Book 2, Chapter 034

Ten minutes later found Big engaged in the most bizarre negotiations of his life.  It was also the first one he’d had in a long time that didn’t hinge on him convincing the other party he could swing a crowbar really, really hard – and he was rather enjoying the novelty despite himself.  "We can’t afford that!" he protested.  "We can pay 150… after the job."

Sakura was lying upside-down on the table with her legs up in the air, twined around a pole that went through the center of it.  So far she’d made 37.75 off of Little, and all he’d gotten her to take off were eight shuriken, her sword belt, and one of the sheathed daggers that had been strapped to her left leg.  She pressed her shoulders down against the table top, arching the rest of her body sinuously, and considered.

"Mmmm…  No," Sakura said at last.  "I hate to be difficult, but a girl has needs – and I could make that just by hanging around here and winning the amateur night contest.

Big let out an equally big breath.  He was running out of things to offer, but…  "Okay," he said.  "But that wouldn’t be until Friday.  This is whenever you can get it done.  And… how about this:  150 after the job.  Plus first dibs on anything worth looting."

Sakura looked thoughtful – But Big had seen her looking thoughtful before, so he jumped in with the last thing he had to offer before she could turn down the deal again.  "And," he said, "if you take care of this we will totally let you join our gang."

Little froze in the middle of dangling a five over Sakura’s nose.  "Wait, what?" he asked – responding to the conversation for the first time since it had started.

Sakura arched an eyebrow.  "And what does that get me?," she inquired coyly.

Big spread his arms wide.  "It gets you in The Gang.  You can commit crimes on our turf, crash at our cribs when you need to lie low, and if anyone hassles you we’ve got your back."

Sakura raised the other eyebrow. "And vice-versa, I presume?"

"Well, I will admit there is some quid pro quo involved in membership," Big agreed amiably.

Little turned to face him.   "What?" he reiterated.

Sakura laughed.  She palmed the five out of Little’s fingertips and twisted around in a way that would have defied most gymnasts.  Then she offered her free had to shake Big’s.  "Alright," she said.  "I do need a place to stay, so you have a deal.  Who’s the target?"

Et Alia, Book 2: Black Magic, Secret Agents, Shakespearean Tragedies and Interoffice Dating

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