Dale is a 23-year-old university student working on his thesis. Fortunately, rather than having to endure the interruptions and distractions at university, his “Uncle” Tom has invited Dale to stay with him at Walton Manor. In the countryside he has plenty of space, almost continual silence, and a butler to cater to his every whim.
Dale and Tom have always had a mutual admiration for each other, and now they have the chance to explore this attraction. Yet Dale doesn’t count on falling in love with Dominic, the muscular Italian employed as Tom’s gardener.
Despite his feelings for Tom, Dale can’t help the fact that the more he sees Dominic, the more attracted he is. Unfortunately, Tom is a jealous man. Even worse, he reveals a hitherto unseen sadistic side, which frightens Dale. One night Tom’s jealousy boils over, and Dale finds himself punished for his feelings for Dominic.
From then on, Dale’s tranquil existence at Walton Manor is permanently shattered. Once things are set in motion, they are impossible to stop. After a final confrontation between Dominic and Tom, Dale discovers the most shocking truth of all.
With ears pricked for the slightest sound, Dale put one foot in front of the other, almost automatically, until he was at the top of the stairs, where he paused. He peered into the shadows at the foot of the stairs. It was a risk. If his uncle caught him midway down, he would be stuck there, and at the moment he couldn’t think of anyone he would rather see less. But then he thought, Who cares if he catches me? What’s he going to do? Strengthened by those thoughts he descended the stairs and it wasn’t until his foot touched the marble tiles at the base that he realised he had been holding his breath. He allowed himself to exhale and quickly sucked in another breath. So far, so good. He ventured into the shadows, heading slowly towards the front door with his heart securely lodged in his mouth. Closer and closer. His destination was suddenly in reach and naturally that was the point fate decided to intervene.
He almost didn’t hear it. The key in the lock. He’d been concentrating so hard that the obvious had been obscured for the sake of the subtle. Just in time he darted into the living room and threw himself behind a couch. He didn’t know who it was but he heard their footsteps clicking loudly on the polished tiles of the entrance hall, followed by the muffled steps of someone climbing the stairway. It had to be Uncle Tom. Joseph slept on the ground floor. He didn’t have long until his absence would be noticed. He hurried through the entrance hall to the kitchen and then to the back door. He turned the key in the deadlock and pulled down on the handle.
The night air caressed his face as he ran across the lawn and around the pool. In his panic, he tripped over a hose in the darkness and skidded along the grass until his shirt was crumpled up around his neck. He spat out the few blades of grass he’d collected in his mouth and scrambled to his feet. He was brushing himself down when he heard someone come through the bushes that surrounded the rose garden.
“Who’s there?” barked a voice.
Dale froze. His eyes darted this way and that, but the torchlight found him before he could find a place to hide.
“Is that you, Dale?”
Dale squinted against the torchlight.
“Who’s that? Dominic?”
“That’s right,” came the reply, “but what are you doing running around out here at this hour. I thought you were an intruder.”
“I’m getting the hell away from that house, that’s what I’m doing.”
“Where were you going to go at this hour? Town is a good half an hour away and the hotels would all be closed now anyway. Better come and stay with me tonight.”