“Where do you go, Hazel Malloy?” Gabriel said in her ear.
“I can feel you thinking hard.” He chuckled.
Hazel smiled. “I like this song,” she said, embarrassed as though he could actually tell that he’d caught her thinking about him.
“I do too.” He pressed his cheek to hers, and she let him.
As the song ended, there was a slight disturbance from the far end of the room. Hazel glanced up, and her heart paused.
Stanley stood in the entrance of the conservatory, tall and suited up, a hard look on his face, one eye almost swollen shut. He was flanked by some of his Knights, looking rough and out of place in suits, smirks on their faces as they scanned the room. It was like Eliot Ness and his Untouchables about to raid.
The “good people” of St. Louis stared uneasily and made way as the boys stalked into the room. Hazel sometimes forgot what they must look like to everyone else. They were a tough looking lot, battle scarred, and imposing.
The song ended and in the pause before the next one began, Stanley took long strides across the room, toward where Hazel and Gabriel stood, still holding hands.
Stanley’s eye twitched. “Heya, Haze.” He tilted his head toward Gabriel. “If it isn’t soft slugger trying to get to first base.” His jaw flexed, and he breathed in through his nose, and Hazel knew he was counting to ten.
Gabriel released Hazel’s hand and calmly replied, “Good to see you, Fields. You clean up nice.”