I was in a half haze for a long time after I rejoined the world. I was in that zone of not knowing what was dream and what was reality. I had been royally fucked while bound, and that made me sigh and turn on my back on the bed I was on and reach for my cock and play with myself. It had been a great fuck--and a very satisfying dream. As I regained more of my senses, though, the hanging fuck session was separating itself from the dream world and moving into reality. My arms were aching, my ass was sore, and my head felt like a prize Halloween pumpkin--three weeks into November. I regret to have to acknowledge that I was good at putting myself in positions where I was being Mickey Finned for a fuck. I let my mind wander for a good bit on how often that had happened to me and why I let myself be put in such positions. This time, though, it had led to a fuck session I wanted--but I wanted it free from guilt. So, the best kind, although thinking on it more made me realize that I was being fucked in that bar Jesse had taken me too even before I had passed out.

Jesse? What about Jesse?

I lifted my head and looked around. Everything screamed cheap motel room. And Jesse wasn't here--unless he was hiding behind the door to the bathroom, which was open. The bathroom was small enough that not much was hidden from what I could see.

The closet?

Geez, I was just being silly now.

I was laying on top of a cheap bedspread, and I was wearing the jeans and cut-off T-shirt Jesse had lent me, although the fly of the jeans hadn't been zipped up. My wallet was on the nightstand--and it didn't look like I'd been robbed.

I had to think hard again to separate dream from reality. I remembered being in The Dungeon, at the bar, being manhandled by two bruisers--with Jesse having just left to take a piss. And then I remembered being in an actual dungeon of sorts, bound and hung up, and being monster fucked. And then here, in this motel room--alone. The reality of now was pretty dreary compared to what I remember from the night before. Was it the night before? I lifted my head again and looked at the window beside the exit door. The drapes didn't meet, and the light coming through the gap was strong. So, it was some day rather than night. Probably just the next day. I hoped so.

Time to pull it all back together, I thought. I pulled myself up to a seated position on the side of the bed and held there, face in hands, until all my organs settled back into place. God, that was a great fuck.

When and as I was able--after making a pass at the shower--I dragged myself out of the room. I was on the second floor balcony of a motel, where the rooms opened directly to the outside. I looked down into the parking lot, which was nearly empty. No camouflaged Hummer or any other vehicle I recognized.

Down the stairs I went and to the entry with the sign "Office" over the door. The first thing I spotted as I entered the office was a coffee machine on a card table. I went directly there and explored no further until I had half a cup of swill--but welcome swill, mind you--inside me.

The guy at the desk was eyeing me hard.

"Where am I?" I asked across the divide between us.

"In the motel office," he said. Smart ass, I thought. He was smiling--but only half in a sneery way. He was also ogling me, probably wondering how easy it would be to make me. I wasn't interested. He looked like yesterday's rejected breakfast. Besides, I was well enough fucked for a while. I had things to do.

"I mean, where as the motel's location. Staten Island? Newark? Brooklyn?" I knew it wasn't Manhattan, where I wanted to be. It was too seedy. And no skyscrapers that I could see on the way down the stairs.


"Ah," I said. "Do I owe for the room? Room 21B. Were you on duty after midnight? See who I came in with?"

"Nobody gets a room without paying for it first. And, yes, I would have been on duty then. I'm planted here. I'm always on duty when there's anyone in the office. And I've never seen you before, so I have no idea who you came in with. But now that I do see you--"

I could see plainly enough that he wasn't going to tell me anything about who paid for the room I had been in. Anyone who paid for all night in a room here must be considered a high roller and to have secrecy privileges. I didn't want to get him mad at me at least until I'd developed an out from here, so I changed the question.

"Do you have a phone I can pay to use?"

"There's a pay phone down the hall by the bathrooms. I think it's working this week."

"Good. Thanks for the coffee."

I couldn't call Jesse. I didn't have a number for him--either his walking cell or his home. The lieutenant had said everyone got new cell phones while I was in California. Mine was waiting for me at the office, although a lot of good that did me right now. I did, however, have numbers for my regular informants in the city, and it was my good luck that a couple of them did live and do some wandering in Brooklyn. I called Larry as the one who was least mad at me, and he said that, sure, he'd come get me--I had to go back to the desk to find out what motel this was and its precise address--and take me into Manhattan.

"You been on a binge?" he asked when he drove up in his old Cadillac Seville. "You look like a streetwalker."

"Undercover," I said, "and I lost my ride."

"Well, you look the part real good. I bet you picked up a lot of extra side money out there on the streets. But you find you want to have a handler and be in a stable, you jus' let me know. I'll fix you up good."

"I've already been fixed up real good, Larry. I'm busy trying to work my way out of that."

He just laughed and said, "Where to? The Manhattan police department?"

"No, thanks." I gave him a block location. It was close enough to my Manhattan apartment for me to conveniently walk home, but not so close that Larry would figure out where I lived. I don't like my contacts showing up in my private life whenever they had a notion to. I liked keeping them at arms' length and not getting sentimental over them, because they tended both to get a little demanding and to get popped off just when I was beginning to like them. I liked Larry real well right at the moment for picking me up, but if he was in somebody's stable, that was one I wanted to stay away from.

"I need the ride, Larry, but I also need to collect some information. Tell me what you know about the Scarlottis and who might be at war with them."

What he said made me whistle. I'd recently run up against the crowd the Scarlottis had ruffled myself and they were all about the business end of a nasty vendetta.

I'd go into the department as soon as I got cleaned up, but I had some ideas of my own to start working on concerning Hank and the Scarlotti case.

My answering machine was blinking insistently at me when I walked into my apartment.

"Where are you? I came back to the bar and you were gone." The voice of a pissed-off Jesse Palmer. I looked at the time of his call. Not more than a half hour from the time it had been when I looked at my watch before we entered The Dungeon. So, pretty close to the last time I could account for the previous night.

Another call, timed for an hour after that. "Guess you found your own way. Call me, though, and I'll come and get you. Your duffel's in my ride."

And then about an hour after that again, "God, Clint, you all right? I'll bring the duffel to work. But, damn, I want to know you're OK."

Each one of them Jesse--until the last. "Pick up, Clint. We're worried that you made it back from L.A. OK."

That one was my lieutenant, Burton Kahn, and it was timed only about twenty minutes earlier.

I called back immediately. "I'm back, Lieutenant. At my apartment. I've been doing a little legwork. I'll be in within the hour."

"Jesse's fit to be tied, Clint. He said he picked you up and then you disappeared on him. I'll tell him you're OK."

"Guess I was fit to be tied too, boss," I couldn't resist saying. I was betting Jesse hadn't told Burton exactly where I had disappeared on him. "Tell Jesse I appreciated the ride yesterday. If he laughs, let me know."

The Mickey was beginning to wear off. I was getting ready for business. There were some things that needed to be run down, but nothing was as important now as getting Hank back.

* * * *

"We've gotten a search warrant for the compound on Long Island, but I don't think it will do much good."

"Because they're gone. But they might have left something behind we can use," I said.

Lieutenant Kahn looked at me through the eyeglasses perched low on the bridge of his nose. That and the brief time I'd been away in California drove home to me that my lieutenant wasn't getting any younger. But then none of us were. I'd had a brief moment of panic the previous afternoon when Jesse told me at the airport that Kahn had gone to a retirement dinner. For just a moment, I'd thought that maybe it was his own retirement dinner. That was one of the last things I wanted. We'd been together for some years now--having come on almost at the same time. I didn't want to have to adjust to anyone different. Burton understood me--well, more important, he accepted me. I couldn't assume that with a new lieutenant. That was the first moment that I thought maybe my own time with NYPD might come to a close.

"Yes, the Scarlottis have abandoned their primary lair, Clint. But how did you know that? You've just gotten back."

"I did some research before I came in today, Chief. My sources say the Scarlottis have cleared out of New York--gone someplace else, at least temporarily. There's a range war on between them and the Rapinos. The Scarlottis apparently want to fight it from a distance."

"Did any of the others of you know this about the Rapinos?" Kahn asked, as he turned and surveyed the rest of the unit gathered in the squad's case room. Faces looked sheepish, and no one nodded. Jesse responded just like the rest.

The only one who arrested my attention with their reaction was Mitch, a detective who had transferred into our unit from Vice, where Hank had been assigned before he too had transferred to the special homicide unit. Mitch looked like he knew something the rest of us didn't and was smirking behind his fingers. I'd have to look into this more carefully. Hank was one of those guys who was liked by everyone. But if there was one guy who didn't get along with him, it would be Mitch. Mitch seemed to be holding a grudge on some slight or other from earlier days on the force, but Hank wouldn't tell me what--and he wouldn't say anything bad about Mitch. Mitch wasn't quite so polite. He'd let a jab drop occasionally. I knew that Jesse resented Hank for having me when Jesse wanted a piece of me. But that was something different; there didn't seem to be anything hateful underlying it.

Jesse had wanted to speak to me as soon as I entered the bullpen, but I put him off, saying we'd speak later. He sat in the back of the pack, but he'd kept his eyes on me. He looked worried.

"So, let's go out there and toss the compound," Kahn said, as he started to rise.

"First, I have an idea how we can get to the Scarlottis, Lieutenant," I piped up. Kahn settled himself in his chair again.

"How? Speak."

"Who are the most likely people to know where the Scarlottis are?" I asked the room. There was some general hubbub before someone spoke up.

"The Rapinos?"

I looked around, thinking that it was Mitch who had answered, but it wasn't. It was our technical assistant, Anthony.

"Bingo," I answered.

"And that will help us how?" Kahn asked.

"Mario Rapino's big fun project at the moment is to establish that new old movie club over near Times Square. I think he's calling it the Silver Screen Underground. Sort of a nightclub featuring old classic movies--different ones showing in different rooms and rooms tucked away for gambling and other pleasures--all of those illicit services the Rapino brothers like to provide for big bucks."

"Yeah, so?"

"So, the street tells me he's looking for a manager for the club--someone to front the club with connections to the theme. I think I could get inside--like Hank did with the Scarlottis--that I could become club manager for a day or so and get someone on the inside to tell me where the Scarlottis have gone."

"You. Clint Folsom, the cop?" Kahn was incredulous. Another sign of advancing age, I thought. He'd once been quicker on the uptake then this.

"No. Me, Clint Sloan, the son of classic movie idols Scott Sloan and Laura Lake. For financial reasons, I've kept that separate persona. I've even got a California driver's license in that name. Mario Rapino doesn't know Clint Folsom from anyone else. But if he's as gung-ho over this new club he's putting together as I've heard he is, he certainly knows Scott Sloan and Laura Lake. And I've heard I look like Scott Sloan enough that my face alone should get me alongside him."

"I don't know," Kahn said. "I'll have to think about it. We already have one guy in the wind."

"I don't have to go in alone. A high-flyer like Clint Sloan could have a bodyguard. I can take Jesse with me--at least until I get established at the club."

Burton contemplated that for a moment, but only for a moment. "Yeah, it could work. We'll flesh that out when we get back from the Scarlottis' compound on Long Island. Now, we'd better--"

"Before we go, Lieutenant, there's something else," I said.

"What something else?"

"You said someone's demanding ransom to get Hank back. That doesn't sound like something the Scarlottis would do. So, it's quite possible they don't have him--that either somebody else has him or that somebody is really threatening to expose Hank to the Scarlottis."

"Yep, we're working those angles. Jesse's heading that."

"How much ransom are they asking?" I queried.

"A million dollars."

"Not very creative, are they? I'll put the money up."

"You know we can't do that," Kahn said.

"'We wouldn't be doing it, Lieutenant. I would be. You can't get the money from the department, no. But think, Lieutenant. Where did they think the money was coming from? Hank's with me. I've got the money. Let's not queer this deal. If and when they contact you again."

"They don't contact me. They contact Jesse. We turned them over to him immediately."

"Well, when they contact Jesse and you decide to go to a drop, I'll provide real money. That won't make any difference in what you do to track them down, but it will at least satisfy their demand and maybe distract them enough to put their guard down. They won't be as quick to do something nasty if they're busy counting a million bucks."

"We'll cross that bridge when and if they call," Kahn said.

"I'm betting they will call," I said.

Jesse had his chance to take me aside as guys were gathering up their stuff to go out to Long Island to toss the Scarlottis' compound.

"What happened last night, Clint?"

"I don't know. I blacked out at the bar and next thing I know I woke up in a sleazy motel in Brooklyn--not far from the club you took me to." I'd skipped over the most interesting part of that, but I didn't see the need for Jesse to hear it.

"You were alone?"

"Yeah, but I'd been given a Mickey at the bar--I'm sure I was. Probably those two guys. And I was hurting when I woke up--but in a good way."

"You think those guys--?"

"Yeah, probably so. But don't sweat it. It wasn't anything I haven't done before."

"Well, I'm sorry. I never saw them before. but I could--"

"As I said, don't sweat it. Am I riding out to the island with you?"

"No, I'm going separately--in my own ride. I have someplace to go afterward. I guess you'll be riding with Lieutenant Kahn."

"I'll see you out there, then."

I had a chance too to pull Mitch up before we got to the cars.

"What's with you on Hank, Mitch?" I asked.

"Nothing," he replied in a voice tinged with resentment. "Nothing at all."


"All this concern about him. He knew what the job and dangers were. He likes to do a lot of cowboying. Doesn't always follow protocol. He's probably just out there screwing around with some little rent boy."

He was looking at me real hard. He'd made cracks about men-on-men before. So why was he even in this unit, I wondered. Come to think of it, I'd never known him to step up to taking an action role in a case. I knew there were those up in the department keeping an eye on us. Maybe they had eyes closer in than I ever thought. Yes, I'd have to think about Mitch and his lack of concern for Hank.

I just gave him a hard stare--which he gave back--and then I turned and left.

* * * *

It looked like the Scarlottis had cleared out pretty quickly, but there was no sign of gun play or blood splattered on walls, or anything, so it didn't look like they cut losses in leaving either. So that was a good sign.

"Can I have a look see at the bedrooms first, Lieutenant?" I asked. I was looking for traces of Hank, and I figured that I'd spot anything connected with him before others would, seeing that we lived together.

Kahn assented, so I went up to the bedroom level by myself. There must have been more than a dozen bedrooms, all with their own baths and some bigger and plusher than others. The Scarlottis must have kept a small army out here.

I found what I was looking for in one of the smaller bedrooms at the end of a hall. The clothes were gone, which was a good sign, but an empty bottle of Hank's favorite cologne was in the trash can in the bathroom and an embossed pen from a pizza place we used--a pen I knew Hank had--had been left on top of the dresser.

The most peculiar find was a slip of paper in the trash can in the bedroom. Just a name and a number. I knew the name, though. It was Ron Price--and the number was a long distance one.

Hank and I had worked with Ron Price on a case in Colorado a few months back. This was when I first met Hank. Ron, on loan from the Chicago police, and Hank, with the Denver police, had both been assigned to backstop me on a case centered on a male brothel dude ranch. Interestingly, the Rapinos had also been connected with this case, although the Scarlottis weren't. Ron Price was a police detective--and one who had worked with both Hank and me.

But why was this slip of paper here? It obviously had been put here by Hank--and it was in Hank's handwriting. But what, if anything, did it mean? Did Hank discover that he had it somewhere in his belongings and had neglected to purge it when he stripped everything from his life away in going undercover with the Scarlottis? If so, why just drop it in the trash can? He would have needed to make sure it had been destroyed. Or, in suddenly being pulled out of New York, was he trying to convey a message to whoever found this? It really only had meaning for me. Did he want me to contact Ron Price--or, worse, was he trying to tell me something bad about Price? Maybe that Hank had found Price had a relationship with the Scarlottis? That maybe he was a bought cop?

I didn't know. But I did know that it had meaning only for me--so I'd just keep it to myself for now.

As I stepped out into the hall and called out, "Up here, Lieutenant. I've found the room Hank was in," I pocketed the scrap of paper.

* * * *

"It was just called in. Meet us over at the dump in Jersey."

"Oh shit," I exclaimed as I rolled out of bed and pulled on my trousers. "Oh, shit, shit, shit. Please don't let it be him."

Kahn had called me out of bed just past dawn. A body had been found out in a Jersey trash dump. The cops who called it in said it had all of the markings of a gang execution, and he was on his way out there himself.

I raced to the garage in my building and took the Boxster. That was Hank's favorite of the cars we had--several, because we could afford them and each was useful for something, even though not useful for much in the city itself. I took the Boxster because it was the fastest.

As fast as it was, Lieutenant Kahn beat me across the river.

I got there and jumped out of the car. Kahn pulled away from a clutch of cops and walked toward me.

"No need to come any closer, Clint," he said. "It looks bad. But it's not Hank."

I nearly collapsed in my tracks. I couldn't take this. I needed to be on the move, doing something. "Green light a Rapino insertion, Lieutenant. Please. I'm going crazy here."

"Yeah, OK. And you can take Jesse. But hang loose on that. He's also needed for something else too. He might have to split off."

"Something else?"

"Yeah. Yesterday. While we were on our way to the Scarlotti compound. Another ransom contact. Called into the precinct, but Jesse wasn't there to take it. The message got hung up until late last night."

"They ready to deal?"

"Yes. They said they'd give directions--that Jesse was to deliver."

"And you'll let me provide the money?"

"If you insist."

Jesse had arrived and strode up to us.

"It isn't Hank," Kahn informed him. "You're with Clint on the Rapino deal. You hear about the ransom, though, go do that. Clint will give you the money."

Jesse and I watched Kahn walk away.

"Glad it's not Hank," Jesse said. "But you must be on your last nerve. Come home with me--Staten Island's close. Let me give you what I know you need."

"Sorry, Jesse. All I can think of at the moment is getting with the Rapinos. Go home yourself and dress as close to an upscale bodyguard as you can--stay there tonight in case a call comes in on the ransom. I've got some calling to do. Come to my apartment tomorrow afternoon at 4:00. I doubt Mario Rapino gets out of bed much before that, so I'll try to arrange for an early-morning appointment. Here's the address to my apartment. I'll leave word on where you can park the Hummer. We'll need the Boxster for this."

Jesse was right about me needing something--he also was at least half right about what I needed. But in addition to a mind-boggling fuck, I needed to loosen some lips.

* * * *

This time I took the Dodge Ram out. I waited until late that evening and, wearing the tight jeans and cutoff muscle T Jesse had provided me, I drove out to Brooklyn and parked on the same block as The Dungeon was located. Before going there, though, I walked over to the sleazy motel, which was only two blocks away.

"You," he said when I entered the office.

"Yes, me. This time I'll pay for the room."

"Going to make this regular? We have special rates for guys like you home basing here. And having you here would upgrade us considerably. I could put out the word and you wouldn't even have to leave the room."

"I doubt I'll need a room after tonight," I answered. "But thanks for the vote."

Then I walked back to The Dungeon.

I'd worn the same clothes I had the other night. I wanted to be noticed--and remembered from the other night.

I went to the bar, immediately drawing the attention of a couple of guys. But while they yammered at me from either side, I turned, placed my elbows in back of me on the bar top and surveyed the crowd. I recognized some of them from the other night. I picked out a guy at one of the tables who looked like he was a top dog around here and leveled him with a steady stare. He motioned to the guy sitting next to him, who came up to the bar at the side of a guy whispering in my ear, his hand already on my bare belly below the cutoff of the muscle T. As the guy was returning to the table, the bartender shoveled a bottle of Amstel Ale to my elbow.

I turned and looked at it. I had never tasted it, but I got the message that it was probably the most expensive beer at the bar.

"Compliments of Shad over there," the bartender muttered. I saluted the top dog at the table with the beer bottle and ran it down my chest, pausing at my belly, and then down to my basket as I gave him another level stare. Then I took a deep swig.

Shad motioned me to the table. I sauntered over to him and stood and looked down at him while he encircled my waist in one arm. His other hand went to my basket.

"Thanks for the beer," I said.

"What would you do for another one?" he asked.

"Might give you a lap dance for this one. For another one, I'd probably give you whatever you wanted, if you asked nicely," I answered.

"Well then, Randy, go to the bar and get another of these," he said to one of his sidekicks, and then, "pretty please," he said to me, with a grin.

"It starts under the table," I said.

He gave me a look that said he thought he'd died and gone to heaven. I pulled my muscle T off then and handed it to the first guy who had come to the bar to order my beer. While I was between Shad's thighs under the table, sucking his plump cock, I pulled my jeans off and his black leather trousers as well.

My lap dance, facing him as he sat a bit away from the table, started off with me dancing his pole and ended up with me flat on my back on the table with him hunched over me and pumping me as hard and furiously as he could. When he was done, with me arching my back, grasping his forearms, and telling him he was the best, I was taken in the same position by his three lieutenants, one after the other.

I was working to a purpose here, but I was keyed up and wanted to have my fun as well.

Shad wanted to take me to a back room, through the door covered by the beaded curtain, then, as I hoped he would. But, after whispering in his ear what I could do for him, I told him I wanted privacy and just him and that I had a room at the motel nearby. Just to keep it plausible, I said I wanted $200 for a night of fuck.

When we got to the room, I laid on the bed, opened my legs to him, grabbed his dick, guided him into me, and gave him more than his $200 worth. By morning he was putty in my hands.

I started asking him the questions, playing off him telling me he'd been hard for me ever since he'd first seen me in the bar the other night. Bingo, I thought. I knew I'd seen him in the bar the previous night. I'd counted on it.

"Ah, then, You must have seen me leave."

"Of course I did."

After I'd gotten what I wanted in the way of information, I asked if he had a high gear and whether he'd ever bound anyone's wrists with his belt, and then I got what I'd come for in the way of a fuck too. There, just for a couple of hours, as long as Shad's stamina held out, I could force Hank out of my mind. And not feel the guilt.

I felt sorry when I found out that his three lieutenants had spent the night standing guard outside the door--so I was two hours later getting to work in the morning than I had anticipated I would be.





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