For the first year of our relationship, Derrick—my rich older boyfriend—was a complete secret. I was afraid to tell anyone in my life that I was with him out of fear that they would look at me differently. I never talked to anyone about our first kiss or our first dance; I never even dished to my girlfriends about the first time we had sex. It was like Derrick didn’t exist.
On our one-year anniversary, Derrick took me to the same little sushi restaurant that we had gone to for our first date. Midway through dinner, I went to the restroom, and on my way back to the table, I noticed Derrick standing with a dozen long stem roses. There was also a card that read, “For many more years to come.” I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
When we arrived back at his place, Derrick disappeared into the bedroom. I waited in the living room sipping on a glass of wine and thinking about what was taking him so long. My train of thought was suddenly interrupted by the sound of glass shattering. My heart skipped a beat, and I ran to see what happened. As I turned the corner into the bedroom, I saw Derrick—down on one knee, surrounded by rose petals, candles, and the pieces of a shattered wine glass.
“This broken glass represents us,” Derrick told me. “When I met you, I was broken, but you put me together again. You showed me that it was possible to love again. You were the glue that made me whole again. Marry me.” I stood in silence—I was too shocked to say anything. “Marry me, Cassie.” I could not speak. Like everything else that happened in this relationship, it was way too soon. But even with the hesitation in my heart, my body did what my mouth couldn’t: smiled and nodded. Derrick slipped a beautiful diamond ring on my finger, as tears streamed down my face.
The next morning, I woke up with a knot in my stomach. Something wasn’t right. A beautiful, handsome, attractive, rich older man proposed to me, and I didn’t want to tell a soul. The thought of it made me feel sick. By this point, some people knew that I was seeing an older man, but they didn’t know how serious our relationship actually was. I knew that I needed to make a choice. So that morning, I decided that I would stop caring about what the world thought of our relationship. I loved this man, and I knew that no matter what his age was, this man loved me back. I no longer cared what anyone thought or what people would say. This was my life—I was ready to come out and tell the world that the old man was officially mine.
I called my mom, my friends, and my family. I let everyone know the news. I didn’t let them say much, because I knew that many of them would not share in my joy. Most of them still believed there was something wrong with this whole picture, that there must have been an ulterior motive of some sort. To them, it didn’t make sense.
I didn’t listen to what they had to say—if they weren’t happy for me, I simply did not have the time to listen, and I refused to let them bring me down.
Thinking back to that day, I never could have imagined—perhaps because I was so naïve—what the months ahead would bring.