Drew feigned interest in the standard diner menu as the boisterous atmosphere returned to the diner. He could feel the guys from Corinth staring him down from the opposite side of the room—could practically hear them plotting their next moves—and wondered when they were going to get this thing started already.
“So, what looks good to you guys?” Drew asked loudly.
“Nothing. This place is a dive, man,” Dirk replied in a booming voice.
Jason hung his head, which just irritated Drew. He had known that Jason wouldn’t love being pulled into this without his knowledge, but he had assumed that once he was in, he would have Drew’s back. Instead, he was sitting there looking guilty as sin. The last thing he wanted Samson and his pals to know was that one of Drew’s right-hand men was actually a dissenter to this whole plan.
Drew was just about to say something to Jason when he saw Samson make his move out of the corner of his eye. He walked away from the rest of his friends, making placating hand motions like he was telling a bunch of rabid dogs to stay. As he headed down the aisle between booths toward Drew, Drew warned his friends.
“Here it comes,” he said through his teeth.
They all struck poses of complete innocence as Samson finally arrived.
“What are you doing here, man?” Samson asked, crossing his arms over his Corinth jacket.
“Getting something to eat,” Drew replied nonchalantly. “Actually, the confections in the case over there look simply scrumptious,” he joked, lifting his chin toward the glass dessert case. “What do you recommend?”
“I recommend you get up outta that seat and walk your ass out the door before you get yourself killed,” Samson said acerbically.
Clay and Dirk snorted. Jason shifted his seat, slumping and bringing his hand up to his forehead like he was wondering how he’d gotten there. Drew simply stared up at Samson.
“I am being cordial,” Samson replied. “Trust me, man. You don’t want to be here right now.”
Drew glanced past Samson at the back of the restaurant. There were more guys standing now, glowering in his direction. Samson did have a point. If this went down the way he knew it would, he was going to end up pulverized. But backing down now would be even worse. Backing down now would make him a coward.
“Well, you make a compelling argument,” Drew said finally. “But I think we’ll stay.”
“No one wants you here, man,” Samson said loudly, causing the noise level in the diner to dim slightly.
“I have to disagree with you there, Samson!”
Crystal Marx sauntered up behind Samson and sat down next to Drew, brazenly lifting her leg and hooking it over his, since there technically wasn’t room for her on the small bench with him and Jason. Drew nearly balked at the totally daring and inappropriate move but managed to keep a straight face. Demure, Crystal was not, and today it served his purposes. He wanted to antagonize these guys, and from the sudden murmur in the back of the room, he could tell that her move had done just that.
“How you doing, Drew?” She asked, throwing her arm around his shoulder to better get her balance. “Welcome to Corinth.”
Behind Samson, Drew saw the colossus that was Tank Langford rise out of his chair for the first time. His expression was beyond belligerent. Drew swallowed back a sudden lump in his throat but kept right on with his plan.
“Thanks, Crystal. At least someone around here is accommodating,” he said, smiling up at Samson.
“Yeah, well, Crystal’s never been known for her discretion,” Samson said, his expression darkening, as Tank slowly walked up behind him.
Crystal laughed and rolled her eyes. “Ouch. That hurt,” she said flatly, making it clear that it didn’t hurt at all.
“Crystal,” Tank said, his voice rumbling. “Get away from these guys.”
Drew glanced across the table at Clay, who raised his eyebrows with interest.