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The offer wasn’t all that appealing to Missi—“I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom again,” she says—but she took it as a sign that things were getting serious.The longer they kept dating, though, the more problems cropped up.A few minutes later, she got a reply from Richie’s friend Chris, who said Richie had been in a car accident.He was okay, thank God, but the doctors wanted to do some extra testing, since he’d suffered head trauma while in Afghanistan.Richie had lingering medical problems from his time in the service, and Missi was constantly having to drop him off at or pick him up from the hospital.He was always canceling plans, or not showing up when he was supposed to.
—some new tragedy would happen (his mother died; he was in a motorcycle accident), and she’d be roped back in.He could be a little awkward, but Missi chalked that up to his inexperience—he told her he hadn’t been with a woman in eight years. Richie had a taste for nice things—expensive restaurants, four-star hotels—and he always insisted on paying.He kept a motorboat docked at a nearby marina, and he’d take Missi and her daughters out for afternoons on the water. Richie mentioned that his cousin Vicki worked for the same airline as Missi. “One day we’ll show up together to some family event and surprise her; it’ll be great.”A few months into their relationship, she missed a shift at work and got fired. He told her that he’d take care of her bills for the next four months, that she should relax and take stock of her life and spend time with the kids.When she finally did meet him in person, her relief was even more profound.Richie was tall and charming, a good talker and a good listener who seemed eager for a relationship.