Exclusive Excerpt from North Point
by Thom Collins
Arnie passed in front of the recently regenerated waterfront, past the restaurants and craft shops, and the specialist food stores selling local fish and produce. People sat outside the many bars and pubs, enjoying the terraces, drinking in the sun. He kept moving, not wanting to be seen or recognized, and without consciously planning it, found himself on the approach to the lifeboat station.
And there was Dominic.
The wide front doors of the station were open. Dominic appeared to be giving instructions to a younger man, gesturing toward the lifeboat.
He wore a dark gray T-shirt and cargo shorts. The outfit hugged his broad physique, contouring the muscles of his chest and shoulders, and the mighty fine sweep of his big arse. His skin was deeply tanned, an obvious benefit of his outdoor pursuits. No tattoos that Arnie could see, and he was quietly pleased. So many guys were excessively inked these days, that it was refreshing to find a man who wasn’t.
He liked the short cut of Dominic’s hair and the way it graded into the brown skin on the back of his neck. Despite its thickness on top, there was something military-looking in its practical style. And it suited him. A lot.
A queer feeling came over Arnie as he watched Dominic. It was unusual for a stranger to affect him in this way, on a purely physical level, provoking an odd, nervous sensation. It reminded him of live performance. Those last few tension filled minutes before going on stage—a mix of fear, anticipation and excitement.
Pull yourself together. This is no opening night. He’s just a nice, regular guy. Go over and say hello.
Arnie took a deep breath and approached the station with a confidence he did not feel.
“Hi,” he said, sounding light, casual. Like speaking to Dominic was no big deal.
Dominic turned. His dark eyes settled on Arnie and, as recognition dawned, Arnie could swear he saw them sparkle. A huge grin spread across Dominic’s face, quite disarming in contrast with his naturally moody countenance.
“Hey. How are you doing?”
He stuck out his hand. Was it Arnie’s imagination, or was Dominic’s grip firmer and more lingering than last night?
“I’m good, thanks. I didn’t expect to see you here today.”
“I call by the station most afternoons,” he said. “There’s always something to be done. Maintenance, cleaning, inventory. After a shout like yesterday, I like to double-check that all the supplies we used have been replenished. The first aid kit and stuff like that. This is Noel,” he said, introducing the young man with him.
Noel was in his late teens, with dark red hair and a freckled complexion. He smiled self-consciously and didn’t offer his hand. He lacked Dominic’s confidence, but Arnie supposed most other men would.
“Hi. Nice to meet you,” Arnie said.
The boy nodded awkwardly. Arnie didn’t pursue it further. He noticed that with a lot of young people these days—so many of them were lacking in basic social skills. He was determined AJ wouldn’t fall into that trap.
“Have you got time for a drink?” Dominic asked. “Tea? Coffee? Something cold? We were just about to take a break.”
“I’d love one, thanks.”
He followed Dominic to the crew room.