Balder stopped walked as he and Charlii turned their attention to the front door. Two men and two women entered, shaking their wet coats and hanging them on the coat rack to dry.
“Jon,” said the first woman with a thick European accent and almost as thick as her tumbled gray hair. “Order drinks. I’ve got to sit before my feet fall off.”
Charlii snorted as the woman plopped into a chair and lifted a foot with spiked heels onto her knee and removed the shoe to message her toes.
“I told you we had a lot of walking to do, Hanna,” Jon said moving to the bar as the other couple took their seats at the table with Hanna.
“Humph!” snickered Hanna leaning to the man sitting beside her. “Tell your brother, Noel, that first impressions are important. And we CAN afford to pay for the taxi.”
The other woman with them laughed, placing her arm around Noel. “Here we go, again. They’ll be arguing over that taxi all night.”
“Zoe,” said Hanna, “even you can agree this was a one and a million shot. How often do we get the chance to impress a millionaire into investing in us?
Zoe’s face turned down, but only for a breath. Charlii saw the snicker on her face disappear. “I’m just kidding. I know it’s important to look like we have money, but really, you could have put sneakers in your bag like I did.”
“And then my feet would be cold and wet like yours.”
Mirth filled table. Charlii watched the fourth man, Jon, lean on the bar and sit on a bar stool. He smiled, but his eyes creased.
Jon placed a hand over his stomach. “What do you have for me tonight, Balder?”
Charlii sat up straight and tuned her ears to hear Jon and Balder talk. Few, aside from the artists earlier in the evening, knew Balder’s name.
“A touch of home is what you need,” Balder said to Jon. He poured a dark, wide bellied jar decorated with a red cross into four shot glasses. “No luck tonight?” Balder asked.
Jon shook his head and picked up the tray of drinks. “Just like every other time. But who knows? Perhaps the man tonight will invest.”
Jon carried the tray to the table. Everyone lifted a glass. Jon raised his, “szerencse és hírnév.”
The others cheered, and all talked at once. Jon sipped his drink and smiled, the stress lines easing as Hanna’s hand clasped his free hand.
Charlii motioned to Balder. “I can’t tell if they’re happy or sad. I don’t think they’re happy with the meeting they had, but they’re celebrating.”
“They’re family,” replied Balder. “The brothers have tried for years to find an investor for their bakery, but they’ve no business sense. Good bakers, though.”
Charlii scratched her head. She opened her mouth to speak but turned to watch the brothers with their wives. She couldn’t understand their language, but she understood the smiles and touches.
“Honor serves those who live to fight another day,” said Balder. “They’ll try again. Maybe next time, they’ll get the money, but for now, they’ll keep baking for someone else.”