My older man, Patrick, was anxious for me to meet his three kids. He adored his two daughters and one son, who were all living in the Chicago area. I knew quite a lot about each of them before I even met them because Patrick talked about them so much.
One afternoon when I was scheduled to fly into Chicago from Detroit, Patrick asked me to join him for dinner to meet his oldest daughter and her husband. I agreed, and after Patrick picked me up from the airport, we drove 20 minutes out to this great seafood restaurant. There, sitting at the table with her husband, was a beautiful, tall, dark-haired woman who looked like she was about my age. Her name was Juliet, and she looked as French as her name sounded.
She greeted me eagerly, but warmly. To be honest, I was expecting a reception more in line with that of her mother’s—cold and abrupt—but there was no coldness, no showing off, and no subtle put-downs. I was both surprised and happy. Through the course of the evening, I was beginning to feel like Juliet was someone who might even become a friend, even though we didn’t have much in common. But she was intelligent, conversant, funny, and just genuine.
Not once did anyone bring up the huge elephant in the room: the age difference between Patrick and I. Juliet’s husband was a nice guy, too, but I spent my time and attention talking to and getting to know Patrick’s daughter.
She asked me a lot of questions about myself, but none of them inquired about what the future held for me and her dad, or how involved we were. I think she knew he was in love and very happy. And I was, too. I had finally come to terms with it and was willing to admit that I loved this man; it seemed like he had just fallen from the skies and landed right in front of me.
Patrick knew the evening was a home run. He so wanted his children to like me and vice-versa, and he was delighted when his daughter turned to him and asked if we would like to come over for dinner in a couple of weeks. He could see his grandchildren and I could meet them as well. We were all in good spirits as we finished dinner, sipped on espresso, and chatted like old friends. As nice as it was, a part of me felt like this was all too good to be true. I tried as hard as I could to push that thought out of my head.
We said our goodbyes as the valet drove the cars up. Juliet and I gave each other a hug and said how great it was to finally meet.
Patrick and I drove back into the city to my apartment, all the while talking about how much fun the night was. I told him how much I liked Juliet and asked him a lot of questions about her childhood, like where they grew up, how she had handled the divorce, and what kind of woman she was. That night, Patrick gave me one big clue that this meeting really was too good to be true. He told me that Juliet was more like her father, but his other daughter was very much like her mother. That was the moment I knew that there was going to be serious trouble ahead.