Andy’s phone rang early on a Friday morning, and he couldn’t imagine who was calling him. It was a number with an out of town exchange.
“Hello?” he asked cautiously.
“Is this Anduin Murphy?” the voice inquired.
“It is,” he replied.
“Mr. Murphy, my name is Kirby Kemp, and I am the owner of the Isla Paradiso Sharks. Our team manager recently retired, and your name comes up frequently when team managers are mentioned. Mr. Murphy, I’d like to make you an offer you won’t be able to refuse.”
Andy shook his head. “I’m sorry, Mr. Kemp, was it?” Andy asked softly. “I’m really not awake yet. Could you give me a moment to just clear my head?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did I wake you?”
“You did, but it’s fine. I don’t want to wake my wife. Our son has been sick, and she was up all night with him.” Andy tiptoed from the bedroom and closed the door behind him. How the phone did not wake her baffled him. “Okay, now what was that you were saying?”
“Mr. Murphy, I’m going to get right to the point. You are one of, if not the best team manager in the league, and I want you on the Sharks team. Name your salary and benefits, and it’s yours.”
Andy couldn’t believe his ears. “You want me to move my family to Isla Paradiso?” This had better be a good offer, he thought. “What does this entail?”
“The Sharks will pay your moving expenses, every penny of it. You won’t have to lift a finger. Our movers come in and pack your whole house and ship it to the island. The standard benefits package will include a new sports car, a boat, plus the full health benefits, life insurance, the whole works.” Kirby Kemp knew what he wanted, and he wanted Anduin Murphy to be his new team manager.
“You’d be asking my wife to move from a house that’s been in her family for four generations. It might be difficult to uproot her,” Andy stated. “What kind of salary are we talking here?”
“Name it, Mr. Murphy. Anything you require is yours for the asking.”
Andy had gotten attached to Starlight Shores in his years there, since he and Emmitt moved there from Dragon Valley. And there was also the whole thing about asking Danae to leave her identical twin sister behind. It didn’t seem very likely he would convince her to go. “You have given me much to think about and consider, Mr. Kemp. I’m going to need some time to speak with my wife about this.”
“I’ll tell you what, Anduin. Why don’t I fly you and your wife to the island tonight, we can sit and discuss the details, you can look at homes on the island, see if you like anything. My wife and I will accommodate you in the finest luxury resort on the island in the best room, and we can discuss specifics over dinner at my five-star restaurant.”
“Tonight might be a little short notice. We have two children under four years old that we need to arrange care for.” Andy was very intrigued, but less than 12 hours’ notice might be hard to pull off.
“I certainly understand that. We have two ourselves, but they’re nearly grown,” Kirby stated. “I know this is short, but I really want to bring you onboard the team. Your resume is very impressive, and your talents are precisely what I need.”
Andy was truly flattered. “Where can I reach you? I’d like to speak with my wife, see what she thinks.”
Kirby rattled off his office and cell numbers as Andy jotted them down. “I hope to hear from you soon. And please, call me Kirby when you call back. Mr. Kemp was my father.” Andy heard a smile in the older man’s voice.
“Thank you, Kirby. I’ll be in touch.” Andy hung up the phone, stunned and not quite sure what to think. When he returned to the bedroom, Danae was awake. “Oh honey, I’m sorry. Did I wake you?”
“No, I’m just worried about Eamon. He’s been feverish all night long and has a really rough, croupy cough.” She yawned and stretched. “What are you doing up, babe?”
“I just got the most incredible phone call. The owner of the Isla Paradiso Sharks is headhunting me for the manager position on the team.” He smiled, but reservedly so.
“Really?” she asked. “That’s a long way to go for a job.”
“He wants to fly us out there tonight to talk numbers, look at houses. It would be a nice getaway for us.”
“I’m not sure Darcey would take Eamon being sick, and I wouldn’t ask her. Her kids don’t need to get sick, either.”
“What about hiring someone to come sit with them for the weekend? Don’t you still have the number for that agency?”
“Wait, babe, are you actually considering this?” Danae was shocked. “I thought you loved it here.”
“It would be more pay, better benefits, plus wouldn’t you love to live on the island? It never snows there.”
“I don’t know, Andy. This is a lot to think about with just a few hours of sleep.”
“I get the feeling if I don’t act on this today, it will slip through my fingers. Danae, baby, this is the opportunity of a lifetime!” The more Andy thought of it, the more excited he got.
“Why don’t you go alone, babe? I can’t leave him with a sitter when he’s sick.”
“This decision affects both of us. Don’t you want to be part of it?”
“I do, but—”
“Let’s make this happen, my sweet. Let’s go to the isle tonight.” Andy felt as though he’d burst.
“I’ll do what I can. Let me catch Darcey before she goes to work.” Danae yawned again and took her cell off its charger. She dialed her sister’s phone number and waited for her to answer.
“Darce, it’s Nae. Hey, is there any chance you could watch the kids for the weekend? Andy has a job offer in Isla Paradiso, and the team owner wants to fly us out tonight.”
“We’re not doing anything special,” Darcey said as she brushed her hair. “We were just going to catch a movie, but we can watch one at home. Is Eamon feeling better?”
“No, not really. The poor thing is coughing and feverish. I hate to impose on you with a sick baby. Darce, this is a big deal, but I’m not sure I want to leave here. Starlight Shores is all I’ve ever known.”
“Danae, don’t be the reason Andy misses out on this. I’d hate to see him resent you for it. Of course, we’ll take the kids. You go. Negotiate the crap out of it, and come back, tell me all about it.”
“I’m going to owe you a big one when we get home, Bug. Thank you!”
“Good luck, sissy! Go get ’em,” Darcey said. “Nae? I love you.”
“I love you too, Bug. Thanks again.”
Danae shook her head in disbelief. “Darcey is going to take the kids. You’ll need to take a day off, babe. Do you have any more personal time?”
“Oh yeah, I’ve got this no problem, my sweet. Let me call him back.”
Andy made the call and was told to watch his email for details. “Wow, Danae, he is sending a private jet for us.” Andy was overwhelmed.
“He must really want you if he is sparing no expense to get us there. I am so proud of you.” She walked up to him and hugged him.
“It will be hard to leave here. Friends. Family. Memories.” Andy seemed lost in thought.
“My mama and dad wanted this so badly, they could taste it. How ironic that you get the offer to go there.” Danae smiled. “Once we leave, I don’t see us coming back, do you?”
“You’re getting a little ahead of yourself, my sweet.” Andy kissed her. “I have one more call to make, and we need to pack, get ready. I don’t even know what to think about this, honey. I’m so excited!” Danae only smiled at him.
The kids were at Aunt Darcey’s, the weekend bags were packed and ready, the house was secured, and the Murphys were on a limousine to the airport where they would meet Kirby’s private jet. Andy was cautiously optimistic.
Inside the jet, Kirby had spared nothing to spoil his potential manager. Expensive champagne, fine food, and comfortable seats awaited them. A waiter tended to their every need.
“This is incredible,” Andy exclaimed as he sipped a glass of bubbly.
“I could almost get used to this,” Danae agreed. “But I know it won’t be an everyday thing.”
“Oh, but the island, my sweet! It will be glorious!”
“Andy, babe, don’t get your hopes up so high that if this falls through, you’ll be devastated.”
“Why would it fall through? Kirby made it sound like a sure thing. We just need to go over the details.”
“I don’t know, love. This just seems too good to be true.” Danae fiddled with her glass nervously.
“Like it was when we met? Or when we fell in love? Or when I asked you to be my wife?” Andy took her hand and kissed it. “Don’t worry, my sweet. Everything will work out exactly as it should.”
“I just love you so much. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Is there more to it, Nae?”
She sighed. “You can read me like a book.”
“What’s bothering you, honey?”
“How can I leave Darcey? My home? Everything I know is there.” Danae sighed deeply. “She told me I shouldn’t be the reason you don’t pursue this, and I want to be here for you, to support you.”
“I’m sensing a ‘but’ in there, sweetie.” He sat forward and leaned into her.
“I just want this to work out for you, however you want it to. And I want you to know that I’ll always be here with you, no matter what.” She kissed him tenderly.
“I love you so much, Danae. We’re going to make whatever happens work to our advantage.”
Because she hadn’t slept well the evening before, Danae napped on the plane, snuggled up to him, for the rest of the flight. Andy was bursting at the seams to tell someone his news, and came to the realization that he really had no close friends outside the family. Hopefully, he thought, that will change in Isla Paradiso.
The plane touched down safely on the island, and a limousine driver met them on the tarmac. When Andy turned his phone on, he had a voice message:
Anduin, this is Kirby. Hopefully, you’ll get this message as you’re arriving on the island. The limo driver will bring you to the resort for the night. Because I want you to enjoy your weekend, please feel free to take time in the morning to do as you please. Look at some homes, visit our beautiful beaches. I will send a limousine for you both at 7pm for dinner at my five-star restaurant. I look forward to hosting you and your lovely wife tomorrow evening. Have a good night.
Danae looked tired, so Andy took her arm and led her to the limo. “We are going right to the resort now, honey,” he told her. “You can sleep soon.” She nodded but didn’t speak.
They had only been there six months before for the playoff game, but it seemed like yesterday. Everything looked exactly the same as it had when they left. The concierge recognized his name and welcomed them to the resort, handed them key cards and sent their bag to the room for them.
“Sweetie, are you okay to walk to the room?” he asked her. “You look a little wobbly.”
“Yeah, I’ll make it,” she said, but none too confidently. “Just be ready to catch me if I fall asleep on my feet.”
Their suite was in a different building way off the beaten path, and when they rounded the corner, Andy stopped in his tracks. Their suite was the entire building, almost the size of a small apartment. The room was well appointed with pricey fixtures, expensive furniture and fine pieces of art. He had no idea such a room existed on the property, but now they were guests there.
Danae didn’t enter the suite under her own power. Andy wasn’t sure if it was the champagne, the exhaustion or a combination of both that made her nearly collapse about fifty paces from the door, but he carried her to their suite and set her down carefully on the bed. Somehow, the bellhop made it to their room before they did, and their overnight bag was waiting for them.
“Sweetie, can you get undressed, or do you need help?” he asked.
“Help, please. I’m so tired.”
Carefully, he pulled her clothes from her body and tucked her into bed. Remembering the last time they were here, he put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the doorknob, not wanting a repeat of the experience. Andy really wanted to curl up with Danae in bed, but he was much too excited to sleep, so he nestled into bed with a book he had brought from home and read until he drifted off.
The next morning, Danae awakened first, and she felt good. The sun was just coming up, birds were chirping and the air was cool and fresh. She loved mornings on the island and figured it wouldn’t be so terrible to wake to this every morning.
Quietly, she picked up the phone and dialed room service, ordering a carafe of coffee, fresh juice and some croissants with preserves. She got dressed and covered Andy with a sheet, just in case, then waited for the knock on the door, cash in hand to pay for breakfast.
Moments later, Andy awakened, noticing her absence in the bed. “What time is it, sweetie?” he asked sleepily.
“It’s just before 7, babe. I ordered some coffee and croissants if you’re hungry.”
“I could handle that,” he smiled, and then ducked back under the covers when room service arrived.
“Chicken!” she teased as she answered the door. “Good morning!”
The concierge wheeled a cart of goodies into the room, but when Danae tried to pay her, she declined. “Your host has this covered!” she smiled. “Enjoy!”
“Now I feel bad,” she lamented. “If I’d known, I would have waited until we were both up and ready.”
“It’s okay, love. I’m sure Kirby had all of this in mind when he invited us. What would you like to do this morning?”
“Well, we should probably take a look at some homes, don’t you think?”
“The thought crossed my mind.” He poured a cup of coffee for both of them, and handed one to Danae.
“I wonder if there’s a real estate agent we should talk to, or if we just wing it?”
“Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Maybe just looking at open houses would be good enough for now.” Andy took a sip and savored the coffee. “I really need to find out what blend this is. It is so good.”
“What would you think about building a house, babe? Maybe get a piece of waterfront property, build on it?” She slathered a piece of croissant with blackberry preserves and took a bite.
“That’s a good idea. We could stay in a rental until the house is built.” Andy nodded his head.
Danae pulled up local real estate on her phone, and together they made a plan to visit some of the open houses in the area.
On their way back to the resort, they discussed their afternoon’s findings. They found a nice piece of property directly on the beach, and with the right floor plan, a house could extend out over the water.
“I really liked that property, Nae,” Andy said. “I think we could build a nice beach house there.”
“Only one problem, babe. The property is on an island. How do the kids get to school from an island?”
“By boat, I’d imagine. Or you could homeschool them. You’re a smart cookie, and you’d be a great teacher.”
“That’s an idea.” Homeschooling had been prohibited in Starlight Shores, but not on Isla Paradiso. Not many counties had the prohibition, but the Shores did. Having it relaxed opened up new possibilities for Danae.
“Water taxis are as common here as taxi cabs are at home. Even without a boat, we’d do okay.”
“Didn’t you say a boat is part of your benefits package?”
“That’s what he said yesterday. I’d forgo the car and ask for a second boat, if it’s all the same. How are you with sailing?” Andy wore a grin.
“Ugh,” she made a face. “I’d just as soon take a water taxi.” Andy laughed.
They walked back to the suite to shower and dress and relax just a bit before their dinner date with Kirby and his wife.
The limo arrived promptly at 7pm to pick Andy and Danae up from the resort. She wore an elegant off white evening gown encrusted with rhinestones that shimmered even in the dimmest light, with the pearl and white gold pendant he bought her. She had taken the time to braid her hair, and wove some flowers into the braid. She looked stunning. Andy wore his custom-fitted tuxedo with tails and looked polished and professional.
“You clean up nicely,” she teased, tugging at his hair and pushing a bit of it behind his ear.
“You look like a movie star, my sweet. Amazing.” He kissed her lightly, not wanting to ruin her makeup.
They arrived at the restaurant, another place that Andy had no idea was on the island. The building was set off the road a little way, and the path, though it was illuminated, was still hidden from view at street level. When they got to the restaurant itself, they noticed it backed right up to the beach. The sounds of waves crashing on the shore set the mood as they checked in at the host station.
“Murphy, guests of Kirby Kemp,” Andy informed the hostess.
She nodded. “Mr. Kemp is expecting you.”
The interior of the restaurant was unlike anything she had seen before. The decor was decidedly beach themed, but the furniture looked expensive. Fine artwork hung on the walls, and a large fountain sat in the middle of the dining room. Somewhere outside, the sounds of steel drums rang out. They walked to the rear of the restaurant, and the hostess stopped at a table with two people already seated. Andy supposed they were Kirby and his wife. “Mr. and Mrs. Kemp, the Murphys.”
Kirby and his wife, Rae, stood as they approached. Kirby gave Andy a firm but gentle shake and took Danae’s hand to kiss it. “You must be the lovely Danae,” he smiled. “The pleasure is all mine.” She blushed, suddenly speechless. “Your father is legendary in the sport, Mrs. Murphy. The football world suffered a great loss when he passed. You have my sincerest condolences.”
She nodded, choking back tears. “Thank you.”
Kirby ordered champagne for the table, and a local delicacy to share as an appetizer. “So,” Kirby began, “Tell me a little about yourself, Anduin.”
“Please, call me Andy,” he said cordially. “I’m originally from Dragon Valley. I graduated summa cum laude from a private university with a degree in communications and a minor in physical education. My father, Emmitt Murphy, was best friends with Travis Jones when they were kids, which is how I came to meet my darling Danae.” He smiled sweetly at her. “We’ve been happily married for almost five years now.”
“I remember Emmitt Murphy. I had no idea he was your father. If he trained you, I can see why you’re a top-notch manager.” Kirby nodded his head. “I wish I would have known him, though. I’d only ever heard of Emmitt. So, your fathers were best friends! Heh! Well, go figure that.” The older man chuckled. “That’s pretty incredible!”
Andy laughed. “Yes, they had quite a story. Sometimes, I imagine them looking down at us while they’re drinking a beer, and smiling.”
Kirby turned his attention to Danae. “Tell me about yourself. I already know your father.”
She got flustered. “Well, I was born and raised in Starlight Shores. My mother was a doctor. I have an identical twin sister, also a doctor, and my brother is Devin Jones, who used to play for the Llamas. I have a degree from Sim State in fine arts with a concentration in vocal performance.”
“Oh? You’re a singer?” Rae Kemp perked up. “My daughter wants to be a singer. Maybe you could help her some time, give her some pointers.”
“I would be honored,” Danae answered.
“Have you considered a career in singing, Danae?” Rae was suddenly fascinated with her.
“I actually began a career in singing before Andy and I were married, but I gave it up to raise our family. We have an almost 3-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son.” Andy saw her face light with happiness talking about their children.
“Wow, that’s quite a career move!” Rae exclaimed. “I’m not sure I could have walked away from the spotlight for a family. I’ve dreamed of singing myself.”
“My great grandmother stayed in the spotlight, and my Papa raised their daughters. She never regretted it, from what I remember.”
“Who was your great grandmother?” Rae inquired.
She took a deep breath. “Destiny —”
“Hill?” Rae interrupted her, and she nodded. “That’s incredible. You’re the one!”
“Pardon me?” Danae was confused.
“About four years ago, I heard about an up and coming singer who sounded like Destiny Hill, and then she disappeared from the radar completely. You’re Nae, right?” Rae was doubly impressed.
“Yes, but I had no idea about any of that.” Danae was speechless.
“I’ll have to get your autograph for my daughter before we part tonight. She will be ecstatic!”
Danae blushed a deep, dark red. “It would be my honor,” she said quietly, deeply humbled.
Kirby, though he was fascinated by the spunky brunette, was anxious to talk business with Andy. The waiter came to deliver the appetizer and get dinner orders, and without asking for opinions or requests, Kirby ordered entrees for the table to be shared family-style. “I’m sorry I didn’t even ask you what you would like. I usually just order a selection of local delicacies to share.” Andy and Danae both nodded their approval. “Please, help yourself to some calamari. It’s our chef’s specialty.”
“So Andy, we both know you didn’t come all this way to engage in small talk. Let’s get down to business, shall we?” Andy nodded. “So, I’m willing to add 40% to your current salary as a starting point, plus all of the perks we discussed over the phone. A car, a boat, full health coverage for your whole family, a life insurance policy worth fifteen times your annual salary, plus a security upgrade for whichever home you choose. You will want security fences, cameras, alarms, things like that. Someone of your status will draw more than Paparazzi. You’ll have vacationers on tours of the stars’ homes and the like.”
“The security is nothing new. We always have Paparazzi and press sniffing around.” He leaned to Danae and whispered to her. “Does this sound good to you, honey? The salary increase alone is worth the move.”
She spoke up. “The property we’re looking at, Mr.—”
“Please, doll, call me Kirby,” he stopped Danae as she spoke.
“Okay, Kirby,” she paused, not sure she appreciated being called ‘doll,’ “the property we are looking at is on an island, so I fail to see how a car would be useful for him, for the family.”
Kirby looked at her, impressed. “I never considered you might purchase a property that wasn’t on the mainland. The archipelago is definitely a good place for you to settle if you have the resources to buy land there. I am assuming, as a Jones, you do.” Danae nodded.
“How about this,” Andy was thinking, preparing to do some negotiating. “What if we, pending our selection of property or home, replace the car with limousine service to and from the dock?”
“Hmm,” Kirby thought. “I don’t see why we couldn’t do that, not just for you, either, but for your wife, if she needs to come into the main island. That way, she has guaranteed transportation, too.”
“If we buy or build on the main island, we could possibly keep the first option open,” Andy suggested.
“I have no issue with that either. How is the salary figure? Is it enough?”
Andy nodded. “That’s a more than generous offer, yes. You were right. You’re making this hard to refuse.” Danae nudged him under the table. “But, I would respectfully like to request some time to discuss everything with Danae. Is it possible to give you my answer in the morning?”
“Oh, absolutely,” said Kirby. “This is a huge decision. I know your family’s history, Danae, and I know this is going to be a decision that will not be easily made, especially now I know you have a twin sister.”
“Thank you,” Andy replied. “I will call you in the morning with our determination.”
With the business of the night complete, the two couples relaxed and spent dinner and beyond just talking. By the end of the evening, they felt like old friends. But after the meal, Andy pulled Kirby aside when Rae stepped away for a few minutes.
“Can I ask you a favor, Kirby, and I ask this respectfully.”
“Sure thing. Whatever you like, Andy.”
“Would you kindly refrain from calling Danae ‘doll’? She doesn’t like it. Shoot, she won’t even let me call her ‘doll’.” He looked nervous, thinking maybe he’d overstepped his boundaries.
“You know what, Andy? I never even realized I did that. Would you like me to apologize to her? I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with her. She is a gem.” Kirby looked grieved.
“No no, that’s not necessary.”
“What does she prefer? Can I call her by her stage name? Or just Danae?”
“Nae or Danae is fine. Pet names for her are more of a family thing. She and her sister are like that.” Andy shrugged.
“I completely understand, Andy. Thanks for telling me, so I don’t offend her. Do you need anything at the resort? Are you comfortable?”
“Oh my goodness yes. I had no idea that building even existed.”
“That’s a VIP suite. I’m surprised Travis and his wife never stayed there.” Kirby looked somewhat amused. “I hear they rather fancied this island.”
Andy nodded. “Danae and I appreciate the trouble you’ve gone through to accommodate us this weekend. We are having a great time together.”
“You’re our guests, and we want you to feel welcome. Rae and I are happy to spoil you this weekend.” He clapped Andy on the shoulder. “I hate to break this up so soon, but I need to be at a business meeting tomorrow morning for the restaurant.” He shook Andy’s hand firmly. “I look forward to your call.” Kirby walked to Danae and shook her hand gently. “Pleasure to meet you, Danae.”
“The pleasure was mine,” she said politely.
Rae walked to her and hugged her. “Would you sign this for my daughter?” she asked, handing her a small book. “She will love it.”
Danae smiled, a little embarrassed. “Of course.” In her fancy, impeccable penmanship, she signed, ‘To Corrie, with love, Nae’.
Kirby and Rae excused themselves and left Danae and Andy in the restaurant while the limo was on the way. “So, what do you think, my sweet?”
“I don’t know, Andy. It’s so far away from home. Though I will admit this is the perfect time to relocate. Elyse hasn’t started school yet. She has no little friends to miss, except her cousins.”
“I have a feeling Darcey and her family might keep us in the Shores. If you really find the idea of moving here to be intolerable, then I’ll thank him for the weekend, and we can go home tomorrow night happy.”
“I don’t want to keep you from such a wonderful opportunity. How badly do you want this, babe? Tell me the truth.”
“Pretty badly, honey. But I won’t make you leave your home if you don’t want to come live here.” He hugged her close and kissed her forehead.
Their limo arrived to bring them to the resort, and Andy helped her in. They were quiet for the ride back and during their walk to the suite. He opened the door to find a floral arrangement crafted with native flowers on the table, and a card addressed to Danae. She picked up the card and read it.
“Wow,” she exclaimed. “They wasted no time upping the ante. Andy, they really want you on this team. Look at the card on these flowers.”
Andy read the words that were hand-printed on the card:
Thank you for spending your evening with us. We know your sister might be a potential deal-breaker for you, so we’d like to make things interesting. Invite your sister and her family to join you here, and we will pay their relocation fees. Let us know in the morning.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. “Do you think they’d come here?”
“I was going to call to check on Eamon anyway. I’ll ask her.” She walked onto the deck with her phone and dialed her sister’s cell.
“Hello?” Darcey answered the phone.
“Hey Bug, it’s me. How’s my baby boy?”
“He’s been feeling better today, but he had a rough night last night. Poor little guy. Clint and I took turns walking the floor with him. He finally settled down around 3:00 this morning.”
“You have no idea how much I appreciate you taking care of him and Elyse.”
“How are things going there? Any news?”
“Actually, you wouldn’t believe the news, Darcey. Andy was offered a 40% raise, a car, a boat, health insurance, life insurance worth 15 times his annual salary, plus they’re going to pay our moving expenses.” She was saving the best part for last.
“Wow, Danae,” Darcey exclaimed. “He can’t pass that up. What an opportunity! I will miss you like crazy.”
“Well, I have a proposition for you and Clint. The team owner thought I’d be reluctant to come here and leave you behind. So, he made a written offer to pay your moving expenses if you come with us.”
Darcey was gobsmacked. “Clint hates it here, Nae. He will eat this up. And if you’re going to be on the island, I have nothing holding me here. But I’ll ask him. Can I call you later tonight?”
“Yeah, we don’t have to give an answer until morning. Do you really think you’d leave the Shores for here?”
“If you and Andy will be there, I’d do it for Clint in a heartbeat. He hates the city.”
“That will be something for us to discuss when he and I talk about it. But I think the odds will shift in favor of moving if you come with us.” With Darcey’s admission, Danae had no objections to leaving the Shores.
“I’ll call you after I’ve talked to Clint. Love you, sissy.” They hung up the phone, and Danae was smiling.
Andy wrapped himself around her, still breathing heavily. “You said you wanted to discuss this, my sweet.”
Taking his hand, she kissed his fingers softly. “I think we should, yes.” She snuggled into his arms, feeling his breath on her hair. “Darcey seemed to think Clint would be on board. He hates the big city, which is why he didn’t want to go back to Bridgeport.”
“Are we basing our decision on them, love?” Andy nuzzled his face into her neck, kissing her.
Part of her wanted to answer ‘yes,’ but she knew how much he wanted this opportunity. “Of course not.” Tears formed in her eyes, and she was thankful he couldn’t see her.
He heard the sorrow in her voice, but decided to leave it alone. “Well, let’s list the pros and cons of relocating. I’ll start. Pro. We can spend our weekends on the beach.”
“Con. You risk alienating your friends on the team.”
Andy made a face. “I really don’t have many friends on the team. Aaron, Wyatt, and Trey. That’s about it, baby.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “I have no friends in town, and no one back home, either.”
“You really have no friends in Dragon Valley?” He was so charismatic, she had a hard time believing it.
“I had a few. Senior prom changed my whole life, sweetie. That’s the part I don’t miss.”
“You never really talked about your past. What happened at senior prom?”
“Well, you know about Kaitlyn. I was going to propose to her at the prom after-party. Liam, my best friend, and I use that term loosely, decided to sleep with her, and I caught them. Most of my friends thought it was hilarious, but I suppose in their defense, they were all drunk. After that night, I never spoke to any of them again.”
“Baby, I’m sorry. But it is just as well, because you’re all mine now.” She snuggled even closer to him, and she felt his embrace tighten.
“Everything worked out how it should have that night. I’m thankful for Liam, actually. He opened my eyes to see what she really was and that she had never changed.”
“Okay, pro,” Danae said, changing the subject. “No more snow. Ever.”
Andy chuckled at her. “Con. Leaving your house.”
“Well, it’s our house, babe. But yes, that’s a huge con.”
“It’s only a house. I know you have great memories there, but we can make memories in a new home, honey.”
“That is true. And we’ll have pictures to hang. Shelves for the trophies and awards.”
“Oh, you betcha, my sweet. All that stuff goes into a new house.”
“Pro,” Danae said. “A whole new adventure, for all of us.”
“Con,” Andy countered. “Darcey and Clint might not come along.”
Danae sighed. “Pro. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m not letting you give that up for me.”
“Why did you sigh, honey?”
“I will miss my sister if they don’t move here.” She took his hand and kissed it. “But I meant what I said. If you want this, babe, then we’ll do it.”
“Con. I don’t want you to resent me for taking you away from your home.” He hugged her close and kissed her neck.
“Never. Andy, as long as we are together, it doesn’t matter. You are my world. Well, you and those munchkins. If I have you, I will be happy for the rest of my life.”
“Danae, I love you. Thank you.”
“I love you, Andy. You deserve this, and I’m so proud of you.”
Wrapped around one another, they fell asleep happy.
Danae’s cell rang in the early morning hours, and she fumbled in the dark to find it. “Hello?” she said sleepily.
“Nae, I’m sorry to call so late. Clint and I have been talking all this time.”
“Give me a sec, Darce,” Danae whispered. “Andy’s asleep.” She wiggled out of his arms, got up and tiptoed to the deck, and closed the door gently behind her. “Okay. How did the discussion go?”
“You would have thought I told him I was pregnant again. Nae, he is so excited about the prospect of leaving the Shores, he can’t stand it. So we did some research on jobs and transferring. I just need to study the laws and pass a standard exam, which my yearly is coming up anyway. And Clint is going to try to get in with that game developer on the island. It’s a huge deal.”
“Wow, you guys are a lot further along in discussions than we are!” Danae beamed. “Oh Bug, this is fantastic!”
“I’m actually excited! I know there is so much history in the Shores, but Mama and Dad wanted this so badly. We can miss them just as much there as we do here. Every time I sit on the beach, I will think of her, Nae. How much she loved it. I still feel guilty sometimes my vote kept us here.”
“This makes my final decision even better. We were up late doing the pros and cons. I finally decided to give this to him, but there was never a doubt I would. Darce, I’ve never seen him this excited about anything, except our wedding and the kids being born. It feels right.”
“Oh Nae, I’m so happy for you guys. He deserves this opportunity. He’s worked so hard to get where he is.”
“That’s why I won’t deny him. He does everything for me. And I mean everything.” Danae smiled.
“I’ll call you in the morning, hon. We’re tired, but we’re going to celebrate.” Darcey giggled. “We’ll talk later.”
“Have fun, Darce. I love you!”
“Love you too, Nae.”
When Danae turned around, Andy was standing in the doorway, just about to open it. “They’re coming, Andy!” Danae nearly jumped into his arms and kissed him. He took her hand, smiling brightly, and led her to the bed.
The next morning, they went to the resort restaurant for brunch, happy and feeling great about the previous evening’s negotiations. “What time is his meeting over this morning, babe?” she asked.
“I think he said 10:00, so I’ll wait until then. I don’t want to disturb his business stuff.” Andy sat back and sipped a mimosa. “These crepes are outstanding,” he quipped. “Try it.” He offered her a bite of his breakfast.
“Oh, my word,” Danae exclaimed. “You’re not kidding!” She had been nibbling on an omelet, with the best multigrain toast she’d ever had. “Even though I know this isn’t going to be an everyday thing, I’m glad there are good restaurants in town. The one Kirby owns was elegant and beachy at the same time.”
“I was so impressed with it, my sweet. We’ll have to make it a regular hangout when we move here.”
“I think there is one more property I’d like to look at, love. There is an open house today, maybe we could go before we have to leave tonight.” She showed him the listing on her phone.
“Wow, it’s a large property. The house looks small but expandable. The pool is impressive, and the garden is beautiful.”
“Maybe we could finally get a puppy for the kids. We’ll have plenty of yard for one.”
“I can’t wait to see it.”
Andy’s alarm sounded on his phone, and he excused himself to call Kirby.
“Andy, I’ve been anxiously awaiting your call. What have you and Danae decided? And did you get our message last night? That was Rae’s idea. She adores your wife.”
“We have decided, and yes, we got your message. I agree to the terms you proposed last evening, pending the purchase of our new home in regards to the car. Though I do have to tell you, we’re going to look quickly at a house today that’s on the main island.”
“Glad to hear it, Andy! Welcome aboard. Have you discussed Rae’s proposal with your sister-in-law?”
“Darcey and Clint are in love with the idea of relocating. He is from Bridgeport, and he’s not happy in the city.” Andy was beaming.
“That is fantastic! I will confirm their information in an email with you early next week. I can recommend a real estate agent who can help you with the house. I’d love to have you in place in a four-week time frame. Is that feasible?”
“I don’t see why not. I’m sure Danae will want to pack her family heirlooms herself—”
Kirby interrupted him. “Our movers are professionals, and their service is insured. Please, allow them to pack. If there is an issue with something they’ve packed, they’ll take care of it for you.”
“Good enough,” Andy agreed.
“I’ll overnight your contract. Feel free to have an attorney look it over if you’d like. Then just get it back to me as soon as you can.” Andy could hear him typing in the background.
“I’ll do that. Thank you, Kirby, for this opportunity. I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been chosen for this.”
“You deserve it, Andy. I know you’ll be a great fit on the team, and I look forward to working with you one on one.” They wrapped up the phone call and hung up. Andy rejoined Danae at the table in the restaurant.
“Well honey,” he said, “It’s a done deal. In four weeks, we’ll be residents of Isla Paradiso.”
“Congratulations, babe,” she smiled radiantly at him. “I am so very proud of you!”
“I couldn’t have done any of this without you, my sweet. I owe you everything I am.” He sipped the last of his mimosa. “Let’s go look at this house.”
They called for the limousine to take them to the address Danae had found. The house sat by the water, but was not technically beachfront. The property itself was enormous. The house was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a detached two-car garage. The layout was small but cozy, with more than enough space for a growing family. In the yard was an outdoor kitchen with a mini-fridge, grill and counter space that sat on a large patio. The pool was about the same size as their current pool with a slide for the kids when they got older, and some sort of wavemaker sat in the middle. A substantial garden was situated behind the garage with well-established plants. The house was empty, but Danae could easily see their furniture placed throughout the floorplan.
“Andy, this is beautiful,” she said. “I love the double French doors in the back. The fountain out front is beautiful. Lots of room to grow.”
“Oh, I agree my sweet. Of all the homes we’ve seen, this one is the nicest.” They made an offer on it while they were there, and Andy left their number with the real estate agent.
Back at the resort, they packed up the bag and called for the bellhop to retrieve it. Hand in hand, they walked to the lobby to check out when Andy’s phone rang. “Mr. Murphy?”
“You found me,” he chirped, happier than he’d been in a while.
“This is Rebecca Clarke, the real estate agent you spoke with a bit ago. The owners accepted your offer on the house, and it is now considered under contract. Do you have a mortgage lender to send paperwork to?”
“Hi Rebecca, thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I’m sorry I misled you. This will be a cash purchase. We need to close in four weeks’ time, but we can go over the details when we get back to Starlight Shores and I have retained an attorney to handle the transaction.”
“Wow, sounds like you’ve already got everything under control, Mr. Murphy. I’ll be in touch soon.”
“Very well, and please call me Andy.”
“The real estate agent?” Danae asked as they strolled.
“Yes. The seller accepted our offer. It’s ours, baby.” He squeezed her hand. “How do you really feel about this? I know everything is moving so quickly.”
“I’m happy, Andy. We found a home I love, my sister and her family are coming with us. And, most importantly, you will have a chance to shine in a new job. Maybe you won’t have to travel so much, just during the season.”
“See? Everything is working out just how it’s supposed to work. It’s not too good to be true at all. Just like us.” He kissed her hand as they walked, just as they approached the lobby.
The limo brought them back to the small municipal airport and dropped them at the terminal. Andy wheeled the suitcase behind him as they walked, holding hands with Danae and talking. And once they were on the plane, they were treated to the same luxury they had on their way to the island two nights before. But things were much different than they had been just 40 hours ago. Life was changing for the Murphy and Scroggins families. Danae watched the island disappear beneath the clouds as the aircraft climbed, and she snuggled up to her husband, the new team manager for the Isla Paradiso Sharks.
Up Next: Chapter Sixteen, Generation Five