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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317294
Three people. Three phone calls. One target
Bel is running.

Running faster than he can ever remember running in his life.




A hand, raised in the air.

A chunk of metal in that hand, glinting in the moonlight.


It’s a muffled sound, not like the pop-pop he’s heard from other guns.

But that’s not important.

What is important is that the snick sound brings with it a circle.

A perfectly round circle.

A perfectly round red circle.

A perfectly round red circle that’s expanding.

Expanding from a perfect round hole in the back and a torn chunk of skin in the front.

The blood is spreading.



And all Bel can think is that he’s got to get away…

Away from that expanding red halo…

Away from that chunk of metal that made the hole appear…

Away from the blood spreading from that hole.

Spreading into a macabre red halo…




1 A.M.

“Bel? Did you hear what I said?”


Bel blinks, shaking his head just the tiniest bit to clear it. Around him, restaurant patrons chatter and glasses and china clink, and Em is staring at him again.

“You’ve got dark circles under your eyes.” Em says.

Em and Bel grew up together. They went to the same elementary school, same high school, but different colleges. Em had studied nursing in London, and Bel went to New York University, like his dad. Now Em wanted to go to med school but needed more tuition money, so she worked at the hospital during the day and at Gulf’s restaurant at night. Sometimes being friends with her made Bel feel inadequate as a human being, but Em never let him feel that way for long. If Bel was into girls, Em might be the type of girl he’d date.

Em was the one who got him this job when he came back to Bangkok for a gap year. NYU had been eating him alive and Bel just needed a second to breathe. A second that had stretched into three years.

“I’m fine.” Bel’s hands move automatically, mixing, pouring, adding ice when he needs to. He has been tending bar for long enough that he doesn’t really have to think anymore. Although he should smile when a patron tips him. He keeps forgetting that.

Bel hasn’t got much sleep these past few nights.

Work isn’t the problem. It’s not peak tourist season, so it’s not insanely busy. The weather is kind of the problem—May is the beginning of the rainy season in Thailand, so it’s hot and wet, but there’s no flooding yet, so it’s not as bad as it could be.

He’s just been waking up and not being able to go back to sleep, and he’s not sure why.

Actually, he does know why, he just doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s already done that therapy shit and doesn’t really want to repeat the process. Especially since it’s just re-hashing what he thought he’d worked through eight years ago.

But then, he’d stopped seeing therapists when he moved back to America to go to NYU.
Because he thought he was fine.

And then NYU about killed him.

So maybe he wasn’t fine after all.

“You’ve yawned five times in the last three minutes.” Em finishes with the cocktail shaker and pours the contents into a glass before turning her gaze back to Bel. “I counted. So what’s going on?”

“It’s one a.m., Em. Of course I’m yawning.”

“Has Bellamy decided to give up sleep in exchange for a social life?” The new voice makes both Em and Bel turn to face the owner of the restaurant, dressed as always in a white tux, but with an orange carnation in the buttonhole. Bel would like to ask him why the colored flower in the buttonhole changes every night, but also decides it’s none of his business, so he never asks.

Gulf is one of the few people who addresses Bel by his full name, and Bel lets him because Gulf is Bel’s boss. He likes to brag to Bel that he’s built up the restaurant where both Em and Bel work on his own, and every night, Bel can see how much Gulf’s hard work has paid off.

While he might look young and sweet and innocent, with his round little face and hair that is constantly flopping in his eyes, Gulf has actually got a pretty shrewd mind and lots of ambition. His restaurant is a testament to that. Sometimes the customers are an even split between farang—both expat and tourist—and native Thai, and sometimes it’s more of one than of the other. Either way, the restaurant was becoming one of the most popular in the city. Em calls him Teddybear—just not to his face.

Bel replaces the top of the whiskey bottle he’s been pouring from before he answers Gulf’s question. “None of your business.”

“Fine.” Gulf lets it go. Clearly, he was just asking out of politeness. Now he leans over the bar, so he can talk around Bel rather than to him. “Hey, Em, is your brother around?”

Em mimics Gulf’s posture, both to take a little of the weight off her high-heeled feet, and to answer Gulf’s question. With another question.

“What, are you two on again, or something?”

“Or something.” Gulf checks his phone again. “He said he’s in town, but I haven’t seen him come in and thought maybe you had. He’s not seeing anyone else, is he?”

Em throws Bel a significant look. “Not anyone in this country.”

“Shut up.” Bel flicks ice chips at her.

“Hey, ice is for the drinks, not for throwing.” But Gulf is smiling, though whether it’s at the ice throwing or that Silo really is in town is not clear.

“Well, it’s true!” Em protests. “Whenever Nina is in town, Silo always meets up with her. And since how my brother chooses to live his personal life is his business, I don’t see a problem with him dating you and Bel’s sister at the same time.”

“I didn’t say it was a problem.” Now it’s Gulf’s turn to protest. “I just wondered where he is. He hasn’t picked up my calls.”

“Well, that obviously means he’s busy and will get back to you when he can.” Em snaps without any real heat. “You’re not even his boyfriend, so you don’t have to be clingy.”

“I’m not Silo’s boyfriend, yet.” But Gulf slips his phone back into his pocket. “So how ‘social’ is this new social life of yours, Bellamy?”

Em rolls her eyes. “I’m going to get more ice.”

When she’s gone, Gulf leans both elbows on the table, giving Bel puppy dog face. Bel flicks ice chips at him. “Hey!”

“Don’t you have guests you should go mingle with or something?” Bel asks.

“I’m the owner of the restaurant. I can mingle when and where and with whoever I choose; and right now, that’s you.” Gulf flashes Bel a smile, which Bel doesn’t return. He’s too tired. “You want to go home early?”

That pulls Bel up short. “Why?”

“Because there’s only an hour left before we close, and you look like you're about to fall over, that’s why.” Gulf comes around the bar and throws an arm around Bel’s shoulders. “Em and I can close without you, I promise; so if you really don’t have a social life, will you please go home and get some sleep?”

“All right,” Bel can’t help but smile at the wheedling tone in Gulf’s voice. “Fine. I’ll go home.”

“Go home and sleep.” Gulf emphasizes. “I don’t want you passing out on me tomorrow night.”

“Yes ‘dad’.”

Gulf rolls his eyes in Bel’s direction, then pulls out his phone again as Bel leaves the restaurant. It’s raining again, but not hard. Bel presses his fingers against his eyes, trying to make them focus enough so he doesn’t get in an accident on the drive home. He knows both Gulf and Em are right—he needs to sleep. Maybe taking those diphenhydramine pills he bought at the grocery store on a whim yesterday will help. The bottle did say “sleep aid”, after all.

The drive home is uneventful. Bel parks his car in the carport, goes inside, takes a shower, and two diphenhydramine pills, and goes to bed.

1:30 A.M.

Silo has already swum several laps, and probably set a new personal record for sitting on the bottom of the pool. He doesn’t usually swim at one-thirty in the morning. But there’s something about the smell of chlorine and the feel of the water that clears his mind, especially when it’s racing. And his mind has been racing a lot lately.

Taking time off was a bad idea for someone like Silo. But it’s not like he had a choice. Silo works for the National Intelligence Agency(though he can count the number of people who actually know that on the fingers of one hand), and he loves his job and hates vacations in all shapes and forms. But when the head of his department made certain decisions, Silo couldn’t argue.

Because he hasn’t taken a vacation in years, and he was volun-told to take at least a month for himself to focus on his personal life, he took a staycation. He’s got a house in Pattaya that in other circumstances would be the perfect vacation spot. Actually, it’s why Silo bought the house in the first place.

Except this is a forced vacation which makes circumstances completely different. It’s only been two days and he’s climbing the walls. Or spending far too much time in the pool, which in Silo’s mind amounts to the same thing.

Which is why the notification on his phone is interesting. It’s not from LINE, so it’s not Gulf or his sister Em; and it’s not from work either because those are Thai phone numbers.

This is a voicemail from an American number.

An American number he hasn’t heard from in a while.

An American number that would show up on his phone for one of two reasons—and only one of them was positive.

Silo unlocks the phone and listens to the voicemail. Then he listens to it again. And then a third time.

“What the hell?”

He listens to the voicemail one more time, just to make absolutely sure he heard right. Then he makes a phone call to his assistant. Talay is the kind of person who whines and likes to hear himself talk, but he's also known Silo for long enough that Silo takes a risk and railroads him instead.

“Yes, I know it’s one in the morning, but I wanted to tell you I’m coming back in. I took two days of vacation; I’m done. If I swim one more damn lap in that damn pool I’m going to drown myself. Besides, this is more important. Of course I’m going to tell you ‘what the hell this is’, just not right now. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

He hangs up before the man on the other side of the line can protest—not that Silo really gave his assistant time to put in a word edgewise during their extremely one-sided conversation—and scrolls through his contacts. After a minute, he finds the number he’s looking for and presses “call.”

1:45 A.M.

If it’s one forty-five a.m. in Bangkok, it’s nine forty-five a.m. in Italy. And that is the only reason Kam is still awake. He inherited a car dealership from his dad, but since the staff was so good the dealership practically ran itself, Kam didn’t really have much to do. So he has expanded the business to include international custom car flipping—buying and repairing classic cars and selling them to car enthusiasts and collectors. It’s a pretty profitable business, but it means that it throws Kam’s schedule—sleep and otherwise—off.

Right now, he’s in the middle of an important buy—something he’s been looking for over the past six months—so the incessant beeps that indicate there’s another call set his teeth on edge. It helps only a little bit that the caller ID says: SILO.

“You picked up.” Silo sounds surprised. “It’s one a.m.”

“Not in Italy.”

“You’re working?”

“I was before someone interrupted the call.”


“Can we just skip the damn small talk so you can tell me what you want, Silo?” Actually, Kam is in danger of losing a near-mint-condition Bizzarrini GT Strada, but he’s not about to waste time explaining that. “This sure as hell had better be important.”

“Have I ever called you when something isn’t important?”

“Frequently. Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation?”

“Em told you that?”

“Your boyfriend, actually.”

“Gulf’s not my boyfriend.”

“You see him a lot for someone you’re not serious about.” Kam really enjoys needling Silo, so he does it at every opportunity. “Except maybe Nina.”

“You want me to hang up?”

Actually, yes. “All I’m saying is if you’re not with Gulf, then you’re with Nina and if you’re not with either of them—“

“It’s what we call ‘dating’, which you haven’t done in years; and I’m not on vacation. Well, not anymore. I have something you might be interested in.”

That is not something Kam is expecting to hear. “Something or someone?”

“What if I told you both?”

“I’d say stop speaking in riddles before I hang up.”

Silo speaks quickly before Kam can make good on his promise. “I’ll be back in Bangkok tomorrow, so I’ll tell you then.”

Silo is one of those people who can give just enough detail to get people interested and keep them dangling as long as possible. Even though Kam is aware of this, he can’t help but ask:

“You can’t tell me over the phone?”

“It’s better if I told you in person.”

“Unless it’s a car, I’m not interested.”

“You will be. I’ll even let you pick the meeting place.”

Kam snorts. “You’ll let me—”

“It’ll be worth your while.” Silo sounds deadly serious now. “You know I wouldn’t call you at one a.m. without a good reason.”

“Fine,” Kam sighs. Silo is right, he wouldn’t call this early in the morning without a good reason. “I’ll text you where to meet me.”

“Thank you.”

Kam stares at the phone after Silo hangs up. Silo never says thank you to anyone, about anything.

2:00 A.M.

Bel’s damn stupid phone is ringing.

He put it on vibrate, but stuck it under the pillow and now his head is buzzing along with the phone.




Bel flops over, yanking the phone out from under the pillow. He doesn’t need to turn on the light, he can see the screen just fine.

The caller ID says “Nina.”


If he doesn’t answer, she’ll keep calling. And calling, and calling, and calling…

Bel’s finger slides across the phone screen. “What do you want?”

“Nice to hear from you, too.” His sister is used to these kinds of greetings, so she lets it go. She’s got more important things to worry about. “You answered in English.”

“So?” Bel flops back on the bed, turning the phone on speaker. “It’s two a.m., Nina. What the hell do you want?” And why the hell are you calling me at two in the morning?

“I’m coming to see you. I flew out of JFK this morning and I’m in Kuala Lumpur right now.”


“Why are you coming to see me?” Not that Bel won’t be happy to see Nina. He loves his sister—he just…loves her better when she’s in New York doing her CIA whateveritis. Sometimes.

“If I say I miss you, will you believe me?”

“No.” Even if it’s true.

“It is true, and don’t glare at me just because I can read your mind. Every emotion plays in your voice just as much as it does in your face.”

“Thanks.” Bel tries to do the math in his head. His brain feels clogged, like someone stuffed cotton inside it and then sealed it with..something else.

"I'll be there at nine this morning," Nina is still talking. "And I've booked a room at the Mandarin Oriental."

"You aren't staying with me?"

"Don't sound too relieved."

"I'm not, I'm—Nina, it's two in the fucking morning, and I was sleeping."

"Sorry." Nina sounds anything but. "I don't suppose you can pick me up at the airport?"


"'Yeah', what?"

"Yeah, I can pick you up at the airport. I guess." Bel grinds his teeth. This is exactly how he wanted to spend his morning: two or more hours in traffic to get someone who doesn't even bother to—

"Bel, are you listening to me?" The tone of Nina's voice makes it very clear that she knows the answer.

"Yeah. Yes, I'm listening."

"Uh-huh." Nina lets it go. "So you're going to meet me?"

"Yes, Nina."

"At the airport?"

"Yes, Nina."

"At nine a.m. That's seven hours from now."

"I'm hanging up now, Nina."

And he does. Bel turns the phone to Airplane Mode, and starts to shove it back under his pillow, when he sees the little clock icon in the corner of his screen. He needs to reset his alarm. Bel unlocks his phone and checks his alarm.

It was set to go off at noon.

But if he wants to be at the airport to get his sister, he needs to reset it for seven a.m. at the latest.

Bel grinds his teeth as he resets his alarm and shoves the phone back under his pillow.

Shit, Nina.

Why the hell did you have to call?

2:15 AM

In a condo downtown, someone else is speaking harshly into his cell phone. He hasn’t bothered to turn on the lights, so his face is in shadow, but if anyone was in the room with him they would be able to see his body is rigid with barely suppressed rage. Except there’s no one in the room with him. Which is a good thing.

“This is not a little problem. This is a disaster. What happened to quick and clean? Find the package and then get rid of her, that’s all you had to do.”

He pauses for a minute, listening to whoever is on the other side of the line. His jaw clenches, but he doesn’t raise his voice in case the neighbors hear.

“What I strongly suggest you do is get your ass on the next plane back to Bangkok, and pray you get here before she does.”

Another pause.

“No loose ends. I’ve worked too hard and too long just to have everything blow up in my face. If she tells him—and she probably will—we don’t have another choice.”

He looks out the window, taking in the lights of the city. There is the tiniest tinge of regret in the voice when he speaks again.

“What I mean, is now we have to kill Bel too.”

"2. Crio Bru and USB
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