A new baby is the perfect excuse to redecorate Eamon’s bedroom, Danae thought, so she bought the paint, some wallpaper border, and a new crib while she was in town.
They had been back in their home, all fixed up and expanded, for close to three months, and the baby was due in two weeks. The football season was going well, and the Sharks were in playoff contention in their first year with Andy, Aaron, and Wyatt on the team.
On the last weekend in the summer, Andy invited Aaron and Wyatt over to help with the baby’s room.
“Are you certain about this color blue?” Andy asked skeptically. It was a light, almost off-white baby blue.
“It’s supposed to be that light, babe. It’s pastel.” She unpackaged the new sheets to wash, and the bumper for the new crib as Wyatt tried to put it together.
“It will look nice,” Aaron interjected on Danae’s behalf. “Eamon and Emmitt have to share a bedroom, and the pastels are easier on the eye than something darker. Trust me on this.”
“Thank you, Aaron!” Danae exclaimed to Andy’s huff of faux exasperation.
“Why even paint it then? It’s almost white now.” Danae walked to Andy and put her arms around his neck. She kissed him tenderly and ran her fingers through his hair. He wrapped his arms around her. “I see now,” he laughed. “What she wants, she gets.”
“Wise man,” Wyatt said. “Aaron, when you have a chance, come look at these instructions. They don’t look right.”
Aaron walked to Wyatt and looked at the booklet. “Looks fine to me,” he snickered and walked back to help Andy with the painting.
“Not helpful, Aaron,” he grumbled.
“Leave it, Wyatt, and I’ll put it together. Come help Aaron with the painting. Let’s switch.” Andy put the paintbrush down and wiped his hands on the old, holey jeans he wore.
Danae plopped down in the easy chair by the television. “I’m so achy,” she whined. “I’m done with being pregnant. Any time is good.” Elyse walked to her and climbed into her lap. “Lysie, what a good girl. Are you ready for a new brother?”
“Brudder,” she repeated. “No brudder.”
Danae laughed. “You already have one that bites, huh?”
“Aims bad brudder,” she stated so matter-of-factly, it made Danae laugh.
“He’s not bad, sweet pea.” She snuggled her daughter closely and covered her face in kisses. The girl’s happy giggles filled the house, and Andy smiled. “I’m going to put you in the playroom, sweetie pie. Play nice with Eamon, okay?”
“I pay wiff Aim!” she squealed as Danae carried her up the steps.
She set Elyse down on the floor. “Play nice, Eamon, or you’ll get a time out.”
“No!” he said emphatically. “Leeeez,” he babbled in an attempt to say her name. “Mama!” He pouted in frustration.
“Eamon, you’re okay, honey.” She patted him on the head. “Behave.”
As she sat back down in the living room, Andy was working on the crib. “How are you feeling, my sweet?”
“Like I’m ready to pop,” she lamented. “I don’t remember feeling this fat with the other two.”
“You’ve never eaten this much cheesecake, either,” he teased. “But even if you never lose another pound, you’ll still be the most beautiful woman on the island.”
“I have to lose weight after the baby, Andy. I can’t wear Daddy’s jersey.” She was not looking forward to the hours spent on the treadmill and weight machine. It was difficult after Eamon, and she expected it to be harder still. She was pushing thirty after all.
“First things first,” Andy said. “Give me another son, and I’ll help you train, love.”
“I can do the son thing.” Danae was really hoping for another daughter, but Elyse was destined to be the only Murphy princess.
“How much longer, Miss Danae?” Wyatt asked politely, taking a sip of iced tea.
“Another week or two, though Andy thinks I’ll have him any day now.”
“It’s a good thing our game this week is a home game,” Aaron commented.
“It won’t matter. I’m approved for eight weeks of paternity leave starting Monday.” Andy smiled at Danae and then looked at the crib. It was coming along nicely.
“It will be so nice to have you home for two months,” Danae said happily. In the almost seven months they’d been on the island, Andy hadn’t had more than the weekends off, and sometimes not even then.
Too bad we won’t be able to mess around for most of it, he thought to himself. “I’m sure you could use the help, baby,” he said.
“That’s an understatement. By the time I get the kids down for a nap these days, it’s almost time for you to come home. I’ve gotten nothing done. I know this house is smaller but cleaning it is no less a chore.”
“Well, I will help you, love… Ouch!!” Andy yelped in pain, having squeezed his finger in a pinch point on the crib. “Bless it!”
“Are you okay, babe?”
“I will be. That’s going to leave a mark.” A purple blood blister was already beginning to form.
Aaron walked from the bedroom, pleased with himself. “The painting is done, and Wyatt is cleaning up outside. You might want to open a window to air it a bit before Eamon’s bedtime. It’s really stinky in there.”
“I’ll get it,” Andy said, his injured finger in his mouth.
She stopped him and took his hand. “Here,” she said, taking his finger to kiss it. “I’ll make it better.”
“Mmm, it’s much better now, love,” he cooed. Aaron rolled his eyes. “Stuff it, Hall,” Andy laughed.
“Get a room, you two,” Aaron joked. “Actually, don’t. You promised us a cookout if we helped, and I’m not ready to leave yet.
“Yes, I’m on it. Make yourself useful, Aaron, and open that window. I’ll go start the grill.” Andy laughed as he walked toward the back door. Danae smiled sweetly at Aaron.
“I’m sorry Danae,” he blushed. “I don’t mean anything by it.” He was suddenly embarrassed.
“Come on, Aaron. You act as if it’s my first day here.” She snorted, amused at his obvious discomfort.
“I’ll get the window,” he smiled and went to Eamon’s room.
Andy and Aaron cooked a pile of beautiful steaks, while Danae and Wyatt made a salad, and chopped vegetables to steam. After dinner, Danae put the children to bed and brought her guitar from the second floor. Andy lit a fire in the pit, and Danae played and sang songs while they roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.
“So, Wyatt,” Danae said, as they all sat around the fire, “tell me about your family in Appaloosa Plains. My family on Mama’s side is from there as well.”
“Isn’t much to tell, really,” he drawled. “I’m an only child. Most of my relatives still live there, and I have a big extended family. My pa mentioned we have a famous cousin in the family. Or something.”
“That’s interesting,” Danae was intrigued. “I have a famous relative, too. I mean, it’s pretty obvious who it is.”
“There isn’t that many famous people from Appaloosa Plains,” Wyatt laughed. “It’s such a Podunk little town. What’s obvious, by the way?”
“Destiny Hill. She is my great grandmother,” she said softly. “Some say I inherited her voice, but I honestly don’t hear it.”
Wyatt’s jaw dropped open. “Tell me you’re not serious.”
“Why?” Danae asked.
“That’s the famous person! Destiny Hill is my first cousin, a few times removed, if my memory serves me.”
Aaron belly laughed, and he couldn’t stop. “You mean to tell me, you two are related?”
“Why is that so funny, Hall?” Wyatt glared daggers at his friend.
“You know why, Searcy. This is freaking hilarious.”
Andy and Danae looked at Aaron, confused. “I don’t get the joke,” Andy finally spoke up. Danae still sat, shocked and speechless, and it wasn’t often those two things occurred simultaneously.
“It’s an inside joke,” Aaron stated, giving Wyatt the out. “You wouldn’t get it, even if I told you.”
“Then I won’t ask,” Andy smiled. “Danae, are you okay honey?”
“Yeah, I’m just blown away by this. We’ll need to sit down and figure out who and how! This is incredible, Wyatt.”
“I’ll look through some of my papers. My aunt was doing the family tree before she passed away, and I inherited all her stuff.” Wyatt couldn’t wait to get home to check.
“I know most of my family, and who I don’t remember, Andy seems to recall. He even told me where my freckles came from.” Danae smiled at him. “I have something in the house that is hundreds of years old. I should show you, Wyatt. This is pretty cool!” She was very excited. She took his hand and led him into Elyse’s bedroom to show him the music box, and Aaron shook his head at Wyatt’s infatuated look, his hand in hers.
“That wasn’t an inside joke was it, Aaron?” Andy asked.
“No, it wasn’t. But it’s not my place to say, either. I feel bad I laughed. If Wyatt wants to tell you, it’s his story to tell.”
Inside, Wyatt marveled at the music box. “So this was your great, great, great grandfather’s?” he whispered.
“Yes! It is very old. Sometimes, I’m amazed it still works.” She wound it and let it play softly. “Lysie loves it.” They both tiptoed from the room. Wyatt looked at her, and his heart fluttered. With the revelation of their common ancestry, he knew for sure his adoration for her was a dead end. Andy was right about one thing, though. Danae was beautiful when she was pregnant.
“Is something wrong, Wyatt?” she asked him.
“Nah, it’s nothing, Miss Danae. I’m still shocked that we have blood relation somewhere.”
“Me too! It’s a small world, Wyatt.”
“That it is,” he agreed.
Andy had tamped the fire out, and Aaron joined him inside. “I hate to call this a night, guys, but I’m tired, and this little princess needs her rest. Sleep will be hard to come by once the baby is here.” He walked Aaron and Wyatt to the front door and thanked them for coming to help with the room. He locked the door behind them and walked to Danae.
She put her arms around him and hugged him as tightly as she could. “Thank you for today, babe. I can’t believe I waited so long to get his room ready.”
“The guys were happy to help, my love.” He walked in back of her and nuzzled his face into her hair. “You smell so good, honey. Let’s go to bed.”
“Are you propositioning me?” she laughed.
“Maybe,” he said, kissing her neck.
“Just this one last time,” she teased, and took his hands in hers as they wrapped around her belly. “Andy, I love you so very much.”
“I crazy love you, Danae.” He took her hand and led her to the bedroom.
A few hours later, Danae sat straight up in bed. “Andy! Wake up!”
“What’s wrong, honey?” He asked sleepily.
“Babe, it’s go time. This baby is coming now.” The contraction that woke her was a memory, but another strong one took its place.
“Okay, hold on, my sweet,” Andy stumbled to the bathroom. In the meantime, Danae got dressed.
“Babe, I can’t get my shoes on,” she laughed.
“I’ve got this,” he said, grabbing her tennis shoes and slipping them on her swollen feet. “I called the sitter, and she’ll be here in a few minutes. How are you doing?”
“I’m okay for now, but the contractions are close together. If she doesn’t hurry, you’ll be delivering the baby in your fancy new sports car.” Danae laughed. The car was like a fourth child to him, his dream car, and he loved it.
“We’ll take yours then,” he chuckled. A few minutes later, the call box out front buzzed, and Andy allowed the sitter entrance to the gate. They met her at the front door. “Hi, Trix! The kids are asleep, so you shouldn’t have much to do. Thanks for coming so late.”
“My pleasure, Mr. Andy,” she replied. “Good luck!”
Danae waited out front while he pulled the car from the garage. He got out and helped her into the front seat, and she fastened the seat belt. Andy got in, rubbed her belly gently and kissed her. “I crazy love you, Danae,” he cooed at her.
“I love you too, Andy, but you need to drive. The hospital is a long way from here.” He put the car in gear and drove away from the house.
About halfway there, her water broke. “Uh oh,” she cried. “This isn’t good.”
“I’m going as fast as I can, Nae baby,” he replied. “I’ll get you there.” I can’t deliver a baby! He said to himself.
Fifteen minutes later, he pulled up outside the emergency department, and hopped out of the car. “Hurry, Andy!” she cried, in heavy labor. He walked with her into the hospital, and she was taken in immediately.
The baby was crowning when she got into a bed, and there was no time to call her doctor. “This baby is coming right now,” the emergency doctor said. Emmitt was born less than ten minutes later, with Andy right there, holding her hand, coaching her. “Congratulations! You have a healthy baby boy.”
Danae reached her arms to take him, and they nestled the baby into her embrace. “Hi Emmitt,” she cooed at him. “I’m your mama!” She cried when she looked into his eyes. Their miracle baby.
“He’s perfect, Danae,” Andy wiped happy tears from his eyes. “Just like his mama.” He kissed her forehead and noticed something wasn’t right. “Doctor, why is she so clammy?”
It was then the doctor noticed the bleeding. “Mr. Murphy, she is bleeding heavier than normal.” The nurses took the baby and tended to Danae quickly. “Did she have any complications during pregnancy?”
“No, but she had an ectopic last year that almost killed her when we still lived in Starlight Shores.”
“We need to check her out, ultrasound, blood work. You can see her shortly.” They wheeled Danae away from him before he had a chance to tell her he loved her.
About thirty minutes passed when Danae’s doctor approached Andy. “Mr. Murphy, Danae’s uterus was damaged during delivery, probably scar tissue from her rupture. That is the source of her bleeding, and without a hysterectomy, she won’t survive.”
“How is she right now?” Andy asked.
“She is conscious, but barely. Mr. Murphy, we need to do this very soon. Do we have your permission?”
“Whatever you need to do to save her life, do it. Three children need their mother, and I need her. Please, save her.”
“We will do everything we can.”
Andy called Darcey. “Darce, it’s Andy. Danae had the baby, but she had complications. She’s bleeding. They’re doing a hysterectomy.”
“Oh no! Oh, Andy, I’m so sorry to hear this.” Darcey choked back tears. “Let me know how she’s doing once she is out of surgery. Andy, she’s going to be okay. The doctors here are top-notch. She’s in good hands.”
“Thanks, Darcey. I needed to hear that. I’m scared to death.”
“Who has the kids?”
“We called a sitter, but if you want to get them I won’t complain. Neither will the sitter, the poor thing.”
“I’ll go get them, honey. Call the sitter and tell her I’m coming.”
“Thanks, Darcey. We owe you one.”
“Nonsense. Take care of my sister, and tell her I love her.”
“I’ll do that.” Andy hung up the phone and called the sitter to let her know Darcey was getting the kids. The next phone call was to Kirby and Rae. Even though it was late, he had to.
“Andy? Is everything okay?” a sleepy Kirby answered his cell phone.
“No, Danae had the baby, but there were complications. She’s in surgery.”
“What can I do to help?” Kirby sat up in bed.
“I will let you know. Kirby, if I lose her…” Andy’s voice trailed off as he swallowed a sob.
“Don’t think that way. She will be okay, Andy. She has the best doctors on the job. She was in the right place. I will let the guys know, and Rae will come sit with you if you need a friend.”
“Thanks, Kirby. I’ll call when she’s out of surgery.”
The next few hours passed slowly as Andy watched the clock. But Danae’s doctor came out wearing a smile. “Mr. Murphy, Danae came through the surgery well. She’s lost some blood, so we did a transfusion, but she should recover fine. We did a total hysterectomy. The bleeding was too much to leave it. She is lucky to have carried the baby to term. Her womb was not in ideal condition for childbearing. The baby is doing well, by the way. As soon as she is awake, we will bring him to her so she can feed him.”
“When can I see her?” Andy breathed a sigh of relief.
“In about half an hour. We’re going to wake her up in about ten minutes and assess her. But she will make a full recovery. The baby is adorable. He’s a keeper.” She smiled at him. “I’ll come get you when she’s ready for you.”
Andy glanced at his watch, and it was 5:23am. Twelve hours ago, they were having fun with Aaron and Wyatt, and now… now he was in the hospital after another close call. He picked up the phone and dialed Darcey’s number.
“Hello?” her anxious voice answered.
“Darcey, it’s me. She’s out of surgery, and she’s doing okay. I haven’t seen her yet, but the doctor says she should make a full recovery.”
“Oh thank goodness!” she exclaimed. “Did they have to take her uterus?”
“Everything is gone. She is going to be shattered. The doctor told me she was lucky to carry him to term. I guess she had some scar tissue from the rupture. Emmitt is truly a miracle baby.”
“Oh my word, the poor thing.” He heard her sniffle. “Take care of her, Andy, and tell her we love her. Your babies are doing fine.”
“Thanks, Darcey. I’ll call later.” Andy had one more phone call to make.
“Kirby, it’s Andy. Danae is okay, she’s out of surgery.”
“Oh Andy, thank goodness. Whatever you need, let me know and I’ll take care of it.”
“Thanks, Kirby. Please call Aaron and Wyatt. We had them over last night for dinner after they painted the nursery for us. They will be shocked to find out she’s here.”
“I’ll do that. Take care of your princess, Andy. We’re all pulling for you.”
“Thanks. I’ll be in touch.”
Shortly afterward, the doctor came to get him. “Be prepared, she doesn’t look that great. But remember, she will be okay. We didn’t tell her about the hysterectomy. I thought maybe you might want to tell her, since it’s a personal thing.”
“Thanks, doc. It will be better coming from me.” Andy opened the door to her room, and she was half awake. “Hey, my sweet, beautiful princess,” he greeted her.
“Andy,” she smiled as best she could. “I feel like hell.”
“You’re going to be okay, sweetie.” He kissed her forehead.
“I barely remember seeing the baby. Is he okay?”
“He’s perfect, love, just like you.” Andy took her hand and kissed it. “I have some news, though.”
“You were bleeding, honey. They could only stop it one way.”
“Well, I know I’m just out of surgery. What did I lose this time?”
“Danae, honey, they had to do a total hysterectomy.” He watched her smile fade into tears.
“Shh, it’s going to be okay, love.” He kissed her softly. “We have three beautiful children. They will always be more than enough.”
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This pregnancy was always a little dicey. On the bright side, no more periods, and no more birth control.”
Andy laughed. “I knew you’d find the silver lining in this heavy rain cloud, honey.”
The nurse walked in with the baby. “Someone is very hungry, Mommy.” She handed the baby to Danae. “You’re not on any medicine that will hurt him. He needs that first milk.”
“Thank you,” she said and smiled at the baby. “Oh Emmitt, my sweet baby boy.”
“Thank you for letting me name him after my dad.”
“Andy, there isn’t a more fitting name for him.” She carefully positioned the baby and helped him to latch on. “There you go, my sweet baby.”
“Danae, I crazy love you. Never forget it.”
“Andy, I love you forever and always.” Together, they watched the baby as he nursed for the first time.
A few days later, Aaron and Wyatt came to see Danae at the hospital with a big teddy bear for the baby, and some tropical flowers for her. She was feeling better, and about a day away from going home. Kirby and Rae had been to see her a few times, along with some of the team players. Everyone at the Sharks franchise adored Danae and Andy.
When she was finally released to go home, Kirby sent a limousine for them to bring them from the hospital. Andy carried the baby, while the orderly assisted Danae into the car. “I wish you both the best of luck.”
“Thank you,” Andy replied as he fastened the baby into the car seat. The ride home was uneventful and quiet, and Danae sat with Andy, snuggled up to him.
He carried the baby inside and placed him into his new crib, which was all ready. Danae sat in one of the media chairs by the television and sighed. “Are you okay for a few minutes, sweetie? I’m going to go get Lysie and Eamon from Darcey’s.”
“Yes, Andy. It will do me good to see them. I miss my babies.”
When Andy arrived at Darcey’s house, the kids were both ready to see their mama. He sat down with both of them. “Mama has an ouchie on her tummy, so you need to be very gentle with her.” Elyse nodded her head.
“Ach-ee!” Eamon babbled. “Mama ach-ee!”
“That’s right, Eamon. Mama’s tummy hurts, so you have to be gentle.”
“Mama gots owie,” Elyse repeated. “I wuv Mama.”
“She will love to hear that, Lysie,” Andy praised her. “Tell Mama you love her when you see her.” The child nodded and giggled. “Thanks for watching them for us, Darcey. We’ll have you for dinner in the near future.”
“Hey, no worries. Take care of our girl. I’ll be over to see her soon.”
“Will do, Darce. Love you.”
“Love both of you,” Darcey replied.
Andy drove the kids home, and both of them babbled happily in the car. He picked up Eamon and Elyse ran ahead of him to the front door, laughing all the way. Danae could hear her from the living room, and she smiled.
“Mama mama!” Elyse chirped as she ran for Danae. “I wuv Mama!”
“Oh my little sweet pea, Mama loves you so much!” She bent forward as much as she could, and hugged her daughter.
“Up, Mama!” Eamon toddled to her and giggled when she tickled him.
“Mama has an ouchie, honey.” And when she said it, he remembered.
“Mama ach-ee!” he exclaimed. “Mama ach-ee!”
Danae chuckled, and then recoiled in pain. “It hurts to laugh, I guess.”
In the other room, sharp cries came from a hungry baby. “I’ve got him, Nae. Stay put.” Andy walked to Eamon’s room and retrieved the baby from his crib. He handed Emmitt to his mother, and she prepared to nurse him. Eamon had never seen a baby before, and he was intrigued.
“Wats dat?” he chirped at Danae.
“This is your new brother, Eamon. This is Emmitt.” Eamon stood on his tiptoes to see the baby’s face, and he frowned.
“No!” he cried. “No buddah.”
Andy laughed. “You’ll be okay, son.” He picked Eamon up and snuggled him, and played with him for a few minutes. Elyse sat quietly and watched Danae feed the baby.
“What do you think, Lysie?” Danae cooed at her.
“Yes, honey. This is your new brother. Say, Emmitt.”
“Ennit!” Elyse said happily. “Ennit is new brudder.”
Danae smiled. “Close enough, sweetheart.”
“Wats he doon, Mama?”
“I’m feeding him, honey.” The baby made comforting grunts while he nursed, sounds that had long been forgotten. Sweet little sounds that Danae adored.
Elyse just watched him, fascinated.
“Did you guys have a nap today?” Andy asked Elyse.
“Are you sleepy?”
“No Daddy,” she said as she yawned.
Andy laughed. “Sure you’re not.” He picked her up amid vociferous protests.
“Wanna watch Ennit!” she cried.
“He will be here, sweet pea. Time for little girls and boys to nap.” He set Elyse in her crib and kissed her cheek. “Here’s your water, baby girl.”
Andy repeated the ritual with Eamon, who was a little more receptive to the idea of a nap. By the time he was finished, Emmitt was nearly done nursing.
“I can’t wait for you to feel better, my sweet,” Andy cooed at her. “You are a fantastic mother, you know that?”
“I am doing my best,” she answered. “When the baby is asleep, I’m going to take a nap. I need to take care of myself.”
“I will make sure of it.” He kissed her cheek and took the baby from her when he was done. Emmitt was nearly asleep. He walked from the boys’ bedroom and helped her up. “Here, baby, I’ll walk you into the room.” She stood and he took her by the arm, steadying her as she walked.
In the bedroom, she sat on the edge of the bed. “It’s so good to be home,” she yawned. Andy joined her on the bed and curled up behind her.
“I’m right here, my sweet,” he purred. “If you need anything at all, let me know, and I’ll get it for you.”
“You spoil me too much, Andy,” she said, sleep quickly overtaking her.
“Rest well, my love,” he whispered in her ear.
Six months later…
Elyse’s fourth birthday was approaching fast, and Danae couldn’t believe her baby girl was ready for preschool. Andy had done research on the best schools on the island, and they decided a private school would be best for all of the children. Considering his social status, and since Paparazzi were always hanging around the family, the Murphys felt good about their decision.
Danae was completely healed from her surgery, after the second emergency that nearly stole her from the family. But now, there was zero chance of pregnancy. At almost 28 years old, she was finished having children and concentrated on raising the ones she and Andy made.
The last bit of party planning was finished, and for her birthday, aside from her party with cousins and family friends, she would be moving from a crib to a ‘big girl bed’, and her room would be decorated however she wanted it. Her language skills had greatly improved, and she was starting to understand and recognize written words. Andy and Danae read to her each night, and she had several of her favorite books already memorized. Though they didn’t have her tested, Danae thought maybe she might be a genius. It was a family trait. Though Danae didn’t possess it, several members of her family did, including her mother Charlotte, uncle Christopher and great grandmother, Destiny.
The two older kids were playing in their playroom and the baby was in his swing, sound asleep, while Danae had just finished a ten-mile run on her treadmill. Tomorrow, she would agonize over a strength and toning workout. She wasn’t sure which she hated more, but she certainly did love the results. Since Emmitt’s birth, she had lost almost 40 pounds, and was on track to meet her goal in a month or two. Her favorite dress was still a bit snug, and she hoped she would fit into it again. As she wrapped up her workout, she declared her cheesecake-eating days a distant but fond memory.
The Sharks had done well in the playoffs, though they had fallen short of the championship game by one. Kirby was pleased with the progress, and off-season negotiations would be starting soon. The two men were chatting over morning coffee, with trades and draft picks the topics of discussion. Kirby stirred some cream into his second cup.
“Now, who was it you were thinking of headhunting?” he asked as he took a sip.
“A couple of seasons ago, we tried to get Avery Tillman from Sunlit Tides. At the time, he wasn’t interested in moving, but Fiona wasn’t willing to give much, either. Luckily, I have a file on what he makes, and I remember what we offered him last time. We are in a position to make him a fantastic proposal.”
“Let’s do it, Andy. Give me some numbers, and I’ll see what we can do. Do you have his contact information?”
“Indeed, I do. I have his phone number and email address. I might have to go there to sign him up. He wouldn’t come to the Shores for negotiations. But we could possibly give him and Dina the works. I’ll call him.”
“I’d hate to see you travel so far away from your family. Maybe we can lure them here with promises of an extended weekend. Do you have the numbers for me?”
“I will have them within the half-hour. I just need a few minutes to compile the data. Email or phone?”
“Email, please. That way, I don’t forget it.” Kirby laughed. “Don’t get old, Andy.”
He smiled. “I’m on it, Kirby.” They finished their meeting and parted ways.
Back at his office, Andy pawed through his briefcase and pulled the file with Tillman’s name on it. He scanned the paperwork into his computer and compiled the information into a file for Kirby. He jotted a quick note to accompany it:
I am attaching the salary information for Avery Tillman, per our conversation. Compared to Wyatt and the other players, we can still make him a generous offer. He might be less interested in the car/boat and more so in a school for his kids. There is a nice private school, perhaps we could offer a scholarship or tuition reimbursement for them in lieu of the car? Just a thought.
Living the dream,
Using his own judgment, and what he already knew of Kirby’s generosity when it came to his star players, Andy began an offer for Avery for his review, with and without the school and car incentives. Time was close on his contract renewal, and Andy wanted to be the first to contact him with an offer.
Not long after he finished the proposal on his worksheet, Kirby’s reply came in:
This is why I am paying you the big bucks! You know the prospects well enough to anticipate their desires, their needs, and it puts us in a better position to negotiate with them. Great job on the school suggestion. We can go up to 30k a year in scholarship or tuition reimbursement for the family per year, which should cover up to three children fully. You can also go a full 60% over his current salary, and still offer him a car if it will hook him. You already know we do moving expenses as a standard, plus 10x annual on life insurance and full medical.
Go get ‘em, Andy. Headhunt Avery Tillman and bring him on board.
Living the dream with you,
Fantastic! Andy was excited, and now with set boundaries, he was prepared to call Avery with an offer he couldn’t refuse. He dialed the number and waited for the answer.
“You got me,” he said.
“Avery, this is Andy Murphy, of the Isla Paradiso Sharks. You might recall we negotiated a contract with the Shores Llamas a couple of years ago.”
“Yes, I remember you. How are you, Andy?”
“I am super, thank you! Listen, the reason for my call is that I know your contract is up for renegotiation soon, and my boss, the owner of the Isla Sharks, would like to make you an offer you’ll have a hard time refusing. Can we meet?”
“What kind of offer, Andy? It’s going to need to be pretty spectacular to drag my kids away from their friends and schools.”
“Well, I don’t want to discuss specifics on the phone. Why don’t I fly you and Dina here to the island for an extended weekend? We’ll cover every expense, including a private jet, the finest room in the most exclusive resort, plus a dinner at a five-star restaurant. I’ll make it worth your while, Avery.”
“May I chat with Dina about this? It all sounds so amazing, but she is my partner in crime. I don’t make decisions like this without her input.”
“I totally understand. My wife and I did the exact same thing last year, and we left four generations of memories in the Shores to come here.” Andy read off his cell number. “Call me when you’ve talked to her, Avery. Let’s get you out here for talks, some R&R, a little pampering. I’m sure you could use it.”
“You’re not kidding. I’ll be in touch, Andy. Thanks for the call.” They ended the call, and Andy was optimistic.
Danae was nursing Emmitt when Andy walked through the door. Elyse ran to him and wrapped herself around his waist. “Hi, Daddy!” She said happily. “I missed you.”
“Hi sweet pea,” he said back, lifting her to eye level to kiss her cheek. “How’s my baby princess today?”
“Good, Daddy! Wanna see what I did today?”
“Of course I do, honey. Why don’t you go get it for me, so I can say hi to Mama?”
“Yay!” she squealed as she ran up the steps, chattering all the way.
Danae snorted. “That little girl misses you when you aren’t here. She is a Daddy’s girl, and I know a Daddy’s girl when I see one!” She stopped the baby from nursing long enough to burp him.
“I miss all of you when I’m at work. I might be traveling to Sunlit Tides for a few days, maybe longer. We’re trying to get Tillman here. If I can’t convince him and his wife to visit the island, I’ll have to go there. It might mean almost a week from home.”
“You’re going to leave me with three babies for a week?” Andy was not bringing good news on this day.
“Maybe, honey. It depends on whether I can get them to come here. If I can, then be ready to knock ’em dead with that foxy body of yours. Because holy crap, Danae, you are looking good.”
“Hodee crap, Day!” Eamon repeated and giggled like mad. Danae shot him a look.
“Little ears, babe. You can’t say stuff like that around Eamon. He’s a memory stick.” She positioned Emmitt to feed on her other side. “And that’s ‘Mama’ to you, little man!” She laughed.
“Mama! Mama!” Eamon chattered, pleased with himself. Andy snickered.
He walked to where Danae sat and caressed the baby’s cheek as he nursed. “Save some for your Daddy,” he said and winked at Danae. She laughed and shook her head.
“I’ll have plenty for you,” she smirked. “Is that your favorite part about me nursing a baby or what?”
His sheepish grin gave him away. “It’s one of my favorite things. I can’t help it. You’re a sexy mama.”
“Trix is coming early to take the kids tonight. We’re meeting Darcey and Clint for dinner at Kirby’s restaurant. We’re doing the chef’s table with them. Just the four of us.”
“That will be fun. They haven’t been there yet, have they?”
“Nope. I can’t wait to spoil them, Andy. They’ve done so much for us. Plus, I’m gifting them part of daddy’s money. I feel funny keeping it for ourselves when we don’t need it.”
“I wholeheartedly agree, my sweet.” Andy kissed her. “How long until we have to be out of here?”
“Our reservation is for six. You have time for a shower, and you can watch the kids while I’m in.”
“It’s a plan, then!” Andy walked for the bathroom.
Danae finished nursing the baby and set him in his crib. “Lysie, would you keep an eye on Eamon for a minute? Daddy will be right out of the shower.”
“Yes, Mama!” came her enthusiastic reply.
Danae walked into the master suite to undress, and Andy was just drying off. “You look delish,” she purred at him.
“You will once you’ve showered,” he teased and laughed at her look of distaste. “You’re not offended, are you?”
“Who me? No.” She swatted him as she walked to the shower. Andy’s phone rang, and he scrambled for it.
“This is Murphy.”
“Andy, Avery Tillman. Is the offer to come to the island still standing? Dina and I would love to negotiate a new contract with you.”
“It absolutely is! I will make arrangements tomorrow and send your itinerary. When are you thinking is a good time for you?”
“Maybe this weekend coming? Is that too soon?”
“I can pull off almost anything, Avery. Just Dina and yourself?”
“Yes. We could use time away from the kids. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a vacation, even if it is a working vacation.”
“You’ll have plenty of time to do as you please. How is Thursday through Tuesday? I’d hate to see you come all that way for just two days.”
“It sounds heavenly. I will look forward to your email. Thank you again, Andy.”
“My pleasure! We’ll talk soon, Avery.” Andy ended the call and shouted with happiness. “Yes!”
“What’s up, babe?” Danae called from the shower.
“Avery and Dina Tillman are interested in negotiating. And, they’re coming here!” Andy was overjoyed.
“That is awesome, babe! I’m proud of you.” She turned the water off and stepped out from the shower. “Did you take my towel again, you stinker?”
Around his waist was a pink towel. “Oops.”
“It’s okay,” she laughed. “It’s a good color on you, though.”
Trixie arrived at the house to sit with the kids. The two older ones had been fed and were ready for a night of playtime and games. Elyse was already helping her read a storybook to Eamon.
Danae walked from the bedroom wearing a dusty mauve evening gown and matching pumps. Her hair was braided the way Andy loved it, and she wore the heart necklace he gave her. Andy wore his black tuxedo, a bit of hair tucked neatly behind his ear the way Danae loved it.
“You two look like celebrities,” Trix commented, fully aware they both held the status. “Have fun tonight, kids.”
“You have my permission to tickle both of them if they don’t behave,” Danae said, winking at Andy. Elyse giggled madly.
“Look at that! I don’t even have to tickle this one, and she giggles!” Trix laughed. “What time should I expect you?”
“Around ten or eleven, I have to work in the morning,” Andy replied. “You know how to reach us if you need us.”
Andy escorted Danae to the limo that waited outside for them. The next stop was Darcey and Clint’s home to pick them up, and then to the restaurant. Kirby was cooking that evening and promised the same chef’s table experience he had given to Andy and Danae.
Clint and Darcey emerged from their house, Noel and Shan waving from the front door as they left. The driver held the door for Darcey, and Clint got in behind her.
“This is a classy ride you have here, Andy,” Clint remarked. “Must be nice, brother.”
“It is,” he nodded. “Enjoy the experience tonight. It’s our treat and our pleasure.”
The limo arrived at Kirby’s restaurant and dropped the two couples off outside. Darcey had been to The Tower back in the Shores once, but it was nothing like this place. She and Clint marveled as they all walked to the door, and Andy held it for them. The host led them back to Kirby’s special room, and he greeted the couples once they were seated.
Andy ordered a bottle of champagne for the table, and whatever Kirby had recommended for an appetizer while he perused the menu. Danae took the moment to give them a gift.
“Darcey, I know what you’re going to say, so just save it.” Danae handed her an envelope. “This is yours, and I don’t feel right keeping it.”
Darcey slid her finger under the flap of the envelope and removed the contents. Immediately, tears filled her eyes. “Nae, I can’t… we can’t take this.”
“It’s not negotiable. When Daddy died, Darce, he never intended for us to keep all of his fortune, just because we were living in the house. So, this your half of the inheritance, plus your half of the proceeds of the house when we sold it.”
“But Nae, this check is for over a million dollars.” Clint heard it and nearly passed out.
“I know how much it’s for, Darcey. I had the bank cut it.” She smiled.
Andy could see Darcey’s desire to say no, so he spoke. “You and Clint have done so much for us over the years. You’ve been there to watch the kids when we needed you time and time again, and you cared for them, took them in with no complaints. You both gave up careers in the Shores, not to mention all of the family memories, to follow us here. And like Nae said, Travis never meant for us to keep it for ourselves.”
“No buts, Darcey. It’s yours. Use it for whatever you want. College for the boys, a new home, a second home, a boat or two. The sky’s the limit.”
Darcey wiped tears from her eyes. “This is incredible, and so unbelievably generous. I-I don’t know what to say!”
“I do,” Clint said. “Thank you both. I mean it.”
“Boo Bear! We… we are millionaires!” Darcey was completely dumbfounded.
“I never could have imagined this when we met, Kitten. Danae, Andy. Thank you again.”
Andy took Danae’s hand and kissed it. Leaning toward her, he whispered, “You have a kind, generous heart, and I crazy love you.”
And Danae smiled.
Up Next: Chapter Nineteen, Generation Five