“I take it you have something of mine.”
“Looks like I might.” Cassim reached into his robes left-handed, taking out a loosely-wrapped bundle of cloth. Clean rags half-fell away from a headpiece that glittered gold and ruby and lapis-blue in flickering torch flames. An ornament that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than what it was: the formal jewels of the King of Sindria.
Cassim’s smile was a desert jackal’s, cold and cruel and hungry. “Something you want to tell me about our guest, Merhdad?”
Don’t back down. Look weak, and he’ll break it off right here. “A client’s a client,” Alibaba shrugged, trying for casual. “I wouldn’t tell him where to find you, even if he asked. Why should I give you a name when he needs a low profile? You have a problem with the commission, you two figure it out.”
Sinbad’s eyebrows jumped at that one. Masrur… looked amused. If Alibaba was reading that slight crease of red eyes right, and he wasn’t just unhappy with the fish that’d turned up at dinner.
“Oh, that’s rich,” Cassim almost growled. “Like where to find me is anything like-”
“Dealing with the King of Sindria?” Sinbad cut him off smoothly. “I’d say it is, honestly. After all, we both have a lot of lives riding on our secrets, Cassim. I doubt you feel any less for your thieves than I do for my kingdom.” He waved a hand at the headpiece. “It’s a pretty trinket, but it’s not the most important thing I’m looking for. So! Shall we negotiate?”
A slow clap echoed through the night.
Above? Alibaba jerked his head up, seeing Morgiana and Masrur just as startled, and how the hell had someone snuck up on two Fanalis–
A carpet floated in the night air, almost a drift of fog itself. Standing on it was a grinning man, maybe Cassim’s age; long black braid blowing in the wind, thin midriff bared by black loose pants and a half-shirt, arms and throat ringed in gleaming gold.
“Dealing with thieves, Sinbad?” The grin spread wider as he floated down; still not low enough for one of Morgiana’s leaps. “Aw. That’s so boring!”
A/N: Yes, you may eep now. 😉