"Whew." Judy expelled a low sigh of relief. Tom and Doug returned with the same brotherly connection they always shared. She didn't realize how tense she'd been until she noticed the look on Harry's face.
"Are you okay?" he asked. He'd arrived while the guys were outside talking. After greeting Dorothy with a friendly hug and a potted plant, he joined Judy while she set the dining room table. "What's going on with Hanson and Penhall?"
"They were talking."
"From the way you were watching them," Harry said, "I expected World War 3 to break out in the backyard. What were they talking about?"
Confession felt unbelievably awkward. She wondered how Tom handled it. Of course, his relationship with Doug was nothing like what she and Harry shared. Ioki was a great partner. She trusted him with her life and never hesitated to take a case with him. But this was her love life and everything felt so fragile.
Without making a sound, he moved right beside her. His hand closed around hers. "What is it?"
"You remember how I told you I was coming with Hanson?"
Harry nodded. "I saw his Mustang outside. Did you not come with him? You didn't have to call a cab. I would have picked you up."
She shook her head. Why was this coming out all wrong? Get it together, Hoffs.
"I came with him," she said. "Actually, the truth is we've been seeing each other since we left Jump Street for the summer."
A glimmer of hurt immediately registered in his dark eyes. He dropped his hand from hers. "You could have mentioned it before now. I wondered why you were acting so weird. Why didn't you just tell me?"
"I don't know. I haven't told anyone. You're the first person." When he took a step back from her, she asked, "Are you mad about this? Harry who I date is none of your business."
"You're right. It's not my business, but since I consider you a friend, I'm gonna tell you what I think."
Judy sensed Tom's approach before she saw him stride into the dining room to stand beside her. His jaw was set. Dangerous sparks lit up his brown eyes. He wrapped a possessive around her waist and pulled her hard against him.
"Why don't you tell both of us, Harry?" he said in a low voice. "We're all ears."
"Okay, fine." Ioki's eyes narrowed as he looked from one to the other. "You're making a big mistake."
Judy's insides burst with outrage. "How can you say something like that?"
"Because it's the truth," Harry said with conviction. "He goes through women like most guys go through socks."
"You don't know what you're talking about." She quickly jumped to her lover's defense.
"He'll use you and walk away--"
Judy felt Tom inhale a sharp breath. He released her and balled his hands into fists. He stood ready to pounce.
"Harry, why don't you tell her the truth?" Dorothy said quietly from the door. Doug stood right behind her, looking ready to jump up if necessary.
"Forget it. I'm out of here." Harry stormed from the dining room. A few moments later, a loud door slam rocked the small frame house.
"He's lucky he left when he did," Tom said through clenched teeth.
"Don't be mad at him," Dorothy said. She looked first at Doug then Tom before finally settling on Judy. "Doug thought I wanted the dinner party to show off our new house. The truth is I did it for Harry. He's been looking for a way to talk to Judy and we thought maybe this would be the right setting…"
Judy frowned. "Talk to me about what?"
"Damn, I can't believe it," Doug whispered under his breath.
"Believe what?" she asked, getting agitated. "What do you all know that I don't?"
"Oh, my God," Tom said, as he turned to look at her. "Baby, Harry's in love with you."