“I don’t need no warrant to tell you to take off your shirt, Alfonse. And I don’t really need for you to take off your shirt for both you and me to know that you have an all-color arm sleeve tattoo, do we?”

The black pawnbroker stood there, behind the cash register in his junk-packed store and stared belligerently back at Phil. There was a touch of fear in his face too--which was disconcerting, because he was a big bruiser of well over six foot and probably tipping out at over 250 pounds of pure muscle.

“Don’t know what that’s got to do with anything,” the man answered. His fists were balled up, but one of them was moving slightly forward, below the counter--right at the level a pawnbroker would keep his weapon. “I told you that little punk would lead you on a merry chase.”

“Keep your hands in view, good buddy,” Phil barked, as he unbuttoned his gun holster. “I could drop you before you got to anything, and you don’t want this grief. This is business. This don’t have nothing to do with business between me and you. I wouldn’t want to have to drop you.”

“No time for sweet talk, guys,” Hardesty interjected. “Where is the Web site studio, Mr. Barkley. Just give me an address, we’ll sit on you for a couple of hours, and then we’ll let you go.”

“What studio?” the black man said, turning his wary eyes to Hardesty. The vice cop could see that Barkley was assessing how deep a hole he was in. He’d tensed up significantly at the mention of a Web site studio and had backed up a step, like he’d gotten a body blow from an unexpected direction.

“We saw you on the video with the tied-up blond trick, the one with the Mohawk,” Phil said. “We’re ready to assume he’s underage, which puts you in a world of hurt. Not a piece I think you’d forget doing--like earlier today.” Hardesty blanched at this characterization of his Todd. His Todd. The thought made him angry too and he slammed his fist through the head of a drum hanging from the column next to him.

This startled both Phil and the pawnshop owner, but they quickly looked away and were at each other again. Still, Hardesty thought if that rattled the black guy and made him think they were on the edge here, that was probably good.

“And we saw you getting ready to join in a gang-bang of a Chink,” Phil continued. He wasn’t known for his delicacy or political correctness. “Don’t ask me ‘what studio’ again. Maybe you’d rather talk downtown. We could make a show of it so that all of your friends know you’ve led off to sing about who knows what for us.”

“An address. Now, Barkley. We don’t have time for this,” Hardesty impatiently interjected.

“I want to talk with my lawyer,” Alfonse Barkley answered, his eyes narrowed, his chin dropped to his chest in an “ain’t gonna say anything stance.”

“OK, we’ll meet up with your lawyer downtown, Alfonse. You can call him from the squad car, when you’re hooked up. Come out of there nice and easy now, big guy. Hands showing above your waist.”

As they were hustling a handcuffed pawnshop owner to the squad car outside, Phil turned and muttered to Hardesty. “Good going. The strong-arm approach worked a charm, didn’t it? And don’t think I don’t remember you talking to the blond Mohawked guy in the film out on the street the other night. Took him home with you that night, I’ll bet.”

“Shut it,” Hardesty answered. But after they’d gotten the black guy in the back of the cruiser, Hardesty put a hand on Phil’s arm before they got into the front.

“Yeah, and I remember you strutting back to the car, tucking in your shirt, and whistling to the tune of ‘I Just Got a Blowjob on the Job,” Hardesty shot back. “The guy you poked in an alley OK? Maybe I should go look for him and count the bruises?”

“Well, you obviously got ants in your pants yourself for the blond cutie,” Phil said. “The others can’t see it, but I can see that you’re going nuts over him being in those videos.”

“So what if I am? What are you going to do about it?”

“Nothing. We’re all in this together. Not my watchout that you’re getting too personal with it--but, if you are, you are. I’ve got your back--just as long as you’ve got mine. Just remember that.”

“Thanks, Phil. Glad we’re squared away. So, you’re taking this guy to the tombs?”

“Yeah, but maybe not a part of the tombs where his lawyer will find him real fast. I think I can work this guy.”

“Maybe like he’s worked you?” Hardesty said.

Phil gave him a level stare. “Yeah, well, you had your chance. If this guy gets put away, maybe you’ll fill in his slot?”

Hardesty didn’t answer that. He just got in the driver’s seat and almost had the car on roll before Phil would slide in beside him.

* * * *

Hardesty went up to the vice bullpen while Phil took Alfonse Barkley downstairs to the tombs. They hadn’t given Barkley his call from the squad car. Hardesty had no idea how soon Phil would give the pawnbroker that call, but he had a feeling it wouldn’t be until after they’d had a more intimate chat--if Phil didn’t get sidetracked by that guy down in Transportation he was trying to hook up with. Sometimes Phil let his dick get in the way of his concentration.

His phone was ringing when he got to his desk.

“Hardesty?”

By instinct and well-oiled practice, Hardesty slapped his hand over the phone receiver and called out, “Phone trace; my phone,” in a booming voice. He knew that someone would be on duty to jump right in on that. Then he was right back to the phone.

“Todd. Where are you? I’ve been worried.”

“I just had to call. I’m sorry that I walked out on you, but, you know . . . I’m not used to . . . you’re too nice to me. And a cop. I don’t deserve anyone being nice to me that way. I’ve really fucked it up.”

“Where are you Todd? I’ll come right to you. I’ve got a room set up for you at home. In green and gold. Those were your school colors, right?”

There was a pause on the other end. Hardesty welcomed it and didn’t break into it--both because it meant Todd was considering what he said and because the longer he kept the young man on the line, the more likely the call could be traced.

“I don’t know. I’ve got something good going now, I think. A steady gig with good money. They’re good to me. They’re my friends.”

“I’m your friend, Todd. I can be just as good to you. I care for you. I don’t think anyone else you’re with does.” He couldn’t go further than that. He couldn’t let Todd know they’d been watching him being taken. That surely would tip the scales on this call.

“I don’t know. It’s good here. I’m not on the street. You left me on the street.”

“No, I didn’t, Todd. Think. I offered you something else. You walked out on me. You went back out on the street on your own. God, Todd. I’ve been tearing my hair out looking for you. I’m asking you to come home. I . . . I . . .”

“Home? I don’t know. So many want me. Some of them just like Thane. I just don’t know. You talkin’ ‘home’ sounds a lot like control again.”

Hardesty was aghast. He’d almost said it. He’d almost told Todd he loved him. He’d never said that to anyone else. Why was he almost saying it to Todd? Was it true or was he just being dogged and willing to do anything to get the young man out of the business?

“Todd. It doesn’t have to be any way you don’t want it. You can make all your own decisions--but maybe better when you aren’t so confused. Why are you calling me if you aren’t sure that I care?”

“Umm, I . . . I just want to thank you for trying for me. You’re the first guy since I hit D.C. that treated me right--well after . . . you know.”

“God, Todd, I’m sorry. You don’t know how sorry I am about how it started. But . . .”

He didn’t complete that sentence, because the line was dead.

“Trace?” he yelled out.

“Sorry. A disposable,” shot back the answer from across the bullpen.

* * * *

“Nice to see you, sugar. I was just thinking about calling you. I could use some of you. But I thought you’d like to know that I saw Nathan at the club last week.”

“Nathan, at the club,” Hardesty parroted back to the dancer calling himself Freddie--the effeminate one who had told him that Todd had been substituting for Nathan. He wasn’t sure he’d heard right. They were at the back of the club room, but the sound system was on full blow, and the crowd was cheering the three dancers on the poles.

Freddie wasn’t one of the dancers in this set. Hardesty had seen him when he’d entered the bar, still in his G-string and sitting on a burly guy’s lap. When Freddie saw Hardesty, though, he rose from the lap--much to the disgruntlement of the man he’d been working--and motioned Hardesty to another, empty table.

“Yes, he was gone before I could speak to him. He was talking to one of the new dancers, Ping, though, before he left. And the next day Ping took off too. Didn’t appear for his set, and I haven’t seen him since.”

“Ping. That’s a peculiar name.”

“Not for a Chinaman, it isn’t, sweetie. Ping was Chinese. American now, but not from here. Good dancer too. All of the really good ones seem to be moving on quickly . . . except for me, of course.” Freddie gave Hardesty a brilliant smile, fluttered his false eyelashes, and put his hand on Hardesty’s thigh, really high on this thigh, and not on the outside either. He had an index finger on Hardesty’s crotch and was rubbing something cylindrical inside the material. It was stirring in there for him too.

Freddie was a disposable type for Hardesty. When he was randy and he didn’t want anything complicated, he’d just stroll down any street in this district, and the Freddies of the business would be pulled into his wake. A quickie in that motel room he used and tensions gone for a couple of days with no threat of attachment.

“And were Nathan and this Ping talking serious?”

“They seem to be--them and that construction guy I told you about.”

“He was here too?”

“Yeah. You asked about his name. It was Gunther.”

“Gunther. It sounds German.”

“He sounds German too. It’s fun to hear German words when someone is fucking you. Do you speak German, Mr. Hardesty? I could give you some words you could use.”

Bingo, Hardesty thought--not for Freddie’s blunt proposition, but the German accent. His spirits soared. It was all coming together. “This Gunther have a last name?”

“I’m sure he does. But we never got around to sharing last names. We share other things, though. Are you in the mood to share, Mr. Hardesty? I rather think so. Sharing might help me remember more.”

There was no denying that Hardesty could share. Hardesty’s cock had far less taste than his brain did. Freddie was cupping his basket now and continuing to stroke his cock with an index finger inside the material of his trousers.

Hardesty tried to ignore that--for now. He had to concentrate. He was on the trail. Things had to happen fast from here.

“Is he a tall, thin guy, but good muscles, veins standing out on his arms, and a winged tattoo all across his back.”

“Don’t tell me he fucks you too, darling. That would be a shame. Such a waste of a magnificent cock--yes, I can get its measure, big boy. But, yes, that’s him--not that I’ve ever gotten a good look at his back, except at the beginning, when he’s undressing.”

“And you’d be able to pick him out--and Nathan--and Ping--on videos?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“And will you come down to the precinct with me to look at some videos? No hassling, just some IDing of men.”

“I have videos that would knock your socks off back in the dressing room, doll. I’d like to take your socks off myself.”

Hardesty sighed and threw a brain wave at his hard-on that he’d gotten the message--but only, he told himself, in the line of necessity. “Later. I’ll give you something special later, if that’s what you want--if you’ll go down to the precinct with me now and do this one thing. Just a couple of minutes of your time. I can book a motel room on the way over, if you want some sort of assurance.”

“Eight inches of assurance?”

“If that’s what you want. Maybe more.”

The dancer visibly shuddered. “Let me get something more than this on, lover. I’ll be only a minute. This isn’t really the right attire for a police station performance. Will there be a lineup? Can I give specifications of the men I’d like to see lined up?”

* * * *

The Web site was on the air when they got to the precinct. The captain raised an eyebrow as Hardesty, pulling Freddie along with a hand on the dancer’s arm, slid into the semicircle of detectives looking at the film.

It obviously was already near the end of the film clip. One naked, balaclava-helmeted bruiser was on his back on the bed. Todd was draped on top of his chest, looking up at the camera. The man’s cock was inside Todd, and Todd was moaning and looking dopey at the camera. The man’s legs laced through Todd’s and lifted his out and up. A second man, with a balaclava on, a little more pudgy and older than the first, came down on the bed on his knees, he walked on his knees to between Todd’s spread leg. A side-angle shot showed him entering Todd’s ass with his cock--on top of the cock already there.

The man on top was whispering something lost to the camera, and Todd answered in a thick voice, “Yes, it’s OK . . . I can . . . oh, shit.”

The man on top was beginning to stroke inside Todd. He’s taken Todd’s ankles in his hands and was holding the young blond’s legs up high and spread well apart.

“Say it. Tell the viewers you want it. That we take care of you. That we’re good to you.” An off-camera voice with a German accent.

“Yes,” Todd conceded in a slurred voice, “You’re all good to me. You’re my friends.”

“And you want other friends from out there, beyond the camera too. Invite them to join the bid to share you.”

“Yes, I want it again,” Todd murmured.

But then his eyes snapped wide open and he grabbed out for the shoulders of the man on top. He began to writhe between the two men and to cry out, “Yes, yes. Fuck me. Both. Harder! Getitgetitgetit, Give it, Give it . . . Oh, God, YES!”

Hardesty had seen where the guy on the bottom had moved a hand to Todd’s gecko tattoo and was rubbing it.

“Turn it off. Turn the fucking thing off,” Hardesty said.

“Can’t. Working here,” Charlie answered, his fingers dancing on the keyboard.

The captain pulled Hardesty aside. Hardesty, in turn, pulled a wide-eyed Freddie with him.

“Calm down, Hardesty,” the captain hissed. “This isn’t like you.”

“We’ve gotta keep trying, captain. We’ve got to bust these guys.”

“I know we do. We’re all working on it. And who’s this you’ve dragged in?”

Dragged in wasn’t far off the mark. Freddie was dressed so flamboyantly that there was little question what he was or what he’d do for money.

“A dancer. I think he can ID--”

“That was Todd,” Freddie blurted out.

“I’m sorry you had to--” the captain started to say. But then he turned to Freddie. “That was who?”

“God, I wish that was me,” Freddie murmured, lost in his own little world. “That was Todd. He danced with me at the club.”

“So, he knows the blond guy,” Hardesty said before the captain could react. “I thought that might be the case. Let’s show him the other tapes and see who else he can identify.”

“That’s Nathan, yes. Nathan Winstead. He’s a dancer, yes. and he’s with Gunther--and the Hispanic is called Leon. Boy, can he cock. That’s Gunther again, the one obviously in charge. He’s in construction, you know. Somewhere up 16th Street, I think is where Nathan told me his offices are. No, I don’t know his name . . . or where on the 16th Street. And Ping. The Chinese guy is Ping. He is a dancer too. And, oh my, oh my. I think I’m going to faint. Somebody give me a fan.”

“Perhaps a glass of water,” The captain said, motioning to one of the detectives.

“Oh, no, sugar. That’s just a figure of speech. I think I might faint in a good way.”

The captain looked perplexed, like he didn’t know what would be appropriate to say. He fully understood that the weird gay guy was providing useful information and that he, the captain, needed to stand back and not get in the way of the flow.

“So, that’s it? That’s all you recognize?” Hardesty asked.

“Well, the rest are mainly muscles and hood ornaments and dicks, honey, but I can tell you that those people are having one hell of a good time. Now, Mr. Hardesty, if we’re done here, you said you’d give it to me.”

“Umm, do we need to go tap the snitch fund, Hardesty?” the captain asked.

“No need, captain. I got this. I’ll take Freddie back to the club and be back in a few.”

* * * *

“Oh, honey, honey, you horse-hung stud. Oh, Yes. Be good to me. Give me your sugar. Yes, just like that. It’s not the long arm of the law; it’s the long cock. The thick, looooong cock. Oh, Fuccck, yes. Keep pumping me like that and I’ll tell you anything, you big, strong hunk. Oo, cop’s dicks are so evil.”

Hardesty had Freddie kneeling on all fours on the bed in a room in the same motel he’d taken Todd to that first time. He was crouched over the figure of the little dancer close, his cock buried to the hilt, fucking in hard, pistoning action, short jabs, deep. He’d snaked an arm under the small man’s waist and was slow pumping his dick.

His mind was wandering as Freddie babbled. The fuck was OK, but it wasn’t Todd. And it was just paying off an informant--at least he told himself that. He knew it was idiotic, but his cock liked fucking the Freddie types. They seemed to appreciate it and fucking them was uncomplicated. There was nothing personal in it for any part of him other than the cock, though. And, yes, he did sometimes think of his cock as a different personality all together. It certainly seemed to have a mind of its own from time to time.

So, he was as much a prostitute as Todd was. He was just as prone to sell himself for what he wanted in return. That was sort of comforting to think of. It took the complication out of his perpetual randiness. Freddie was small. Todd was small. Both Nathan and Ping had looked small. Were all pole dancers small? Did they all babble and squeal when they were being fucked like Freddie did? Not Todd. Well, not until his tattoo was rubbed.

“Oh Sweetfuckingjeesus! You’re makin’ me come.” Hardesty had stopped the pistoning temporarily and was revolving his hips slowly, moving his cock in a circular fashion deep inside Freddie’s ass. Freddie’s groans and the way his body was shuddering indicated he loved this attention. Hardesty pumped hard a couple of more times and Freddie’s body jerked and he came inside Hardesty’s fist. Hardesty moved that hand up to Freddie’s mouth, and the little dancer licked the cum off it.

Hardesty began to pump again. “Oh, lover, yes. Hard. Deep. Like that. Gotta take care of daddy. Cops are the best.” He clenched his channel, and it was Hardesty’s turn to groan.

“Now, don’t you come before telling me you’re ready. But you can fuck me like this all day. You’re amazing. Fuck me all day. Oh, Sweetfrigginggod, don’t you come now without telling me.”

“I’m telling you.”

“What?”

“I’m telling you. I’m about to . . .”

Freddie was quick as a rabbit. He pulled away from under Hardesty and turned and scooted down all in one fast, fluid movement. He jerked the condom off Hardesty’s cock and reached up to twist Hardesty’s nipples as his mouth closed over Hardesty’s dick. He was just in time to collect all of Hardesty’s ejaculate.

Hardesty rolled one way onto his back and Freddie rolled the other way, both stretched out flat on their backs on the motel’s king-sized bed. The bed was the only quality piece of furniture in the room. Hardesty had always thought that was so the springs would be solid, wouldn’t squeak and disturb the fuck games of those in the neighboring rooms. Truth be known, though, this is why he rented at this motel so often himself.

“You give good fuck . . . cops give the best fuck,” Freddie murmured. Then he laughed. “Sorry, just joking. You give great fuck for anyone.”

He turned toward Hardesty and came up on an elbow, with his hand cupping his chin. “You’re sweet on Todd, aren’t you? You’re not just asking about him because you’re a cop and it’s your job, are you? You care for him.”

“Yes,” Hardesty answered with panting breath.

“I could tell by the way you asked questions about him--and by the way you reacted to those videos.”

“Yes.”

“That’s why I told you what I did. I’m not usually a snitch, you know. But I could tell you cared about one of us.”

Hardesty didn’t answer that. He was processing it.

“That and because I could tell you had a monster cock and could fuck. And you do and can. And I wanted it inside me. Even if you’re a cop. And a vice cop, too I think. Worst kinda cop. But what a way to go. Vice cops give the best fuck. Cuff me and haul me off. But fuck me in the back of the squad car. That’s what a lot of the vice cops do. What do you say? Take me in the back of your squad car and fuck me to heaven.”

Freddie laughed again and even Hardesty managed a chuckle.

“You said, during sex, that you’d tell me anything, Freddie.”

“I’m not accountable for anything I say during hot sex. But OK. What do you want to ask?”

“Back there, at the precinct, when you saw Todd being doubled. You said you wished it was you.”

“Yeah, I sure did. Do you know how I can get into movies too, sugar?”

“Doing that?”

“Hell yes.”

“Having other men do that to you?”

“Why not? Why do you think I’m a pole dancer? Did you think it paid well? There’s nothing wrong being addicted to cock, honey. That’s me. And guys like Todd. And Nathan and Ping. You think they don’t know what they’re getting into? They’re just addicted to the cock. Some of them are addicted to bad boys too. That’s Todd, I think. But I think you can be a bit of a bad boy too. I’ll bet you went into vice so that you could fuck honeys like me in the back of your squad car. And when they can have a monster cock like this . . .” Freddie had rolled over to Hardesty and had Hardesty’s cock in his hand. The cock was noticing the attention “. . . they make the most of it while they can. People like me and Todd get old too. If we’re addicted to cock, we get the most of it we can while we can. And what if men get off on thinking they are in control and getting it by force or sneak, if that’s their fetish? If men will pay for that, all to the good.”

“But Web sites like that. The danger. The degradation.”

“Some men like the danger, even the degradation. For some, it’s more arousing. Didn’t you see how Todd stepped it up several notches when it was getting really tough. It’s a high he was reaching for. I’ll bet he gave it to you good in the back of your squad car. Tell me, did you dick him in the back of your squad car? You gonna dick me there too?”

More like in the front seat of his own car, Hardesty thought. But he didn’t want to tell Freddie that it more was that Todd had an incredibly sensitive erogenous zone and someone had stenciled a gecko on top of it to point the way.

“So, you think that someone like Todd isn’t going to settle down?”

“Sure he would. If he had the right cock inside him twice a day. One like this one.” Freddie had worked Hardesty’s cock up hard again, and Hardesty was slow panting, trying--without any success at all--not to show he cared. “And someone who eats his Wheaties like you do, lover. My, my, you’ve come back fast. And big. You like me; you really like me.” Freddie laughed before continuing. “What is it, hon, seven and a half or eight by two? I keep statistics, you know.”

“Something like that,” Hardesty said through heavy breathing. “I haven’t bothered to measure it.”

“Liar, all men measure themselves.” Freddie gave the cock a little slap, and Hardesty jerked in surprise and short-lived pain.

But he knew Freddie was right. And of course he knew how big he was--to the centimeter. And he was a little miffed that Freddie had guessed on the short side. “What if cocking doesn’t seem to be enough?” he asked.

“It’s enough for someone like Todd, trust me. You just have to get his full attention first. And give him the security he needs. And cocking twice a day. If you want to find him in your bed in the morning, keep your cock inside him all night. It’s just the way it is with guys like Todd and me. And speaking of cocking twice a day . . .”

“I can’t, Freddie. I’ve got to get back to the office.”

“Oo, and would your office be your squad car? Take me into the backseat and--”

“I’ve given you what--”

“Yes, you’ve given me the cocking you promised. And you gave it to me good, better than you had to. But your cock doesn’t agree with you. You’re hard again, all eight and a quarter inches of you. Didn’t think I could measure with my eyes, did you?” He laughed again and then moved on top of Hardesty, pinning him to the bed. “And now I’m going to make love to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Freddie was straddling Hardesty’s thighs, and Hardesty had thrown an arm across his face, knowing they were going to fuck again, that once again his cock had won over his resolve. “Ahem,” Freddie said, and Hardesty took his arm away from his face and looked up at Freddie, who opened his mouth in a grin. It took a few seconds for Hardesty to realize the young dancer had a condom pellet in his mouth.

“Freddie, no.”

Freddie leaned down over Hardesty’s pelvis. He gripped Hardesty’s balls with one hand and squeezed hard enough to convince Hardesty just to lay there quietly and Freddie unrolled the condom on Hardesty’s cock with his lips and teeth. Hardesty groaned his imprisoned arousal.

Still gripping Hardesty’s balls, Freddie moved up, straddling Hardesty’s pelvis, skewered his ass on his chosen pole, and slid down it to the root. He lowered his lips on Hardesty’s nipples, and his long, blond hair, having escaped its pony tail, was brushing on Hardesty’s chest and shoulders. The small man grabbed Hardesty’s upper arms and pressed them out to his side. That was only symbolic. Freddie didn’t have the strength to hold Hardesty’s arms down if the big man didn’t want him to.

But Hardesty just laid there and moaned. Freddie was doing something with the muscles of his channel that had Hardesty in thrall. His mind flipped to what Freddie said about big men and their fetishes and the fetish of being in control--and he realized that he wasn’t in control now. Freddie had him imprisoned in the prison of lust, of the male need to get his rocks off.

Hardesty groaned and gave into it. He easily freed his arms, reached down and cupped and squeezed Freddie’s buttocks cheeks. He pulled his feet up flat on the surface of the bed, raising his pelvis for a deeper penetration of Freddie’s channel, which caused Freddie to moan. And then, using the leverage of his heels, he began to stroke hard and deep.

“Oh, Sweetfuckin’jeesusss!” Freddie cried out. “You’re killing me. And don’t you stop doing it! At least eight and a quarter--maybe more! Give it to me. All of it. Oh, god, closer to nine. Oh fuckin’ shit, honey. Work me, baby. Shit, vice cops are the best!” Freddie dug into the mattress with his knees and started rocking back and forth on the cock, groaning and moaning and breathing too hard to comment further . . . until after he’d shot his load and was working Hardesty’s nipples with his mouth and teeth again while Hardesty was still stroking. “Tell me before you come. You gotta let me know before you come.”

Afterward, as Hardesty was dressing and Freddie was still lying on the bed, on his back, legs splayed, and playing with his cock with his hand, Freddie said, “Hauptman. The construction man. His name is Gunther Hauptman. Hauptman Construction Company. The guy on the tapes telling everyone what to do. The one with the wings tattooed on his back and speaking with a German accent.”

Hardesty gave Freddie a hard look.

“I had to be sure. Todd is a lucky man. Go find him. And remember, just keep him well fucked. Keep it inside him all night. Nine inches of cock should do it fine. You’re a vice cop; you give the best fuck. And I know you can’t wait. Go ahead. I’ll get back to the club on my own.”

And then to Hardesty’s retreating back: “If you find out how I can get into those movies, you’ll let me know, right?”

And as almost a whisper when Hardesty was through the door: “And if Todd doesn’t want you, come back to me. I do.”

* * * *

The first bad news accosted Hardesty as he hit the stairs hard up to the third-floor vice bullpen. Phil was standing on the second floor landing, looking dejected--and very guilty of something.

“What did you find out from . . . ?” But Hardesty didn’t finish the sentence. From the guilty look Phil was giving him, he knew the crux of the story already.

“He’s gone. His lawyer had him out of here before I could get him booked.”

“Gone? Blakely’s gone?”

Phil didn’t answered.

“How the shit can a perp be gone even before you get them charged? We didn’t give him the phone call for his lawyer in the car. We conveniently forgot to give him that.”

No answer.

“Oh, fuckin’ A. You got down to the tombs and put him in a cage and then you went to the motor pool, didn’t you? Let that big guy in dispatching dispatch you on his desktop, didn’t you? Took all the time in the world doing it too, right?”

“We know where he is. We can just go back and pick him up.”

“And what the hell good would that do, Phil? He’s on the loose. He knows what we were dragging him in for. First thing he did, I know, is to call Gunther Hauptman.”

“Gunther who?”

“Oh, shit, Phil. You may have lost them all for us just because of your need to have a cock inside of some guy in the motor pool--and your attention deficit disorder.”

Disgusted and panicked, Hardesty pushed the other detective aside and hit the stairs running. Moving fast past Charlie’s position en route to his own desk, Hardesty had a sickening thought.

“Charlie, I told you the other day to latch onto the upper 16th Street corridor at the beginning of your race with the clock on tracking that Web cam location. Did you?”

“Oh, shit,” I forgot. “Very next time, I promise.”

As he passed a researcher’s desk, he said--almost yelled--“A Gunther Hauptman of the Hauptman Construction Company. Can you get an address stat, Cleo? Should be on 16th Street.”

“Will do,” a young woman said, all business, as she swiveled back to her computer terminal.

The message light on Hardesty’s phone was blinking.

The message was short; it couldn’t have been traced even if someone had picked up on it live.

“Hardesty. It’s me again. I’ve been thinking. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you should come pick me up. I’m at . . .”

That was it. The message had been cut off.

“Oh, fuck.”

This matched an “Oh, fuck” floating up from Charlie’s position as well. “Captain. Guys. Hardesty, you’d better come watch this. I’ll rewind.”

The scene on the screen was the Hispanic, his black cloth balaclava in place, standing on the bed, feet spread. Todd was suspended from his middle, their pelvises glued together, Todd’s torso swung down in front of and away from the torso of the Hispanic, the young man’s wrists, in handcuffs, dragging on the bed. His legs were wrapped around the Hispanic’s hips and, with his ankles cuffed together.

The coverage apparently was live. The Hispanic was gripping Todd’s waist on either side, with the fingers of one hand rubbing the gecko tattoo.

Todd, sounding nearly spent, his cum already dribbling down his chest, was murmuring. “Deeper, harder, you’re so big. Do it, do it. Getitgetitgetit! Oh, god, you’re so good to me. FUCKFuckfuck.” From there, Todd’s voice was reduced to a slow-motion babble.

As they watched the screen in horror, a tall, thin figure came into the playing field from the right margin. He was clothed, and he kept his gray, buzz-haircut head turned away from the camera lens, but Hardesty didn’t need any proof to know that it was Gunther Hauptman.

Hauptman barked “It’s busted. We have to leave.” The accent was German.

He had a white cloth in a hand and he knelt on the bed and placed the cloth over Todd’s face. Todd squirmed briefly and then was just hanging there until the Hispanic pushed him down onto the bed. Hauptman backed to the camera and knocked it to the floor, where the only visual was the bed skirt. There briefly were sounds of a weight being hauled off the bed, but then the camera was switched off.

A female voice called out from across the room: “2315 16th Street. Home address in Bethesda, Maryland, if that helps. 6472 White Oak.”

Hardesty turned and looked at the chalky-white face of Charlie. “She’s right,” Charlie said almost in a croak. “It ran long enough the first time to get a fix. 2315 16th Street.”

“Captain!” Hardesty called out, but Captain Crane was already there.

“I know. We gotta keep trying,” he said. “16th Street it is. Mount ’em up, crew.”

Phil was there now, all guilty looking and wanting to do something. “I’ll go back and pick up Alfonse Barkley. He’ll just have gone back to his shop.”

“Suits me,” Hardesty said with a hard edge to his voice. “I don’t think you deserve this bust anyway.”

* * * *

The address was right. Hardesty knew that as soon as they pulled up outside the building. The windows were the dead giveaway. Two thinner panes beside a central, long pane. And another one running across the top of the three. Windows like that all across the upper stories of the vintage building.

It wasn’t that hard to find the suite of offices assigned to Hauptman Construction, either. The suite number was on the listing in the lobby. It was harder to find the Web site video studio, and they only did so when the hidden staircase in the closet in Hauptman’s construction company office was discovered and led them up to a series of three rooms above. Only the bed frame was in the one room, and only the ceiling hooks here and the one in the room that had held the sling were still present. The third room also had the frames of single beds in it--five of them. There was a refrigerator and hot plate, and a bathroom. This was the only room that wasn’t entirely cleaned out. From the pizza boxes, miscellaneous pieces of clothing, and gay male magazines strewn around, it would have taken a bulldozer to sanitize this room.

Hardesty stood there, in the middle of the room, seething and holding a baseball cap in his hand that was a yellow-gold with the word “Lions” embossed above the bill.

“Damn that cocksucking Phil,” Hardesty muttered under his breath. And then he set his shoulders and called out. “Let’s hit the Bethesda house. He hasn’t had time to clean out here and there both.”

The captain was at his side. “Bethesda’s out of our jurisdiction, Hardesty. We’ll have to call in the Maryland police.”

“So, call Maryland, Captain,” Hardesty said. “They can meet us there if you can get them off the pot. In the meantime I’m taking a ride into Maryland. Anyone going with me?”

“I know, I know. Gotta keep trying,” Crane said. Then he shrugged his shoulders and joined the exodus for the door.

It was true that Gunther Hauptman didn’t have time--on the schedule that Hardesty had set--to clear both locations out.

He met them at the door to his Bethesda house, only opening the door a crack, putting on a brave front.

“Is there something I can do for you today, officers? I’m afraid you can’t come in. My wife has cancer and she’s just managed to--”

Hardesty socked the smug man in the mouth, and trucked right on into the foyer, letting Captain Crane lunge at the man with the German accent in an attempt not to let him fall back on his head on the marble floor.

The raiding party caught a glimpse of Nathan Winstead at a secretary in the living room, feeding paper into a shredder. He spent an instant too long looking like a deer in the headlights. With a flick of his wrist Hardesty had sent two officers off to grab him.

Hardesty hit the stairs to the second floor, taking them two at a time. He accosted a naked Alfonse Barkley outside a closed bedroom door and pushed him into the arms of a couple of more cops. He momentarily enjoyed the grim satisfaction that Phil wouldn’t even get this bust.

He burst into the room. Todd was on the bed, naked and on his back, and his wrists handcuffed to the headboard. His legs were spread, with his ankles cuffed with leads to the corner posts at the foot of the bed. His pelvis was elevated by pillows, and there was cum dribbling down his inner thighs from his hole. There wasn’t much question what Alfonse had been doing before he came out into the upper hallway.

Todd was babbling as Hardesty managed to get him released.

“They were going to kill us. I heard them talking about it. You were right. They weren’t my friends at all.”

“Shush, Todd. It’s over. Just be quiet and relax. I’ll take you home soon.”

“Home?”

“Back to our house. Don’t think about it now. Don’t think about anything. Just rest.”

“Ping. Where’s Ping? They said they were going to kill us, get rid of the evidence. Not Nathan. He’s one of them. Their procurer. But Ping . . .”

They found Ping in another bedroom. They had to disarm the Hispanic who was wielding a knife first. Ping hadn’t been as lucky as Todd had been, thanks to the Hispanic’s knife.

It was only then, when all of the Web site gang that were here had been ferreted out and disarmed, that they heard the sirens.

“Ah, the Maryland police,” Hardesty said, sardonically. “I wonder what they’d have found if these guys had had a little extra time.”

“I’m sure we can smooth it over,” Captain Crane said. “It won’t help having you mouth off, though. And I take it you want this Todd guy kept out of it for the moment--it can’t be for long, of course. Get him out of here. I don’t want you here either. Out the back door. He’s on the tapes and he’ll be needed as a witness, but--”

“Captain.”

“Yes.”

“Thanks. Just thanks.” Hardesty didn’t even want to know how Crane knew--or why Crane was helping him and Todd this way. He figured Crane wouldn’t want to talk about it, so he wouldn’t. But anything Crane wanted him to do from here on out, he’d be there doing it.

He found a pair of jeans that fit Todd and had him out the back door, while Crane was still dealing with the Maryland police at the front of the house.

“I’m taking you home and you’re taking a hot shower and then sleeping for two days before anything else,” Hardesty said on the ride back to his place. “You’ll have to give statements and be at the trials and all--there will be a lot of trials. It will take us some time to roll up all the direct participants and then the club members. But I’ll do what I can to keep you out of the worst of it.”

“Hardesty.”

“What?”

“My name isn’t Todd. It’s Toby.”

“Yeah, I guess I had that figured out. That’s how I knew you were pretty innocent to all of this too. You were walking around with true identity cards on you.”

“You looked.”

“Yes. That first night.”

“So, it was just a job.”

“Looking was just a job. The fucking that followed--that was personal. And I don’t think either of us knew it at that time, but I think, for me, at least, that was lovemaking.”

“Oh.” It didn’t sound like he was fully convinced. What could convince him?

“My name is James,” Hardesty said. “But you can call me Jim. Just you, though. Everyone else has to keep calling me Hardesty.”

“Jim?”

“Yes?”

“The shower sounds nice. But after that, I want you to fuck me.”

“After all you’ve been through, you want the cock?”

“Yours, yes. I want you to make love to me with that huge cock of yours. I want to know that someone will take me who just wants me--who isn’t taking advantage of me.”

Hardesty’s thoughts went back to what Freddie had said. Some guys just naturally live for the cock. Freddie said that Todd was one of those guys. And Freddie said that if Hardesty wanted to keep Todd, he’d have to keep him with the cock. Suddenly Hardesty understood. This, of all times, was when he needed to pin Todd to the bed with the cock--and to keep it inside him until Todd lost any instinct to run.

“Sure, if that’s what you want.”

They were on Hardesty’s bed in the master bedroom. He had shown Todd the other bedroom, redecorated for him in green and gold, and Todd had said he liked it and would use the room, but he wanted to sleep with Hardesty in the king-sized bed in the master bedroom.

Hardesty had always been pretty much of a “fuck ’em and then go home to my own bed alone” type of guy. But then he thought of Freddie’s advice again: If you want to find him in your bed in the morning, keep your cock inside him all night.

Toby was on his back in the center of the bed, his legs hooked on Hardesty’s hips, Hardesty’s knees up under Toby’s buttocks. Hardesty was pulling Toby’s channel back and forth on his cock.

“You’re so big. And so thick,” Toby murmured. “That’s what I remembered about you. All of those men. So many men and so often, and what I remember is you deep inside me. Deeper than anyone else. Thicker than anyone else. God, you’re good.”

“I had someone tell me it was nine inches once; he also said that vice cops do it best,” Hardesty said, in jest. He laughed to mark it as a joke.

“I think it must be. Hard. We should measure.”

“It’s busy now,” Hardesty said.

“It certainly is, and I won’t give it up for measurement.”

If you want to find him in your bed in the morning, keep your cock inside him all night.

Hardesty felt Toby’s hand on his, the one gripping Toby under his pec on the right side, and tried to move it down to the gecko tattoo.

“No, Toby, not tonight.”

“I want to go wild with you tonight. That’s my spot. That frees me.”

“Who told you that was your spot?”

“Thane. My wife’s boyfriend.”

“And he had you tattooed there?”

“Yes. It almost didn’t happen. Thane had to hold me and the tattooist had to fuck me while he was doing the tattoo.”

“Toby, you are free to go wild with me any time you want. You don’t need a crutch of any sort. Let’s see what we can do without the tattoo.”

“OK,” Toby answered in a small, unconvinced voice.

Hardesty lowered his mouth to Toby’s and took him in a long kiss. Toby sighed for him. Hardesty moved his mouth to Toby’s nipples and the nipple ring, and Toby moaned for him. Hardesty move a hand down, between Toby’s thighs and worked three fingers inside Toby’s channel alongside his cock, and Toby groaned.

All the time Hardesty was slow pumping him.

“Ah so deep, so deep,” Toby whimpered. “It’s got to be nine. Don’t stop. Please don’t stop.”

Hardesty was still chewing on his nipples. He started moving his cock inside Toby with his fingers. Combining rotation with the in and out, in and out pumping. Toby arched his back and howled, “Yes, YES! Give it to me, Give it to me. God, sooo deep. Yes, Yes! Vice cops do it best!”

Hardesty pulled his finger out and found Toby’s cock. He slow pumped him with Toby babbling and writhing under him.

“This is as good as finding the tattoo. I can feel your passion.”

“Yes, yes, fuck me hard.”

Hardesty began doing just that, and he increased the stroking of Toby’s cock--until Toby jerked and spouted up in the space between their quivering bellies.

“Thank you,” Toby murmured.

“It’s not done,” Hardesty whispered. “For one thing, I haven’t come. For another I am staying inside you all night. And I am going to be hard much of the night. And I’m going to fuck you constantly . . . through the night.”

“Oh, god,” Toby whimpered. But it was a happy whimper.

Hardesty began pumping again and Toby answered him with a counterpunching of his pelvis. Hardesty reached in the folds of the sheet and brought out a flexible dildo. “This really is nine inches,” he murmured. “We’ll do our measuring inside.”

“Oh, fuck, oh, shit.” Toby groaned. But he brought his feet up flat on the surface of the bed, dug his heels in to elevate his pelvis more, and widened his stance.

Hardesty began working the dildo in on top of his own buried cock. Toby cried out in passion and set his pelvis in motion, grinding hard against Hardesty’s groin. They came almost simultaneously.

Hardesty let Toby free to roll away from him, while he pulled his spent condom off and dropped it over the side of the bed into the wastebasket.

“Your turn to bring it back to life,” he said as he pulled Toby down toward his thighs.

Near dawn, Toby stretched out on his belly and Hardesty covering him, his dick still deep inside Toby’s channel, the young man murmured sleepily.

“Jim.”

“What?”

“I think we’re going to need to get a bigger wastebasket in here.”

“That or stop investing in rubbers,” Hardesty said. “If I’m the only one in there, we don’t need rubbers.”

Hardesty felt Toby shudder--but, more significant, he felt the tears in the hollow of his neck.

“Jim. Sorry. You know I can’t do that, can’t promise that.”

“Shh, shh, I know. It’s OK. But a man’s gotta keep trying.”

It wasn’t long before he knew Toby was asleep by how regular and shallow his breathing was. But Hardesty himself didn’t sleep a wink that night in his determination not to let himself slip out from inside Toby on at least this night.

 

Habu

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