Diego met with Sara at the library to work on her grant application. He enjoyed using his passion for advanced mathematical theories to help with his student’s proposals. But Sara’s attention seemed to be elsewhere.
“You never told me, how did your appointment with Johnny’s cousin go?” the energetic blonde asked as Diego looked through the PowerPoint slides on her laptop.
“We’re here to talk about your project.”
“Screw my project! I want to hear all about you and Remy.”
Diego couldn’t help but smile at the mention of Remy’s name. “Might I ask, what did you tell him about me?”
“I told him that you have an advanced degree in mathematics but you’re stuck in this redneck town selling real-estate and mentoring little science nerds.”
“Did you talk about Jenessa?”
“You mean the fact that your daughter’s pregnant with my brother’s kid? And how you were forced to put her on a plane and send her halfway across the country to protect her from your cunt of a wife? Yeah, it came up.”
“Sara, do not use such language,” Diego said in a rather calm tone.
“It’s the truth! Your wife is a horrible human being. You put Jen on a plane to Seattle because your wife would have likely pushed her down a flight of stairs.”
“I’m not going to argue.”
“Because you know I’m right. So when’s the next time you’re meeting Remy? He’s a great doctor and so gorgeous! If I wasn’t dating his cousin…”
Diego shrugged. It had been nearly a week since his appointment. Although he still suffered from back pain, his panic attacks and anxiety had been noticeably reduced.
Sara was still talking. “Do you have another appointment? Does he have your number? Screw it, I’m calling him.”
“I already have early acceptance to UCLA. So I want to take the evening off and spend it with my boyfriend and his cousin. You can either come with me or drive yourself home. I can walk.”
Diego looked at the clock. It was already six. They had been working since four. And the last thing he wanted was for her to be walking alone after sunset. Diego tossed Sara his car keys. “Let your mother know where we’re going, and I’ll let you drive.”
Sara caught the keys with one hand as she pulled out her phone. “I’ll send her a text- and of course I’m driving, you’ve never been to Remy’s house.”
“We’re going to Remy’s house?” he asked nervously. The rubber tip of his cane clanked against the tile floor as he stood up, causing a few glares.
“Yeah, Remy’s house, where my boyfriend parks his van,” Sara said loudly. She flipped her middle finger to the glaring patrons as she left.
Diego took a deep breath as he followed Sara to the car. “Was that necessary?”
“Yes, it was. Just because you’re 6’2” and physically fit doesn’t mean people can disregard your handicap. You’re a disabled veteran they need to show some respect.”
Sara and Diego drove a few minutes from town to a suburban cul-de-sac.
Remy met them at the door. The young doctor looked sexy and exotic, in sweatpants and a t-shirt with his long dark hair loose over his shoulders. “Sara! What brings you here?”
“I come bearing gifts. I’ll trade you my mentor for half an ounce of weed.”
Remy chuckled. “Hello, Diego. I wondered when you were going to take me up on that drink offer.”
Diego followed Sara and Remy inside the house. “I was away on business, in Wyoming for a few days, negotiating a land deal for a client.” The sun shone through the ceiling of the single story home. “Wow, it’s really spacious in here.”
“Four bedrooms, two baths; more space then I could ever afford on my own.” He went to his bedroom and came back with a single joint that he handed to Sara, along with a lighter.
“Thank you,” Sara said. “Is Johnny home?”
“If my cousin was home, you would have seen him by now. That boy follows you around like a puppy.”
“I’ll just wait for him in the backyard. You two have fun.” Sara exited, leaving Remy and Diego alone.
“Diego, can I offer you a drink? I have wine, coffee, soda.”
“Whatever is easiest,” Diego replied, following him to the kitchen.
Remy took out a bottle of wine from the fridge. He playfully shook it a little as if to see how empty it was. Although it was clear from the shadows on the bottle that container was over half full.
Diego chuckled apprehensively. “I probably shouldn’t drink. Sara will need someone to drive her home.”
“Don’t worry, Johnny is straightedge.”
“He doesn’t drink or smoke pot, one of the many reasons he lives out in his van,” Remy laughed at his own joke. “Sara will get wasted, they’ll probably have sex, and then afterward he’ll be fine to take her home.” Remy poured the bottle of wine into a half-empty bottle of Coke then served himself a glass. “My dad used to make this all the time. Try some.”
Diego took a sip. The thought crossed his mind: if he became inebriated, how was he going to get himself home? “That certainly is interesting.”
“Are you hungry? I was about to start dinner. Maybe after, I can show you my room: my fortress of solitude.”
That was his answer; Remy was expecting him to stay the night. “I could eat.” Diego watched as he prepared eggplant curry with mixed vegetables and naan bread.
Remy explained that he and all of his roommates were vegan but offered to order Diego something if that made him uncomfortable.
“I’m looking forward to tasting your food. It’s been a while since I had a home-cooked meal.”
To pass the time, Diego asked Remy about his roommates. Gia was a traveling yoga instructor. Her boyfriend Jordon was a contractor. And the third roommate, Tyler, worked as a welder at a factory that produced custom farming equipment. “So you’re in real-estate, why?” Remy asked as he set the table.
“It’s a living.”
“So are a lot of things. You have an advanced degree. Don’t you also work as a tutor?”
“I like the ability to travel. Make my own hours, meet new people. As for my work as a tutor, I do that as a hobby.”
“What you’re saying is after your son died you got stuck in North Dakota.”
“Why do you stay? You could practice your holistic medicine anywhere. I imagine someplace like Oregon or California would be much more welcoming than the Midwest.”
“True, I stay for my cousin. Johnny’s the only family I’ve got.”
Diego looked around the kitchen. Pinned to a cork board was a picture of Remy with an older man. They appeared to be sitting in a snowy area. “Where was this taken?”
“Alaska. I cared for my father for the last few months of his life. He wanted to die someplace beautiful.” Remy turned his attention to Diego. “Do you smoke the devil’s lettuce?”
“I’ve toked an ounce or two in my time.”
With dinner came introductions to all of Remy’s roommates, and lots of marijuana. Johnny and Sara took their meal in the backyard. That would be the last Diego saw of Sara that evening.
After the meal, he found himself in Remy’s bedroom staring up at the ceiling. ‘Take the Money and Run,’ by Steve Miller Band, played on an endless loop, from an iPod speaker. The ceiling had been painted with a massive pattern of pastel colors against a dark background. “Did you paint that?” Diego asked as Remy lay beside him.
“Yeah, it’s the northern lights. I went to Iceland the year after my father died. When I looked up at the sky it was like I could feel his spirit,” Remy words slurred, “will you hold me?”
“Of course.” Diego kissed Remy’s forehead as he held him close.
Remy cupped Diego’s face, kissing his lips to the beat of the music. “You’re too young to walk with a cane.”
“Just how old do you think I am?” Diego asked with a smile.
“Forty-something, how old do you think I am?”
Diego shrugged. “Twenty-five?”
Remy laughed out loud. “You’re really something.”
Diego could feel the young man’s breath, hot against his neck.
“Do you think it’s a coincidence that I lost my father and you lost your son, but fate saw fit to bring us together?” Remy began to remove Diego’s belt, then his pants. He locked Diego’s mouth down with a kiss as he unbuttoned his shirt, revealing Diego’s tattooed chest. “Your body is so fucking sexy.”
Remy removed his t-shirt. His physique was everything Diego thought it would be; slender and muscular with a beautiful six-pack stomach and a chiseled chest. With his long hair and soulful eyes, he looked like something out of a dream.
Remy kissed Diego’s sternum, moving tenderly down his abs.
Diego’s body shivered with excitement. This was what he had been thinking about every moment since their last encounter. But it also felt like a replay of their last encounter. He gently grabbed Remy by the hair. “Stop.” Diego stroked Remy’s back, beckoning him to come closer. “And I can give it, as well.” Diego pulled him in for a kiss, rolling Remy on to his back.
“I want you,” Remy whispered. “I want to be your fantasy.”
“And I you.” With one arm he held Remy’s leg over his shoulder, locking their bodies into place as they made love.
The way Remy’s face looked when he climaxed, was a moment of pure beauty. Remy’s eyes closed, and his lips parted just enough to let out a soft breath, “Mi Amor.”
The luscious sound of his voice put Diego over the edge. “When I was a young man, I could make love for hours,” he said with a sigh.
“Hours?” Remy chuckled. “I’d settle for falling asleep in your arms, listening to your heartbeat.” Remy cuddled close, resting his head on Diego’s chest.
Diego closed his eyes, stroking Remy’s hair as he drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Diego awoke to the bright lights streaming through Remy’s bedroom window. He rolled over to find his lover gone.
Just as he sat up, Remy appeared with a tray of coffee and cut up fruit. “Good morning, D.”
“I-I need to get home to my wife.”
Remy nodded as he put the tray on the nightstand. “Okay…”
Diego stood up and attempted to get dressed. As he steadied himself on the bedpost, a horrible pain suddenly shot through his arm causing him to collapse back on to the bed. Diego’s muscles were in spasm, his body contorting into the fetal position.
“Lay flat,” Remy ordered.
“I need my pain medicine.”
“Do as I say. I’m a licensed physical therapist, remember?”
Diego did as he was told. With how intense the pain was he had little choice. “My pills are in my car.”
“I’ll get them, but first I need to keep you warm.” Remy left and returned with a heating pad as well as an extra blanket. “I need you to acknowledge the pain.”
“I assure you, I am.” There was a sense of fear in his voice. Last night’s drug binge had numbed the damaged nerves in his back, now the pain had returned tenfold. He would likely have to go the hospital.
Remy placed the heating pad under Diego’s pain-stricken shoulder. “I need you to take deep breaths, embrace the energy of your body.”
“You can. Because I am going to breathe with you. First, place your hand on your stomach, just below your ribs. Take a deep breath through your nose. As you inhale, let your stomach push your hand out.”
Remy took Diego’s other hand, placing it on his own chest. “Do you feel the movement of air in my lungs?”
Diego voice quivered, “Yes.” He felt the rise and fall of Remy’s chest; the force of his body and spirit.
“When I inhale, I want you to exhale. Focusing on the muscles of your abdomen, you’re going to draw from my strength.”
Diego closed his eyes. With every breath, he tightened his stomach. After a few moments Diego could swear he felt Remy’s heart. Little by little his body began to relax enough to take deep soothing breaths. He opened his eyes staring up at the northern lights.
“That’s better. I’m going to go get your pills, now.”
Diego squeezed Remy’s hand. “No, please stay with me.”
“Ok.” Remy got back into bed and the lovers held each other the same as they did after the previous night’s encounter. “Look, D, I don’t want to feel like an idiot. I mean, I really like you. I want to get to know you. So I just want to know, is this real?”
Diego turned his head. The pain was still present but with Remy in his arms, he felt strong enough to fight through it. “I assure you, this is very real.”
“Sure, whatever- that’s why you’re in such a hurry to get home to your wife, right?”
“You have every right to be upset, but there’s something I am sure Sara did not tell you about me. After sending my daughter away, I contemplated ending my life. I even purchased a gun.”
Remy gasped. “You did what?”
Diego looked at the ceiling. In the early morning sun, the colors of the northern lights looked pale and subdued. But there was something about the image that filled him with a sense of calm. “I was a failure as a husband, as a father- as a man. I would be lying to say I don’t still feel that way. But when I’m with you, something changes. It’s like I can feel human again. I’ll try my hardest to come back to you. But if I can’t, please don’t give up on me.”
“I understand. I’ll be here.”
The adventure continues in Dakota Son-