By: S.J. Frost
Published by Ellora's Cave
Also available at Amazon, AllRomance eBooks, and more.
Genre: Gay Erotic Romance, Contemporary
Struggling to come to terms with his grief and guilt over his twin brother’s death, Ian feels he’s living in a world devoid of color. He once rode the highs of success and fame as a model, but he lost everything when his brother died suddenly. When his former agent invites him to Bora Bora, Ian accepts with the hope of finding color in his dark world.
Temaru owns a diving shop in Bora Bora. As he walks along the beach at sunset, he sees a beautiful man sitting in the white sand. Deeply attracted to Ian, he wants nothing more than to help him recover his confidence.
Ian watched the sun sink lower in the crimson-and-orange-streaked sky. The reflection of the fiery sky kissed the waters of the lagoon, turning them violet as the waves rolled over the white sand. It was a beauty so grand it was almost overwhelming for him. That’s what he thought the moment he’d seen Bora Bora from the plane; a verdant jewel outlined in ivory sand embraced by turquoise waters. Even though it was the rainy season and there’d been a downpour earlier that day, almost before it finished, the sun pushed its way through the clouds once again.
He’d never seen a sunset like this before. Often Aidan would drag him out onto the balcony of their penthouse to show him a particularly pretty sunset or unusual cloud pattern. If Aidan could’ve seen this one, he’d have tears in his eyes from the beauty. But Aidan had always been more of a nature lover than him. Now he was beginning to understand why. It was easy to forget about how breathtaking the natural world could be beyond concrete and skyscrapers and all things manmade.
Ian startled at the voice behind him. He whipped his head around and froze. A man stood behind him, wearing only dark-green, slim-fitted swim shorts, showing long legs lined in muscle. The tops of the man’s narrow hips peeked out of the shorts. With his gaze, Ian traced each groove in the other man’s defined abdomen up his smooth skin to thick pectorals. Even at rest, his biceps and forearms looked solid and they led down to broad, strong hands.
Ian moved his gaze to the man’s face. He looked young. From how finely developed his body was and the maturity emanating from him, Ian guessed him to be in his late twenties. His features were a striking blend of Polynesian and European. He had fine cheekbones, full lips, but what caught Ian’s attention most was the other man’s eyes, beautifully almond shaped and golden-brown in color. His hair fell to his jawline, rich mahogany that the sunset pulled bronze highlights from. His coppery skin glistened in the waning light with a light sheen of sweat from the warm, humid weather.
Ian almost doubted it was a real man before him. He looked more like a tropical god.
The other turned his gaze from the sunset to him. “I apologize. I interrupted your solitude.”
In the honeyed baritone, Ian caught his accent with a French lilt. It was memorizing to hear and he wanted to hear it more. “No, you’re okay.”
“May I?” he asked, gesturing to the sand at Ian’s side.
Taking a seat beside him, he extended his hand to Ian. “Temaru Marceau.”
Ian took his hand. Now that Temaru was closer, he picked up his scent, the sweet smell of coconuts edged with a delicate flowery fragrance and beneath those, the faint musk of masculinity. An intoxicating combination. “Ian Eldridge. Marceau…you’re French?”
“More like half. My mother is Tahitian, my father is French. Where are you from?”
“Chicago, in the United States.”
Temaru grinned at him. “I know where Chicago is.”
Ian directed his gaze back to the sunset. Well, nothing like starting off a conversation with a hot guy by putting his foot in his mouth.
Temaru broke the silence. “Watching the sunset is better when shared with another, even a stranger, don’t you think?”
The memories of watching the sunset with his brother flashed through Ian’s head. “Yeah,” he said softly.
“Though I’ll admit, I prefer the sunrise. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the light is growing stronger rather than weakening. It always feels to me there’s more hope in the sunrise.”
A sarcastic snort came from Ian’s nose before he could stop it. “What are you, a poet?”
Temaru laughed. “No. I’m a scuba diver. I have a shop near the docks and a boat that I take tourists out diving and snorkeling. Have you ever been diving?”
“A couple of times. My brother talked me into taking lessons and we dove in Lake Michigan.” Ian glanced at Temaru, seeing the slight smirk quirking one corner of his lips. “What’re you grinning at?”
“Lake Michigan? Did you see anything interesting beyond old tires and beer bottles?”
Ian chuckled softly. “Hey, it’s not that bad. It might not be coral reefs and tropical fish but there are some pretty cool shipwrecks down there.”
“I stand corrected then. And since you’re already an accomplished diver, you’ll have to let me to take you out.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m accomplished. Aidan was a much better diver than me.”
“He’s your brother?”
“Is…and was. He passed away a few years ago.”
Temaru’s countenance shifted to an expression of sympathy. “I’m sorry.”
Ian shook his head to let Temaru know his words hadn’t upset but couldn’t muster his voice to say so. Not knowing what to say, he raised a hand to his mouth and began systematically biting at his thumbnail following along the edge.
“That’s a bad habit,” Temaru said.
“Yeah, I know. I don’t even know where or when I picked it up. Just sort of happened without me realizing.” Ian pulled his hand away from his mouth and placed both slightly behind him, leaning back on them. Out the corner of his eye, he saw Temaru contemplating him. He didn’t need to look at him to feel the intensity of his gaze. It wasn’t a gaze of hot attraction but more as if Temaru was studying him. He wondered what Temaru was thinking. Did he find him attractive? Was Temaru deciding if he was good enough to sleep with? Was he regretting having spoken to him at all? His thoughts started to make him edgy.
“Did you travel here alone?” Temaru asked quietly.
Ian’s heartbeat quickened at the deep tone of Temaru’s voice, the unasked question underlying the spoken one. “No, I came with friends.” He looked at Temaru. “But just friends.”
“That’s good to hear. Would your friends be disappointed if you abandoned them for an afternoon to dive with me?”
Ian quickly shook his head. “Not all at.”
“Then how would tomorrow morning be? About ten o’clock? You could meet me at my shop. After our dive, we’ll have lunch.”
“That’d be great.”
Temaru gave Ian directions to his shop. With their plans set, he stood, lightly slapping sand off his shorts and smiling at him. “I wish I could stay longer, but I have a group waiting for me to take them on a night dive. Until our date.”
Dumbstruck to speechlessness, Ian only managed a nod. He continued to stare at Temaru’s muscular back as he walked away until the growing darkness stole him from sight. It seemed a surreal dream that a few moments ago, Temaru had sat beside him. Part of him even wondered if he really had or if Temaru was nothing more than a beautiful hallucination. But he had a date with him.
Ian’s mind locked up at the thought. He had a date. He hadn’t been on a date in years. That wasn’t to say he’d been celibate. There was a difference between a date and a hook-up. A date meant more than sex. It was companionship…which usually led to sex. For him, at least. But a hook-up was just catching a name before the first orgasm and didn’t require him to remember it beyond the last one of the night.
Of course, he could be completely overreacting. Just because Temaru said “date” didn’t mean he thought of it as being anything more than taking a tourist on a dive. If that was the case, he’d be disappointed, but he’d also look forward to simply seeing Temaru again. Besides getting to admire his breathtaking body, he felt drawn to Temaru’s calm, quiet confidence.
At the thought of spending more time with Temaru, an excited rush went through Ian. He couldn’t remember when he had last felt excited about spending time with someone. When he did go out for a hook-up, he never felt excited to be with them personally. It was more the rush of getting laid and even that hadn’t been too hot lately.
Ian reached up with one hand to run his fingers through his hair, his progress stopped short by tangles. It might be wind-blown but it was also a mess in general. He got a mental image of himself and how he must look, thought of the clothes he’d brought with him and let out a low, self-deprecating groan. No matter what Temaru had in mind for tomorrow, he needed to get himself cleaned up. He should at least buy a new pair of swim shorts other than the frumpy blue ones he was wearing.
Ian stood and walked up the beach. He was sure one of the posh resorts would have a good salon. He needed to look as fine as possible for his date.
Copyright 2013 by S.J. Frost