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A Winning Pair

For Jeremy England—the 31-year-old, brown-haired half of this month’s swoon-worthy cover-model pair—it all began with a few dulcet tones. The professional dancer, who had been rehearsing for a six-month gig on an ocean liner, was in the restroom when he heard a voice belting out tunes that set his heart aflutter.

That voice belonged to singer Brandon Nix, 36, our blond cover model, who had also been rehearsing to perform on the same ship set to cut through the vibrant blue-green waters of the Caribbean and the Pacific.

“I was like, ‘Who is that?!’” says Jeremy. “I turned around, and it was him. I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness! This guy is amazing!’ And it was instant attraction from there.”

Turns out the feeling was mutual. “Have you seen him?!” Brandon says with a laugh when asked what first attracted him to Jeremy. “His eyes, his personality. He’s just a really funny guy.”

After a month of rehearsing, Brandon, Jeremy and the rest of the crew were set to fly from Cocoa Beach, Florida, to Boston, where they’d embark on their six-month voyage on the high seas. But not all went exactly to plan. Just days before they were set to leave, the September 11 attacks grounded all commercial airliners. Still facing a tightly scheduled departure, the group of entertainers rented cars and road-tripped 1,300 miles up the Eastern Seaboard to meet their ship.

Whether it was the devastation and fear that gripped the rest of the country or perhaps just a touch of kismet, the 20-plus hours on the road helped ignite a fire between Brandon and Jeremy. “We just bonded, and we really hit it off,” Brandon says. “He was just such a nice guy. And I had always been attracted to people older than me,” Jeremy says of their five-year age difference. “He just seemed to have everything.”

And if it wasn’t all those hours behind the wheel—or the never-ending games of license-plate bingo—that sealed the deal, the fact that the handsome twosome were assigned the same tiny cabin once on board the ship, with beds just feet apart, certainly didn’t hurt.

“You find out pretty quickly if you’re compatible or not,” Brandon says of living in such tight quarters. “It turns out we were.”

While many cruise-ship romances come and go with the tides, Brandon and Jeremy managed to survive that first six-month cruise to Hawaii and Tahiti and even re-enlisted together for a second tour of duty, which took them from port to port in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Hopping across the globe—Brandon says he’d seen every continent but Antarctica by the time he was 27—was a drastic departure from the provincial lives both led as children.

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For more on Brandon and Jeremy, pick up the new April/May issue of Instinct—out now!