A lonely stretch of beach becomes a hiding place for two men who, when their paths cross, are determined not to be ships just passing in the night.
Purlman “Purly” Gates—dark, brooding, mysterious, hiding from his past and the hefty price on his head—is hopelessly attracted to the young man who strolls the beach every morning. At the risk of his own exposure and its deadly consequences, Purly succumbs to his desire and sets out to lure the beautiful enigma into his lair.
Lucky Cleary wants the swarthy stranger who watches him from the shadows of the cottage deck, and his morning promenades finally pay off when the man steps out onto the beach and into Lucky’s life in a move to bring their paths together.
But Lucky has a secret as well—a past mistake following close behind him, promising certain death if it catches up with him.
When each man discovers the other’s identity, the truth forms a powerful bond between them and fans the flame of their passion.
But is the meeting of these two lonely souls a beautiful destiny or merely a cruel twist of fate in which their desire is nothing more than the kiss of death for them both?
It had been one week. Seven days to be exact. Lucky had not returned for his morning walks.
Daily Purly gazed along the shore, halfway hoping to see the man with the honey-colored curls. It was wrong to wish it, he knew that. But he hadn’t anticipated the ache at seeing that Lucky’s path in the sand, the only sign the beautiful enigma ever even existed, had faded with the tide.
It was for the best. Yes, as surprisingly painful as it had been to watch Lucky leave that day with his shoulders slumped—to see him cast a sad smile at his dogs then follow them onto the beach and out of Purly’s life—there was no way Purly could deny it had to be.
It was for the best, but…
Damn! How the hell had Lucky managed to possess him—lock, stock and barrel—in the span of one week? A pinhead of time in the big scheme of things. A complete stranger at that! And only thirty minutes of that week, if even that much, had been spent face to face.
Loneliness. Of course. That was all it had been. An eternity without having touched another, slept with them, tasted their lips. Longing pent up inside him, miserable and swelling, torturing him for release.
Yes. The shy man with the eyes of crystal green had just happened to cross Purly’s ravenous path and stood right before the jaws of this hungry beast. It could have been anyone, any man, and the effect would have been the same.
It sounded logical, but…
Purly placed a recording on the spindle, wound the crank on the phonograph and rested the needle carefully where the Moonlight Sonata was to begin.
The music—rich and beautifully gloomy—filled the area and shards of moonlight pierced through the dilapidated blinds to paint silvery stripes on the floor and walls. The perfect setting for a man determined to brood.
Plucking his ever-present cigarette from the ashtray, Purly headed for the deck and stepped out into the balmy night air. The ocean’s roar, rolling then subsiding, blended with the melancholy sonata.
Beyond the shore a wide ribbon of moonlight split the endless black horizon. To the west, lightning illuminated a cluster of clouds and seconds later the rumble of thunder echoed in the sky.
And then he spotted them. There on the beach, silhouetted against that wide smattering of sparkles on the waves, stood three figures—Lucky and his two dogs.
Before Purly could pull the lever of reasoning and caution, waves of warm, exquisite, excruciating heat rushed through his body. And, abandoning the damn internal warning sirens altogether, he tossed his cigarette, bolted down the rickety steps and out onto the cool sand toward Lucky.
What he’d say when he reached Lucky’s side, he didn’t know nor did he care. He only knew hedid have to reach his side.
Standing within several feet of him, Purly said nothing, just gazed at Lucky’s back—at the wind dusting through his curls and rippling the loose-fitting white shirt and trousers about his limbs.
The dogs galloped from the tide to pounce on Purly as though running into a long-lost friend and, thrusting their wet paws on his chest, sent him sprawling onto the sand. Only then did he realize he’d stepped outside in his thin undershirt and shorts.
Lucky turned to face the commotion. With his hands deep in his trousers pockets, he studied the scene through those dark lashes and rested a serene smile on Purly. He shrugged, tilted his head and sighed. “Purly.”
Struggling to his feet in spite of the eager dogs, Purly searched Lucky’s face, registering every smooth inch of it, before looking into his eyes.
A lie formed in Purly’s mind, an excuse for being out on the beach at this time of night in his undershorts. But Lucky’s gaze, although so languid and cool, somehow managed to shoot fire straight to Purly’s soul, melting the budding falsity.
Instead of the bogus story he’d planned, the truth issued from his lips. “I’m sorry, Lucky, about the other day.”
Lucky bent to ruffle the white fur at each dog’s neck. Since their meeting, all the boyish nervousness seemed to have vanished from his eyes, his bearing.
He said nothing, just continued to lavish his attention on the canines.
The silence prompted Purly to step nearer, determined—hoping to God the chance hadn’t passed forever—to draw some sort of response from the man. “I’ve missed seeing you in the mornings.”
Still no reaction from Lucky.
Stubbornness in his resolve now, Purly boldly closed the space between them and stooped to rest his hand on Lucky’s. To demand his attention. The touch of the man’s skin sent heat rushing from Purly’s fingertips straight through his body. “I’ve missed you.”
The sentiment spewing from him was so foreign to his ears—the unfamiliar concept of missing, longing out loud—he might as well have been speaking in tongues.
Finally Lucky straightened, gently withdrew his hand from beneath Purly’s and brushed the sand from his own palms. His voice, wafting on the ocean’s breeze, seemed to have drawn the thought from Purly’s very mind, “Do you want me?”
And Purly knew he’d utter the tiny word—the lone syllable possessing the power to shatter the huge boulder on his shoulders with the force of a hundred earthquakes. The answer that would plunge him into a dark, horrifying unknown and yet set him beautifully free.