After the distress of dealing with a failed relationship and business, life starts to look up for Berkeley when he finds new work and discovers the joys of gay chat sites. When he meets a captain from the US Army, based in Iraq, his hopes of love and a bright future rise. After several months, the captain asks Berkeley to do him a special favour, so he can retire from the army and spend the rest of his days with him. Berkeley reluctantly agrees, but when the favour results in him having to part with his hard-earned cash, he is left with no other choice, but to go to the police. Captain Frances comes to his rescue and what starts out as a professional relationship quickly turns into a lot more as they uncover a major internet scam and strive for justice to be served.
Almost five hundred visits in one day! Not even Berkeley could believe the response to his newly created profile on the gay chat site Gaywatch, or the comments and proposals he received. He’d thought the photos of his gym-trained body, high school hunk looks and a cute smile would attract some attention, but not that much. Like a kid in a candy store, he hurriedly read and responded to the messages and checked out the profiles of those who hadn’t left a message, to see if any of them were worth writing to. Wow. He was discovering a whole new way of meeting men, and he loved it.
While he lived in a beautiful rented apartment in Palm Mar, with views of the ocean and three neighbouring islands, creating the illusion of being in the middle of the Indian Ocean, in reality it was deadsville for a handsome and attractive gay man of thirty-five who was in his sexual prime. Although in all other respects it was idyllic, it was boring, lonely, and better suited to happily married heterosexual couples who were quite content to just enjoy the sun, sea, scenery, and the odd night out at one of the local bars to listen to some third-rate entertainment. But Berkeley wanted much more than that.
Having been forced to leave the north of the island to look for work after a very costly failed business and leave all his friends behind, he craved and desperately needed to find excitement, companionship, love and happiness.
Until he discovered the gay chat site, he thought he was going to die of boredom and loneliness. And after only a day, he suspected that Gaywatch was going to change his life forever and give him everything he longed for.
When he could, he visited his close friend Michael in the north, just so he didn’t feel so alone, and he buried himself in his work so he could forget about finding a man. All his previous relationships had been a disaster, so he’d accepted that being on his own was less painful and frustrating.
His heart was in hibernation, and he’d blocked out the thought and need to be with a man—even though he longed to share his life and experiences with somebody special on the beautiful island of Tenerife—the place he now called home.
Michael expressed his concerns that Berkeley no longer wanted to go to gay bars and clubs, but he was working, so he had to keep his wits about him, because dealing with a smart or awkward client after a night out wasn’t his idea of fun. Even though he’d thought the job was going to be easy, it was more demanding and challenging than he’d thought.
He’d been quite happy to lose himself in his work, because it helped take his mind off men and what he was missing out on.
And why did he need to go to a club when there were thousands of men waiting for him in the comfort of his own home on the other side of a computer screen? He could chat with them for as long or as little as he wanted to and go to bed when he was good and done, because he knew they’d still be there the next day.
He’d made it clear in his profile what his sexual preferences were, and that he was looking for love and a relationship, but guys must have thought he looked good, because that didn’t stop many an admirer sending him some very indecent proposals and photos.
Berkeley quickly sorted the wheat from the chaff and ignored and blocked sex fiends or perverts. While he wasn’t averse to casual sex now and again, he knew the risks and wanted more than that. After years on the gay scene, he knew what casual sex led to, and that was invariably nothing.
No. He wanted more—something deeper and more meaningful than just a quick shag. He could get that anywhere and with most men if he really wanted it.
He’d been there, done that and almost paid the price for his actions on more than one occasion. The most horrifying and memorable experience for Berkeley was when a gorgeous guy who looked and performed like a porn star removed the condom while they were having sex and afterward told Berkeley he was HIV positive.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the guy finished the job off inside Berkeley, so he’d spent the following year worrying about whether he’d been infected. It really hit home to him that not everybody in the world can be trusted. Berkeley learned the hard way that there are a lot of fakes, liars and selfish people who think they can take somebody else’s life into their hands and make decisions and judgements on their behalf.
The guy explained to Berkeley he’d been infected for over twenty years, and the disease was undetectable, but Berkeley quite rightly pointed out he wasn’t a doctor who could offer him a guarantee there would be no repercussions.
After that experience, Berkeley pushed all the negative thoughts to the back of his mind and moved on. He knew he couldn’t trust everybody, but he also knew he couldn’t lock himself away in his apartment and become an old spinster that eventually nobody would want. He acknowledged he had to take some risks in life to find love and happiness, but they had to be calculated risks so he wouldn’t expose himself to the vermin he’d previously encountered.
Berkeley was convinced that Gaywatch was just the way to achieve that. By chatting to guys before having sex, he could ascertain if they were legitimate and understand the risks.
He spent weeks chatting with guys and met up with some of them, but despite their promises, they all proved to be exactly what Berkeley wasn’t looking for—male egos overdosing on testosterone and only looking for casual sex.