What Matters Most~ Chapter Fourteen

Danny had always enjoyed the sport of contract negotiations.  It was like an intense game of poker where both players tried to come out with equal shares of the pot.  Their decent dealings with Dave the wine guy had made them more wary, more prone to keeping their cards close to their chest.  Judging from Carlos Riviera’s cool demeanor he too had his poker face on.  He slid a quick glance over to Tony who made a brief nod in understanding.  Game on.   Both men masked their faces of the trademark Santos grin while Danny slid the contract across his desk towards the other man. “Here is our standard contract agreement which I am sure you want your lawyers to look over.”

Carlos looked up from perusing the agreement. “We can expedite the process by faxing it over.  She is pretty quick at getting back to me over business matters.”

Tony raised an eyebrow. “Must be some retainer you pay her.”

“We have an….arangement.” He set the documents aside and looked at the two men critically, “Go ahead and fax it over Mr. Santos.  While we wait back to hear back from her you two can tell me a little bit about your business and what services you’d need from Black Fox.”

“Infierno is a family business, owned by Tony and myself.  We run the dining and nightclub area upstairs while a close personal friend operates the lounge and low-stakes gambling portion below.  Springfield isn’t exactly the greatest metropolis but we generate a lot of revenue from people passing through and let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of fine dining in town.  And the gambling establishment is proving funding for a new community center in the area.”

Carlos nodded but still looked a little curious about the business he was getting involved in, or perhaps it was the family.  “A few years ago the Santos name was associated with mobsters, bribes, and money laundering. ” He held his hand up to forestall the protests before they got started, “Hey I understand.  I started at the bottom and worked my way up from nothing.  And still people give me the side-eye.  But I still want to know just what kind of business I am getting into.  Not just the facts you just gave me but the stuff underneath.”

This time it was Tony that looked Carlos in the eye as he explained the importance of rebuilding Infierno and essentially rebuilding the Santos name.  “A long time ago the Santos name was like an albatross around our necks.  Now?  Danny and I have built something where being a Santos isn’t such a bad deal.  People no longer look at us like we are the scrounge of the Earth.  My father in law actually likes me now.  That alone is a momentous success.”  All the men laughed but Tony was dead serious.  The fact that Tony could be in the same room with Josh and not have the older man not shoot daggers at his back was pretty damn huge considering how they used to be.

The fax machine whirred to life behind Danny and he turned and grabbed the papers coming from the machine.  He looked at the notes written by Riviera’s lawyer and smiled, “Looks like your lawyer thinks this is a good deal and that you’d be a fool to pass it up.” He pushed the contract across the desk in case Carlos thought he was bluffing.

The other man rubbed his chin ruefully before smiling. “Got a pen?”


“Can I get you a drink sir?”

Carlos turned in his chair and peered at the waitress starting at her legs and slowly working his way upwards. “Hello.  Angela is it?  Yes, you can get me a scotch.  Neat.”

He could tell her barely contained fury.  Her wariness.  It brought a grin to his tan face.  “Right away sir.”

As promised his drink was delivered promptly and surprisingly Angela managed to plunk the glass down on the table and not spill a drop.  Good girl.  “Thank you Angela.  Would you like to join me?”

Angela was not amused, in fact if anyone heard her they would think she was downright hostile. “I’m working.”

They were really going to have to work on that attitude problem of hers.  Her mouth was going to get her into trouble one of these days. “I am sure you can join me for a drink.  After all I am the Santos Cousin’s newest business associate.”

Angela looked over her shoulder before moving closer. “See that man over by the door?  That’s my manager.  He has the eyes of an eagle.”

Carlos took a sip of his drink enjoying the bite of the amber liquid. “Ah.  Perhaps later then.  We could have our own business meeting.”


Carlos finished his drink and laid some bills on the table.  “I hate to drink and leave but I was invited to dinner at Tony Santos’ house tonight.  Prepared by his lovely wife Marah Lewis Santos.  I hear she makes a mean Arroz con pollo.”  He almost enjoyed watching the stiffening in Angela’s shoulders at the mention of Marah.  Almost.  While he enjoyed needling her he didn’t want to push her too far too soon.  Instead he smiled his most charming smile , “Have a lovely evening Angela.  And I hope to see you again real soon.”


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