My boyfriend Andy and I had only been dating for a few months when he took me by surprise one evening.
"Marry me," he beamed, opening a small box to reveal a sparkling ring.
"Yes!" I smiled as he slipped it on my finger.
He made me very happy and got on well with my three kids, so I was excited.
I announced our engagement on Facebook.
A few days later, a message appeared in my inbox from a woman I didn't know.
Just a warning, Andy likes younger women, she wrote.
He'll end up leaving you for one.
"Who the bloody hell's this?" I demanded, showing Andy the message.
He rolled his eyes.
"My ex," he said. "Ignore her, she's just bitter."
I believed him.
In time, we married in our local registry office.
I wore a beautiful white dress with a sparkly tiara and felt like a princess.
Not long after, Andy came home one day and told me he'd invited one of his customers over for dinner.
He worked as a driving instructor.
"Hope that's ok?" he asked me. "I think you two will get on."
"Sure," I shrugged.
I was always open to meeting new people.
He said her name was Claire.
That night, she came over with her 16-year-old daughter Beth.
And sure enough Claire and I got on like a house on fire.
After that first dinner, we started seeing each other regularly.
Sometimes, when Andy and I wanted a night out, Beth would babysit for us.
"She's a nice girl, isn't she?" Andy smiled, after she'd left one night.
"A good kid," I agreed.
A couple of weeks later, Andy came to speak to me.
"Beth's having problems with her mum," he said. "Mind if she stays here for a bit?"
"She's 16, Andy. Teenagers always have problems with their parents," I said."Come on, just for a bit. She's not in a good way," he said.
"Fine," I sighed. "But I'll have to speak to Claire about it first."
She was fine with it when I called her.
"Maybe time apart will do us good," Claire said.
Beth moved in and helped me round the house and with the boys.
Then one day, I was in the yard when one of my neighbours came over for a chat.
"Beth and Andy are very close," she said.
The way she said it implied she thought there was more to it.
"Are they?" I asked.
"She follows him around like a puppy dog," she said.
After that, I paid more attention.
She was right – Beth was like Andy's little shadow.
I assumed she saw him as a father figure.
There was a 28-year age gap between them so I was sure there couldn't be anything more to it.
But then one morning I was in the bedroom when my eight-year-old son came bursting in.
"Mummy, I need to tell you something," he said.
He made me come down to his level and then whispered, "I saw Beth and Andy kissing."
"What?" I yelped.
"They were kissing behind the loungeroom door," he said.
He looked worried. I knew he wasn't lying.
Jumping up, I stormed downstairs.
"Andy, Beth," I barked. "I need to speak to you both now!"
They appeared looking flustered.
"Tyler has just told me that he saw the two of you kissing," I said.
They both burst out laughing.
"What a load of rubbish," Andy said.
"Precisely," I said, glaring at her.
"But why would he lie?"
"Probably just for attention," she shrugged.
"And you fell for it," Andy laughed.
Fuming, I stormed upstairs.
My son had no reason to lie.
Over the next couple of weeks, I kept my beady eyes on them.
I noticed the looks they flashed at each other and that their phones would often be pinging back and forth, as though they were exchanging messages.
Then one night, Andy left his Facebook up when he went out the room and I couldn't resist a peek.
Sure enough, there were messages to Beth.
You looked so hot today, one said.
I can't wait to be alone with you, said another.
I felt bile rise up my throat.
How could he be doing this with our teenage babysitter?
When Andy came back, I exploded.
"How could you?" I raged. "She's 16, you're disgusting!"
He denied it, even when I told him I'd seen the Facebook messages.
I'd had enough.
"It's best you leave," I said.
"You're the one ending the marriage, you leave," he retorted.
I was gobsmacked. Was he kidding?!
"I'm ending the marriage because you cheated on me with a teenage girl," I raged. "I also have three kids to think of."
Finally he relented, but took the bed and the microwave with him.
Once he'd gone I confronted Beth.
"You'll be happy to know Andy and I are over," I said.
"Why would I be happy?" she said, playing dumb.
I didn't want to be too hard as she was vulnerable.
But I was thankful when I noticed the next morning that she'd packed her stuff.
I knew where she was going.
Sure enough, a few weeks later I heard she was staying in a caravan with Andy.
When word got out about what happened the whole town turned against them.
People on the street started hurling abuse at them and Andy had rude words sprayed across his ute.
Eventually, they moved towns.
I was glad I no longer had to run the risk of bumping into them.
In time, I divorced Andy and moved on.
Four years later, I received a text from a friend.
You'll never guess who's on TV, she said.
I flicked over to the channel she mentioned and my mouth hung open in shock.
On the programme Age Gap Love, Andy and Beth were boasting about their relationship.
It revealed they were now married with two children.
Good luck to them!
I just hope Beth knows that when she gets too old for him, Andy will be trading her in for a younger model.
It's just what he does, the rat!
Andy claimed the marriage fell apart because Samantha rekindled her relationship with her ex, which she denies.
He said: [Samantha] reported us to the police, to which no action was taken, due to no evidence. This shows I did nothing wrong and neither did Beth. We married when she was 18 – perfectly legal.
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