After a break up, Flash moves to a surfer's holiday resort and begins to mingle within the mixed shifter community of his new hometown. He's not too keen on other types of shifters, and he's soon taunted by one. But maybe the mysterious Craven sees more in him than he first assumes. Maybe he's really trying to attract Flash's attention.
Things heat up when Craven nearly drowns in the sea and Flash comes to his rescue, but confusion soon follows their first attempt to hook up. Flash spends some time on his own and decides his first impression of Craven may have been wrong. He decides to pursue his tormentor and try to put things right before it's too late.
Codfish Cove. Flash stood in the twilight and read the sign that pointed down to the beach. There was a party there tonight to celebrate the summer holidays. He could hear the music drift up the dunes, and if he stood on his toes, he could see the lanterns bobbing along the rim of the makeshift twig gazebos and flagged tents.
People drifted by wearing multi-coloured Hawaiian-styled shirts and surfer gear. Some carried refreshments and baskets, while a few still wore sunhats and neon zinc smudges on their noses, even though the sun was now the barest glow along the horizon.
He couldn't help being reminded of his last holiday with his ex-partner Grey as he watched the party revellers. They'd been so committed to each other and his future had loomed bright with promise. They'd even talked about buying a house together. But the hopeful images he'd conjured had been nothing more than a mirage, the proof being in how easy it'd been for Grey to find someone else when Flash's back was turned. It'd been so easy for him to move on. He grimaced at the old memories and pushed sand about with his foot for a moment.
Well, now it was his turn to move on, to forget why everything went haywire and just accept that it had. He'd left the busy seaside community of Porpoise Bay and come to live with his cousin in the small coastal town of Codfish Cove. Since he'd got used to the place and secured a job at the local surf shop, he was beginning to feel normal again. He pushed his shoulder-length seal-brown hair behind his ears as he ran his gaze back and forth over the gathered crowd. It seemed like everyone on the beachfront except him had come in pairs. Laughing, happy couples everywhere he looked claimed spots along the sand, spread blankets, set up beach furniture, and settled in for the night's celebrations.
He gripped his surfboard against his thigh. There was just enough light left to catch one more wave, and it was easy to forget everything when he was on the water. Out there his troubles drifted away and he could be at peace.
"Gettin' a bit dark, isn't it?"
Flash heard his cousin Tyde's voice drift towards him from nearby. He hesitated and wondered if he'd get away with pretending he hadn't. The water beckoned and sparkled, but in the end, he turned back.
"Aw, Tyde, one more time?" He searched the shadows and picked out the form of his cousin amongst a group of partygoers. He could smell the fermented fish on their breath and it turned his stomach. He was partial to a beer and fish but just not at the same time like Tyde and his rowdy sidekicks.
"You gonna stick around and find a sea dog to keep you warm?" One of the group assessed him thoroughly with bold eyes. "Ain't gonna be no one left soon 'cept the gull boys." The group roared with laughter at the very idea.
Flash licked his lips and glanced up the beach where the gull group bickered at the snack tent. Like hell he was going to touch a gull tonight. He'd come to Codfish Cove to escape the disastrous breakup with his seal-mate Grey. He'd thought hanging out with his cousin Tyde tonight would make him forget, and it had until the teasing comment about gulls reminded him he was practically the only unmatched shifter on the beach tonight. Tyde curled his arm affectionately behind his neck and yanked him back towards his friends. Flash slowed down as they approached and noticed the sand wolf pack was assembled haphazardly near the bar. Why did they have to be here tonight? He didn't like them much. They were too arrogant--like Grey.
Tyde dropped his arm from Flash's neck and mentioned something about getting another drink. Flash cast his eyes to the bar and turned towards it, too, but he suddenly caught his foot on a child's sand spade. He yelped with surprise and hopped right into one of the sand wolves walking past. Strong arms rebalanced him where he stood, held him for a moment too long, then gently released him.
"Hey, if it isn't Jack Flashfin, the surfer dude." The voice was calm and smooth and almost a murmur, which made the crowd nearby fixate more thoroughly than if he'd shouted.
Flash fixed his eyes on the idiot who'd dared to mangle his name. He wasn't surprised to discover it was Craven Moor. He'd only met him twice before and the guy had really rubbed him the wrong way with his smart-ass comments.
"That's Flash Jackfin, actually." He couldn't prevent the irritated rasp that edged his voice as he met the golden gaze of the verbal offender and corrected him.
"What kind of a name is that, fat boy?" Craven smiled in a slow, lazy way, as if he owned the whole damned beach. In a way, the sand wolves did, really. They were territorial types that made sure the sea dogs kept strictly to the waterline for most of the year, while they patrolled everywhere else.
Fat boy? Flash wanted to punch him right across his pretty-boy jawline. Yeah, he might have a little extra fat on him, but then he was a seal shifter and he needed a little bit of blubber for protection against the cold water. But he was also a surfer and he knew his body was remarkably toned, too. "What kind of a name is Craven Moor-on?"
Two could play at twisting words, Flash decided, and his lips curled with satisfaction. He saw the sand wolf's jaw tighten and his honey-gold eyes narrow slightly. It seemed he didn't like a dose of his own medicine.
Flash decided he'd experienced enough of smart-ass sand wolves for now and whirled around suddenly, making sure the tail end of his board thumped Craven hard across the torso before he moved off towards the waves. He could still hear the little whoosh of quickly expelled air that Craven released after the board impacted him and the sound haunted his ears as he splashed into the surf.