It was the first morning on the island as residents for Andy, Danae, Clint, and Darcey. The suite had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a kitchenette, a small dining area, and a living space. Andy and Danae took the largest bedroom, because they would be living there for almost a week while they waited for the closing on their new home. The kids had the smallest bedroom, but even its size was impressive. Two cribs and a twin-sized bed fit easily with room to spare. But Elyse, being the only girl, stayed in the room with her parents.
Darcey awakened first and started a pot of coffee. In the other room, she could hear a phone ringing, and hoped it wasn’t one of theirs. The closing was scheduled for early afternoon, and she hoped for no delays. But Clint walked from their bedroom, phone in hand, and shook his head.
“The closing is postponed until tomorrow, kitten. The seller needs another day, something is delayed with their new home.” He shrugged. “At least we don’t have to break our necks getting out of here.”
Darcey sighed. “I wouldn’t care, but I’m excited to get into our new place.” She poured a cup of coffee and offered one to Clint.
“Thanks, love.” He stirred a little cream into it and sipped. “So, this is what it feels like to be an islander. I like it.” They walked to the deck to sit. Outside, it was fresh and cool, the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. “Do you notice what is missing? City noise!” Clint smiled and put his feet up on the ottoman.
“I want to landscape our new place to attract birds and butterflies. It would be so peaceful.” They snuggled together on the loveseat, enjoying the morning and each other’s company.
Inside, Elyse woke suddenly from a nightmare and screamed, and startled Danae awake. “Oh Lysie, you’re okay,” she said softly, scooping her up. Wrapped in her mother’s arms, her cries settled to whimpers.
“I’z fwaid, Mama…” Elyse was on the verge of a sob.
“Shh, it’s okay.” With the young toddler on her hip, Danae walked to the kitchen and smelled the coffee. “I’m going to put you down for a minute, okay honey?”
Elyse nodded her head and spotted Darcey’s foot on the deck. “Dawcy!” she squealed and ran for her aunt. Danae laughed as she searched the large bag for the sippy cup.
“Hi, little one!” Darcey greeted her young niece. “Was that you I heard crying Lysie?”
Elyse nodded. “I’z fwaid.” Darcey picked her up and snuggled her. “Bud I’z beddow now.”
Danae walked to the deck with the sippy cup full of juice. “Here, baby girl,” she cooed, handing her the cup. She smoothed the baby’s hair and kissed her head.
“Tank you!” Elyse said, giggling in Darcey’s arms.
“Darce, do you mind keeping an eye on her for a minute? I’m going to bring Andy a cup of coffee and get Eamon.”
“Not at all,” she replied, blowing bubbles on Elyse’s tummy, making the little girl giggle madly.
Danae poured a cup, stirred a bit of sugar and cream into it, and walked to the bedroom. Andy was just waking up, reaching for her when she entered the room. “Good morning, my handsome prince,” she greeted him.
“Mmm, good morning baby,” he yawned and stretched. “Thank you for the coffee.”
“You’re welcome. How did Elyse not wake you?”
“I heard something, but thought I dreamed it.”
“She screamed. Loudly. I figured there was no way you didn’t hear it.” She joined him on the bed, and he wrapped his arms around her waist, his head on her leg.
“It’s too bad we’re not alone. I could stand some time together this morning.” Andy kissed her thigh.
“It’s only for a few days. Darcey is supposed to close today, but the movers will be a few days if I remember right.” She ran her fingers through his thick, silky hair. “Surely you can wait a few days.”
“If I must,” he laughed. “Besides, Elyse is in our room. I wouldn’t feel right about it.”
Danae remembered her own experience with Travis and Charlotte. “Yeah, she should be a little older before we scar her for life.” He reached for his pillow and hit her with it playfully. “I need to wake Eamon, and we need to get breakfast. The kids will be hungry.”
Andy pulled himself out of bed and got dressed. “I’m on it.”
“Uncle Andy!” Noel greeted him with a hug when he appeared from the bedroom.
“Hey, kiddo!” Andy reciprocated. “What does everyone want for breakfast this morning?”
“We don’t have much here,” Darcey yelled. “I’m going shopping later.”
“I’ll order in this morning,” Andy replied. “Wait, aren’t you closing today?”
“Not until tomorrow. We got delayed a day,” Clint announced.
“Well, that stinks for you guys.” And me, he thought.
Breakfast orders were made, and when it arrived, everyone sat together at the dining table to eat. Eamon was less than interested in breakfast, much to Danae’s chagrin.
“Please, baby boy, eat something,” she begged him. “You like cereal.”
“No!” he cried sharply. That was new. Andy started to laugh.
“You think it’s so funny, you feed him,” Danae snapped at Andy, and then instantly regretted it. “Babe, I didn’t mean that—”
Andy’s shocked expression tore her in two. “Whatever I did wrong, honey, I’m sorry.”
“It isn’t you, babe.” Danae sighed. “I’m just feeling out of sorts. I’m sorry I snipped at you, love. You didn’t deserve it.”
“I just never heard him say no so clearly before. He doesn’t speak much for an 18-month-old,” Andy stated.
“By his age, Elyse was a chatterbox. I couldn’t understand much, but she talked. A lot.” Danae tried, in vain, to get one last mouthful of oatmeal into Eamon’s mouth.
“He’s a normal little boy, Nae.” Darcey opened her arms for him. “Here, I’ll feed him.”
Danae was suddenly emotional. “Thank you, Darce. I’m a mess,” she cried.
Andy walked to where she sat and wrapped his arms around her neck. “We’re going to be okay, honey. I promise you.”
“I’m not feeling so good,” she said as nausea overtook her. “Andy, can you watch the kids? I don’t think breakfast agreed with me.”
“Absolutely, my sweet. Anything for you.”
Danae walked back to the bedroom and flopped down on the bed, groaning loudly. The last time she felt like this, she had two pink lines on a pregnancy test and surgery the next day. I don’t have time to be sick now, she thought.
“Hey Darce, could you go check on her? She didn’t look good,” Andy asked.
“Of course.” She handed Eamon to Andy and grabbed her bag.
Darcey knocked lightly on the bedroom door and pushed it open. “Nae? Are you alright?”
“I’m not sure, Darce. The last time I felt like this, I ended up in surgery.”
“Are you in pain?”
“No, just nausea. I need to throw up, but I’m fighting it. And my emotions are all over the place.” Darcey nodded. “Do you happen to have a pregnancy test?”
“I do. When was your last period?”
“I’m due any day. I was hoping it would wait until we’re done moving, but I know it won’t.”
“Hmm,” she thought. “I’m not sure I have one that will detect this early. But we’ll give it a go anyway.” Darcey dug around in her bag for the test and handed it to her sister. “I’ll wait here if you want to take it.”
Danae slipped into the bathroom and unwrapped the test. They hadn’t been careful since her surgery, figuring there was no reason for it. She took the test and snapped the guard onto it, covering the result window. Still feeling queasy, she washed her hands and brought the stick into the bedroom with her. “Here, I can’t look,” she told Darcey as she handed the test to her.
“Now it’s just waiting.” But neither of them said a word. Danae was afraid to hope. Andy had been devastated by the miscarriage. He wanted another child so badly, he could taste it.
Five excruciatingly long minutes passed. “Do you want me to look, Nae?”
“I can’t bear to.”
“Alright then.” Darcey took a deep breath and exhaled, snapped the guard off the result window and saw it. “Here, Nae. Take a look.” She turned the test around and showed her.
“Oh, my word. Darcey… how?” Two pink lines, though the second one was faint. “This can’t be true.”
“You have a rainbow baby of your own.” Darcey hugged her sister. “Congratulations!”
“This isn’t supposed to be possible. I don’t understand.” Danae was floored.
“There’s a reason for this baby, Danae. Don’t question it.”
“I can’t believe it. But I want to do this up big. I just don’t want to tell him until I know it’s a viable pregnancy. He was shattered when we lost the baby.”
“I don’t start at the hospital until Monday. I can’t even suggest an OB here.”
Andy knocked at the door softly. “Are you okay, my sweet?”
“Hide this!” Danae handed the test to Darcey. “He can’t see it yet!” She laid back down on the bed while Darcey hid the evidence, and called to him. “Come in, babe.”
“Honey, I’m worried about you. Are you feeling okay?” He sat down on the bed with her and took her hand.
“I’m fine, love. I just got a little queasy.”
“Well, you don’t look good. What, are you pregnant or something?” Andy teased. But he saw her expression change, and he felt as though time had stood still. “Wait. Danae, are you pregnant?”
“Show him, Darce,” she croaked out, feeling sick.
Darcey dug the test from her bag and held it out for him to take. And when he looked at it, a smile crossed his face. “How?”
“I don’t know.”
Darcey started to laugh. “If you guys really don’t know how this happened, maybe you should both take a class.” She picked her bag up. “I’ll leave you two alone. We’ll watch the kids. You guys be together.”
“Baby, we need to get you to a doctor. Remember your OB said your chances of another ectopic are high.”
“I know. We have no health coverage yet. You haven’t begun your job.”
“Well, we will take care of it. I’m taking you,” Andy insisted.
“I’m okay,” she protested.
“You were fine the day before your emergency surgery, too.”
She saw the fear in his eyes. “Okay, you win,” she yielded.
“Let me make a quick phone call.” Andy walked from the room outside to the deck and closed the door. Quickly, he dialed Kirby’s phone number.
“Hey, Andy! How was your trip yesterday?” Kirby was happy to hear from him.
“It was pleasant, thank you so much for that. But listen, we have a problem. We just found out Danae is pregnant, and she would be considered high risk. She had a tubal pregnancy earlier this year, and it almost killed her. It ruptured her tube…” his voice drifted off. He couldn’t allow himself to be happy when he was this terrified.
“Take her to the hospital. Today will be your official employment date, so you’ll be covered. For goodness sake, take her, Andy. Don’t wait,” Kirby urged him.
“Thanks. I’ll be in touch.” They hung up, and he rushed back to the room to get changed into clothes he could wear to the hospital. “Come on, honey.”
“Grab a bucket, babe.”
He decided to call for an ambulance, thinking it would be quicker than calling for the limo or shuttle to take them. They were there in less than five minutes and had her packed up and on their way in less than ten. Andy rode in the ambulance with her, holding her hand on the way.
Andy wasn’t allowed in the room with her while they examined her, but he went back immediately following. They were going to do an ultrasound, and he wanted to be there for her. “How are you feeling, honey?” he asked.
“I feel fine, just nauseated.”
Twenty minutes later, the ultrasound arrived. “It’s a good thing you’re slender, Mrs. Murphy,” the sonographer quipped. “The embryo will be easier to spot.”
“How big of a thing are you looking for?” she asked.
“I’m not even sure I can see it using this, but we’re going to look.” The tech poked the wand onto her belly, but couldn’t see anything. After a few minutes of looking, there was nothing. “Okay, time to bring out the big guy,” the sonographer said, getting ready to do a more invasive scan. “This won’t hurt, but it might be uncomfortable,” she explained. Another ten minutes and she had some information. “The doctor will be in shortly with results from the exam. Congratulations!”
“Andy, you look like you’re doing worse than I am, babe.”
“Danae, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified.”
“I’m exactly where I need to be if it is ectopic. And if it isn’t, we have reason to celebrate.”
Almost an hour of waiting passed when the doctor finally came back into the room. “I have the results of your ultrasound. The embryo is safely implanted in your womb, where it should be. And judging from the ultrasound, you’re just about six weeks along. Congratulations!”
“Doc, what is her risk of miscarriage?” Andy had to know.
“Right now, we see signs of a healthy pregnancy, but it’s early. It could change, so keep an eye on her. I anticipate she will be fine.” He handed Andy a prescription for prenatal vitamins. “Make sure you take those, Danae. And see your doctor as soon as you can.”
They both breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you,” said Danae.
“We’ll get you out of here shortly. There’s no reason to keep you.”
“This isn’t how I wanted to tell you, Andy. I was going to do a night of romance. I haven’t had a chance to tell you how I’ve wanted to with any of them.” She sighed deeply. “I didn’t think we had to be careful anymore.”
“Danae, I crazy love you right now.” He planted a tender kiss on her. “You’ve made me a very happy man today.”
“I didn’t do this alone, babe. You kinda helped.” She grinned.
“You’re not doing any more work around the house, love. Not until you’re past the danger point. Just take care of those babies.” Andy was going to insist. She was not going to lose this baby, not on his watch.
“We might have suddenly outgrown our little house.”
“We have room to build on it. We can go up, or out. Or just keep that house as a beach house, and buy a bigger one. The possibilities are endless.”
“Though I’m happy, I still have the same concerns I did the last time. How am I going to be enough for three kids?”
“The same way you’re enough for two. You are a phenomenal mother, Danae. It will work.”
“Your faith in me is comforting. I hope it’s not misplaced.”
“You worry too much, little mama.” He hugged her close and kissed her.
Kirby made sure there was a limo waiting for them at the hospital to bring them back to the resort when they were ready. In just the short time span of a few hours, their lives had changed again.
“Baby, I have a contractor coming to see about building that second-floor bedroom. Are you going to be home?” Andy stood in the bedroom, fussing with his hair.
“Of course, Andy. Where am I going to go?” Danae laughed. At eight weeks pregnant, she was still violently ill most mornings. “Don’t you want to be here for it? I don’t know anything about blueprints and plans.”
“He is only coming to survey the house, discuss the plans and create a possible floor plan. You know what we need, darling.”
She sighed. “Are you sure you trust me?”
“I trust you with my life,” he smiled. “Danae, he’s only going to show you a concept drawing, and he’ll give you the file on a stick so we can go over the specifics.” He stared at the reflection in the mirror. “Something seems off with this suit today. What am I missing?”
“This,” she flirted as she walked to him. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him hungrily, stepped back and admired him. “Yep. That’s what it was. You were missing that passionate glow.”
Andy laughed. I wish you wouldn’t have done that, he thought. “Well, that creates another issue, but I don’t have time for a cold shower.”
“Just think of Fiona,” she laughed as she observed his reaction. “When do you need to leave?”
“I need to be out the door in five minutes. But I think your suggestion cured me for a while.” He chuckled and readjusted his tie. “I think that was it. I still feel off, though.”
“You look gorgeous, Andy, and you’re going to knock ‘em dead today.”
“Well, I shouldn’t be on television as much here. But today is the presser officially announcing me as the team manager. I need to look perfect.”
“Babe, you don’t even have to try.” She hugged him tightly. “Is there a chance Fiona will see this today?”
“Most of the soccer world will be watching it today. This is big news. I’m a little nervous.”
“Oh honey, you’ve got this. Tonight we’ll celebrate, island style.” She kissed him again. “And remember, it’s football, love.”
“Right. I’m gonna mess that up.” He took his car keys from where they hung and walked toward the door. “I’ll be home right after work. Wish me luck.”
“Good luck, Andy, but you don’t need it. You’re going to kill it out there. I love you.”
“Thank you. I love you too, my sweet.”
By the time the press conference was ready to start, the contractor still had not shown up. Eamon was wide awake, and she could not get him to settle down. Elyse, on the other hand, was out like a light and napping peacefully. So Danae sat in front of the television, their son on her knee, waiting for the presser to start.
When everything finally got underway, Andy’s face was front and center on her screen, and Kirby was announcing him as the new team manager. He looked so handsome on the large screen television, and if he was nervous he didn’t show it. Eamon recognized Andy and immediately squealed. “Dada!” he chirped. “Dada! Dada!”
“That’s right, Eamon. That’s Daddy.” The young boy clapped and pointed at Andy’s likeness.
After the introduction part was over Andy was scheduled to answer questions for about half an hour. The very first question he took was about Devin.
“Andy, how do you feel about Devin Jones being signed on the Llamas team after you were the one who terminated his position?”
He wanted to know how the reporter knew the details, since it was never made public that he had made the decision. He really wanted to go on the record with no comment about this whole topic. Instead, he simply answered the question.
“Quite frankly, I’m happy for him. Devin Jones is a true talent, possessing his father’s instinct and ability, and I see good things for his career going forward.” Andy shifted uncomfortably in his seat, hoping his words were believable.
“Are you sorry you terminated him?”
Andy sighed. This was not a good line of questioning. “My decision to terminate him at the time was based upon team policies, which he had repeatedly violated. It was not personal. Look, if you have any questions about me, my qualifications, experience, background, almost anything else, I’d be happy to answer them. However, that was my last question regarding Mr. Jones or the Llamas.”
The session seemed to be back on track, with mostly decent questions, until he was asked the question that abruptly ended the press conference. “Andy, I understand your wife, Danae Jones, is pregnant again. On the record, is it your child?”
He hoped the camera didn’t detect the instant anger and took a deep breath before answering. “On the record, and for future reference, questions about my wife and children are off-limits. But yes, the child is mine. Thank you all for coming. I look forward to many successful years with the Sharks.” Andy’s temper flared. He walked away as the reporter chased him, a cameraman following.
“How can you be sure it’s yours? Isn’t it true that your wife has been unfaith—”
“Shut that thing off,” Andy growled. “I don’t speak until that camera is off, understood? And I mean the whole thing. No audio either.” The reporter turned to the cameraman and motioned for him to cut the shot.
“There, it’s off. Now please, answer my question. How do you know for sure the baby is yours, Mr. Murphy? Her brother claims he has proof and firsthand knowledge about her indiscretions. You might want to get a paternity test—”
“I’m going to tell you this one time. That is the mother of my children you’re talking about, and you should know I am wildly overprotective of her. I already told you questions about her and my children are off-limits, and yet here you are. I know you’re from Starlight Shores, and I know you’ve covered soccer for a long time. So you need to slither back to whatever hole you crawled out of and leave her alone, or I’ll have you in court for slander so fast it will make your head spin. Am I clear on this?”
“She is a public figure and has no chance in a slander suit. Nice try, though.”
“Danae is a private citizen and is of no concern to anyone outside of our family. We are more than done here,” Andy spat, wanting to beat the snot out of the reporter. Instead, he walked quickly away from the press room. Even thousands of miles away, Devin still controlled the news and public opinion about Danae.
Kirby met with Andy after the presser as he paced back and forth in his office, trying to calm himself. “Andy, I’m sorry about that last question. What was the context of it anyway? I don’t understand why he would have even asked that.”
“It’s Devin Jones, Kirby. He has a history of smearing Danae and Darcey. You’d never know they were blood relatives by how he speaks of them, though lately it’s only been Danae. It’s infuriating, and it’s why he was dismissed from the Llamas in the first place. Lionel had a strict policy against that when he was alive. Fiona is nothing like him.”
“Well, if I had known that had the potential to happen, I wouldn’t have allowed any questions. Unfortunately, when an event is live, we have little control over that sort of thing.” Kirby patted him on the back. “You have my admiration. I’m not sure I could have restrained myself if someone asked me a question like it about Rae.”
“I’m used to it from Devin, but hearing it from a reporter was unexpected. Danae has done nothing to deserve the abuse he throws at her. And every time she hears it, a little more of her self-esteem gets ripped from her, and I’m left to pick up the pieces. He must be having a time in the Shores stirring up trouble for her now since she has no one there to defend her.”
“Well, if you need anything, let me know. This is upsetting.”
“Thanks. I’ll be right here if you need me.” Andy sat at his desk and picked up his phone to call Danae.
While Danae watched, she shook her head in disbelief as the reporter asked the question. Tears stung her eyes and she began to sniffle. She stood, the baby still in her arms, and walked toward his bedroom. “Here, sweet baby, it’s time for a nap.” She sat their son in his crib and walked back to the kitchen for his sippy cup, already filled with water. She was crying by the time she made it back to his crib.
She slumped in the chair in the living room, her face in her hands, weeping, when her phone rang.
“Hello?” she sniffled.
“Aww honey, I’m so sorry,” Andy said, hearing the sadness in her voice. “I had no idea that was coming.”
“I should have known,” she cried. “I’m not stomach sick enough now, I have to hear this in a brand new town. I can’t escape his lies.”
“Well, I’m sure we have recourse somewhere. We’ll figure it out, love.”
She shrugged. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do, babe. Being a celebrity really sucks sometimes.”
“I knew going into this job what I was signing up for, but you shouldn’t have to be subjected to this, regardless of who I am, or who your dad was. You’re a private citizen, a mother of four, and you deserve to be left alone.” He sighed. “I’m so frustrated with this whole thing. Fiona must be laughing her butt off.”
“Wait, mother of four? How do you figure?”
“The baby we lost still counts, my sweet. You were pregnant. It was going to be a baby at some point, if it hadn’t… died.”
“You mean, if it hadn’t almost killed me.”
“I wish you could come home. I’m not in the mood to meet with this contractor now.” Danae sighed heavily.
“He hasn’t been there yet?”
“No, and no one has called, either.”
“I’ll give him a call, and see what’s up. This isn’t acceptable.”
“Babe, just… hurry home. I miss you.”
“I miss you too, sweetie. I’ll see you later.”
Andy was about to call the contractor when his phone rang. “This is Murphy.”
“Andy! Man, it is good to hear your voice,” Aaron exclaimed. “You looked relaxed. The island agrees with you.”
“Hey buddy,” he replied. “Do I ever miss you today. What is that contemptible jerk up to, Aaron? Please tell me someone is on top of the rumor mill up there.”
“I wish I could. The team still has no manager, no PR, and little guidance. Fiona has washed her hands of the team. Tarah passed away last week, so she’s not really interested. The nuts are running the asylum, Andy. The whole team is in chaos.”
Andy sighed. “I never got to talk to Tarah again. She probably thought I was a traitor of the worst kind after everything Lionel did for me. By the way, I’m working on a way to get you and Wyatt down here. The coach we have is okay, but he’s not you.”
“Gee, thanks. I think.” Aaron laughed.
“Wow, I needed to hear a friendly voice today,” Andy smiled. “Did you see the circus?”
“Yes, I did. You knew this would happen once he got back on the team. He has an outlet now.”
“The same reporter chased me off stage. He told me that Devin had proof and firsthand knowledge of Danae’s supposed indiscretions, and suggested I get a paternity test. Can you believe it?”
“He did what?” Aaron nearly dropped his cell phone.
“Could you do me a favor? Please?”
“I’ll try, buddy.”
“Would you try to get documentation from casual contact with Devin that he knows what he says about Danae isn’t true? Without that, we would have a hard time proving malice.”
“I see what you’re doing. I will do my best, and gather some witnesses. Smitty, Wyatt, you know who your friends are here, and so do I. I’m on it, Andy.” Aaron smiled. This he could do.
“You’re the best, Aaron. I have your back here. I’m working on it.”
“Sounds good, my friend. I miss having you around. It’s not the same. Oh, and congratulations on the baby! You two deserve happiness.”
“Thanks. I’m thrilled, and she’s a fantastic mama,” Andy had to brag on Danae. “She is a little conflicted, but once she gets past the puking stage, she’s going to remember how fun little teeny babies are.”
“You two are just too cute, you know that?” Aaron glanced at his watch. “Ooh, I didn’t notice it’s time for practice. The clown show is starting soon. I think we’ve seen our last winning season for a very long time here.”
“Don’t worry. You and Wyatt will be with me before long, and then it will be like old times.”
“I am looking forward to it, Murph. We’ll talk soon.”
“You bet. Get me that information, and I’ll show my gratitude.”
“What are we talking? New car? Boat? House?” Aaron teased.
“How about I find you a woman?” Andy suggested.
Aaron laughed. “Maybe. We’ll see. Catch ya later.”
“Ciao,” Andy chuckled and hung up the phone.
“Can we stay in the house while they’ve got it torn apart, Andy? I don’t want to settle these kids into a resort suite if we don’t absolutely have to.” Danae was folding laundry in their bedroom.
“Well, they have to remove the roof, but they’re going to work one section at a time. The babies won’t be able to nap during the day while the guys are working, though. It will be much too loud for them.” Andy looked at the plans for the second floor addition for the tenth time that night. “Kirby is willing to comp us on the room at least partially while we’re inconvenienced. I don’t know how he can do everything he’s done. At some point, I’m not going to be worth his investment.”
“He obviously doesn’t feel that way, babe. You’re working hard to build your staff, and managing the team like a boss.” She felt a flutter in her tummy for the first time. “The baby just moved, Andy.” Danae smiled.
“Aww, and I missed it.” He put his hand on the small bump she grew in her belly. “I’m so excited about this baby, honey.”
“Well, this one will likely be the last one. Our chances this time were incredibly small. This baby is a miracle.” She put her hand on his and intertwined their fingers together.
“I’ll make arrangements tomorrow for the resort. We won’t be staying in the big suite, but we’ll have an efficiency type of thing. The cribs can go in the den area, here. See?” He turned the laptop around to show her the floor plan. Our bedroom is close by. And though it’s not a big kitchen, we can still do simple meals there.”
“How long is the addition going to take, babe?”
“Shortest estimate is nine weeks. Realistically, we’re probably looking at twelve, though.”
She started doing math in her head. I’m sixteen weeks now. Plus another twelve. More than halfway through? Twenty-eight weeks?” She grunted in frustration. “I’ll be missing my bed by the time we’re done. Show me what we’re getting again, so I know this is worth it.”
He pointed at the bottom floor. “They’re extending the existing bedrooms out another three feet to allow for stairs. This is where they will go.” He pointed to the shower area. “The tub stays, and they’re making a room for the toilet like we have now. They’re just moving it behind the stairs.”
“Okay, I’m trying to picture this. So this wall goes three feet that way. The stairs go where the shower is. And we lose the closet?”
“So far so good, honey.” He pointed at the second floor proposed floor plan. “The stairs lead to this open area. The catwalk goes to the right and runs along the front of the house. The kids’ playroom is there over the existing den.” His finger traced the model. “The exercise room is on the far end of the catwalk, and to the left, a full second master suite upstairs with a spa tub, walk-in shower, the whole works. I’d like to put an art studio for you in this area.” He pointed to the small space at the top of the steps. “It opens to that patio above Eamon’s room, so you can take the easel outside on pretty days and paint.” He pointed out each feature. “The extra room in the bedrooms is worth it already. Depending on what we have, someone will share a room, either Eamon or Elyse.”
“We’re only gaining one bedroom?” Danae shook her head. “This seems like a lot of investment for a one-bedroom gain.”
“And a bathroom. It could be a butler’s room, or guest suite.” He took her hand. “Besides, we gain a lot of extra space for living. The kids get a playroom, so their toys and mess are contained in one area. We already have a formal living room, and we’re gaining serious square footage in our bedroom alone. It’s truly a master suite now.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, love.”
“Of course I’m right, my sweet. We’ll be moved in and settled long before your due date.”
“When do they want to start?”
“Monday. They know we’re up against time. Plus, it’s dry season coming up, so they say. Minimal risk of exposure to the elements.”
“Let’s do it, then.” She looked at the plans, and had a thought. “Babe, do they need this wall that closes off the exercise room? Is it weight-bearing?”
“I don’t think so, no. What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking of leaving it open, so I can look out into the living room while I run or work out. Ultimately, I’d have more room. We won’t lose the hallway space. It just gets absorbed into the area.
“I like that! I’ll suggest it, and see what the builder thinks.”
“See? I do have good ideas once in a while.” She kissed his nose.
“You have awesome ideas all the time, my sweet. I’ll make arrangements for the resort. Let’s do this.”
“Well, this is unbelievable,” Andy exclaimed. “Just freaking great.” The Sharks season schedule was in his email on the first day of the remodel in the house. “Danae is going to lose it when she sees this.” The first game was an away game in Starlight Shores versus the Llamas in two weeks’ time.
“Yeah, I didn’t figure you’d be very happy with the season opener.” Kirby had received the same email. The two men sat for a business meeting, as they did every Monday morning.
“That reminds me. How open are you to another coach? I have a prospect. Aaron Hall. He’s a three-time champion, more if you count his successes in Sunlit Tides.”
“I’d love it. I have seen what Aaron Hall can do. He’s an impressive young man.”
“He’s one of my closest friends, and since Lionel and Tarah O’Reilly’s passing, it’s been chaos there. I’m also thinking of negotiating for Wyatt Searcy. He’s a damn good player. We’d be foolish not to make an offer, a really generous offer.”
Kirby scratched his chin. “Andy, I like your killer instincts. When is Searcy a free agent?”
“End of next month, just after the season starts.”
“Okay, well, let’s get Aaron here soon for negotiations. We have a little time to consider how to wine and dine Searcy.”
“I’ll handle that, if you will allow me. Wyatt is a good friend, too. I don’t think it would take much dealing. He’s pretty underpaid, so a decent offer will bring him to the table.”
“You’re a take-charge kind of guy, Andy. I like that about you.”
Andy smiled. “Thank you. That’s quite a compliment. I do have to tell you, if Fiona McDonald is still angry with me, she threatened me before I left the Llamas that if I tried to take players from them, she’d file a motion with the league.”
“Yeah, she can try. Negotiations are all part of sports. She’s in way over her head with her team, I think, and she will regret letting you walk away so easily when we are the new winning team.” Kirby patted Andy on the back. “Her loss is my gain. I will never regret hiring you, Andy. You’re the best business decision I’ve made for this team in a long time. But, I have to cut this short this morning and get back to the restaurant. I’m cooking tonight, apparently, while we look for a new chef, and I need to familiarize myself with the current menu.”
Andy blushed. He was not used to such kind compliments from his boss, not even Lionel had been as appreciative. “Thanks, Kirby, sounds good. I’ll set up a meeting with Aaron Hall. What’s the budget on his acquisition?”
“There isn’t one. Do what you have to do, Andy. Headhunt Aaron Hall and bring him on board. I’ll even send my jet after him. Hey, you and Danae should come for dinner tonight. My treat.”
“We have the kids, or I would. We’ve been imposing on Darcey and Clint way too often. I think the kids are getting confused over who the real Mama and Daddy are.” Andy laughed.
“You know, the resort has childcare available. You could always use a night away.”
“Thanks. I’ll ask her. Maybe we’ll see you tonight.”
Andy left the meeting and dialed Danae’s cell. Back at the resort, Elyse was crying and Eamon was cranky, a truly miserable morning for the Murphy children, and Danae was at her wit’s end.
“Hello?” came the exasperated answer.
“Hey honey, is everything okay?” Andy asked gingerly.
“No, it’s not. Eamon is fussy, and Elyse is being something else this morning. Everything is ‘No’ and ‘don’t wanna.’ I’m getting tired of her little attitude today. Eamon is teething, I think. I thought I saw a molar coming in. The poor little guy is hurting. Andy, it’s only the first day of being in the resort. It’s going to be a long twelve weeks.” She felt like crying.
“Oh baby, you’re not having a good day.” Maybe, he thought, she’d be willing to spend a night out with him tonight. “I have a proposition for you. Kirby invited us for dinner tonight, just the two of us. His treat. I guess he’s cooking tonight, and would like us to be his guests. What do you say?”
“I can’t ask Darcey to watch them one more night. She’s trying to settle into her job, and Clint is still interviewing for that game company. They’re stressed.”
“The resort has childcare available. Why don’t you check into it and get back with me? It sounds like you need a night away, honey.”
“It sounds amazing. But I don’t know about just letting a stranger take care of them.”
“After one night, they won’t be strangers anymore. Or we could call the agency and have them send someone. But baby, let’s make this happen. You’ll need a peaceful night by the time I get home, won’t you?”
“Oh my word, yes! I’ll call around, love.” In the background, Elyse screamed at the top of her lungs. “I’m going to kill that child, Andy. I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“Hang in there, my sweet. I’ll come get you for dinner right after work. Let me know if you can’t find a sitter, though, okay?” Andy felt bad for her. “Danae, I love you, honey.”
“I love you too, Andy. I can’t wait for dinner tonight.” She hung up the phone, feeling hopeful.
“Lysie, what’s wrong, honey?” she picked up her daughter to cuddle her.
“Aim mean.” She pointed angrily at her brother.
“Show me, Elyse. What did he do?” Elyse took Danae’s hand and bit it, and she bit hard. “Ouch! Did he bite you?”
“Yes!” she said, her bottom lip quivered. “I sowwy, Mama.”
“You’re okay, honey.” Danae sat her on the floor. “Be good. Mama will be right back.” She walked to Eamon, and as soon as she picked him up, she felt a fever. “Oh baby boy, you’re burning up.” He cried softly when she held him, and she tried to feel around for a tooth. On his bottom right, she felt a big tooth trying to breakthrough. “No wonder you’re not feeling good, sweetheart,” she cooed at Eamon. She gave him a dose of baby fever reducer and filled his sippy cup with cold water. She walked back into the den with him, and Elyse screamed when she saw him.
“No Mama!” she cried. “No Aim.”
“He doesn’t feel good, honey. He’s going to sleep.”
“Aim seep?” she asked.
“Yes, honey. Eamon is going to go night-night.” She placed him into his crib, and immediately he closed his eyes. “Shh, Lysie. Come with Mama.” Danae held her hand out for her, and Elyse took it. Together they walked into the living area, and she grabbed a book. “Do you want a story?”
“Story!” she chirped. “Yes, peas!”
Danae read from one of Bella’s books until Elyse was sleepy. And when she finally got her down for a nap, Danae collapsed in the chair and sighed relief. Remembering Andy’s proposition, she called the front desk of the resort.
“Concierge, this is Marcela, how can I help you?”
“Hi Marcela, this is Danae Murphy in the VIP tower, suite two. My husband told me there is childcare available on site. Is this true?”
“Yes, it is Mrs. Murphy. Do you need me to schedule you?”
“Oh please, yes.” She took a second to figure when to tell them. “Five o’clock this evening, so my husband can take me for dinner. I need a break,” she laughed.
Marcela joined her in a chuckle. “I understand completely. I raised three children, twin boys and a little girl. How many children, and what are their ages, if you please?”
“A little girl, who just turned three, and my twenty-month-old son. He is teething and right now is running a slight fever, but he should be okay. And Elyse is a good girl when her brother isn’t biting her.” Danae laughed slightly. “It’s been a heck of a day so far,” she sighed.
“I will arrange for a very competent young lady to watch them. She is certified in CPR and has been trained in childcare and basic first aid. I think you’ll be pleased.” Marcela finished booking the babysitter. “Is there anything else I can arrange for you? Dinner reservations?”
“No, thank you. Andy has everything else arranged. Thank you, Marcela.”
Excited, she texted Andy.
Concierge booked a sitter for 5 tonight. What should I wear?
Danae began to make the bed, which she hadn’t had the time to start before all pandemonium broke loose when Andy’s reply chimed in.
Five is perfect. I’ll pick you up at 5:30 in front of the lobby. Wear something amazing. It’s 5 stars.
She glanced at the clock, and it was only 1:30. Plenty of time, she thought. Once the bed was made, she laid down for a nap herself and set the alarm on her phone for 4:00 pm.
The alarm never got a chance to wake her, as Eamon cried just an hour later. Sleepily, she walked to the room to get him and noticed Elyse was awake, playing happily in her crib. “I’ll be right back, sweetie,” she told Elyse, and sat him down in the high chair. “Are you hungry, little boy?” she asked as she reached into the fridge and retrieved a small bowl of soft, cut fruit. She took a few pieces and set them on the tray for him to munch on while she got Elyse from her bed.
“Wadder, peas!” Elyse asked, reaching for her cup.
“Are you hungry, Lysie?”
“No, Mama.” She snuggled her blankie and waited patiently for her sippy cup of water.
Luckily, the problems of earlier did not repeat themselves, but she had a dilemma. Both of the kids were awake, and she needed to shower. So she stripped both of them down and plopped them into the tub with her to let them play at her feet while she washed. One by one, she bathed them, and when they were all squeaky clean, she stepped out and dried each of them off. Two naked little babies were running around the suite squealing while Danae dried off. If the sitter came now, she’d have a surprise awaiting her, and the thought of it made her snort.
She quickly got dressed in yoga pants and a tee-shirt and rounded up her charge. She put Eamon’s diaper on him and dressed him in a warm outfit. He still felt a little feverish, and she didn’t want him to be chilled. She dressed Elyse in a pair of shorts and a frilly tank top, with a pair of socks. With the kids cleaned up and happy, she stepped into the closet and picked a beautiful pink dress, almost floor-length, with a high waistline. She was hoping it would look okay. At four months pregnant, she was filling out. Most of her formal clothing wouldn’t work as maternity outfits. But when she slipped the dress over her head and adjusted it, she found it acceptable.
Elyse looked up from her doll and blanket and looked at Danae. “Yooz piddy, Mama.”
“Aww, thank you, baby girl.” She smiled at her daughter. “You look pretty, too.”
The sitter, named Janelle, arrived shortly before five, and introduced herself. But she found herself starstruck by Danae.
“I know you,” she blushed. “You’re Travis Jones’ daughter and Andy Murphy’s wife. I’m so humbled.”
“I’m just a mother of three,” Danae said. “My husband is the star. Anyway, Eamon is teething and has been feverish for most of the day. There’s some cold fruit in the mini-fridge you can give him to chew on if he’s fussy. Elyse shouldn’t be a problem, but watch the baby around her. He’s been using her hand as a teether.” She chuckled. “She doesn’t appreciate it much, and she will tell you. Both our cell numbers are here on this information sheet. If for some reason you need to call for emergency, bring this letter with you, and call us. However, I’m not anticipating that.”
“Will I get to meet Mr. Murphy when you come back?” Janelle asked.
“Yes, he will be with me. Thank you for being early. I need to walk to the front to meet him. Remember, if you need me, call. We’ll see you when we get back.”
Danae gathered her purse and shawl and walked toward the lobby. When she got there, Andy was waiting for her patiently. He got out and opened the door for her. “Hi, my sweet. You look enchanting tonight.”
“You look gorgeous, as usual.” She sat down and adjusted the seat belt around the baby, and waited for him to get into the car. He set the GPS for the restaurant, and they drove away.
“Did your day settle down at all, honey?” he asked.
“Yes, and I found out why she was crying, too. Eamon was chewing on her hand! He’s cutting a molar on the right side. The poor little thing was feverish all day.”
“Chewing on her? No wonder.”
“Yeah, I know. I’d be pretty angry if you chewed on my hand,” she flirted.
“How about if I nibble on your ear?” Andy suggested, and blew her a kiss.
“That I wouldn’t mind, but later.” She winked at him.
They pulled up in front of the restaurant and the valet greeted them. Andy handed him the key and walked to help Danae from the front. He took her hand and they walked in together.
“Murphy, guests of Mr. Kemp,” he told the host.
He checked the guest list and spotted the name. “Of course, Mr. Murphy. This way, please.” They walked to the rear of the restaurant to a private room he hadn’t seen before. There were two tables in this particular room, and they had exclusive access to the chef and the kitchen. Kirby seemed busy as he noticed Andy and Danae being seated but took a moment to welcome them.
“Andy, Danae, it’s a pleasure to see you tonight. I hoped you would come. This is a special room, usually reserved for VIPs and tourists who just want the experience. Because I am the chef this evening, I will treat you to this one of a kind experience. Sit back and enjoy yourselves.”
“Thank you, Kirby,” Danae said softly.
Kirby came back moments later with a menu, which he handed to Andy, a glass of semi-sweet sparkling nectar for Danae, and a glass of dry champagne for Andy. “Tonight my specialty is a wagyu rib eye crusted with pepper served with a red wine reduction, and roasted asparagus wrapped with prosciutto. I highly recommend it.” He winked at Andy. “If beef isn’t your style, then I’d recommend the blackened Mahi, with porcini risotto and steamed vegetables.”
Andy was stunned. He knew wagyu was extremely expensive. “We will let you know in a few minutes, thank you.” He continued to peruse the menu. “No raw oysters for you tonight,” he teased. She shook her head and chuckled at him. “I know you like swordfish. How about that and the wagyu?”
“Babe, don’t you think that is a little much? I mean, there’s no need to choose the priciest thing on the menu.”
“Believe it or not, it isn’t. I mean, it’s up there, but there are more expensive things.” She had not seen a menu in a long time, and had no concept of how things were priced. But Danae was relatively easy to please, and very grounded, a credit to her upbringing.
“Still, babe…” She fidgeted in her seat.
He could tell she wasn’t comfortable with it, so he dropped it. “Okay, how about leg of lamb? I know you like that, too.”
“Ooh, now that sounds good. But I’ll leave it up to you. You are better at this than I am, Andy. I trust you.”
Kirby reappeared at the table a few minutes later with a small serving of fried calamari. “Have you decided yet?”
Andy nodded. “Yes.” Rather than reveal to Danae what he was ordering, he simply pointed at the items on the menu. Kirby nodded his approval to Andy’s choices. “I think you’ll enjoy what Andy has chosen, Miss Danae,” Kirby bowed, and left them to talk.
“What did you order, love?” she asked.
He looked at her, pure mischief in his eyes. “I bet you would love to know, my sweet.”
“You are such a brat, Mr. Murphy.”
“But you know you love me anyway.” Andy flirted with her.
“Forever and always, babe.”
“Forever and always, my darling Danae.” He took her hand and kissed it. “Oh, I meant to tell you, I have authorization to headhunt Aaron. He’ll be here soon, love.”
“I’m happy for you, Andy. I know he’s one of your best friends.”
“He is. Your dad… it’s not the same Llamas team he played for. Aaron says they’re falling apart.”
“I hate to hear that,” she said sadly. “I still feel an attachment to them. His retired jersey hangs in the Clips Center. They still sell his merchandise…” She blinked back tears.
“That’s normal, my sweet. Your whole life, you’ve been a Llama fan. I don’t expect you to be an instant Sharks fan, honey.”
“I know. I mean, I love it here but once in a while, I get homesick.”
“You know, sweetie, I’d ask you to come back with me for the season opener, but I’m not so sure it’s safe for you back there right now, with Devin in rare form.”
“Maybe you could swing by the house and take a few pictures. I’m curious to see what they’re going to do to it,” she suggested.
“I’d be happy to, baby.” He took her hand and kissed it.
Kirby witnessed the tender moment and walked out to check on them. “Everything okay here? Miss Danae, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Kirby. We were just talking about home. And my dad.”
“Does Travis come up much in general talk? I’d love to get to know him, through you.”
“I would love to talk about him. He was my hero.” Andy squeezed her hand, knowing if the topic continued, she would get very emotional.
“We will have to do that sometime. Besides, my daughter really wants to meet you.”
Danae blushed. “I’d like that.”
“Well, your meal will be ready shortly. I hope you’re hungry. Andy did a fine job of selecting tonight.” Kirby patted him on the shoulder and returned to the kitchen.
“Andy, have you heard anything about what Rae was talking about that night when she said I was the one? They seem to know me from my two years in singing. I didn’t think my reach was that big.”
“I haven’t spoken to Rae since we arrived here. I’m curious, too.” The candlelight on the table reflected in his caramel brown eyes. Danae stared at Andy, in awe of him, wondering how she managed to snag such a handsome man.
Kirby appeared a few seconds later, carrying two dishes. The first was blackened Mahi, and the second was the wagyu rib-eye steak, cooked exactly how Danae liked it. He motioned to Kirby and whispered something, and Kirby shook his head adamantly. Andy shrugged and turned his attention back to dinner. “Thank you, Kirby. This looks delicious.”
“Enjoy, you two lovebirds,” he winked at Danae and returned to the kitchen.
“What did you get, besides the Mahi?” she asked.
“I got the wagyu rib eye, honey. I wanted us both to try it. It’s not a regular menu item, and it’s certainly not something I’ll order every day.”
She huffed at him softly, not pleased. But when he cut a piece and fed it to her, she was blown away. “Oh, Andy! This is incredible,” she exclaimed. “It’s so flavorful.”
“See? Now try the Mahi,” he suggested, getting a small bite for her to try.
“Oh my goodness gracious! So good!”
Kirby was watching them from the kitchen. They’re so cute together, he thought. I bet they’ve never had a fight.
Andy split the portions between them, and they shared dinner like they always did, both of them remarking how good everything was.
“You know, babe,” Danae said, “We should invite Darcey and Clint out with us next time, instead of asking them to watch our kids. We could leave all the kids with Janelle and bring them here. They are having a rough time. Wouldn’t it be nice to give them a night out?”
“I love it, sweetie. Who is Janelle?”
“I forgot you didn’t meet her. She is our sitter tonight, and she was starstruck to meet me. She knew who I am, and who you are. She can’t wait to meet you, Andy.”
He smiled. “It’s always neat to meet a fan.” Secretly, Andy loved the recognition for himself. But when it came to Danae, he wished she was a little less recognized. He worried about her safety, especially when she had the children with her.
“I didn’t think you would be nearly as recognized. I mean, it’s not like you play for them.”
“Even the manager is a big deal on the island. Football is the official pastime here. Anyone involved with it is important. That means you and me, honey.”
“Me?” she asked, incredulous.
“You’re a Jones, for better or worse. You’re famous because of your dad, and because of me.”
“Like I said earlier, being a celebrity sucks sometimes.”
“It can, yes.” He smiled and took her hand to kiss it. “Did you have enough, my sweet?”
“Too much, I think. But it was so good.”
“Are you interested in dessert? I think Kirby had something in mind.”
“Ordinarily, I would say no. But, I am eating for two!” she giggled.
“When he comes back, I’ll let him know.”
Kirby returned to the table to ask about dessert when Andy whispered to him again. And he nodded, walking back to the kitchen.
“What did you say? He left in a big hurry.”
“I just told him to bring his specialty out, just for you my sweet.” Andy smiled at her.
“What’s the specialty?” she inquired.
“That’s a surprise,” he teased. “Don’t worry, you’ll love it.”
“I’m not worried,” she said confidently.
A few minutes later, Kirby returned from the kitchen with a chunk of white chocolate and vanilla bean cheesecake, with a drizzle of blueberry compote and a dollop of freshly made whipped cream.
“I hear cheesecake is your favorite, Miss Danae,” Kirby said as he sat the cake between the two of them. “And two spoons, as Andy requested. Enjoy it!”
“He has outdone himself tonight, babe,” she commented, as Andy loaded a spoonful of cheesecake, blueberries and whipped cream for her to taste.
“This has been the most incredible evening together, my sweet,” he replied, feeding her the bite from his spoon.
“Oh my goodness, this is delectable!” she mumbled, with just a bit of cake left in her mouth. “Best cheesecake ever!”
“It is very good,” he agreed, but not quite as strong as she did.
They finished the cheesecake, though Danae ate the majority of it. Kirby came out to make sure dessert was acceptable. “Thank you, Kirby, for a fantastic meal and the best cheesecake I’ve ever had,” she exclaimed. “We’ve had a great time.”
“You’re welcome, Miss Danae. I’m delighted you had a pleasant evening.”
Andy knew the dinner was complimentary, but he left a §100 on the table for Kirby as a tip. “Shall we, baby?” he said as he stood. Kirby noticed them getting ready to leave, and wanted to thank them for coming.
“Andy,” he said, picking up the tip, “You know this was my treat, right?”
“I do,” he answered. “You also waited on us all night long. That is a show of my appreciation.”
“You don’t have to—”
“I know, Kirby. Please, let me,” Andy insisted. “I’ll be bringing some business your way soon.”
“You do that. Andy, Miss Danae, it was a pleasure having you tonight. You both have a wonderful evening.”
“Thank you, we will, Kirby,” Danae replied. She took Andy’s arm as he led her from the restaurant.
As he watched them leave, Kirby was pleased. He had one heck of a catch with Andy, and he would do everything in his power to make sure no one ever headhunted him away from the Sharks.