Thaddeus turned away from the spectacle and pushed out of the Ten-In-One tent. It wasn't much cooler outside. October in Georgia was hellishly humid for his tastes. He much preferred spring and summer in the north circuit than the fall and winter one down south. He raked his hand through his hair, wrinkling his nose in disgust at the sweat. He'd bathed three days ago, and he'd need to bathe again tonight. He smelled. Thaddeus hated smelling because, around here, you smelled like fear and brimstone and smoke.
He stepped up into his trailer, shedding his boots and shirt almost instantly. Christ, the fabric even made a sopping slap as he dropped it to the floor. Thaddeus yanked on the button of his trousers as he made his way into the back of his trailer where a tin tub—small but useable—waited. He had his trousers down around his ankles when the scent of sulfur and ash almost bowled him over. Looking over his shoulder, he groaned. "You."
"I had to drop by. You made it to Macon a week early."
Thaddeus ignored the yellow-eyed gaze on his ass as he bent over to yank his trousers off his feet. "We didn't stop in Milledgeville. No reason to. More marks here than there, anyway." He didn't hear anything, but by the time he stood up, there was a hand around his throat, shoving him into the wall of his trailer. His hands immediately flew up to pry at the vise squeezing at him, his vision full of pale skin, handsome features, and smoldering amber eyes.
"It isn't your place to decide if the carnaval skips a stop or not, Thaddeus."
"Belial," Thaddeus rasped out, clawing at the hand around his throat. "Let me go!"
Belial's eyes flashed. "Don't skip another stop."
"All right!" The world was going dim at the periphery of his vision, and Thaddeus thought he would finally die. He was looking forward to that moment, but then Belial stepped back, released him, and Thaddeus fell to the wooden floor in a coughing heap.
"Now, you sent word that we needed to speak?" Belial smiled down at him. "Does this mean you're finally ready to go to your hands and knees for me?"
Thaddeus laughed, though it came out more like a croak. "I've told you, I bargained away my soul, not my body."
-- from "The Devil's Midway" by S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet