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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317590
In which we find out about Kam's day job
“Did I wake you up last night?”

Bel only sounds half-apologetic. Kam has heard Bel talking in his sleep for several nights in a row now, and sometimes he’s gone into Bel’s room to calm him down; but he’s never done more than sit next to the bed and whisper comforting nonsense in his ear until Bel is quiet. Bel has noticed that Kam sleeps with his bedroom door open, but whether or not he’s figured out the open door is connected to his sleep-talking is unclear.

“Actually,” Kam says. “You were kind of quiet.”

Bel had still been talking in his sleep, but it had been more of a murmur. Kam couldn’t understand the words even when he looked in to check on him. Bel had been lying almost motionless, occasionally turning his head from side to side, and muttering. But he hadn’t been panicked, so Kam had left him alone.

“That’s…good, I guess.” Bel is at the kitchen counter, pouring two cups of Crio, while Kam is at the stove, tipping scrambled eggs from two pans onto two separate plates.

“I think it’s good.” Kam says. “It means you’re sleeping better.”

“I bought more diphenhydramine.” Bel pulls two mugs out of the cupboard.

“Bless you.”

“It’s a sleeping pill, you idiot. And it helps.” It helps with the sleeping, but not the dreams. Except Bel isn’t about to tell Kam that.

If Kam thinks Bel is telling half the truth, he doesn’t say it. He just brings the plates to the table.

“Did you get—”

“The cream? Yes I did.” Bell rolls his eyes as he gets the cream out of the fridge. “Cream does not belong in Crio Bru. Ruins the taste.”

“I could say the same thing about what you do to your eggs.” Kam puts Bel’s plate as far away from his as possible, as though Bel’s breakfast might corrupt his own.

“The chilis add a nice kick,” Bel plunks the cream next to Kam’s elbow with the same look of distaste that Kam is giving to his eggs.

“So why add the cayenne pepper? Are you trying to destroy your taste buds?”

Bel makes a face at him. “You flavor your food the way you want to and I’ll do the same with mine! You know what we sound like?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me.”

“We sound like—ummm,” Bel’s hesitation brings a glint into Kam’s eyes.

“A couple?”

“No!” Bel isn’t sure if he likes that glint or not so the word comes out louder than he wants it to. “We sound like—roommates. Very comfortable roommates. Who are—very comfortable with each other.”

“I think the word you’re scrambling for is ‘friends’.” Kam says.

“Yes,” Bel plops in his seat at the table and sprinkles more cayenne pepper on his eggs rather than look at Kam. “That. Friends.”

“Friends Who’ve Kissed.” Kam is doing the Eyebrow Thing again. “Right?”

Bel’s face is red because he swallowed a chili the wrong way.

Not because of any of the words that just came out of Kam’s mouth.

Even though they’re true.

“I didn’t know you spoke Italian.” He says after the coughing fit subsides.

“Enough to say what I need to say. You were eavesdropping on my phone calls again?” Kam allows Bel to steer the conversation in a different direction. “That’s part of my day job.”

“Right.” Bel is happy they’re back to a safe subject. “Your dealership and car company.”

“Car restoration company,” Kam corrects him.

“That’s what I said.”

“Adorable kid.”

“Annoying jackass.”

The two of them have fallen into a comfortable pattern. Every day, they argue about breakfast and then spend a couple of hours going through the files on the USB. They would spend more time on them, but Bel feels like if he did then his head would literally explode. After that, Kam takes several phone calls—apparently, he speaks Spanish, French, and English in addition to Italian and Thai— and then disappears for a few hours, presumably to work his day job. While he’s gone, Bel makes his reading pile shrink by a book or three.

Around three-thirty, Kam comes back, and they both change clothes—Kam doesn’t wear jeans to the restaurant anymore—and eat. Sometimes Bel cooks, and sometimes Kam, but they make sure it takes no longer than half an hour, so they can be at the restaurant by five even if the traffic is heinous. And sometimes it is.

Kam has been doing all of the driving. Originally, Kam insisted on driving, since Nina is paying him to be Bel’s watchdog. After Bel’s squall of protest at the use of the term “watchdog”, Kam had said that if they took one car instead of two, it would save gas. Bel felt like an idiot for not thinking of that first, and then Kam said he wouldn't drive anything except his beloved Range Rover, so Bel had been forced to comply.

“Did you ask your sister about the pictures yet?” Kam asks now, jerking his head toward the small stack of scanned photographs they had found among the reports. They had been mostly places, or the backs of people’s heads, maybe a profile or two, as though the person behind the camera had wanted to take the pictures without being seen. Bel nods.

“She says she saw them before she made my copy, and she gave them to Silo who gave them to…someone else to look at.”

“Your sister is sharing resources now?” Kam’s eyebrows are back up again.

“She says this is a friend of Silo’s who can be trusted, and access things she can’t. They went to uni together.” Bel says. “Taylor or something.”

“Talay,” Kam looks a little bit less concerned. “He’s Silo’s assistant in Intelligence.”

“So you know him, too.”

Kam nods. “If your sister has Silo and Talay looking into these files, then there’s no point in us looking at them anymore. Talay will find things we can’t and he’ll do it faster.”

“Fine,” Bel has finished his eggs and put the mug and empty plate in the sink to wash later. Unless Kam gets to it first, which he usually does. “Then today, instead of looking through the files, I’m going to go get my car fixed.”

And he goes out the door before Kam has a chance to say anything. He had been mad about Kam driving him everywhere until he tried to go fill up his own car and saw the check engine light flash on again. By the time he got back to the house, the car was making strange grinding noises that didn’t stop until he pulled into the driveway and pulled the key out of the ignition. So he’d made sure that the car stayed in the driveway, making sure that it covered the rapidly expanding pool of whatever the hell was leaking from underneath it, and left it to worry about later. That had been a week ago.

His car is still parked in the driveway of the house where he left it. He tries to start it twice, but only gets whining grinding sounds, which means there is no way the car will make it to the garage. And the check engine light is still on. Which means he has to call for a tow.

Bel lifts the hood of the car and the stench of burning oil assaults his nostrils. Praying with every fiber of his being that Kam won’t come out of the house, Bel hunkers down and peeks beneath the car. The stench of oil is coming from under the car as well. When he puts a finger tip in the liquid on the concrete, his finger is stained dark brown. Engine oil, just like Kam said. So—given Bel’s regrettably limited car knowledge—that combined with the other noises his car is making mean he has a very big problem. The repair could be hugely expensive, and all because Bel had put it off for later.


I am so screwed.

I am so very very screwed.

“I told you a week ago the fuel line was leaking.” Kam’s voice sounds behind him. “What else is wrong with the car?”

Bel sticks his head out from under the hood so he can glare at Kam. His bodyguard/roommate/friend/whatever is standing behind him, though, so Bel doesn’t have to turn his head as much as he thought. Kam standing that close makes his heart start doing that pitter-patter thing that makes him—what? Uncomfortable? Happy? Nervous as hell? All three?

“I have no clue.” Bel speaks through clenched teeth. And if you stopped standing behind me, I could concentrate better, jackass.

Kam leans forward, brushing against the back of Bel’s shoulder as he looks under the hood. “Want me to take a look?”

“Ummm,” Damn, it’s really hard to think straight when you’re that close! Bel gnaws on his lower lip, unaware of the mischievous little grin that steals across Kam’s face.

“Bel, stop chewing your lips. The car is already broken. My looking at it won’t make the situation worse.”

“Do you know anything about cars?” The words are out of Bel’s mouth before he can stop them and now he wants to slam his head into the raised car hood. Of course he knows about cars, you idiot! He wouldn’t offer to help if he didn’t know anything about cars! He doesn’t dare look at Kam, but he can hear that damn grin in his voice.

“Yes. I know about cars.” Kam deadpans. “My dad ran a dealership and an international car restoration company that I inherited.”

“Oh. Right. You told me that.” Deflated, Bel moves out of the way to let Kam examine his baby. Kam holds out a hand to him.


Bel puts his car keys in Kam's hand and watches as Kam tries to start the engine. It grinds. Both Kam and Bel wince at the sound. Kam gets out and puts his head under the hood of the car. Bel stands there feeling useless while Kam pokes around the engine. When he turns to face Bel, he has the look of a parent scolding a naughty child.

“So not only is your fuel line a mess, but the car is leaking coolant and engine oil. Based on the sounds the car’s making, I want to say you’ve got something wrong with the starter, and the check engine light could mean anything.”

With each sentence, Bel can feel himself shrinking, until he wishes the driveway would open up and swallow him. What could have been a little problem had blown up into a complete mess, all because he’d put it off.

“Yes. That’s exactly the face you should be making right now. Next time, fix the problem before it gets worse.” Kam has closed the hood. “This car is old enough that maybe you should just buy a new one.”

“It was my dad’s.” Bel says.

The look on his face and the way he says it brings Kam up short. Neither of them say anything for a minute, and then Kam moves to his Range Rover. Bel watches him.

“What are you doing?”

“Get in your car, “Kam says.

“But I can’t drive—”

“You’re not going to drive the car anywhere, just help me move it onto the street.” Kam has opened the back of the Range Rover and pulls out a rope and several large black hooks. “I can’t tow it anywhere until I attach it to mine.”

“Tow it where?” It’s a stupid question and Bel knows it before the sentence is even out of his mouth. But he’s said it, and he can’t take it back.

“To my dealership, obviously.” Kam raises his eyebrows. “Unless you don't want me to fix it.”

“You don’t have to—”

“I do,” Kam cuts off Bel’s protest. “Call it a Favor between Friends.”

He capitalizes the words, and Bel’s face turns red. He gets in his car without another word, then helps Kam move it onto the street. Kam gets the tow rope and hooks, and attaches Bel’s car to his Range Rover.

Bel isn’t quite sure what he expected the dealership Kam owned to look like, but it still comes as a surprise. It’s three buildings in one huge parking lot: one is a garage, one looks like an office building—probably where sales happen and where Kam’s office is—and the last one has glass walls and is—

“My showroom,” Kam says. “You can go take a look if you want. I’ll tow the car to the garage and get the repair started.”

Bel climbs out of the car and goes to the glass walled building. Once inside, he sees that it’s not just one room, but three, all filled with cars and people interested in buying them. But then, it would be. This is a car dealership.

Bel wanders through the first two rooms, just glancing at the newer car models without much interest. Some of these cars—the Mercedes, Lexus, and Porsche—he’s seen driven by Powerful People or the VIPs that come to Gulf’s restaurant, which puts them way out of Bel’s price range. But he wasn't here to buy a car, he was here to fix one, this didn’t really count as window shopping. Could it?

Kam finds Bel staring at an Aston Martin with stars dancing in his eyes. “You can’t afford that.”

“I know,” Bel tears his eyes away from the gleaming leather interior. “But I still like to look at it.”

“You and everyone else,” Kam says. “I was right about the repairs—all of them. It’ll take a couple of days to fix everything.”

“That’s ok. It’s my own fault for just letting the car sit like that,” Bel admits. “And it’s not like I don’t have another way to get to work.”

“You’re not driving my car.” Kam growls.

“Of course not!” Bel agrees. “I never said that. Just stating a fact.”

“You want to see a car you’d kill to drive?”

Bel blinks at Kam’s question. “Like—-literally kill?”

“Some people have,” Kam looks dead serious, and he grabs Bel by the wrist. “Come one, I’ll show you.”

He drags Bel through two rooms filled with people and cars to a somewhat smaller room at the back. When they go in, Bel’s jaw drops. These cars aren’t just for driving—they’re collectors items. There are some he’s only seen in the movies.

El Cominos, Jaguars, Lamborghinis, Mustangs. All built in vintage styles, but all in perfect condition. Some of them are on display ramps, and some on the showroom floor, but each one is polished and glazed and displayed to perfect advantage. Provided someone’s wallet is big enough to purchase one.

Kam wasn’t lying when he said he ran a car restoration business. Not that Bel thought he was lying, he just thought that restoration meant repairing cars that got into massive crashes or needed engine upgrades or something. No, what Kam actually does is—well, literally restore cars.

Classic Cars.

Bel doesn’t just have stars in his eyes. He’s grinning like an idiot, and so is Kam.

“So?” Kam asks. “Would you kill for one of these?”

Bel doesn’t even hesitate. “In a heartbeat. Where did your dad find all of these?”

“If you know who to call, you can find them anywhere.” Kam says. “I do the national networking and initial contact. Or previous clients call me directly. My brother Kit handles the international clients, then calls me when he gets a good find. ”

“Is that why he’s in Italy now?”

“Partly. He’s also visiting my mom.”

“Right, because your mom moved out there after—” Bel catches himself, and asks another question.“So what if the car is missing something? Aren’t classic car parts hard to find?”

“Sometimes, you have to ship parts in from other countries, but as long as you don’t mind losing sleep calling different time zones sometimes, it’s not that bad.”

“Hard work though, right?” Bel is moving between the rows of beautiful babies like a kid at Disneyland. “I mean, what if you have to wait longer than you want to get a certain part?”

“Sometimes you do,” Kam doesn't look the least bit put out when he says this. “But the wait is worth it. My dad started this part of the company when I was in high school. It took him several years, but he built up enough contacts and clientele that my brother and I’ve got a nice little nest egg if we need it. Plus, the biggest thing you need to flip classic cars is room to work on them, so if the dealership fails we’ll just buy a garage and do it from there.”

“So why does your brother do the international travel part?” If Bel didn’t feel like an underachiever before, he does now. “He’s left you to run this part all on your own.”

“Kit likes the traveling bit more than I do,” Kam says. “It’s ok, I have plenty of other employees to help me out here when I need it.”

“Like when you're babysitting a brat like me?” Bel is only half-teasing, and Kam smirks at him.

“Yes, exactly. So has the brat finished gawking or do you want to see one more?”

“One more what?”

“Car, you idiot,” Kam grabs Bel’s wrist again, leading him to a door at the very back of the room. “My baby.”

It’s a very small room, and the door has a lock with a fingerprint scanner on it. Kam unlocks the door with both keys and his fingerprint and leads Bel inside. There’s only one car in the room. It’s not on a display stand, just on the floor.

The car is small, with a low slung front sweeping over the front wheels, and a wrap-around windshield. The doors are closed, but Bel is pretty sure those are original butterfly doors. Every inch of both the red exterior and the leather interior has been glazed and polished within an inch of its newly restored life. Bel has seen this car on old racing videos on Youtube, and seen pictures on Google, but he’s never been this close to one before, and he will probably never be this close to one again.

“This is an Alpha Romeo.”

“A 1966 Alpha Romeo Tipo 33, yes.” Kam corrects him.

“It’s in mint condition!”

“It better be. I restored it myself.”

“Where the hell did you find this?”

“I told you,” Kam shrugs, but he’s grinning like an idiot. “I Know People. You’re drooling.”

“I am not,” But Bel closes his mouth before what Kam says is true. “Have you let anyone drive this?”

“You think I’m crazy?” Kam looks horrified. “I’m the only one who knows where the keys are. I’ve only driven it twice, but if I had a good reason, I’d drive it more. It goes from zero to one hundred kilometers per hour in less than six seconds.”

“Six seconds?” If Bel wasn’t craving a ride in that gorgeous machine before, he is now. “What does that feel like?”

“You really want to know?” Kam takes a step forward.

“Yes.” For some reason, Bel takes a step back.

“Really?” Kam moves another step.

“Yes.” So does Bel.

“It feels…” Kam leans closer to Bel, so close their noses almost touch. “Orgasmic.”

Bel swallows. The word and its meaning sends tingles through his bloodstream. Kam cocks an eyebrow at him. He has backed Bel all the way up against the wall.

The door to the room is closed, so no one will see.

The door is locked by Kam’s fingerprint, so nobody will walk in unannounced.

Coffee colored eyes lock with baby brown ones.

Spasms shoot through Bel’s body.

Kam’s eyes light up as they see Bel shiver.

“You’re chewing your lips again.”

“Mm-hm.” The sound comes out of Bel’s mouth as a squeak.

They’re so close they can smell the other’s scent.

Whiskey and Pecans.

Dark Chocolate.

A fantastic combination.

An intoxicating one.

If Kam leans just a little bit closer…

If Bel goes up on his tiptoes…

"13. I Like My Watchdog

read from beginning "1. Phone Calls in the Dark
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