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At Balboa Beach, California, a drunken Eloise Crandall threatens to call the police after discovering that her lover, Drummond Hall, and his cohorts, Osbert and Queenie Sorenson, have been trying to bilk her of her fortune. Drummy storms out the patio door, and when Eloise stumbles after him, she falls from the balcony to her death. By the next day, real estate agent Amy Rawlinson has readied the house for Lynn Markham, the young widow of its owner, late millionaire gambler Ben Markham, who plans to sell it. After hearing that Drummy ties up his boat at her private dock, and then finding his jacket and pipe in the house, Lynn asks Amy to keep him away. Later, Lt. Galley, who is investigating Eloise's death, arrives and insults Lynn by detailing her past as a dancer and unhappily married woman. The next morning, Lynn is woken by Drummy's loud motorboat, and soon after, she finds him preparing fresh fish in her kitchen. Impervious to his good looks and easy charm, Lynn kicks him out, but he informs her that, because his fuel pump is broken, the boat will have to remain at her dock. Drummy returns to the Sorensons', at whose house he lives in return for a percentage of the money he swindles from rich widows, and they urge him to seduce Lynn. Although he is reluctant, he swims out to Lynn's dock and tries again to win her over. She continues to rebuff him, but when he grabs her and whispers that she seems lonely, she sinks into his arms for a moment before walking away. When Lynn returns to her house, Amy is there to report that she has found a buyer, and Lynn insists that she receive a deposit and then asks her to leave. Amy asks Drummy to accompany her on a motorboat ride, but in the boat, he fails to respond to her pleas for attention, and in response, she almost wrecks the boat. When Amy accuses Drummy of hating women, he touches a deep scar on his neck but says nothing. That night, a lonely Lynn wanders out to join Drummy on his boat. There, he confesses his "job" and his lowly past, and, impressed with his honesty, she allows him to leave his boat at her dock. When Drummy kisses Lynn this time, she does not pull away, but turns away when he releases her. At home, Galley is waiting for her, and, noting the grease stain Drummy has left on Lynn's arm, warns her that Eloise may have been murdered. The next day, Lynn is pleased to be invited to the Sorensons' to play cards, but immediately after, discovers Eloise's diary hidden behind a loose brick in the wall, and reads the story of how Drummy seduced the lonely widow: At first, Eloise is overjoyed by her handsome neighbor's attentions, but her love soon turns to desperation as the Sorensons ask for more and more money, and Drummy begins to avoid her. Eloise clings to Drummy, but the more cold and threatening he grows, the more she uses alcohol as an escape. On the night of her death, she writes that Drummy has learned that she might call the police and will visit soon. Lynn burns the diary, and soon after, Drummy arrives, announcing that he has cancelled their card game in favor of a private dinner. Just then, the Sorensons show up, uninvited, and Lynn kicks them out and then throws her drink in Drummy's face, informing him that she has read the diary. He grabs her, and when she pulls away, he chases her out to the beach. Lynn is scared for her life until he catches her and pulls her into a passionate kiss. The next morning, Osbert and Queenie pressure Drummy to move in on Lynn, but he does not call for days, causing her to sit by the phone and, finally, begin drinking in anguish. One day, Lynn finds a dangerous shark hook on her stairs, and Galley warns her that a female on the beach is bait for such a hook. When she returns home, Amy presents the house buyer's deposit, but then Drummy calls to invite her boating, and a thrilled Lynn announces she will never sell the house. On the boat, Drummy explains that he stayed away until he was sure that he was serious about her, and reveals that it was his mother who scarred him, just before committing suicide. The next day, Drummy informs the Sorensons that he is marrying Lynn for love and dissolving their partnership, and in retaliation, they anonymously tip off Galley about Drummy's involvement in Eloise's death. While Lynn presents Drummy with a new fuel pump and they plan to take a honeymoon cruise, Galley arrives at the Sorensons' and discovers the truth about Drummy and Eloise. He then visits Lynn and there accuses Drummy of having killed Eloise, and Lynn throws the detective out. The next morning, Amy admits to Lynn that she loves Drummy and warns her that he will leave her after her money runs out. After Lynn and Drummy marry that afternoon, Drummy urges Lynn to leave for the cruise immediately. Amy stops Lynn on her way to the boat and wishes Drummy "success," prompting Lynn, who then discovers that the old, dangerous fuel pump is still installed in the boat, to suspect that Amy and Drummy are planning her murder. She runs to the house to call Galley, but he is not in, and Drummy interrupts her call. Frightened, she backs away from him, while he explains that he did not love her at first but now does. She reveals that she knows about the fuel pump, and before he can respond, the police call, and Drummy tells them Lynn no longer needs them. Lynn slaps Drummy, drawing blood, and then races from the house and into the water, where she hangs on for life to the dock. Meanwhile, Drummy staggers after her, shouting her name, and is surprised to see Amy on the pier. Galley is hiding on the beach, and after he overhears Amy confess to Drummy that she killed Eloise and replaced the new fuel pump in order to get rid of Lynn, the detective grabs her and informs Drummy that Lynn ran back into the house. Drummy finds her there, still terrified of him, but when she backs into the still-broken balcony rail, Drummy saves her from falling, and Lynn realizes she has blamed him unfairly. Begging for his forgiveness, she crumples into his arms.