"It's Day," he said. "I'm Dylan Day."
A few minutes later, as he made his way around the rocky walkway that bounded the beach, Dylan caught a first glimpse of his new home and realised belatedly why the girl back at the bar had been reticent about leasing him the boat unseen.
The other boats in the bay were obviously either the property of well-heeled owners – gleaming white edifices of understated glamour – or else the unpretentious fishing boats of working men. Not this boat. No, this boat could never be accused of understated anything. This boat oozed personality.
It wasn't its size. In fact, it was quite modestly proportioned, but its size was the only modest thing about it. Where white was the order of the day for its bayside counterparts, this boat was bright orange. And yellow. And green. And red. And aqua. This boat created a faded rainbow all of its own, even though its eye-catching paintwork had definitely seen better days. Probably a good thing, Dylan reflected as he slung his bag on deck and stepped aboard. If it was this bright now, God only knew what it must have looked like when it was freshly painted. On the plus side, it had decent outside deck space and up top there seemed to be a second deck for dining or sunbathing.
That was a good thing. He planned on sunbathing.
If he'd thought the outside of the boat unusual, it didn't hold a candle to the inside. He turned the key, slid the glass side doors open and groaned out loud as he surveyed the interior, glad of his sunglasses even though he was out of the bright daylight.
He couldn't live here.
The kitchenette he'd stepped into was a canary yellow plastic and chrome affair, fifties right down to the discarded roller boots in the corner. The ship’s wheel at the helm had been chromed to match the kitchen’s garish decor.
It was someone's style, but it sure as hell wasn't his.
Stepping down the couple of wooden steps to his left, Dylan surveyed the living area with a slow, sinking feeling.
He couldn't live here.
Padded seating ran around the perimeter of the room, upholstered in cotton of a bright turquoise scattered with yellow lemons and bright red cherries. A well-stocked chrome and glass cocktail bar took up one wall, and hanging proud and central from the ceiling was a large, in no way understated, mirrored disco ball.
A fuck-off glittering silver disco ball. Dylan groaned out loud again. He didn't want a party boat. He cast his eyes around desperately. The door to a small, eye-wateringly lime bathroom stood open to one side, and that was it. Was there even a bedroom?
There were no obvious other doors, and he stepped back into the kitchenette to see if he'd missed it up there. Nope, no doors there either. Frowning, he leaned his back against the kitchen work surface, pushing his sunglasses up onto the top of his head. He really didn't want to sleep on those lurid sofas.
And that was when he spotted the faded, midnight blue hatch set in the wooden floor, its surface covered in faded, swirly silver writing. Dylan hunkered down onto his haunches. The motto “Stairway to heaven” had been artistically scribed on it in antiquated metallic paint, surrounded by silver stars and moons. He fitted his hand into the curved hatch recess and pulled it up, revealing a steep little wooden staircase. Bingo. Maybe there was a bedroom after all.
Getting down there turned out to be interesting. It was a small, rickety stairwell, and at six feet two inches, he wasn't a small man.
Once below, he blinked to adjust his eyes. And blinked again. Where upstairs had been a bright and showy pastiche of fifties glamour, down here was definitely made for after hours lovin’.
He couldn’t live here.
It wasn’t even high enough to stand up in: he had to duck and crawl into the bed space.
This wasn't a bedroom. It was a goddamn sex cave… but holy shit, the bed was comfortable. He sank back onto the warm, opulent silk-padded quilt and surveyed the space.
He could sit up without hitting the ceiling. Just. The curved bed filled the entire lower space and the wall hugging it had been padded in deep, button-studded amethyst velvet. Lying on his back, he studied the low ceiling above him. It was… celestial. Dark inky purple decorated with luminous stars and planets, remarkably detailed and accurate to Dylan's knowledgeable eye. The same artistic, hand-painted lettering from the hatch cover continued down here on a smaller scale, silver calligraphy spelling out the names of the constellations. Orion's Belt. The Milky Way. Ursa Major. They all glittered down at him, and little by little the gentle motion of the boat soothed away his resistance and almost imperceptibly eased his battered and bruised heart and mind.
It was quiet, and it was solitary, and no one in the world knew he was here.
Warm and peaceful for the first time in a long time, Dylan closed his eyes.
Maybe be could live here after all.
Just for a while, at least.
When he made his way back up on deck a little later, he breathed deeply and scanned the serene bay.
He had a new name.
He had a new home.
Now he needed a new job.
Lucien walked slowly through the closed, empty club, his practised eye taking in every detail of the workmanship to ensure it met with the exacting standards he demanded for his multinational chain of adult clubs. His workmen had all clocked off for the afternoon, leaving him free to conduct a thorough inspection at leisure.
He paused momentarily beside the jacuzzi, his fingers against the cool tiles as he remembered conducting a similar inspection several years before with Sophie at his side. His cock stirred in response, and he pushed the memory aside with difficulty. Sophie wasn't due to arrive on Ibiza for a couple of days, and he missed her like hell, even more so since they'd welcomed Tilly into their lives too.
Sophie was his lucky talisman. The girl who surprised him. She still surprised him even now, after several years as a couple. Every now and then he saw a brand new side of her. She had the biggest heart of anyone he'd ever met, big enough to hold his even before he'd known that he'd given it to her.
Fuck, he missed her.
The sound of someone banging on the fire doors broke his concentration, followed by the sound of a male voice shouting outside.
"Artie, are you in there?"
Lucien frowned, crossing to the doors and leaning against the bar to open the left-hand one slowly. He dropped his sunglasses down against the glow of the low evening sun and regarded the man standing outside with his hand raised ready to knock again.
"Artie doesn't own this place anymore," he said.
The guy dropped his arm, and his whole body seemed to slump along with it.
"Let me guess," Lucien said. This wasn't the first guy to turn up in search of the previous owner. "He owed you money."
The previous owner seemed to have left Ibiza with nothing but the dodgy Hawaiian shirt on his back and a trail of bad debts in his wake after he'd hastily sold the premises and hightailed it off the island a few months previously.
The guy shook his head and leaned back against the wall of the club, his face tipped up to the skies with a resigned expression.
"No. Artie was a friend. I don't suppose you know where he's moved to?"
Lucien shook his head, noting the smooth Californian tone to the guy's voice.
"Sorry my friend. Your buddy didn't leave a forwarding address."
The stranger looked as if he'd been around the block enough times to understand the underlying meaning beneath Lucien’s deliberately sparse choice of words.