49 Mutual respect 1
The silent man on Andrew's right straightened up, allowing Amandla and Lazar to see his face completely since until then it was partially hidden by the cap of his service uniform. If this man's identity was indeed that of Major General Buren, then his appearance was close to the idea they had of him.
He was a gray-haired man wearing thin glasses with rectangular lenses, likely in his mid-fifties and whose cold expression and extremely well-groomed appearance gave the image of a calculating and perfectionist person.
"Please, Miss, sit down." He asked in a composed voice, showing Amandla the chair in front of him.
"Thank you, Major General." She respectfully replied to him before doing what he had asked her to do.
Of course, it was just a front, Amandla's thoughts didn't reflect her actions at all, 'I hope you don't think that your shitty politeness is going to erase what you did from my memory. Enjoy the time you have left to live.' She was secretly telling herself while showing a hypocritical but very realistic smile to Buren.
She clearly had an easier time than Lazar pretending not to hate the person in front of her because, unlike her, Lazar's hostility towards Andrew was flagrant, as if he wasn't trying at all to hide it. His insistent and threatening gaze made it seem as if he could pounce on him at any moment.
Lazar redirected that same look to Buren, which seemed like a sign of defiance, "Let's cut to the chase, except for Mr. Sullyvan, I think everyone's time here is precious." He said with far less respect and tact than Amandla had shown to Buren and without bothering to hide that he and Andrew weren't on good terms.
When they heard him, Buren's and Andrew's reactions were quite different.
Buren frowned, he was visibly upset that Lazar allowed himself to make this comment even though it wasn't directed at him.
As for Andrew, his smile widened, he seemed amused by Lazar's attempt to impose himself.
'Ah... He wasn't kidding when he said he wanted it to be an equal partnership.' Amandla thought, at first surprised and then relieved to know that kissing Buren's ass wasn't one of the things that Lazar was going to impose on her.
'I shouldn't even be surprised.' Amandla realized that she had been blinded by Buren's status as well as Andrew's, whose nature wasn't yet known to her, but which must also be important for him to sit at the same table as them.
With his intervention, Lazar had reminded her that they were needed more than the opposite, that Andrew's luxurious three-piece suit and Buren's service uniform didn't make them more important than them, and that it was them that would have the greatest impact on the fate of Boston not the two men in front of them.
"You are mistaken, Logan." Andrew said cheerfully while proudly raising the collar of his suit jacket, "A mayor's time is precious too."
Amandla tilted her head to Andrew's side, 'That finally explains why he's at this table.' She thought without noticing that this statement had surprised Lazar.
He began to stare at Andrew with an afflicted gaze, 'No...'
'Some people really thought it was a good idea to elect this fucking lowlife...' If Lana had told him in one of her letters or if he had taken an interest in the city's politics when he had the chance, then Lazar would have known that Andrew won the last Boston municipal elections.
"Ah ah... Consider yourself lucky Logan..." Andrew added with his distinctive giggle, which Lazar would describe as an almost valid reason to go voluntarily deaf for those hearing it, "You're one of the few people I wouldn't ask to call me Mayor Sullyvan."
Even more displeased with Andrew's attitude Lazar was tempted to tell him to shut up once and for all, but he decided it was best to continue not to speak to him directly since he was worse when he was given attention, "Why do we even need his presence as the Mayor?" He asked, turning to Buren and pointing to Andrew.
It was a valid question. In such a chaotic situation, what could a Mayor do?
To Lazar's surprise, Andrew finally took a serious expression, he had visibly lost all desire to laugh in a split second, "You are misunderstanding Logan. I'm not here as the Mayor of this city..."
When Andrew uttered these words, Buren suddenly turned to him, "I think it would be better if I was the one to tell him about this part."
Lazar noticed that Buren had glanced at him as he was speaking, and the fact that he looked less serene than before made him think that he wasn't going to like what he was going to hear.
When she saw that the pressure created by Lazar's fists had caused the apparition of a small crack barely visible on the table, Amandla patted his right arm under the table, out of sight, to let him know that it wasn't time for them to show weakness but control.
Lazar's response was to sigh, cross his arms and indicate Andrew and Buren to Amandla with a nod.
'When it comes to dealing with his anger, he's still a little immature. But at least he acknowledges that it's a problem.' She understood that Lazar considered that it would be better for her to take over.
She took a relaxed posture, put her elbows on the table and joined her hands, when she saw that she had Andrew and Buren's attention she decided to talk, "If you want us to be partners, you'd better avoid keeping things from us. As far as we are concerned, we can't say that trust is in the air. So go ahead and don't leave out any details."
"That's good, I don't intend to trust you either, unlike Logan I don't know you." Andrew responded coldly with an unfriendly expression and tone towards Amandla.
Amandla ignored him, but she was inwardly very surprised by such a change in treatment between her and Lazar.
Lazar wasn't, it wasn't the first time something like this happened. In high school, Andrew had tried several times to keep his daughter's competition for Lazar's heart at bay. Most of the time he did this by sticking with Lazar at every event the high school organized and intimidated subtely every girl who tried to approached Lazar.
On the surface, Amandla wasn't very far from Lazar's age, she was incredibly attractive and seemed to be part of the same world as him. He saw her as a deadly threat to his daughter's happiness.
However... Andrew wasn't doing a favor to Lazar by trying to keep Amandla away from him and Lazar wasn't going to let it go this time.
Lazar slammed his fist on the table causing Buren and Andrew to startle.
Amandla remained calm as if she knew what Lazar had in the back of his head, but it wasn't so, 'What the hell is he up to?'
Lazar stood up and brought his face closer to those of Andrew and Buren, the inexpressivity of his expression in opposition to his violent behavior was putting them both unconfortable, "Before I let you talk, I would like to make things clear about my partner for both of you."