“I’m flush. I just got a promotion at work.”
“Yes, I’m shop manager now.”
“Upwardly mobile, I see.”
They were in the car now and Saks navigated the traffic and side residential streets.
“You know the area well.”
“Grew up around here.” They pulled into a parking lot where a shiny diner stood in the middle of the black top. It was like many diners in Connecticut, a little cheesy on the outside, but classy within its doors. Marble floors spread to the walls, and mirrors lined the inside walls. A fully stocked bar and cashier’s station sat at the entrance. It was busy this Sunday morning, with most of the tables and booths filled.
“You know, I haven’t been here.”
“It’s a Westfield institution. Weekends are busy.”
A waitress full of bustle sat them. “What can I get you to drink?”
“She’ll have a Bloody Mary. I’ll take coffee.”
“Sure thing.” The waitress hurried off.
“You were quick to order alcohol for me. Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“No. Just fulfilling a promise. Besides, you sat through that sermon very well. You deserve a reward.”
“I noticed you didn’t miss a beat.”
“Little known fact: I was an altar boy.”
“I’d say I didn’t believe you, but you’ve proven me wrong several times today.”
Saks took her hands into his and stared intently into her eyes. “I hope I keep doing that.”
The waitress brought their drinks and Saks withdrew his hands. “Are you ready to order?”
“Not quite yet.” She hadn’t even looked at the menu yet.
“Sure,” Saks said at the same time. “She’ll have the Eggs Benedict and I’ll have the corned beef hash, my eggs over easy.”
“Very good.” The waitress sped off again.
Chrissy let him order for her... not sure if she liked it or not. Men these days seemed to think they knew what was best for her. However, with Saks she found herself not really minding. “Now, how do you even know I like Eggs Benedict?”
“You’re a woman of discerning tastes.”
“And how do you know?”
“Oh, little things. Like your hanging out with me.”
“Pretty sure of yourself.”
He began to say something when his eyes flicked to the door, and the color drained from his face.
Chrissy followed his gaze, nearly dropping her drink. Marcus, her grandfather, and another portly man she didn’t know stood at the door, waiting to be seated.
Saks muttered something under his breath. “Look, I’m sorry,” Saks said, with real regret in his voice. “Things are about to get weird. There is no way my uncle won’t stop by to say hello. Just, whatever you do, don’t run off, okay? I promise I’ll explain everything. Please?”
Chrissy nodded but was too distracted to take it in. She was more worried Saks was the one who was going to do the running. Wait a sec. She glanced at the door again. What the hell was going on? Saks’ uncle? With her grandfather? The last thing she wanted was for her grandfather to see her with Saks. That would be a clusterfuck of major proportions. “Is there any way you can sneak out, like through the back or something?”
“Too late.” Saks closed his eyes a moment. “Fuck,” he muttered.
The three men spotted Chrissy and Saks and walked toward them. She swallowed hard. Her brain raced to figure out a way out of this, but when she couldn’t she did her best to plaster a smile on her face. The best she could do was make light of this breakfast, maybe pretend it was some sort of business meeting.
“Anthony,” the portly man said. “I didn’t expect to see you here, and with such a lovely young lady.”
Confusion spread over Saks’ face. He clearly didn’t know what was going on any more than Chrissy did. Her heart broke for him. Poor Saks had no idea what was about to hit the fan.
“Chrissy,” her grandfather said in his gravelly voice. “Your father told me you would take care of last night’s unfortunate situation.” He elbowed the stranger beside him. “See, Vito. We can have a nice breakfast now and not worry about business. The young people have worked this out themselves.”
“I see that, Dolfo,” the other man rumbled, and clapped Saks on the shoulder.
“Uncle Vits?” Saks asked.
Chrissy’s eyes practically bugged out of her eyes. Vits? As in Vittorio Rocco, the head of the Rocco family. He was Saks’ uncle? What the hell?
“And what are your plans for today, eh?” Vits queried.
“We just came from church,” Saks said. His voice was frosty now, as if he was burying something deep within him.
“Church?” her grandfather said. “An unusual first date. But what’s not to like about that? Who thought of that? Not my granddaughter here.”
Now it was Saks’ turn for his eyes to widen. “Granddaughter,” he said slowly, turning his gaze to her. “You’re Pandolfo Serafina’s granddaughter?” There was cold fury behind his words, but she barely noticed it. She was sinking in a maelstrom of conflicting thoughts and confusing emotions.