Cynthia and Buck are young, broke and deeply in love. They live in Seattle, struggling to make ends meet. Buck is a musician. He is crazy about Cynthia, but his drinking and drug abuse upset her . . . she has watched her mother endure three miserable marriages to drunken men and is determined to make a better life for herself. Still, she is blinded by her love for Buck and believes him each time he promises to stop using.
On their way to visit Cynthia's mom in a logging town on the Pacific coast, Buck starts to drink some Robitussin, despite his promise to stay sober during the visit. Furious, Cynthia grabs the bottle away from him and chugs it herself. She arrives high at her mother's doorstep and proceeds straight to bed. In the middle of the night, Cynthia hears a "Voice" telling her that deep down Buck is a good man and she should stick with him. Both Buck and Jan dismiss this as the voice of Robitussin, not God.
Buck may be a good man deep down, but has no ambition. Once back in Seattle, Cynthia leaves him. She takes the job as a companion for Eleanor, a young rich woman dying of breast cancer. Eleanor lives in a spacious estate overlooking Puget Sound, left to her by her deceased parents. Cynthia is charmed by Eleanor and they become friends.
One day while running errands downtown, Cynthia runs into Buck playing guitar on the street corner. He has sworn off drinking, and they clearly still love and want each other. She gets him a job as a gardener on Eleanor's estate, claiming he's her half-brother. Buck moves into the guest cottage. But, Cynthia has a bigger plan for Buck . . . she wants Eleanor to fall in love with Buck and marry him before she dies.
At first, Buck thinks Cynthia's crazy, but gradually the idea begins to take a life of its own. Eleanor falls for Buck. Buck is able to help her transcend her self-consciousness about her scarred body, as they become lovers. For a while, Cynthia and Buck continue to sleep together as well, and their plot is nearly foiled when the housekeeper discovers them in bed together. Eleanor ultimately finds out, but she ignores the revelation. She wants to make the most of Buck's passion before she dies.
Slowly Buck realizes he's falling in love with Eleanor. Although he won't marry her legally they have an informal service in the garden. Eleanor is granted a brief span of painless happiness with Buck before her cancer overwhelms her. She soon dies, leaving her estate to Buck. But in an ironic twist of fate, Buck takes off to make it on his own. He wants no part of Eleanor's estate and leaves everything to Cynthia. It's a hollow victory for Cynthia, who learns that love is ultimately more valuable than wealth.
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