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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317596
In which Kam and Bel receive surprise visitors
Kit is older than Kam, but they look the same age. He also dresses like a playboy, with his dark hair curling around a perfectly clean shaven face, dancing dark eyes, and a dazzling smile that charms anyone.

Well, almost anyone.

“You’re in my office,” Kam’s voice is completely neutral, so Kit isn’t sure exactly how his younger brother feels about him paying a visit unannounced. Kit crosses his arms in a mock pout.

“I couldn’t get into your condo. Besides this company is a shared inheritance. I didn’t know I needed an appointment to see my favorite brother.”

“Don’t let the other one hear you say that,” Kam smacks Kit over the head with the manila envelope.

“Hey! That’s what I said. What was that for?”

“You’re in my seat.”

Kit doesn’t argue. He moves to the chair on the other side of the desk, allowing Kam to sit behind the desk. “What’s that you’ve got?”

Kam is careful to give the manila envelope in his hand only a cursory glance. “Work stuff.”

“Oh yeah?” Kit doesn’t take his eyes off it. “In a sealed envelope?”

Kam sticks the envelope in a drawer of his desk. He’ll worry about the puzzle pieces once he’s got rid of Kit.“I thought you were staying in Italy for another couple of months.”

“I was.”

“But you showed up out of nowhere because…”

“I got the car,” Kit pulls a set of keys from his pocket and sets them on the desk. “Near-mint condition Bizzarrini GT Strada, as promised. It’s in the garage now, but we can move it to the showroom once it’s been polished up.”

“You came here just to deliver a car?”

“No, Mom wanted me to come check on the dealership.” Kit’s answer is automatic, which sets off suspicious alarm bells in Kam’s head. “It’s the riskiest branch of the company.”

“Flipping cars is the riskiest branch of the company.” Kam and his brother have always been close, which means one can tell when the other is lying.

“Ok, mom wanted me to come check on you.”

“I’m not ignoring her calls.”

“But you haven’t picked them up, either.”

Kam cocks an eyebrow. “The player noticed that someone isn’t picking up phone calls?”

“You’re getting really good at that Eyebrow Thing, you know that?” Kit’s face takes on a more serious expression. “We’re both worried about you, you know.”

“Our company is in the black, so we can pay for my condo here, and the house in Italy, and shipping costs for the cars, and the parts, and all the paychecks, and your travel expenses,” Kam ticks everything off on his fingers. “We each have a nice little nest egg. I like what I do, and who I do it with, and so you do you—get that smirk off your face, I mean professionally, not personally—so what else is there to be worried about?”

“The dark circles under your eyes for one,” Kit says. “You think I haven’t noticed? And don’t say it’s from making international calls, I’m not that stupid.”

Kam says nothing. His older brother pulls a KitKat—the reason for his name—out of his pocket and unwraps it. He takes a bite, not taking his eyes off Kam.

“If you carry those around in your pocket, they’ll melt.” Kam says.

“That's why I keep them in my jacket pocket.” Kit pats the pocket in question and takes another bite of the KiKat. “So? What other reason would mom have to be worried about you, and does it have something to do with the dark circles under your eyes? Or that envelope in your desk drawer?”

Kam hesitates. “I haven’t been sleeping much.”

“I can see that. Because?”

There are enough people involved in this already, Kam. Do you really need to add one more?

“Kam,” Kit leans forward, planting both hands on the desk, his eyes glittering with mischief. “are the reasons you’re not sleeping professional or personal?”

Kit leans so heavily on that last word, Kam wants to throw him out the office window. “I got another job.”

“Huh?” Kit’s face goes slack. That is definitely not the answer he was expecting. “Doing what?”

“Freelancing.” Technically, that’s not a lie, because protecting Bel is short-term, and Kam is sort of an independent contractor. “For a friend of Silo’s.”

“Are you sure that’s all it is?” For some reason, Kit’s eyes narrow. “Mom’s going to want all the details.”

“You mean you want all the details,” Kam corrects. “That I’m not going to tell you. I will tell you the pay’s good and it comes with free room and board, so I can add that to my nest egg if this company implodes.”

“That’s unlikely.” Kit isn’t deterred. “So what exactly are you doing?”

“ How long are you here?” Kam counters.

“As long as it takes for mom to be convinced I was a good brother and made sure you were alive and well.”

“Meaning you have no idea.”

“Not a damn clue.” Kit confirms. “You said this new ‘job’ of yours has free room and board, which means the condo’s empty, right?”

“You’re really staying?” Kam isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not. His thoughts must be evident in his voice, because Kit cocks an eyebrow at him.

“Is there a reason I shouldn’t?”

“No,” Kam cocks his own eyebrow, the opposite one to Kit’s. “Why?”

“No reason. Where’s the keys?”

Kam pulls his spare condo keys out of another drawer in his desk and slides them across the desk to Kit.

“Thank you,” Kit gets to his feet. “Sooooo there’s nothing going on with you personally?”

“No,” Kam repeats. “If there was, I'd tell you.”

“Ok,” Kit pauses at the office door. “There’s a cute kid waiting for you in the garage, by the way. Tiny little thing. Says he’s your boyfriend?”

He flashes that damn playboy grin and leaves the room. Kam rakes his fingers through his hair, tamping down the fresh waves of frustration that are surging through him. If Kit is here and the psycho who is after him finds out, that means there’s another person close to him with a target on his back. Which is exactly what Kam needs at the moment.

He makes sure that the manila envelope is safely locked in his desk before going down to the garage, where Bel is standing next to his car, waiting for him. His greeting smile fades when he sees the look on Kam’s face.

“Are you ok?”

“I’m good. Hold this for me.” Kam hands Bel a mechanic light so that he can see under the hood of the car.

“Are you sure, cause you’ve got a funny look on your face.” Bel’s voice is muffled but the persistent tone is not. “Where did you disappear to all day? Who did you meet? And why did you make a phone call at five this morning?”

Kam scoots himself out from under the car. “You heard that call.”

“Should I not have?” Bel doesn’t have to say he was still awake because of the nightmares. “What did you find out that you don’t want to tell me?”



“Hold the light higher.”


“I heard what you said, now hold the light higher.”

“Can’t we just hang it on the inside of the hood? All right, don’t glare at me! I’ll hold it higher.”

Thanks to his company’s reputation and both his personal and professional connections the repairs on Bel’s car have been completed faster than expected. It’s no longer leaking coolant, the starter has been replaced, and both the fuel line and the fuel filter.

Based on the reports of his mechanics, and his own observations, Kam has learned that Bel is not only good with his hands when it comes to bartending, but also with cars. With a little training, Bel could be a first rate mechanic.

“You said I was your boyfriend?” Kam is careful not to make it an accusation, just a question.

“That guy wouldn’t let me in,” Bel shrugs. “I had to say something.”

“‘That guy’ is Kit,” Kam answers the question that Bel hasn’t asked aloud. “He’s one of my brothers.”

“Oh, I thought he was in Italy—wait!” Bel points an accusatory finger in Kam’s face. “Don’t try to change the subject. I asked where you disappeared to all day?”

Kam cocks an eyebrow at him. “Were you worried about me?”

“Ummmm kinda?” Bel can feel his face heating up and his heart is doing the skippy thing again. “Who did you call last night?”

“Silo,” As tempted as Kam is to make Bel’s face go even redder, he takes pity on the younger boy. “He had some information for me. About the files.”


Kam takes his time closing the hood of the car. Bel doesn’t say anything. He just watches Kam. Kam takes a breath.

“Just more things for me to think about.”

“Oh,” Bel stares at him. “Right.”

“Yeah.” Kam takes the mechanic light from Bel, and puts it back on its hook on the wall. “You should go home.”

“Just me?”

“I have a couple things I need to finish here.” Which is true, for the most part. Better to tell Bel later, once he’s properly processed all of the information that Silo and Talay told him and the fact that Kit came back without a good explanation. Kam hands Bel the keys to his car. “It’s fixed now, so you can drive home. I’ll finish the paperwork for the repairs.”

Kam has his businessman face on, so Bel knows not to push. “How much do I owe you?”

“I’ll add it to my expenses and send Nina the bill,” Kam tries to make it a joke, but it falls flat. “Just go, I’ll see you at home.”

Bel wants to argue, but the look in Kam’s eyes tells him this is a really bad idea. Instead, Bel wraps his arms around Kam’s waist. For a minute, neither of them move. Kam is the one who breaks the hug first.


“I’m going, I’m going.” Bel gets in the car. “You sure you’re ok?”

“I’m good,” Kam closes the door for Bel, forcing his lips to curve upward. One more little white lie. “I promise, I’m ok. Go home. I’ll be there soon.”

Bel could have sworn he bolted the door before he left.

Scratch that, he was absolutely certain he had bolted it, and he certainly hadn’t left his front room looking like a monsoon had swept through it. He goes to the light switch, but when he flicks it, the house remains dark. Power outage or deliberate?

It’s still late afternoon, so technically, he doesn’t need the lights on, but Bel makes a mental note to check the breaker box. He goes to his laptop on the kitchen table, and plugs the USB into the appropriate port. He made up his mind on the drive home.

The front door opens behind him, but Bel is too busy on his laptop to turn around.

“You’re back a lot earlier than I—”

Bel doesn’t get to finish the sentence, because someone slams into him from behind, knocking him onto the floor. Bel twists around to see a very human shape standing over him. He can’t see the man’s face, as it’s masked, but he can see the very real and very sharp knife in the man’s hand.

The man swipes the knife in Bel’s direction and Bel throws his arm up instinctively. The knife slashes across his forearm rather than his head, and a white hot streak of pain surges through Bel as he rolls under the table, yanking the USB out of the laptop on his way. This time, the knife slices into the table. Bel kicks out, his feet connecting with the shins of his attacker. The man yells, stumbling back and Bel crawls out from under the table, making for the door.

His attacker is faster, leaping between Bel and escape and slamming the front door shut. The knife hisses through the air, barely missing Bel’s shoulder. Bel changes direction, running for the bedroom instead. There’s a window in there that he can probably fit through.

Running footsteps behind him, and then Bel is on the floor a second time. He’d forgotten about the kitchen chair that had toppled to the ground with him, and now it’s tangled between his bruised legs.

Bel kicks the fallen chair in the direction of his attacker and the man yells as he topples. The knife flies from his hand and onto the floor. Bel launches himself at the bigger man, who is scrabbling for his fallen weapon.

The man raises an arm, ready to slam his fist into Bel’s face, but Bel’s fist connects first and the man’s head snaps back with the force of the blow. Bel kicks the knife the rest of the way under the table and snatches his laptop. As his attacker makes it to his knees, Bel swings the laptop toward his head.

But the man is ready for him this time. He grabs the other end of the laptop, jerking it out of Bel’s hands and smashing it against the side of Bel’s face. White dots explode in front of Bel’s eyes.

Something thick and wet is dripping into one of his eyes. He’s not sure if it’s blood or sweat or both. Half of his brain is screaming at him to drop, while the other half is forcing him to stay on his feet.

He’s close enough to his attacker that he could take another swing, but the dots swimming through his vision won’t let him. Bel shakes his head to try and clear it, and his eyes focus for just a second at what is strapped around his attacker’s waist.

Bel’s attacker doesn’t just have a knife.

He has a gun.

Bel throws himself a second time at the man, aiming for the gun, but his attacker sidesteps, and Bel is on the floor for the third time. But he’s right next to the front door again, which means escape.

Adrenalin surges through Bel’s body. Without glancing behind him, Bel grasps the door handle, using the momentum of the opening door to haul himself upright. There is a whoosh of air behind him and his attacker punches Bel in the left side. Bel staggers, but manages to push the door open even further, forcing the man up against the wall, before darting toward his car.

Long, strong fingers wrap around his wrist and Bel is yanked behind the car. He flails until another finger is pressed against his lips, and he looks up into Kam’s white face.

Kam’s mouth is just above Bel’s ear. “ Can you run?”

What kind of a stupid ass question is that? But instead of retorting he whispers back.

“Where’s your car?”

“Parked in the street.” Kam adjusts his grip so that he’s holding Bel’s hand. “Let’s go.”

The car window above Bel’s head explodes. Bits of shattered glass fly in all directions as the heads of both men snap back in the direction of the house. Bel’s attacker stands in the doorway, and the gun that was at his waist is now in his hands.

“Move your ass, Bel! Go, go, go!”

Kam doesn't even finish the sentence before he and Bel are up and running, feet pounding down the driveway toward the Range Rover.


Bel trips and Kam barely manages to keep them both upright. Funny, there weren’t any rocks or anything else in the driveway. So why—

“Get in the car!” Kam yells, diving into the driver’s seat. “Move it!”

Bel runs to the passenger side as more popping sounds echo over the empty street and ducks as several wasps fly over his head.

No, not wasps.


The Range Rover growls as it shoots down the street. Bel tosses the USB into the glove box, then leans his head back against the passenger seat. He’s remembering how to breathe.

“What. The. Hell?” Kam’s teeth are clenched, his body taut, and Bel isn’t sure if Kam's angry at Bel or the jackass who broke into his house or both. The one thing Bel is sure of though, is that Kam’s question is rhetorical, so he doesn’t say anything.

Besides, Bel has realized something is wrong.

Very, very wrong.

Waves of heat and cold are shooting all over his body.

His arm stings, his shoulder feels like it’s on fire, and his left side feels numb.


Is a punch to the side supposed to make him feel numb?

Something cold is running down Bel’s left arm. When he looks down, there are tendrils of red running down the back of his hand. He turns his head just a little, and sees the entire sleeve of his jacket is soaked, and his shirt is sticking to his side in a way that’s not usual. More blood is dripping down the side of the passenger seat, and the handle of the door where Bel yanked it closed is red and sticky.

Bel hadn’t been punched.

He hadn’t tripped.

The attacker hadn’t missed.

Not with the knife.

Not with the gun.

“You ok?” Kam’s eyes are on the road, so he doesn’t look at Bel. That’s a good thing because if Kam sees all this blood, he’ll want to take Bel to a hospital and that’s out of the question. That masked psychopath could find him at a hospital. He can not be found at a hospital.

Bel moves his bloodied hand so that it’s between the car door and the passenger seat, then turns his body so Kam can’t see the blood. The movement hurts like hell, but Bel is thinking about the look on Kam’s face if he does see the blood.

Kam shouldn’t be worried.

Kam just needs to drive.

“Yes.” Bel concentrates on keeping his voice normal, even though every crack and dip in the road sends a new wave of agony shooting across his body.

“Sure?” Kam’s eyes are on the road but his voice crackles with disbelief. “I thought one of those bullets hit you.”

“He missed,” Bel’s teeth are digging into his lips so hard there's a coppery taste in his mouth, and his brain is starting to fog up.

Kam shouldn’t be worried.

“Just drive.”

"18. Find Nina

read from beginning "1. Phone Calls in the Dark
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