Thursday, March 7, 2019

Just in Time for Spring

The Last Sunset Cover

By Tim Smith

According to my calendar, the first day of Spring is in two weeks. We all know what that means—Spring Break! That magical time when people from the northern climates lay siege to points south for a week of swimming, sun poisoning, partying, and generally making fools of themselves. I recently submitted my annual summer pool read to my publisher, part of my Key West Heat series. I decided to promo the first one in that series from two years ago, “The Last Sunset.”

“A jilted bride runs away to Key West where she meets a mysterious beachcomber—but will she find true love again?”

This is a short but fun read, about a young woman who got stood up at the altar and comes to Key West to put herself out of her misery. She meets a local beach bum with a unique outlook on life. The story has a little bit of everything—tropical location, interesting characters, some laughs, a little intrigue, and whole lotta sex. Here’s the opening excerpt:

Tess Carter stood alone at the rushing water’s edge on Broken Bottle Beach in Key West, watching the sun make its final descent over the horizon. A light evening breeze ruffled her long auburn hair as she looked from side to side, satisfied that she had the beach to herself. She fingered the engagement ring dangling on a gold chain around her neck, gave it one last lingering look then shifted her eyes to the sunset. The sky had changed from bright blue to a mix of yellow and orange. We always liked looking at these together, she thought. Now you’ll be watching them with someone else, but this will be my last sunset.

She kicked off her sandals, unwrapped her sarong, pulling it from her lithe frame. She folded it neatly, then set it on her sandals, followed by her small handbag resting on top. She faced the ocean naked for a minute, finally wading into the white foamy surf. She stopped and stared ahead at the sea that stretched to infinity. The water pulled back to gain strength for another run at the shore. She took a deep breath then slowly exhaled. I decided this was the best way, so let’s just do it.

She waded tentatively into the surging surf but stopped when it was up to her knees. She let the warm water splash against her skin and choked back a sob. Before she could proceed, she was startled by a gruff male voice that called out from behind her.

“If you really want to kill yourself, I can show you a half-dozen great ways that are a helluva lot more fun.”

She spun around and gasped when she saw a lone figure, thirty feet away, sitting against the trunk of a palm tree with one leg drawn up toward his hips, the other stretched in front of him, his hands resting in his lap. She quickly gathered up her sarong, holding it protectively in front of her.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded.

The man tilted up the brim of his Panama Jack hat and looked at her. “Last I heard, it was still a public beach.”

Tess quickly put on the sarong and tied it tightly around her waist. She picked up her sandals and handbag then began to make a fast, barefoot retreat along the white sands. She looked at the stranger, but he didn’t move. She stopped to stare at him for a few moments then took cautious steps in his direction. When she was within ten feet, she stopped to examine him more closely. He was probably in his late thirties or early forties, but in the dimming light, it was hard to tell. He wore a sleeveless t-shirt that had once been white with a faded sunset adorning the front, along with a pair of black cargo shorts and no shoes. His lean, tanned face sported at least a day’s growth of beard. She found herself involuntarily intrigued and slowly took a few more steps. He looked at her through slate gray eyes and offered a small smile.

“Do you…uh…live here on the beach?” she asked.

He laughed. “Not everyone in Key West sleeps in a hammock beneath the palms. I come here to enjoy the sunsets and the solitude.”

“Are you a native?”

He shook his head while looking at her. “I’m what you’d call an expatriate northerner who got tired of freezing my ass off every winter.”

She looked at him for a moment while deciding if she should stay or run like hell in the opposite direction. The man didn’t make a move, so she decided to stay.

“What’s your name?”

He shrugged. “Mack, Jack, Larry, Moe, Curly—pick one.”

She grinned. “Since you’re wearing a Panama Jack, why don’t I call you Panama?”

“Better than some of the things I’ve been called. What would you like me to call you?”


“Very pretty. I always liked that name.” He gestured at a nearby stump. “Sit down. I won’t bite.”

Tess hesitated then sat. She kept her knees tightly together and her hands folded in her lap, ready to make a hasty exit. She glanced down. “How did you know…”

“That you wanted to end it all? A couple of things. For one, you kept hesitating when you hit the water. If you were planning a sunset skinny-dip, you would’ve dived in. The other was that monument you built to yourself, leaving your bag on top so someone would find it and know you were here.”

She raised her eyes. “What makes you such an expert?”

He hesitated while staring into her blue eyes. “Because I contemplated the same thing myself once.”

“Who stopped you?”

“Me, myself and I. I decided she just wasn’t worth it.” He shrugged. “We all have personal baggage. How far you want to carry it and for how long is up to you.”

You can find “The Last Sunset” at the link below. If you like this one, you might also enjoy Book 2 in the Key West Heat series, “Beauty and the Beach,” which I will discuss next month. Happy reading!

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