Folsom heard some muffled discussion from the other side of the door between his cramped, dark prison and the back panel on the closet in Roman's cabin and then some rustling around in the cabin followed by the slamming of the cabin door and then . . . silence . . . for the longest time.

A good thing he wasn't claustrophobic, Folsom was thinking. And then thinking about that, he started to become claustrophobic. Was he getting enough air? Why couldn't his eyes adjust to the dark? Would Roman ever return to set him free or would he die in here? Or was Roman really the killer and when he opened the door, Folsom would be met with the sweep of a pearl-handled knife? No, it couldn't be that. The police seemed already to have found that knife. But they found it in his own cabinor so they wanted him to think. What was it that Manfeld said? Did he actually say they'd found the knife in his cabin? And, if so, how could that be? Was he hyperventilating? Was it hotter in here now than when he'd been shut up?

Folsom pinched himself hard on the arm and willed himself to slow down his breathing and the racing of his mind. Breathe in and let it out slowly. Again. Must become calm.

And when he had become calm, he started to work the problem out. Roman had thought that he, Folsom, had killed Meisteror at least purported to think thatand was willing to help him for that very reason. And he would have killed Meister if someone hadn't beaten him to that. That's what he had come here to do in the first place. Had he let Roman know that? No, maybe not. If he did, and if Roman killed Meister, there would be no real reason Roman would kill him too. They still could cooperate. It wasn't Folsom's place to bring Meister's killer to the bar. He was an American cop off duty, not a German cop. It was Sigmund Frist's responsibility. No, not that either; that Manfeld guy was investigating the death. Frist made clear he wasn't on the cruise in his official capacity. But why then was he seeming to take charge? And then he disappeared. But of course if the German police didn't know of his preferences and that he'd be on a cruise like this, of course he'd have disappeared as soon as the police showed up. And Frist had made quite clear that he had joined the cruise at Rudesheim so he would be noticed joining the cruise in Mainz, which was in his jurisdiction. And why had he been arguing with Meister in that cafe in Rudesheim? The thoughts and fears were pressingwere becoming oppressive.

Folsom was hyperventilating againboth his mind and pulse racing at an increasing rate. Calm down. Breath slower. Purge your mind. Let your mind work on this subconsciously. Think of something else. Roman's cock stroking in and out of your ass, filling it, rotating in it, mining your insides as only a mature, experienced top can do. And the maddening variety of it. At first forceful and vigorous from anger and frustration and then turned to a tender, languid fucking. The way he played your nipples and stroked the curves and crevices of your body. The sensuous sucking on your toes as his cock pulled out and then stroked back into you to the hilt. . . . Your sighing and moaning. This is how you liked taking itrough and forceful and then slow and totally possessing you. It was the way Brad had given it to you. The best of orgiastic deaths.

There was a rumbling from below in the ship, and Folsom felt the pull. The ship was under way. It hadn't docked in Koblenz at all. It was supposed to be docked here for a full day. But it was on the move through the water and picking up speed. Where was that detective from Koblenz then? Was he still on board? And where was Roman? Was Folsom ever going to get out of this dark box? Who else cold possibly know he was in here?

Ralf, one of the masked bartender triplets? Ralf had helped save Folsom from the police. And Ralf had fucked him hard and had obviously enjoyed doing so. They had some connection; they both loved what they got from each other. Could Roman have had time to let Ralf know Folsom was locked in this storage box? But was Ralf the one who had killed Meister? And would he feel threatened by an American detective? Did Ralf know he was a police detective?

Dieter. Who killed Dieter? The rational explanation was that Meister killed Dieter in a similar way that he had killed Folsom's lover and partner, Brad Roberts, and that Meister had subsequently been killed in the same way because he had killed Dieter. That was the only rational explanation for these deaths. That works out if Dieter died before Meister did. The police would know that eventually, but how could Folsom find out? God, why was he being the cop on this? He didn't give a fuck who killed Meister. But should he care who killed Dieter? Wasn't that the key? And who would be motivated to torture and kill Meister if Meister had killed Dieter? It all came back to Roman.

Think, think. No, calm down. Conserve your energy and your breath. Is the air getting stale in here? Did I hear a buzzer? Was that a sound in the cabin? Somebody entering the cabin?

Folsom put his ear to the door of his prison. There indeed were men's voices, muffled but distinct. One angry; the other placating.

'Swear you had nothing to do with this and that you don't know where the American is, Roman.'

'Yes, I swear, I swear.'

The sound of a slap and a yelp.

'Maybe I can fuck the truth out of you.'

'No, no, Sten. I swear. I could never had killed Dieter and I didn't kill Meister. Oh, God no, you're hurting my arm, Sten.'

'Spread 'em. Feet apart. I don't give a fuck about Dieter. But it's all ruined now. If you killed Meister, you ruined everything.'

'Ohhhh. Not so fast not so deep! Your fingers. You're killing me. Give me time. Gr-o-a-n. I didn't kill Meister.'

'But you wanted to. You wanted to kill Meister for what he was doing to Dieter, didn't you? Get your hands away from there. Take it like a manlike you gave it to that prick Dieter each night on stage. Not so easy to take what you give, is it? But what I have is longer and thicker than what you've been sticking Dieter with, isn't it?' Ughhh.'

'Ahhhhhh, nooooo. Oh, God. You're too big. It's too . . . ahhhhhh!'

'And you don't know where the American is?'

Moan, grunt, groan.

'Tell me.'

Muffled pleading and groaning from Roman.

'Tell me.'

'No, no, I don't know. I swear. Oh God, stop. You're splitting me.'

'Jesus, you're tight. So prissy and chummy only with that Dieter. Well, Dieter's gone now. There are other cocks in play. I'll stop when you're begging for it. You'll tell me if you see the American, won't you?'

'Y-e-s-s. Ohhhhh.'

'And you love me inside you, don't you? You can't get enough of what Sten has got, can you?'

'Yes. I mean no. Ohhhhhh, I don't . . .'

A sharp cry from whoever was assaulting Roman. And then, 'There, that does you. I've marked you now. Now you're my bitch. I plan to pick up the pieces from Meister. Are you with me on that?'

A muffled 'Yes.'

'Remember what I said. We can tag the American with this. The scuttlebutt is that the knife was found in his cabin and his fingerprints are on the door of Meister's cabin and on the dildo. It's a slam dunk if they can find a motive. I'll get you a replacement for Dieter in the act. But your ass is mine now. Don't you forget it.'

The sound of a slamming door and of subsiding moaning and sobbing from inside the cabin. But Folsom, still locked in his dark prison, hardly heard these sounds at all.

The dildo, he was thinking, a shiver running down his spine. The guy who had brutalized Roman said Folsom's fingerprints were found on the dildo. There wasn't a dildo there when he saw the murder scene in Meister's cabin, Folsom reasoned. Maybe one was there and he just overlooked it in the short time he had been in the cabin? No, he was a trained police detective, and an extra-size dildo is a little hard to ignore. The prints on the door, sure, Folsom could remember having opened and closed the cabin door. But on the dildo? How had his prints gotten on the dildo? Or was the scuttlebutt around the ship been off the mark? Just false gossip, as most gossip was? Yeah, that must be it. But he could feel the noose tightening around his neckand they hadn't even gotten around to discovering the strength of the motive he had to kill Meister. He couldn't feel indignant about that at all; he'd meant to kill Meister all along. The irony was that he didn't get the satisfaction but might swing for the crime anyway. Talk about divine justice.



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