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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317598
In which Nina and Kam begin to come to an understanding
The hotel that Gulf found for Nina is a definite downgrade from the Mandarin Oriental. The room is smaller, but there’s a queen size bed, a mini bar, and free cable and internet. In other words, perfect for your run of the mill tourist.

Not that Nina’s complaining. She knows perfectly well that Gulf wasn’t obligated to help her in the first place and the fact that he did is something she should be grateful for. At the very least, no one has tried to kill her in this place. Yet.

Before Gulf took her to the hotel, she only took a backpack with a couple of days worth of clothes, her passport, wallet, and her phone. She’d given her laptop, along with everything related to the files on the USB to Silo, who had taken them back to Pattaya. Before he left Silo had told her that this time she should stay the hell out of sight. And this time, Nina had listened.

A whirlwind of emotions has been chasing through her head for days. Usually, Nina can tamp down these emotions, bury them until she has time to deal with them. Only she never has time to deal with them. Until now, sitting awake and alone in the middle of the night in a three star hotel room.

She pushes people away.

She craves control.

Is that why she’s in the mess she’s in now? If she’d been completely honest about everything from the start, would she have the bruises on her neck and a target painted on Bel’s back as well as hers? Or if she’d stayed in New York and just taken the USB to her superiors instead of running away to Thailand, would there even be a target on her back in the first place?

Nina knows these are questions that can’t be answered now, because of choices, she’s already made. But that doesn’t mean they don’t chase around in her head all the time. For now, she’s safe. For now, there are other people who are looking after both her and Bel. For now, there really is not much else she can do.

Only Silo and Gulf know where Nina’s hotel is.

Only Silo and Gulf know which hotel room is hers.

So why is someone at her door right now?

The digital clock next to the bed reads midnight, and Nina can’t stop the shiver that runs down her spine. She’s ready this time, standing behind the door as it opens and a man comes in. Nina lets him close the door before she tackles him, throwing them both bodily to the floor.

The man gasps as the air is knocked out of his lungs, and Nina presses her forearm hard against his windpipe. Her assailant is squirming underneath her, and she pushes her forearm harder against his throat. Any minute now, he’ll pass out. Any minute…


The syllables are forced from her attackers lips, and Nina freezes, just for half a second. Long enough to hear him try to speak a second time.



Nina’s arm goes slack. She scrambles off the man who attacked her. He pulls himself upright, sucking in air like his life depends on it, which it does.

“What did you say?”

Nina turns on the lights, then stares at the man on the floor—someone it was probably not a good idea for her to antagonize.

Kam’s eyes look like burned coffee, and they’re shooting daggers in Nina’s direction. “I said, ‘Tinkerbell, get your fucking hands off me’.”

Fair enough.

“How did you get up to my room?” Nina asks.

“I told them I was your fiance and locked my key card in your room,” Kam’s voice is flat, but his eyes are stressed. “Night porter was stupid enough to believe me. I found you because you share your location with Bel, which is equally stupid, considering the circumstances, but actually helpful tonight. Someone put a bullet hole in your brother, and he told me I had to find you. Do you have any more questions or can we go now?”

“Bullet hole.” The two words reverberate in Nina’s head.

“That’s what I said. He couldn’t kill you, so he went after Bel again.” These are the words that Kam said aloud, but there are words that he hasn’t.

She doesn’t say anything else, but grabs her pack from the floor, and goes over to the mini bar. She pulls out several bottles of water and one of—

“Vodka?” Kam raises her eyebrows at her as she shoves the bottles into her pack.

“Necessary,” Nina shoots back. “Where’s Bel?”

“I’ll drive you there.”

Nina nods. They stop only long enough to pay the hotel bill,—Kam splits it with her to keep up the lie he told about being Nina’s fiance—before getting back to the Range Rover and driving. Neither of them says anything for a while.

“Why ‘Tinkerbell’?” Kam asks it just to have something to say. Just so there isn’t this silence in the car. This awkward, worry-filled silence.

Bel, if you die in that warehouse, I’m going to fucking kill you. The illogic of the thought doesn't bother Kam as much as it should. That kid. That poor little kid. That poor stupid little kid—

“It’s our code. It means we’re in trouble, or I miss you, or—whatever. ” Nina’s voice jolts Kam back to the present. “The names come from my dad’s favorite book.”


“Peter Pan was my dad’s favorite book.” Nina clarifies. “He read it to us once a month when we were little. He used to play the soundtrack for the musical too, first on CD and then he’d stream it. I was the fairy Tinkerbell because I was feisty and had to look after Bel; and Bel was Peter Pan because he Never Wanted to Grow Up.”

“I’ve never read it.” Again, Kam speaks just to have something to say. Where’s the turnoff? Why is it taking so damn long?

“You should.” Nina’s response is equally robotic. Just speaking because it’s the two of them in the car and what the hell else are they supposed to do. “There’s a National Tour of the musical coming up back in the States. I was thinking of taking Bel to see it, if I can get tickets.”

If Bel’s alive to even see the Tour in the first place.

“Why is she called ‘Tinkerbell’? This fairy.” Kam is only partly curious. If he can keep himself and Nina talking, then neither of them have to worry. Very much. Until they get to the warehouse. The warehouse where Bel is.

“The book says it’s because she mends the pots and kettles, like a tinker.”


“Historically, it’s a person who would fix broken forks, pans, anything metal. Now it’s someone who fixes things.” Nina’s lips curve a little, just a little. She knows what Kam is doing.

“Then where does the “Bell” come from?” Kam sees the turnoff and releases the breath he didn’t know he was holding. Bel. Just like his Bel but with only one “l”.

Just down the road and on the left? The right? Left? Shit, which direction is it?

“Her voice, I think.” Nina is answering his question, but she senses the frustration that is rising from Kam, like some invisible fog.

“Her voice?” Kam’s own voice is strained, and his eyes are flicking to either side of the road. Back, and forth. Back and forth. Where is it? Where the hell is it?

“She doesn’t speak like we do. I guess fairies’ voices sound like the ringing of bells. That’s how Peter Pan explains it. Is that what you’re looking for?” Nina points to the right, at the hulking metal shape at the side of the road.

The warehouse.

Thank you, Nina.

Kam turns off the road, parking in the same place he did before, when he brought Bel here.

When Bel was bleeding out in his arms.

Nina’s finger gently brush his arm. It’s the first time she’s touched Kam that way—to comfort him, rather than smack him. “Kam. How bad is it?”

Kam takes the key out of the ignition, taking a moment to breathe.

One deep breath.




You can’t help Bel if you don’t keep it under control.

Kam jerks his head to the passenger seat, and the door, then at the legs of his pants, and his hands. “You see all of that? Not my blood. Bel’s.”

Nina sucks in her breath. All the color drains from her face, but only for a second. Her fingers tighten on Kam’s arm, and he moves his other hand so that he can cover hers. She breathes, too.




Then out.

“He’ll be ok.” He says it to reassure both of them. “He wanted to make sure you were safe, so now it’s our turn to look after him. Let’s go inside.”

"20. Not Going Anywhere

read from beginning "1. Phone Calls in the Dark
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