In the stifling heat of the massive tent, a hundred men and women gathered around a man and a woman. The man wore nothing but a loincloth that sparkled in reds, oranges, and yellows. It hid what it had to hide, and Thaddeus was pleased. The pyrovores preferred going naked, but in the deep south, naked wasn't something that was tolerated. The woman—Sera—wasn't any happier than her companion, though she wore a sparkling tank top and an almost-there skirt in the same colors as Conláed. Brother and sister. Fraternal twins, born of a dragon mother and a human father. As they performed their fire tricks, letting loose huge breaths of bright flames, the audience hummed and awed. It was impressive, but Thaddeus knew better. Sera and Conláed were just prisoners, like all the other performers in Le Carnaval du Diable.
And just like him.
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."