Title: Spindrift by Amy Rae Durreson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, M/M, Romance
Length: 200 pages/Word Count: 66,729
When lonely artist Siôn Ruston retreats to the seaside village of Rosewick Bay, Yorkshire, to recover from a suicide attempt, he doesn’t expect to encounter any ghosts, let alone the one who appears in his bedroom every morning at dawn. He also doesn’t expect to meet his ghost’s gorgeous, flirty descendant working at the local museum… and the village pub, and as a lifeboat volunteer. But Mattie’s great-great-grandfather isn’t the only specter in Rosewick Bay, and as Siôn and Mattie investigate an ill-fated love affair from a bygone era, they begin a romance of their own, one that will hopefully escape the tragedy Mattie’s ancestor suffered.
But the ghosts aren’t the only ones with secrets, and the things Siôn and Mattie are keeping from each other threaten to tear them apart. And all the while, the dead are biding their time, because the curse of Rosewick Bay has never been broken. If the ghosts are seen on the streets, local tradition foretells a man will drown before the summer’s end.
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It was the quiet that woke him next, the final cessation of the rain against the windows. He was still in yesterday’s clothes and uncomfortable.
There was no sign of Mattie, but as Siôn went downstairs to the kitchen, he heard a faint thread of music through the floor. Someone was in the flat below.
Reassured, Siôn had breakfast, watching the first slice of sunlight come down to shine on the slick roofs of the houses further down toward the quay. His hip was still aching, so he applied some of Mattie’s heat rub. Then he left his dirty bowl in the sink (so rebellious, he thought to himself snidely), grabbed his camera, and went out to capture the morning.
There was something coolly lovely about the hushed morning, the cobbles gleaming from the rain, the puddles on the quay. The gutters were still singing, and Siôn was startled when a flight of gulls suddenly went reeling overhead to spin and dive over the bay. The sea was heavy, and he could see the waves breaking against the harbor bar in rushes and spumes of glittering spray.
He glanced through Mattie’s window as he passed and could just see him sprawled face down on the sofa. If Siôn had had a key, he would have gone in and turned the music off, found a blanket to put over Mattie, and made sure he was okay.
That little rush of tenderness surprised him. It was strange, he thought as he walked down between the houses, breathing in the glistening quiet of the morning after the storm. He had been unhappy for so long, gray and empty and lonely. Those feelings had reached breaking point on the bridge and then faded once he was safe, first muffled by drugs and finally cleaned out of his spirit like pus from a well-treated wound. He hadn’t realized that there was still something missing, that comfort, self-knowledge, and calm were merely the middle ground. Now, to his bewilderment, all these positive, sharp-edged feelings were growing in him—joy, tenderness, delight.
And fear, of course, not just of ghosts, but of the damage even happiness could do if he wasn’t strong enough to carry it without the patched cloth of his spirit tearing under its weight.
Down on the quay, there were signs of the storm’s wrath—a few tiles ripped from the rooftops to lie shattered in the puddles below, rubbish washed high onto the slipway, and the water heaving more wildly than it usually did behind the shelter of the cliffs and breakwater. Siôn breathed in slowly, tasted the salt in the air, and lifted his camera to capture it all—the strength and fragility of it.
He didn’t see another soul until he was down on the small beach, studying the tangles of weed and sea glass thrown up by the tide. Then he heard a whistle behind him, and a long-legged dog went rushing past him in glee, circling Siôn before darting back to its owner.
As the man drew nearer, Siôn recognized him from the pub the night before. He said, unsure if the man would remember him, “Morning.”
“How do, Siôn? Bit windy last night.”
“More than a bit. It woke me up.”
“Seen worse,” the other man said with a shrug. “Seen far worse.” The dog was circling them, aquiver with energy, and he drew his arm back to throw a stick. “Go on, then, lad.”
The dog burst into chase, splashing across sand, pebbles, and rills with heedless glee. Siôn laughed. “He’s enjoying himself.”
“Nice life, if you’re a dog. Not painting today?”
Siôn lifted his camera slightly. “Getting some reference pictures before the sun goes round.”
The dog was back, dropping the stick at Siôn’s feet with pleading eyes. Siôn picked it up and threw it as far as he could, and laughed when the dog hurtled off again. He lifted his camera in time to capture the dog’s glee as he came splashing back to them.
“He’ll have you throwing that forever if you let him,” the man said, and he rubbed the dog’s ears with obvious fondness. “Come on, then, you. Breakfast.” He nodded to Siôn. “Hope you get some good shots. It’s a fair old place, this.”
“It’s lovely,” Siôn said and then watched them go.
By the time he wandered back along the beach, he was feeling hungry himself. By then the little corner shop in the village was open, so—conscious of his empty cupboards—Siôn went to buy bread and bacon and eggs. The woman behind the counter greeted him, and he thought that maybe she was starting to recognize him now.
As he carried his shopping back up through the village, that fragile sense of belonging stayed with him. He had lived in London for nine years and never met any of his neighbors in any of the three flats he had rented or owned. But here he been noticed, just a little, and it wasn’t as claustrophobic as he had feared.
He stopped outside Mattie’s door, hesitant, and tried to see in the window again. The light had come round, though, and he couldn’t see if Mattie was up. He didn’t want to wake Mattie by knocking, so he took his shopping up and then ran downstairs to put a note through Mattie’s door inviting him to breakfast, with his phone number across the bottom.
Siôn had time to upload his photos onto his laptop and start heating a pan before his phone buzzed with a message. Breakfast offer still on?
Come right up, he texted back, his heart lifting, and he tried not to whistle as he started whisking the eggs. There was no point in making a fool of himself, even if there was no one to see.
It was a few more minutes before a tap sounded at his door. Siôn opened it and was glad to see Mattie in one piece, his hair still wet from the shower and a smile on his lips, although he looked tired.
“Come in, come in,” Siôn said. “Did everything go well?”
“All fine. Fishing vessel with an electrical failure trying to keep clear of the rocks under Minehouse Nab. We got the casualty away from the rocks, but the swell wouldn’t let us get her into the harbor here—one of those long trawlers, y’know—so we had to tow her into Whitby.”
“Casualty?” Siôn asked, thinking of some of the terrible stories in the museum.
“That’s the word we use for the boat. The crew were all fine.”
“God job,” Siôn said and started to reach out to Mattie. He pulled his arms back before it became more than an awkward flutter, but Mattie saw it. His smile sharpened and he stepped in closer, kissing Siôn’s cheek.
“Thank you,” he murmured and actually batted his eyelashes, leaving Siôn caught between laughter and irritation. Really?
“You’re welcome,” he said dryly. Mattie snickered and kissed him again, sliding his lips right down to the corner of Siôn’s mouth, which tingled with the touch.
“Breakfast,” Siôn said as he disentangled himself, but he couldn’t help laughing.
Mattie grinned even more. “Well, I can see something I’d like to get my mouth—”
“You’re no fun,” Mattie grumbled. Siôn couldn’t help wincing.
“Bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast okay for you?” he asked as he retreated to the kitchen.
Mattie followed and leaned against the counter to watch him cook, frowning faintly. “Sounds perfect.”
A new spatter of rain hit the window lightly, and Siôn glanced out to see that the narrow band of clear sky must have rolled over them and out to sea.
Amy has a terrible weakness for sarcastic dragons, shy boys with sweet smiles, and good pots of tea. She is yet to write a shy, tea-loving dragon, but she’s determined to get there one day (so far, all of her dragons are arrogant gits who prefer red wine). Amy is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel twenty-one years ago and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semicolon.