Shining in the Sun
Handsome and wealthy Alec Goodchilde has everything a man could want in life except the freedom to be himself. Once a year, he motors down to an exclusive yacht club on the Cornish coast and allows himself to take the summer off from a life he thinks of as a trap.
Once a year, poverty stricken surfer Darren Stokes allows himself to take the summer off from his life of grinding overwork and appalling relatives, financing his holiday by picking up the first rich man to show an interest.
When Alec’s car breaks down, leaving him stranded on the beach where Darren is surfing, he is transfixed by the thought that Darren is the summer made flesh. Freedom, wrapped up in one lithe package, dripping wet from the sea.
But Alec is so deeply in the closet that he hasn’t even admitted to himself that he’s gay. And Darren is recovering from last year’s disastrous fling with a rich guy who turned out to be more than he could handle. He’s sworn to himself never to get in that position again.
A rich boy/poor boy holiday romance set in the beautiful sea-side county of Cornwall in the UK.
Out in print and ebook format from Samhain Publishing: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/shining-in-the-sun-p-5869.html
“You must think I’m mad.”
Well, yeah. Darren took a step back, gauged the best angle to run. But I kind of hoped you were harmless with it. “Why?”
“‘Don’t go past, I think I’ll die?’” Alec’s laugh too had expanded, grown warm and wry. It sounded genuine; honest, likeable. But then, so had Max’s honey coated charm. “Dear God. It was a bit… stalkerish, wasn’t it? I’m not like that.” He turned away from the sea as it retreated before them both in its long, gentle afternoon withdrawal. His smile was that sweet, closed lipped affair, all warm eyes and head-tilt that Darren felt had to be trained in. Nothing that heartstopping could have come about without years of practice, surely?
“I’m not normally like that.” Alec corrected himself. “It’s the combination – it’s you, and the summer. They made me brave. For a moment, at least.”
The hairs stood up on Darren’s arms, and the skin down his spine prickled, as if lying in the line up he had felt the perfect wave build beneath him and knew it was now or never to catch it. Make the wrong move and it would drill him into the ocean bed, gone for good. What the…? “Yeah,” he said, tried to swallow and couldn’t quite manage it. “It does that to me too. The summer, I mean. You gotta ride the wave while it’s there, because the rest of the year’s gonna be shit no matter what.”
Alec’s mouth fell slightly, and if it was possible the intensity of his gaze picked up, blue laser bright. “Oh God, you too? It’s as though this is the only month I’m alive. I spend all the rest of the year being what other people want me to be. I’m not normally like this, because this is really me.” He took a step forward, hand out.
Darren’s heart drummed against his throat. The crawling sensation up his back intensified as all over his body his skin decided it had to be awake for this. He could feel it building like static electricity, streaming off him into the sky. Clouds should be boiling right now. If he let that outstretched hand touch him, lightning would follow the circuit, arcing down through them both; coring him out and leaving him gutted and smouldering, changed beyond all recognition.
He flinched away, dodged round the back of the board. “Hell, yeah. We must’ve been separated at birth, ’cause I know exactly what you mean.”
Alec took his hand back, looked at the palm and rubbed it slowly across the hollow of his hip. The moment passed, and in the undertow Darren cursed himself for missing it. Before last year he would have flung himself recklessly into that wave. Not any longer. “Come over here. Are you right handed or left?”
The sun, low on the horizon, shone orange as a street-lamp as he positioned Alec’s feet on the board. Alec’s hand braced on his shoulder as he felt the cling of the wax and the tilt of the board beneath him, not at all balanced on its three stubby fins. “You have to… get…” Darren pulled ankles further apart, pushed down on corded thighs in lieu of explanations, manhandling Alec into position. The threat of lightning crackled in his finger ends, his face so close to Alec’s thigh he could feel the heat of it, welcome now that the day’s warmth was draining away. He ducked his head, and pressed his cheek to the soft cotton shorts. Waited for the hand on his head, the low voiced, anxious command to ‘suck me.’
It didn’t come. Alec wobbled and laughed, spread out his arms like a child pretending to fly, and for a long poised moment, muscles working beneath Darren’s exploring fingers, he was balanced on the nose and a single fin. “Shit!” said Darren, tension wiped out of him by admiration. “You know you might just be OK.”
After that performance he had no hesitation over getting the board in the water and Alec with it. He zipped his wetsuit closed once more as insulation against more than cold and pushed out to waist height. Swell tugged and nudged him. The lips of the waves curled over all golden and crinkly as toffee-paper. Above, a dozen seagulls flamed like phoenixes in sunset’s fire. Alec yelped and hopped. “Oh, oh God, you didn’t tell me it was this cold!”
Darren laughed, forgetting money and tricks and broken bones. He shoved Alec in the chest while he hopped and watched him go over in a flume of flying topaz spray. Alec emerged with his well-cut hair looking thick and slick as an otter’s pelt, the new T-shirt clinging to cold-peaked nipples, and a sputtering laugh that hovered somewhere between play and accusation. He scrambled, streaming, to his feet launched himself at Darren in a rugby tackle that took Darren’s knees out from beneath him.
The sky streaked overhead—a brief blurred image of cliffs and cloth of gold—and the sea came up to meet him. Grey underwater light, lances of sunset glitter through the ripples, and that first breathtaking chill of his dry wetsuit soaking up water. Then he emerged to find Alec laughing in glee, and—bless the man—holding on to the board so it wouldn’t float away.
This laugh suited the new, private Alec, whose existence he’d only just begun to suspect – unaffected, unashamed. Darren liked it. Lunging back he got an armful of Alec’s narrow waist, his head jammed up against Alec’s breastbone. They went tumbling together, Alec’s heartbeat racing beneath his ear like the throb and hiss of the sea. Arms about him, and long entangling legs between his. They wrestled, slippery in the surf, tumbling and laughing, breathing in the gold and flames of the sunset.
He let Alec win, lay under him, surrendered, while the froth of ripples tickled up him and teased his hair. Moving his hands he placed them carefully on Alec’s back. It seemed a moment for care; a moment suspended between two futures. The body above his was warm. Goosebumps stood out beneath his fingertips, but beneath the sea-chilled surface the core of Alec’s heat welled out in a delicious tide over his belly and groin. Closing his eyes, he waited for the expected kiss. And waited again. Alec’s interest wilted against his hip. Looking up, puzzled, Darren smiled. “You got me.”
“But what am I to do with you now?” Alec rolled off, sat hugging his knees, the leash of the board still in one hand. He watched the waves as though they worried him.
“You really don’t know?” Darren scrambled up onto his knees, leaned over and took the leash out of Alec’s hand. The fingers opened reluctantly, as if Alec clung to more than a board. What was going on here?
Sun, deep red as a flaring ember, touched the sea. He expected to hear the thunderous hiss and boil as it quenched itself, but only a chill, wilderness-scented wind came from it. Sand hollowed beneath his knees. What was going on? Could it really be that Alec didn’t know the score? They both had the same board but were trying to play different games?
“I think I’ve said before that I’m not really like this.” The goosebumps Darren had read like Braille beneath his fingers now stood out visible on the smooth white skin of Alec’s biceps, swept down the length of his arm. Silver-steel droplets of water splashed off the ends of his hair, darkening his T-shirt as fast as it dried. Closer to the town a ghost of sunlight still toasted determined sunbathers, but here beneath the shaggy brown cliffs, night came early.
Rising, Darren pulled at Alec’s arm, hauled him to his feet. “C’mon, it’s getting too cold. How about we get some tea, and you can tell me what you’re really like.”