Those eyes. Those fucking eyes. I can’t stop looking at them. I’m glad we can’t talk right now, I have no idea what I would say. I’m not supposed to think you’re beautiful. I need to think about naked old ladies with saggy boobs. That’s it—long, droopy boobs.
I broke away from his stare and started moving around the room some more. I would smile and nod at the others as we came face-to-face. Fuck! I keep running into him. It’s weird as shit – the way we just look into each other’s eyes and smile.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! My name is Francesca Gideon, and I’m your moderator for the next two weeks. I hope you got to know some of your fellow participants in our first exercise.
“I noticed that quite a few of you seemed to have found a special connection with one or two people. If you haven’t, that’s perfectly fine. However, for those of you who think you have made that special connection with someone, go to that person now. If you haven’t found anyone yet, please move to the left side of the room.”
Well fuck, my left or her left? By the time I realized that people were moving to our left side of the room, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I took a deep breath and turned around, pretty sure I knew who that hand belonged to.
“I’m Lucas. I know you felt the connection, too. Yes?”
How the hell can someone’s eyes smile? I was speechless. Literally. Speechless. I kept looking into his eyes – Lucas’ eyes. At least I smiled and nodded. Fuck, I can’t be rude. “Greyson—but call me Grey. And, umm – yes.”
“I know who you are. At least the public version of you.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t think that’s the real me. But then, I guess that’s why we’re here.”
“Is that why you’re here?”
“Not really. I’ve been going through a lot of personal shit, and it feels like my life is in this way-too-deep rut. Why are you here?”
“No ruts. My life is pretty good. I just want to see how much better I can be – I want to see how I can make a difference.”
Lucas has a slight accent. It’s hard to place, though. “Where are you from? I’m trying to place your accent.”
“Spiez – in Switzerland. I grew up speaking German, French, and English. In Spiez, most people speak German. I suppose that’s what you are hearing.”
“Alright, ladies and gentlemen. If you have found a partner, please step off to the right side of the room. The rest of you step to the center, please.”
Francesca paired off the rest of the group rather quickly – it’s like she’s done this many times. Once everyone paired off with another participant, Francesca stood on the small stage and spoke again.
“Welcome to Epic Life. Everyone here has now been paired off with someone who I promise will become one of the most important aspects of your journey. It’s now time for our second exercise of the day. You have ninety minutes. You and your partner are welcome to go anywhere on the resort property. The only requirement is that you learn about each other. Share and learn.”
One of the guys across the room raised his hand and asked if he could please visit the bar with his partner. Francesca said we could go anywhere on the property and that we were expected back in 90 minutes. Interestingly, she didn’t answer his question.
“Where would you like to go, Grey?”
“I’d love to go to the bar, but I don’t think I need to be doing any day-drinking right now.”
“Walk on the beach?”
“Sounds like a plan!”
Lucas and I made our way out of the meeting space and down to the beach. It was beautiful. The resort sat on a crystal clear lagoon, and the beach seemed to go for miles and miles.
We took a right and started walking. I don’t know why I didn’t know where to start. So that’s what I said. “I don’t know how or where to start.”
“I understand. Why don’t you ask me a question?”
“Okay. What do you do in Switzerland?”
“I’m from a wealthy family – old money that’s been in our family for generations. My father took some of his money and built a resort – great skiing in the winter. What do I do? I do what’s expected of me. My father wants me to take over the resort when he retires. I don’t know if that’s what I want to do with my life. I just know there’s something out there – and I’ll know what it is when I find it.
“And you, Grey – I understand that you’ve just been through a difficult divorce. How are you holding up?”
“I’m okay. Elizabeth is my best friend – she has been for years. Our careers both took off, and we grew apart. We’ve not spoken since the divorce became final. I miss her, but I don’t miss the awkwardness we had when we would be together at the end of the things. Are you married?”
“No. I’ve never had any desire to get that involved with someone else. I like the freedom I have. I don’t want to lose it. I’ve had boyfriends, but I tend to end things once a guy starts feeling too close.”
“So you’re gay. That’s cool.”
“I like being gay. My father isn’t crazy about it, but he accepts it. My mother would have been cool with it, but she passed away when I was eleven. How did your family take your divorce?”
“My father died when I was thirteen. I have an older brother who lives his life on the wild side. He drives my mom crazy. I just try my best to be a good son, so she doesn’t have to worry about me. She’s a typical Jewish mother – always questioning my decisions, always concerned that I’m making her proud. But – more than anything – she’s always worrying about what everyone thinks. I think the thing she hates the most about the divorce is all the whispers in the background when she walks into Temple.”
After walking for quite a while, we found a small park with benches, but more importantly, a coffee truck. “Shall we?”
“An excellent idea, Grey.”
We each ordered a cup of coffee and found a bench to sit on. We looked out over the ocean and silently drank our delicious caffeine.
Five Weeks Ago: “Is their someone else, Greyson? Are either one of you cheating on the other?”
“No, Mother. We’ve just grown apart. We fell out of love with each other.”
“That’s not a reason to end a marriage. Your father and I fell in and out of love so many times it was ridiculous. But we never considered ending our marriage. It’s not what you do. People expect you to ride out the lows and hold on for the highs. Have you even considered what people will say?”
“Mother, it doesn’t matter what people will say. They will read all about it in the gossip rags and entertainment magazines – and each of them will try and figure out the reasons for the divorce. Not one of them will get it right.”
“And everyone I know will read those stories. And everyone will whisper behind my back when I go anywhere.”
“Mother. How many times have I told you that my brother and I can’t live our lives in a way that will keep your busybody friends quiet!”
“Greyson! You don’t have to raise your voice to me. And besides – those ladies are not…”
“Are not what? Busybodies? Friends?”
“Grey? Are you okay? You seem lost in thought.”
“Oh. Yeah. Just thinking about my mother – and how difficult it can be to live up toher expectations.”
“I would think that with all of your successes, she would be incredibly proud of her son.”
“Oh, she loves being the mother of a celebrity news anchor. At the same time, she never lets me forget that I have a responsibility to live my life in such a way that I don’t embarrass myself – or her.”
“It sounds like she should come to Epic Life and learn how to live her life for herself – not for her friends.”
“She would never do something like this. She would rather die than have anyone else – especially strangers – learn her secrets.”
Lucas looked at his watch and said we should head back. He heard if you were late, you were not let into the session until after the next break. So we headed back to the resort.
We talked more about our lives, discovering that we shared a lot of the same opinions and beliefs. I discovered that I was more comfortable with this awesome man from Switzerland. Something in my gut told me that Lucas Bachman was going to be an important part of my life for quite some time. Strange – that made me happy – and terrified me at the same time.
We walked back into the meeting space, and Francesca made it a point to greet each of us by name. Impressive. She has barely spent twenty minutes with each of us, and she already knew us by name. I hope she shares her secret with us.
“Welcome back. I trust that you and your partner learned about each other during the last 90 minutes. Before we break for lunch, I would like each of you to share with us what you have learned about your partner. While personal details are welcome, what I’m really interested in are the things you have learned about each other that are a result of the cumulative details.”
For the next fifteen minutes, we listened to various people talk about their partners and stupid shit like their hobbies and gardens, grandchildren and spouses – I don’t know, it all just seemed so trivial. Well, things seemed that way until Lucas was called on to talk about me.
He looked at me as if he were asking permission. I looked at Lucas and smiled, letting him know he could say what he wanted. I hope that wasn’t a big fucking mistake.
“Hi. I’m Lucas, and most of you probably know my partner is Greyson. And yes, I’m pretty sure most of you think you know Grey because you let him into your living room five nights a week. I mean, c’mon, I thoughtI knew him.
“I think the thing I learned that surprised me the most was that none of us know Grey. Sure – we see him on our televisions and computers five or six times a week, but that’s not the man I began to see this morning. Grey is just like all of us – only his private shit tends to get chewed and spit out in the gossip rags. Grey’s a good man. From what I’ve learned about him – the next two weeks are going to be great for him – you know, help him learn how to make choices in his life that are for him – and not for the people he’s always trying to please.”
What the fuck? I can’t believe Lucas said all that to everyone! What. The. Fuck! Why was he looking at me with those fucking gorgeous eyes? What? Oh. It’s my turn.
“Hi. I’m Greyson. You can call me Grey. This is a little awkward – and I’m sure it’s not going to be the only awkward time I get to deal with during this thing we’re doing. What have I learned about Lucas? Wow. The man is a lot more insightful than I imagined. I guess I have to be a little more careful with the information I share.”
“That’s not exactly what I’m looking for. Tell us, what do you think your partner could gain from participating in this program?”
“Okay. Lucas has what I perceive as a pretty remarkable life. It boggles my mind to imagine the type of person he might become when he finishes Epic Life.”
I looked at Lucas, and he was smiling at me – with those eyes. What the fuck is it with those eyes? I’ve never been into eyes before – especially a guy’s. Well, he is a pretty remarkable man – maybe part of that is because of those eyes.
We spent the rest of the morning listening to the other people talk about their partners. I kept looking for someone else to get into their partner’s shit like Lucas had done with me. Nope. Didn’t happen.
When lunchtime rolled around, we were instructed to have lunch at the resort. We were also expected to have lunch with our partner and continue learning about each other. Great. I just need to share a little less with Lucas. That’s it.
We decided to have lunch at the pool bar. One thing we both agreed on was we should take advantage of every chance to get some fresh air since we were going to be spending the bulk of our days indoors.
I had the Adult Grilled Cheese. I don’t know why I ordered it – the name had me intrigued. It sounded like something naughty. Lucas thought that was hilarious. He ordered the Fish Tacos for his lunch.
While we were waiting for our food to arrive, I asked Lucas what made him think that I needed to learn how to make choices for myself. I was trying not to look pissed off, but I don’t think I was doing a very good job.
“Please don’t be angry with me, Grey. You mentioned that all you wanted was to make your wife – well, ex-wife now – happy. You talk about how you have to make sure you don’t fuck up around the paparazzi, so you keep your image intact. It kind of broke my heart when I realized that you were always doing things and making choices based on the expectations of the other people in your life. Not once did you mention one thing that you chose to do for yourself.”
“Wow. I’ve never looked at things from that point of view. You’re right. I’ve been living my life for everyone around me. And now that I think about it, I don’t know if I can think of something I would even choose for myself. That’s probably why I’ve been feeling like I’m in this rut. I’ve completely lost myself.”
“Wow. Grey, this is amazing. We’ve been here for a half-day, and you’ve already had a breakthrough. I’d say it was a pretty significant breakthrough, too.”
“I don’t think it’s much of a breakthrough if I have no fucking idea what to do with this new information.”
“Maybe that’s why you’re here? Maybe Epic Life is going to help you find those things you want back into your life? You know – all those things you’ve let fall to the wayside.”
“We’ll see. I was a little pissed off at you for saying that, but now that you’ve explained it, I see where you’re coming from. It’s cool, Lucas – very cool.”
Lunch arrived, and we ate pretty much in silence. And I’ll be damned if that Adult Grilled Cheese wasn’t the best damned grilled cheese I’ve ever had. It was made with sourdough bread, four kinds of cheese, bacon and tomato jam. I could tell from the sounds Lucas was making, his fish tacos were pretty amazing as well.
After lunch, we went back to the conference space and found the chairs arranged in circles of four groups of seven. We were told to sit anywhere we wanted, and once everyone settled, four people joined Francesca on the stage.
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you all had a wonderful lunch and got to know each other a bit more. I would like to introduce you to Hope, Jack, Ron, and Olivia. These astonishing people will be your coaches throughout the two weeks you are here. Each one will join one of the groups you have found yourselves in. All four are graduates of the Epic Life programs and will guide you and your fellow team members through the program.”
The four coaches walked down to the main floor, and each sat in the empty chair. Jack joined our group.
“Hi folks, I’m Jack Weston. I’m here to help you have the most amazing two weeks of your entire life. I’m here to guide you, encourage you, listen to you, and pretty much help each of you find the Epic Life you so richly deserve. Now, let’s go around the circle and introduce ourselves to the others – just your first names for now.”
There was Isaac and Kevin. They were a mess if I’m going to be honest here. They both looked absolutely terrified. Bella and Naomi looked like they were more excited to be in Hawaii for two weeks than they were to see what kind of changes might come to their lives. After Lucas and I introduced ourselves, Jack asked if we chose each other as partners, or if Francesca had put them together. Isaac and Kevin found each other. Bella and Naomi were assigned.
We spent the next 90 minutes in our circle, talking and asking questions. Jack was an expert in leading the conversation in a way that we all felt comfortable sharing things that we normally would keep to ourselves.
When I shared some of the details about my marriage and divorce, Jack stopped the discussion and leaned into the circle. “Now, before we continue, I want to address the elephant in the room. We have a celebrity in our group. But – and this is vitally important for all of you to understand – he’s here for the same reasons you are. Everyone in this group will be sharing things that will be personal and are not to be shared outside of this group.
“Before we continue,” Jack handed a sheet of paper to each person in the circle, “we require that each person signs this non-disclosure form. Everyone participating in Epic Life is required to sign this document.”
Everyone took the time to read the document and signed it. It’s funny, the sense of relief I felt when I realized that I was going to be able to participate without worrying about the gossip rags getting hold of my shit. Lucas asked Jack if everyone who participated in Epic Life had to sign a non-disclosure form. I was surprised when Jack said everyone was required to sign one – including himself. He signed a form, took the others from our group, and took them to the table where Francesca was sitting.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with a great lesson on the boxes we all live in. The one thing I thought was so cool was that we need to learn to stop “thinking outside the box” and learn how to make our box bigger, so all those unique things we usually didn’t do (or think of) became part of our norm.
The afternoon ended with the entire group standing in a circle and sharing one emotion they were experiencing. We finished and were told to spend the evening with our partner. Damn. I’m glad I like Lucas – and that he apparently likes me. That would certainly make for some awkward times, right?
Lucas invited me to his suite for dinner. We decided to order in and relax. We ordered some fantastic steaks, along with a baked sweet potato and crispy Brussels sprouts seasoned with macadamia nuts and horseradish.
Of course, we ordered a couple of bottles of Pinot Noir to go with dinner, and by the time we finished eating, we were both relaxed and feeling little, if no pain.
We made our way out to the terrace and watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The sound of the ocean and the general nature that surrounded the resort was even more relaxing than the wine.
We were sitting side-by-side in the wide double chaise. Out of the blue, I asked Lucas, “Do you have a boyfriend? Someone special in your life?”
“Oh no – I’ve not had a boyfriend since Er..”
And that was it. That was all he said. Lucas took a rather large drink from his wine glass and stared out at the ocean. Was that a tear falling down his face?
“Lucas, you can tell me about it. It seems like this is something you are holding on to. You’ve certainly been there for me all day. Let me be here for you.”
Lucas took a deep breath – still looking out to the water. “Erik. His name was Erik. He was the most amazing boy I had ever met in my life. He said I was the most amazing boy he had ever met. We were seventeen. Neither of us had ever even considered the possibility that either of us was gay.
“Our friendship grew – what’s the word – exponentially, that’s it. Our friendship grew exponentially, and we ended up telling each other our feelings while we were on a trip to Paris.”
Lucas was utterly lost in his thoughts as he continued speaking in a quiet, monotone voice. “We had just arrived back at the hotel from dinner when Erik took me in his arms and told me that he couldn’t help it, he had fallen in love with me. Of course, the same thing had happened with me. We kissed and were both surprised by the intensity of that kiss.
“We had no idea what we were doing, but we spent the rest of that weekend in bed – exploring each other’s bodies and discovering all the fantastic things we could do to bring pleasure to the boy we were in love with.
“A couple of months later, we told our families about our relationship. I was terrified, but everyone was relieved that we had finally told them. Apparently, we weren’t very good at hiding our feelings for each other.”
Lukas finally smiled as he thought about his amazing boy. “We were inseparable. Erik and I did everything together. For his 18th birthday, I took him to the Val Gardena ski resort in Italy. He was so excited – I was too. We were both expert skiers, and Val Gardena has some of the most challenging slopes in Europe. The first two days were the happiest two days of my life. We skied all day, made love all night – it was heaven.
“It was the third day – the worst day of my entire life. We were skiing down the most challenging slope on the mountain. I was skiing in front. Erik was behind me. I was halfway down when I realized Erik wasn’t behind me. I stopped. I tried calling him. There was no answer. I decided to wait for him.
“Only he never came. About twenty minutes later, I heard the helicopter getting closer. After another twenty minutes, I saw the copter flying back down the mountain. All I could do was get down to the bottom of the slope as quickly as I could.”
“Lucas, I’m so sorry. You don’t have to…”
“No, I need to share this with you.”
Lucas was still looking out to the ocean as tears were falling from his eyes. My heart was breaking for him. I took his hand and held it while I rubbed it to – I don’t know – make him feel better?
“Erik had fallen on a patch of ice and wasn’t able to stop before he crashed into a tree. It didn’t kill him, but it left him paralyzed from the chest down. It changed his life forever, and he couldn’t understand that the one thing that never changed was my love for him.
“Erik insisted that I let him go so that I could move on with my life. He never understood that he was my life. We started fighting more and more, but I never stopped loving him. If anything, my love for Erik grew stronger each day.
“It was January 8th. We had just had the most significant argument we’d ever had. He yelled at me to leave. I did – it was the worst decision I have ever made in my life. That evening, I got a phone call from Erik’s sister. Somehow, he got a gun. He shot himself.
“There was a letter. Erik apologized for hurting me. He also said if I couldn’t leave him, then he had to leave me the only way he knew how. That was a little more than ten years ago.”
I wrapped my arms around Lucas and let him cry on my shoulder.
“I’m so, so, so sorry. Lucas – I had no idea there has been so much sadness in your life.”
“It’s okay. I mean, I’ve not had another boyfriend since, but I do tend to burn my way through Grindr whenever I’m in a new city. It’s not love, but it sure feels good when I get my rocks off.”
“And you’re here because?”
“I need to figure out how I can let Erik go, but still keep him in my heart. I need to move on with my life.”
“If anyone can do that, I know it’s you. You can do this, Lucas.”
There were those eyes again. How the fuck could they be so clear – and blue – just seconds after crying? How could those eyes…
I was in the middle of a thought when the next thing I knew, Lucas’ lips were pressed against mine. All I remember thinking at first was how soft they were while being so firm and masculine at the same time. When he opened my mouth with his tongue, I remember wondering how a tongue could be both gentle and forceful at the same time.
Wait a minute. Was my cock getting hard? Was I kissing a man? I pulled away from the kiss and looked into Lucas’ eyes. I shook my head as I caught my breath. “No – I can’t – I’m not gay!”
I got up from the chaise and ran through the suite to the door. In seconds, I was down the hall and in the elevator. In minutes, I was crawling into my bed in my darkened suite. For the next hour, I could only ignore the persistent buzzing on my phone.
I’m. Not. Gay.
Okay, there's the first chapter! Now to answer some of the questions:
No, Greyson Myers is NOT based on any other newscaster past or present.
No, Epic Life isn't based on Tony Robbins seminars. However, I participated in every program offered by a company called Lifespring. It's no longer in business, but it truly changed my life. Much of Epic Life will be based on my personal experience.
I will never tease my readers again (either intentionally or unintentionally) by writing a prologue and a "coming soon" message for the chapter.
I'm now going back to Noah and finishing his story!