As a small boy, Alex becomes ensnared in the schemes of his mother, Cathlean, as she seeks to entrap a white British soldier, John, and "marry up" to improve her status in life. Her plan comes to fruition when John becomes obsessed with his black wife, marries her, then takes her and her son away from her native country of Belize to live in England. Cathlean becomes the society woman in England but begs her husband to return to Belize so she can show off her new status to her friends and fellow "good-time" girls. They return ten years later, but an unhappy Alex seeks solace in the arms of Sherrette. They fall head over heels but soon find their own problems as fast-paced revelations affect their fragile relationship. Told in a first-person view of life in Dangriga, Belize, young Alex's story reflects on the color of his pain as he seems to bear the brunt of Cathlean's selfish brand of pain that she calls love.