"The idea is for Luca and his cadre of sleezeballs to go down, not you, girl..."
Max paused to take a sip of her coffee, considering. She didn't want to put Gabriella in any more danger than she was already in, but she was in a position to help them.
"...Really, the best way you could help take him down is by providing us with information on him and anyone you think might be involved with running this meatmarket."
"Then that's what I'll do...Is there any way I'd be able to reach you?" Gabi asked tentitively.
"Mmhmmm," Max nodded as she set down her cup, "Want me to put my number in your phone?"
Gabi slid a slim, modern, cell, phone across the table and nodded. "Might help."
Taking the phone, Max punched in her number.
"I'll let you decide how to label it..." She remarked as she handed the phone back to Gabriella.
She attempted at a reassuring smile, concern showing in her dark eyes, "Call me anytime, day or night, if you have info, or you're in trouble, or you're scared... Anything - You got it, Gabi?"
Gabriella looked at Max, her eyes swimming with tears for a second, she hadn't had anyone make that offer in so long.
"I...I... Thank you..."
She filed the number under the symbol for pi.
Max touched Gabriella's wrist briefly, "Don't even mention it, girl."
Max drained the last swallow of coffee from her cup and set it down, glancing at her watch. They'd left the club about half an hour ago.
"I'd better let you get back before he notices you've been gone, I guess." She sighed, reluctant to send Gabi back into that situation, but knowing it was necessary.
"Don't get downhearted hon, this is what I do." Gabi smiled tightly and Max, and reapplied her lipstick, her demeanor visibly changing again, as Gabi became Mrs Luca once more.
"Need a lift anywhere?"
Nodding, Max pulled some bills from her purse and put them on the table, and slid out of the booth, "There's a bar called Crash, it's on the way."
She hesitated, angling a curiously concerned look at Gabriella, "What'll you tell him if he did happen to notice your disappearance?"
"I'll tell him I went out with a friend." She smiled sunnily and led the way back to the car.
Gabi was covering, Max hadn't forgotten the fear in her eyes when she'd said she couldn't be out long earlier.
"You could tell him I'm an old friend from school, and that I hadda go to the hospital to see someone, and you drove me there?" Max suggested, reaching into her pocket she pulled out the crumpled post-it note, which she then offered to Gabi, "And then, if he decides to check up on your story, that bartender who was eavesdropping on us back at Zambalita could back it up..."
Gabi chuckled wryly. "True, but let me worry about tony huh?" She looked at the floor for a second before changing the subject. "So Crash, what sort of place is it?"
Max nodded silently, opening the door and leading the way back to Gabi's car, "Nothin' fancy, just a hang out. It's real laid back."
She smiled a little wistfully, missing the days when she could kick-it at Crash without having to worry that someone might recognize her.
"I recognize that look, it's the 'wasn't life so much easier when...' look, and I imagine it was." Gabi said gently. "And now I have to ask, who are you, and what do you want with Tony? I've decided I'm taking the risk, now I need to know why I'm doing it."
"I was wondering when you were gonna get around to asking that," Max smiled faintly, then gave a small shrug, "I work with Eyes Only. You're doing it to stop a bunch of real bad guys from hurting innocent young women. You're doing it to get free."