He looked down at the blonde lying next to him. She was still breathing heavily and uttering the small soft mews of a well sated woman. He had nothing to complain about. She was beautiful and she’d pleased him physically. The sex had been good. He frowned, because with that statement he’d exposed the problem.
Since when did he describe sex as ‘good’? Sex was his lifeblood. He loved the feel of a woman, he craved it, and the pure pleasure of bedding them was what drove him. He was a simple man, dancing on the stage and making love between the bedsheets, were the two things that he desired most in life. But lately the second of the two had started to leave him feeling less than satisfied.
He looked the blonde over. There was nothing wrong with her. She ticked all the boxes. He’d been a good lover to her, and she’d brought him to his climax. He couldn’t understand it. He should be glowing with contentment not feeling lackluster. His lovemaking skills hadn’t diminished but somehow the mechanics of it had felt dull and automated, almost like he was completing a chore. He’d done what he’d needed to do, got to where he’d needed to go, but he hadn’t enjoyed the journey as much as he should have.
She wasn’t the first to have him feeling this way. Over the last couple of months, he’d felt something was lacking. He’d dismissed it at first, laughed it off, but the feeling had grown. He’d tried to remedy the problem. He’d mixed up his sexual partners, changed settings, employed toys, and even stepped outside his comfort zone, but it still felt stale. And now it was starting to worry him.
Had he reached the peak of the bell curve? Given his vast history, maybe he’d tried everything there was to try, tasted every flavor, seen, heard, and felt it all. Was he at the point where there was nothing left that was new and exciting for him? Was it all downhill from here? Surely not, he wasn’t that old. This had to be just a blimp, a bump in the road, not a permanent trend.
He shook his head and pulled himself out of the bed. Showering, he tried to wash off the negativity. He was just in a slump. It would pass.
He was drying himself with a fluffy white towel, when he heard the doorbell. He didn’t hesitate, still wet and naked, he swung the hotel door open to find Cogan and a tall thin woman standing in the corridor. Unembarrassed, he continued to dry his hair while he enjoyed watching how the pink blush on her cheeks contrasted with her fair skin and jet-black long hair.
“Hell, Mark,” Cogan rolled his eyes, “Put some clothes on, will you?”
He shrugged and, leaving the door open for his guests, walked towards where the hotel embossed robe lay discarded on one of the chairs. He tossed it on and tied the cord loosely around his waist before he dropped himself into the same chair. The two visitors had entered but were looking at the bed instead of joining him at the table. They seemed stunned by the sight of the blonde who was lying on her belly, spread eagle, and naked. The bedsheets where ruffled in such a way that it was obvious what had occurred to make the blonde so exhausted. He could still see the indentations from where his knees had sunk into the mattress.
“Shit Mark, I booked this hotel room so we could meet discreetly, not for your use,” Cogan turned to the woman who was now looking less than impressed, “My apologies, Detective Gordon.”
“Why are you apologizing to her?” Mark asked as he opened a bottle of water, “The room was vacant, I only ensured that the booking didn’t go to waste.”
“Actually,” the detective shook her head and looked Mark in the face, “This is what I expected. If something so trivial as this upset me, I wouldn’t be a very good police officer. I’ve seen worse.”
“Yeah, well it bothers me,” Cogan scowled at Mark, “You knew we were coming.”
Mark smirked but decided against telling his manager that, if they weren’t here, he too would be doing just that. It was crude to point this out and, although he didn’t think the blonde would be offended, he wasn’t disrespectful to the women who shared his bed. Nor was he looking to embarrass the woman that he wanted to be the next body pressed up against him, any more than he already had this morning.
“Can you,” Cogan was speaking to Mark as he waved his hand at the creature in the bed, “Move her on?”
“Why?” Mark shrugged.
“Detective Gordon is here because this is a serious situation,” Cogan shook his head, “And it’s not something that we need overhead because if it hits the gossip pages then it will a very big problem.”
“It’s just some fan mail,” Mark looked away, “It’s an occupational hazard, not something to panic about.”
“This is more than that,” the Detective woman had moved to the window and, gripping the fabric tightly, she threw open the curtains to let in the bright morning light, “There, that’s better. Rise and shine. It’s time to leave.”
She stood there, hands on her hips and showing no sign of unease as the blonde woke, rolled over, and sat up suddenly revealing her oversized naked breasts. The dark-haired woman merely scooped a handful of clothes off the floor and dropped them next to the confused woman in the bed.
“Play time is over, it’s home time,” she said in a slow patronizing tone, “The grown-ups need to talk. But could I please see your drivers license, if you have one, before you leave?”
“Why?” the blonde clutched the clothing to her chest and glanced at Mark who was still slouching in the chair, “Have I done something wrong?”
“No, it’s just a precaution,” Cogan said in a soothing voice, “Why don’t you dressed in the bathroom?”
Mark wanted to intervene, but the sunlight was bouncing off every surface to hit him in the face, heightening his headache. The only safe spot to focus his eyes on was her black mane of hair. It was so black that it seemed to absorb the light as it drew his eyes to it. And he couldn’t help but notice how the ebony color contrasted with the ivory locks of the other woman. It made him wonder what sort of music they could make together as a threesome.
“Off you go,” the woman with the amazing hair spoke to the girl in the bed, emphasizing her words with a flick of her hand, “You can manage dressing by yourself, can’t you?”
With the light from the window making the room seem smaller, the blonde glanced from person to person. Her mouth gaped with her embarrassment or indignation, Mark couldn’t tell which, before she vanished into the bathroom. He felt bad for her, but he knew that if he attempted to defended her it wouldn’t change anything, and it certainly wouldn’t make Detective Gordon go any lighter on the girl. His eyes watched the way her hair shifted each time she moved, as he wondered if her irritation was born out of envy.
“About this stalker,” Cogan started to ask but the Detective silenced him with a look.
She continued to pace the floor until the bathroom door opened and the girl appeared in a dress that left very little to the imagination. She’d tried to tame her blonde hair and reapplied some makeup, but she still looked like she’d had a long night of sex. And she looked younger than he remembered her looking when he’d picked her up in that nightclub. The detective held her hand out and took the identification from her.
“Candy? Your name is Candy?” she shook her head and mumbled, “Why am I not surprised?”
Candy stood there looking at her with wide blue confused eyes.
“Alright, Miss Smith,” Detective Gordon handed it back to her, “Happy birthday for last week, and congratulations, you are legal by mere days. I’ve rung you a taxi to take you home. So, unless you haven’t collected your fee, then the cab is waiting.”
“I’m not a pro,” she looked a little uncomfortable as she glanced at him, “But I don’t have any money. Can you spare me a fifty?”
The detective slowly shook her head as Cogan opened his wallet and pulled out the money. The blonde tucked it into her bra, picked up her shoes, but paused at the door.
“Thanks, and you are a marvel, Mr. Marvel,” she purred as she used his stage name and gave him a pouty look, “Ring me if you want more candy.”
“Yeah, he will,” the detective closed the door behind her before the girl finished her invitation.
Mark was relieved. He’d just remembered her catch phrase, and it wasn’t something that he wanted his guests to hear. Having her verbalize her willingness to suck wouldn’t impress the detective. In truth, he was starting to wish that he’d seen the blonde off earlier, before the scheduled meeting time. He didn’t regret bedding the girl but, under the weight of the detective’s glare, he felt cheap and desperate by Candy’s over eagerness.
“Now that you’ve ruined my morning,” he lied, “Shouldn’t you be going too?”
The raven-haired woman calmly pulled up a chair and sat down opposite him. She dropped a file onto the table and flipped the cover open to expose a pile of letters and pictures of him posing naked. The one on the top of the pile had recently featured in the magazine ‘Ripped & Ready’ and the sender had carefully sliced out his genitals and re-glued them to the make him look like they were about to enter his mouth.
“Look closely,” the detective pushed the image closer to him, “This is not normal fan mail.”
With the image directly in front of him he could see that she was right. This was cut from the magazine, but it was completely different to the photograph that they had featured. The picture had been expertly altered to portray an entirely different pose and background than what was in the original shot. And this wasn’t the result of photo altering software, instead the creator had painstakingly cut, sliced, touched-up and glued the paper to manually manipulate the image. His mouth had been rehinged to be open and his arms had been bent and reformed to be guiding his repositioned manhood towards his now excited face. Even the background in this one wasn’t the dark curtained wall that had been behind him during the photo shoot. The lighting and proportions were consistent, but he was now standing in a dimly lit warehouse with towers of boxes of various sizes and shapes stretching as far as the eye could see. If it wasn’t so disturbing, he might have admired the precision and skill they’d employed to make the picture look so natural.
“You claimed that these were nothing to worry about,” the detective asked, “Do your fans normally go to this much effort to emasculate you? Is that acceptable and not worth panicking over?”
“My pictures are everywhere,” he pushed the picture aside while trying not to touch it, “My naked body isn’t shocking which means that to be noticed they must be creative.”
“I can see that,” she picked up the picture examining it closely and then she looked at him over the top of the page with one eyebrow raised, “But this one is cut with a knife, not photoshopped, this takes time, skill and and it is very imaginative.”
“There are plenty of women out there who want what they can’t have,” Mark held her gaze as he said the words laden with implication then he smiled as her eyes dropped from his, “This is nothing more than jealous frustration. I doubt they’d actually do it.”
“You doubt?” She seemed angry that she’d reacted to his taunt, “Is that enough, Mr. Torres?”
“Please don’t call me that,” Mark interrupted with a grimace, “Sister Margarette was the last person who call me that and before, when I could still sing soprano.”
“You could sing soprano?” Cogan asked with genuine surprise.
“Metaphorically speaking,” Mark smiled a smug grin, “The point is, I dropped that name when I dropped my.”
“Mr. Rivera, then,” She growled stopping him from finishing his explanation and closed her dark blue eyes for a second in what looked like an effort to control her frustration, “Mr. Rivera, are you saying that this isn’t a matter for the police? Would you like to withdraw your complaint?”
“No,” Cogan put up his hands in front of him as if he was surrendering, “That’s not what he’s saying. Mark, you need to take this more seriously. This isn’t like the other times we’ve received this sort of thing.”
“How is it different?” Mark scoffed, “Sure this person is a little more practiced with their craft skills, but other than that it’s just sour grapes.”
“This is why,” Cogan fanned out the papers in the file and pointed his finger at a different spot at each, “These pictures all contain the same four letters, an acronym, all placed subtly within the altered background but all undeniably the same. Simon Green, our head of security noticed the repetition and we’ve found the same moniker in a significant proportion of the hate mail, spanning back for at least six months.”
“R.B.F.C.?” he said the letters slowly and individually, “What does that even mean? And why do we care?”
“Because,” the detective was focused on the file, her eyes searching each picture before going to the next, “This means that each item can’t be viewed in isolation. This was done as a collection. This is the work of one committed individual.”
“Or a hate group?” Cogan suggested, “That is possible right?”
“Hate group?” Mark lifted his eyes off the table, “That’s a little extreme isn’t it?”
“No,” she shook her head as she dragged her eyes off the last image, “You’re wrong, it’s not a group. It’s one person. The skill employed would vary if it was a group of individuals. One person has done all of these.”
“That’s not good,” Cogan frowned, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, the knife work looks identical,” she looked more flustered than he’d seen her. She pushed her hair off her face and left her hand balanced on the top of her head, “Do you have any idea what RBFC stands for?”
“None at all,” Cogan shook his head, “We’ve tried all combinations of possible fits and we’ve googled the abbreviation, but nothing fits.”
“I see,” the detective stood and started to pace the floor as she mumbled to herself, “This, changes everything.”
“How?” Mark watched as she turned to him with an expression that implied that she was hiding something, “What do you mean by that?”
“This is undoubtably the work of an obsessive stalker,” she exhaled, “And, given the complexity of the signature and the time spent on each, I believe the stalker is intelligent, focused on her target, and not just displaying a case of ‘sour grapes’. She won’t stop until she achieves her goal.”
“And by her goal,” he forced himself to swallow, “Do you mean that she won’t stop until she’s done what she’s been threatening to do?”
“That’s a possibility,” the detective frowned, “The emasculation that features on all her letters might express her need to control you, suppress your sexual desires, or her desire to hurt you. I can’t tell her motive, yet.”
“What do you mean, ‘yet’?” Cogan asked with surprise.
“If we are right about it being the signature of one individual and not just an acronym for something related to Mr. Rivera,” Detective Gordon lifted her eyes to him, “Then this is just the start. She won’t stop with fan mail.”
“And you’re deciding this all because of RBFC?” Mark scoffed but didn’t feel as confident as before, “It probably stands for Really Bland Fictional Character or Random Blue Food Coloring.”
“What should we do?” Cogan ignored Mark as he asked, “And what are you going to do?”
“The question is what are you prepared to do?” the Detective turned her head to look at Mark, “To be quite honest with you, other than some analysis, there’s not much I can do at this stage and there is nothing that I can do unless Mr. Rivera is prepared to change his routine.”
“What are you suggesting?” Mark growled, “My routine? Are you referring to my sex life?”
“You have a private security firm,” Detective Gordon continued ignoring his outburst, “They should be adequate during public appearances, but unless he alters his lifestyle and accepts that the threat is real, then it would be difficult to provide security around the clock.”
“I am not ‘altering my lifestyle’,” Mark said the words but the sounded hollow even to him, “I’m more than satisfied with my lifestyle.”
The detective glanced at the door then turned back, opening her mouth the say something but instead stopping herself with an exhaled grin and a shake of the head. Her obvious disrespect for his choice in women annoyed him. Was she really basing her opinion of him on Candy’s willingness to satisfy him last night? And exactly who was she to judge his sex life?
“I’ll open a file but it’s too late to do any forensics. However, I’ll make some enquires to see if there has been any similar cases to this one,” she spoke directly to Cogan ignoring him as he glared at her, “And you have my card, let me know when you receive the next one.”
“Thanks for your time Detective Gordon,” Cogan stood as he emphasized, “We really appreciate it.”
“It’s Detective Ann Gordon,” she smiled broadly as she shook Cogan’s outstretched hand, “Call me if anything changes.”
Then she left without another word spoken. Mark felt a shot of dark emotion surge through him. Cogan didn’t need to know her name. And how dare she ignore him and smile like that at the other man in the room. That smile should have come in his direction. He glared at Cogan as the hotel door closed behind her.
“Why were you such an ass?” Cogan grimaced as he turned to Mark, “And close your robe, not everyone needs to see that.”
Mark’s eyes dropped to find that his robe had indeed loosened and the gap was exposing more of him that needed to be shown. He wrapped in around himself and tied of the cord as he frowned at the tight feeling in his chest. Was he ashamed by his lude display or was he disappointed by her lack of appreciation for the show he was inadvertently giving? Either way, she had taken no notice of his robe’s malfunctioning state, which made him wonder if she was female at all.
As much as he wanted to believe that her cool attitude towards him could be explained by something other than contempt, deep down he knew otherwise. She’d been repulsed by his blatant confirmation that his promiscuous reputation was accurate and deserved. And although the sexual beast inside of him was yelling his desire to chase after her to demonstrate his worthiness, he knew it was a pointless exercise.
Detective Ann Gordon was one of the many women in this world who believed him to be nothing more than a womanizer. And that was all he’d ever be in her eyes. He knew from experience that the women of this world fell into two camps, those who wanted him and those who found his willingness to satisfy the needs of the first group unforgivable. It was just the way things worked, there was nothing he could do about it, but accepting that didn’t stop him feeling the sting of disappointment.
He headed for yet another shower as he attempted to forget the image of her black hair fanned out on his white linen pillow.