Blue skies and white fluffy clouds were reflected on the glassy-calm Paradise Lake. A morning mist hung over the water in the distance. Loons called to each other from bay to bay. As Renae paddled through the beauty, water gurgled against her canoe. She had always loved this wilderness as a child. While she wanted solitude, she did not want to feel the loneliness that ached in her heart. Renae was feeling melancholy in the place that had made her so happy before her parents died. As she paddled, Renae thought about how she was longing for someone to help her to end her loneliness.
Approaching 30, Renae Catching had long been wondering if she would ever find the love of her life. Guys were attracted to her broad smile, her long strawberry blond hair, her lean frame and her green eyes. She had dated. There were men to whom she was attracted. However, something had always gone wrong.
Her eyes darted to the front corner of the room to a man her own age, who stood to leave the room. He was about six feet, brown hair, muscular, good looking. She watched closely for the requested sign and saw him touch his right ear as his eyes made a wide sweep of the room. He kept moving toward the door and disappeared.
Now her heart pounded as she thought about what to do. She had been so bold in proposing the whole idea, but now she felt shy and scared. She had just convinced herself that this might only be an opportunity to make a new friend. That was before she saw Greg Mobile. His good looks changed things. Maybe this was a stab in the dark in her quest to meet the right guy for her.
Weeks passed before Renae received an email from Greg. He asked if she would mind if he emailed or sent text messages occasionally. She was eager to do that herself but hesitated because she thought that she had imagined his interest in her. This was the beginning of a long-distance friendship that may or not be headed somewhere else.
Renae answered, "Are you suggesting that two people could be in love and stay in love without being together physically?"
Greg replied, "Think about this. In World War II and other wars, couples were separated from each other for months, even years. Their love for each other was a bit of a fantasy because they did not live with each other day in and day out. They did not live with the realities that tend to wear couples down. Consequently, they carried each other's picture and wrote steamy love letters. They kept their love alive despite the distance, despite not being able to hold each other. So, I am thinking that modern society tends to create geographical distance between people that cannot always be reduced. Jobs take people far away from each other sometimes. However, online communications can bridge the distance between them and hold them together. Like those love letters in World War II, online communications may create a love that is hotter than if the two people lived in the same space day in and day out. The communication might be more profound and less mundane. The feelings expressed might be better than most couples who argue about who should be doing the chores around the house."
Her fantasy love would be strong and comforting like her father, tender and understanding like her mother. He would give her space and also be there for her. He would encourage her to fulfill her dreams. He would have dreams of his own and go after them. Loving her passionately would be one of his dreams as much as loving him passionately would be one of hers. Her fantasy might not be totally in touch with reality. However, she thought that having a vision would help her to recognize the right guy for her when he came along. Having a fantasy on a higher plane would help her to avoid falling into some impulsive choice on a path to self-destruction. Renae did not believe that there was only one right man for her, but that there was a fantasy man job description that could be filled by a few men. Most men would not qualify for the job. It was not that she had to find the man that she could not live without. She wanted to find the man that she did not want to live without.
Renae just happened to have a repertoire of love songs that she merged into a medley. Whatever reservations or hesitation Greg might have had about giving his heart away to Renae all melted away before Renae sang the last words. Her voice was melodious, enticing and captivating. He had images of a mermaid charming the crew of a ship with her voice. With her sensual and beautiful singing, he was hers even though he could not bring himself to tell her yet. Greg resisted the urge to blubber to her about his affection for her after her singing and found a polite way to say 'thank you' and 'goodnight.'
Renae continued, "I have done a fair share of daydreaming about a life with a husband and children and not moving every few years. My vagabond life made it difficult for me to develop friendships or to feel rooted. I want to make up for not having a family and roots. Instead of dwelling on a long-term goal of marriage and family, I just feel this strong urge to be with you - now. I have been thinking that I want to be with you as soon as possible. I miss your face!"
Greg responded, "The truth is that I can't stop thinking about you. I see your beautiful face and hear your enchanting singing wherever I go. I hear your voice in my head and I want to call you to listen to you talking. Your voice is beguiling, bewitching, seductive, alluring, calming, exciting and tender."
After a long pause to soak it all in, Renae joked, "So, you like me, huh?"
Greg laughed and asked, "How long are you going to make me suffer? Do you have anything serious to say about this?"
"Ok, you asked for it." Renae told him her deepest thoughts about it all. "I have been feeling great anticipation about each contact with you. My heart has been racing when my phone rings with your unique ring. It should tell you something that I changed your unique ring on my phone to Ravel's 'Bolero!' I have a picture of you as the background on my phone screen. My closest friend has been pumping me for my daily reports about how I think that you and I are moving closer toward a hot romance. Yes, I have fallen for you and I can't get up. I swore that I would not be lovesick if I were to get involved with you, but that didn't stop me from losing control of myself. Is that what you had hoped to hear from me? It is true."
Greg was almost speechless. He blurted out, "Yep, that's pretty much what I had hoped to hear!"
Renae received a text message from Greg at work the next morning. She closed the door to her office to reply. Greg wrote, "I have a few days off. I need a vacation. Sanibel Island is Paradise. Have you been there? Want to go there for the weekend? I will pay for your roundtrip flight to Fort Myers, pick you up at the airport and take you back when you have to leave. I can't keep my mind on my work and I don't want to either. Will you help me to soothe this aching heart with a few days in the sun together?"
After smiling for a long time, Renae replied, "Yes, when?"
Want to read more? Most of the book falls in between what you have read so far and the following parts that are close to the conclusion. Feel the joys and experience the challenges with Renae and Greg as they look for - and to be - the right person for each other.
Fantasy Love Online, a safer dating service started by Renae, would pioneer in safety and control, including credit checks, criminal background checks, rating and reviews on clients, identity verification through a driver’s license on file and social security information. Those who did not wish to submit to these controls did not apply. The service became so unique and received so much publicity that other uncontrolled systems lost credibility and her system gained a major market share. The atmosphere that attracted people to the service was set by the growing number of media reports on crimes committed by people using free and low-security services. The common habit of meeting in chat rooms and answering personals was a dinosaur that was dying under the weight of heightened security issues and crimes against clients.
The procedures for Fantasy Love Online were arrived at from Renae’s reading of complaints submitted to MuchSaferDates over a few years. She read about people who would never have dated the person if they knew that they had ten speeding tickets in two years, or absolutely no credit or two convictions for criminal sexual conduct. Each of several categories was given a ranking from 1 to 10: categories included Criminal, Credit, Driving and Dating Reviews. Early experience with the security system showed that the people who applied had excellent marks on the background checks. If they did not have a clean record, they probably would not apply in the first place. This security was a lot stricter than MuchSaferDates had been. Renae lobbied them for such measures, but they always declined to implement them.
Renae used her book, Fantasy Love Online, to recommend more security in online dating. She wanted to save lives and protect people from security mistakes. She was equally enthused about helping people to overcome their fears about trying online dating as a way to find the love of their life. Her characters experienced security issues, but the bigger part of her book came from success stories that she had read over the years while working with online dating services.
Renae told talk show hosts and media interviewers in closing, “Fantasy Love Online can be dangerous, but it could also make for a very happy ending. Be careful out there online! Don’t get scared now! The right person for you may be as close as your computer keyboard. Your happy ending could start with a profile that is safe, secure and satisfying. It could start with you asking the deeper questions and seeking the higher good for a lifetime and not just a dangerous fling. I don’t think that lifelong love is just a fantasy. Passion is not just something that happens early in a relationship. Passion for each other can last a lifetime. You can make it happen.”