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A woman has revealed how she fell in love with her son's best friend who is 22 years her junior.
Dawn Northey, 42, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, was instantly attracted to Takhari Aldridge, 20, when her son introduced the pair.
Dawn's son, Callum Northey, 18, and Takhari had been online gaming friends for three years before finally meeting in June 2017.
Seven months later, Dawn and Takhari, then 18, kissed after she dropped him home one afternoon and they've been a couple ever since.
The mum-of-two claims her son is happy about the union, but others haven't been as accepting.
Dawn, who is unemployed, says: "When I first met Takhari, I couldn't believe I found an 18-year-old attractive. Thankfully he fancied me too in the end and now we're head over heels in love."
In July 2014, Dawn's son, Callum, met Takhari, who is unemployed, online while playing Xbox games. Over the next three years, they spoke every day until Takhari invited Callum to his house in June 2017.
Dawn, who was married at the time, drove her son 300 miles from their home Glasgow to Wolverhampton so he could stay with his gaming pal.
She says: "As we pulled up to the house, I saw Takhari standing in the driveway. He was tall, dark and handsome. I went inside and chatted with Takhari's mum while the boys played video games upstairs."
Back at home, Dawn's 15-year marriage to Callum's dad came to an end and in January 2018, the couple spilt up and a few weeks later, Callum invited Takhari to stay with them.
Dawn says: "When Takhari came to visit, I was excited to see him. I kept stealing glances at him around the house. Every day I had to tell myself I was too old for him and to stop being daft. I thought it was just a silly crush."
The next week, Dawn drove Takhari back home to Wolverhampton. She remembered: "As we chatted away about our lives, I had no idea how mature he was.
"When we arrived, Takhari suddenly leaned in and kissed me in the car. I couldn't believe it. I had no idea he fancied me too. I was over the moon."
Within six days, Takhari's mum discovered their text messages and kicked Takhari out of the house. Dawn says: "I was heartbroken. Takhari had nowhere to live so I told him to come stay with us. Next, I needed to come clean to my son, but I was terrified.
"That night, I told Callum that Takhari and I had romantic feelings for each other. I explained that if he didn't accept us then we would end it immediately, as neither of us wanted to sacrifice our relationship with him.
"Callum shrugged his shoulders and told me he was fine with it. I'd never felt so relieved."
Despite Callum being fine with there relationship, it wasn't long until the couple faced criticism. Dawn says: "Whenever I held Takhari's hand in public, strangers gave me dirty looks.
"Even someone from my family accused me of grooming Takhari and threatened to call the police. We were both horrified."
Despite the 22 year age gap, the couple insist they are happier than ever. Dawn went on: "Takhari has given me a new lease of life.
"He and Callum are still best friends and it hasn't affected their friendship. Addison even calls Takhari Dad now, it's adorable.
"Although Takhari's mum hasn't given us her blessing, we really hope she will one day. I don't see why people judge our relationship when we are simply happy and in love. Most of the time we forget we have an age gap anyway."
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