MFRW Author 52-week blog challenge
I apologize for missing the last couple of weeks. For those who haven't heard, my father passed away. It's taken me a little time to collect my thoughts and drum up some smidgen of discipline to forge ahead with work and other commitments.
This week's blog challenge prompt is how to keep the romance alive as we age.
My parents were married for 55 years. When not napping, Dad's eyes lit up when Mom came into a room. Speaking with him while on an extended visit, in 2018, to help care for Mom as she recuperated from hip replacement surgery, he told me he still considered her beautiful after four children and all those decades.
"That's my woman," he whispered and smiled. My heart just melted.
I don't know if my husband thinks of me with that endearing possessiveness. I doubt it. Just as I no longer see him with the starry eyes of a 20-year old girl, he no longer sees me in the same way. We've both changed over the years. I can say now that I enjoy his company and conversation more than I did when we were dating. He's not as competitive with me as he used to be. He's learned to accept my writing and I've learned to accept his ephemeral interests in the many hobbies that capture his attention. He's learned to accept that, yes, I will always have at least one horse and multiple cats. I've learned to accept that too many tools is never enough. He can always make me laugh, no matter how dreadful the circumstances. I hope I do the same for him.
We have very different interests and that's okay.
With age (often) comes maturity. We've learned over the years and adapted to one another's quirks and idiosyncrasies. Some still irritate, but we've either learned to appreciate or shrug off most of them. Whether that's comfort or a mellow kind of romance, I'm not entirely sure. The hot, heavy, sexual romance fades, leaving in its place a gentler and more enduring type of love.
We don't need to spend every spare minute in each other's pocket. We have long since learned that marriage does not make us a single entity with a single personality. We are still different people with separate opinions and distinct preferences. With that realization comes tolerance and unconditional support.
Perhaps that's not the kind of romance we write about or dream about, but it's a real kind of romance that weathers the trials and tribulations of life without crumbling from a lack of perfection.
Satin Boots: Six Short Western Romances
The Mail Order Bride's Choice
Moira headed to the small attic room she shared with the Swinburnes’ other maid. Caroline, who had the next Sunday afternoon off, likely toiled in the kitchen at that moment helping the cook prepare a lavish feast for that night’s supper party. Moira collected her meager belongings, stuffing them into a worn satchel purchased secondhand and given to her by her mother five years prior. Mama had also given parting words of wisdom: “Stay true to yourself, Moira. Your virtue is all you truly possess. Give it to no man without the security of wedding vows.”
Having grown up the bastard daughter of a tavern wench, Moira knew her mother spoke from harsh experience. A butler’s daughter who had learned to read and write and expected to rise to respectable employment as some nobleman’s housekeeper, Edith Saccarrigan had fallen for a nobleman’s blandishments and false promises with the obvious consequences. Poor decisions and ruin followed her from Ireland to America. She gave her daughter the only gifts she could: advice and the skills to read and write.
Moira could still hear her mother’s soft Irish brogue as she sang the sad, lilting songs of her homeland.
The Swinburne’s butler met her at the back door—the servants entrance—with the salary owed her. He gave her a melancholy look and said, “You’re a good worker, an honest girl. Should anyone inquire of me, I’ll recommend your employment. I’m sorry, girl.”
“I’m sorry, too,” she replied. “You’ve been good to me, Mr. Conley.”
He nodded and stepped back to allow her to pass through the doorway. Neither acknowledged that no one would ask the butler for his recommendation of a potential employee. Moira carried her belongings to the post office where she greeted the clerk and picked up the single letter waiting for her. Stepping aside and taking a seat on a public bench, she opened it. What good fortune! Her expression brightened as she picked up a ticket for the stagecoach from within the folds of paper.
Dear Miss Saccariggan,
Our amiable correspondence has convinced me that we will make a good life together. Please use the enclosed ticket to meet me in Redstone Falls in the Colorado Territory. I will greet you at the stagecoach depot and we’ll marry.
Very truly yours,
Tucking the letter and ticket securely into her satchel, Moira left the post office and walked to the nearest stagecoach depot.
“When does the next stagecoach depart?” she inquired.
The clerk looked at the schedule posted on the wall beside the ticket window and replied, “Tomorrow morning, promptly at six o’clock.”
Moira pursed her lips as she considered what to do next. She had little money to spend.
Raking his gaze over plain clothing, the clerk frowned and said, “You can’t spend the night here, miss. The company don’t allow passengers to loiter.”
She sighed. The clerk obviously had experience with passengers like her.
“Do you know of an inexpensive place—someplace respectable—where I could stay for the night?” she asked.
Willow: Branch 3 of the Tree of Life
“Two rooms,” she blurted.
The clerk hesitated. Dane bent down and murmured in Willow’s ear, “One room. I need to protect you.”
She turned wide eyes up at him and shivered and wondered who would protect her from him. Oh, no, she did not believe for a moment that he’d hurt her—at least not beat her up, stab her, or attempt to kill her. (Attempt? Hah.) No, what she feared was a different kind of assault that would dissolve her resistance and bind her to him irrevocably.
At that point, the evening shift manager rushed through an office door and said, “Are you victims of the hotel collapse?”
“We are,” Dane confirmed.
He turned to the clerk, who looked confused, and explained, “The Palm Springs Palazzo Hotel has collapsed! Police are sending those victims who are ambulatory to other facilities. Make sure they get a room. We can’t be seen turning away customers who need us in this time of difficulty unless every single room is full.”
Willow suppressed a snort. Of course the hotel wouldn’t be turning away the rush of customers. The problem would be in collecting payment for the room nights and food, since she was sure many people wouldn’t have their money or belongings with them.
“One room,” Dane said. “Others are coming in even as we speak.”
And it was true, Willow realized. People whose bank accounts could withstand The Palms’ room rates were filling the lobby.
The clerk swiped two key cards and handed them to Dane. Efficiently, she gave him the room information and directed him to the elevator bank.
“Come, Willow,” he commanded softly and started walking. Once again, Willow was nearly jerked off her feet and she scrambled to keep up. The elevator doors opened almost immediately and in moments they were in their hotel room, a spacious junior suite. Only when the door had closed behind them did Dane release Willow’s hand. She determinedly stepped beyond his immediate reach and glared at him.
“What the hell is going on?” Willow demanded hotly.
Dane bolted the deadbolt and latched the safety to prevent unwanted entry, then unwrapped a glass from its protective paper and filled it at the bathroom tap for a drink. He drained the glass and set it down carefully before answering her.
“I’ll stand, thank you.”
“Sit,” he repeated, eyes glittering dangerously.