Andy returned to work the next day to an email from Fiona. Uh oh, he thought, this can’t be good. With his heart in his throat, he opened the email.
Devin Jones tells me you attacked him unprovoked. I don’t want to believe this of you, because you’re a level-headed guy. I will be in town tomorrow. Let’s get a coffee and discuss this, shall we?
Fiona O’Reilly McDonald
CEO, Sunset Valley Pharmaceuticals
He slumped in his desk chair. This isn’t good, he thought. And then he realized that she was in town now.
He dialed Fiona’s phone, and she answered it quickly. “This is Fi.”
“Hey Fi, it’s Andy. You wanted to see me today?”
“As a matter of fact, I do. Let’s go to the Flying V for coffee and a nice long chat.” He heard her shuffling papers in the background, hoping she wasn’t preparing for his dismissal.
“Sounds good. When shall I meet you?”
“How about now? We will take my limo there, together.”
Andy wiped his sweaty palms on his slacks. “I will meet you in the lot.”
He carried his phone, in case he got fired and stranded, and his briefcase for the same reason. It had his most important information inside, and it went with him everywhere. She was waiting for him when he approached the limo, and the driver held the door for both of them.
It was a quiet, uncomfortable ride to the Flying V, but it was short. They walked to a table by the stage outside and sat. “Let’s just cut to the chase, Fi. Tell me what Devin said, and I will tell you how true it is.”
“Well, he claimed you two were talking yesterday, and you attacked him for no reason. I know you two have a history of bad blood, but you handled the Tillman negotiations well when his job was on the line, so I tend to believe he is not being upfront with me.”
“With all due respect, Fi, he isn’t going to include the information that makes him look bad.” Andy shifted nervously. “So yes, we were talking, but it was more him harassing me than talking. Are you aware of what he says about Danae in the locker room?”
“So you know he has been actively attempting to sabotage my marriage to her by spreading lies, hoping someday I will believe him.”
“I do. This is old news, Andy. What happened yesterday?”
“Believe me, it is related.” He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “My first day back to work after we lost our baby, and Devin started on me. ‘I hear you and my sister are having marital problems,’ was the first thing out of his mouth. Not, ‘how’s my sister,’ or ‘I’m sorry.’ And then he asked me if the baby she lost was mine. That was when I went after him, regrettably. But his question was way out of line. I am sorry I lost my cool.”
“That isn’t acceptable for him to be saying about his own sister and your wife.” She fumbled through her paperwork and brought out Devin’s disciplinary records. “This is his third strike, Andy. I could dismiss him for this, even though he denies any wrongdoing. I am more apt to believe you than someone with his history of lies, attitude, and scandals. I will leave this decision up to you as the team manager.”
“If it is truly up to me, he’s gone, Fi. I told Danae yesterday that I feel helpless to stop him, and I’m so tired of hearing second and third hand what he says about my wife. She is his own flesh and blood. I don’t know what he has against her, but they were closer up until my son was born. I don’t know what happened with them, but this ends today.”
“I also heard that you were going to call me yesterday and present an ultimatum of sorts. You or Devin.”
Andy felt sick. “I flirted with it briefly. Aaron talked me out of it.”
“You owe Aaron a debt of gratitude. I would not have chosen you, Andy. Devin, as much as it pains me to say it, was much more valuable to the team than a very replaceable manager. I am allowing you to stay, because I need your particular expertise and because you have no prior offenses. But this will not be tolerated again. I know you had a rapport with my father, but he is no longer the CEO of this company. Consider this your first and last warning, Andy. This will go in your personnel file, for the record of course.”
“I understand, and thank you, Fiona.” He swallowed hard. “I won’t let you down again.”
“That is good to hear. Now, can I get you a coffee? Let’s catch up. How is Danae?”
He was amazed at how quickly she could turn on the “Boss” persona and then be friendly two seconds later. “A latte would be good, thank you. Danae is better. We’re starting to heal emotionally from this nightmare. Neither of us would have made it through this ordeal without the other.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Andy.”
They chatted about non-team related things, reminisced about Dragon Valley, talked about Lionel and Tarah, Emmitt and Tessa, his relationship with Kaitlyn, and other small talk. They had gone to the same private school, and though Fiona was a year older than Andy, she remembered him well. When the meeting had concluded, they rode back to the stadium in the same uncomfortable silence.
They exited the limo at the stadium, and she shook his hand firmly, almost painfully. “Remember our talk, Andy. I will prepare Devin’s contract cancellation, and speak with him personally. Danae doesn’t have to know this was your decision.”
“She will be happy, Fi. I told her by mistake what was going on with him. Travis wanted me to keep that close, but I failed him.” He nodded. “She won’t care.”
The end of the workday couldn’t come fast enough, and Andy was out the stadium door and in his car faster than he’d ever left before. The only person who had known about the ultimatum was Aaron, and Andy couldn’t believe he would throw him under the bus so quickly. And he was ticked.
Danae was making dinner when he walked into the house. Elyse and Eamon were playing nicely together, but she squealed and giggled when Andy walked through the door. He didn’t say a word, but simply picked her up and cuddled her, breathing in her scent, and sniffled into her curly brown hair.
“Are you okay, babe?” Danae asked. “I didn’t even get a hello.”
“I’m better now,” he replied. “Rough day.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Maybe later, honey. Right now I just want to cuddle this little girl.”
“Okay.” Something was wrong, and she felt uneasy. She finished up making dinner and prepared a small bowl for Elyse, some baby food for Eamon, and served Andy’s dinner to him. Danae sat down with hers, and hoped to have some sort of conversation. But there was nothing. It was eerily quiet with the babbling of two young children while she helped Eamon eat in between bites of her own meal.
After dinner, Andy gave Eamon and Elyse a bath and read to both of them. Danae came to help tuck them in when she was finished with dishes, and they retired to the bedroom for the evening.
“I know something is wrong,” she began. “What is it?”
“A few things happened at work today. I’m not sure how I really feel about any of it.”
“Well, like what?”
“I had an email from Fiona first thing this morning. She invited me to the coffeehouse to talk about Devin because he complained about me yesterday.”
“About what? That kid…” Andy could see her temper rising.
“He claimed I attacked him unprovoked. Luckily, Fi saw right through that. I told her the truth, that he was being provocative and she, knowing his history, put the decision to terminate him in my hands. I didn’t think twice about it, Nae. He’s gone. Finished.”
“No one would blame you, babe. Me included.”
“And then she cornered me with something else, something only Aaron knew about. He sold me out, Nae.”
“What did you tell him?”
“Right after the incident with Devin, I was going to call Fiona and tell her it was him or me, and that I was done on the team if he was staying. Aaron told me to think before doing something rash, and that he didn’t think she would have picked me.”
“I think I remember you saying this yesterday.”
“Well, today she told me I owe Aaron a debt of gratitude because he saved my job. But did he really? If he threw me under the bus…”
“Is there any way Devin might have known about that, babe?”
Andy thought for a moment and grimaced. “Yes, of course he did. I am so stupid. It wasn’t Aaron at all.”
“You made the right decision about Devin, Andy. I’m not angry with you.”
“My sweet, you have no idea how much that means to me. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“One thing is for certain, honey. Fiona is a tough boss. The atmosphere is nothing like working for Lionel. I am not sure how long the team will thrive under her thumb.”
“Maybe, if she makes it miserable enough, we can go somewhere else and make a home and build a good life. There are other teams in need of your expertise, I’m sure.”
“It’s always an option. But I love it here. Your family is from here. The big city is growing on me, though I could do without the gossip and scandals that go with big city living. That part is a bit much.”
“I wouldn’t know any other way to live. The Shores is all I know.” She saw more conflict in his eyes. “You need me, don’t you?”
“No, I’m fine,” he lied.
“Well, that’s good,” she said, kissing him tenderly and repeatedly.
“Why is it good?”
“Because you’re just too darned sexy for me,” she said, as she spoke the magic words.
“I love you more than you know, my sweet, darling Danae.”
“Come here and let me love you,” she purred.
Andy arrived at work the next morning, his first without Devin Jones bothering him, and settled into his office. Aaron stuck his head in to say hi.
“Hey Aaron, I’ve been wanting to ask you something.”
“Sure Andy, what’s up?”
“Did you say anything to Fiona about my ultimatum the other day?”
“No, why would I do that? I didn’t want to see you go.”
“That’s what I thought. It had to be Devin. He must have heard me say I was going to call Fi.”
“Did she say something to you about it?” Aaron was gobsmacked to think it was even an issue.
“Yes, and I got my first and only warning about it, too. It was Devin’s last ‘screw you, Andy’.”
“Unbelievable. Fiona made the right call yesterday. That little jerk will not be missed.”
“It was me, Aaron. I made the call.”
“Wow. Is Danae okay with that?”
“She’s not only okay with it, she encouraged it. She’s been done with her brother for at least a year now.” Andy sipped his morning coffee. “I’m just glad that Travis doesn’t have to deal with this anymore. He died heartbroken over his son.”
“See, I hate that. He didn’t deserve the grief that kid caused him. Travis was a good man. We’d have been lost in the early years here without him.”
“I appreciate that, Aaron. So does Danae. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t catch her crying over her father. She thinks I don’t see her. But I do.” It broke Andy’s heart to see her cry, too.
“You two have had so much pain. You should take your vacation and go somewhere peaceful.”
“I think I’ve used my vacation time taking care of Nae.”
“The team still gets the week after the season is over. Think about it, Andy. You guys deserve it.” Aaron turned to walk away. “Are you ready for the next playoff game? We’re headed to Isla Paradiso for it tomorrow.”
“Ugh, tomorrow already? Yes, I’m ready. I don’t know if she is, though.”
Aaron’s phone chimed. “I’ll catch you later, buddy.” He closed Andy’s office door and left.
“Yeah, see ya.” Andy opened his laptop and checked his email. There was an angry one from Devin. He smiled an almost satisfied smile as he clicked on the expletive-filled header to read it.
I know you’re the one who got me fired. You and your wife will be sorry. Don’t you know I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked for?
Watch your back.
Andy clicked on ‘Forward’ and sent it to Fiona, with a blind copy to Lionel. Even though he wasn’t the CEO anymore, he still had some influence over his daughter. Take that, you little punk, he thought.
His next call was to the security company that monitored the alarms and operated the gates around the house. He didn’t want to chance that Devin still had the code to enter the property, especially while Danae was home alone with their children.
“This is Anduin Murphy, and we live at 200 Foothill Drive. You’ve been maintaining our security system since my father-in-law owned the house. I need to change the entry codes for the gates around the perimeter.”
“Yes, Mr. Murphy. I found your account here. What would you like them changed to?” Andy gave him Elyse’s birthday, and he heard fingers typing the data into the computer system. “Okay, Mr. Murphy. We have that changed in the system, but give it about 20 minutes before it is uploaded to your unit.”
“Twenty minutes? That seems an awful long time.” Andy was suddenly worried.
“Is there a security concern?”
“Yes, my brother-in-law still has the old entry codes, and I fear he might try to hurt my wife or children.”
“We will send someone out to check on her, if you’d like.”
“I would greatly appreciate that, thank you. You don’t have to call back if everything is okay.”
“Sounds good. What else can I help you with today?”
“You’ve gone above and beyond what I expected. Hopefully, I won’t be hearing back from you.”
“Indeed, Mr. Murphy. Have a great day.”
“You too.” Andy hung up the phone.
He quickly dialed Danae’s number. “Hello?”
“Hi my sweet,” he greeted her. “I want to let you know I’ve changed the codes on the entry gates to Elyse’s birthday. I got a weird email from Devin this morning, and it made me a little nervous.”
“What did it say?”
“Basically, he knows I got him fired, that you and I will be sorry, and to watch our backs.”
“Andy! Now I don’t want to be here alone!”
“It’s okay, honey. The security company is sending someone to check on you. I just didn’t want you to get locked out if you needed to go somewhere.”
“I don’t know what Devin is capable of. This has me nervous.”
“You’ll be okay, honey. The codes will change in about fifteen minutes. In the meantime, stay on your guard, and call the police if you see him around the house.”
This was the last thing she needed. “I’m going to take the kids and lock ourselves in the bedroom.”
“Whatever makes you feel safe, honey, do it. I love you. Call me if you need me, okay?”
“Okay. I love you, Andy.”
He didn’t think much else about it until his phone rang an hour later. “This is Murphy.”
“Mr. Murphy, this is McKinnon Security. We wanted to let you know that your home is secure. The codes are updated, and we did a walk around. We couldn’t contact your wife, however, so we wanted to touch base with you.”
“She said she was going to lock herself and the kids in our bedroom. That’s probably why you couldn’t reach her. I’ll call her and tell her she’s safe.”
“We appreciate that. Thanks again for choosing McKinnon.”
“Thank you for taking care of that for me.”
One last phone call home, and we’ll be good. Her sleepy voice answered on the other end. “Hello?”
“Hey sweetie,” he greeted her. “I just got a call from McKinnon. They said the codes are updated and you’re safe in the house. Were you napping?”
“Yeah, I put the kids in bed with me, and we all took a nap together. So Devin isn’t on the premises?”
“They didn’t see him, no. You should be good to go.”
“Thank you, babe. I feel better now.” She yawned and looked at her sleeping babies. “Maybe I’ll go curl up with them again. I’m still tired.”
Andy smiled. “You do that, love. I wish I was there with all of you.”
“Oh, me too,” she said, smiling. “I’ll see you later, babe.”
“Yes, you will. I love you, Danae.”
“I love you too.”
Andy got home from work to a happy, safe family. The kids were playing blocks together, and Danae was making dinner. He had a surprise for her, and hoped she would be happy about it. He walked through the door, smiling.
“This is more like it,” she cooed at him, noticing his happy expression. “Hi, my love.”
“Hey my sweet,” he replied, giving her a kiss. “I have a proposition for you.” He walked back to the counter where he had dropped the mail.
She dried her hands on a towel and walked to where he stood, going through the mail. “Oh? You do?”
“Yes, I do. Here, sit down.” He pulled a chair out for her and they sat together. “I’m leaving for Isla Paradiso tomorrow night for a game. How would you like to come with me?”
“What about the kids?”
“Already have it covered. Darcey and Clint will take them for a couple of days.”
“A couple of days?”
“We would stay behind after the game, until Monday, when I’d have to be back at work. I already have a nice suite at the resort there. There’s no reason to stay alone.”
Danae couldn’t think of a reason to say no. “I’d love to!”
“We never had a honeymoon. This could be it.”
“This is sounding better and better all the time. What time is the flight tomorrow?”
“We leave here at 4 for a 7 o’clock flight. Darcey will have the next few days off, and Clint is taking a couple of days vacation to spend with the kids.”
“I love how you thought of everything. I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning and I have one thing to get before we go.”
“And what would that be?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“I do love surprises.”
“You will love this one,” she teased.
Danae was up early and called the babysitter to stay with the children while she went to her appointment. “I won’t be long, this doctor runs right on time. And I have one stop to make on my way home. If you need me, you have my number, Leslie.”
“I do, Mrs. Murphy.”
“Thank you for watching them for a bit.” Danae grabbed her keys and walked to her car.
“Mrs. Murphy, the doctor will see you now,” the nurse called her. Danae walked with her, and when they got to the exam room, she sat down. “How have you been feeling?”
“I can’t complain, but I’m getting antsy. I need to talk to the doctor about a few things.”
Danae blushed. “My husband and I are very active, and the wait has been difficult.”
“She will give you a better idea about that. Did you have your blood work done a few days ago?”
“Oh yes,” Danae confirmed. “I wouldn’t have neglected that.”
“She will go over those results with you. She will be in shortly.”
Danae only waited a few minutes before a soft knock sounded at the door. “Danae? How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been feeling much better, thanks.”
“Well, I know you’re busy, so I’ll get right to it. Your blood work looks good. Pregnancy hormones are negligible, which is good news.” She looked at Danae’s incision. “This looked like it’s healed up nicely. How are you feeling overall?”
“I can’t complain,” she said. “I do have a question, though. My husband and I are very active, and waiting has been terrible. Is it necessary to wait the full six weeks?”
“You know, six weeks is a general rule of thumb, but you look like you’ve healed nicely, and your hormones are in normal range. I don’t see a reason why you couldn’t resume light activity. You might not want to do a five-hour session, however. Use your best judgment.”
“This is awesome news. We are leaving tonight for Isla Paradiso for a mini-vacation with the playoff game tomorrow night.”
“Oh, that’s right!” The doctor exclaimed. “I forgot Andy is the team manager. You lucky woman.”
Danae blushed. “I am indeed.”
“We are done here. I want to see you back in two weeks. Enjoy your trip! I wish I was going to the playoff game.”
Danae left the doctor’s office delighted, and it made her next stop even better. She had her eye on a bikini and promised herself when she reached her goal weight, she would buy it. Now, she had the opportunity to wear it somewhere awesome.
She arrived back home and paid the babysitter. She had to pack for both of them, and the clothing and toys for the kids, so she brought them upstairs and had them play in her bedroom while she packed. Andy had a team manager uniform to wear while he was at the stadium for an away game, plus clothing they would need for the weekend. Next, she moved to the kids’ room and packed a few days worth of clothing for them, knowing Darcey and Clint had a washing machine, she wasn’t worried about packing much, plus their toys and blankies. Danae moved the jewelry from the chest to the safe and took a good amount of cash for spending money, intending to replenish it when they returned. By two o’clock, she and the kids were ready.
She packed the babies into their car seats and put their stuff into the trunk, and made the short drive to Darcey’s home. Clint was already home and welcomed the children in with open arms and kisses. Danae hugged him and thanked him.
“Have a safe and wonderful trip,” he said. “You guys deserve some happy time.”
“Thanks, Clint,” she replied, planting a kiss on his cheek. “Take care of those sweet peas for me and Andy. We love you.”
She drove back home and texted Andy to let him know she was ready. He texted back that the limo would be there at 3:45 to pick her up, and would leave directly from the house for the airport. She had time for a quick shower, and she changed into comfortable clothing for the trip.
Andy called her from the limo when they left the stadium, and she had their luggage downstairs and ready. Her house keys in her pocket, she was waiting by the gate when the limo pulled up in front of the house. Andy got out and helped her while the driver put the bags into the trunk. He had a flower for her, and a bottle of chilled wine for the ride to the airport. “You look beautiful, my love,” he complimented her and poured a glass of wine.
“I have some good news,” she whispered. “I got the go-ahead from the doctor, and I got something special for the trip.”
He raised his eyebrow at her. “Oh? Does that mean—”
“You bet it does.”
“I have a surprise for you, too. We will be watching the playoff game from a VIP booth with Fiona and her husband Cael, and Lionel and Tarah.”
“Oh my goodness! That is awesome!” Now she was really excited. “Do you get to be with me, too?”
“That’s what I meant by ‘we.’ I don’t usually manage things during the game, but since this is a special weekend, we’ve been invited to watch the game with the O’Reilly family.”
“Oh babe, this is fantastic!”
They arrived late into Isla Paradiso, and even though it was dark, Danae could still recognize some of the landmarks as they drove through town. They checked in with the team, but had their own suite to themselves. They each got a key card, and they walked to their suite, hand in hand.
“Since this is our honeymoon,” Andy laughed, “allow me.” He picked her up and carried her into the room. She giggled, remembering watching her father do the same thing with Charlotte, and now it was her turn. “Oh, sweetie,” he said. “You look amazing tonight.”
“I think that’s the wine talking, babe,” she giggled. “I’m a mess from the flight.”
“Nope, it’s you. He patted the bed next to where he sat. He caressed her cheek. “This is what you’ve waited for, my love.”
“I’ve waited for many things. This might have been the hardest wait yet. But it’s over.” She kissed him tenderly as he gently laid her down, and they loved each other into the early morning hours.
Up Next: Chapter Fourteen, Generation Five