Author’s Note: I’m not entirely sure if this is necessary, but better safe than sorry. This is an official content warning. There are some age-inappropriate interactions that happen across the age group lines, specifically Young Adult with Teenager. Everything is PG, but still, this is your heads up in case that’s a sensitive topic for you.
Robyn was at home, halfway watching her sisters while her mom was at a club meeting. The girls were really self-sufficient. It was hard not to be when their mom kept the fridge stocked with food, their butler was always available to help, and their father was available if they requested his attention.
Her phone buzzed with a text message, and when she saw it, she blushed.
Robyn quickly told Baby OK. She found her father and asked him if she could go out for a bit. She assured him her little sisters were fine. Without checking his watch, he agreed, and told her to have a good time.
Robyn: Thank creator Mom isn’t home, that would’ve been a much longer conversation.
Robyn arrived to the Romance Festival and Baby was waiting on her.
“Thanks for inviting me out,” said Robyn, “I’ve never been to the Romance Festival before.”
“I came once when I was a teenager,” said Baby. “Not quite the fun group outing you would think, haha.”
“Heh, yeah, I bet. I was surprised to get your invite. Well, not surprised that you would invite me somewhere, but surprised that you would invite me here.”
“Was that weird? Should I have not invited you?”
“No,” Robyn quickly answered, “I didn’t say that. I was surprised, but it was a pleasant surprise. But here we are, at the Romance Festival, in front of all these people. What should we do first?”
“We could check out the food stalls, we could see the Romance Guru, we could try the Sakura tea, or we could just sit and chat. I’m really feeling the vibe here.”
“Me too, it’s not what I expected but I am a fan. It’s like here, the rules don’t matter. So if I want to throw rose petals on you, I can!”
Baby laughed as Robyn showered him with rose petals.
Baby: This girl is trouble. I know it, and she knows it.
Robyn: Friends, my plum. You don’t bring your friends to the Romance Festival.
“Okay, enough rose petals,” said Baby, “how about the Sakura Tea?”
Robyn and Baby headed to the fountains and grabbed a glass each. Baby downed his immediately, but Robyn took her time sipping it.
“You drink slow,” said Baby.
“Maybe you drink fast,” countered Robyn playfully. “I like to enjoy what I’m eating, savor the taste. Besides, my mom can’t handle another glutton. She got her fill from raising my brother.”
“Oh, when you said glutton, I thought you were talking about Lesley.”
“I never bring up your wife, why would I be talking about her? Did you bring me to the Romance Festival to talk about her?”
“No,” said Baby, “I brought you here because we’re really close and I thought you’d enjoy the vibe here. I really enjoy your company Robyn, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Robyn stared at Baby for a moment. He was such a good-looking man. When she stared straight into his face, it was hard to concentrate. Luckily she hadn’t finished her tea yet or she’d be really distracted.
“Let’s be honest here,” said Robyn after she gathered her thoughts, “what’s the reason you enjoy my company? Am I just a little kid to you that you’re friends with because you’ve known me so long?”
Baby’s face turned serious, but Robyn’s face still had a hopeful smile on it.
“Come on, you know what we are,” said Baby, hoping he wasn’t about to upset her, “I think of you as a great friend. You’re a really great listener who’s been there for me. I didn’t expect Lesley to get pregnant, but I did the right thing when she did. I wouldn’t trade my daughter for the world, and you know this already.”
Baby knew he was rambling at this point, but he couldn’t stop himself. “And sure maybe if you’d been a little older… But you were starting high school at the same time I was finishing it! It’s not fair to expect me to wait for you. There’s a pretty big age gap between us, and I would’ve been crazy to think your childhood crush on me would stick until we were both in the same age category. But we’re friends, like we’ve always been, isn’t that enough?”
Baby seemed to realize he’d said way more than he intended, and maybe more than Robyn wanted to hear. Her smile seemed frozen on her face, if a bit more tentative. Baby looked away, feeling foolish for having this conversation with a teenager.
Robyn didn’t respond, she just stared at her drink. Finally Baby turned back to her. “I need to know what you’re thinking. I didn’t mean to say all of that, but once I started, I couldn’t stop myself. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“Childhood crush? That’s what you think this is,” said Robyn, “that I have some childhood crush on you? Why do you think I was the only person from the club who didn’t come to your wedding? Why do you think I don’t have a boyfriend now? Because I have a childhood crush on you? Wow, just… wow.”
Baby didn’t know what to say. He felt even more foolish now. Was he leading her on? Did he underestimate how she felt about him because he enjoyed the attention and convinced himself it was harmless? He’d told himself all their interactions were in the name of friendship, but he couldn’t think of another friend he’d bring to the Romance Festival.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say, excuse me.” Baby got up from the table and walked away. Robyn didn’t follow. She sat there and finished her drink.
She got up to use the restroom in the karaoke bar, but before she could get there. He put his arm around her shoulder.
“Are you sure you want to do that? People can see you,” said Robyn, trying not to cry, “don’t want them to think you’re cheating on your wife with a child.”
“Don’t be dramatic,” said Baby, “all of our time spent talking and hanging out doesn’t amount to cheating, and you know I don’t think of you as a child.”
“You don’t think of me as an adult either,” said Robyn. She wished Baby would give her some room, but she really didn’t want him to let her go.
“That’s because you’re not one yet,” said Baby. “But you will be soon. This really isn’t a conversation we should be having right now.”
“When should we have it then, hmm? If you’re with Lesley because of your daughter, that’s never going to change.” Robyn finally pulled herself away from Baby and walked to a far corner of the room.
“No! Don’t follow me. I just need a minute to compose myself, then I’m going home. This was a mistake.”
“Robyn, listen to me,” said Baby. “Just hear me out then I’ll let you go. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you and I really didn’t mean to lead you on. You are very special to me and yes, if you were a few years older, it would probably be you I had a baby with, not Lesley. But I can’t change what’s happened, and you can’t spend what’s left of your teen years avoiding boys your own age.”
“But boys my own age aren’t you.”
“Don’t I know it,” said Baby with a soft smile. “But do it for me. At least try. Don’t you want to know if there’s a better match for you than some older married man?”
“And what happens when I’ve done this and I’m still not convinced there’s anyone better than you?”
“Well, that’s a conversation for another day.”
To Be Continued…