In the sleepy, almost medieval village of Dragon Valley, two years after his high school graduation, Emmitt Murphy married a young native woman named Tessa Andrews. She was two years younger than Emmitt, and though they knew each other in school, it wasn’t until after Travis left for Sim State that he actually showed an interest in young Tessa. Emmitt fell in love with her on their second date, and they spent most of their time together, when she wasn’t in school, and Emmitt wasn’t at work, saving money for a diamond ring.
The week after Tessa’s high school graduation, Emmitt took her for dinner and asked her to marry him, and gave her a ring with a stone a little over a carat in size. They were married a month later in a small family ceremony. It wasn’t fancy, and it certainly wasn’t expensive. Emmitt thought it better to have a small wedding and put their money into a home, which they did.
At first, Emmitt and Tessa had difficulty starting their family. They were married for nearly four years before Tessa was finally expecting their first child, and her pregnancy was difficult. Their firstborn son, Anduin came in early spring and was the light of their lives. Working for his father at the auto shop, Emmitt labored to build a good life, allowing Tessa to stay home to care for their son. The Murphy home was close to the one Emmitt had grown up in, just down the street, and almost directly between the rundown, abandoned barn and the old Cohen home on Clover Drive.
One fateful day, Emmitt was doing some work on a car. He had recognized the name: O’Reilly. The son, Lionel, had gone to school with Tessa and was now working for his father at the Sunset Valley Pharmaceutical company in research. But Lionel had an eye for talent, and he saw in Emmitt a potential success story.
“So Emmitt, are you happy here, slaving away at a job that has no end? Or would you like an opportunity to make a big difference, and some big money?” Lionel asked him, as he watched Emmitt skillfully disassemble the old car’s transmission.
“What do you mean?” Emmitt wiped his hands on a work rag and pulled up a stool.
“I see in you great potential, Emmitt. You have the gift of gab. That can’t be taught, my friend, and it’s worth some big money in the sales department of SVP. If you’re interested, I’d like you to interview for a position.”
“But I have no experience in sales, Lionel. This is all I know.”
“Don’t worry about that, Emm. I can train you. Don’t you want more? Your family deserves it, don’t they? I know Tessa dreams of a bigger home, maybe even moving to south county. She’s a peach, Emmitt. You don’t want to lose her.”
“Let me talk to her, and I’ll get back to you.” Emmitt had much to consider. Giving up the shop meant abandoning his father’s life’s work. It was a calling, really.
“Fair enough,” Lionel said. “Here’s my card. Call me if you decide you’d like to take my offer.”
After work, Emmitt drove home like he did every evening. “Hi sweetums,” he said to Tessa, who had dinner waiting for him.
“Hey you,” Tessa greeted him. She walked up to him and kissed him. “Something is different. Emmitt, are you okay?”
“Your old classmate, Lionel O’Reilly was in the shop today with his vintage car. He made me a job offer.”
“What in the world could you possibly do at a pharmaceutical company?” She took dinner from the oven and placed it on the kitchen counter to rest.
“He thinks I’d be good in sales. He says I have the ‘gift of gab.’ Is he right, darling?” Emmitt washed his hands in the kitchen sink, and Tessa frowned at him. She had asked him many, many times to wash his greasy hands in the bathroom.
“Well, you could charm a scarf out of a silkworm, Emmitt. He does have a point.” She drained a pot of boiling potatoes, and set them back on the stove, ready to mash them. “Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to at least discuss it with him.”
“Maybe.” Emmitt looked at his hands. Even after a good scrub, they were still grungy looking. “It’s a good amount of money. It would mean security for all of us. Andy could go to a private school.”
“What kind of money, Emmitt?”
“He didn’t say, but I’d imagine it would be much better than what I’m doing now.” He wrapped his arms around her waist. “Anything would be better than barely making ends meet.”
“What could it hurt, to interview? You have nothing to lose.” Tessa finished getting the meal ready. “Andy, honey. Dinner!”
“Maybe you’re right. I’ll call him later.”
Emmitt had been with SVP for a few years when Tessa took ill with what they thought was the flu. Instead of getting better, she steadily got worse until her unknown illness took her life. A loving family ripped apart, and two lives forever changed when they lost their wife and mother. Suddenly, it was just the two men, and Emmitt had no idea how to care for his only son. Without her, the Murphys were lost. Emmitt was commuting back and forth to Sunset Valley, leaving Andy to fend for himself most days after school.
In the year following his mother’s death, Andy met a girl at school, a year or so younger than himself. Her name was Kaitlyn, and she had a crush on Andy from the first time she had seen him in high school. He was a sophomore, and she was a freshman. Quite the good looking boy, Andy had his choice of girls in school, but it was Kait that held his interest, mostly because she had a reputation. He asked her on a date, and they went to the theater for a movie on their first.
“Andy!” she exclaimed, as they sat in the back row of the theater. “I’m trying to watch this.” He was trying to get friendly with her, kissing her.
“Aren’t I more interesting than this movie?” he asked her.
“Anduin, I thought you were different than the other boys in school. All you want is to kiss me.” She huffed at him, feigning insult. In reality, she loved it, and the more, the better.
“But I am different than the other boys in school,” he said. “I kiss better.”
“You think you do,” she teased him. “I’ve kissed a few. You’re slightly better than average.”
“Slightly?” Andy was actually hurt.
“Why did you stop?” she asked him.
“Slightly better than average,” he repeated back to her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’d take it seriously.” She kissed him. “You are a very, very good kisser, Andy.”
“Now you’re just saying that,” he pouted.
“No, I mean it. It makes me wonder what else you’re good at.” She smiled at him, flirting madly.
“Are you watching this anymore?” He asked.
“It’s not that good of a movie,” she replied. “Let’s go.”
Andy and Kait walked back to his house. Emmitt was out of town on business, and Andy was left to fend for himself. “This isn’t usually something I do on a first date, Andy,” she said, shyly.
“What is it you think we’re going to do?”
“Well, we’re at your house, and no one is home. Aren’t you going to try to seduce me?”
“The thought crossed my mind, but I have to tell you something, Kait.”
“You would be my first.”
She laughed at him. “Well, you’re not my first. Far from it.”
Andy thought for a minute. “Maybe I’d better walk you home instead.” He took his coat from the hanger and grabbed his house key when she caught his hand.
“We’re here now. Didn’t you say your Dad is out of town?”
“I did, but now I’m not so sure.”
“About your dad, or about me?”
“It’s more about me, Kait. I want more from you than just sex. I like you. Maybe you’re not used to hearing that.”
“You are the first one who has told me he wants a relationship. But I don’t know, Andy.”
“Which is why I want to think about having my first time with you. I want to love my first partner. I guess I’m old fashioned.”
“When you get your head on straight, Andy, call me.” She turned to leave the house, expecting him to stop her. This wasn’t the first time she’d been met with resistance.
“Bye Kait.” He closed the front door behind her and locked it.
Andy opened his locker, and a note was tucked inside, with a bright red lip print on it. Quickly, he stuffed it into his jacket pocket and grabbed his backpack. I’ll read this on the way home, he thought. Kait saw him a few paces beyond the door and began to run for him.
“Andy!” she called to him. “Aren’t you going to say hi?”
He stopped and waited for her to catch him. “Hey angel,” he greeted her, kissing her. “I thought you had prom committee today?”
“I did, but it turns out, I didn’t want to go.” She wore his senior varsity jacket and his class ring. “Who needs prom anyway?”
“Don’t you want me to take you to my senior prom?” he asked. “You know what happens after prom, right?”
“You think I’m going to give into you now? You’ve made an honest girl out of me, Andy. I’m going to make you wait until you put a ring on it.”
“I know you’ll give in to me. We’ve done just about everything else. We should just make it official.” Andy smiled impishly at her. “Prom night is perfect, you know.”
“You seem to have it all figured out. We’ll see. But I definitely want to go to prom!” She kissed him, grabbing his butt.
“Hey now,” he laughed. “You don’t get to touch me like that unless we’re going to my place.”
“I never said I wouldn’t.”
They walked together to the Murphy home. Emmitt would not be home for hours, and Andy’s resolve was growing thin. He’d been resisting her for two years, and he was at the limit of how much more he could take.
He opened the door and let her walk into the house first. She threw down her backpack and tossed her sweater on the newel post on the stairs. “Come on, Andy,” she said. “Let’s go to your room and fool around.” He didn’t need a second invitation. Following her lead, they went upstairs to his bedroom and closed the door. She came at him, nearly throwing herself at him, and they kissed against the wall of his bedroom. “Andy, I don’t want to wait anymore. It’s now or never.”
“What about prom?” he panted, kissing her.
“What about it?” she asked.
“Kait, I want you.”
“Now.” He picked her up and carried her to his bed. “I love you, Kait,” he purred.
“I love you, too.”
Senior prom. All of the glitz and glamour of a high school formal dance. It had been months since Andy and Kait brought their romance to the next level, and he was still bringing her to prom. Oh, how he loved her, and he had planned on proposing during dinner. He dressed in a tux with a cummerbund that matched her dress, and he looked and felt like he was on top of the world. With a beautiful girlfriend, graduation in less than a month, and a ring in his pocket, he thought he had his life all figured out.
“You look handsome, son,” Emmitt told him, as he snapped a photo by the fireplace in the old house. “Are you sure you want to marry that girl? You’re so young, you have such a great future ahead of you.”
“Yes, Dad. I love her.” He straightened his tie out and admired his reflection in the mirror. “I look good,” he remarked, and Emmitt laughed.
“You’re so modest, son.” He hugged his boy. “Have fun tonight. Don’t ask her if it doesn’t feel right. I have a bad feeling about her, Anduin.”
“Don’t worry, Dad. It will all work out exactly how it’s supposed to.” The limousine was waiting for him outside. “I need to go. Thanks for the bid, and the tux. I won’t be home tonight. We’ve all got a few rooms at the resort.”
“Yeah, I know. Prom night escapades.” Emmitt laughed. “Just be safe.” He handed Andy a condom. “Use it. Love it.”
“Dad!” Andy blushed. “You’re not supposed to know about this stuff.”
“Oh come off it, Andy. You think I don’t know you’ve been having sex in this house?” He laughed, enjoying watching his boy squirm. “I just want you to be safe. No babies.”
“Gotta go, Dad,” he nearly ran to the limo, humiliated.
The limo driver picked Kaitlyn up at her house, and together they rode to prom. “You look handsome tonight, Andy,” she cooed at him.
“Your dress is gorgeous,” he replied. “You look like an angel.”
The driver held the door for both of them as they exited the car, and he took her hand as they walked for the school. They walked into the gymnasium, and he turned in the prom bid. “Table Ten,” the ticket attendant said, and handed him two place cards.
“Wow,” he exclaimed. “The prom committee did a great job on this.” They walked to the photographer for their picture to be taken. They did a formal picture and were given the option to do a candid. Andy kissed her cheek, while she made a funny face. They laughed at the picture and ordered two copies of it, one for each of them.
Andy led her to their table, and they were joined by other friends, one of which was Andy’s best friend, Liam. “Where’s Sally tonight, Li?” Andy asked him.
“She has the flu,” Liam lamented. “She picked a crummy time to get sick. But your little lady looks amazing.” Liam had been pining secretly for Kait since she had been going to the school, wanting to take advantage of her reputation. He knew she still had it in her to be like that, Andy or no Andy.
“Well, that’s a bummer,” Andy stated, holding Kait’s chair for her to sit. He kissed her neck and went to get them a drink from the punch bowl. “I’ll be right back, sweet thing.” She giggled at him.
Andy and Kait were both named prom king and queen, and had a special dance, just for them. He twirled her around the dance floor, madly in love with her, anticipation welled up within him. He was going to ask her at dinner, but decided to wait until the prom ‘after-party’ at the resort just south of town.
When prom was over, six of them piled into Andy’s limo, including Liam and another friend, Jackson. They had three rooms reserved, which would sleep about half the number that were expected to show up. But the rooms were not for sleeping, per se. All totaled, there were twelve boys and about 10 girls that showed up to the party after the prom. All Andy wanted was the use of one room, and one bed for about half an hour. After that, it didn’t matter where they ended up.
One of the guys had brought a couple of bottles of spirits from his father’s cabinet, and they passed them around from person to person. When the first one was empty, ten of them sat around in a circle and played Spin the Bottle. Andy and Kait sat next to one another, and though he wasn’t drinking, Kait was feeling no pain. On Andy’s turn, the bottle stopped on her, and he kissed her while the guys booed him. But on Kait’s turn, the bottle stopped on Liam, and he took advantage of the situation, planting a very passionate kiss on her. To Andy’s horror, she kissed him back just as passionately.
“I need some air,” he announced as he got up from the game.
“Come on, Murph, don’t play if you can’t take the heat.” Liam teased him, but he wasn’t in the mood.
About an hour later, he hadn’t seen Kaitlyn at all, but he had been outside by himself, pondering his life. Maybe Emmitt was right. Maybe he shouldn’t marry her after all. Jackson burst through the door suddenly, Andy’s name on his lips.
“What’s up, Jackson?” he asked casually.
“I think you should see what’s going on inside, Andy.” Jackson was obviously feeling no pain, and he turned around to go back inside, staggering down the hallway. Andy followed him, and when he did, the crowd hushed around him.
“What?” he asked, looking at everyone’s faces. And he got the feeling that something was very wrong. “What’s going on? Where’s Kait?”
Jackson burst out laughing. “Ask Liam where she is,” he joked, and then recoiled as someone poked him in the ribs.
“You weren’t supposed to just blurt it out like that, stupid!” said another person.
“Kait?” Andy called to her, panic now setting in. Every room he checked was empty except for the one he had rented in his name. The door was slightly ajar, and inside were sounds of two people in the middle of passion. He nudged the door open slightly, and found his best friend and his girlfriend together, in bed. “Kait?” he called to her, and his voice stopped them both, and they froze. “I can’t believe this,” Andy cried, as he ran away from the room.
As he walked down the hallway, he heard Kait’s voice calling for him. Hearing her made him walk faster until he reached the end of the hall. Visibly upset, he fell back against the wall, sobbing. Kait was running after him, putting on clothing as she ran, not caring what she was or wasn’t wearing. “Andy!” she called.
“What, Kait? It seems you made your choice tonight.” Bitter tears of betrayal burned his skin. “I thought you loved me.”
“I couldn’t find you. I was more than ready for you. So, Liam asked me. I said yes. No harm, no foul. It didn’t mean anything, Andy.”
“Yeah, well it means something to me.” He reached into his pocket and brought the ring from it. “I was going to ask you to marry me tonight.”
“Oh Andy, I’m not the marrying kind, honey.” She paced back and forth. “Even before Liam, I wouldn’t have said yes.”
“I thought you’d changed, Kait. You lied to me this whole two years? You led me on? You took from me what I wanted to give to someone I love, and you did it with no regrets!” He was livid. “Do you even love me, Kait? Do you?”
“Andy, I think you know the answer to that already.” Liam appeared from nowhere. “You can’t put reins on a wild filly. She can’t be tamed, but I’m glad I got a ride.”
“YOU!” Andy yelled, suddenly enraged. “You ruined this for me!” He went after Liam and tried to hit him, but he missed. Liam tackled him, knocking the wind out of him.
“You ruined it yourself, Andy. Let it go.” Liam spat upon his friend and walked away.
Andy was shattered. He had lost his best friend and his girlfriend in one evening, and he knew he couldn’t go back. So, he did what anyone else would have done in the same situation. He called a cab and went home to face his father. Not looking at anyone, he gathered his belongings and waited for the cab outside the resort. He was angry… angry with Liam. He was angry with Kaitlyn. But in reality, he was angry with himself for falling for her in the first place.
Dejected and sad, Andy dragged himself through the door of the house. He emptied his pockets and placed the items on the kitchen table. A ring box, complete with ring still inside, and the condom Emmitt had given him earlier. Upstairs, a light went on, and seconds later, a voice called his name. “Anduin? Is that you?”
“Yeah, Dad. It’s me.”
“You’re home early. What happened?”
“Oh, what didn’t happen? Kait and I are done. Liam took her from me, and I was too stupid to see it coming.” He sat on the steps, weeping. “You were right, Dad, for what it’s worth. She never changed. She doesn’t even love me. I’m such a fool.”
“Well, it’s better to know now, son, than when there are children and a legal commitment involved.” Emmitt padded down the steps and sat beside his son. “I’m sorry things didn’t go how you’d planned them. But someday, you’ll find her. And when you do, you’ll know it. Your stomach will feel like you’ve eaten a dozen butterflies. You’ll feel weak, and time just stands still. And when you touch her, Andy, your skin will just tingle. That’s how it was when I met your mother. And I knew she was the one.”
“Thanks, Dad. But I’m done for a long time. I can’t believe I was so stupid.”
“Love does a lot of things, Anduin. It makes a man blind, so sometimes you can’t see what’s in front of you for what it is. But real love won’t betray you. She’s out there, somewhere. You’re still young. Be patient.”
Andy sat in the offices of Sunset Valley Pharmaceuticals, waiting for an interview with Lionel O’Reilly. There was a new project coming up that Emmitt thought Andy would love, one in which he could excel. He straightened his tie and sat up, not used to doing formal things. “How do I look, Dad?” he asked, feeling nervous.
“You look handsome, son. Just like your mother, actually.” He patted his son on the back. “You know, if you get this position, we’ll be moving to Starlight Shores. If you don’t, I’ll just commute back and forth, and I’ll see you a few days a month.”
“I can’t believe you manage the Shores Llamas, Dad. Couldn’t you have found a closer team to buy?”
“Well, technically I didn’t buy them. But Lionel handpicked me to negotiate the sale, and then to manage the team. I could use you by my side, son. Your skills are exactly what I need.”
“Mr. Murphy, Mr. O’Reilly will see you now,” the receptionist greeted them. Emmitt motioned for Andy to follow him.
“Anduin, is that correct?” Lionel greeted the young man. “Your father here tells me you’re big into soccer.” They shook hands, and Andy took a seat.
“Yes sir, that’s right, on both counts.” He smiled, but he felt uneasy.
“Anduin, let’s just get right to it. I need someone with the knowledge you possess, to help manage the team aspect of this. Someone to interact with the players and the coach. Act as my liaison. You would be reporting right to your father. You would be in charge of setting up press conferences, overseeing the public relations. You know, things like that.”
“That’s exactly what I’ve been trained to do, Mr. O’Reilly. I’m a PR guy,” Andy said confidently. “My knowledge of the game is what would give me that edge. I’m really the one you need in this position.”
“I’m already convinced, Anduin. I just needed the interview to make it look official. Welcome aboard!” Lionel stood and offered his hand to Andy.
“I’m in? It’s that simple?” Andy took Lionel’s hand and shook it, surprised at the grip the older man had.
“You’re in! Your dad can take you to HR, to do your new employee paperwork, and then we can authorize your relocation to Starlight Shores.”
“Come with me, son,” Emmitt said. “You’ll like Willa. She’ll get you all set up.”
Andy’s meeting with Willa O’Reilly went great, and she authorized the request for transfer. “With the holidays approaching, Mr. Murphy, I expect the transfer to come through after the first of the new year. You won’t have to lift a finger. Our movers will come in and pack your whole home, and move it, no charge to you.” She stood to shake his hand. “Welcome to our family, Anduin.”
“Thanks,” he said. “And please, call me Andy.”
Andy stood on the porch of a new house in the western hills of Starlight Shores, directing the movers on where to put boxes and furniture as they unpacked the moving van. The transfer had come through earlier than expected, and on Snowflake Day evening, Emmitt and Andy were on a flight to the Shores. That Monday morning, the moving van arrived, and while Emmitt was at the stadium getting things settled for a game after the first of the year, Andy was left in charge of the house.
The next day, Andy joined his father at work and met his new co-workers. The coach, Aaron Hall, had been drafted personally by Emmitt from Sunlit Tides to lead and train the new team and promoted one of the biggest names in the Shores to be the team captain. As Andy found out, Travis Jones was Emmitt’s best childhood friend. There wasn’t a soul alive who didn’t know the name, and Andy was starstruck to think that his dad was best friends with him.
“So Emmitt, this is your son, huh?” Travis asked as he sized Andy up and down. “He looks a lot like you.” He offered his hand for Andy to shake. “He’s a shy one.”
“Once you get to know him, he’s the life of the party!” Emmitt bragged. “He will be a great asset to this team.”
“Why don’t you two join me and my family for dinner tonight? My daughters are home from college, and they came home plus one. Did I tell you that, Emmitt? My oldest has a boyfriend!”
“Dinner sounds fabulous,” Emmitt replied. “Doesn’t it, son?” Travis and Emmitt walked away, chatting about life and catching up. Andy retreated to his new office and unpacked some personal effects. His phone beeped, and he checked the messages. “We’re meeting Travis right after work, so 6pm. Meet us in the locker room.”
Time passed too quickly, and Andy still had work to do when Emmitt stopped by his office. “Did you get my message? We’re meeting Travis at 6 in the locker room. Don’t be late.”
“Yeah, I got it, Dad. I’m just finishing this email, and I’ll close it down.” Andy was trying to organize a press conference before the next game, and he was stressed. “And, send,” he muttered to himself as he sent the email to at least three different news affiliates. He sighed and signed his computer off, and turned the monitor off for the evening. Grabbing his sport coat, he ran down to the locker room, where Travis was just finishing getting dressed.
“My daughter is making lobster thermidor for dinner tonight,” Travis announced. “She is an excellent cook, so I hope you’re hungry.”
Emmitt and Travis talked all the way to the house, and the limo parked right outside the gate and stopped. “Thank you, Andrew,” Emmitt said to the driver and handed him a tip. “I’ll call you when Anduin and I are ready to go home.”
“Very well, sir,” the driver said, and got back into the car.
Travis opened the door and welcomed his friends inside. “Everyone, this is my best friend, Emmitt, and his boy, Anduin.” Darcey and Clint both shook hands with them.
A young lady stepped up to Andy and shook his hand. “I’m Danae,” she said confidently. And when she touched him, his skin tingled, and time stood still. Suddenly, he felt weak, and his stomach fluttered as though he had eaten a dozen butterflies.
After a long, awkward silence, he finally broke the ice. “Pleased to meet you, Miss Danae. What a pretty name.” He gazed into her eyes and was immediately drawn to her. They were violet in color, and he had never seen anyone with violet eyes before. “And beautiful eyes to boot!” He couldn’t help himself. “A man would consider himself lucky to have your heart.” Shut up, Andy, he thought to himself, before you make yourself a fool.
He saw her blush, and bashfully shy away from him. After a few moments of quiet, she spoke. “I’m sorry, Anduin was it?” she asked softly. “I’m pleased to meet you, too.”
He was going to chalk it up to nerves, meeting a whole new family. But he had only gotten that feeling when he met Danae. And all at once, Andy remembered what Emmitt had told him after his rough break up with Kaitlyn. “But someday, you’ll find her. And when you do, you’ll know it. Your stomach will feel like you’ve eaten a dozen butterflies. You’ll feel weak, and time just stands still. And when you touch her, Andy, your skin will just tingle.”
And Andy smiled.
Up Next: Chapter One, Generation Five