This is a May-September love story that is hotter than July. The soap opera plot puts any romance novel to shame, and the dialogue sounds like it could have been written for an R-rated Love Boat. Best of all, it's true.

It stars Gloria (Days of Our Lives) Loring, 39, and Don (The Young and the Restless) Diamont, 23. There is even a cameo by Alan (Growing Pains) Thicke, 38, as the ex-husband. Here's the scripted scenario:

Scene One: The unhappy home of Thicke and Loring in fashionable Brentwood, Calif. It is May 1984, almost 14 years after Loring married Canada's somewhat lame version of David Letterman. Gloria has decided to put an end to the marriage, the first for both of them. "Living with Alan was like being on an endless est seminar," she says. "When we were first married, Alan had what he called Al's Book of Rules, which was an imaginary set of marriage expectations. Whenever I'd do something wrong, he'd say, 'No. No. No. Al wouldn't approve of that.' "

Their conflicting schedules have finally given Loring the time she needs to outgrow this smothering paternalism. "We didn't sleep in the same bed at the same time more than two or three times in a month," she says of the last four years before their separation. "I was on a daytime schedule [for Days of Our Lives], and he would stay until one in the morning at his office [on various television projects]. By the time Alan was aware that I was changing and he was the same, the marriage was over," says Loring. "I realized that there was nothing left."

In reality there are two people left: sons Brennan and Robin. For their sakes, Thicke and Loring continue living together for a year, even though Loring's lawyers file for divorce in July. (The legal proceedings are still going on.) "It was our understanding," says Thicke, "that our respective dates left their cars running in the driveway."

Meanwhile, over in Hollywood, the producers of Days of Our Lives decide to spice up the plot line by giving Loring's character, troubled torch singer Liz Curtis, a younger love interest.

Scene Two: An open beefcake call on the crowded set of Days. June 1984. Enter Don Diamont, who has been dreading the audition since the day before, when his agent had given him a photo of Loring. "I thought to myself, 'I can't believe I'm going to be stuck doing love scenes with this woman.' Of course, as far as I was concerned, I already had the job," he adds modestly.

The next day in rehearsal, Diamont's job gets a lot easier. "Gloria had her back turned," he reports. "She turned around and I thought, 'Wow! This won't be so bad after all.' It turns out I had seen a bad picture."

Loring is consulted on the casting and tests with all seven finalists. "Donald was the only actor I tested with who wouldn't have made love scenes look like kiddie porn," she remarks now. "He was only 21 at the time, but I felt he came off as more mature."

Though Loring feels Diamont's screen test is spotty (after all, his only major credit is an unfinished film called Go for the Gold), Donald has enough confidence for both of them. "At the end of the scene," says Loring, "Don obviously felt he had nailed it, because when he went out the door, he let out this scream like he had just won the Super Bowl. I thought, 'Gee, he's kinda cute.' "

At this point Diamont is as sure of his feelings toward his future co-star as he is of himself. "I found Gloria appealing right from the start," he says. "She was pretty, sexy and nice. And she didn't have a star attitude." What she does have, however, is an ironclad rule as old as Diamont about mixing business with pleasure. "I didn't want anybody to think that I got a job because I slept with somebody," Loring says. "That was a real point of pride with me." Jokes Diamont: "I, on the other hand, have no pride."

Even though things are hot and heavy between Liz Curtis and Carlo Forenza (Diamont's character) on the set, nothing happens offstage. For three weeks, anyway.

Scene Three: A dimly lit sushi bar. Taking his cue from their steamy on-camera chemistry, Diamont asks Loring to dinner after work. Waiting for a table, they sit in the bar. "We were only about two inches apart," reports Diamont, "so I gave her this little kiss. That little kiss turned into a great big kiss that lasted an hour."

Loring remembers the scene fondly. "We just sat there and necked like teenagers," she says. "As far as we were concerned, there was no one else in the world." Discreetly describing the rest of the evening, Diamont says, "One thing led to another."

Scene Four: Six weeks later. A candle-lit picnic at the beach. Don is having an agonizing crisis of conscience about his girlfriend of two years, a 29-year-old jewelry investor. "All of a sudden, this tear came down my cheek," says Diamont. "I said to Gloria, 'I miss her.' "

Says Loring: "We talked things over, and I understood how he felt." Diamont picks up the narrative. "So we went to bed," he says matter-of-factly, "and the next morning I told Gloria it wasn't fair to continue this. We had discussed spending the rest of our lives together. But before I could commit to something like that, I felt I had to go back to this other girl and make sure that relationship was over."

Over the course of the next month, Loring reanalyzes her marriage and decides to give it one more try. "You know something?" Loring asks. "I thought I was going to die. My entire body ached and was shaking. My mind had rationalized it, but my instinct wouldn't let me go back to Alan."

Perhaps Loring's upbringing is working against her. The eldest daughter of a trumpet player and a band singer who divorced when she was 15, Loring grew up in New York and Minneapolis. In her experience happiness is a state that she could never remain in. "I was ready to let go completely of Donald. I had fallen in love with him," says Loring, "but I had given up hope we'd be together."

Scene Five: Back to the cluttered soundstage where Days is shot. While Loring may be able to passively accept her fate, Diamont has other ideas.

Diamont is the fourth child of a clothing manufacturer named Feinberg. (Fearing anti-Semitism, Don adopted his mother's maiden name when he went into acting three years ago.) He was raised in L.A. in a ridiculously happy home. Clearly he is a young man who expects to get what he wants.

At the end of a month, Diamont has decided that is Gloria. "I realized that what Gloria and I had was very special," says Diamont. After finishing a scene together one day, the issue is brought out in the open.

Loring: "I can't do it anymore. I can't hang on in limbo anymore."

Diamont: "It's okay now. We will be together. I know that now."

Scene Six: The present. A sprawling five-bedroom house in the San Fernando Valley. Diamont, who switched to The Young and the Restless a year ago after he was written out of Days, had been living with his parents until he moved into Loring's home seven months ago. Don is playing basketball with Gloria's sons in the driveway. (She shares custody of the kids with Thicke.) "I love the way Donald has taken responsibility for my children," says Loring. In the garage sits Loring's Mercedes 450 SL. The custom plates, a gift from Diamont, read DON'S AP, which he explains stands for "Donald's Angelpuss."

"What all of Hollywood was calling a casual fling is still going strong after nearly two years," Diamont says. Pride and confidence clearly mark his youth. Loring's attitude is one tempered by experience. "Twenty years from now, I'll be 59 and Donald will be 43. Sure, I'm concerned about the age difference," she says, "but if I even have five or 10 years with him, it would be the loveliest gift I've ever had." Music swells and the big screen fades to black. Credits roll.

  • Contributors:
  • James Grant.