(excerpt from Chapter Two)
I am at the third deck helm, the
moon roof slid back. The wind is on my face, salty and tight.
The bow of the yacht bounces over the swells. We leave a trail
of froth and bubbles. I see dolphins cavorting in the
distance. Beyond that is an endless horizon of still, deep
I breathe easy. I float. For
this moment, I am no longer that orphan boy bent on revenge. I
For an hour or so, we churn the
Then suddenly there is a shout
I lean over the glass railing,
slowing a little on the gas. Tiny drops of salt spray spill
into the wind.
He’s running up the starboard
side, his bare feet hitting the Fiberglas like a drum. His
large fist waves. He shouts. “Over there! Over there!” Iggy
does not normally wave his hands around like that. Nor does he
“What?” I yell back.
I slow even more. “What?” I try
to squint in the direction he’s waving, but the sun is glaring,
the water glistening so gold.
“I think! I think it’s…a boat?”
At that I come to a full stop,
drifting forward, and lean further over the siding. Then I see
it. Something in the drastic blue that stretches all around
us. Something different. Misshapen.
I hit the gas and pilot us in
closer, circling, careful. It could be anything.
First there is Day-glo yellow
which morphs into an oval shape. Then it comes more into focus,
grimly clear. It’s a life-raft. And in it is a slumped,
Paranoid as I am, the thought
crosses my mind that it is a trap and I consider piloting away
and putting the scene forever out of my mind. This isn’t one of
“my” men. This isn’t my problem.
But as I contemplate the raft
it’s all too real. And there’s a raw scent, a feeling in the
bright air that takes me back to when I was fifteen on my knees
at my parents’ grave, adrift, lost. I could not imagine in that
past moment, abandoned as I was, how I might go on.
I look at the motionless man
drifting in the middle of nowhere, possibly already dead, and I
pull in closer. I order my men to lash onto the raft with our
ropes as I maneuver the yacht until the stern is right up
alongside it. Then Iggy jumps into the raft and with an
effortless motion sweeps the body into his strong arms. Jadan
is waiting, leaning over, helping him back onto the yacht. Max
comes with a bottle of water and gently wets the man’s lips.
I lean over them all just staring
in shock, contemplating my next move. Do I really want to do
The man’s tattered clothes are
covered in blood. He has at least a three day’s growth of sandy
beard. The once tan skin on his nose and cheeks is peeling and
leathery. His hands and lips are chapped red. “Is he alive?”
Jadan touches the man’s throat.
Max puts a hand to his mouth. He turns toward me. “There’s
I look at Iggy. “Bring him in.”
He’s a tall man, but Iggy picks him back up as if he were a
child. Shaggy hair hangs in clumps about the man’s ears and
neck. It looks brown and dirty but I expect after a wash it
will actually be blond.
A European? An American? Out
(excerpt from Chapter Eleven)
I wake to a muffled gasp and the
struggles of Alec’s long body knocking into me. In the dimness
I see his eyes are closed, his mouth a tight grimace. Low,
strained moans escape him.
I reach out to his shoulder and
grasp it. “Wake up. Alec!”
His eyes flash open. Air comes
from his lungs in a long whoosh. I move closer to him to calm
him and he turns toward me, into me. He is hard and I can feel
the erection through his shorts push against my naked thigh. He
jerks back when he realizes his condition, eyes widening.
Afraid he will skitter away to
his rooms again, I say matter of factly, “Hell, it’s all right.
Nothing to panic over.”
He draws a shaky breath. Slowly,
his eyes move to meet mine, blue and hurt but also containing
something else. A heat, maybe. A delicate curiosity.
“Really. You’re fine.” I
Still no words. But his fist
clenches against the sheet between us resting lightly against my
Deciding to take a risk, perhaps
my biggest gamble ever, and hoping I’m not reading him entirely
wrong, I lean toward him and brush my lips to his. They are
half open, slightly moist. As I did in the shower, I barely
touch him. Pull back. He keeps looking at me but does not
move. For long seconds nothing moves but the fan and the air.
I am the first to lower my gaze.
“Do you find me even a little attractive?” I ask. It sounds
awful, so self-serving, but my frustration has never peaked so
“Huh.” Almost a snort. “Course
I do. You’re gorgeous.”
Something tingling and spiced
starts to heat my veins. His words. That was all it took.
“Diego.” On his soft voice the
syllables of my name sound almost like a prayer.
My palm comes up from his arm to
rest against his cheek. He does not look away and it feels like
“Diego,” he repeats, “it’s just
that I don’t remember. I know the language of things, how
things work. But I don’t remember actually…” He stops,
Hell, it’s like fruit to a
starving man. I can’t resist him. I lean further over him, my
shadow upon him but not yet my full weight. “It’s all right.
I’ll take care.” I swallow hard, inhaling the soft salt sweat
of him. “Let me take care of you.”
I move back so I can push the
robe from his shoulders. He trembles. His cuts are almost all
healed but there are many scars. However, they do not mar his
beauty. In fact, they only make my desire for him stronger
because they remind me of how close I came to never meeting him,
and that my actions have saved his life.
His pupils grow large, the
blackness a mirror to the golden moonlight which runs all up and
down his body, making it shine. He takes his arms from the
sleeves of the robe but the cloth remains under him. I move my
head down and kiss him again, his lips parting for me as I
capture them more readily this time with my mouth.
Slowly I move my body to his side
again and run one hand underneath the waistband of his shorts,
pushing. Amazingly, he obeys the signal and lifts just enough
so that they slide off, all the way down his legs. I drop them
to the floor.