Life was on its way back to normal. Danae settled back into her job and spent most of her days traveling the city in a new car Andy bought for her, doing Sing-A-Grams for clients. When she wasn’t busy with that, she played her guitar anywhere people would listen, and sang for tips. Someday, she thought, I’m going to grab that big break and ride it for all it’s worth. But for now, with Andy by her side every night, she was content.
Andy’s career was going great. After the championship game, his job was much busier, with media requests for press releases and interviews. And at least once a week, he and Emmitt traveled to Sunset Valley to meet with Lionel O’Reilly. One day, he hoped that Danae would have a day off so she could go with him. Andy wanted to show her Dragon Valley, his hometown. Besides, he wanted to visit his mother’s grave. Since the wedding, he’d missed her.
Darcey delivered a healthy baby boy, named Noel Glenn, about four months after Danae and Andy’s wedding. Danae adored the little boy, and they visited often. One night, during a dinner they shared, Andy whispered to her. “I want this for us. Give me a son, baby.” And Danae smiled.
“Okay, what are you two whispering about?” Darcey teased and held Noel while he nursed.
Danae smiled. “Andy wants a son, too.” He blushed.
“He’s such a good baby,” Darcey cooed at him. “Clint is so happy, aren’t you, Boo?”
Clint smiled. “Our son is perfect.”
Danae watched her sister with the baby. She was now in a position to fulfill her life dream—to be a stay at home mother. Andy’s career could easily sustain them. And until they left the Scroggins’ home that night, Danae’s mind was preoccupied with the idea.
Andy held her hand as they walked the distance from Darcey and Clint’s house back home. “A penny for your thoughts,” he said as they walked. He noticed her, deep in introspection.
She shook her head. No, she thought. He expects me to pull my weight in this marriage. I can’t stay at home. “It’s nothing, babe. Noel is giving me baby fever is all.”
“You can give me a son anytime.” He raised her hand to his face and kissed it.
“It will be difficult, raising a baby with my career,” she lamented. “I’m not even started yet. Can we risk it?”
“No one is saying you have to work. My income is more than enough to support us.”
“You’d be willing to let me stay at home to raise our children?”
“Not only willing, but I’d also encourage it, if you want to do it, that is.” He squeezed her hand. “You just don’t seem like you’d be the full-time mommy type.”
“Oh my gosh, Andy! That is all I ever wanted. No career is more important to me than being the mother of your children.”
“My mother stayed home with me. Nae, I miss her so much. I don’t want our kids to miss their mommy because she’s not home or on tour somewhere. If you want to work, that’s perfectly fine, too. But I know how much it meant for me to have my mom there when I got home from school. When she died, I—” He stopped and looked at his beautiful wife. “I want you to do whatever your heart desires, Danae. If you want to have a career, then I want that for you. If you want to stay home and raise our family, then I want that for you.”
She wiped a tear from his cheek. “I couldn’t imagine losing my mama, especially at such a young age. It must have been hard for you.”
“It was horrible. Mom managed everything. My dad, he was clueless about running a household, plus working. His commute was 2 hours each way every day. He had no time for me. I had to learn a lot of stuff quickly. I don’t know how he held himself together. She was everything to him. If I ever lost you, Danae—I can’t even allow myself to think about it.”
“Don’t worry, babe. I’m invincible,” she said. “I’m never going anywhere but right where you are.” She squeezed his hand and smiled at him. “I can’t help it. I’m addicted to you.” He stopped walking for a moment and kissed her.
“Danae, I love you so much. I would love it if you stayed home and had my babies.”
She couldn’t believe it. It was everything she had always wanted. “I would love that, too.”
Six months later
“Andy, I’m late.” Danae was cautiously optimistic.
“Two weeks. I feel fine, which makes me think I’m just off.” Darcey had morning sickness before she had a positive test.
“Well, we’ve been trying. Do you want me to get a test on my way home from work tonight?” Andy tied his tie and adjusted his outfit in the mirror as he got ready for work.
“Would you? I have a full schedule with work today. I’m not sure I’ll have time to stop.” She walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I hope with everything I have that we’re pregnant. I want this so much.”
He turned around and gazed into her eyes. “Give me a son. Or a daughter. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s healthy and perfect, like you.” He kissed her.
“I love you, Andy. I can’t wait to see you tonight.”
“I love you so much, Danae. Tonight, our lives could change forever.”
Danae spent her workday driving around town, singing for clients, getting her name into the city. But her mind was on other things, in other places. She drove to her last client of the day, but she was not interested in doing one more song. All she could think of was Andy, waiting at home for her. And as she walked back to where she had parked her car, all she found was an empty spot. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” she cried, looking at a pile of broken glass where her car once sat.
She sat on the curb and brought out her cell phone. As it rang, she wept. The car was a gift from Andy, and someone had stolen it. She was heartbroken.
“Danae?” came the greeting. “Is something wrong, honey?”
“Andy, my car is gone. I’m stranded.” She was at a house close to The Grind, in a less savory section of town.
“Gone? It got stolen?” He sat in stunned disbelief.
“I’m so sorry, babe. All that is left is a pile of broken glass. It’s gone.” Her tears were hot, and she was overly emotional.
“Shh, don’t cry, my sweet. Where are you, and I’ll come to get you.”
“I’m at the trailer park by The Grind. It’s getting dark. Please hurry. I don’t feel safe here.”
“Stay put. I’ll find you.” He grabbed his keys and ran to his car. Not paying much attention to speed limits or stop signs, he drove as quickly as he could to find her. After a few minutes of driving around, he spotted her sitting on the curb outside a run-down trailer. He got out, and she ran to him.
“Andy, I’m so sorry about the car,” she wept.
“Let’s get out of here,” Andy said. He took her hand and led her to the car. From the road, he saw someone watching Danae from inside their house. “Come on, my sweet.”
“I never felt so vulnerable as I did sitting there waiting, babe. But I never expected my car to get stolen. I was only at the client’s house for five minutes. Unbelievable.” She shook as she climbed into Andy’s car. He locked the door immediately and started the engine.
“I don’t want to stick around here. Someone was watching you from inside a house. I have a bad feeling.” He spun his tires as he drove away.
“Did you get the test?” she asked.
“It’s waiting for you at home,” he grinned. “I’ve thought of little else all day, wondering if our lives will ever be the same.”
“Me too. I almost didn’t go to this last client. Now I wish I hadn’t.”
They pulled into the driveway, and Andy parked just outside the garage, in his usual spot. She looked at her empty place in the driveway. “Home safe,” he said and sighed.
“I’m sorry about the car. I feel terrible about it. You gave it to me.” Thinking about it made her emotional again.
“We can replace a car, love. We can’t replace you. It could have been worse.” Andy hugged her before they got out.
“I know how hard you work. It’s disappointing.”
“Come, my sweet. We have some happy news awaiting us.” He took her hand, and together they walked into the house. Charlotte was home, cooking dinner.
“What happened, Nae? Where’s your new car?” she asked.
“Who knows, Mama? I’ll probably never see it again.” Danae sighed deeply, and a tear rolled down her cheek. It was probably already torn apart in a chop shop.
“Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry.” The look on Danae’s face broke her heart.
“Yeah, she was by The Grind in that trailer park. That place is awful.” Andy shook his head. “We’re going to need to arrange things better if you have clients in there, my love.”
Danae walked upstairs to change her clothes, and Andy was right behind her. “I left the test in the bathroom for you, my sweet.” He sat on the bed and watched her get undressed. She walked up to him, and he put his hand on her belly.
“I hope I’m not setting my expectations too high on this test. All day long, I’ve been certain it will be positive. But now, I’m not so sure.”
He put his ear to her stomach and listened. Smiling, he looked up at her. “She’s in there. I can sense it.”
“I know I want a son. But I think this one’s a girl.” Andy’s caramel brown eyes sparkled as he gazed at her. “You’re making me wait, why?”
“I’m going, I’m going,” she laughed and walked to the bathroom. Andy heard her unwrap the test, and a minute later, he heard her pee.
“You didn’t close the door,” he said. “I hear you.”
“You’ve heard worse,” she laughed. She snapped a shield over the test, and set it down on the counter while she washed her hands. “Here,” she said and handed it to Andy, “I can’t look.”
“How long do we wait?”
“The box said five minutes.” Danae looked at her watch.
They sat together. Both watched the clock and held hands. When the five minutes were up, Danae looked at Andy.
“Do we look together?” he asked.
“On three,” she nodded. “One, two, three!” And she pulled the guard from the test.
She didn’t have any words, but tears welled in her eyes immediately. Andy placed the test on the nightstand and held her as she wept.
Danae was at the summer festival working the crowd by the roller rink, playing her guitar and singing for tips. It was hot, and the fairgrounds were packed. One of the food carts had a fresh batch of funnel cakes, and it smelled delicious. Danae excused herself for a ten-minute break and hopped into line to buy one. With a cold lemonade and a hot funnel cake, she took a seat at a picnic table, tearing off bites and enjoying it. It was the first thing she’d had to eat since breakfast, and she was hungry. A young man sat across from her with an ice pop and hoped to stir up a conversation.
“I heard you singing. You’re terrific,” the young man said. “My name is Ralph. You’re Nae, right?”
She nodded while she chewed on a bite of cake. “I am. Nice to meet you, Ralph.” She wiped her hands on a napkin and took a sip of lemonade. “Thank you for the sweet compliment.”
“You deserve it. I had hoped to catch you singing somewhere. My friend told me about you. He said you sounded like Destiny Hill, and I didn’t believe him. I had to hear it for myself.”
“I’m flattered. I know Destiny was very popular way back in the day.” Danae smiled.
“She was. My grandmother was a huge fan. I wish I could have been around when she was alive. I heard her concerts were magic.” Ralph smiled.
“I’ve heard that same thing.” Danae finished her lemonade and gathered her trash to throw away when he stopped her.
“Let me get that for you,” he said and took the plate and cup from her. He touched her hand lightly.
She looked at him and tried to read him. “Thank you, but you didn’t have to do that.” She stood and began to make her way back to her amp and guitar.
“Wait, Nae,” he said as he stepped in front of her. “Would you like to get some coffee sometime?”
She smiled at him. “I hate to tell you this, Ralph, but I’m married. My husband is rather protective, so I’m sure he wouldn’t let me. But I sure appreciate the offer. I hope to see you at one of my shows sometime.”
“You will,” he replied.
Danae walked back to her microphone and picked up her guitar. She turned the amp back on and strummed the instrument. She was going to sing a Destiny Hill hit. The background music began, and she played along to the soundtrack. Suddenly, she felt queasy. I guess I shouldn’t have had that funnel cake, she thought.
Two songs later, she was fighting the urge to throw up. She packed up her amp and guitar and started to bring the equipment to the car. When she got there, she couldn’t hold it anymore. Lemonade and funnel cake revisited her violently and splashed the tire of Charlotte’s car. Danae hurried to gather the rest of her gear. When she got home, she left her things in the car, and walked to the house, still feeling ill.
“Well, you don’t look good,” Charlotte remarked as she observed Danae.
“I think I’m overheated, and I had a funnel cake on an empty stomach. I threw it up at the fair. I just need to cool off.” She went into the bathroom by the spa room and changed into her bathing suit. “I’m going to swim for a few minutes to see if I can cool down.”
“Okay, honey. Call if you need me.” Charlotte sat down at the island and read her book for work.
Danae nodded as she walked to the pool. She showered before she got in, and sickness hit her again. She turned and got sick in the bushes by the pool, and felt dizzy. Against her better judgment, she dove into the pool anyway, hoping it was just the heat that made her sick. And after swimming around for a few minutes, nausea began to subside. Yep, I’m overheated, she thought, though she was sure the funnel cake didn’t help.
Andy walked into the yard a few moments later. “Hey, sweet thing,” he called to her as she did laps in the pool. She swam to the side where he stood.
“Care to join me?” she asked, and then suddenly, she felt nauseated again. Quickly, she pulled herself out of the pool and ran for the outside shower, where she threw up. Andy ran after her.
“Are you okay, my sweet?”
“I had some fair food at work. It did not like me.” Danae wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and stood against the wall as if it was the only thing holding her upright. “I don’t feel so good.”
“Let me take you upstairs,” Andy said and picked her up. Gently, he carried her up the stairs and set her down on the bed, wet or not.
“Get Mama,” she said, as another wave of nausea swept over her.
Andy called Charlotte from the top of the stairs. “Danae is sick, she wants you, Charlotte.” He walked back toward their bedroom and heard her retching outside the door. Moments later, soft footsteps ascended the stairs.
“Where is she?” Charlotte asked as she went to grab her medical bag.
“Our bathroom. Danae thinks she had something at the fair that made her sick.”
“Reasonable conclusion. I don’t know how more people don’t get sick down there.” She grabbed her stethoscope and a thermometer and approached the bathroom.
“Hey honey,” Charlotte said, as Danae sat on the floor by the toilet.
“Hi Mama,” she said, her face resting on the seat. “This isn’t my first rodeo with food poisoning, but I haven’t seen it hit this hard before.”
“What did you eat at the fair?” Charlotte took her pulse, and it was rapid, she surmised, from being sick.
“Lemonade and a funnel cake. It wasn’t ten minutes before I felt nauseated, so I’m sure it was the food.”
“Maybe. Is there a chance you could be pregnant, Nae?”
“Well, I took a test a week ago, and it was negative.” Danae reached into the wastebasket by the toilet and pulled the test out, and handed it to Charlotte. “See?”
“Nae, this has two very distinct pink lines, honey.”
“Are you kidding me?” Danae looked at the test again, and sure enough, there were two very distinct pink but faded lines on the test.
“I have a pregnancy test in my bag. You should do another one.” She dug into the bag and pulled one out, setting it on the counter. “That could also explain why something greasy triggered nausea. I couldn’t eat anything greasy when I was pregnant with you and Darcey.”
Andy walked into the bathroom and saw Charlotte holding the test. “Is that recent?”
“This is the one she took last week. It was still up here in the trash. She’s going to take another one now.” Charlotte stood up. “I’ll let you two be alone for this.” She kissed Danae’s forehead. “Good luck, sweetie!”
Andy sat with Danae and looked at the old pregnancy test. “Do it,” he said. “I have a good feeling about this.”
“Me too,” Danae smiled.
He supervised as she took the test and placed the shield back on it. She got up and washed her hands. She still felt queasy, but a little better. They brought the test into the bedroom with them and waited.
It was the longest five minutes of their lives.
Danae’s watch beeped for the five-minute timer. “I can’t look, Andy. You do it.” She remembered the heartbreak of just a week before when they were so sure.
“Okay,” he said. He was going to count out loud, but then he just decided to look. “Uh oh, we have a problem, Danae,” he said.
“Oh no,” she cried, tears filling her eyes immediately.
“Do you want our baby to call you ‘Mom’ or ‘Mama’? It’s a big decision, but you have a few months to decide.” He turned the test around so she could see it.
There were two very distinct, very brilliant pink lines.
Her expression went from sadness to extreme joy in mere seconds when she realized what he meant. “We’re pregnant? We did it! Oh, Andy!” She hugged him and kissed him so hard, and he had to pull away to catch his breath.
“We did it, my sweet. We did it.”
“I have a surprise for you,” Andy whispered to Danae, wrapped around her as she woke up. He kissed her neck, and she squirmed.
“Not now, Andy,” she said sleepily. “I’m not feeling well.”
“Not that, silly. I mean a real surprise, my sweet.” The anticipation was killing him.
She turned to face him and saw how his face glowed with happiness. “Something for the baby?”
“Well, in a very remote, distant kind of way, maybe.” He grinned. He loved making her guess.
“Hmm. I don’t know, Andy. What?” She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. He handed her a small box.
“This is the biggest hint. Open it.”
She unwrapped the box and opened it. The contents made her smile. “A car key!”
“The insurance reimbursed me for your car, so I bought you a new one.”
“Oh, Andy! I can’t wait to see it!” She jumped out of bed and hugged him.
“It’s in the driveway, my sweet, waiting for you.” He kissed her tenderly.
“The car can wait,” she smiled slyly. “But, I can’t wait for you.” She sat back down on the bed and patted the spot next to her.
“I thought you weren’t feeling well?” he asked as he called her bluff.
“All better!” she replied. “It’s a miracle!” She chuckled and admired him. “And I’m so ready for you.”
“Now you’re talking,” he purred at her.
It was a chilly late summer morning. Danae dressed in a modest tan dress, and wore a peach sweater over it, with peach pumps. She walked to the office of the Shores Sing-A-Gram and opened the door. The receptionist greeted her. “Hello, Nae.”
“Hi Lianne,” Danae answered. “I need to see Sheila. Is she here?”
“I’ll let her know you’re here.”
“Thank you.” Danae sat in the waiting area of the office and looked at the photos of past stars. One picture was very familiar, and it drew her attention. I don’t look much like her, she thought, as she stared at the photo of Destiny Hill.
“Danae? I’m ready for you,” Sheila called to her and broke her stare at the old portrait. She shook Sheila’s hand and followed her to the back office. She motioned for Danae to sit and joined her on the sofa in her office. “What can I do for you, Nae?”
“Well,” she began, “I have thought long and hard about this, but I’ve decided to tender my resignation. My husband and I are expecting our first child, and he would like me to stay home.”
“Congratulations!” she exclaimed. “How exciting! But you know, Danae, we can reduce your hours until you’re ready for maternity leave. You don’t need to give up your career just because you’re expecting.” Sheila looked at Danae. She didn’t look pregnant.
“Well, Andy and I discussed it, and I—You know, this baby is the realization of a lifelong dream. Just two years ago, when I was in college, I thought I’d never be in this position. I know people think I’m wasting my degree, but in reality, being a mother was all I ever wanted. When I met Andy, my life changed for the better, and now, he’s given me the best gift.” Her hand went to her tummy, where the baby was growing.
“You seem determined, Nae. I never thought you’d give up your career for something so menial.”
“What do you mean by menial?”
“Well, child care. I couldn’t imagine anything more mindless.”
Danae was immediately angry. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that. Please accept my resignation. I won’t be back.” She gathered her bag and took her car keys from it.
“I’m sorry to see you go. You are sacrificing a huge career with tons of potential. I think you’re making a big mistake.” Sheila opened the checkbook and wrote Danae’s final paycheck. “You don’t have to finish your two-week notice. I will accept your resignation immediately.”
“Thank you for the opportunity. I’m sorry you feel the way you do. My family is the most important thing to me.” Danae took the check from her and put it into her purse. She extended her hand to shake. “Thank you again.”
Sheila shook her head but shook Danae’s hand anyway. “If you change your mind, we’ll be here.” Danae huffed under her breath and left the office.
In the car, she called Andy. She needed to vent. “Hey, my sweet!” his cheerful voice answered.
“Hey, babe. I just resigned from my job at the Sing-A-Gram. Sheila had no qualms about telling me what a big mistake I’m making, staying home with our baby.”
“What? That is your choice, and no one else’s.”
“She made me angry.” Danae huffed.
“Yeah, I’m not happy about that, either. I don’t blame you. But you’re making a decision that’s best for you. For us.” His sweet voice had a way of calming her soul.
“I know. Well, one down, one to go,” Danae said. Her next stop was the talent agency, and she hoped that would go better than her last stop.
“Good luck, sweetheart. Remember, I love you forever.”
“I love you, Andy. I can’t wait to see you later.”
She pulled up in front of the talent agency and parked her car. Danae checked her reflection in the rearview mirror and got out of her car. She walked toward the office and opened the door. The agency was on the fifth floor, and she waited for the elevator.
“Hello, Danae,” the cheerful receptionist greeted her.
“Hello, Tanya. I need to see Mr. Billings. Is he available?”
“I think he’s in his office. I’ll check for you.” Tanya dialed her phone and chattered with the person on the other end. Danae walked around the office and noticed the decor, her mind somewhere else. She was admiring a piece of artwork when a tap on her shoulder startled her.
“Mrs. Murphy, Chad Billings. How can I help you today?”
“Ooh! You startled me,” she laughed. “Yes, Mr. Billings, I need to speak with you.” He led her to his office and offered her a seat.
“What can I do for you, Danae?” Chad asked.
“Well, I have thought about this and decided that I am going to tender my resignation, Mr. Billings. My husband and I are expecting our first child, and we’ve decided that I will stay home and care for the baby.”
“Congratulations to you both! We will miss you around here. You have enormous potential, but I certainly respect your decision. My wife gave up her career to care for our kids, too, and she says she would do it all over again.”
“Thank you for understanding. My decision wasn’t as well-received elsewhere, so I appreciate it.”
“I wish you all the best, and if you decide to change your mind, remember you’re always welcome to come back.” Chad stood to shake her hand. “Again, congratulations on your little one. Children are a blessing.”
“Thank you, Chad,” she replied and shook his hand. “I’ll miss being a client here. I remember when you signed me and took a chance on me. I’ll never forget your kindness.”
Danae drove home, smiling, and content. Her new car was a year newer than the old one, but the same model and color, and she loved it. She got out of the car after she parked in the driveway, and nearly skipped to the house, where Charlotte was reading her medical journal. “You look happy, Punkin.”
“Today, I’m officially unemployed!” Danae announced.
“That’s an interesting thing to be when you’re expecting a new baby.” Charlotte wasn’t sure she was happy about one less income in the house with Travis expecting to retire within the next few months.
“Andy wants me to stay at home and concentrate on the baby.” Danae flitted around the house, picking up dishes and wiping down counters.
“You’re barely eight weeks pregnant, Nae. You have a long way to go. Don’t you think you’ll be bored at home with nothing to do?”
“Who says I’ll have nothing to do? I have a nursery to get ready, and furniture to pull down from the attic.” She had everything all figured out.
“As long as you’re contributing to the household, Danae. I don’t want to see you laying around doing nothing, and letting your Daddy and me do everything,” Charlotte warned her sternly.
“Mama!” Danae exclaimed. “I’m offended that you think I would do that.” She walked to a soft chair in front of the television and sat, her head in her hands. “Do you think I’m that worthless?”
“Of course not, Danae. I’m sorry, sweetie. I just hope that Andy can handle the stress on your finances. It’s a lot to ask of him.”
“He suggested it, Mama. He makes more than enough, and we’ve been saving for our house. Maybe we should just go ahead and move out. We’ll get out of your hair.” Danae sighed. She didn’t want to move, not yet.
“Don’t be hasty, Nae. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you’d like, or not move at all. The house will be yours someday, anyway. Devin is all set up in his new house, Darcey and Clint are in their house. You will eventually inherit this house. You may as well stay put.” Charlotte walked to Danae and hugged her. “I’m sorry, Danae. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
“It’s okay, Mama. I wouldn’t have thought anything about it, but I had problems at the Sing-A-Gram when I resigned. She told me I was making a big mistake, being a stay at home mother. A housewife.” Danae shook her head.
“Nae, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re less for wanting to be a housewife and mother. There is no greater calling, no harder job than raising children. I commend you for it. I didn’t have to work, but I wanted to. Nana stayed home with me. She loved every minute of it, too.”
“Thanks, Mama. I think I’m going to go upstairs and get changed into something comfy. My jeans are feeling snug.” She giggled. “I can’t wait to start looking pregnant. Then it will feel real.”
“Indeed, it will, my Punkin.” Charlotte looked at her watch. “By the way, we’ll be home late tonight. It’s date night, and Daddy and I are going to The Tower for dinner and dancing.”
“Awesome!” Danae said. She knew they would have the house to themselves for the night, and she began planning how they would spend it.
When Andy came home, Danae was sitting in the living room, reading a book. He quietly tiptoed into the house, but she saw him coming. Not wanting to spoil his plans, she pretended she didn’t see him. He snuck up behind her and brushed her hair away from her neck and kissed it. “Hello, my sweet,” he said. “How’s the love of my life today?” He walked to the front of the chair where she sat and kneeled before her.
“Hello, my love. I’m spectacular.” He took her hands in his and kissed them. “I’m officially unemployed, and my jeans officially don’t fit.” He put his head in her lap, and she stroked his hair. “How was your day?”
“I’m glad I’m home. It was so busy. So many media inquiries about your dad. Lots of speculation in the media about his impending retirement. Rumors about your brother. It’s a lot to handle. It makes coming home to you that much better.” He looked into her eyes and smiled at her.
“What about Devin?” Danae had heard no rumors about him.
“Something about his love life and some indiscretion. Who knows? I don’t have the energy to keep up with the rumor mill here. Life is so different in the city compared to our village.” He sighed heavily. “Sometimes I miss the small-town life, but you’re here. We’re here together. You make my life worthwhile.”
“Why don’t I make it even more worthwhile?” She stroked his cheek and smiled at him sweetly. “I love you so much, Andy.”
“Oh, Danae, I love you more than I can tell you.”
“Then show me.”
“You’re already pregnant,” he smiled, placing his hand on her belly.
“When has that stopped you before?”
“You make a good point, my love.” He stood and pulled her up, picked her up, and carried her upstairs to their bedroom, locking the door behind him.
Andy and Travis finished up the painting in the nursery, Devin’s old bedroom, painting it a soft, girly pink. Charlotte placed a pink and white throw rug in front of Danae’s old crib, which had a brand new mattress and bedding. One of the antique rockers that had belonged to Fran and Charlie sat in the room. And Danae supervised the decorating, placing her old favorite doll in the crib. It seemed only yesterday that Danae and Darcey shared this bedroom, and now it was a nursery for their unborn daughter. She walked to Andy and snuggled up into his embrace.
“It looks beautiful, honey.” She looked around, taking it all in. “You and Daddy did a great job painting, and Mama’s border looks fantastic.
“It won’t be long now, and she’ll be here.” He hugged her tightly.
“Thank you, Daddy, for helping Andy paint. I waited way too long to paint the room.”
“I have nothing but time, Punkin,” Travis replied. He had been retired for a few months and, he loved spoiling her.
She waddled to the rocking chair and sat. “I can’t believe this chair is so old. You said it was from Appaloosa Plains?”
“Yes, honey,” Charlotte answered. “It’s the oldest piece of furniture in the house. It belonged to my great grandmother Frances, and Nana Destiny brought it from Appaloosa Plains when she moved here. The Farmer women have rocked four generations of babies in it, including you and Darcey.”
“That’s amazing, Mama.” Danae ran her hand over the old wood. Yes, the chair had seen better days, but the knowledge that her daughter would be the fifth generation rocked in it made her exceedingly happy.
“How much longer, Nae?” Travis asked.
“Three more weeks and Elyse will be here.” Her hand rested on her belly, and the baby was very active. “Come feel her, Daddy. She’s kicking like crazy!”
Travis walked to where Danae sat, placed his hand gently on her, and felt the baby kick. “Wow, she’s got a set of legs on her!” He smiled and wiped a happy tear from his face. Elyse would be their first granddaughter. Darcey was pregnant with their second son and was due shortly after Danae.
“Dinner will be ready in an hour or so, guys. Danae, would you come set the table for me?” Charlotte asked as she turned to go downstairs.
“I’ll get it, Charlotte,” Andy volunteered. “You stay off your feet, love.” He blew a kiss to his wife and walked downstairs to assist his mother-in-law.
Andy was up early, packing an overnight bag for a weekend trip to Dragon Valley on business. Lionel had set the meeting up a month prior, and Andy knew it would be bad timing. Danae was due any day, and he didn’t want to leave her.
Danae stirred as he closed the dresser drawer. He knew she slept poorly these days and was wildly uncomfortable. He walked to the bed and brushed the hair away from her cheek and kissed it. Sleepily, she opened her eyes. “Hey, love,” she said, peeking through bleary eyes.
“I’m almost ready to leave, but I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave you, and I don’t want to miss Elyse being born. Please, wait for me.” Andy smiled at her but felt tears welling in his eyes.
“Hurry home, babe. I’ll try to wait, but I’m not in charge of that, I’m afraid.” She kissed him and wiped a tear from his face. “Travel safe. I love you.”
“I love you, Danae.” He placed his hand on her belly and rubbed it gently. “I love you, too, little one. Daddy will be home soon.”
He walked softly down the steps, and his cell phone rang. “Hello?”
“Son, don’t worry about coming out this morning. Lionel knows Danae is due any day, and he doesn’t want you to miss it. I’m going alone.” Emmitt said.
“Dad, are you sure? I’m already packed and ready to go.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Take care of your wife. And text a picture of my granddaughter to me if she comes while I’m away. I love you, Anduin, and I’m so proud of you.”
“Tell Lionel, thank you, Dad. I love you, too.” Andy hung up the phone and walked back up the steps. When he reached the bedroom, Danae was in tears, holding her belly. “Nae?”
“Andy, she’s coming.” Danae wept. “You’re going to miss it.”
“No, I’m not. Dad just called me. Lionel told me to stay here with you. Let’s go, sweetheart.” Andy took her arm and led her down the steps. Travis was on his way down the stairs when he saw them.
“Are you okay, Punkin?” he asked Danae.
“She’s coming, Daddy. Your granddaughter will be here soon.” She beamed as she waddled down the steps. “Let Mama know. Andy will call you when she’s here.”
“I love you, Nae. Your Mama does, too. Be well!” Travis called to them.
Andy helped her into his car, and together they drove to the hospital. “Are you excited, Andy?” she asked, breathing through her pain.
“You bet I am,” he beamed. He took Danae’s hand as he navigated down the Los Sueños Strip. They arrived at the hospital, and he walked her to the ER. The staff took one look at her and called for a wheelchair, and they whisked her away from Andy while they prepped Danae for delivery. Once she was in a room, Andy joined her.
“Breathe, honey,” he encouraged her. “I love you so much, Danae.”
“I love you too,” she cried, as a contraction ripped through her body. “So much pain!”
“Hang in there, love. She won’t be too much longer, and you’ll be holding her.” Andy kissed her forehead and held her hand.
The doctor came in to see her. “Danae, your daughter is almost ready to meet you. We’re moving you to delivery now. Are you the baby’s father?” she asked, talking to Andy.
“Yes, I am, Doc,” he said proudly.
“Very well. Come with me,” Dr. Myles said and directed Andy while the orderly moved Danae to delivery.
A half-hour later, Danae was holding a wiggly, crying, perfect baby girl with her Daddy’s darker skin color and her Mama’s violet eyes. Andy was beaming with pride as he gazed upon his wife and infant daughter. As promised, he snapped a picture of Danae and the baby, texted the photo to Emmitt, and dialed Charlotte’s cell phone.
“Hello?” came Charlotte’s happy voice.
“Charlotte! Elyse has arrived. She and Danae are doing great!” Andy said.
“Travis is going to be so happy! He’s at physical therapy, but I’ll tell him when he gets home. Tell her I love her, and we’ll see them when you get home.”
“Will do, Charlotte. We love you both.” Andy hung up the phone.
The next morning, Dr. Myles released Danae and Elyse from the hospital, and Andy arrived in a limousine to pick them up. Danae’s eyes lit up when she saw it. “It looks like your first ride is in style, baby girl,” she whispered to Elyse and kissed her forehead. The baby yawned and closed her eyes. The family of three entered the limo and settled in for the ride back home.
“What do you think, my sweet?” he beamed, smiling from ear to ear.
“You outdid yourself, Daddy.” She reached for his hand, and he took it and kissed her fingers.
“We made a beautiful baby, sweetheart. She is perfection.”
“She looks like you, babe. Of course, she’s perfection.” Danae rested her head on his shoulder.
The limo dropped them off at the front gate, and Andy climbed out first. With his free hand, he helped her out, then Danae reached in and lifted Elyse from the car seat. Together, they walked into the house. Travis was the first one to see them, and he fell to pieces seeing his baby girl holding her daughter.
“Oh, Danae! She is beautiful!” he wept, holding his arms open to take her. “Hi, sweetheart,” he cooed at the baby as he snuggled her close. “I’m your Pop-Pop!”
Charlotte was standing back watching but opened her arms to hug Danae. “Congratulations, honey! She is perfect.”
“Thanks, Mama,” she replied, smiling.
“Andy, she looks so much like you!” Charlotte said as she hugged him. “Congratulations!”
The baby started to fuss, and Danae took her upstairs to the nursery to feed her. Andy appeared in the doorway shortly afterward and watched her as the baby nursed. “My sweet, you are a natural at this. You’re going to be a wonderful mother.”
“Thank you, babe. She’s almost done nursing. Do you want to put her in the crib?”
“I think I’d love that,” Andy smiled and took Elyse from her mother. “Sleep sweet, my baby girl.”
Danae got up from the chair and stretched. “I’m sleepy. While the baby sleeps, I’m going to take a nap.”
“I’ll lay down with you,” he said, and they walked hand in hand to their bedroom.
Up Next: Chapter Eight, Generation Five