After weeks of pleading by Denise and insistence by Eva, Albert Bennett reluctantly agreed to allow his daughter to find Jerry at The Watering Hole and tell him that he was a father. Providing, Albert stipulated, that one of John Moody’s operatives escorted them.
Swirling cigarette smoke permeated the club and the noise from the band was deafening. Everyone was shouting just to be heard by the person standing right next to them. As soon as Eva, Denise and Moody’s man, Greg, entered the club, two young men hastened from the bar and assailed them.
“Hey, babe,” yelled the taller one to Eva, “You’re one foxy fox! How about a drink?”
“And you look good enough to eat,” his friend shouted at Denise, eyeing her up and down.
Eva leaned forward into the taller one’s ear and yelled, “Drop dead.” Taking Denise by the wrist, she turned and hollered, “Come on, Denny, let’s find the manager.” They brushed past the two men with Greg following immediately behind them.
“Yeah, I’m the manager—name’s Norm,” he said when they had located him. “What do you want?” Norm eyeballed them suspiciously. “I know you,” he said, looking at Denise. “You’ve been here before?”
“Is that waiter Jerry working tonight?” Eva asked.
“Look,” he said, glowering at Eva, “I don’t know who you two are, but whatever he’s done he didn’t do it in here. Understand?”
“Just old friends,” Eva said lightly. “Is he here?” She looked around, but the dim lighting made finding anyone nearly impossible.
“Even if he is here, he’s working. He can’t be bullshitting with ‘old friends.’”
Greg moved forward and stood directly in front of the manager. “It’s time for him to take his break, isn’t it?”
“What?” answered Norm, bemused.
“I said it’s his break time.” Greg smiled and held up a $100 bill.
Grasping the bill and shoving it into his breast pocket, he said, “Follow me; he’s downstairs.”
Denise and Eva spotted Jerry the moment they reached the bottom of the steps. He and a waitress were both serving a large table of twelve. The manager approached him directly.
“Jerry,” he said, motioning over his shoulder. “I’ll give you fifteen minutes to talk with these people—outside. That’s it; fifteen minutes and not a second longer.” He stalked away, tossing Greg the brief nod shared between two men who have successfully struck a deal.
“What … the … hell?” stammered Jerry, looking at Denise and Eva as his mouth dropped open. “I ought to break your neck,” he said, stepping toward Eva.
Greg slid next to her. “That’s not going to happen, friend,” he said, staring directly into Jerry’s bewildered face. “I can promise you that.”
In the alley behind the club, Eva and Greg stood to one side while Denise and Jerry talked a few feet away. Eva watched Denise take Jerry’s hand in her own while he sullenly avoided her gaze. After a few minutes Jerry walked back into the club through the rear service door and Denise joined Eva and Greg.
Denise looked feebly at Eva. “He’s awfully angry.”
Eva put her arm around Denise. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You did the right thing; you told him. All that matters now is that you decide whether you’d even want him as a husband. There’s plenty of fish in the sea, you know.”
“I know,” said Denise, shaking her head. “What should I do, Eva? Tell me. You have to tell me what you think I should do.”
Eva took Denny’s hand and squeezed it. “I think you should take your time and think about it. You don’t have to decide anything immediately. See what he does; see how you feel in a couple of months.”
“Are we leaving?” Greg asked.
“I’d say so,” Eva said. “That club’s too noisy for me. Denny, are you ready to go home?”
Preoccupied, Denise merely nodded.
“We can get back to the car this way,” Greg said, pointing to where the alley met the street.
As they reached the end of the alley, Eva spotted a familiar limousine gliding slowly to a stop directly in front of The Watering Hole’s front door. Eva froze; she felt the goose bumps rising on her arms.
“What’s wrong?” said Greg, turning around to look at her.
Eva stood still as a statute; her eyes were panicked. Terrified, she watched the back door being opened by a driver whom she immediately recognized as Hugo, a bodyguard at the Blanco compound.
When the rear car door fully opened, Carmella emerged first followed by Juan. Before Eva could move or even think, Carmella looked in her direction and saw Eva staring at her. Carmella’s eyes narrowed into slits and her face shuddered with rage. She grabbed Juan’s shoulder and pointed, her fully extended arm strained out of its socket. Juan turned in Eva’s direction and immediately marked her. His face contorted with hatred, and he signaled his fury by slicing across his throat with his finger.
Eva turned and bolted.
“What’s wrong,” Denise shouted after her. “What is it?”
“Hey, you’re going the wrong way!” yelled Greg.