Trent Buchanan, a man fresh out of the 8th cavalry finds himself in a new town, living a new life, little did he know he would soon be talked about in town as 'the younger man'.
Can he move past the Old west's prejudices and claim the woman he loves?
Can he move past the Old west's prejudices and claim the woman he loves? Trent Buchanan could remember the first day he came to this town. Just out of the Calvary, he was summoned here by a lawyer, his uncle's lawyer, he knew his uncle was in the whiskey and gambling business, but that is all he knew. He hardly even remembered his uncle. Might have been 6 when he last saw him. The lawyer introduced him to another young man, called Ethan Miller. Together they would be the beneficiaries of his late uncles estate. Ethan was left the saloon, Trent was left the Grand Central Hotel and Restaurant, along with several thousand dollars. Trent soon settled in to town, doing some renovations at the Hotel, expanding the business. He found he had a head for business, even began seeing a young lady socially in town, Karyn Sweeney. They had dinner together a few times, nothing serious. He enjoyed her company, she was charming. But besides an innocent kiss or embrace, they had not moved much beyond that. He certainly was not thinking marriage, or any kind of serious relationship. But all that changed when SHE walked into the hotel lobby that early summer afternoon.
Rosa Garrett she said her name was.
She was a very handsome woman, he tried to guess her age, surprisingly, her flawless skin was wrinkle and line free, so it was hard to judge. She stated she needed 2 rooms, one for her, one for her two sons. She asked politely where the livery was, as she had a few horses to see to.
Trent gave her directions. They stared at each other for a few moments, but to Trent, time seemed to stand still, as cliched as that statement was.
The spell between them was broken when 2 young men ambled through the front door.
"Mr. Buchanan, these are my sons, Lance and Daniel. Boys, this is Mr. Trent Buchanan. He owns this fine establishment, and has kindly told me where the livery is. Can I rely on you both to see to the horses? I will see to our rooms."
Rosa spoke kindly but firmly to her sons.
Her SONS!?!They are full grown! Trent pictured her having towheaded 8 or 9 year old at the most, not these!
Trent looked at what must be the oldest, he wasn't much older than himself!
He looked back at Mrs. Garrett, when was she married, age 10?
Trent was shocked into silence.
"Mother, we could use a meal, we are both starving, any place we can get a bite to eat, Mr. Buchanan?" Lance asked.
Trent just stared. He still could not believe this man was her son.
"Ah...the restaurant is next door, it is still open. Beef Stew is the special tonight." Trent replied finally.
"Well come on Dan! you were the one complaining your stomach was growling! Let's feed the horses, then let's feed ourselves!" Lance said boisterously.
Daniel's deep rich laughter filled the foyer. They certainly were not quiet. "You will have to forgive my boys enthusiasm. They are most anxious to start our new life. You see, we aim to start a horse-breeding farm. Horses have been a part of our lives for years. Lance especially has a true gift with handling horses, a discerning eye for breeding." Rosa smiled.
Trent had a good look at her face, She must be still in her thirties, surely! "Will your husband be joining you later?"
"My husband has been dead the last few years, just me and the boys." She said wistfully. Trent processed that information...a widow. He decided to change the subject.
"Let me show you to your rooms. I have given you adjoining ones. Any idea how long you are staying?"
"No, we have to find a piece of property, or an existing farm or ranch for sale, do you know of any?" Rosa asked.
"No, But I will certainly ask around for you." Trent smiled.
Rosa heart did a flip in her chest, so handsome, but he did not look much older than Lance. If only he were older...
Rosa Garrett came into town a few weeks later to do some shopping. As she walked by the hotel, she stopped. She should not go in...but she did. There he was, she drew a sharp breath.
She should be whipped for admiring the form of a man young enough to be her son. But she couldn't help herself. She watched as he bent down to light the stove, the muscles in his back moving with masculine fluidity under his shirt.
He turned and looked at Rosa. God, he looks so young! She admonished herself, she should turn and walk out right now. But something kept her feet firmly planted. Was it the look in his gold flecked eyes? Surely she was mistaken, why would he look at her with any interest? Wishful thinking...
"Good afternoon, Mr. Buchanan. I was wondering if you would like to come out to the farm for Sunday Supper next week. It won't be much, a chicken dinner, but I would like to repay you for your kindness...helping us find the farm." Trent smiled warmly. "There is no need. I was happy to help. I am curious to see what you have done with the place the last couple of weeks. And I would like a home-cooked meal, so yes...I will come for dinner."
Rosa's heart fluttered in her chest. She hadn't felt this way since...since never. She married so young, she never really was courted at all. She had married Silas because he promised a large settlement to her family if she did, and her father needed the money. What did she know of men and marriage? Silas was 38 years old at the time. Old enough to be her father, he was older than her own father! But marry him she did. It wasn't a bad marriage, he wasn't cruel, he was a good father. He just never made her heart flutter...Now here she was 40, going to be 41 in a matter of a few months. I am sorry if I seem forward Mr. Buchanan, but I was wondering since we met, how old you are. I confess to trying to guess, but you have such a youthful face, it is hard to gauge." Rosa asked shyly.
Trent smiled again. "I must confess to doing the same thing with you. I will say I was shocked when your sons walked in. I was picturing toddlers. I am 26 years old."
Rosa's heart sunk. Only 2 years older than Lance. She had secretly hoped he was at least in his thirties. Now she would have to tell her age. She cringed. "I am 40."
"Never would have guessed it, thought 30 at the most." he smiled, with a twinkle in his eye. "I will be there next Sunday, what time?"
"Why not come around 3PM? I can show you the farm before dinner."
Rosa left, her knees knocking under her skirts. What had she done? Inside the farmhouse, Rosa was preparing lunch. Tomorrow was Sunday, and Trent Buchanan would be out for supper.
She exhaled. 'young enough to be your son' she kept repeating to herself, or is that 'I'm old enough to be his mother'.
Regardless, she could not stop thinking about him. And that disturbed her. Well technically, if Trent were her son, she would have had him at a very young age...but still...it was all very...unseemly...to think about, dream about...a much younger man. Or so society dictates.
Sunday arrived, it was a beautiful early July afternoon, Trent arrived promptly at 3 PM. Her sons were puzzled why their mother invited the man, but they shrugged and went to get cleaned up for supper.
Rosa started to show Trent around.
"Very handsome horses, not that I am a real judge of horseflesh." Trent stated.
"We are quite proud of our line, it has been a dream of ours for years, to see it actually realized at last, words cannot describe. And you were wonderful to help us find this farm, it is perfect..." Rosa's voice quivered with emotion.
Trent took a few steps closer to her. "I am glad I was able to help." He replied in a low, husky tone.
Rosa laid her hand on her chest. His presence was affecting her deeply.
She stepped away. "Come, I'll show you the barns..." The combination of hay and manure assaulted Trent's nostrils. But he was impressed on how well kept and orderly the barns were.
"This is Claudius, we just sold him to the banker Mr. Jensen. We are so proud, our first sale. We raised him from a colt." Rosa smiled.
Trent had to admit he had not seen a more handsome horse, at least 16 hands high, muscled, sleek, beautiful colouring.
"Astounding." Trent murmured, truly impressed.
"Mr. Buchanan, if you are interested in buying a horse sometime soon, please, I will hope you will let us select one for you, we will give you a good, fair price." Rosa ventured. Trent turned. "Please, call me Trent." He did not know why he reached out and touched her chin gently with his thumb and forefinger, but he did. Her skin was as soft as he imagined. He cupped her chin and stared at her for some moments. Trent could smell cinnamon and cloves, she must have been baking. He found the fragrance intoxicating, as he did Rosa herself.
Rosa could not move, nor speak. His touch was...warm and inviting. Her nerves sparked under her skin. Trent slowly leaned in toward Rosa and kissed her ever so gently. It was chaste as kisses go, but a kiss nonetheless.
Rosa laid her hand on his broad shoulder to steady herself, for her knees were quivering. His long, lean fingers still cupped her chin.
Claudius nickered suddenly, and they jumped apart. Trent still held onto Rosa's hand.
He was looking at her with such intensity! Rosa felt her whole body flush from head to toe. Never, ever had she felt this way before. Not in all her years married to Silas, God rest his kind soul.
"I...I'd better see to...to supper..." Rosa stuttered. Rosa turned and hurried away toward the house. Trent frowned. What had he done? At least he waited until after supper with Karyn Sweeney before he kissed her.
Not at all proper, what possessed him?
It was an innocent enough kiss, brief, he barely touched her lips with his, but it was enough to affect him.
He sighed and followed Rosa toward the house. A number of weeks have passed and at supper one night, Rosa informed her two grown sons that she was invited out to dinner by Trent Buchanan, and she had accepted.
Lance cocked his head at his mother, thoroughly confused. "Dinner? Why? You already had him out here to thank him for finding this place. Why see him again?"
"Lance..." Rosa said softly. "Why would a man ask a woman out to supper?"
Lance and Daniel both were flabbergasted. Their mother...being courted?? And by a much younger man...and she was letting this happen??
Lance just assumed his mother would be bothered by such nonsense. Granted, Pop had been gone now over 2 years. Lance glanced at his mother. She was still young enough he guessed.
He felt uncomfortable about the whole thing, and a quick look at Daniel, it was obvious he felt the same way. After dinner at Trent's hotel restaurant, Rosa and Trent went for a long walk. It was a lovely late summer evening. Trent and Rosa had met more than a few times over the summer months, Rosa just never told her sons until this week.
Ever since Trent kissed her so gently in the barn, she was drawn to him, against her better judgment and logic. On the edge of town was a solidly built brick home, with a connecting guest house, a lovely pond in the middle of the property.
"I bought this, not 5 days ago..." Trent said quietly.
Rosa looked at Trent inquisitively. "It is a richly set home..." she murmured. "The hotel and restaurant are doing very well, better than I could have hoped. I also sold a small property in town at a profit." Trent smiled.
"So you intend to stay in town then, Trent?" Rosa asked.
He looked at Rosa with a deep searing gaze. "It depends..." he said softly.
The meaning of his statement was not entirely lost on Rosa. She cleared her throat. "It will be an ideal home for you to marry and raise a family Trent. Some young lady is going to be very lucky." Rosa said, a little too brightly.
Trent put his hands on his slim hips. Rosa always spoke this way. Marrying him off to some unseen young girl. It was getting annoying, could she not see how he felt toward her?
Trent chose to ignore her blanket statement and led her into the parlour. "A lot of work to be done, furnishings and decorating, perhaps Rosa, I can enlist your assistance in the chore? Women know so much more about these things."
Rosa looked around. It truly was lovely. She sighed, Could she bear to see Trent and some young woman living in this house?
Trent walked over to Rosa and began to caress her cheek with the backs of his fingers. He left a trail of red flame in it's wake. How she loved his masculine hands, the long, elegant fingers. His forefinger and thumb slowly stroked the line of her chin, up to her mouth. His thumb stroked her lower lip while he cupped her chin. He pulled her close, his golden eyes were hooded with his desire. His long fingers stroked the back of her neck, their lips inches apart.
Rosa felt very pretty tonight in her new gown made by Jane Wilson's skilled fingers, but nothing made her feel as feminine as Trent holding her, admiring her, touching her skin.
It was too much.
Rosa stepped away. "Trent...this is not a good idea. I should not be alone here in your home. I must go."
"Why? You don't trust me Rosa?" Trent questioned pointedly.
"It's not that...I...I...I am far too old for you Trent. We should remain friends...nothing more. I thank you for dinner, it was lovely, but nothing more." Rosa said firmly.
Trent motioned to the sofa. "Please, do not leave, not yet, please sit for a moment." Rosa sat. She really should leave. Trent walked over and put one leg up on the sofa. "I think I am capable of judging whether you are too old for me." he said softly.
"I will be 41 in a few weeks, Trent. You are 26. 15 years. It...it isn't proper. You should find a young woman, capable of giving you children. Someone to grow old with...not watch me grow old. My child bearing years are behind me, or soon will be." Trent sat beside Rosa. "Do you think I care about that? That having children is all that is important? Not to me, finding a woman to share my life with, to love, regardless of her age, is far more important to me. I could not care less about having any children."
"Trent...you don't mean that. Every man wants children...wants a son." Rosa stated firmly.
"Not every man Rosa. Not me. If I were to have children, fine. If not, I can live with that too. Perhaps you think me too young, too immature. Maybe I have not made my feelings for you plain enough so you would not have these doubts..." Trent reached for Rosa, pulling her into his lap. He began to kiss her, deeply, passionately.He had never felt this way before.
Rosa wanted to faint. Never had she been given such a devastating kiss. "I won't deny my feelings Rosa, I am falling in love with you. I wouldn't care if you were 16 or 60."
Rosa closed her eyes. This was happening too fast, but oh, it felt wonderful! She was falling for him, too. Completely. But what about in 10 years time, when he was still a virile 36, and she was a dried up old hag of 51? How could this ever work.
I'll take you home now..." Trent whispered seductively in her ear.
She did not want to go home, she wanted to stay in his arms...forever.
A few days after having dinner with Trent Buchanan, and Rosa could not stop thinking about the kiss they shared. All through her chores, she played it over and over again in her mind. Her cheeks began to flush from the memory. This could not continue. She had to break it off, it was for the best.
She had better write a letter...to do it in person, she would lose all her resolve. One look into that handsome, youthful face, one look into those gold-flecked soulful eyes, all her resolve would crumble. They could not continue. They would be the talk of the town, the scandal. It just is not done in polite society. An old woman...a young man.
And never did she feel as old as she did today. Daniel came into the kitchen and placed an affectionate kiss on her cheek. Her boys. They would have to be her life now. Looking after her boys. Until they found wives of their own, then she would be placed in a rocking chair on the front porch to sit in the sun as a lizard does on a rock in the desert. Watching the world pass her by. Watching her sons live their lives...watching Trent marry another.
She would sit and write the letter after supper.
Rosa felt as if her heart had cracked permanently down the middle...a crack that would never heal. After supper Rosa sat at the desk, the quill and paper in front of her. The words would not come. She cared for Trent, far more than she though possible. She was falling in love with a man young enough to be her son.
It was because she loved him, she would write this letter. It was for the best.
She wiped the few tears trickling down her cheeks and picked up the pen.
"My dearest Trent...Forgive my cowardice for not telling you this face to face, for I know in my heart I could not have looked into your beautiful face and said these words..." A couple of days later, Trent came home from the hotel, he had been busy the last few days. He longed to see Rosa, but he had not had a chance. He would make it up to her.
He looked in his mailbox, mail delivery was sporadic, the postmaster only went out maybe once a week in his wagon. He reached in and took out a letter. Strange, it had no postage on it...
Trent broke the seal with his thumb...why it was from Rosa! His heart jumped with excitement in his chest.
"My dearest Trent..." the letter began. Trent was touched. He found it endearing and romantic that a woman would take the time to write him a letter.
He continued. "I must end what is between us Trent...before it goes any further. It is not proper. You are far too young, and I too old. It would not be fair to you. You would not have a family, instead you would spend the rest of your life watching me age. You may think that is not important now, but what of when you are 45, still a vibrant man, and I am 60? I will be grey haired...old. A grandmother. I cannot do that to you, to condemn you to such a life..."
Trent felt the hot tears spilling down his cheeks. I thank you for your regard, you have made me happier than I have ever been these few short months. I implore you to move on with your life, forget me..."
Trent could not read the rest. He folded the letter carefully. A dull, stabbing ache clawed at his heart. Well.
That was that.
But Trent knew deep down he could not let this go, he was in love with Rosa Garrett. He knew deep in his soul he did not care about her age. But how to make her see? Trent knew she cared, the kiss, even this letter...she cared. Very much.
He would have to think on this...you will not get rid of me that easily Rosa... It had been a few weeks since she sent the letter to Trent Buchanan. He had not responded. Perhaps she had got through to him.
Rosa laid her knitting on the table next to her. The sun was setting, she could hear a far off robin singing mournfully in a tree.
She rocked in her chair, the chair she would no doubt grow old in, she thought sardonically.
Rosa closed her eyes, she could hear a horse nickering in the distance, perhaps one of the Fredericks, their farm was not far from the newly arrived family.
Trent had seen Rosa's sons in town, taking in a game of poker at the saloon, so he decided this would be as good as chance as any to talk to Rosa alone.
He saw her, sitting alone on the front porch...a somewhat wistful expression on her lovely face.
Trent tethered his horse to a fence then sprinted up her steps.
Rosa opened her eyes at the sound of boots on the wooden planks. Her heart rolled with expectation. Then, it plummeted.
Why didn't he stay away? This was torturous just to look at him, it was fairly breaking her heart all over again. Trent crouched down next to her. "Did you really think that letter would keep me away? Did you mean to scare me off with visions of you old and wizened? What do you think, that I will not age? That my hair will not turn grey? That I will not wrinkle? How shallow do you think I am Rosa? Do you honestly think I care you may go grey before me??"
Rosa stood. "I will care!! I can't do that to you Trent! I...I love you too much! I...I don't want to lose your love, and I will, the older I get. I do not think I could bear it!"
Trent stood and faced her. "How many different ways can I try to convince you that I will love you no matter what? You would deny us happiness for the reason you may age a little quicker than I will? We all wind up in the same place Rosa, its how we live and love on the way to the grave that matters!"
Trent pulled Rosa close. "I love you Rosa, I want us to be married, to share everything together. All that life can throw at us, we can share it together. And if that means I have to wipe the drool off your face when you are 80 and I am 65, then I will do it, gladly!"
Rosa looked into his handsome face. He meant it. Oh, could she let down her guard, put aside her reservations.
You love me Rosa...say it again, I want to hear it again." Trent's voice was low and husky.
"Oh Trent...I do. I do love you." Rosa whispered with great emotion.
"Tell me you want me Rosa, tell me you want and desire me as much as I do you..." Trent whispered. He pulled her close.
Rosa cried. "Oh yes, I do!" Trent pulled her against him and kissed her with a fierce hunger and deep love.
God, his heart was roaring in his chest.
Rosa ran her hands up and down Trent's muscled back. She tried not to think of what may lay ahead. All that mattered was now.
"Say you will marry me Rosa, as soon as possible. I don't want to wait." Trent said firmly.
He was holding her hands tightly, she did not have the strength to fight him anymore, nor did she want to.
She knew deep down as soon as she faced him, she would crumble like day-old corn bread.
She still had niggling doubts, the age gap would widen the older they got, of that there was no doubt. But for now, there was only her and Trent. "Yes Trent...I will marry you, whenever you say..." Rosa whispered breathlessly.
Trent lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it tenderly. "Then my love, let us not waste another moment, let us make plans."
Rosa had baked a blueberry cream pie, one of the boys favourites, she hoped it would soften the blow for what she had to tell them.
Trent had stayed a couple of hours the previous night, and they spoke of their future together, making plans. And those plans did not include her staying here on the farm.
She called them in, told them the coffee was brewing on the stove.
"Listen, sons. I have some news. I have accepted Trent Buchanan's offer of marriage." Rosa said softly.
You could have heard a pin drop. Daniel's hand was frozen, he was gripping his fork tightly.
"What does that mean Ma? He is moving in here?" Daniel questioned. Then he said, "So a man only a few years older than me is going to be my step-father?"
Rosa sighed. "I love him Daniel, I cannot help how young he is. We both discussed it in length. I tried to break it off with him. I tried to push him away..."
Lance watched his mother. It was written clearly on her face, she did love this man. He did not know how he felt about this...
Rosa continued. "I will be moving into town with Trent after I marry, he bought a new house. I will be sharing his life, assisting him in the running of his business. I will...will be leaving you boys on your own."
Daniel lowered his head. His mother...leaving. He felt as if he was kicked in the gut.
"It is high time you both starting living your own lives, find some decent women to settle down with. You are both fine men, I am so proud of you." Rosa's voice quivered with emotion. "I shall be having the wedding in a month's time."
Lance looked over at Daniel, he was taking it hard, he always was close to Ma, more so than him.
"Guess we will have to get ourselves a housekeeper Dan, neither one of us can cook worth a damn." Lance said jokingly, trying to get a smile out of his brother.
Daniel nodded, and slowly began to eat his pie. He did not like this, not one little bit. Rosa told Trent of her sons less than enthusiastic reaction to her announcement of getting married, so Trent took it upon himself to talk to them. He waited until he knew Rosa was in town at the mercantile, and he made his way to the ranch. The youngest, Daniel was there. Rosa said he was objecting the loudest. Daniel listened to Trent's explanation, his declaration of love for Rosa. Daniel did not like it. "You will break my mother's heart." He stated roughly.
"You don't know that, why would I? I love her, I want to marry her..." Trent declared.
"You are only a few years older than me! It isn't right!" Daniel huffed.
"So...If the roles were reversed, and I was an older man wanting to marry your mother, that would be alright in your book?" Trent said patiently.
Daniel was struck speechless. He had not thought of it that way. "Well...yeah. I guess it would."
"Hardly seems fair, does it?" Trent said. "Look Buchanan, fair or not, that is they way things are, an older woman does not marry a younger man, it just isn't...seemly!" Daniel cried roughly. "And I will do everything in my power to talk my mother out of this folly! You will grow tired of her and leave her, and break her heart, I know it!"
Trent fought to contain his anger. "Sorry you feel that way, but I am going to marry your mother. Accept it, or don't." Trent said firmly. A few weeks have passed, and Rosa was torn, her youngest son Daniel was adamant she not marry, doubt began to creep back into her thoughts. She put Trent off as to setting a wedding date.
Trent was patient, kind. Understanding.
But Rosa came by his house today for another reason. There was a smallpox outbreak in town, and her son Daniel, had contracted it. "What if he dies, Trent...I could not bear it, not my baby..." She whispered in his ear worriedly."It will be my fault...I suggested this area for our horse farm. If I hadn't suggested it, he wouldn't have got sick!"
"My love...we never would have met either. You can't think that way." Trent whispered back, his warm breath caressing her cheek. Trent stepped back. "Whatever comes our way Rosa, we will face it together. I love you, and as far as Daniel is concerned? He is young, strong. I believe he will recover. It isn't 100% fatal, Rosa. People do recover from smallpox. And Daniel is at the right age, he is hearty, determined. He is your son. He will come through this...and so will we." Rosa's shoulders heaved, her sobbing quite out of control, she could not help it, her nerves were like frayed rope.
Trent consoled her the best he could, then he had an idea. "My love, I was inoculated in the army for smallpox. Why don't I go and assist The Doctor? I can care for Daniel myself...I had a little medical training, I can help them, help your son. Only thing, I can't come back until the crisis has past, I cannot risk infecting you or anyone else. Tell me what you want me to do..." Rosa raised her head slightly from her trembling hands. Trent would be with Daniel, caring for him. Trent would not get sick...he was one of the rare people who had the vaccination. Could she ask that of him? Could she bear to be apart from him? Could be a couple of weeks.
She had to think of her son, not herself. "Oh Trent, I would be so grateful."
Trent smiled slightly. "I will pack a valise and head right over...it will be alright Rosa...you'll see. As Trent promised, he kept a sharp vigil on Daniel. He assisted with the other patients, but he focused the bulk of his attention on Rosa's youngest son. He was breathing in a deep, ragged way. Trent worried a chill on the lungs would settle on the young man, a complication of Smallpox. But he truly believed his words to Rosa, Daniel was young and strong. But then Smallpox did not always take that into consideration.
"Trent...is that you?" Daniel's voice rasped. Trent wiped the sweat from his brow. Daniel could not believe it, Trent Buchanan had stayed by his bedside, nursing him. Guess he was wrong about the man... After almost 10 days, Trent was able to leave the quarantined building. Rosa had stayed at his house in town, to be near her son.
Trent stood and walked over to her slowly. Rosa could hold back no longer, she ran to his strong, warm embrace and held on for her life. How she loved him, how grateful she was to have him at this time, to help her through this.
"Aw, Rosa love..." Trent said quietly, holding her close to his heart. "He is going to be alright, Daniel will recover." He smiled.
"Oh Trent, thank you, you are the most wonderful man..." Rosa cried. As she looked into those golden eyes of his, all final doubt left her heart. So she was older. What did it matter, as long as she was with him, until the end of her days. Trent pulled her in close and kissed her deeply. They would be married right away, and her sons would be there to offer their blessing and support. Younger or older, he found the woman of his dreams...
The Younger Man
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