As the months passed, it became more and more evident that Derrick, my older married man, was having some sort of a midlife crisis—and I was part of it. Everything we did was spontaneous and all about his desires. It was hard to see at first because, after all, I was the one receiving all of the lavish gifts. But at the end of the day, everything revolved around him. My existence in his life was dependent on him and his desires. Whatever he wanted from me he got on demand and to his liking. The times he spoke about his wife, and the reasons behind his unhappiness, were always all about him feeling trapped and exploited. He said that his wife sucked the life out of him.
“She doesn’t make me happy the way you do. You love me like she never could,” he would tell me.
“By ‘she never could,’ do you mean she never did?” I asked. “Or like she never could again?” I needed to know how I could be different. How I would keep him satisfied after he left his wife?
“Once upon a time she did. But that was then, and this is now. She never could now. It’s impossible. She lacks the life that you have, the tenacity and eagerness in your heart.” He smiled, and I could tell that he knew he could do no harm in my eyes because I would always love him.
“Well, I love you now, and I don’t see anything about that changing,” I told him, and my words were honest—I did really love this man. Had the situation not been complicated by his wife, I would have been happier than ever before.
“I know, and that’s what makes you so great. I had a feeling about you, Cassie, ever since that day you served me my chicken wings at the restaurant the night I met you.” He walked over to me, wrapped his arm around my waist, squeezed gently, and said, “You and I are invincible, like young bucks running free. No one can stop us.”
In the moment, I smiled, relishing in his words about “us.” But looking back now, I could feel the desperation in his heart and hear the longing in his tone. He needed me, not to love, but to give him life again, to rejuvenate his soul. His business, wife, and kids had depleted him. He had lost his way. He needed me for inspiration because, unlike him, I was young and free.