"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 demanded.
Balint gave him those puppy dog eyes that always melted Cam's heart. "For us, baby."
Cam 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 high, dumbass?"
Cam 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 one.
Balint 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."
Cam was beginning to sense a deja-vu happening. "You really think it's just a hit on a troublesome kid?"
Balint pouted; something he always did when he saw that Cam was going to fight him. "Of course not."
Cam 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 in Sargot City and from what I've heard; it'll be hard enough to ice the kid."
Balint 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 property.
"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."
Cam sighed, trying to ignore Balint's lips. "Think of the rumors."
Balint's 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.
However, Cam 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.
Instead, Cam 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.
Balint straddled Cam's 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?"
Balint 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 cooperation. "Sarin isn't sweetening the pot for nothing. Tell me what will be in store for us."
Balint knew what he meant because he instantly stopped his massaging and removed his hands. "Shit, Cameron," he said quietly. "I do that for gadjos. Not us."
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.
Cam ignored the silent storm brewing in Balint's hazel eyes. "But you'll do it now." It wasn't a question.
Balint 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 was after.
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."
Cam stood behind him. "No, but you do." Cam handed Balint the deck of Tarot cards and the other boy began to lay the cards down.
Cam 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.
Balint stopped for a moment. "Cam, I'm only doing this because I know you'll give me no peace otherwise. Understand that."
"And because you want to make me happy."
Balint 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."
Cam 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 really see."
"Cam, Cam, Cam." 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.
Balint 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?"
Balint 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 asked.
"Look Cam," Balint said 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.
Balint 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 Cam, Balint walked him over to the mattress and they fell down upon it in a tangle of arms and legs.
"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 through Cam's body.
Cam smiled, taking Balint into his arms. "So distract me."
Balint 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.
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3||Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7||Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11||Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Chapter 15||Chapter 16||Chapter 17||Chapter 18||Chapter 19||Chapter 20|