Cougars, Boy Toys, & True Love by Diane Burton
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2013 Population Survey, over 53% of men marry women who are within three years of their age. Most men marry women who are younger. The rationale being that younger women could produce children. In the not too distant past, children were needed to work the farm. The more children, the more the work could be divided. With women often dying in childbirth, the men grew older and their spouses became younger to ensure procreation. One of my ancestors who fought in the American Revolution outlived three of his four wives, marrying the last when he was in his late sixties, and had twenty-three children.
Then there were the wealthy who needed an heir and a spare. An old adage (possibly French in origin) said it was socially unacceptable to date a woman more than “half your age plus seven.” Remember the old Harlequin romances from the 1950’s and 60’s that featured men in their thirties pursuing girls in their teens? Was that creepy or what?
Today, after going through male “menopause,” many men try to show their virility by buying flashy new cars, ditching their wives, and marrying girls often younger than their daughters. Not to be outdone, women who reach their sexual peak in their forties start looking for much younger men who can keep up with them.
This all sounds so superficial, doesn’t it?
But what if it’s true love? Does age really make a difference? According to Dillan in my science fiction romance THE PROTECTOR (An Outer Rim Novel: Book 3), it doesn’t. He fell in love when he was sixteen. Even though he’s thirty-two and hasn’t seen her in six years, he hasn’t forgotten his first and only love, Rissa Dix.
Puppy love. Rissa thought that Terran expression aptly described the teenage boy’s infatuation. His friends teased him, often within Rissa’s hearing. For ten years, they came to the Outer Rim for danger, thrills and excitement. Mountain climbing, para-skiing, space yacht racing. They had more money than sense. Money freely spent at her tavern. Until Dillan’s best friend died in a rock climbing accident.
After a six-year absence, Dillan Rusteran—heir to a major mining company—is back. No youth this time. He’s a grown man, and he disturbs Rissa in ways she’d forgotten. But he’s a wealthy industrialist from the Central District, and she’s runs a tavern on the frontier of space. The biggest detriment to a relationship, though, is their eight-year age difference. Dillan could have his choice of any sweet young thing. Why would he want a woman who’s already hit forty? A woman who’s finding gray in her hair and whose body is drooping because of gravity.
She maintains they could have a fling. But that isn’t what he wants. He wants forever after. She can’t have children. That doesn’t matter to him. He loves her. What does he have to do to prove it to her?
THE PROTECTOR blurb:
Who knew rescuing two girls from traffickers would bring down a world of hurt?
After tavern owner Rissa Dix rescues two girls from a slave ship, she must rally the townsfolk to prevent traffickers from returning. Mining heir Dillan Rusteran has loved her for years. Little do they know that by rescuing more children they're tangling with a galactic trafficking ring.
Excerpt from THE PROTECTOR:
Dillan woke up to a steady thump-thump-thump. Damn, the sublight engine was acting up again. He rolled over and almost fell out of bed.
Two things hit him at the same time. He wasn’t in the wide, comfortable bed in his quarters aboard ship and the thumping wasn’t his sublight. Thank the stars for that. Still, it had been acting a little wonky lately. He’d have to check it out.
After dressing and taking care of his needs in the small san-fac near the stairs, he ambled down carrying his boots in the event the big Zebori was still asleep. Although how anyone could sleep through all that thumping he had no idea. He followed the noise into the kitchen.
Rissa stood at the island kneading dough. Last night he remembered how much higher than normal the island was. She’d built it to accommodate her height. For a moment, he just watched her as she concentrated on the dough. Several lumps of grayish-brown dough sat on the flour-covered table waiting their turn. Even though he was a few meters away, the yeasty scent hit his nose and brought back memories of the times he’d been there before. And how much he enjoyed her company. Despite her treating him like a kid.
The dark haired teen—Pela?—worked alongside Rissa. She noticed him first. Panic crossed her strong features before she murmured to Rissa.
“Good morning, sleepyhead.” She laughed as she turned the dough she’d been punishing into a long, loaf pan. She picked up another lump and went to work on it.
Dillan yawned. “What time is it?”
“Almost Mid-Day.” When she looked up, she did a double take. “Your beard is gone.”
“It itched. When I find the barber, I’ll get my hair cut, too.” He ran his fingers across the top of his head. “It’s Mid-Day? Damn. I wanted to get an early start.”
Without stopping her kneading, she asked, “Early start on what?”
“Going into the mountains.”
“Did you come here to go climbing again?”
Grief hit Dillan the way it had for the past six years any time someone mentioned his former favorite sport. He hadn’t climbed since his best friend died in a freak rock slide. Or so he thought until a year ago.
Rissa’s dark eyes reflected guilt. She stopped working the dough. “I’m sorry, Dillan. I forgot.”
“Apparently, so did Konner.” He didn’t conceal the hurt he’d felt when he learned Konner was not only alive but had a family. “Turns out I was wrong about some things. I’ll, uh, leave you to your work.”
With her forearm, she wiped the sweat off her brow then went back to kneading. “Pela, you did fine. Turn that one into the next pan then get Dillan a cup of sheelonga tea.”
Pela eyed him with uncertainty.
“I can get it.” He sure didn’t want to upset the girl. “Mugs still next to the sink?”
Rissa looked surprised that he remembered. He remembered everything about her. She’d stayed in his mind after every trip from the time he was sixteen. Konner had teased him about being infatuated. Dillan knew it was more than infatuation. Especially after that last visit.
Although THE PROTECTOR is the 3rd book in the Outer Rim series, it is a standalone book and can be enjoyed without reading the previous two.
About the Author:
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mysteries. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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