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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317304
In which a second target in introduced
Bel avoids Kam’s table for the rest of the night, which is a little easier than he thought because business picks up. Em pesters him with questions about his “boyfriend” until Bel wants to dump the ice bucket over her head. Gulf is always present, moving between the tables and the bar, both networking and making Bel squirm with questions and teasing comments not quite on the same level as Em’s, but almost. The security gorilla watches from the corner, and Kam doesn’t move from his table.


He stays in the same seat, downs his whiskey sour and watches Bel. Part of it is to annoy the younger man, but part of it is still genuine curiosity. After Bel had left, Kam had taken the liberty of giving the house and car port the once over. He’d seen the liquid spill in the place where Bel’s car usually parked, and had known it was leaking. Since he couldn’t exactly crawl under the car in a public parking lot without looking suspicious, Kam made a mental note to double check the fuel line later tonight. Could it have been deliberately cut, or was it just normal wear and tear?

Bel’s house was small, ridiculously clean, and if the contents of the fridge were anything to go by, Bel needed to take a grocery trip soon; but Kam found nothing that could arouse the suspicion of anyone. Yes, there had been that USB with the same label as the one Nina showed him lying on the kitchen table, next to Bel’s closed laptop, but unless he’d known about it’s contents beforehand the USB didn’t look like anything other than what it was.

So why would someone—anyone—want Bel dead? At the moment, Kam had no answers, and he found that a little bit irritating. Maybe that was why he’d provoked Bel tonight. Since he had to keep Bel in his line of sight anyway, he might as well see what made the kid tick.

A lot, apparently.

While the look on Bel’s face when Kam had said they were boyfriends had been expected, the feeling Kam got when he saw that look had not. Was Bel irritated that Kam had declared them to be something they weren’t? At the time, it had seemed like a good idea—Kam couldn’t really think of any other excuse he could give that would allow him to be in this restaurant every night, but now Kam wasn’t quite so sure.

What he is sure of is that Bel isn’t looking in his direction, and Kam doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. So he just sits and watches until Bel approaches him at the end of the night.

“Are you mad at me?” The question sounds pathetic to Kam, but he asks it anyway.

“No,” Bel waits for Kam to get to his feet before walking toward the front door. “I just have a lot to think about.”

Which could mean a number of different things.
Neither of them say anything else as they go out to the parking lot. Bel apparently has a lot to think about, and Kam is going to let him think. After a minute, Bel speaks.

“You don’t need the money.”

“Huh?” Kam’s not sure if Bel is accusing him or asking him a question or stating a fact or all three.

“If your dad’s a business magnet,” Bel’s voice is patient, rather than accusatory. “Then why do you need the money from Nina?”

“My dad was a business magnet,” Kam answers. “Custom cars and things like that. Until about six months ago.”

“What happened six months ago?”

“He died.” Kam’s tone says this part of the conversation is closed, so Bel doesn’t press him. There’s silence between the two of them for a minute, before Kam speaks again.

“I didn’t know what else to say when Gulf asked why I was here. So I said that.”

As he says them, Kam realizes that the words are true. Yes, he’d used the word “boyfriend” to make Bel’s ears turn red. But he’d also been caught off guard and said the first thing that popped into his head. Bel looks at Kam, and there’s understanding in his eyes.

“I know. It’s actually the perfect excuse for you to be there every night.” Bel’s lips twitch a little bit. “As annoying as you are.”

“So I’m annoying and a creepy-ass stalker?” Kam stops walking and turns to face Bel. “What other compliments are you going to give me tonight?”

“Jackass.” But Bel has a smile on his face.

A smile that is transformed into a look of confusion as there is the sound of squealing tires behind them. Tires? It’s two a.m., there shouldn’t be squealing tires in an empty parking lot. Another squeal, and then the revving of an engine.

“The hell?”

Bel’s head turns first, and he is nearly blinded by headlights.

The headlights of a blue car.

A blue car that’s speeding toward the two of them.

Since Kam is standing on the blacktop of the parking lot, the car is going to hit him first. His brain is screaming at him to move. But his body is frozen, almost mesmerized.

Bel doesn’t think, he acts. His hand shoots out grasping Kam’s wrist and yanking him up onto the sidewalk next to him.


The taller man is so taken by surprise that it’s easier for Bel to pull him out of the way than he thought it would be. Unfortunately, the surprise also makes Kam lose his balance, feet catching on the edge of the curb, and both men tumble to the ground.

“What the hell?”

This time it’s Kam who asks the question, because Bel has had the wind knocked out of him by the double impact of the sidewalk at his back and Kam’s elbow in his ribcage. The restaurant door bangs open, and Gulf and Em run out as Bel and Kam get to their feet.

Em reaches them first. “What happened? Are you ok?”

Bel is still unable to catch his breath, so Kam answers for the both of them. “Some drunk tried to run us down.”

“But,” Em looks around the parking lot. “There’s no one here.”

“You didn’t hear those screeching breaks?” Bel gasps out the words, shooting Em an incredulous look. His ribs hurt where Kam’s elbow connected, and there’s scrapes on his own elbows and the palm of the hand he threw out to catch himself.

“We thought it came from up the block,” Gulf says. “Did you see the license plate? We can always check the CCTV if you didn’t.”

Bel shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it. Probably just someone out joyriding.”

“You don’t sound very sure,” Em says.

“Let’s see how you sound when you’re nearly sideswiped.” Bel snaps.

“I’ll check the CCTV,” Gulf repeats. “If I see the license plate, I’ll report it. You should go home, Bel. Get some sleep.”

During the drive home, Bel’s hands are starting to sting, and his brain is making connections that he’d rather ignore. First the motorcycle, then the car, in less than twenty-four hours? No, can’t be. This isn’t a tv show; this is real life. Things like that don’t happen in real life, right?


It doesn’t help that his check engine light comes one halfway home, making that Kam was right about the need to get it looked at. As he pulls into the driveway, where Kam is waiting, Bel’s phone buzzes. The caller ID says “Nina.” Bel rolls his eyes as he gets out of the car.

“Why are you calling me at two fifteen in the morning?” Once again, Bel doesn’t even bother saying hello. Kam raises his eyebrows as Bel unlocks the front door, and Bel waves him off.

“Because I knew you’d be awake.” Nina is ignoring her brother’s irritated tone. “I actually have a favor to ask you.”

“About the USB again?” Bel’s voice is almost a whine “Nina, I told you, I went through all the files—”

“Can you show them to Kam?”

Bel glances at Kam, who is watching him from across the room. “Why?”

“It might be helpful,” Nina says. “See if Kam recognises anyone.”

“Why would Kam recognize anyone?”

“Just do it, Bel. But get some sleep first, and be careful.” Nina hangs up.

“Everybody’s telling me to sleep,” Bel mutters.

“What did your sister want?” Kam asks. Bel shoots him a Look.

“You were eavesdropping.”

Kam shrugs. “You were talking. What about?”

“I’ll tell you in the morning. I’m going to bed.”

Bel goes into his bedroom and shuts the door, and Kam does the same. Both of them are hoping for an uneventful rest of the night.

Silo just happened to be close by when he got Gulf’s call, so he shows up at the restaurant less than ten minutes after Bel and Kam leave. Gulf’s new hulking security guard lets him in, and Silo goes into the now empty dining room where Gulf is waiting for him.

“So you were serious about hiring security.” Silo takes a seat, accepting the Black Russian that Gulf has ready for him. “You’re not worried that gorilla will scare patrons off?”

“He stays in his corner and isn’t seen unless he has to be,” Gulf replies. “Which works out fine for everyone. You got here quick.”

“You called,” Never mind that both knew Silo would be in the neighborhood anyway. “Are you going to tell me why?”

Gulf hesitates. “You asked me to hire Bel so I could keep an eye on him.”


“You told me that I shouldn't ask questions, but I should watch him and call you if anything happened.”

“True,” Silo is wondering where Gulf is going with this.

“So,” Gulf finishes his drink, pours another one, and then looks directly into Silo’s eyes. “Do you want to tell me why a car would try to run down both Bel and his boyfriend when they are in an empty parking lot?”

Silo chokes, making a face as some of the vodka shoots up his nose. “Sorry?”

“There was almost a hit and run outside my restaurant,” Gulf repeats. “A hit and run involving Bel, in an empty parking lot. And I want to know why that is.”

“You don’t think it’s a coincidence?” Silo is stalling and they both know it.

“Ordinarily, no. But when you ask me to look after someone with no explanation, and then that someone nearly gets run down in front of my restaurant, I get alarm bells in my head.”

“You’re not the only one.”

“Does this have something to do with your government work?” Gulf presses.

“If I tell you I honestly don’t know, will you believe me?”Silo’s second dodge is even less effective than the first.

“Will you tell me what you do know, then?” Gulf is going to pry the answer out of Silo a word at a time if he has to. “Does it have something to do with why you’re back in Bangkok when you’re supposed to be on vacation?”

Silo winces. “You know I hate that word.”

“You hate doing what that word means, too.” Gulf leans forward. “Silo. Tell me what’s going on.”

Silo sighs. He can’t tell Gulf everything, not just because Nina wouldn’t like it, but also because he doesn’t want anyone else involved. That means the list of people who could end up dead will get longer. But he should tell Gulf a little, because maybe having one more person knowing will help keep both Nina and Bel safe.

“Silo.” Gulf pushes. Not a gentle push this time, an insistent one. “ Tell me what’s going on.”

“Why are you so interested in helping me all of a sudden?”

“Because,” Gulf leans even closer,tracing the tip of his nose down one side of Silo’s face, blowing kisses along his jawline. A shudder passes through Silo’s body.


“Because,” Gulf is winning, so he punctuates each of the following words with a kiss, on the tip of his nose, along Silo’s jaw, and down to his mouth. “I’m worried about you. Let me show you how much.”

They don’t say anything for a minute, because Gulf asked permission, and Silo gave it, and there’s no one to interrupt them anyway. If Silo is trying to distract him, though, Gulf isn’t having any of it.

“So,” He pulls back from Silo, asking the same question, but in a different way. “Why don’t you let me help you?”

“I got a call,” Silo finally says. “From Nina.”


Flashing lights.

Blue and red flashing lights.

Kam blinks, but they don't go away. If anything the brightness of the light intensifies, stabbing into his irises.

He hears the sound of running feet.


Short, terrified breaths.



So much blood…

So damn much blood…


Kam opens his eyes. The bedroom is dark, and the clock reads one in the morning. He sits up, listening. That word didn’t come out of his mouth. The house is so quiet that he heard it clearly, and as he listens, he can hear other sounds. Sounds that make him get out of bed and go into the front room, pausing just outside the second bedroom.
“No. No! No, no, no, no…” The words come between short, terrified breaths.

Kam’s hand hovers over the door handle. He can hear the shifting of the mattress, a violent shifting that indicates the high stress level of the sleeper.

“No! No, don’t! No, please don’t! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!” Bel’s voice doesn’t have that snarky quality to it anymore. It’s slurred by sleep, but it’s also desperate, terrified.

Screw it.

Kam opens the bedroom door. Bel is lying on his bed in a tangle of sheets. Kam can see the light sheen of sweat on the younger boy’s face, his features twisted with terror, and his body tossing and turning like a mad thing.

“No! Please, let me go!” Bel’s voice wrenches out of his throat in a half sob. “Please, please, please…”

“Bel,” Kam keeps his voice low, extending his own hand toward those clawing fingers. “It’s ok.”

“Let me go.” Bel’s head shakes desperately from side to side. He’s breathing so hard, he’s on the verge of hyperventilation. “Let—let me—”

“Shhhhhhh,” Kam’s fingers move up into Bel’s hair in rhythmic, comforting circles. “It’s ok, Bel. Everything’s fine.”

Kam isn’t sure how long he kneels next to Bel’s bed, whispering soothing nonsense, stroking his hair. But eventually, Bel shifts, turning his body away from Kam, face relaxed now, his sleep untroubled.

Very slowly, Kam eases himself back up to his feet and goes back to his own room. He keeps his bedroom door open, so he can hear if Bel cries out again. Lying on his own bed, Kam tries to repeat to himself the words he murmured to Bel, not sure if they will work on him.

Everything’s fine.

Everything’s fine.

Bel isn’t the only one who has nightmares.

"10. Puzzle Pieces

read from beginning "1. Phone Calls in the Dark
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