I saw him, standing there, looking forlorn, against the balcony railing outside my door as I rolled up to the Days Inn motel after my night sharing the college jock Steve with his suddenly very friendly boyfriend, the college freshman who sang a strong high tenor note when Steve was thrusting deep inside him. Gordon Fields, my original threesome partner with Theo Kline, the man I'd only briefly seen again after two decades in passing at the Key West airport, where Kline was sending him on a mission back to Hollywood, looked like he didn't know what to do next-that his only mission was to find me and that he had no idea where to go from there if I wasn't at the motel.
His eyes lit up when he saw me getting off my moped, and he straightened up from his slouch against the railing and met me at the head of the stairs up to the second level. "Thank god you're back," he blurted out. "They've found the plane. I've just come from the police station-I had to fly back as soon as I heard; just as I thought, there was no real reason for Theo to have sent me back to Hollywood. I'm sure he knew something was up and he just wanted to get me out of harm's way. Damn fool; I would have stuck with him no matter what."
"Well, maybe that's exactly why he sent you away, Gordon. You must mean that much to him," I responded wearily.
Gordon continued on. "And that woman detective Sylvia Browne said I could-"
"Come inside, Gordon," I said as I walked past him and slipped my key card into the door slot. "I may not want to hear this standing out here on the balcony." I had a sudden feeling of dread. I knew it was Theo. Why would Gordon have come otherwise? I didn't want to hear-but then, at the same time, I wanted to know the worst.
"Is it Theo?" I asked when we were in the room. Gordon was still standing, but I had sunk down onto the bed-exhausted now, the unexpected presence of Gordon and the jolt of reality draining the cloud nine I had been on from the night under the young, hard body of the college jock.
"No, no sign of Theo yet," Gordon said.
I'd had no idea how tensed up I'd been in the previous three minutes. Yesterday and last night and now this release of tension drained me, and I collapsed back onto the bed. Gordon sat down next to me and leaned over me immediately.
"Clint, Clint, are you all right?" His voice was full of concern, and he wrapped his arms around me and lifted my chest up from the bed. He was rocking me back and forth, and I would have shown him I was fine sooner, but I was enjoying the intimacy-for some reason I sought the intimacy at this point.
"Yes, yes. It's OK. I'm OK. Just the thought that Theo-"
"Hush, hush," Gordon whispered, "I know. I felt the same. I had to find you and tell you. We've heard nothing from him, but at least . . . oh, god, Clint, it's been so long. You're still so-"
The tone of concern in Gordon's voice had turned husky, and I lifted my face to his and took his lips with mine, not needing to hear anything else now-having other needs, the memories of that summer with him and Theo flooding into my mind.
He ran a hand under my T and stroked my chest and nipples and my belly. And I sighed for him and moaned. Then he pulled my T over my head and pulled me up onto the bed and kissed me on the lips again and then started working his way down my body-burying his face in the hollow of my neck and then in my pits. His hands were working under the waistband of my cutoffs, and after finding and stroking my cock hard and cupping and squeezing my balls, he stripped off my cutoffs. Meanwhile he was worrying my nipples with his teeth and then my navel, and eventually he moved to swallowing my cock and bringing me to a boil and a fountaining in a long-remembered melting technique.
I was turned onto my back in the center of the bed, and his face was between my butt cheeks, seeking and finding and opening and wetting. And then I held onto the slats of the headboard for dear life, as he thrust deep inside me and rode me and rode me and rode me.
Sometime later, when I had recovered from his lovemaking and we were laying there, arm in arm, both exhausted but mellow in our homecoming reunion, I had the presence of mind to return to pressing reality.
"The plane. You were going to tell me about the plane," I murmured.
"Crashed," Gordon whispered, his voice still husky from answered lust. "They think there was a bomb on board from the way the bystanders described the crash. No survivors."
"Eddie Lund was the pilot, of course. The passengers they've identified were the Chinese actress, Clara Rose, and Joe and Aaron Blum."
"When was this crash?" I asked sharply, all attention now. I sat up in bed and reached for my cutoffs.
"Yesterday afternoon. Witnesses saw it come down, so they can pinpoint the time."
"That can't be . . . or was it all an illusion?"
"What? What illusion?" Gordon asked.
"I saw Clara Rose last night . . . or I thought I did. On Duval Street. Only saw her from the back, but it sure looked like her. Not too many with that hairdo and those hairpins walking around Key West."
"Well, it couldn't have been The Rose," Gordon said. "She was long dead by that time." He was stroking the small of my back languidly with his fingers, and I could tell he wanted to fuck again.
I lay there in silence. What was it Theo always said? Connections. No, not that. Things not always being what they seemed. He was always talking about movies and the illusions movie people created to convince their audience that they were seeing something they weren't.
"Gordon," I said, breaking into my silence. "No, no, don't do that. Serious talk here. For Theo." Gordon's hand had moved to my belly and was drifting down. "What were the guests on Theo's yacht doing on the movie set? I mean what were their functions?"
Gordon gave me a funny look, but then he dutifully answered. "Joe Blum was directing-Theo was producing, of course. Joe's son, Aaron, was Theo's new boy toy, but technically he was Theo's assistant. Eddie Lund and The Rose were the principal actors. Jerome was Theo's man everything. He also did some of the bit acting in the film. Kurt was in charge of the camera work; Melda took care of the scripts."
"And the ship's captain?" I asked. "He was in the scene I saw being filmed the other day. He was on a motorboat with Jerome."
"Diego Alarcon? The Colombian? Yeah, he covered some of the bit parts as well."
"What about a Derek Dominick? I ran across him in Miami, where he said he was in films, and then I saw him on the Final Curtain II-but not on the deck with the guests. I saw him below decks."
"Derek Dominick? No, I don't think so. I don't know who that is, and I know everyone working on the film."
But when I described Dominick to Gordon and suggested that he might have given me a false name, Gordon gave that some thought and said, "That could have been Jake Holt. Sounds like him from the description, and I wouldn't put it past him to give you a fake name too-and to pump up what he did in the film. He's just a cameraman. A pretty good one, but a nasty piece of work. He was Joe Blum's good deeds for publicity project; had done time. Joe insisted Theo sign him on for this movie."
"That sounds like him," I said. I didn't tell Gordon I suspected this Jake guy of having been involved in Gary Meltzer's death on the Atlanta-to-Miami flight.
But I'd saved the one that concerned me the most to last. "And how about Clara Rose's brother-Sam? I don't remember his Chinese name. What was his role in the film?"
"Ah, yes, Tung Chun-fai. He has always been The Rose's stunt double. All of that flashy Kung Fu stuff she did in those Chinese films? That was really Sam, made up to look like her. They're twins and have the same build. The switch was quite easy."
"Of course," I said, "Things are not always what they seem to be."
"What?" Gordon asked. He had his hand underneath the waistband of my cutoffs now and what he was doing down there was weakening my resolve.
"Oh, just something Theo often said to me-something I've found quite useful in my work. And you said neither this Jake guy nor Sam were found in the wreckage of the plane? Ohhhh, god. Again. Do that ag . . . ohhh, god."
"Nope," Gordon said in a dreamy voice that let me know he was just about finished talking-at least for a while. "The Cessna 182's a four-passenger plane. Eddie, The Rose, and the two Blums. Found and making up a full complement."
"And where did they find this plane? Do you know?"
"Come on, enough talk for now," Gordon growled. "I want you again."
"Just this-and then you will have earned a reward." I was too much on edge myself now to deny him much longer. "Try to remember. The plane was manifested for Biloxi. Is that where it went down?"
"No. Somewhere north of Fort Myer, I think. North up through Florida. Near a place called Babcock."
That cooled my ardor real fast-if only for a moment. I pulled away from Gordon and bounded off the bed, headed for my briefcase.
"Hey! You said."
"Just a minute," I answered. "Hold it for just a minute, and then I'll make it worth your while."
I rummaged around in the briefcase and came up with a map of Florida. "Aha!" I exclaimed when I'd found Babcock. "In Miami, the Jake guy told me he was going over to Lakeland, although I found he came on down to Key West instead-really made tracks to get here before me. Is there any place connected to the movie company over in Lakeland that he might be going?"
"Yeah, sure," Gordon answered. "Some of the filming is up in Lakeland. And that's where the props and equipment warehouse is-and the scenery back lot."
"OK, then I'm off to Lakeland. Babcock is in the direct air path from here to Lakeland. I have a hunch I need to get to Lakeland."
"Theo?" Gordon asked.
"Maybe. I sort of hope not. But I'll see."
"No, we'll see. You won't mind if I come along, will you?" Gordon asked.
"Better not. It could be dangerous. It's down to police work now."
"And do you know where you're going when you get to Lakeland?" Gordon asked. "I've been there; have you? How much time can you give to finding the warehouse?"
"Good point," I said. "So, I guess it's going to be 'we' who are going to Lakeland. Still as good a shot as you were twenty years ago?"
"Come back to bed and I'll show you how good a shot I am," Gordon said. And then he laughed a lusty laugh.
"OK, you're on," I answered. "But after we're done, you have to remind me to call Sylvia Browne. I think I can name the killers she's after now-and they aren't among the cast of characters who are known to have already bitten the dust."
By the time I'd finished that speech I was back on the bed, and, to Gordon's surprise-and delight-I was taking charge. I pushed him onto his back and straddled his hips with my thighs. Impaling myself on his luscious cock, I began showing him how well I could ride.