At thirty-nine, Dane has begun to think that life holds no surprises for him. His last relationship was twelve years ago and, apart from a couple of flings, there has been no one special in his life for so long, he has given up even thinking about meeting anyone. His work keeps him busy and he's used to going on holidays by himself or with friends. He hasn't really missed having someone to love, and to love him back. Although sometimes ...
One day, he's cleaning the sliding door when he notices movement in the villa next to his. It's his new neighbour. His handsome new neighbour. He pretends he isn't watching the hot, semi-naked man. Later when he bumps into the man, Tassos, he's invited in for a juice. Who is this man?
Dane sat on the stony riverbank, his arms out behind him to support himself.
"Wouldn't life be so much easier if this was all there was?"
Tas skipped a stone across the surface of the water and sat down beside Dane, the fingers of his hand touching the fingers of Dane's hand.
"I'm working towards doing exactly that," said Tas. "Everything I do is taking me closer to my dream." His hand wrapped around Dane's. "And having someone on the journey with you makes it all the more magical."
It was out of character and took Dane completely by surprise, but his eyes began to fill with tears.
Tas noticed immediately.
Dane shook his head. "Nothing."
The expression on Tas's face, the softness and caring it displayed, drew out Dane's thoughts.
"I am --" he sniffed, "-- so damned lucky."
Tas smiled, his lips curling into the warmest expression Dane had ever seen on his beloved's handsome face.
"Not as lucky as me," said Tas placing a kiss as soft as a summer breeze on Dane's lips.
"You don't understand. You don't understand how blessed I feel. I haven't felt like this in ... God knows how long. I've told you already that I didn't think I'd ever feel this way again. I feel ... yes ... truly blessed."
Tas ran a finger to collect the tears that had spilled from Dane's eyes. He brought the finger to his mouth and sucked the tears off.
"Love happens when you least expect it. The fact a man like you, so smart and hot and handsome, thought he wouldn't ever experience that connection with another man again reinforces the fact that I've found the man of my dreams."
Dane knew his face had suddenly acquired a quizzical expression.
"I mean, that a man who looks as good as you at thirty-nine, a man who is as fit and kind and intelligent as you finds me attractive, warms my heart. You don't know what you've done for me."
"At least as much you have done for me," said Dane, kissing Tas and tasting his own tears on Tas's lips. "But, hey. We should be getting back."
Tas looked at him, unsmiling and eyes welling with tears. Dane wondered what his expression meant. There was no reading it at all.
He reached up and cupped Dane's face. "I think I've found ..." he paused. "My soulmate."
The words took Dane by surprise. The word 'soulmate' was not thrown about the way the word love was. 'Soulmate' was a word reserved for a feeling so deep, so profound that the word love simply wasn't adequate enough. And Tas was using it to describe him.
The effect on Dane could not be translated into words.
Now it was Dane's turn to cup Tas's face.
"I love you so much. So much I have no idea how I'm going to get back to a normal life after this weekend."
Tas kissed him. "Don't worry, baby. I'll be there right beside you."
They kissed and their kisses warmed them against the chill of the soft summer breeze against their wet, naked flesh.
"I guess we should think about swimming back," said Dane.
"Yes," said Tas casting his eyes skywards. "And start packing up. I've got clients tomorrow and you have to get back to your textbooks."
Dane gazed into Tas's eyes. That whole other world, that earning money, that satisfying other people, seemed foreign, like he had seen in it a movie. It felt as though it were something other people experienced.
Here. Now. This was real. Being naked and in love with Tas on the banks of a river that could have been anywhere in the world was reality. They were free and watching Tas walk to the edge of the river, naked with the sunlight bathing his body, reinforced that this was what life should be about. Nature. Togetherness. Freedom.
The swim back to the other side was less dramatic.
"I guess that makes up for the lack of exercise this weekend," said Tas, walking up the bank on the other side.
"What lack?" asked Dane, picking up his towel. "We've been at it hammer and tong."
They hadn't gone far when suddenly Tas leapt to one side, before losing his balance and falling to the ground. He cried out and clutched his ankle.