“You are… stunning…” His words fall hot against my chest, heartbeat fluttering beneath my fingers as I touch the damp hairs curled at the nape of his neck. Instead of replying I kiss the crown of Tanim’s head and let the gesture speak for itself. As he shifts closer I wonder if anyone else has ever seen his true self, this loving, vulnerable, beautiful creature. But of course they haven’t; even Tanim barely realized what it was he longed for, at least not until we began… all this. No, no one else has seen the man who rests in my arms, as relaxed beneath these thin hotel sheets as in the most expensive suite in the city. I have the honor and privilege of being the first and only person to see Tanim for who he truly is. It’s sad, really, when I think about it. He has friends, family, a wife, yet none of them have ever bothered to look past his fixed mask of normality to the wounded man inside. I know who he is, though, and who he could become if he only had the chance.
I can’t tell him which choice to make. It isn’t my place, not when the role I play in his life is relegated to that same strict secrecy. Yet he’s tearing himself to pieces trying to live two lives, forced to deny the man he truly is except in the brief stolen moments we share – moments that must inevitably come to an end. This farce can’t be worth the sacrifice required to maintain the lie. I know I could make him happy, or at least happier than he’s ever been living the life of someone who doesn’t exist. He should choose me. He should choose himself. He should choose us.
But I know he won’t.