"A hundred thousand
credits? You've got to be fucking kidding, Balint!"
He wasn't. Especially
when he said the magic word that made Cam
want to slap him.
"But it's an opportunity, kiddo!"
Everything was an
opportunity to Balint,
his partner in crime. "Yeah? For who?" Cam
gave him those puppy dog eyes that always melted Cam's
heart. "For us, baby."
rolled his eyes. That was Balint's
answer for everything. The money they made was for them so eventually;
they would never have to work again and could just lounge around on the
beach in some deserted island and fuck like bunnies. The only problem
was that the money was never enough and Balint
liked to spend it on stupid stuff as fast as they made it.
Like the silver studded
cap he had on his head now. Him and his fucking caps!
"Did it ever occur to you
to wonder why the take was so
didn't even wait for Balint's
answer because he knew it. Balint
didn't wonder. Balint
didn't care at all, as long as the money was in his hand by the end of
the job. And if the money wasn't, there'd be two hits for the price of
may be easy going and charming but he didn't fuck around when it came
to money and neither did Cam.
The money wasn't the only
red flag. "Sarin, Balint? You know his rep, why
would you ever accept a job from him?"
"Because this one is a
no-can-miss, buddy. Easy. Easy money."
was beginning to sense a deja-vu
happening. "You really think it's just a hit on a troublesome kid?"
pouted; something he always did when he saw that Cam
was going to fight him. "Of course not."
waited for the other shoe to drop.
"We're going to have to
take out his boss, too."
"His boss?" Cam
exclaimed, completely floored by Balint's
blindness to anything that even reeked of danger as long as the coinage
was high enough. "His boss just happens to Ardoin
Beauduget, one of
the most powerful padrones
and from what I've heard; it'll be hard enough to ice the kid."
had said that Sarin's
official reason was that this kid was a fox in Sarin's
henhouse, stealing the chicken right from under him. Cam had been in
this business for a good many of his twenty one years and as profitable
as Sarin's Pet trade
was, he knew that this hit was personal: a smackdown
for the unpardonable sin of fucking around with Sarin's
"Cammie, Cammie," Balint
shook his head, "so negative. Just think of the palm trees." He planted
kisses on Cam's
neck. "Think of the waves."
sighed, trying to ignore Balint's
lips. "Think of the rumors."
fingers unbuttoned Cam's
shirt. "That's all they are, Cam-Cam. Rumors."
Rumors like the owner of
the club known as the Nocturne was actually the head of the
Underground: an outfit whose main objective was to overthrow the World
Association of Superior
Persons and who had also become one of the major crime syndicates in
the area. Chances were that Beauduget's
enforcer was probably as much of an assassin as Cam
and Balint were, or Sarin wouldn't be so hot to get
rid of him.
But it wasn't those rumors that made Cam
edgy; it was the other ones that were said in hushed tones as if to say
them was to bring evil upon themselves. Things like some people went
into the Nocturne but didn't come out. Tales of beautiful boys and
girls who lured the unwitting into their beds -- and to their deaths.
Whispers of mutants. Demons. Monsters.
was not about to mention all that to Balint
because it was a waste of time. One would think that Balint -- who came from a long
line of Gyspies --
would heed the warnings. Nope.
It wasn't that Balint
didn't accept them as true. He did. He just didn't care. To him, a job
was a job, and money was money. The Rom lifestyle he'd been raised in
may have made him a good grifter
but he didn't let it interfere when it came to the almighty credit.
said, "There's truth to every rumor," but Cam
let Balint slip the
shirt off his shoulders and push him face down on top of the mattress
on the floor.
lower back." You need to relax, Cam,"
Balint said, his
skilled fingers kneading the tension out of Cam's
shoulders and the back of his neck. "Would I put us in a situation that
we can't handle?"
felt they could handle anything so the question was really a rhetorical
one, but his magic fingers were doing their job and Cam
felt himself begin to loosen up. Then he began to trail kisses along Cam's
shoulders and nibble down his spine. Balint
wanted this badly but Cam
couldn't afford to relent, or allow himself to give in when there was
so much at stake. If only he had a better idea of what they were up
against, or what their chances were.
Then he realized that
there was a way of finding all that out. It would probably piss Balint off, but Cam
knew his partner would do it if it was the only way to ensure Cam's
isn't sweetening the pot for nothing. Tell me what will be in store for
knew what he meant because he instantly stopped his massaging and
removed his hands. "Shit, Cameron," he said quietly. "I do that for gadjos.
were outsiders. Technically, since Cameron wasn't a Gypsy, that made
him a gadjo
as well but Balint
didn't see it that way.
ignored the silent storm brewing in Balint's
hazel eyes. "But you'll do it now." It wasn't a question.
gave a slight nod but didn't say a word.
Cam got off the mattress
and walked to the kitchen, which was in the same room as the living
room. Underneath the sink was what Balint
called "the bag of tricks." This bag was for the other things they fell
back on in between jobs. Home remedies that were useless. Three cups
and the ball that traveled between them. Loaded dice. All kinds of
swindles and cons that kept food on their table and a roof over their
heads. But that wasn't what Cam
He reached inside and
pulled out the box that held Balint's
deck of cards. The deck that would give Cam
the answers he so desperately sought.
When he walked back into
the bedroom, Balint was
already sitting at the desk. "I don't know why you're demanding this.
You don't believe in Tarot."
stood behind him. "No, but you do."
handed Balint the deck
of Tarot cards and the other boy began to lay the cards down.
had seen these spreads many times before. He didn't know what they
meant and up until now, he never cared. Balint could
have told the fortunes of those who he laid the cards down for but he'd
explained long ago that people really didn't want the truth. In fact,
telling them what he really saw in the spreads could get them killed if
it wasn't what the person wanted to hear. It was for that very reason
that both of them always carried when they knew that Balint would do some fortune
telling that night.
stopped for a moment. "Cam,
I'm only doing this because I know you'll give me no peace otherwise.
"And because you want to
make me happy."
finished the spread and put the deck down, reaching behind to pull Cam
to him. "That too." He
smiled a little. "Especially if calming you down will get you in the
mood for other things besides fortune telling."
had already been headed there but he wasn't going to tell Balint. "Just flip the cards and
don't feed me the same bullshit you feed the suckers. Tell me what you
Balint shook his
head. "You wound me."
"No, I've been with you
long enough to know your crocodile tears."
For about three years:
ever since a chance meeting when the little hustler had managed to
seduce him even though he swindled Cam out of three hundred credits.
He wouldn't have been
able to do that if Cam
hadn't liked what he was looking at in the first place. In fact, that
was what had made Cam
go to the table where Balint
had been sitting, with his infamous cups and ball. He'd seen the
lissome boy with the golden hair and mischievous greenish-gray eyes,
and knew he wanted to have him -- although at the time, Cam
had only planned on his usual one night
What he hadn't realized
was that Balint already
had other ideas. He'd charmed and flirted with Cam
shamelessly, offering to treat Cam
to dinner to make up for trying to cheat him. Cam
had found out that the Gypsy boy had been left on his own several years
before and was making a living the only way he'd learned how.
Cam, who had basically
raised himself, found a kindred spirit in Balint
and by the end of the night they ended up in Cam's
"bed": a sleeping bag in an abandoned building.
They'd been together in
one form or another from that night on.
let go of him and sighed. "I'll tell you but it won't matter. We're
accepting this job and we're going to the Old Quarter. Knowing that, do
you still want to see?"
shrugged and then shut his eyes, concentrating as he flipped over the
cards. Then he opened his eyes, shaking his head silently.
"What do you see?" Cam
gently, "I know you're trying to watch out for us but it's not like we
won't be carrying."
"The Tungstens. We're bringing the Tungstens. And the handguns."
If Balint wanted to bring the
assault rifles then he knew there was trouble up the pike. Cam
decided that they would come well-prepared with as much firepower and
weaponry they could carry.
scooped up the cards and put them back in the box. He got up from the
chair and threw his arms around Cam,
leaning against him. "Better?"
For some reason, knowing
that his partner was taking Cam's
trepidation seriously did make him feel better; even though the danger
wasn't any less real. Now Cam
could map out a strategy. Cam buried his face in Balint's unruly golden mane, the
smell of bergamot and soap tickling Cam's
nose and comforting him with its familiarity. "Yeah."
"Then let's go to bed." With his arms still around
Balint walked him
over to the mattress and they fell down upon it in a tangle of arms and
"You know what your
problem is, Cammie? You
think too damned much," Balint
murmured against Cam's
chest, the vibration of his velvet lips sending a delicious shiver
smiled, taking Balint
into his arms. "So distract me."
laughed softly. "That can be arranged." He unbuttoned Cam's
jeans and pulled down the zipper. "Always happy to oblige."
All thoughts of the job
vanished as Cam
rapidly melted into a puddle of liquid sensation under Balint's hands and mouth and as Balint's lips slipped below Cam's
bellybutton, he wasn't thinking of anything anymore.