Chapter 1: College of Physical Education, Krabi, Thailand—Mid-May
Rad halted and gaped at the golden image. A young man stood motionless, in the corner of a boxing ring, wearing a pair of gold satin, Muay Thai trunks. Clutching the top rope and gazing at the sinking sun, he sang “The Sun Will Rise” in flawless English.
Orange-red rays blazed through the open western side of the training pavilion, casting objects in sharp relief. A tangy, herbal aroma of boxing liniment spiced the air.
Transfixed, Rad lingered in the deep shadow at the entrance and listened to the rich tenor voice. Raw emotion—aching sadness mixed with hope—saturated each phrase, heightening the meaning of the heartbreaking words.
When the song ended, Rad slid his glasses down from the top of his head. He focused on the boxer’s masculine beauty. Drops of sparkling sweat trickled down smooth, honey-colored skin. Dark beard stubble framed a strong, square jaw with a deep chin cleft. Shining strands of wet, dark-copper hair streaked across a wide forehead and arched, thick black eyebrows. Shadows masked his almond-shaped eyes. A straight patrician nose and high cheek bones added character to the exotic, ruggedly handsome Eurasian face.
Broad shoulders and a narrow waist formed the classic V of a conditioned athlete. One shoulder sported a tattoo, which flowed down his back. Rad recognized Hanuman, the mythical, white money-god of Indian and Thai literature.
The boxer’s chest and cut abs were exercise-magazine perfect. The defined muscles of his arms and legs promised explosive power. A thin, white scar slashed down his left side from armpit to hip. Wet trunks outlined his impressive endowment.
Rad’s pulse surged.
A golden god, indeed.
Turning away from the sunset, the boxer noticed Rad. He blushed and bit his upper lip. He flashed a smile Rad would remember for a long time. Two deep, dimples formed in his cheeks, and his full lips parted, skewed upward on the left side. Rad snapped out of his body worship and stepped forward to introduce himself.
A voice, in Thai, called from a far door, “Hurry up, Pii Khit. Your date with Dang is in twenty minutes.” Rad’s Thai was proficient enough to understand and recognize the respectful but informal Pii used for an older person.
“Hold your dick. She’s more patient than you.” Khit turned away from Rad, ducked through the ropes, and dropped to the floor with the grace of a dancer. He strode to one corner, wrapped himself with a Mickey Mouse beach towel, and changed into a loose pair of faded jeans and a worn, plain white T-shirt. From a pocket, he dug out a small gold earring, and with practiced deftness, slipped the stem through his left earlobe and locked it.
Khit glanced at Rad, who had not moved, and said in English, “Goodbye.”
Deep, sexy voice. Husky with hints of gravel and smoke.
Khit peered at Rad in the dimming light. He took one step toward Rad, paused, shook his head, turned, and left.
For sure, when I return to Krabi, I’ll train here. Rad strode to his motorbike, whistling “The First Time Ever I Saw His Face.”