Before you think anything about anything let me just say this: I know. I know it's not the best thing in the world to be dating a guy twice your age. Especially when he's married and you work for his wife. I KNOW. Cut me a little slack though wouldja?
I was brand new to Salt Lake City. I'd finally escaped the Mormon bubble and was puffed with pride over my bona fide college student status.
I answered an ad in the classifieds and nabbed employment as a nanny (rich folk term for babysitter) of a cherubic-faced 2-year-old.
Her father, Ryan, was definitely older. 40 to my 19. He was also definitely married. With children. It began innocently enough. After babysitting for the family for a few months, Ryan approached me with an offer. He owned a company and was in need of a "file girl,” who could hang around the office for a couple of hours every afternoon. Ryan agreed to pay me under the table and I accepted. I could babysit my beloved 2-year-old in the morning, attend college classes in the afternoon, then head to the office.
At the time, my boyfriend, Cody, was in the thick of pledging a fraternity. I found the whole Greek fraternity/sorority scene distasteful at best. When you've lived on your own since the age of 16, a bunch of 18-year-old hooligans drunkenly jumping off balconies celebrating the fact they no longer live at home is not exciting, it's annoying. On the flip side, the dashing, handsome millionaire who drove a Jaguar, dined at all the top restaurants in Salt Lake City and entertained the notion of a career in politics appeared, to me, a king among men. Oh, and not to mention: Ryan was also an excellent father. My crush on him grew. I created excuses to chat with him in his office and I began to look forward to evening babysitting hours because I'd get to see his good fathering in action.
But I was young. I never thought a man as old as my dad would be interested in me. So the night Ryan let his hand linger on my arm after walking me to my car left me reeling.
I drove home with a pack of rabid butterflies banging around my stomach. I debated what Ryan meant with the lingering hand. Was it intentional? Maybe he didn't realize he'd done it. After a restless night of sleep, I wrote off the lengthy squeeze as the imaginations of a goofy teenager with a crush.
Life continued in its usual doddering fashion until the night a group of co-workers from Ryan’s office invited me out for drinks at the bar next door. Even though I was underage, I went. Pool was played, darts were thrown and unfortunately, Jagermeister was ingested. One by one my co-workers began filtering out the door and Ryan and I were left sitting there alone, together.
Suddenly I knew. It knifed through me in a revelation as agonizing as if it were actually a jagged blade. He wanted me. I could smell it on him more strongly than the expensive cologne he was wearing. I could see it in his eyes, feel it in his gestures, hear it in the slight waver of his usually confident voice. He was nervous! I was shocked and terrified. This wasn't supposed to happen.
After several minutes that ticked by slower than the mini-eternities I spent in my algebra class, Ryan reached across the table, took my face in his delicately masculine hands, pulled me gently toward him, and said, "I think I'm falling in love with you."
And then he kissed me.
The excuses came early and often.
Our marriage has been over for a long time.
My wife is still in love with her high school boyfriend and she thinks I don't know.
I'm getting a divorce but I've got to do it right. And that takes time.
So I stayed. I stayed through painful months of having to babysit his children as he went to ritzy soirees with his wife. I stayed through a year of meeting in darkened movie theater parking lots two towns away from ours, while all the rest my friends were out partying.