She wanted to say something else, but just then the door opened and we were suddenly packed for the early dinner rush. I put it all out of my mind and worked on staying on top of my tables and making some decent tips. I was doing a pretty good job of it too, until I got a rowdy table of guys who were obviously from the heart of the Point. I think they were already drunk when they came in, and no matter how many trips I made back and forth between their table and the kitchen, I couldn’t get them to be quiet or stop trying to grope me. I was getting frustrated and short-tempered with them because I knew they were going to stiff me. Ramon the bartender refused to intervene because he was busy and . . . well . . . a giant pu**y.
Brysen kept giving me sympathetic looks, but her hands were full with her own tables, so I was in the trenches on my own. I was keeping it all together, just wanting them to be gone, when all five of them got up and headed toward the front door before I had even dropped the check off. That made me see red, and without thinking that they were already loud and out of control, I hurried to catch them before they could leave me stuck having to pay the bill.
“Hey, wait a minute! You guys need to pay for your dinner!” I put my hand on the elbow of the guy closest to me and gasped when he not only yanked free but shoved me away with both his hands on my chest.
“Shut up. The service was lousy. We aren’t paying for nothing.” His cohorts chuckled at his boast while my face got hot with fury.
“Your service was fine. You have to pay.”
He took a step toward me and I backed up instinctively. I glanced at Ramon, but he was steadfastly ignoring the drama. What an ass.
“We wanted the hot blonde, not you. Fuck off, Red.”
He pulled back his hand like he was going to smack me and I flinched involuntarily. The last thing I wanted to do was try and explain to Bax why I was walking around with a black eye. I sucked in a breath and opened my mouth to scream, only I didn’t need to because all of a sudden the drunk was gone from in front of me and I was staring at the back of Bax’s shaved head. He grabbed the guy by the front of the shirt and hauled him through the crowd of his gawking followers. The guy was making gurgling noises and frantically calling to his friends for help the entire way.
“Crap.” I started to follow him out to the front of the restaurant when Brysen suddenly stopped me.
“Are you okay?”
“No. I have to go, Bax will kill him.”
“Let him. That jerk was going to hit you.”
I flinched. “I know.” But Bax didn’t need more blood on his hands because of me. I didn’t want to be that to him.
“Dovie,” Brysen called out to me as I rushed to the door. “Forget what I said. You deserve a guy who makes the rest of the world treat you right.”
There were raised voices, and it didn’t surprise me that not one of them was Bax’s. I had seen him in action. He didn’t waste time talking when he had a point to make. The guy who had raised his hand to me was unconscious, facedown on the asphalt of the parking lot. Bax had one of the drunken buddies on the ground next to him with the sole of his black boot on the back of the guy’s neck. The look of fury on his face was enough to keep the rest of the crew a safe distance away.
“Bax, let him go. This isn’t necessary.”
His black gaze shot to me and I shivered. I hated it when all I could see in it was myself looking back.
“He was going to f**king hit you. He’s lucky I don’t break his neck.”
One of the guys in the crowd held up his hands in surrender. “Dude, we know who you are, we didn’t know she was your chick. It was an honest mistake.”
That was the wrong thing to say because Bax removed his foot off the other guy and stalked toward the guy who’d just spoken. He made a really pathetic squeaking noise and tried to back up, but Bax snagged him around the collar and hauled him to his tippy toes while he got right in his face.
“So if she wasn’t mine it’s okay in your world to raise your hand to a woman? Why? Because they’re too small and scared to fight back?” He shook the guy so hard I heard his teeth snap together from where I was standing. “What about me? Why don’t you take me on, ass**le?”
The guy looked like he was going to cry. “I saw you break that guy’s arm after he stabbed you at Nassir’s. You’re crazy!”
“Damn straight, and I wasn’t even pissed then like I am now.” He let go of the guy and sent him flying across the parking lot with a hand on the center of his chest. “When your buddy wakes up, remind him I have his wallet, so if he wants to get shit-faced and act like a douche anywhere else, I can find him again, and it isn’t going to end well.”
The remaining guys who were still mobile hobbled their injured and unconscious friend into the flatbed of a pickup and raced away from the restaurant.
“Bax.” He held up his hand and pulled his phone out before I could ask him what he was doing here, though I had to admit his timing was perfect. He might have called Race an altruistic bastard when we first met, but apparently he had some strong threads of chivalry running through the dark fabric that made him who he was.
“Titus, it’s Bax. Tell your drunk patrol to pull over a red pickup on the south side.” He rattled off the license-plate number without telling his brother thank you or good-bye. He turned those dark eyes on me and I felt like they were pulling me in. I sighed and walked over to wrap my arms around his waist.
“Did you have to knock the one guy out?”
“He had a glass jaw and he’s lucky that’s all I did. You don’t hit girls. In fact, if Benny’s nose wasn’t already broken, I would shatter it in retaliation for him knocking you around.”
“Not that I’m not grateful, but what are you doing here? I told you I was staying at Brysen’s after work tonight.”
“I have to run to Spanky’s and I figured I would let you know where I was going and what I was up to.”
A chill ran along my skin when he told me he was going back to the strip club.
“Why are you going there?” If he told me it was to talk to Honor again, I might hit him. I knew he wasn’t a stranger to the District or the girls there, but I didn’t have to like it. In fact, I was pretty sure in that very moment, I hated it.
“There’s a card game tonight and I want to see if a familiar face is there. I might have a line on the rich guy Race was asking about.”