“I wouldn’t have either,” Michael says as he carefully tastes his pink smoothie. “Yum, this is great.”

I pull my purse from the back of the stroller to get a dollar to tip the young man, lingering for a minute to make kissy faces at Madeline. She is wearing a sparkly white sweater her Aunt Nicole bought for her. Our daughter is the cutest little thing in the world with her jet-black hair and baby-blue eyes, just like her father.

“I really thought your parents were going to run me out of town when they found out about our relationship,” Mike says ruefully. “Revealing our relationship over dinner was one of scariest things I have ever had to do in my life. I’ll admit, I was terrified. I could barely touch the lasagna, and you know how much I love lasagna.”

I laugh.

“I think Gertie and William were the ones that were scared! More like horrified, actually. Imagine if your daughter told you she was having a baby with an older man, who was also the father of her bully, no less.”

Mike shakes his head at the memory.

“I definitely had to prove myself to them. And I don’t blame them. As a father, I know exactly how they felt. I’m glad that Gertie and William came around though, or I would never have gotten to taste your mom’s delicious lasagna. That woman knows what she’s doing in the kitchen.”

I laugh.

“Oh, that’s the reason you’re glad, huh? All this time you’ve really just been sticking around for the pasta.”

“Oh come on, you know I’m just teasing you,” he smiles while taking my hand. “Really though, I’m glad they’re so accepting of our relationship now. I don’t know what we would have done if they weren’t. It truly could have been a deal breaker for us. I’m so glad we didn’t have to face that dilemma.”

“They saw how much you love me,” I say with a playful wink. “That’s what made the difference.”

“Love is an understatement,” Michael says as squeezes his muscular arm tightly around my head and sloppily kisses my hair with this statement. I reach up quickly to fix my now ruffled hair, ensuring no smoothie remnants have been left behind.

At first, this kind of PDA made me uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love when Michael touches me. But the age difference can be unsettling to others sometimes. I get that it’s uncommon to see an age gap like ours in a romantic relationship. I just wish people wouldn’t be so quick to judge. Love is love, after all.

But it definitely did take a while to get used to the questioning looks. Luckily, I’ve finally grown to a point where I don’t care about the thoughts of others. They are on their paths, and this is mine. Samantha helped me attain this perspective.

This sparks a thought in me.

“By the way, Michael, have you heard from Samantha lately? I know you were a bit worried she hadn’t called yet. It’s odd because she never lets more than a week or two go by without getting in touch.”

“Oh yeah, sorry I forgot to tell you darling. She called the other day, but she said she couldn’t chat long because she had some presidential duties to get to for the Buddhist Student Association. She has really gotten into her studies at Haverford. I’m so proud of her.”

“I know, she’s doing so great. I just wish she chose a school closer to us.”

“Yes, but life on the East Coast is her path, and we must accept that.” Michael says with a smirk. “And do not rush, because rushing is the root of all your earthly problems.” While he accepts his daughter’s new philosophy in life, he can’t help but jest about it sometimes.

“Oh, cut it out. This new life path has been really good for her.”

“I know, I know. I’m just having fun. I am proud of the woman my daughter has become. And I am especially proud that she’s decided to follow in my footsteps and put her nose to the grindstone. She’s going to find great success in life, I just know it.”

“Just like her daddy,” I say in my baby-talk voice, half-speaking to Maddie at this point. Then I look up again. “By the way, have you heard the news about Nicole?”

Mike rolls his eyes.

“Oh no, what shenanigans has she gotten up to now?”

I laugh.

“Well, you know she started at Loyola and has been having a ball there for the last two years. Evidently, that guy who tortured us in high school, Rob Purcell, also matriculated at Loyola. She says that he asked her out last weekend.”

Mike looks stunned.

“Wait, is that the Rob Purcell that Sam used to date? The guy who was quarterback at Riverdale?”

“Yeah,” I nod. “He was a total ass when we were in high school. He used to tease us mercilessly, but now, he and Nicole have hit it off. Weirder things have happened,” I say meaningfully.


Tags: Winter Renshaw Romance
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