Friends since childhood, Anais Darnby and Lindsay Markam have long harboured a secret passion for one another. When they finally confess their love, their future together seems assured, sealed with their searing embrace.
But when a debauched Lindsay is seduced by a scheming socialite, a devastated Anais seeks refuge in another man's bed while Lindsay retreats to the exotic East. There, he is seduced again — this time by the alluring red smoke and sinister beauty of opium.
Back home, Lindsay's addiction is fed by the vogue for all things Oriental — especially its sensual pleasures — in fashionable London society. In his lucid moments, Lindsay still lusts after Anais, who can neither allow him near nor forget his smouldering touch. Tortured by two obsessions — opium and Anais — Lindsay must ultimately decide which is the one he truly cannot live without.