Chapter 24:

Alexander sighed as he pulled out of the brunette in front of him, rolling over to grab a smoke from the table next to the hotel bed. It was a nice hotel. When Jean put someone up he really did it well. Too bad his companion wasn't as good at her job as the staff at the hotel was. Her moans were too loud and stayed the same pitch and her body was just not to his liking. He wanted it to be tighter, smaller. He wanted the hair to be curlier and the face to be sweeter.

"God that took forever!" Melissa complained rolling over onto her back.

Alexander lit the smoke and glared at her. "Well, honestly hon, that was kind of like throwing a hot dog down a hallway."

Melissa rolled her eyes and grabbed the smoke away from him. She clearly still thought that she was cuter than she was because Alexander had the sudden urge to smack that generic sultry look off her face. "Give me a break. I just had a kid." She told him with an eye roll. "Besides its more like throwing a Vienna sausage." She leaned forward and grabbed her underwear to pull on. "So tell me about little old Archie and Brie." She told him.

Alexander sighed and leaned back on the head board. "They're in 'love'." He used his fingers to make the quotations around the world, rolling his eyes.

Melissa laughed. "Love? I mean Archie yeah…he was easy to get to fall in love. Hell I basically had him eating out of the palm of my hand in a day. But Brie…she should know better."

Alexander grunted. "Yeah she should but he's got her going with that whole regular guy thing. Really putting a damper into our plans."

Melissa licked her lips as she looked at his large fingers taking the smoke away from her. "Who's 'our'?" She asked him.

Alexander frowned. "You want to live you'll stop asking stupid questions that are none of your business 'Nadia'." He told her.

Melissa shrugged. "So what do you want me to do?" She asked him, getting up and shimmying her skirt up her legs with far more flourish than necessary.

Alexander shrugged. "Easy shit first. Pull him away from her. You've got a kid. Use it. I've already planted the seeds. He breaks her heart and she'll come running right back into my arms."

"And if he really doesn't want me because he's got her?" Melissa asked. "I mean I saw it at the carnival. Brie might be sentimental and think that she loves him but she if she could create those emotions unintentionally I can only imagine what she could do if she really loved someone."

Alexander rolled his eyes. "Don't be an idiot. There's no such thing as people who actually love each other. They're just waiting for the next big thing to come along. But if he doesn't go for it…get him killed. That will mess her up enough."

Never mind that it would drive Brie to hurt this woman and get rid of any evidence of their involvement. She'd run back to him and Daddy for comfort. Maybe she'd even learn to look at him the way that she looked at Archie and sometimes her father. Fuck he loved being good at his job.

Brie smiled as she looped her arm through Archie's as they walked down the street in New Orleans. It was getting close to Marti Gras and the stream of tourists made an all too tempting river for the grifter and pickpocket to slip into.

Archie leaned his head down to rub his nose against her cheek so that he could whisper in her ear without being taken notice of. "How about this one?"

Brie smiled at him, finding herself blushing at his lips touching her cheek. "Why him?" She whispered as his arm left hers and wrapped around her waist to pull her closer.

Archie rubbed his lips with his other hand and smiled at her. "Designer shoes but wore jeans…probably so that he can spill beer on them but still wants to look nice. Probably has a good amount of cash on him so he can buy drinks for pretty girls."

Brie laughed quietly. "You sure you're not projecting there Archie?"

Archie grinned against her cheek. "And he's from the north east so I get bonus points for him being a tourist."

"And how do you figure that?" She asked him.

Archie tapped his fingers on her hip. "Class ring from Princeton."

Brie smiled and shook her head. She was creating a monster. "Go get em tiger." She murmured with a smile before nipping his ear.

Archie grinning as he let his arm slip from her waist and put his smoke in between his lips as he stepped forward. He glanced at the man's back pocket where there was a bulge from his wallet. His expert fingers that she knew so well by now slipped into the man's back pocket. Brie let out a little smile as she saw it only to frown when he was bumped and the almost out wallet fell back. The man turned quickly to arch, clearly suspecting something that he rightfully should.

"You have something on your shirt." Brie said quickly. "Sorry he's a little OCD." She gave one of her innocent little smiles and it didn't take anything more to convince the man. "Want me to get it off?" She asked him.

"Um, sure," the man said as he turned his back to her again. Brie gave Archie a little nodded as she pulled a hair from her head and slowly went for the man's back. Right as she reached the man's lower shirt and gave it a tug she reached into his back pocket with the other and snagged the wallet, streaming it around her back and into Archie's hands before brushing off his sleeves. "Great shirt. You have fun tonight!" She told him with a wink as she held up the hair and dropped it to the ground.

"Thanks! You too sweetheart!" He called after them as they turned the other way.

Archie looped an arm over her shoulders. "You are so bad!" He told her with a hard kiss to her temple. He pulled the wallet back out as they walked. "300 bucks," He told her, counting through the 20's. "Back in the day that would have made me insanely happy."

Brie took the wallet and started looking at the pictures and receipts the man had in it with curiosity. "Why's that?" She asked him.

Archie gave a little half smile. Brie was raised to run a proper con. He was raised to pick pockets so that he could eat. Two totally different worlds that the normal people still thought were one. "Because 300 dollars meant that I could eat AND sleep in a bed for the night." He told her separating the bills and giving her half.

Brie smiled and refused them. "You can buy me drinks and dinner tonight with my share so we don't have to go home…and when we do you can save your money and sleep in my bed." Archie cocked an eyebrow at her. "I love marti gras." She told him with a bright smile and a hint of whimsy to her voice.

Archie smiled and looked over the ledge of the roof they were sitting on later that night. Brie's head was resting on his thigh as he smoked looking out over the crowds of people while they shared a bottle of bourbon.

Brie let out a little sigh and stretched, her head and heels digging down as her back arched over the concrete. Archie watch memorized again by the entire thing. "Why do you love marti gras anyway?" He asked her, tipping the bottle back against his own lips. "Doesn't seem like something your daddy would want you to partake in."

Brie smiled and shrugged. "A bunch of drunk hornry people bumping into each other and running around not knowing where they are spending their money? It's like grifter Christmas." She tilted her eyes further back to look at him as his strong neck worked while he took another chug from the bottle. "What you don't like it?" She asked.

"Oh I do…I did." He corrected. "I just…its still great for lining our pockets but there really isn't much point in picking up drunk girls down there when I could have a naked girl on a roof top right here." She laughed, making him smile and lean back on his hands to look out over the glowing street and the torrent of people moving through it happily. He frowned as he thought, just for a split second, he saw a familiar female face.

"Archie?" Brie frowned as she watched his eyes narrow and his eyebrows knit together. "Archie what is it?" She asked sitting up and snapping him out of his thoughts.

He looked at her before trying to find the woman he had seen in the street. "Huh?" He asked, handing her the bottle.

Brie looked out over the crowd. "You saw something…something that worried you." She said as she took a sip.

Archie shook his head and took the bottle back, taking a much longer drink and burning his throat. "I thought I did." He said hoarsely. "Don't worry about it. I was wrong." He smiled and leaned in, giving her a liquor coated kiss and making her laugh before dragging them both backwards to 'lay' on the roof.