I'm proud to introduce this book from one of my very favorite authors and very best of friends: Vastine Bondurant is Texas born and raised, an old fashioned, bling-loving girly girl.
I also write under the pen name C. Zampa for my contemporary romance stories.
My passion, though, is ‘vintage’ romance. I stop just short of calling it ‘historical’, as I aim more to create a mood for bygone eras rather than dish out historical data.
I chose the Vastine pen name, something that conjured in my mind that world I so love to write: men with women, men with men, and the sizzling chemistry that draws them together. Passion. My heart is helplessly bound to romance of a time long gone—gritty, sexy stories of men in fedoras and overcoats. Old Spice Aftershave, Lucky Strike cigarettes, fancy cuff links, hair pomade, mobsters, dress shirts and suspenders. Clandestine whispers on Bakelite telephones from the shadows of cheesy restaurant phone booths. Stories of a time when sex was all the more sexy because it wasn’t plastered on every billboard—no naked Joes and dames in every ad in every magazine. Lovemaking—hot, sweet-and-naughty—but hotter than Hades—a secret between lovers.
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?
Even to take a long draw on his cigarette, Purly didn’t shift his gaze from the scene just beyond the deck.
It should have been nothing unusual, really, just a young man strolling the beach. Except it was remarkable as Purly had been told this stretch of shore was secluded, that all its inhabitants had left long ago.
The object of Purly’s study cupped a hand over his brow and squinted ahead at two white Siberian huskies—almost camouflaged against the sparkling crystal sand—accompanying him.
His whistle brought the exquisite beasts dashing to his side to zip frenzied circles around him and spray the shimmering powder against his calves.
For a week now, this man and his canine companions walked the shore every morning precisely at ten.
And every morning, precisely at ten, warmth—pleasing, agonizing, relentless—radiated from Purly’s belly to his groin at the sight of the beautiful passerby.
To call the fellow beautiful, though, was an understatement. Or was it an exaggeration? Purly couldn’t decide. The young man wasn’t conventionally handsome; in fact, if analyzing his looks in one big picture, he might even fall just south of ordinary. And yet something about him twisted Purly into a huge, sweet aching knot of longing.
A snug black swimming suit molded to the man’s fluid form—to the elegant slope of his shoulders, his long, lean torso and smooth ass. A nice body, not athletic by any means but delicately toned.
But his face. Goddamn, his face. Features too perfectly imperfect to be real. Dark lashes offsetting sleepy, pale green eyes—green like Purly had never seen before. Full lips parting in a near kiss, offering the promise of a dazzling smile and a glimpse of not-so-straight teeth.
Luxurious curls, the color of warm, dark honey crowned his head. As the breeze teased stray locks across his brow, he brushed them back with his fingers.
Yes, Purly concluded, the man could be considered beautiful. And what unusual beauty. Arousing, hypnotic. Yet an odd innocence, only vaguely aware of its own attraction, lurked in those green eyes, in that hinted smile. Angelic, almost.
Attraction for other men was hardly new to Purly but it had only existed until now as a very secret, very tightly capped bottle of potential danger.
He’d always kept company with dames—wining, dining and fucking them—and therefore had no explanation for the lure of men’s bodies or the very private quickening in his gut at how beautiful some of them were. But one thing he did know. The annoying preoccupation did not mean he was queer for he’d never considered acting on the draw of a masculine physique.
Into his life walked the first man to ignite the desire to do the forbidden.
Love at first sight belonged only in fairy tales as far as Purly was concerned, so he knew his unexplainable infatuation with this person wasn’t some sort of instantaneous amour. Nonsense. Call it obsession, for maybe it was. But it was not love at first sight or anything resembling it.
Instead of sleeping, he did helplessly drift to erotic imagery of the stranger every night. He did imagine touching him, holding him, burying himself deep inside that gently curved ass. He even sensed the need to protect him. Protect him from what, he hadn’t an inkling, only a strong twist of heart advising him that the young man was vulnerable, very afraid of something.
Yes, the almost-Adonis whose eyes matched the ocean right before a storm did perform a morning promenade every day. Never once, though, did he glance up to meet Purly’s eyes though he surely had to be aware Purly so very intently registered his daily passage
But today, just as he reached the deck, he tilted his regal head, met Purly’s gaze and offered a brushstroke of a smile—so slight, did it even count as smile?—and his lips moved to form one solitary, inaudible word.
That nod and the whisper of a word on the traveler’s lips—only God read what he’d said, for Purly couldn’t—triggered Purly’s pulse into a riotous but luscious sprint.
Careful not to expose his pleasure or the newborn erection developing in his trousers, Purly leaned into the wooden railing and took a drag on his cigarette.
For Christ’s sake, the guy had probably only said hello or morning. And, yes, Purly knew it was silly to allow his libido to go off half-cocked just because of a smile—a barely-there smile at that—and an indecipherable word.
Just as quickly as the man’s smile had appeared, though, it faded.
The dogs had tarried behind to investigate a crab and their master turned to whistle at them, waving them to keep up with him.
The stunning dogs ran ahead then returned to gallop circles around him.
Throwing back his head, the lustrous curls jostling with his movement, the stranger let out a pleasant laugh while playing with his partners. Then he stretched for a moment and continued on the path he’d begun. His legs—those smooth thighs—moved in perfect rhythm like the wheels of a very pretty locomotive.
Once the fellow passed the deck, Purly tossed his cigarette into the sand and gazed as the orange glow slowly sizzled from the tip.
He cast one last glance at the man’s retreating figure then crossed the gritty wood planks to the cottage door. Never, during this entire week, had he lingered to observe the morning stroller’s return path past the deck. Somehow, Purly figured, to still be watching at that point would appear a bit creepy.
The recording on the portable phonograph had finished playing by the time Purly entered the house. He closed the screen door, cranked the handle to start the machine up once more and gingerly placed the needle arm on the spinning disc.
The strains of Haydn’s 101st symphony—warbling and tinny but still pleasing and soothing—filled the small space.
Purly lit a cigarette, sank onto the wrought iron bed and allowed his mind to drift with the music and the cool breeze from the rattling little fan on the windowsill. Soon, though, he found his thoughts had returned to the stranger. How absurd to spend so much time thinking on this person, but what else was there for Purly to do while here on this beach but…think? And he had no control over the path his muse took, did he? Absolutely not.
One thing was certain, though. He wanted—no, needed—to meet the green-eyed being who so curiously intrigued him, who had to do nothing but parade the shore to
touch a match to Purly’s once-dormant lust. Even if it was only to hear a voice from the full lips, then so be it.
Purly would find a way.