Aiden Flint goes on vacation with three friends to Pamplona, Spain. Seeking excitement, they will run with the bulls in the festival of St. Fermin. As the four friends enjoy the nightlife, they notice an attractive man watching Aiden in the bars they visit. In the warmth and heady atmosphere of the exotic city, Aiden takes a chance and approaches the handsome man.
Enigmatic Santiago Arista is sexy, kind, desperate for love, and achingly lonely. He’s just about given up on finding love, until one warm, summer night, sitting alone in a bar, he sees gorgeous Aiden. He’s elated when Aiden joins him at his table.
Deep attraction swirls between them. At the end of the night when they share a kiss, Aiden can’t believe the bliss that enfolds him, but have both men found someone to love just when fate is about to throw Aiden into mortal danger?
Darkness characterized Santiago’s earthbound world. He lived in it and with it weighing heavy in his heart. Centuries passed without a break in his solitariness. He no longer used his special gifts. He left weeks between his visits to the markets, until hunger forced him out for fruit and bread. He ventured into the nightlife less and less, convinced he’d never find a companion to ease his loneliness in venues he’d haunted for decades.
Then one night, driven by despair into the bars dotting the Spanish city where he currently dwelt, Santiago laid eyes on a man whose looks set his thoughts and heart racing. Who is he? How can I meet him? Could he ever want to know a sorry soul like me? He is beautiful.
Santiago sat with his vodka melting the crushed ice in the tall glass he favored and always ordered. He gazed at the young man with yearning growing in his heart until he ached. Santiago named him “dear heart” so that he could daydream that they were together, a couple—lovers.
Dear heart sat with his friends, but on that first night he glanced at Santiago a few times, his clear blue eyes searching Santiago’s face. When dear heart visited the restroom, he openly stared at Santiago, and in his gaze, Santiago read interest, sexual attraction—pure need.
Long empty of positive emotions, Santiago’s heart filled with hope. He hardly took his eyes from dear heart. He savored every contour of muscle beneath the young man’s t-shirt, and sighed over dear heart’s thick, dark hair, wishing he could run his fingers through the softness. When his chosen one left the bar with his friends, Santiago followed, to the next bar, and then the next, until dear heart smiled at him as he passed where Santiago set up his watch, holding a chilled glass in his equally cold hand. The smile warmed Santiago as nothing ever had. Amazed, he left it too late to return the smile—dear heart and his friends disappeared onto the night street thronging with vacationers.
Santiago combed the bars each night thereafter until he found where dear heart drank a beer with his friends. Then he would sit and soak up the sight of the beautiful stranger, desperate to talk to him, but afraid of rejection.
“That guy’s staring at you again, Aiden.” John jogged his elbow, forcing a wave of golden beer to slap on the side of the slender glass he carried. Drops flew into the air headed for the colorful tiled floor, and Aiden steadied his pace so as not to spill more.
His friend raced ahead to the other two men in their vacation party.
“Wait, you two.”
Aiden stole a glance over his shoulder at the man John had mentioned. Bright eyes captured his gaze. Aiden’s stomach clenched. Mystery, sex, and attraction radiated from the handsome man. Aiden’s mouth dried up. He tore himself away and hurried to the table where his friends sat laughing.
“He’s interested in you for sure. Crap, he’s still staring.” Noel leaned forward giving Aiden a wide-eyed, and yet salacious grin.
Jason put down his beer and punched Aiden lightly on the upper arm. He used his pet name for his friend. “Why not approach him, Aidey? There’s no one in your life. How many times have you bleated about your single status in the last six months? Have a holiday romance.”
Aiden’s shoulders drooped. He was the only single guy in his small group of friends and the only gay guy. He knew Jason was sincere, but Noel and John often made fun of him. Not malicious fun, but a gentle constant teasing that sometimes wearied him. Noel used it to mask his tendency to homophobia. John was the friendship group’s clown. Aiden picked up the beer he’d placed on the table and sipped at it.
In a day’s time, on the seventh of July, the first “running with the bulls” event would take place. The friends had come to participate in the Saint Fermin summer festival in Pamplona, and intended running with the bulls as many times as their nerve let them. Noel had raised the idea one night as they met for a meal and drinks in their favorite bistro. He’d lamented his mundane existence, and somehow the others in the group had commiserated enough for them all to agree to vacation in Spain that coming summer expressly to run with the bulls.
Aiden blinked away his trepidation at actually fulfilling the now imminent intention. He put down his beer, and in an attempt to chase away his fears, he turned and smiled at the gorgeous man whose stare just about penetrated his denim shirt.
Astonishment spread on the man’s face, and then he returned a shy smile.
Aiden took a deep breath, summoning his nerve. He stood, gave his friend Jason a tiny wave, and walked to the man’s table.
Copyright E. D. Parr, Evernight Publishing, 2019
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