feel steady on his feet. Then Jackal nodded his head for them to let him go.
A series of explosions went off in his head.
“Give him a chair.”
Viper moved so Shade could slide a chair under him.
“What did she hit me with?” Jackal held his hand to his aching head.
Shade’s muffled voice had Jackal wanting to look up, but he knew he would vomit if he moved.
“That bitch took him out!” Stump chortled. “If she weren’t your woman, I’d marry her.”
“Where did she go?” Jackal asked as the men sat back down at the table. He couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to know to protect himself or kill her.
“She went to say good-bye to Lily and Beth.”
Shade’s amusement had Jackal wanting to hit him with another plate on the table.
“I’m going with her,” Genny announced, standing in the doorframe of the dining room.
“Genny, don’t go.” Winter placed an arm around her shoulder.
“Penni offered me a job as a caterer for the band the night my house exploded. I’ve thought it over, and I think it’s the best for me.”
“Where will you live?”
Winter’s tearful voice had Genny’s face crumpling.
“I’ll be living on the bus with their other workers. Right now, I don’t want to live in another house or apartment. When I’m ready, I’ll find another place to live. I have no ties, so I can live wherever I want to.”
“You have ties. Willa and I will miss you.”
“I can Facetime you and Willa, and I can see you when Penni comes in to visit. I can ride in with her.” Genny sounded positive, but the pain in her eyes showed it was a lie. When Genny left, she wouldn’t be coming back. “I need to go and tell Penni I’m going to take her up on her offer and pack my bags.”