The Double, Double Cross Job
Hardison introduced himself as his latest alias, Drew Carson and then turned to Eliot and introduced him as the club's head bouncer, Todd Raine. Then, he guided Ray Lang and his friends inside and up to what he claimed was the club's best table up on the second floor. The table overlooked the entire club.
As Ray and his gang, including Dan, took a seat, Parker came over to the table carrying a tray of waters and Hardison said, "Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to our finest girl, Miss. Angela Niles. She'll be able to help you with anything you want. Don't hesitate to ask."
Ray looked up and down at Parker as she set the glasses around the table and then looked over at Hardison as he replied, "Actually, I'd like to speak with the owner of this place if he's available tonight. I'd like to discuss some business with him. We haven't been here too long, but from what I've seen so far, this place is fine!"
"Forgive me, Mr. Lang," Hardison responded. "If you're thinking about trying to buy our club from the owner, Brant Cooper, you're going to have a hard time doing so. We just opened tonight and this place means an awful lot to him."
"Yeah, well I've never known anyone that didn't find a certain dollar amount more satisfying," Ray answered smugly.
Hardison shrugged and smiled as he said, "All right, I'll let him know. In the meantime, enjoy Angela's company. Angela, get them whatever they ask, will ya? I'll be back."
Parker nodded and answered, "You got it, Baby."
"Are you and he an item, Sweetheart?" one of Ray's friends asked as he placed his hand on Parker's lower back when she pulled out a notepad to write down their orders.
"Drew's a great guy," she answered as she pulled the guy's hand off of her back. "I'd like to be more, but right now, we're just friends. There's too much going on right now to deal with something as personal as that. Now, what can I get for you, gentlemen?"
Dan spoke up softly as he replied, "I'll take an order of wings, Miss."
Ray responded as he kept his eyes trained on Hardison, who walked over to speak with a guy he assumed was the owner, "That sounds pretty good. We'll all take a few orders of wings. Also, a round of beers for everyone. Thanks, Doll."
"No problem," Parker answered as she walked away.
"Dan, you were right about this place," Ray said. "It is pretty great. If the business keeps up like this, we'll steal it from this Brant Cooper, whoever he is. In the meantime, we'll do as we've been doing. I think we'll charge a little more for our protection services though. It looks to me that he can afford it."
Dan looked over at his friend and smiled as he replied, "Sounds good to me, Ray."
After Hardison walked away from Dan, Ray, and his friends, he walked over to where Nate and Sophie were standing and observing the thugs. They kept their eyes on them ever since Hardison and Eliot had walked them through the door.
Hardison spoke up first saying, "Well, it appears we've done our job right. Lang and his cronies just took the bait. They're asking for you already, Mr. Cooper."
Nate nodded his head and smiled as he replied, "Excellent work, Hardison! And not just on coming up with the con."
"This place is fabulous!" Sophie added. "Wherever did you get all of this stuff, the lights, the artwork, the music system?"
"You didn't buy all this, did you?" Nate asked.
"After all the time we've been together, you guys still doubt my mad skills," Hardison answered sourly. "I am genuinely hurt. No, I didn't buy all of it. I found a lot of the decor in a junk yard. I built the sound system. A little geek magic and bam! We've got ourselves the hottest place in town, Baby!"
Nate patted Hardison on the back as he and Sophie walked away and headed toward the table where Ray, Dan, and his friends sat. Parker just finished delivering their beers as Nate and Sophie arrived at the table and extended their hands out to shake theirs in introduction.
Nate spoke first saying, "Gentlemen, the name's Brant Cooper and this is my lovely business partner, Miss. Peggy Doyle."
Sophie nodded her head as if in a bow and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, gentlemen. Carson's told us about your business deals. Truthfully, we were a bit surprised when we saw you walk through our doors."
Ray responded, "Yes, well we are always looking for new places to invest our hard earned money, but we first need to know everything there is to know about our prospects. So far, I like what I see. Shall we talk?"
"I suppose there's no harm in talking, but I will warn you now, I am not looking to sell my place, especially since it has just opened," Nate replied.
"Perhaps in time we'll come to that discussion, Mr. Cooper," Ray said. "I can see that your business is hot and if it continues to be so down the road we can talk about buying. Tonight, I am here to discuss something different. I want to propose a protection deal."
Sophie asked, "What do you mean by a protection deal, Mr. Lang? We've got ourselves some fine men to take care of that for us. Todd Raine down there is one of the finest fighters I've seen. He can handle anyone should anyone attack us."
Ray replied, "Maybe that's true, Miss. Doyle, but even he can't be here twenty- four seven. What happens when this place is closed in the early morning and during the day when no one is here? For a price, we can offer our protection services to you. We can make sure nothing happens."
"No thank you, Mr. Lang," Nate answered. "We have plenty of security and I will say this once more. This club is not for sale, nor will it ever be. Feel free to stay for as long as you wish tonight, but I do not want to see you again. Do I make myself clear?"
"You do not seem to understand me," Ray said in anger. "We are not giving you a choice of our business. Either you let us protect you for our price, or we will make sure that your place does not survive if you refuse. Perhaps, a demonstration is needed to show you we mean business."
Just as Parker came over to the table carrying a tray full of the wings they had order, each of them stood as Ray continued, "We'll be in touch, Mr. Cooper. Miss. Doyle, it's been a pleasure."
As they left, Parker said, "Well, that's just rude. After all the work I went through to make sure that these wings were made perfectly, they just leave and without leaving me so much as a tip. One of his pals tried to feel me up. They're creepy pigs."
"One of them tried to lay his hands on you?" Hardison asked as he walked over to join Parker, Nate, and Sophie at the table. "I can't wait for this case to be over and done with. I mean, I can finally be free to get to know Dan again."
As they continued speaking, Eliot observed Dan, Ray, and his friends as they walked down the stairs from the second level of the club and left. As they walked past him, Dan looked over at him with a hint of a smirk on his face that most people wouldn't have seen, or if they had, would have shrugged off. It gave Eliot a bad feeling about their latest con, but mostly about their newest client. He wasn't willing to allow his friend get hurt if Dan wasn't on the level.