The sun came up over Isla Paradiso, the beginning of a beautiful spring day. Danae and Andy sat on the dock, scuba gear at the ready, waiting for the captain of the charter he had reserved. It was the realization of a childhood dream for Danae, and she was getting to fulfill it with the love of her life. The only thing that could possibly have made it better was her father being with them.
Andy looked at her, the early morning sunlight reflected in her eyes, so very happy. “Are you excited, my sweet?”
“Yeah,” she said dreamily. Her gaze settled out over the water toward the buoy that marked their drop off point. She wondered what they would see, how she would react, and if her training was adequate. She knew there was a cave at the wreckage site and she desperately wanted to see it. Andy’s training was more than sufficient to get them in and out safely. She was putting her life in his hands and she trusted him completely.
The captain of the charter boat arrived five minutes early. Once their gear was on board, they headed out to Davy Jones’ Locker. The trip took approximately twenty minutes. The captain gave them last-minute instructions when they reached the buoy.
“You will meet me back here at this buoy in four hours. Be mindful of your air supply and stay with your buddy. The cave is dangerous and only for advanced divers. Be advised the charter company is not responsible for the loss of life in the cave. Explore it at your own risk.”
Andy looked at Danae, who was a little nervous. “Are you changing your mind on the cave, my love?”
She shook her head. “No, I trust you, Andy. Let’s go.”
One by one, they jumped into the water, their masks on and regulators functioning properly. There would be no more talking for four hours.
The dive spot was everything Danae imagined with plenty of areas to explore. The fish were vibrant and colorful, and the seashells were plentiful. She found a perfect cowrie shell for Elyse and placed it into a bag she wore on her weight belt. Andy motioned her to an alcove, where the rotting hull of the ship sat in ruins. Every single thing Danae saw fascinated her.
Suddenly, a dark figure appeared overhead and Andy swam to her, brandishing a knife. A shark loomed above them, but it didn’t seem to notice either of them. After the danger passed, he motioned her to the cave, which sat nearby. Andy fastened a rope between them and attached one end to a rock outside the cave. If he got disoriented, it would guide them back to the entrance.
Taking her hand, they swam into the cave. Andy illuminated his flashlight, looked around and motioned for her to follow. It was dark, and without the light, Danae could easily see herself getting lost. An eel poked its head out from a crevice and startled her, and her grip on his arm tightened. They casually explored the first parts of the cave, and their time went quickly. In truth, however, it was much too dark for Danae to enjoy it thoroughly.
Andy didn’t want to go too far into the cave, so they followed the rope fastened at the beginning. Just before the exit, Danae found another cowrie shell for Eamon, and something shiny caught Andy’s eye. A golden doubloon! How long that had been sitting in the cave, half-buried in the sand was a mystery. He slipped it into his mesh bag, and together they swam out, safe and unharmed.
The shark was still swimming around the buoy, and they had about thirty minutes of air remaining. His diving knife in hand, they began to surface. It was a big shark, and Andy wasn’t sure his little knife could repel it, but he wielded it anyway.
Something in the distance distracted the shark, and it left shortly afterward with no incident. They surfaced safely, and Andy pulled himself up onto the boat and reached for Danae to help her. He removed the tanks from his back and then helped her.
“That was the fastest four hours of my life,” Danae said. “But it was awesome! I can’t wait to come back.”
Andy chuckled. “If only labor with Elyse would have been this quick.”
“Yeah, like you would know,” she rolled her eyes. “You weren’t the one pushing her out of your body.”
“But I had to listen to you, so there’s that.” She tried to swat him, but he jumped back into the water, and she laughed at him. He pulled himself back up on board and dried his face with his shirt. “So,” he said, changing the subject, “do you want to come back here someday? Maybe try another dive spot?”
“Oh, I hope this isn’t the last time we dive together, babe. I loved it.”
“I will make it happen,” said Andy.
“The sooner, the better,” she concurred.
The next morning, Danae awakened early. The children needed to be ready for school for a field trip to the mausoleum. Though she wasn’t terribly happy to see the kids going to a cemetery, they did have a family member buried there. She thought maybe it would give them a little closure if they saw where Greg had been laid to rest.
“Don’t forget your permission slips, my sweeties,” Danae cleaned up dishes from breakfast. “They’re in your backpacks.”
“Thank you, Mama,” Elyse said. “I can’t wait to see Greg today. I miss him.”
Danae smiled at her daughter. “I miss him too.” The school bus horn sounded thirty minutes early. “The bus is here, kids. Have fun!”
“We will,” they said in unison as they ran for the bus.
With the children away until afternoon and Emmitt asleep, she curled back around Andy to wake him for work. Her soft kisses on his shoulders roused him from sleep.
“Good morning, baby,” he purred. “How’s my beautiful princess this morning?”
“Good. The kids just left for their field trip and I have a little time, so I came in to wake you.” She nibbled on his ear to his great delight.
“What kind of time are we talking?” he asked, hopeful.
“Enough.” She kissed him again and let him love her.
Emmitt’s cries for breakfast came about an hour later. Danae quickly got dressed and ran to his room. “Shh, sweetheart, Mama’s got you.”
“Mama!” he cooed. “Hungee.”
“I know, sweet boy. Do you want pancakes this morning?” She kissed his cheek.
“Panks!” he said enthusiastically. Danae chuckled. He wasn’t even close.
“Pancakes it is.” Andy walked from the bedroom, freshly showered and shaved.
He stood behind her as she prepared Emmitt’s breakfast, his arms wrapped around her. “I love you so much,” he whispered into her ear.
She turned around and kissed him. “I love you too, babe.” Emmitt, who still didn’t have breakfast in front of him, protested the delay. Andy laughed.
“I’m sorry, son, that’s my fault.” He bent to kiss Emmitt’s forehead as Danae finished preparing his meal.
“There you are, little boy,” she cooed, setting a plate of pancakes in front of him. She sat with him and helped.
“You are doing great with the kids, Nae. I don’t know how you do it.” Andy looked at her with love in his eyes.
“I just do it,” she replied and smiled. “It gets easier after the second one.”
Andy’s phone rang. “The limo is here, baby. I’ll see you tonight after work. I love you.”
She kissed him one last time. “I love you more,” she replied, and watched him walk toward the gate. In the distance, she heard a distinct rumble of thunder.
Emmitt finished his breakfast, and she put him in the tub to clean syrup from his entire body. He enjoyed bath time, so she didn’t mind. Danae let him play for a few minutes after he was clean, and dressed him in pajamas. It was nap time.
The house had been deep cleaned about a week prior, so it just needed some touch up cleaning that morning. Andy was at work, and the kids were in school. Danae yawned and cuddled up on the sofa, and sleep overtook her quickly.
Andy arrived home from work a bit early, limping. “What happened?” Danae asked.
“Oh, I was sitting at my desk, and when I got up I rammed my bad knee into the desk leg. I saw colors.” He rolled the leg of his slacks up and showed her. “It’s swollen and it is going to bruise.”
“Oh wow, babe. Ice is your friend.” He sat down on the sofa in the living room, and she fixed a bag of ice for him. “Eamon and Elyse should be home anytime. They’ll make you feel better.”
“I think I’m going to lay down awhile with that ice.” Andy hobbled off to the bedroom.
Emmitt woke shortly afterward when a loud clap of thunder crashed near the house. “Mama!” he cried. Danae sat and rocked him in her favorite chair until he settled down. She dozed off with him in her arms, and they both napped.
When Emmitt woke her an hour later, Elyse and Eamon were still not home. Alarmed, she walked into their bedroom and shook Andy gently. “Babe, the kids aren’t home yet! They should have been here an hour ago.”
He groaned in pain. “Well, that’s not good.”
“I am going to look for them. I’m worried.” She kissed his forehead. “Emmitt shouldn’t be a problem. Can you get up long enough for me to go, honey?” He nodded and dragged himself from the bed.
“Do you want me to go?” he asked.
“Hardly, babe. You can barely stand up. I’ll be back soon. Call me if they show up.” She took her keys and got into her car. She wasn’t sure where she was going, but she was going to find her children.
She wasn’t gone five minutes when Andy’s cell phone rang. “Daddy?” It was Elyse.
“Honey, where are you and Eamon? You two should have been home an hour ago.”
“The school bus left without us. We’re still at the cemetery, and I don’t like it here. I’m scared, Daddy.”
“Stay put. Mama is on her way, sweet pea. Stay together, okay?” Andy hung up the phone. Danae was not going to like this.
Quickly, he called Danae’s cell. “Baby, they’re at the cemetery. The school bus left without them.”
“I’m on my way.” She would address the problem with the school in the morning. Right now, her concern was making sure her babies were safe and getting them home.
Danae arrived at the cemetery, and she jumped out of her car. “Lysie! Eamon!” she called to them. “Lysie!” She tried the door to the mausoleum, but it was locked. Increasingly frantic, she ran to the middle of the cemetery and looked. “Lysie! Eamon!” she called to them.
In the distance, she could hear them call to her. “Mama!”
“Keep yelling! I’m coming!” She ran toward their cries. On the far side of the property, she saw them huddled together under a tree. “Lysie! Eamon!” she called to them, and they came running to her. She knelt down to hug them as they approached her, and when she did, they were both ice cold, soaking wet and shivering. Danae cried in relief and kissed them.
“I wanna go home, Mama,” Eamon cried. “I’m scared.”
“I don’t feel good, Mama,” Elyse wept. “Carry me?”
She picked up Elyse to carry her, and Eamon ran alongside Danae as they walked from the cemetery, all three of them sopping wet from the pouring rain.
Their sniffles and soft cries broke her heart as she drove them home. Danae called Andy from the car.
“I have the kids, babe. They’re shivering, drenched and frightened. Someone’s head is going to roll tomorrow when I call the school. This is unacceptable.” She was livid.
“I’m glad they’re safe. Drive carefully, my sweet. It’s pouring at the house. I’ll see you shortly.” He hung up the phone.
About halfway home, Elyse’s teeth began to chatter violently. “I have the heat on, honey. I can’t make it any warmer.”
“I don’t feel good, Mama,” she sobbed. “I think I’m gonna throw up.” Elyse no sooner said it, and she threw up on the floorboard in Danae’s brand new car.
“Oh, you poor thing,” she cried. “I’m gonna keep driving, honey. We’re almost home.”
“Mama, it stinks back here,” Eamon said matter-of-factly.
“I know, sweetie. It doesn’t smell good up here, either.” The stench was nauseating.
She opened the gate and pulled into the driveway, leaving her car outside the garage. Eamon ran for the house, but she carried Elyse inside.
She walked right into the bathroom with Lysie and ran a bath for her. With a warm washcloth, Danae cleaned her up, but she was still shivering. This is more than just being cold, she thought. “Honey, do you feel okay?”
“No, Mama, I feel sick. I’m gonna—” A retch followed by a second round of vomit interrupted her, this time it splattered all over Danae. Elyse started to cry and curled up on the bathroom floor.
Danae fought to keep from throwing up as she stripped her wet, dirty clothes from her body and threw them in the sink. Dressed in only her underwear, she got Elyse undressed and into the bathtub, hoping it would warm her up. “Lysie, honey, I need to check on Eamon. I’ll be right back.” She grabbed Andy’s robe and wrapped up in it.
Walking quickly to his bedroom she peeked inside. “Eamon? Are you okay baby boy?”
“Yes, Mama,” he answered. “Where should I put my wet clothes?”
“You can leave them in the shower in your bathroom, honey. I’ll get them later.” She walked back to her bedroom. Elyse was weak, almost not able to sit up on her own. Now Danae was scared.
“Andy, I think Lysie should see the doctor.” But she knew the office was closed. “Can you sit with the boys?”
“Of course, my sweet. I hit my knee, I’m not dying,” he chuckled.
Danae took Elyse from the tub and laid her on their bed next to Andy, dried her off and wrapped her in a dry towel. “I’ll be right back, Lysie. Andy, could you keep an eye on her? I’m going to get her warm jammies.”
“Anything for my two best girls,” he smiled. “Lysie, let Daddy warm you up.” He picked her up and snuggled her close, hoping her shivering would stop.
When she walked back into the bedroom, the stink of vomit turned her stomach. Such a mess to clean, and no time to do it. She handed Elyse’s pajamas to Andy so he could get her dressed while she cleaned up some of the mess. She did what she could, gathered the towels and dirty clothes, brought them to the garage and started the washer. When she returned, she took a quick shower to rinse off.
“Baby, don’t worry about the rest of the mess. I’ll get it in a bit.” Andy was still holding on to Elyse, and she was still shivering and crying.
“There are wet clothes in the kids’ bathroom, too.” She walked to the bed and brushed some hair out of Elyse’s face. “Oh sweet pea, Mama’s gonna fix this,” Danae told her. “Are you sure you’ll be okay with the boys? I don’t know how long we’ll be, or if we’ll even be home tonight.”
“Don’t worry, honey. I’ve got this.” He kissed Elyse’s forehead and noticed the fever. “Hurry, baby. She’s burning up. Take my car, and I’ll clean yours.”
“I’ll call you when I know something.” Taking her from Andy’s arms, Danae took her keys, walked to Andy’s car and drove Elyse to the hospital.
Danae walked into the ER with Elyse in her arms. “My daughter is sick,” she told the triage nurse. After the initial assessment, they put Elyse in a room and left Danae to sit with her.
Darcey popped into the room, not aware that her sister was sitting there. “Nae?” she asked, surprised. “What happened to Elyse?”
“The school bus left without her and Eamon after the field trip today. They were on the far end of the property huddled together under a tree, trying to stay out of the rain.”
“Her color is terrible, Nae. Just looking at her I know she’s a sick little girl. I’ll take good care of her, sweetie.” Darcey took her temperature. “It’s a good thing you brought her. Her temp is almost 104. I’ll order medicine to bring that down. She might need a cool sponge bath.” Darcey said almost to herself as she left the room.
About ten minutes later, she returned. “I’m going to admit her, Danae, just to err on the side of caution. Flu can be dangerous in children, plus I want to make sure it’s not something worse. She is in good hands here.” Darcey grabbed an IV line and approached Elyse. “Lysie, honey, I’m going to start an IV, and I have to prick you with a needle.”
Danae expected tears and screams, but Elyse only nodded her head. Danae took her hand and patted it. “You’re being so brave, sweet pea.”
“I don’t feel good, Mama.” Danae braced for round three of vomit, but she didn’t. Darcey hated to stick her, but when she did Elyse only whimpered. “Ouch!” she protested.
“That’s it, honey. It’s all done. I’m so proud of you!” Darcey kissed her forehead. “I’m going to start her on some fluids to keep her hydrated. We’ll get her in a room as soon as we can.”
Danae sighed. She knew Elyse would be well cared for but Andy was home, left to care for the boys. How she wished she could be in two places at the same time. She took her phone from her pocket and dialed the house phone.
“Hey baby,” Andy said.
“Hi, sweetie. They’re keeping Elyse. She is a sick little sweet pea. The school is going to get a piece of my mind in the morning. We pay more than enough tuition for them at that school. There is no excuse for this to happen, even with a new principal.” She was suddenly thankful they no longer lived in the Shores. Who knows what could have happened to them in the city, she thought, and she shuddered.
“You’re totally right, baby. I pity them. They have no idea what’s going to hit them.”
“In hindsight, she might have been getting sick before I sent them to school this morning, but she wanted to see Greg. She didn’t eat much breakfast. That should have been my first clue this was coming. Lysie never turns down pancakes.”
Danae heard Emmitt crying in the background. “I need to go take care of Emm, baby. Keep me up to date. I love you, Nae,” Andy said.
“If you need a break, call Trixie. Thanks for taking care of the boys. I love you, Andy.” Danae hung up in time for the orderly to move Elyse to a bed upstairs. “Wow, that was quick,” she said.
“Yeah, I guess when you’re rich and famous, you get special treatment,” the orderly retorted and muttered something unintelligible under his breath. Danae rolled her eyes.
In less than five minutes, Elyse was upstairs in a private room. A nurse got her settled in while Danae stood in the hallway, worried.
The clock read 12:54 am, and she was tired. Elyse was sleeping somewhat peacefully, but the chair in the hospital room was not meant for rest. Nevertheless, Danae leaned forward and rested her head on the bed.
At 2:12 am, the nurse came in to check vital signs. The sudden light woke Danae. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It’s okay. I didn’t figure I’d sleep very well tonight. How is she?”
The nurse took her temperature. “The medication that Dr. Scroggins gave her brought the temperature down a few degrees, but she’s still feverish.” She jotted down some notes in Elyse’s chart. “It was 102, by the way.”
“Are there any results from the blood they took downstairs?”
“It looks like it’s just the flu. Negative for meningitis, which was the main concern with a temperature that high. Right now, the issue would be secondary pneumonia. If her lungs remain clear, she should be okay for discharge in a day or two.”
“Thank you.” The nurse finished up and turned the light back out, and Danae rested her eyes.
Darcey came in and checked on Elyse before her shift ended at 4:00 am. She touched Danae lightly on her shoulder.
“Darce? You’re still here?” Danae was still mostly asleep.
“Yeah, getting off shift now. I wanted to check on her, and you. I can get you a nicer chair if you’d like, Nae.”
“That’s okay. The orderly that brought her up hinted that because we’re ‘rich and famous’ she got special privilege. I don’t need any more snide comments like that one.”
“Who was it?” Darcey frowned. “We don’t have enough orderlies to reprimand even one of them for an ethics violation.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Danae said softly. “I have thicker skin than that.”
“Well, it is a big deal. They have no right to imply such things. There just happened to be a room in the pediatric ward. It’s never that busy, not like the other wards.” She bent down to take Elyse’s pulse and felt her skin. “She is still warm, but her pulse is nearly normal. I guess they told you it wasn’t meningitis?”
“Yeah, I had to pull it out of the nurse.” Danae yawned. “Maybe tomorrow night I’ll ask for a different chair. This is fine for tonight.”
“I work from four to four today, so I’ll check on her before I start downstairs in the ER. Now I get to go home and hopefully get some time with Clint before he goes to work. This shift is a love life killer.”
Danae snorted. “I don’t know how you handle it. I’d be crazy inside of a week.”
“It’s not easy, I can tell you that.” She bent down to hug Danae. “I’ll see you later on, sissy. I love you. And don’t worry about your baby girl. She will be just fine.”
“Thanks, Darcey. I love you too.” Danae rested her head on the bed again and closed her eyes.
The pediatrician woke Danae just an hour after Darcey left. “Mrs. Murphy, I’ve had a chance to review Elyse’s blood work from last night. She’s negative for meningitis, positive for influenza. I’m going to recommend we keep her one more night, and shoot for going home tomorrow morning. But she will not be allowed to return to school until she has been without a fever for forty-eight hours. She probably won’t feel much like it anyway. Do you have any questions for me?”
Danae shook her head. “No, I’m good. Thank you.” The doctor woke Elyse gently and examined her.
“Where am I?” she asked, disoriented.
“You’re in the hospital with your mother, Elyse. I’m just going to check a few things. How are you feeling?”
“I have a headache,” she whined. “Mama, I hurt all over.”
Danae took her hand. “I know, sweet pea.”
“I’m going to order more fever reducer, and that should help with body aches, too. I’ll discontinue the IV, she should take in fluids by mouth today. When did she vomit last?”
“Last evening in my bathroom at home,” Danae said, remembering that she left the mess for poor Andy to clean it.
“I will come and check on her after my office hours today, and see how she is progressing. How are you holding up?”
“I’m coping. I’m tired, and I need to call her school in a bit. They were on a field trip yester—”
“You can have me paged if you need anything,” the doctor interrupted her. She patted Elyse on the hand and left the room.
Ugh, Danae thought. Why ask me a question if you don’t want to hear the answer?
“Mama, when can I go home? I miss Daddy.”
“Probably tomorrow, honey. The doctor wants you to stay one more night.”
“I don’t feel good,” Elyse groaned as she closed her eyes.
“Get some rest, Lysie. Mama’s right here, and I’ll call Daddy later so you can talk to him, okay?”
“Yeah,” she said as she drifted to sleep.
It was lunchtime, and Danae was hungry. She never had dinner the previous evening, and she felt queasy. Elyse was still asleep, so she told the nurse she was going to grab a bite to eat.
She took the elevator to the first floor and found the cafeteria. She looked around, but nothing really looked good. She settled for a sandwich that looked like it was fresh two days ago, and a cup of coffee.
Elyse was still asleep when she returned to the room, so she settled down next to her bed, opened the wrapper on the sandwich and took a sniff.
“Nope, not going to chance it,” she muttered under her breath and wrapped it back up. At least the coffee was fresh. Not long afterward, a tray arrived with lunch for Elyse, and Danae woke her.
“Lysie, are you hungry? You should eat something, honey.”
“No,” she said weakly.
“How about some juice? They brought you apple juice.” Danae opened it for her and stuck a straw into the cup.
Elyse groaned, but decided the juice sounded good. “What’s in the other cup, Mama?”
Danae removed the lid and peeked inside. “It looks like chicken soup, baby girl. You should at least try to sip on it.”
Elyse nodded. It was mostly broth with a few noodles and carrots, but she drank nearly all of it before she settled back down to sleep. Danae seriously considered eating the sandwich they sent even though she hated tuna salad.
Her phone vibrated in her pocket and checked her messages. One new text from Andy.
How’s our little patient? I stayed home with Emmitt and sent Eamon to school. Did you call them yet? How did it go? I love you, baby. Call me later when you can.
The school! She had slept through most of the morning. With Elyse sleeping again, she walked to the sitting area by the elevator and dialed her phone.
“Accolades Academy, this is Principal Reyes.”
“Principal Reyes, this is Danae Murphy. My two children, Elyse and Eamon are students there.”
“Yes, Mrs. Murphy. What can I do for you?”
“They both went on the field trip to the mausoleum yesterday with their classes, and both of them were left behind when the school buses departed. Did you know it was pouring rain and thundering yesterday?”
“That couldn’t be, Mrs. Murphy,” the principal assured her. “All the children were accounted for before the buses left. It’s school policy that a headcount is obtained before the bus drivers are permitted to leave. Elyse and Eamon couldn’t have been left behind.”
“Oh, is that so? How is it then that my oldest called her father yesterday and said the bus left without them? How is it then that I had to pick them up from the cemetery myself? How is it then that my daughter is in the hospital with the flu from being drenched and freezing cold? They are seven and five years old and should have NEVER been left unattended. My husband and I trusted you with them, and this is what happens? This is unacceptable!” Danae was furious.
There was silence on the other end of the phone. “I think it would be best for you and your husband to schedule an appointment to meet with me and the children’s teachers. We don’t want any problems for the school. When would be good for you, Mrs. Murphy?”
“Well, I’m at the hospital with my daughter. She should be released tomorrow morning, and if she is, my husband and I can be there tomorrow afternoon, say three o’clock?”
“Very well. We look forward to meeting with you then.”
Danae hung up the phone, angry. How dare she imply Danae was lying! She opened her texting app and replied to Andy’s message.
Hey babe. Just got off the phone with the school. Long story short, they know they screwed up and want to meet with us tomorrow. Three-ish, after classes. I’m so angry! I need you.
She walked back to Elyse’s room and sat down in the chair next to her bed. She woke up crying about ten minutes later.
“Mama,” she whined. “I need you.”
“How are you feeling, sweet pea?” Danae picked her up from the bed and held Elyse in her lap, cuddling her close. She could still hear thunderstorms outside, and the sky was dark as nighttime.
“My head hurts.”
“Well, you sound like your nose is stuffy, honey. That’s probably making your head hurt.”
“It is. I can’t breathe out of my nose. I don’t feel good, Mama.”
Danae rocked her gently in her arms. “I’m sorry, baby girl. Just rest and let me hold you.”
“I want my blankie,” she said sadly.
“I’ll see if Daddy can bring it, but you should be home tomorrow, honey.” Danae held her close and sang to her. “See if you can sleep.” She settled into Danae’s arms, Elyse’s face nestled into her neck. Danae noticed her breath was still hot. Poor baby girl.
Darcey arrived at 3:30 pm to check on Elyse and Danae. “How’s Mama doing? Are you ready for the better chair yet?”
“I think so, yes. Seeing as we have a private room, there’s plenty of space.” The thought of being able to stretch out was inviting.
“And how’s our little patient?” Darcey wrinkled her nose at Elyse and tried to tickle her. But she wasn’t having it.
“I’m sick, Aunt Darcey,” she said plainly.
“Dr. Becker says tomorrow morning is possible for going home. So we’re hanging our hope on that.” Danae yawned.
“You look tired, Nae. Can I get you something? Have you had anything to eat today?”
It occurred to Danae she hadn’t had anything but her coffee at lunchtime. “No, in fact, I bought a sandwich at the cafeteria, but I tossed it. The thing was questionable, and I wasn’t about to chance it.”
“I’ll order something for you when they send her dinner up tonight. You could have eaten her lunch, you know. No one would have said anything about it.”
“I thought about it, but it was tuna salad. I knew Lysie wouldn’t eat it.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what Nutrition Services thinks when they give things like tuna fish to little kids. Mac and cheese is where it’s at for most of them.” Darcey shook her head. “I guess they don’t have children of their own downstairs.”
Danae laughed. “I guess not. Thanks for watching over us, Darce. I appreciate it.”
Darcey leaned to hug her sister. “It’s my job, sweetie.” She patted Elyse on the head. “Feel better, sweet pea.”
“Thank you, Aunt Darcey,” came her tired reply.
“I’ll check on you during my dinner break and before I leave in the morning. Love you, sissy.”
“Love you too, Darce.”
At six o’clock, much to her surprise, Andy walked through the door with a present for Elyse and a much-needed kiss for Danae. “Knock knock!”
“Oh babe, you’re a sight for sore eyes.” She stood and hugged him, and planted a kiss on his lips. “I’ve missed you.”
“Oh, honey, how I’ve missed you at home. Trixie is covering me so I could get here to see my sweet pea and my favorite girl.” He walked to Elyse’s bed and sat down on it. “Hey, baby girl.”
Elyse smiled bigger than she had in 24 hours. “Daddy!”
“How are you feeling?”
“I don’t feel good, Daddy.” Danae smiled. At least she was consistent. She held her arm out for Andy to see and pointed to a little red dot. “I had an ID in my arm, Daddy, but I didn’t cry,” she said proudly.
He looked at Danae, confused. “She had an IV,” she chuckled. “And it’s true, she didn’t cry. She’s been so brave.” Andy lifted her and wrapped her in a hug.
“That’s my big girl.” He set her down and handed a wrapped gift to her. “This is for you. A get well present from your brothers.”
She tore into the wrapping paper and revealed a stuffed giraffe. Her bright smile made Andy happy. “I love it, Daddy,” she said as she hugged it close. “I don’t need my blankie now, Mama.”
“That’s good, honey. What are you going to name him?” Danae asked.
“I dunno.” She snuggled into bed and cuddled with her new doll.
“I think you have a hit,” Danae stood and hugged Andy. “You made her day.”
“How are you holding up here, sweetie? Have you eaten today?”
“Darcey arranged for me to have dinner with Elyse. It was actually pretty good, for hospital food, even though it was all brown. Some brown meat, brown gravy. Even the broccoli was brown. A tad overcooked, I’d imagine.”
Andy made a face. “I wish I’d have known. I would have brought you something.”
“Oh, it’s okay.” She snuggled into his embrace. “I wish we were home now. I want to sleep in my own bed with you next to me.”
“I missed you last night, too. I had both boys in bed with me. They take up much more room than you do,” he joked.
She shook her head, laughing. “I’d hope so. There’s two of them.”
He kissed her. “Oh baby, I love you. Take good care of our sweet pea. I need to get back home. I told Trixie I would only be gone an hour or so. But it was so good to see you.”
“I love you too. One more sleep, and we’ll both be home.” They kissed once more before he reluctantly left the room, on his way home.
The next morning, Dr. Becker woke Danae. “You look more comfortable this morning, Mrs. Murphy,” she said.
“Looks are deceiving,” Danae stretched. “It’s not as comfy as it looks.”
“Well, the tests we did last night show nothing new, her organs are functioning, and her lungs are clear. I don’t see a reason to keep Elyse another day. I’ll work on her discharge papers before I start office hours.”
Elyse was still sleeping when the doctor began to examine her. A cold stethoscope on her chest woke her and she whined. “That was cold.”
“I’m sorry, Elyse,” the doctor apologized. “How are you feeling this morning?”
She thought about it a minute or two. “My head doesn’t hurt anymore.”
The doctor took her temperature, and it was just a bit over 100. “Her fever is greatly reduced from when she first came. Just keep on with fever reducer, and treat the symptoms as they arise. It’s very important to keep her hydrated, so offer her soups, water, juice, ice pops if you have them.”
Danae nodded. This wasn’t her first rodeo with the flu, but it was the first time one of her children had been this sick. She sincerely hoped it was the last. The doctor left the room with a promise to return with discharge papers.
“Mama, when can we go home?”
“It won’t be too long, honey.” She took her phone from her pocket and dialed Andy’s cell phone.
At home, the ringing phone woke Andy, but he was happy to see Danae’s number on the ID. “Good morning, my beautiful princess,” he yawned.
“Good morning, my handsome prince. Quick question. Which car, if any, is here so I can bring Elyse home?”
“The cars are both at home. I’ll arrange for my limo to get you, my sweet. How is she feeling today?”
“She still has a slight fever, but her head doesn’t hurt today. I think she’s over the hump. If I were you, I’d be prepared for a sick little girl to want to sleep with us for a few nights.”
“Well, that will be disappointing.”
“We’ll talk about it when we get home. I’ll let you know when I have an estimate on her discharge.” She blew him a kiss and they hung up.
Several hours later, Danae carried Elyse into the house, her new giraffe in hand. “Remember sweetie, you’re still sick, so you have to rest. No playing, and try to stay away from Emmitt. You don’t want to get him sick, right?”
“Okay, Mama. I don’t feel good.” Danae tucked her into her own bed, kissed her forehead and dragged herself into the living room.
“You look tired, baby,” Andy said, wrapping her into his strong embrace.
“That’s the understatement of the year. Is Emm napping?”
“Yes, he is,” Andy answered.
“Eamon is at school?”
“Yes, he is.”
“What time is it now?” She asked.
“Drat,” she grumbled. “I forgot our meeting with the school principal at three.”
“I’ll call Trixie. You know, we should just hire her as a live-in nanny, for as often as she watches them.”
Danae frowned. “Are you suggesting I’m not enough for these babies?”
“Oh honey, of course not!” He hugged and kissed her. “You’re all they need, and you’re all they want. You are Mama. You’re always enough, for all of us.” His assurance made her feel better.
“Would you drive to the school? I’m so tired.”
“That’s a silly question. Of course, I will.” He held her in his arms and rocked her. “We just have to wait for Trixie to get here.”
Ten minutes later, Trixie rang the call box and Andy buzzed her in. He greeted her at the door.
“Lysie is sleeping, and so is Emmitt. Eamon should be home soon. Nae and I have a meeting at the school, so we shouldn’t be that long.”
“You know it’s never a problem, Andy. Take your time.” She settled down in front of the television. “When should Emmitt get up?”
“Actually, any time, or we’ll have him in bed with us, jumping on it until four in the morning.” Danae laughed. “I will need some good sleep tonight.”
“Are you ready, baby?” he asked, holding his arm out for her.
“No, but let’s go anyway.” Danae smiled at Trixie. “Thank you again.”
They made the short drive to the school, and Andy parked the car in front of the office. Together, they walked in and toward the administration office. The secretary greeted them.
“How can I help you?”
“We have an appointment to see the principal at three. Murphy.”
“I will let her know you’re here.”
A minute later, the phone rang, and the secretary answered it, nodded and hung up the phone.
“She is ready for you. This way, please.”
She led Danae and Andy into the back offices into a large, corner office. She showed them in, and the principal had her back turned to them, reaching for a file from a cabinet. When she turned around, Andy froze.
“Kait? W-what are you doing here?” Andy was dumbfounded.
“Well well, if it isn’t the Anduin Murphy. How have you been, love?”
“You two know each other?” Danae asked, a little confused.
Andy facepalmed. “Danae, this is Kaitlyn, my ex-girlfriend. Kait, this is my wife, Danae.”
Well, Danae thought, this meeting just got interesting…
I would like to thank the following talented artists for their tireless work on The Sims 3 projects:
Zutara by Skylar Arden
Are You Sick Kiddo? by Spladoum
Next To You by Spladoum
Kiss Me (Like A Movie Star) by Vågen
Pool Hopping! by lexi_walls
Kid Stuff by k2m1too
The Pose Player by cmomoney, whose hard work makes my new obsession possible.
And all other poses by Poses By Bee