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No Matter What the Future Brings

Part 23 


“Yes, Rick?” 

“I didn’t really need to hide under the desk, did I?” 

He gave me a sideways glance. “I was hoping you wouldn’t realize that.” 

I couldn’t help myself. I leaned into him and stole an all too brief kiss. His hands came up to cup my head and he held me close to him, rubbing his lips over mine. “Come to bed with me!” he whispered. 

And then the reality that was Casablanca crashed in on us. Lieutenant Casselle tapped hesitantly at the door, the phone began to ring, and irate voices from the other room washed into the little island of time we had made for ourselves. 

He had recently had his hair trimmed, and I stroked the short hairs at the back of his neck, enjoying the abrasive feel against my fingertips. “Tonight? Your place?” I asked, trying to conceal my eagerness. 

He stiffened. In a heartbeat he seemed to distance himself from me, although he hadn’t moved a centimeter. “My place?” he repeated, his tone so cold I shivered. 

I reined myself in. If they knew you loved them, they left you. Coolly I replied, “Yes. Unless, of course you’ve changed your mind? You got what you wanted from me; you fucked me, and I sucked you. Are you done with me?” Inside I felt as if I was bleeding 

The starch went out of his spine and he went back to the cabinet to get himself a drink. He knocked it back and poured himself another, before offering one to me. I shook my head in refusal. A drink was the last thing I needed. 

As if he had come to the same conclusion, he put the alcohol away and straightened his uniform, giving the jacket a brisk tug. “I haven’t changed my mind.” Before I could feel any relief he continued. “But suppose I don’t want you at my place, Rick? Where, then?” 

Now I was starting to get panic-stricken, uncertain of what he wanted from me. I hid it with a show of annoyance. “Let me get this straight. You want to fuck me, just not in your bed.” 

“That’s right. Let me make it simple for you, Rick. I want you in a bed where, when you’ve had your pleasure, you won’t be able to leave m…” he caught himself up short. “…to leave and go home.” 

Lieutenant Casselle’s tapping had become a pounding. “Captain Renault, c’est important!” 

“Think about it, Rick. I’ll be at your place later tonight. Let me know your decision then. Oh very well, Jacques!” he shouted at his second in command as he flung the door open. I had never seen him lose his sangfroid before. “Qu’est-ce que ce que ca?” 

I left while Lieutenant Casselle was attempting to explain just what it was that needed his Captain’s attention so pressingly.  

I tried to sort out my confusion. Louie Renault was willing to sleep with me, but in my bed, not his. Why? 

I always went to my current love interest’s rooms rather than have them in mine so that I could leave when I wanted to, as he had said. I never stayed the night. 

Was that what he really wanted, to be able to leave when he was done with me? 

I wasn’t happy about that. No one had slept with me in my bed, not even Ilsa Lund. Not since Victor Lazlo, all those years ago. I had been in any number of beds, but never spent the night. 

Would I be able to take it if…I closed my eyes in pain. There would be no if. When Louie finished fucking me and got up to leave? 

The only thing worse than that would be if he left two dollars on the dresser on his way out the door. 

I opened my eyes. Before me was my café. The sun had set and the inky blackness of the North African night descended on Casablanca. There was a chill in the air. Fog, like an enveloping blanket, would soon cover the city. 

The neon lights that sprawled across the façade of the building blinked on, Rick’s Café Americain flashing to life. Abdul, the burly doorman, solicitously opened the door for me, then stood as I examined the repairs they had done. 

“You are pleased, M’sieur Rick? We do a good job?” My staff waited expectantly. 

“You did a good job,” I agreed, and squeezed his arm. “Thanks, Abdul.” I raised my voice. “Thank you all. The place looks fine.” 

There were murmurs of relief, and then they took their places. The first of the gamblers would be coming in at any minute, the dinner crowd not far behind. 

I ran up the stairs to my rooms, a knot of dread in my throat, but the girls had done a thorough job and all the damage had been set to rights. The chess set from the courtyard replaced the one destroyed by Lejaune. There were even books in the bookshelves, very old and fine looking. 

“Sascha and I picked ‘em up for you boss,” Sam said, at my shoulder. He was about to go down to his piano and begin limbering up his fingers. 

“Thanks Sam. You’re good men.” 

He ducked his head at my gratitude. “It wasn’t nothin’, Mr. Rick. We just went down to the bazaar and bought a hundred pounds of books.” 

I laughed for the first time since I left police headquarters, and grabbed Sam in a hug, pounding. “You’re still good men!” 

“You eat yet, boss? Clark has something special he savin’ for you.” 

Clark was our German chef. His name was actually Adolf, but when Hitler took over he left Germany and changed his name. He was a big fan of the actor Clark Gable, and that was the name he chose. He had a way with sauces that could disguise the toughest cuts of meat. 

“I’ll be down in a bit. I want to get cleaned up and get some things in order.” 

Sam turned to leave. 

“Oh and Sam, when Miss Ilsa comes in, she’ll be accompanied by a very distinguished looking man. That will be Victor Lazlo. I need to speak with him privately, so come get me, wherever I am.” 

“Victor Lazlo, boss? He the man who was your honey?” 

I sighed. “Long ago, and far away, Sam.” 

“That sounds like a good song title, Mr. Rick.” He closed the door behind him, chuckling softly. 

Yes it did. I smiled and started pealing out of my clothes. My tie was dotted with dry come and I stroked the linen thoughtfully. No one seemed to have noticed. I folded it carefully and tucked it away in a grip I kept under the bed. 

The compact valise contained francs, and deutsche marks, lire and pesos as well as American dollars and five pound notes. A shiv, a Colt automatic with ammunition, some articles of clothing. When the time came to get out of Casablanca, I was ready. 

And that tie was coming with me. 


I had sponged myself clean of the day’s sweat and was just finished dressing when there was a sharp rap on the door. Sam came barreling in before I could say yes, no or maybe. 

“What is it, Sam?” I asked as I bent over to tie my shoelaces. 

“Mr. Rick, Miss Ilsa’s here.” 

I drew in a deep breath. I was going to see Victor again. “Mr. Lazlo is with her?” 

“A man came in with her. I guess he that Victor you loved so much? If he is…” 

“What is it Sam?” 

“If he is, now I know why you took to Miss Ilsa so quick!” 

“I don’t follow you, Sam. Miss Ilsa is a beautiful woman.” I slid a pack of cigarettes into my pocket, along with a lighter. 

“And Mr. Lazlo?” 

“*I* always thought he was a handsome man.” 

“That’s just it, Mr. Rick. They both beautiful! And they look so much alike they could be brother and sister!”


Part 24 

My mouth was so dry. I swallowed and ran a hand over my hair. “He’s here?” I ignored everything else Sam had said, fussing with my tie and jacket. 

“Yes, boss,” he replied resignedly. He came to stand before me and brushed aside my hands so he could correct the hash I made of my tie. “You want I should send him up?” 

“Yes. No.” I bit my lip, filled with indecision. “No, tell him I’ll be down shortly. But send Carl up, I need to speak with him.” 

Sam sighed and left me, and I paced my sitting room, trying to imagine my former lover here with me. 

“You wanted to see me, Herr Rick?” 

“Carl, I’m having a guest here. I want you to set up a table with hors d’oeuvres and drinks.” 

“Yes, Herr Rick.” 

“Um, cointreau, absinthe, brandy. See if Clark has any frogs’ legs. I’ll want oysters’ Rockefeller, shrimp stuffed with crab meat, clams casino.” 

“Anything else, Herr Rick?” 

I rubbed my hands together. “I’ll leave it to Clark. Carl, this is for Victor Lazlo. I want it very special!” 

For some strange reason, he didn’t look overjoyed to know I would be dining with the Hero of Czechoslovakia. “I go now, Herr Rick, but I hope you know what you’re doing.” 

“Don’t I always, Carl?” I was almost giddy. 


I strolled down the stairs to the main room of the café, attempting to look soignée. At a table close to Sam and as far away from the German contingent as could be arranged, were Ilsa Lund and Victor Lazlo. Sam was playing As Time Goes By. I walked over, barely acknowledging Louis Renault where he sat with Major Strasser. 

Ilsa caught my eye and looked away. Victor rose and extended his hand. “M’sieur Blaine, how nice to see you again.” 

What was this M’sieur Blaine nonsense? “Victor, it’s so good to see you again.” 

For a moment panic flared in his eyes. “I must speak with you. Somewhere private, perhaps?” 

“Sure. Come on up to my office. You’ll excuse us, won’t you Ilsa?” 

I turned away, giving neither the time to object, heedless of the attention I was drawing. Victor trailed along behind me. 

At the top of the stairs I opened the door and ushered Victor in. The lighting was subdued, soft and romantic. A table set with a spotless tablecloth was covered with all manner of comestibles to tempt even the most jaded pallet. 

“Care for an absinthe, Victor?” 

“How nice, you remembered.” 

“Did you doubt it?” Before he could say another word, move another step, I closed the door and took him in my arms. “Oh, God, Victor, I missed you so much!” 

He turned his head and the kiss I planned for his mouth landed on his cheek instead. His body was stiff in my embrace, and his message came across loud and clear. 

He did not want this

I dropped my arms and stepped back. 

“Richard. Please.” 

“Why did you come here, Victor?” 

“I don’t want to hurt you.” 

I simply looked at him. 

“I need to get out of Casablanca.” 

“What has that to do with me?” 

“Thousands will die unless I can get to America and continue my work.” 

I shrugged and lit a cigarette. “People will die nonetheless. No one gets out of this life alive. Shall we eat? This food is growing cold.” I offered him an oyster. 

He brushed the plate aside. “My contacts in the underground kept me abreast of your exploits. You ran guns to Ethiopia. You fought the fascists in Spain.” 


“You always fought on the side of the underdog.” 

“I don’t any longer. Anyway, all that says is that I was a poor judge of causes.” 

“Richard, my work was once as important to you as to me!” 

“No, Victor. Nothing was as important to me as you. Well, apparently that’s all water under the bridge. Here, have an absinthe. That always was your favorite drink, if I recall correctly.” 

He took the small glass and looked into the green depths. “I was supposed to meet a man named Ugarte, to purchase two exit visas.” 

“Ugarte is dead.” 

“Yes, I learned of that this morning in the Prefect of Police’s office, when Major Strasser was offering me the opportunity to leave Casablanca.” 

He was in Louie’s office that morning? And Louie hadn’t told me? “Why didn’t you accept?” 

“His offer came with too many strings. He wanted the names of the leaders of the underground in Paris, Prague, Brussels, all the major cities of Europe.” 

“And you declined to give them.” He always had been a noble son of a bitch, I thought bitterly. 

He seemed surprised that I should have to mention such a foregone conclusion. “Of course.” 

“So why did you want to see me tonight?” 

“I understand you have the visas.” 

“The Germans thought so. They searched my place this morning and didn’t find anything.” 

He waved that aside as if inconsequential. “That means nothing, Richard. I know you too well. If you had those letters of transit, they would be hidden in a place those Boche would not find them!” 

“All right. Suppose I do have them. What makes you think I would give them to you? Now?” 

“Richard, I can give you a hundred thousand francs for those exit visas.” 

I watched the ash at the end of my cigarette grow, and shook my head. “Not enough, Victor.” 

For the first time I think he realized I was no longer the young man who had been so enamored of him. “You’ve changed, Richard! You’ve gotten harder, colder…Very well, what do you want? Name your price!” 

I smiled, but there was no humor in it. “You might want to be careful how you phrase that, Victor. I’ve already told Ilsa what it would cost.” 

He grew still. “My wife? You want my wife, again?” 

“You knew I had had her?”

"Yes, yes, of course. I knew how closely we resemble one another, that was one of the reasons why I married her.” 

“I see.” There was a nasty taste in my mouth. “Those who wanted you, but preferred women…” 

“While I was in the concentration camp, I was able to get a message to her to find you in Paris, to make you her lover.” 

“Why, Victor?” 

“I knew I would need your help…”

”And you didn’t think I would give it to you, freely, just for the asking?” 

“Everyone has a price.” 

“Do they? You were so certain?” I turned away from him, so disillusioned I could have wept. All those wasted years. 

“I don’t understand. If that is so, then why won’t you help me now?”

I grabbed him and pulled him close enough to feel my half-aroused state. “Who said I wouldn’t help you now?” 

“I don’t understand,” he repeated. “If you don’t want the money, what do you want?” 

“What I’ve always wanted. *You*, Victor. I want you!”


Note: Song lyrics, La Marseillaise, translation done by Iain Patterson. Thanks to Silk for providing the location of the website, and to Gail, as always, for the formatting.

Apologies for my butchering of the German lines, which are taken from the movie Stalag 17. 

Part 25 

I had never seen a man look so sad, or so conflicted. “Richard. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t give you what you request.” 

“I…don’t understand.” Now it was my turn to say those words. 

Victor Lazlo turned away from me, unable to meet my gaze. “The first camp I was interred in—they were not happy when I refused to give them the names of the leaders of the Resistance.” 

I felt sick. “I’ve heard that the Nazis have ways of making their prisoners talk, even the strongest ones.” 

“Yes,” he said musingly, “they were quite disappointed when their methods did not work on me.” 

“Victor, what did they do to you?” 

Instead of answering, he undid his trousers and let them fall. 

My stomach roiled in protest at the sight. Glassy scar tissue. His once proud prick… 

I closed my eyes and shuddered. “Oh my God, Victor! I’m so sorry!” My arms went around him and pulled him to me, and he absorbed the tremors that ran through my body. “Mon homme brave!” 

“C’est rien, Richard. It is all right. I am in no pain now. And it was so long ago…” He stepped out of my embrace. “You see why I need the exit visas. They are breathing down my neck. I must get out of Casablanca!” 

There was nothing I could do about the ruin of his lower body, but seeing he got to safety…that was something I could do for him. “I can’t get the letters for you now, there are too many Germans around, and it would be too dangerous, for both of us. Come back after hours and I’ll have them ready for you.” 

“Thank you, Richard.” 

I had to kiss him. I pressed my lips against his soft, warm mouth, licking at it, hoping for… what? A spark of passion? He stood motionless, and it was like kissing a statue. 

I drew back, letting my arms fall to my sides. I could have wept. 


We left my rooms and began to walk down the stairs to the main room below. 

Carmina was supposed to be entertaining the customers. She usually played her guitar and went from table to table, enchanting the men, but in such a droll manner that their wives would shake their heads indulgently and smile. 

Instead, masculine voices were raised in song. A surly resentment seemed to lay over the café and I went on the alert. I searched out my bouncers, those strong-arms dressed innocuously as waiters, and they signaled their preparedness. I remained tense. 

The Germans, led by Major Strasser were singing. 

“Deutscheland, Deutscheland, uber ales…” 

 The French, the Poles, the Serbs, the Czechs, everyone whose country had felt the iron boot heel of Germany on its neck, glowered at the group of men or stared into their drinks, sullenly swallowing their choler. 

Major Strasser was happier than a pig in… He was happy. He was flexing his Nazi muscle, forcing them to take it up the ass and smile. 

I would have brushed off the whole thing, lighting a cigarette and having Sascha pour me a bourbon. As long as there were no outbreaks of violence in my café, I didn’t care a damn what the Germans did. 

But Victor did care. His face flushed with anger and he left me standing on the stairs, striding across the floor like a white knight determined to avenge the wrongs committed against those in his care. 

He stopped in front of the orchestra, almost quivering with rage. “Play the Marseillaise!” he ordered. 

Francois, the orchestra leader, looked toward me. He might agree fervently with the Czech, but I paid him.

This act could cost me my saloon, my freedom. It could cost me …everything. I considered all that, and dismissed it. 

“Play the Marseillaise!” Victor repeated, and I nodded. 

With a fillip that spoke of anger long suppressed, the orchestra, which consisted primarily of French expatriates, swung into the stirring opening bars of their national anthem. And Victor began to sing. 

“Allons enfants de la patrie,

“Le jour de gloire est arrive…!” 

It was as if the patrons of the Café Americain had been touched with an electrical wire. They sat up straighter, unable to tear their eyes from the man who stood in the spotlight. 

Carmina didn’t hesitate. She went to stand beside my former lover, tapping out the rhythm against the belly of her guitar and singing strongly. 

“…Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras 

“Engorger nos fils, nos compagnes…!” 

Major Strasser tried desperately to get his men to drown out the words, “They are coming into our midst, to cut the throats of your sons and consorts!” 

But the people in my saloon had been swept up by Victor’s fervor. They stood, and joined him, even Yvonne, who wept as she proclaimed her loyalty to her native land. 

“Aux armes, citoyens! 

“Formez les bataillons!” 

One by one, the German officers fell silent, and with petulance written in every line, Strasser took his seat, sulkily turning his back on those who continued to sing. He glowered at Louis Renault, who swiftly removed his expression of pride and shrugged as if to say he was not responsible for such an outpouring of emotion. 

“What can I do, my dear Major? It is merely a song!” Knowing full well, it wasn’t. 

And Victor led them on. 

“Marchons, marchons! 

“Qu’un sang impur 

“Abreuve nos sillons!” 

The crowd burst into wild applause and cheers, and shouts of Vive La France! Vive la democracie! rang exultantly throughout the Café Americain. 

Major Strasser’s face was dark with fury. “You see what Lazlo’s presence has accomplished, even here, in this corner of nowhere? I want this place shut down!” 

“But everyone is having such a good time!” Louie said innocently. 

Strasser glared at him. “They are having too good a time! Find an excuse and close this place! At once!”


Louie glanced from where Victor Lazlo stood, accepting the accolades of the crowd to where I stood observing my one-time lover. He saw my expression before I could erase it, and I could have sworn his eyes appeared to cloud. But I must have been mistaken, because he pulled out his shiny tin whistle and gave a loud blast. 

“The café is closed! Everyone leave, tout de suite!” 

I stormed over to him. “How can you shut me down? On what grounds?” 

The look he gave me was positively cold, and I shivered in spite of myself. “I am shocked, shocked to find gambling going on here!” 

I gaped at him, unable to believe his audacity. At that moment, Claude, one of my croupiers, approached him. 

“Your winnings, M’sieur le Capitaine!” 

“Oh, thank you so much!” He turned away from me, pocketing the francs and said regretfully, “You’ve often said you stick your neck out for no man. Now it appears you have, and I won’t be able to save you from your own folly. I’m sorry, Rick.” 

I reached out to him, but he walked away, and I felt as if I had been kicked in the gut. 

This was the Prefect of Police, not my friend, not my …lover. 

Strasser stalked over to me as I watched the crowd pour out of my café. “You see what comes of crossing swords with the Third Reich?” he gloated. He was overjoyed with this victory after his crushing defeat at the hands of Victor Lazlo. 

And I had had enough. Enough of being torn between an old love and a new. Enough of having everyone I loved leave me sooner or later. Just…enough. “Major, sprechen Zie deutsche?” 

He looked confused. “Of course I speak German!” 

I curled my lip at him and walked away, calling over my shoulder, “Droppen Zie dead!”


Note: This one is Louis’ POV. 

Part 26 

I could understand Ricky’s attraction for the Czechoslovakian. If I weren’t so enamored of the American, I would have been interested in Victor Lazlo myself, and would have taken great pleasure in having him beg me for it. 

But Rick wouldn’t beg. And after Lazlo’s performance in the Café Americain, I was sure he would never even think twice about me again. 

It was a calculated risk. I had seen that look on his face, and knew I had no hope of ever having one like it directed at me. 

So I had acted reflexively, striking back out of the hurt he had dealt me. And then turned my back on him, hoping he would call me back. 

I was an inveterate gambler; I should have known better. 

I had tossed the dice and rolled snake eyes. 

He let me go. 


I sat at a table in the back of the Blue Parrot, a glass of red wine in my hand. I did not want to get drunk. I just wanted to wallow in my gloom. 

Meryam, Ferrari’s newest …dancer flashed by me, her torso undulating rhythmically, the tiny cymbals on her fingers keeping time with the movement. She smiled seductively, offering me whatever I wanted. 

So tender, the freshness of youth a bloom upon her cheek. But she was working for Ferrari, and I thought to myself, Why not? 

I threw some francs onto the table and climbed to my feet, suffering the old ennui.  I crooked my elbow in my usual gallant manner. After all, I had a reputation to uphold. 

She flowed up against me, her lush breasts soft against my side. Her dark eyes sought out Ferrari’s for approval, and he nodded complacently. 

The corner of my mouth went up in a calculated grin. He thought this would give him a hold on me, a way to prevent me from closing his place down as I had closed down his competitor’s. 

He saw my smile, and shifted uneasily in his rattan fan-backed chair, pale under his North African tan. 

Satisfied, I turned my attention back to Meryam. “Shall we go, my dear?” She clung to my arm and we stepped out into the fog-shrouded night. 

She chattered inanely all the way to my quarters, and I felt exhausted by the time we climbed the stairs to the top floor. My ears actually hurt. 

In my sitting room she flitted from one objet d’art to another, stroking them with delicate fingertips, pausing by the nude statuette with its long hair, upraised arms and averted face. 

I actually considered sending her home, before deciding that one warm body was quite as acceptable as another. And then she uttered a small shriek, backing toward me. 

Someone was sitting in the shadows. 

I strode forward and thrust the girl behind me, my hand already reaching for the revolver that was my side arm. 

Because I seldom used it, most of the denizens of Casablanca considered it merely a showpiece. However, I had not reached the rank of captain on my good looks alone. I was a crack shot, as the inhabitant of my favorite easy chair was about to find out. 

The lamp beside the chair was suddenly turned on, its soft glow illuminating the three of us. And I swore. 

Seated there, his hair disheveled, stubble covering his chin, looking good enough to swallow whole, was my own personal bete noire, Rick Blaine. 

“Send her home, Louie.” 

“And if I’d rather not?” 

The way he got out of that chair had my mouth dry with desire. I was teased, tantalized by that body. 

What did I care if his heart yearned for another? I wanted to bury myself in him one more time. 

“Sahib…” Meryam’s eyes were wide with fright. Despite her youth, she was no fool. She knew danger when she saw it. “Please…” 

Rick tossed her some bills and she scurried out the door. 

I watched her leave with no regret. 

“What do you want here, Rick?” 

“Suppose I said I want you, Louie.” 

“Then I would say that obviously you’ve mistaken me for someone who cares.” 

“Have I? Louie…” 

I couldn’t help myself. I was tired of wanting someone who always kept a part of himself for another. “If you want to get fucked, Rick, go to Lazlo. He’s the one you’ve been saving yourself for, isn’t he?” 

“I’m no angel, Louie. I haven’t spent the years since he left me in an empty bed.” 

“You may as well have. Leaving those poor women in the middle of the night! Giving your body, but not your heart. You’re a sham, Rick Blaine!” Even in my anger I was careful not to call him Richard. “You pretend to be so hard and tough, but deep down inside, you’re just a frightened little boy who’s terrified of getting his heart broken again!” 

He came to where I stood and looked down into my eyes. His tongue swept over his lips and I almost moaned. 

“*I’m* a frightened boy? And what of you, Renault? How many women have passed through your bed?” His breath fanned my mouth. 

I was stunned by his attack and could not get a word past my lips. His fingers wound in my hair and he pulled my face close to his. 

“How many have touched your mind?” His fingers flexed in my hair. “How many have touched your heart?” His hand pressed against my chest. “How many have touched your soul?” And his mouth was on mine, with such force my lips felt bruised. 

I struggled not to respond, although my prick surely thought I was insane. He was right; I tried to protect my heart, just as he did. And yet… 

“Say my name!” I shuddered from the depth of my desire, aware, suddenly and for the first time that I would just as willingly have taken him into my body. 


“I want to be sure you know it’s me who’s fucking you!” 

His lips nuzzled my throat, where the pulse was beating erratically. “I know it’s you, Louie!” He thrust his hips forward, rubbing his arousal against my prick. “Take me, please!” 

But I wouldn’t let my eager hands find and trace his erection. I wouldn’t let my lips respond to his. “Are you hard for me or Lazlo?” 

 “What does it matter, Louie?” he groaned. “Victor can never make love again! To me or anyone else! The Nazis ruined him!” 

“Is that what he told you?” 

“That’s what he showed me! They tortured him! He couldn’t fuck me if his life depended on it.” 

“So you decided to come to me for what you need. How do you think that makes me feel, Rick? I may not be a world renowned freedom fighter, but I am the Prefect of Police in Casablanca, which makes me a fairly important man in our little corner of the world.” 

Rick shoved me backwards and I lost my balance and fell into a chair. He dropped to his knees before me and undid my uniform trousers, his warm fingers reaching in to find and shape my quivering flesh. His thumb pressed the slit at the top of my prick, collecting the moisture that beaded there and bringing it to his lips. 

He shed his pants and straddled my lap, lowering himself onto me. Before I could protest that I would hurt him, that he needed to be prepared, he sank down, easily accepting my prick into his ass. 

He had prepared himself. And at that moment I didn't care if it was for me or for Lazlo. 

I shuddered and bucked, and he held himself still for my thrusts. Quicker than I would have liked, I began to fill his channel with my hot semen. Warmth pooled on my abdomen, and I realized that my release had triggered his. 

He sagged against me, his ring of muscle clenched to keep me within for as long as possible. But nothing lasts forever, and soon I was too flaccid to remain in his hot passage. 

“Louie!” His lips traveled up my neck to my ear where his warm breath made me shiver and start to grow hard again. He licked a path along my jaw to my mouth and stroked across my lips, pleading for access. 

I turned my head. “I want Lazlo out of Casablanca, Rick.” 

“I always knew you were a good man, Louie.” 

Well, if he wanted to believe that… “I warn you though. If he’s still here by this time tomorrow I will hand him to Strasser on a silver platter.” 

He stood, his legs somewhat shaky. “Will you let me stay the night, Louie?” 

My fondest hope. “If you wish,” I said carelessly, not wanting him to know how much his offer meant to me. “Tell me something, Rick.” 

He leaned into me. “Sure” 

“Lazlo may not have been able to fuck you, but was there anything wrong with his mouth?”


Part 27 

Louis Renault’s bed was the softest I had ever been in. It seemed to envelope me in a loving embrace, and I slept better than I had in years. 

Or perhaps it was being in Louis’ arms that made sleeping such a pleasure. 

My head was pillowed on a furred chest, an arm lightly stroking the line of my back. I arched into the touch of those clever fingers, slowly coming awake. 

They delved lower, into my hole, which was still slick from lubricant and come. Quite a bit of come. Louie was amazing for a man his age. My ass was so well used that I felt the ache deep inside me. 

He rolled me over onto my stomach, and nudged my legs apart. A warm, wet tongue began lapping its way from my tailbone, over the base of my spine to my shoulders, and a very hard, hot prick nudged at the crevice between my buttocks. I hummed with pleasure and spread my legs further, angling my hips up to facilitate his entry. 

I gasped as he slid past the tight ring of muscle and began an easy rocking motion. His teeth sank into the spot where my shoulder and neck joined, and I wondered if he would leave a mark. Then his lips began to suckle and I was sure of it. 

I moaned and wriggled under him, trying to encourage him to increase the speed of his strokes. 

“No, Ricky,” he whispered in my ear, and then his tongue dipped into it. “I want this to last a very long time!” 

His prick brushed across my hot spot and I shivered in response. “Please, Louie!” He had me reduced to begging. He changed the angle of his thrusting and I became even more desperate. I tried to reach for my prick, determined to bring myself off, but he linked his fingers with mine and held my arms away from my body. 

And continued his leisurely fucking. 

His weight along my back prevented me from moving, and I was unable to even rub my weeping prick against the smooth linen of his sheets. I bit frantically at the pillow, wild with the need to come. 

“Did he ever give you this, Rick?” Louis asked hoarsely. His pace was speeding up finally, and I was able to get my knees up under me and thrust back against the hardness that was plundering my ass. “Did you ever feel with him what I make you feel?” 

‘No! Oh God, Louis, no!” The breath whistled from between my lips, mingling with deep groans of pleasure. “Make me come, Louis! Please!” I was shameless. 

Three things happened simultaneously: his teeth broke the skin of my neck, he began to pour himself into me, and he released my hands, reaching around to take possession of my prick. And with the lightest touch of his fingers I came, shuddering and crying out. I came harder than anytime before in my life. 

Harder, even, than with Victor. 

I knew in that moment that whatever I had felt for that long ago lover, it was nothing compared to what I felt for the man lying against me now, cradling me in his arms. I wondered how I would ever be able to protect my heart from him. 

And then I wondered why I even wanted to. 


I was getting cleaned up in Louis’ spacious bath when his batman arrived with breakfast. I winced as I ran a cool washcloth over my tender hole. “Christ, Louie, you really rode me hard!” I called out to him. 

He cleared his throat and I bit my lip, wondering if the little man who took care of his needs hadn’t left as I had thought. 

“We have company, Rick.” 

I pulled a face at my reflection. I seemed to have opened mouth, inserted foot. Well, nothing for it now but to put the best possible face on it. I wrapped a towel around my middle and walked back into the bedroom. 

“You didn’t tell me you were expecting anyone, Louis. Should I be jealous?” The towel slipped a bit and hung low on my hip. 

“Of course not, my dear Ricky. You remember Sergeant Lejaune?” 

Shit! I could feel the heat rise up in my face. “Of course,” I replied stiffly. 

The Sergeant’s little pig eyes gleamed with malice. “It seems you’ll have to reconsider your decision to send me to Algiers!” he drawled. 

“Does it?” Louis asked casually. “Why is that, I wonder?” 

It suddenly dawned on me that the man did not get to be Prefect of Police by being a fool and a weakling. I looked at my lover with appreciative eyes. 

“If you do not reconsider, I will have my brother-in-law inform the Vichy government that the chief of police of Casablanca is a homosexual!” 

I felt my gut clench. In Casablanca they might overlook such an inconsequential matter. Indeed, that was one of the lesser of all the decadent acts carried out in French Morocco, but if Louis was ever recalled to France it would well cost him his career. 

Yet he continued smiling. “Really? And why, my dear Lejaune, would you do that?” 

The Sergeant began to sputter. “You…he…the bed…” 

“You have absolutely no evidence that anything of that nature has been going on here!” 

“But I heard this man…” 


“He said…I heard…” 

“He said nothing! You heard nothing. And if you dare to speak of finding M’sieur Blaine in my quarters, I will merely point out that after his rooms were left in a shambles, a result of actions instigated by you, Lejaune, it would be the height of folly for me to refuse him a place to spend the night.” 


“Don’t be more of a fool than you can help, Sergeant! I have held this position for more years than I care to think about, and believe me, I know where all the bodies are buried. I will crush you like a bug!” 

Lejaune’s face was leeched of all color. His eyes darted about nervously. “Of course, mon Capitaine. I see now that I was in error! I beg your pardon! If I may be excused?” 

Louis dismissed him with a negligent nod, and in moments we were alone. 

“I’m sorry, Louie. I made things difficult for you.” 

“Not at all, my dear Ricky. I haven’t enjoyed tearing a strip off someone like that in forever. It is very difficult to exercise one’s sadistic streak when one’s men look up to one so.” His eyes were warm and I actually felt my heart turn over. 

“And we all know what a sadistic bastard you are,” I said lightly, knowing he was no such thing. 

He walked to where I stood and pulled my head down. His lips brushed over mine, and he set his tongue to exploring my mouth. I reached for him, but he backed away, laughing. 

“Breakfast, Rick. And then I expect you to make arrangements for Lazlo to leave Casablanca.” 

“What will you tell Major Strasser? If he succeeded in bringing Lazlo back to Germany, that would result in a plum promotion for him. He might even become one of Hitler’s fair-haired boys. He won’t be too happy if you toss a spanner in the works!” 

“Why Rick, are you concerned for my safety?” 

“More than you’ll ever know,” I said, but softly, so he wouldn’t hear. “Actually, I’m concerned about our bet.” I went back into the bathroom and covered my face with his shaving cream. Using Louis’ razor, I began to shave. “You realize you’ll still owe me ten thousand francs, don’t you?” Foolishly I pressed my lips to it, then ran it over the curve of my jaw. 

“You wouldn’t dream of holding me to our little wager, would you?” 

“Sure. Why wouldn’t I?”

“I never wager with family, Rick!”


Part 28 

I stood before the mirror, my eyes fastened on the bite that stood out in stark relief at the side of my throat, running my fingers over it. The heat of that memory seared through me, and my prick hardened. None of my lovers had ever marked me, not even Victor Lazlo. 

That was what I had been missing, what Louis Renault gave to me, the sense of being possessed by the man who took my body. 

My lips parted and I could barely catch my breath. I flipped back the collar of my shirt, sliding the long end of my tie through the knot and straightening it. 

And then another pair of hands came around and smoothed the soft material. “I’m sorry I hurt you, Rick.” 


“I’ve never marked a lover like that before.” He turned me around and his fingers rested on the spot below my collar. “I never realized how barbaric I could be! I find I like leaving my mark on you, Rick.” He ran his fingers through my hair, stroking it back from my forehead, and took my mouth in a kiss that started as a gentle teasing but quickly escalated. 

“I… want you, Louis. More than I’ve wanted anyone!” I pulled out of his embrace and reached for my jacket and hat. It was still too hot to go outdoors without one. I licked the moisture of his kiss from my lips and gave my trousers a discreet adjustment. 

“You sound as if that thought doesn’t please you.” 

“I’m…not sure. I’ll have to think about it and let you know.” I took a last sip of cooling coffee and headed for the door. 

His hand on my arm stopped me. “Don’t be too long in thinking about it, Ricky. I’m not a patient man! I promise you!” 


I walked into the café, trying to disguise the stiffness of my gait. And each time I thought of how I came to be so stiff, I would grow hard. 

“Herr Rick! You are all right?” 

“Of course, Carl. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You did not come home last night at all. We were worried.” 

They had watched with amusement the dance that Louis and I had been engaged in for the past three years, but how would they feel, what would they think, when they discovered the Prefect of Police and their employer were now lovers? 

I owed no one an explanation of where I spent the night, I assured myself. Not even the friends who depended on me for their livelihood. “Well, I’m home now,” I said shortly, “and as you can see, I’m in one piece.” 

 “Ja.” He fiddled with the glass he was drying, and it was obvious something was troubling him. I waited for the words that would denounce me, concealing my physical discomfort and my emotional distress. When Carl finally confessed his concerns, it took me a full minute to realize my affair with the captain was not what was worrying him. “That Major Strasser is a fanatic. He is the kind who will follow even the most absurd, the most insane of orders!” 

Especially if he was even considering invading New York! I let out the breath I hadn’t even been aware I’d been holding. “We’ll just have to see what can be done about the good Major! I’ll be in my rooms if anyone needs me.” 

“Very good, Herr Rick.” 

“Oh, and Carl, everyone stays on salary. We can manage for two weeks if I can’t persuade Captain Renault to let me open sooner.” 

“Danke, Herr Rick. That will be appreciated.” 

He returned to deftly ordering about the day help who kept the café in tip top shape for the next evening’s business. Just because we would not be opening that night did not mean everything should go to rack and ruin. 

I went up to my rooms, the pull of muscles not used in such a long time a constant reminder of the previous night’s activity. I was looking forward to soaking in a warm bath. And I would consider my next step carefully. 

Although, more than anything, I wanted to be in Louis’ bed once more, with him buried deep in my body. I sighed like a lovesick fool. 

While the tub was filling, I stripped off my clothes and left them in a heap on the floor. A fresh change had been laid out for me, and I mentally thanked the little Austrian who not only kept my café in order, but my private rooms as well. 

The bathroom was clouded with steam, and I turned off the faucets. I stepped into the warm water and settled back against the curve of porcelain. My eyes drifted shut; I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, and the heat of my bath was enervating. 

 I slipped into an easy doze. 


The water was cold. That was what woke me. That and the hand that was fondling my partially aroused prick. 

I groaned and thrust up into the grip. “Do you like that Richard?” 

I bolted upright and sent a wave of water splashing over the side. “Ilsa!” 

She smiled sadly. “We knew each other for such a short time in Paris, I never got to know what pleased you!” 

“Did Victor send you here?” 

She looked away, ill at ease. “Why do you suggest such a thing?” 

“Victor told me it was under his orders that you arranged to meet me in Paris!” 

Her lovely face paled and her eyes avoided mine. “Can you ever forgive me, Richard? I never meant to hurt you!” 

“Ilsa,” I said softly. “I know how difficult it is to refuse Victor Lazlo anything. And I realize now why I was so attracted to you.” 

“You do?” she asked uncertainly. 

“Of course, it took Sam to point it out. He noticed the resemblance between you and Victor as soon as he saw the two of you together.” 

“And you never did?” she marveled. 

I shrugged. “I just knew there was something about you that called to me. Something about your nose...” 

Her slender fingers touched the patrician line of her nose. Her head bowed and her shoulders shook with silent sobs. 

I got out of the tub and wrapped a towel around my hips, then knelt beside her. “Now, now, kid.” I tipped up her chin. “Here’s looking at you.” 

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” She wept elegantly, crystal drops hanging trembling on her lashes, neither her eyes nor her nose turning red. 

“Ilsa…” I stroked her hair gently, but my mind was on the thick, dark hair of my lover. I leaned my head against hers and thought of the streaks of silver that wound through the strands above the Frenchman’s temples. 

Her arms went around me, heedless of the moisture that was saturating the slim white suit she wore. “I’m so tired of playing the whore for him!” 

I flinched at those words and released her. “That’s all I meant to you? Nothing more?” And I realized I meant nothing more to him either. My eyes burned as I thought of all the wasted years. 

I had given my heart to a man who embraced the entire world, who could care for every last scrap of humanity, but not me alone. 

And so, obviously, had Ilsa Lund. 


She waited in the sitting room as I dressed. “Tell him to meet me here half an hour before the last plane for Lisbon.” 

“I don’t want to leave with him, Richard. After the miscarriage…” 

“*What*?” I burst into the other room. 

“When I was ill, in Oran.” 

“You miscarried? Whose baby, Ilsa?” 

“Does it matter?” 

Did it matter? I no longer saw Ilsa and myself as star-crossed lovers, but I needed to know that I was not the only one poorly treated by my former lover. “I’d like to know, Ilsa.” 

She ran a distracted hand through her hair, freeing it from its anchors. “The leader of the underground in Prague needed a reward for his assistance in getting Victor out of that concentration camp.” 

“And you were that reward.” 

Ilsa stood by the window, staring blindly into the street below. “Of course Victor was overjoyed. He would have a son.” Her fingers clenched the gauzy drapes. “It was poor timing. No one’s fault, really. But the difficulty in traveling, the lack of food, the stress…By the time we got to Oran I was in almost constant pain. And then I lost it. 

“I can’t stay with him any longer Richard. Surely you must see that! Please, you loved me once! Let me stay with you!” 

Complications on top of complications. A week ago I would have killed to hear those words from her. Now… 

She hurried on before I could reply. “I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore, Richard! You must do the thinking for both of us!” 

“You’ve been through a great deal, darling. Go back to your hotel room and rest. Give Victor my message.” I ushered her to my door. “I’ll take care of everything.” 

She paused half way down the stairs and turned to give me a wavering smile, then continued on her way. 

I groaned under my breath as I saw Yvonne enter the café, looking first to the right and then the left, seeking someone. She crossed to the stairs and stopped as Ilsa reached the bottom. 

The other woman said something quietly and they both looked up at me. I stood motionless, waiting to see what would come of the confrontation. 

Yvonne raised her hand and I thought she meant to strike Ilsa. But she gently stroked her thumb across the Scandinavian beauty’s cheek, capturing a last tear.


Note: Louis’ POV 

Part 29 

I remembered him. 

He didn’t think I had seen him, all those years ago, in Paris. When the Tiger was pinning that medal on my chest, the Palm d’Or winking in the pale sunlight. I had looked out over the small massing of soldiers and seen the young soldier Rick had been then. 

He had watched with dark, shining eyes, dawning awareness in them. I marked his position, intending to find him. 

And be the one to introduce him to the world of the senses. 

But his battalion had been called up to the French-German border and he was gone before I could even discover his name. 

I would have found him, nevertheless, but he had enlisted in a Canadian regiment, under a false name. 

And then there was the Armistice and I never did see him again. 

And then, three years before, he had strolled into my office and inquired about the permits necessary to open a saloon, as he called it, with a derogatory smile. 

Rick’s Café Americain had become as oasis for the refugees who poured into French Morocco. He dismissed himself as a hardheaded businessman, but he would have been wealthy enough to spend his days in idle leisure had he not aided those who came to him in need. A meal, a suit of clothes. Even an occasional exit visa, purchased himself from Ferrari, supposedly without my knowledge. 

I watched him during those years, and lusted after him, making sure to keep him off balance enough that he never discovered my true intentions. I wanted that delectable ass of his, naked, in my bed, on a frequent basis. 

Unfortunately, I hid my true intentions from myself as well, and it was only now that I realized I wanted more than simply sex. 

And how close I was to losing…everything. 


The huge doorman stood before my desk, his normally swarthy complexion a muddy olive. “Captain Renault, M’sieur Rick, he ask me to deliver this to you.” 

Abdul was an old acquaintance of mine. Before Rick had come to Casablanca, he had been in my jail so many times we had both lost count. A big man who saw no reason to control his temper, he had beaten quite a few men to a pulp, until finally, one day, he picked the wrong man to cross. 

Rick had taken him apart with deceptive ease, and I had the privilege to watch. And then after the brawl, Rick had leaned down and offered the Arab a hand up. “I can use a guy like you in my joint,” he told him, and from that moment, Abdul was his devoted servant. 

I looked at the slip of folded paper he held out to me, and it began to tremble in his fingers. My gaze shot up to fasten on the black eyes of the big man. They were filled with misery, and sheened with tears he struggled desperately to keep from falling. 

“Does he want a response?” I asked hoarsely. 

Abdul shook his head and hurried out at my dismissal, relieved that I hadn’t questioned him further. I turned the paper over in my hands, reluctant to open it. 

But being with Rick had reminded me that once I had been more than just a corrupt public official. 

I placed it carefully on my blotter and rose to go to my door. “Jacques, I have some important paperwork to catch up on. I will not wish to be disturbed under any circumstances. Comprennez?” 

He signaled his understanding and I closed and locked my door. Then I went to the file cabinet that held the good whiskey and poured myself a stiff drink. I did not think that Rick Blaine was sending me the first in a series of love letters. 

Unable to put it off any longer, I sat down and began to read it. 

            “Mon cher ami,” it began. 

            “The time has come for me to bid adieu to your lovely city. I have enjoyed my stay in Casablanca immensely, but I was born under a wandering star, and I must move on…” 

My eyes blurred and I blinked rapidly and bit my lip. 

            “The desire to see new places and meet new people has become overwhelming. And let’s face it, Major Strasser is making the climate here too hot, even for me. Lieutenant Casselle has been so kind as to provide me with an exit visa, and I will be on the last plane for Lisbon tonight. 

“Knowing you has been a pleasure, Louie, and I’ll never forget you. 


I crumpled the paper in my hand and reared back in my chair. “*Jacques*!” I shouted. 

The rattling of the doorknob reminded me that I had locked it. I strode over to it and flung it open. 

“Oui, mon…” 

My fist found his chin and he staggered backwards. His feet flying out from under him, he landed heavily on the floor. 

“Salop!” I hissed at him. “You gave Rick Blaine an exit visa to leave Casablanca?” 

“Mais, oui, mon capitaine. Why are you so angry? I thought you were no longer seeing Mam’selle Yvonne.” 

“Quoi? What are you talking about, Jacques?” 

“M’sieur Blaine tell me that she want to go to Lisbon. I think, maybe, this is a good thing, she go and not be between you and M’sieur Rick.” 

“The exit visa was for Yvonne?”

”Mais oui. Who else would it be for?” 

Who, indeed?


Note: song lyrics, My Foolish Heart, covered by numerous and varied artists. I’m not sure if this is germane to the 40s, but it seemed appropriate. And sincere apologies to Howard Koch for putting my own spin on his fabulous lines. 

Part 30 

They were sitting around me, the looks on their faces varying from shock, to disbelief to sorrow. 

“I ain’t stayin’, boss,” Sam said flatly. 

I ran a tired hand over my face. “This isn’t something negotiable, Sam. Ferrari is willing to give you twenty-five per cent of the gross, in spite of the fact he knows I actually give you ten. Everyone else will be kept on, at double their salaries. Ferrari said it wouldn’t be Rick’s without Carl and Emil and Abdul. And you, Sascha.” 

“Well I ain’t stayin’!” 

“If Sam’s going, so am I!” 

“Sascha…Sam…” I looked from one to the other helplessly. 

“Uh oh.” 

“What? Oh shit.” At the door, standing there rhythmically slapping his gloves against his left hand, was the Prefect of Police. Looking more furious than I had ever seen him look. And suddenly I was hot with desire. I wanted to take that sullen mouth and crush it under mine, parting the lips and delving inside to duel with his tongue. 

And then I caught myself up short. What the hell was he doing here? The note I had spent all afternoon working on was not supposed to be delivered until after the last plane took off for Lisbon. 

Maybe it was just because he missed me? I wouldn’t mind having him in my bed one last time before I left Casablanca and all those I … oh fuck it! Loved. 

But Louis did not look as if taking me to bed was topmost in his mind. He stalked over to me, glowering at my staff. “I’m sure you gentlemen all have someplace else you need to be?” 

“These are my people Louie. Don’t think you can go ordering them around!” 

“And I am the Prefect of Police!” 

They all left. Even Carl, that dignified little man, moving so quickly that in a lesser man it would have been a run. 

Sam was the only one who remained. He sat himself down at his piano and began practicing a new tune. 

“There’s a line between love and fascination, 

“That’s hard to tell on an evening such as this…” 

The melody was hauntingly sweet, and for a moment I was distracted. 

Until a hand closed around my shirt front and gave me a shake. “What is the meaning of this?” Louis snarled, waving a piece of paper under my nose. 

“I…don’t know what you’re talking about, Captain.” 

“This…this…this fucking dear Louis letter!” 

Oh God. How had he gotten that letter? Carl promised me he would see it got to the Prefect of Police at the proper time. 

“Do you think I’m one of your women who can be appeased with a few sweet words?” 

I didn’t remember writing sweet words. If anything, I had tried to be as snide as I could. I had spent hours finding the right tone and the exact turn of phrase guaranteed to make him glad to see the back of me. 

Strasser would go after him when he learned that Victor Lazlo had managed to get his hands on those letters of transit and left Casablanca. I needed to be certain Louis Renault would be in no danger from the German officer. 

Snide, I reminded myself. Careless. Unconcerned. A notch in my bedpost. 

I hated myself. 

I shook out a cigarette and lit it casually. “Well, obviously, you’re not one of my women, Louie. For one thing, they at least know when the party’s over.” 

“*What*?” His face became alarmingly purple. 

“Listen, it was fun. We had a few laughs, but it’s over now. Strasser is going to be looking for whoever gave Victor Lazlo exit visas, and I don’t intend for him to find me!” 

“Sticking your neck out for no man. Correct, my dear Ricky?” 

“You bet your ass, Louie.” I drew in a deep breath of smoke. I could do this. Yes I could. “So, if that’s all, I’ll just finish packing. And you don’t need to worry; Ferrari will keep our bargain: you keep winning at roulette.” 

I thought I would make it to the stairs. My heart felt as if it had been torn from my chest and left a huge, gaping hole. I wanted to howl with anguish. 

Sam was singing the final lines of the song. 

“For this time it isn’t fascination, or a dream that will fade and fall apart. 

“It’s love, this time it’s love my foolish heart!” 

Yes, it was love. And I lost again… 

Louis’ fingers clamped on my upper arm and spun me around. His hand shoved hard at my chest, forcing me backwards with each word, with each thrust. 

“I have never heard such arrant nonsense before. If you can’t think of anything better to do with your mouth, than I can!” 

My head banged back against the wall and then he was flush against me, his prick an iron bar wedged between us. His mouth was a brand of heat searing my lips. A soft moan whispered from deep in my throat and he captured it and gave it back to me. I shuddered as his hands wound in my hair, holding my head immobile for his punishing kiss, his grip almost painful. 

Somehow my arms were around him, sliding down to grasp his buttocks and pull him closely to my own rampant prick. “One last time, Louis! I need you to fuck me one last time!” 

He forced me to look into his eyes as he shook his head. “It won’t be the last time. I won’t let you sacrifice yourself for…” 

I rubbed open-mouthed kisses along his throat. “I’ve got to leave Casablanca, Louis! I won’t risk you, you have to understand that!” 

“Explain to me why, browneyes.” 

 Was he out of his mind? Didn’t he realize how it was tearing me apart to do the right thing? “That girl Annina was right, the devil has the people by the throat, and the problems of two people don't matter a hill of beans in this crazy world, Louis! If I stay, Strasser will ruin you, and you’ll wind up hating me. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life! I couldn’t bear that Louis! I couldn’t…” Desperately I took his mouth. 

“Um, boss?” 

Dazed and still lost in a fog of desire, I looked toward my friend. I had forgotten he was even there. “Sam?” 

“We got company, boss.” 

“I seem to be interrupting, Richard!” 

Standing in the doorway, looking for all the world like a man who had overturned a rock and didn’t like what he had found there, was Victor Lazlo.


Part 31 

“Victor, please!” Ilsa came to stand next to him, her hand gentling on his arm. 

“You don’t understand, Ilsa. He’s mine! From the very first, he was mine! I won’t let anyone else have him!” 

I stood staring, my mouth hanging open in disbelief. This was a side of Victor I had never seen before. 

She threaded her fingers through his hair, took him in her arms, calming him. “It’s all right, Victor. You still have me!” 

Yvonne raised her hand in protest to that, then dropped it, unobserved by the man and the woman before her. Her eyes grew bitter. 

“Herr Rick! Herr Rick! You must leave! At once!” Carl was almost beside himself with worry. “I have just received word that Major Strasser is on his way here!” 

I thought of the friends I had made in my years at Casablanca, those good friends. A final farewell. But there was no time even for that. I stole one last kiss from the man who was not my first love, but would be my last. 

“I have a car waiting, Herr Rick.” Carl thrust my valise at me. “Please, you must hurry!” 

Numbly, I took it. I herded the three out of the Café Americain and into the roadster that was sitting out front, the engine idling. To my surprise, Lieutenant Casselle was in the driver’s seat. I folded back the front seat and Yvonne, Ilsa and Victor climbed in. 

I let the seat bounce back and slid in, slamming the car door. A corresponding slam from the driver’s side caught my attention. 


He cocked an eyebrow at me. “Do you think I’m about to let you go, just like that? I’ll drive you to the airfield!” 

The little car jerked and whined as the gears clashed, and then began to roll forward more smoothly. 

Furious whispers came from the back seat. “Ilsa, you do not love him! You told me so! Do I mean nothing to you, then?” Yvonne wept. 

“Please understand, my dearest one. He needs me, he needs my help with his work!” 

“But he doesn’t love you!” 

Ilsa had no reply to that. I glanced over my shoulder to see Victor glaring stonily at the blur of passing streets and shuttered bazaar. 

Sorrow swept through me, for Ilsa, for myself. Ilsa was about to throw away her life on a man who couldn’t love anything more than an abstract idea. 

I was about to say goodbye to someone who ... I chopped off the thought and returned to stare out the windscreen. 


The fog was settling in on the cool North African night. It would be touch and go for that last plane, and I shuddered. I hated flying. 

Louis pulled up outside the transport hangar. He hailed the uniformed orderly. “What are the flight conditions?” 

“Visibility is one and a half miles, Captain. Ceiling is unlimited. The plane should depart in ten minutes!” 

“Well, Louis, I guess this is the end of a beautiful friendship.” 

“Oh, I rather doubt that, Ricky!” 


Taking the letters of transit from my slack grip, he began to fill in the names. “This will make it more official, you know.” He smiled. 

“Louis!” I had to tell him how I felt, to at least give him that. 

“Yes?” he responded eagerly. 

The squeal of brakes disrupted our moment. “Arrest these people! Immediately!” Major Strasser bounded out of the sedan that was crowded with Frenchmen. 

The Prefect of Police wiped his face smooth of all expression. “Major Strasser! What a delightful surprise!”

“Is it, Renault? I think not!” 

“You wound me, my dear Major! Er, may one ask what has brought you to the airfield, this time of night?” 

Strasser sneered at him. “You are not as well-loved as you seem to think, Captain!” 

 “Really?” Louis turned to me. “Rick, you do not love me? Oh, I am devastated!” 

The German’s face became flushed. “Of course I did not mean the American, you fool! Your own Sergeant Lejaune was most pleased to come to me with the news that his Captain planned to betray the Third Reich! He will be rewarded for his action!” 

“*Oh, indeed he will*!” the Prefect of Police vowed under his breath. “Well, I’m afraid you’re too late, Major. I have filled out the letters of transit and these people have every right to leave.” 

“Not while there is a breath left in my body!” Strasser growled. 

“That can be very simply dealt with!” I said flatly. Strasser suddenly found himself staring at my revolver. 

“Renault, shoot him! I will forget this unpleasantness if you shoot him!” 

“Oh, I cannot possibly do that, Major. I’ve grown rather fond of him, you see!” 

“Arrest him!” Strasser screamed in a frenzy.  “He had the letters of transit all along! Arrest your Captain! Arrest everyone here!” 

The Frenchman stood casually watching the German officer. 

Casselle turned to Louis. “Mon Capitaine, perhaps it is best we search for some suspects. It is quite obvious to me that M’sieur Rick has been the target of foul rumors. We will find who has done this!” 

At his Captain’s nod, he saluted snappily and led his men away. 

Major Strasser resembled nothing so much as a rabid dog; froth ringed his mouth. 

“Treason! Treason!” He struggled to free his pistol from his coat pocket and waved it wildly. 

Three shots rang out, almost simultaneously. Two precise bullet holes appeared in Strasser’s chest, one just millimeters above the other. The third was centered neatly between his eyes. 

My heart was pumping erratically and tremors shook my legs. I hadn’t fired a gun in longer than I cared to think. If I had missed… If Louis had taken the bullet the German so clearly meant for him… 

I slumped bonelessly against the orderly’s desk. A pair of strong arms went around me, holding me up. Soft, comforting words whispered in my ear. I looked into Louis’ dark brown eyes, so close to my own tormented ones. “I could have lost you! Oh God, Louis, you could have died!” 

“I’m fine, cher ami. I am fine!” He holstered his service pistol. 

My hand wrapped around the base of his skull and pulled his face even closer. I forgot the bystanders and kissed him fiercely. 

“Who fired the third shot?” Victor asked, determined to intrude on our interlude. 

Yvonne unobtrusively tucked away her tiny handgun. 

“I did, M’sieur Lazlo,” a male voice responded. 


The Norwegian nodded grimly. “I could not take the chance that you might be harmed.” 

“You will need to leave Casablanca, M’sieur Berger,” the Prefect of Police said calmly, reluctantly releasing me. “I just happen to have an additional exit visa. While I fill in your name, I suggest you contact the next in your chain of command and inform him you will now be assisting the illustrious Victor Lazlo!” 

Berger went to the telephone and after a series of passwords, was finally put in touch with the woman who would succeed him. 

While he was busy arranging the transfer of control of his organization, Louis was whistling for his men. 

“Lieutenant Casselle, Major Strasser has been shot! This is a disaster, and the Third Reich will not be pleased!” 

Casselle grinned at his superior. The German had not endeared himself to the Free French. “What do you want me to do, mon Capitaine?” 

Louis looked at him as if he was dimwitted. “Round up twice the number of usual suspects!” 

“Oui. And Captain Renault, may I say what a pleasure it has been working with you?” He embraced the older man and turned sharply on his heel, signaling his men to follow. 

“What was that all about?” I asked him. 

“One moment, Ricky. M’sieur Lazlo, Berger will accompany you to Lisbon. He will become your right-hand man, replacing Miss Lund. She is in need of rest after the impossible pressures of the last few months. Yvonne will see to all her needs. I assume Ricky did not take the hundred thousand francs for the letters of transit?” 

Victor shook his head, stunned at the rapid change of events. 

“I thought not. You are a romantic, Rick! Very well Lazlo, you should have enough cash to see to your needs in Portugal. Yvonne, this is a small token from both Rick and myself, for having the great enjoyment of your company.” He handed her a fat envelope. “Ah, M’sieur Berger, all is in order? Splendid. You have no qualms about accompanying Victor Lazlo?” 

“Captain Renault, the Hero of Czechoslovakia needs a strong man to guard his back. I am honored to be chosen!” 

I saw the look in his eyes. He was more than honored. He was in love. 

Yvonne and Ilsa hurried to the plane, whose engines were revving up. Berger waited respectfully while Victor and I said our last goodbyes. 

“I did love you, Richard. If you believe nothing else, I hope you will believe that.” He leaned forward to kiss me, and I turned my head slightly, just enough so his kiss landed on my cheek instead of my mouth. 

“Goodbye, Victor. God speed.” 

“Please, M’sieur.” Berger took his arm. “We must hurry. I will provide you with everything you need. You will see. A woman cannot possibly give you what I can!” 

They walked away, into the fog, and I waited to see if Victor would look back, just one last time. 

He never did.


Note: Braces, in this context, are suspenders.

Song lyrics, one last time. As Time Goes By 

Part 32/End 

I stood there stupidly, watching the plane take off. 

“Wait a minute! I’m supposed to be on that plane!” 

“Oh, no, Ricky. You were never supposed to leave me!” 


We drove back to Louis’ quarters, and I followed him up to his rooms. “Now, what?” I asked grimly. “I can’t stay here. You would be endangered because of me.” 

“Oh, I agreed one hundred per cent, Rick.” His eyes had turned suddenly hot. “Take your clothes off.” 


“Don’t make me have to tell you twice!” He tossed his jaunty cap onto an occasional table and began to unbutton his dark blue uniform jacket. 

I licked my lips and sent my hat sailing to join his. 

Next he slid his arms through his braces and allowed them to dangle while he removed his tie and shirt. 

I wore a suit jacket, so he was one up on me. I shed it quickly and stripped off my own shirt and tie. 

For each article of clothing he took off, I did the same. 

And soon we were naked before each other. 

He came forward and his lips were hot and moist against mine. I held myself still, waiting for him to make the next move, desire a volcano of heat that settled heavily in my prick. 

His arms swept me into a hard embrace, and I felt his arousal nudge my groin. “On the bed, Ricky.” 

I backed away, then climbed onto his bed and knelt, shivers of passion coursing through me. 

“No,” he said softly. “On your back. I want to see your face when I make you come!” 

I obeyed his request and lay back, propped up on my elbows to better observe him. My prick was so hard the slightest breeze would have driven me toward climax. Clear drops of precome were oozing out to trickle leisurely down my shaft. 

And then Louis pounced. His mouth was on me and his tongue lapped at me as if I was a delicacy he could not deny himself. 

With a surprised shout, I began to pour myself down his throat, and he swallowed greedily. When I had no more to give, he sat back on his heels and smiled lazily at me, wiping off his mouth. He was still hard. 


“Now it’s my turn, my dear Rick!” He took out a jar of cold cream and began to cover his length with it, then scooped up a finger and parted my cheeks, stroking across my opening. 

I hooked my arms under my knees and lay back, exposing my needy hole to him. His finger pressed in and I shuddered. In spite of the fact that I had just come, my prick began to harden again. 

He eased in a second finger and this time found the spot that made me beg. “Please, Louis, don’t fuck with me!” 

“Oh?” I could hear the smile in his voice, although when I looked, his face was rather strained. “Would you rather I stop?” 

I clenched my inner muscles, squeezing his fingers punishingly. “If you stop, I might have to shoot you, Louis! Now stop fucking around, and fuck me!” 

He removed his fingers and the broad head of his prick began to push slowly into me. 

His shoulders forced my legs even further back, and my body was bowed. He leaned down and captured my lips in a ravishing kiss. His tongue in my mouth mimicked the actions of his prick in my ass. 

I tried to thrust back onto him, wanting to feel the weight of his balls banging against my crack. The hair at his groin rasped along the length of my prick, causing me to grow harder. 

His movements became more rapid and I groaned around the thick tongue in my mouth and sucked feverishly. He reached down to take me in his calloused hand, and the friction drove me wild. 

With a deep groan, Louis raised his head and locked his eyes with mine. He began to come, the heat of his orgasm setting me on fire. The sight of him climaxing was all I needed to trigger me and I spilled into his waiting hand. 

Minutes passed while I struggled to catch my breath. My legs had become stiff, and it was painful to settle them on either side of his legs. His prick was still within me, half hard, and I relished the feeling. 

“I love you, Louis. I’ll love you forever.” 

His mustache twitched. I had never seen him look quite that satisfied. “Well. It’s about time!” 


There wasn’t time for a leisurely bath. We sponged clean and dressed hastily. There were still enough Germans in Casablanca to make our lives difficult. 

“One thing, Louie. Just because I let you fuck me stupid, doesn’t mean you don’t still owe me ten thousand francs!” 

“I’m afraid I can’t give it to you, Rick.” 

“Come on, Louis, I wasn’t born yesterday. I know you’re rolling in dough!” 

“Well, I’m ten thousand poorer today than I was yesterday. I gave that to Yvonne.” 

I shut my mouth on the cutting remark I was going to make before he told me that. “Damn! Just when I think I know you, you go and do something noble!” 

“Thank you for that Rick, for thinking I might be a good man.” He kissed me. 

“Hey,” I said uneasily, “don’t go getting soft on me, Louis.” 

“Never that Rick. Never fear.” But I saw the sheen in his eyes. 

“What will you do now, Louis?” I asked, enchanted that I had touched him. I knotted my tie and shrugged into my jacket. 

He cleared his throat and poured himself a glass of water, from a bottle labeled Vichy. With a curl of his lip, he dropped the bottle into the wastebasket and kicked it aside. 

“You seem to have made me a patriot, as well as yourself, Ricky.”

The corner of my mouth curled into a grin. “It seemed like a good time to start.” 

“There’s a Free French garrison at Brazzaville. I could be induced to arrange passage for you.” 

“Just me?” I went very still.

“Actually, I rather thought I would accompany you.” He nodded toward the door and followed me out into the damp night. I got in the little roadster. My grip was already stowed in the back seat. Louis tossed his in to join it. 

And then he said it very quietly. “I love you, Rick.” 

He got behind the wheel and started us on the journey to Brazzaville. 



I pulled my undershirt on before leaving our shared quarters. “Yeah, Louis? What is it?” 

“We have company!” 

At the bottom of the stairs stood Carl. “I hope you don’t mind we join you, Herr Rick?” 


Emil and Abdul came to stand next to the little Austrian. And then Sascha appeared, flashing me a shy smile. 

But if Sascha was here, where was… And then I heard the tinkling of the piano, and a well remembered voice. 

“And when two lovers woo 

“They still say ‘I love you’ 

“On that you can rely, 

“No matter what the future brings 

“As time goes by!” 


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