This is it, he thought. The day this whole vacation was planned around, the one most looked forward to, and the day with the most meaning of them all. For it was this day ten years earlier that Andy took Danae to be his wife, and she took him to be her husband. With barely a fight between them, three beautiful children and years of wonderful memories, Andy endeavored to another forty years with his beloved.
He had planned for a morning of pampering at the on-location spa. A couple’s massage, sauna treatment, and some leisure time would get them ready for the evening he had planned. They had dinner reservations at the five-star restaurant in town, and she would be beautiful in the pastel yellow gown he bought for her. Yes, she would look like the fairytale princess he believed her to be, and he would look like her prince.
Danae was still curled up sound asleep. Hopefully, she is okay, he thought. Andy still felt guilty for getting her drunk. Never again would he stray from her favorite glass of wine.
Her skin was cool, but she was comfortable. Andy didn’t envy the headache she would likely have. Nevertheless, he needed to wake her to make their appointment for a couple’s massage. He curled up behind her and kissed her neck and shoulders. “Danae? It’s time to get up, my precious.”
She shifted and groaned loudly. “Oh, my word, why do I feel so awful? My head is killing me.”
“That’s my fault, baby. How much do you remember from last night?”
“I remember a rainbow-layered drink, and you with a beer at the club. That’s pretty much it. How long did we stay and dance?”
“You were done after the drink, my sweet. Then you fertilized the bushes outside the door downstairs and threw up a couple of times up here in the bathroom. You only had one drink, but I guess it was the strongest one they had on the menu. Baby, if I’d known, I would have never gotten it for you.” His arms pulled her closer to him, and he kissed her neck.
“It’s okay,” she grunted. “What’s planned for today?”
“Do you remember what today is, sweetheart?”
“Of course I do,” she smiled. “Happy anniversary, my Andy.”
“Oh, baby, happy anniversary. I can promise you, tonight will be a night you won’t ever forget.”
Danae felt extremely guilty. “Babe,” she sniffled, “I never got the chance to get you something for our anniversary.”
“All I will ever need is right here in my arms,” he said. “You are the best gift I will ever have.”
“Do you have something for me?” she asked.
“I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of a gift,” he laughed.
She shook her head. “You’re such a nerd.”
Andy was taken aback. “I am not a nerd. I’m a jock. Big difference, little missy.”
“Nerdy jock?” she giggled.
“Yeah, I’ll take that,” he smiled and kissed her. “Let’s get some coffee and breakfast in the suite, and we have an appointment this morning for some pampering.
“Pampering? What are you up to again?”
“You’ll see, precious. You’ll see.”
After breakfast, they walked together to the on-site spa, and Andy checked them in. “Murphy, couple’s massage and two hour room time.”
“Oh yes, Mr. Murphy,” the clerk confirmed. “Please have a seat, and we’ll be with you shortly.”
“You know, babe,” she whispered, “these massages are done naked.”
Andy laughed. “I’m well aware, honey. Is there a problem with that?”
“Not on my end,” she snickered. “But you’re unpredictable in that department sometimes.” He nudged her gently and they both laughed.
A clerk called to Danae and Andy and brought them to a huge, private room overlooking the beach, equipped with two massage tables, a sauna room, a spa tub, and chilled champagne with fresh strawberries. “You’re welcome to use the robes after you remove your clothing. Please make yourselves at home. The therapists will be in before your massage to introduce themselves. You’ll be allowed sufficient time to get comfortable and cover up before they return. The robes are available for purchase, and so are the oils and fragrances we use in the spa. Do you have any questions for me?”
Andy shook his head. “No, I think we are good so far,” he said, and the clerk left. He undressed and wrapped the plush robe around him and sat on the sofa, watching families playing on the beach. “I hope these windows are one-way, or these people will get an eyeful out there,” he chuckled.
“Oh brother,” Danae laughed. She was in the process of tying her robe when a knock sounded on the door. “Come in,” she called.
Two women entered the room and introduced themselves. “I’m Selena, and this is my colleague, Kristen. We will be your therapists this morning. Have you had a chance to choose your oils?”
“We haven’t. What scents do you have?” Andy asked.
“We have a nice sensual musk or a cedar/sandalwood blend for you, sir. And for the lady, a lightly scented plumeria or a vanilla lavender oil would be lovely. Most ladies prefer the musk for their husbands, and the vanilla lavender is a favorite for the men.”
“I’m not sure about the sandalwood,” Danae said. “Babe?”
Andy nodded in agreement. “Let’s go with the musk, then. And the vanilla lavender for my darling princess.” Danae smiled sweetly and nodded her head.
“We’ll give you five minutes to get settled and covered, and we’ll be back. Your massage will last approximately an hour, and you’re free to use the room however you please for two hours after. The spa tub is cleaned and sanitized after every use, and the sauna is popular after a long massage. Please feel free to take advantage of any amenity available in the room, as it’s all included with this package. Any questions for us?”
“I think we’re good,” Andy spoke. “We’ll be ready when you return.”
Andy helped her onto the table and covered her, then situated himself on the neighboring table, covered up and took her hand.
When the massage was finished, they settled into the sauna, sitting on a towel with nothing on but a smile. The steam felt so good on their sore, overworked muscles, but their stay within was short. They spent the remainder of their two hours wrapped in their robes, cuddling and being romantic with each other while they sipped on chilled champagne and nibbled on strawberries. At noon, when their time was up, they walked hand in hand back to their suite feeling relaxed and happy.
The reservation at the restaurant was at seven, so they napped back in the suite until four. They both needed to bathe and Danae needed some time to primp before he brought out the gown. Andy showered first so Danae could take all the time she needed. He dressed in his tuxedo shirt and pants and watched her work her magic, though she didn’t need makeup. Her natural beauty amazed him.
“How do I look?” she asked, her red hair up in her usual, favorite style, her makeup applied perfectly, wearing only her lingerie. “I hope there is something for me to wear, or it will be a very short dinner.” She snorted at the idea.
“Danae, you look gorgeous even in your unmentionables. I have been dying to show you this since I bought it. Sit on the bed and close your eyes, baby.”
She sat on the edge of the bed, her eyes squeezed shut. “Tell me when I can look.” The anticipation was exhilarating.
Andy brought the gown from the closet and fluffed it out. It was on a satin hanger, and he held it for her to admire. “Okay, honey. Open your eyes.”
Danae looked at the dress he held, and it took her breath away. “Oh Andy, this is so elegant! A ball gown!”
“Do you like it, my sweet?”
“I love it, and I can’t wait to wear it.” She dabbed tears from her eyes, hoping she wouldn’t ruin her makeup. “Help me into it?”
“It would be my honor, Princess Danae.”
The gown was a perfect fit, and she admired herself in the full-length mirror. “Oh, Andy, I can’t believe it. I feel like royalty!” she exclaimed as Andy clasped her heart necklace around her slender neck.
“You are my princess. But you are missing one key thing. Just a second.” Andy stepped away from her and dug in his suitcase. In his hand, he held a box, wrapped with precision. Her gift. “Happy anniversary, my darling Danae.”
She took the gift from him, emotional. Carefully, she unwrapped it and slid her finger under the flap of the box. When she saw it, she lost her cool.
“Oh my, Andy…” her voice trailed off in tears of joy. “This is exquisite! I-I don’t know what to say!”
“Well, I do.” Gently, he took the gift from her, and placed it atop her head. It was a white gold and diamond tiara, and it completed the fairy tale princess look. The ensemble was now complete. He kissed her tenderly. “You are my beautiful princess, Danae. Observe how lovely you are.”
She stared at the reflection in the mirror, her mouth fell open. The tiara was beautiful, and it looked perfect in the hairstyle she always wore. She wiped tears from her eyes and laughed.
“Well, my makeup needs to be touched up. Darn you, Andy!” she teased. He walked up behind her and kissed her shoulder, and she snuggled into his loving embrace. “I love you, Anduin Rowan Murphy, with all my heart and soul.”
Andy cringed, but he smiled anyway. “I love you, Danae Elizabeth Murphy, with all my heart and soul. Are you almost ready, my darling? We will need to leave soon to make our reservation.”
“I just need to touch up my makeup, and I’m good.” She hustled into the bathroom, reapplied some lipstick and eyeliner, and walked back to Andy. “I’m ready when you are, my love.”
He escorted her down the stairs, and together they walked outside to the car. Andy held the door for her and helped her in, then went around to his side. He drove them to the restaurant and valet parked just outside the door, where a line of people waited to be seated. This place, called Al Fresco, was just as exclusive as The Tower was back in Starlight Shores. They were shown immediately to their table in the main dining room.
Danae looked around in wonder, her violet eyes sparkled in the dim candlelight. Andy just sat and admired her. The diamonds in the tiara sparkled. She was perfection, and he was quite pleased with himself. He took her hand and kissed it.
“What’s on your mind, honey?” Andy asked her.
“I’m just so overwhelmed by this whole night. The gown and beautiful tiara, the restaurant is magnificent, and it’s all decorated for Snowflake Day so pretty. It’s been so warm here, and I’ve been so wrapped up in us, I forgot the holiday is coming! But Andy, you are amazing. You’ve done everything so perfectly this whole vacation, and I am just overwhelmed.” She was emotional and so in love with him.
“Don’t you realize now how much I love you? How I see you, Danae? You are my precious, my beloved, the mother of my babies. Everything I do for you is because I adore you. Baby, you’re my everything. I will never love anything or anyone as much as I love you.”
Their sweet exchange was regrettably interrupted by the waiter, who introduced himself and offered a menu to Andy to peruse. “May I get something from the bar for you?”
Andy looked at Danae, but she shook her head. “A glass of dry wine for me, and a semi-sweet nectar for my lovely wife,” he requested. “I’ll have our dinner order when you return.”
“Very well,” the waiter replied and walked away.
“Thank you for checking before you ordered, Andy. I’m still not feeling that great from last night. I couldn’t drink tonight, not even a glass of wine. The champagne earlier only intensified my headache. I’m sorry, babe.”
“It’s not a problem, my sweet. If you don’t want it, that’s good enough for me. What would you like for dinner tonight?”
“Ten years and you ask now?” she chuckled. “I trust you, my Andy. We will share like always.”
He nodded and looked through the selections, chose two he thought she would enjoy, and placed the menu face down on the table. The waiter returned a few minutes later, his wine and her nectar in his hand. “Have you decided, sir?”
Andy nodded and pointed at the menu, keeping his selections secret from her. She was accustomed to his surprises and simply smiled at him.
“Very well, sir,” the waiter said, took the menu from Andy and left the table.
Andy just watched Danae’s face as she took in the surroundings. Not far from where they were, a grand piano stood and beside it, an antique radio softly played classical music.
“Dance with me, Princess,” he said, holding his hand for her as he stood.
“I would love to, my Andy,” she replied as she took his hand. He led her to the dance floor in the middle of the dining room, and he held her close to him.
They swayed to the music together for a song or two, and Andy looked into her eyes. “Are you having a good time, my sweet?”
“I am having the best time of my life, Andy. You have totally spoiled me, and I don’t deserve any of it.”
“What makes you say that? My darling Danae, you deserve so much more than I can give you.”
“I was totally unprepared for our anniversary, even if we would have stayed home. I had no idea what to get for you, what to do for you. I know you better than I know myself, and yet I couldn’t think of one thing for you. Some hopeless romantic I turned out to be,” she huffed in frustration.
“Nae, don’t let that bother you. Let me spoil you, okay? Not because you deserve it, but because I love you.” He caressed her cheek and smiled at her.
Danae gazed into his caramel brown eyes and smiled. “Okay.” She tucked some hair behind his ear and kissed him. “I love you, Andy. Please never forget how much?”
“Never, my sweet. I’ll never forget it.” They walked back to their table and rested.
They shared their meals together, feeding one another and laughing, talking about the kids and their plans for the future.
“What is your favorite memory of us, love?” Andy asked her in between bites. “I can’t wait to tell you mine.” Candlelight sparkled in his eyes.
Danae thought for a moment. “Hmm,” she pondered, “it’s hard to pick just one. But I think I have it. Hands down, it was when we found out we were expecting Emmitt. Andy, the smile on your face was magic once we found out I was okay. The excitement was real, especially after losing the baby, and I loved seeing you so happy. And it was even better when I told you I wanted to name him after your Dad. I think that’s my favorite memory.”
Andy smiled. “Finding out about Emmitt was the best, my sweet. He came to us against all odds, our rainbow baby. He’s smart as a whip, just like his Mama.”
“He has been such a blessing, and I can’t imagine our lives without him now. I will be sad when he starts school in a few weeks. My baby boy.” Andy stroked her cheek and wiped a tear from her eyes.
He took her hands in his, his eyes danced with excitement. “I’ll tell you my favorite memory. I’ll never forget it. I had only just started working at the stadium for my dad. I remember being stressed out, because I was organizing my first presser with the new team dynamic, and it needed to be perfect. So imagine my surprise when he tells me we’re going home with Travis for dinner. It was the last thing I felt like doing, and I dreaded the end of work that day. I just wanted to go home, put my feet up and unwind in front of the fire with a glass of wine. So, I brought my car that night because I was planning on skipping out after dinner. But then I walked into the house and smelled the meal you had cooked.”
“Your family was so sweet. I remember meeting Darcey and Clint. And when I reached to shake your hand, that was it. Danae, it was as though my soul came alive that night. I’d never felt anything like it, but it was just as my dad had described it. And I knew I could never take no as an answer from you. I had to see you. I had to take you out. I had to kiss you. Danae, I loved you from the first moment we touched. I didn’t believe in love at first sight until that moment. And it was such a surprise to me, because I never expected it. The experience blew me away, my sweet. I wasn’t looking for love, I wasn’t looking for you, but I sure enough found you.”
“Wait, you loved me the first night? I-I don’t know what to say, Andy. I had no idea.”
“Well, you dazzled me right from the start. I felt it. I knew you did, too, even though you didn’t know what to make of it. I mean, this big dude you barely knew was taking you in his car to a bar, away from the safety of your family, your home. I didn’t blame you for being a little scared at first. But when I kissed you? Man, that was the best moment of my life up to that point.”
“Our first kiss was magical, if a little awkward,” she admitted. “I fell in love with you quickly, Andy. But I was fresh off a bad romance. I didn’t want to admit to myself I fell that fast, and that hard. Remember when I told you? I almost didn’t.”
Andy chuckled. “Yes, my sweet, I remember. I had to say it first. I knew you wouldn’t admit it otherwise.”
“I was a complete mess before you, Andy. Your love gave me confidence I was sorely lacking to step out and take charge of my career. That’s why everything fell into place after we got together.”
Andy immediately got a guilty look on his face. “I want to tell you something, Danae. I don’t know how you’ll take it, but I need to tell you.”
“It can’t be that bad. Go ahead.”
“The talent agency wasn’t taking new clients, and they had no intention of signing any more new singers.”
Danae nodded. “I remember. I was so disappointed.”
“But on our first date, when I realized how talented you were, I started recording you while you were singing karaoke. At first, I recorded it for my ears only, but I found I had some connections with the talent agency through the stadium. The owner was a season ticket holder. So I called in a favor and played your performance for him over the phone. And baby, he was so impressed, he promised me he would sign you immediately.” He watched her face, trying to read her.
“You did that for me, Andy?” Her eyes filled with tears. “But you barely knew me then.”
“I know. You just needed that break, your foot in the door. I knew you were destined for greatness, and I was hoping you would ride it all the way to the top. But I ruined it for you when I asked you to raise our family. Sometimes, I feel like I robbed you of your destiny, and the world of your talent.” He stroked her cheek and brushed a lock of hair from her face. “Danae, you are a treasure, but I was selfish and stole you away from your calling. I did it with no regrets, with no consideration for you and what you wanted or desired. Until now. Baby, I shouldn’t have taken you from your career.”
“My Andy,” she sighed, “I don’t regret anything. I love my life, our lives together. Motherhood, not singing, was my life’s calling and you made that my reality. I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate all your hard work, my love. Your sacrifice makes it possible to live my dream.”
He gave her a funny look. “My sacrifice? Baby, I have my dream job. I have made no sacrifice, not like you have.”
“Andy, I have my dream job, too. You know, maybe someday I’ll try singing again, once Emmitt is in school full time. But for now, I’m so good being your wife, the mother of your three beautiful babies, and our angel baby.”
He smiled. She didn’t often acknowledge the baby they had lost, but he or she was just as loved as the others. He leaned toward her, stroked her cheek and kissed her. “Princess Danae, I love you, so very much.”
“I love you too, Prince Andy.”
It was late when they left the restaurant, neither of them wanted the evening to end. So Andy drove them to the beach on one of the eastern sandbars, waiting for the sun to rise. Danae took her shoes off and they walked around in the cool, damp sand.
“Let’s watch the stars, baby,” Andy suggested, and together they sat in a grassy area adjacent to the beach. The stars were plentiful and brilliant despite a full moon which sat just over the horizon. Danae had never seen a bigger moon, and it was romantic.
“Kiss me, Andy. The moon is so beautiful, and I’m in the mood for romance.”
“You don’t have to ask me twice, princess,” he cooed back at her. He stood and lifted her, pressed his lips to hers in a sweet kiss, and she melted. “Isn’t this romantic, honey?” he asked, nuzzling his face into her neck.
She beamed at him. “So romantic.”
They sat on the beach in lounge chairs, held hands and watched over the horizon for the first hint of the sunrise. The sky began to lighten, a pink hue shone over the water. “Andy, it’s starting!”
“Come here, baby,” Andy beckoned her to his chair. She got up and joined him on his chair, and together they cuddled. “Let’s watch the sunrise together, my sweet.” The pink gave way to orange and the sun finally peeked over the horizon as it said good morning to another glorious new day.
“This was a beautiful ending to a perfect night, Andy. Thank you, for all of it.” Danae yawned.
“My pleasure, baby.” Andy yawned after she did. “Are you tired, Nae? Are you ready to go back and take a nap?”
She nodded. He kissed her gently and she stood up and allowed him to stand. He took her hand, and together they walked back to the car. They were both quiet on the drive back to the resort, and when he parked in the driveway outside their suite, he walked to Danae’s door and helped her up.
“You look wiped out, baby,” he said. “Come here.” He picked her up and carried her to the master bedroom inside the suite.
“Thank you, Andy,” she said and yawned. He helped her to remove the gown and the tiara from her hair.
“How about we just snuggle until we fall asleep, honey?”
“I would love nothing more right now,” she agreed.
They climbed into bed, tired but happy, and snuggled together. Sleep was coming fast, but Andy wrapped around her, kissed her cheek and whispered into her ear, “I adore you, my princess. Sweet dreams.”
The whole day after the anniversary was lost, but to the lovebirds, it didn’t matter. They spent some time outside at the pool, napping on and off under the protection of the covered porch. Later in the afternoon, a thunderstorm rolled through town, and they watched the rain from their bedroom, snuggled together.
“Is there something you’d like to do tonight, baby?” Andy asked her as the storm crashed outside.
“I’m still pretty sleepy,” Danae yawned. “I’m not used to staying up all night anymore.”
“Yeah, me neither,” he agreed. “How about tomorrow, we head to the equestrian center and borrow a horse and ride on the beach, see some of the parks in town and take it easy.”
She sat up and looked at him. “You know how to ride?”
He chuckled. “You saw Dragon Valley, honey. Of course, I know how to ride.”
“It sounds romantic.” She kissed his chin and laid back down.
“Anything with you is romantic, Nae. It’s just who you are.”
“Maybe we can make a picnic lunch and carry it with us.”
“That sounds like the best day, honey. I’ll make the arrangements at the center by phone. Tomorrow, we ride.”
“That still leaves us with tonight,” she purred, a crash of thunder sounded very close to the suite. “Thunderstorms and love go together, you know.”
“Mmm, that they do. Let’s love each other until we fall asleep. We’ll be refreshed tomorrow after a good night’s rest.” He kissed her tenderly.
“That sounds like the best idea yet.”
The next morning, Andy awakened first, stretched and wrapped his arms around her. His kisses on her skin woke her up, and she snuggled into his embrace.
“Good morning, my Andy,” she purred.
“Good morning, darling,” he said. He nuzzled into her hair and kissed her neck. “How are you feeling, baby?”
“Never better, my love. But we could stay here all day, and I wouldn’t care. You feel so good right here with me.”
“Are you up to a little horseback riding on the beach, and the picnic we talked about yesterday? Or would you like another day to relax? We have been pretty busy.”
“I wouldn’t mind going for a ride. And then we can go horseback riding on the beach.” She gave him a sly smile and kissed him.
“You naughty girl,” he smiled and pulled the covers over their heads.
A couple of hours later, Andy and Danae were on their way to the equestrian center. He had reserved a friendly, gentle trail horse for them to ride together. She was being groomed as they arrived to get her.
“Do you prefer a western or English saddle, Mr. Murphy?” the stable hand asked Andy.
“Actually, I prefer bareback, if she’s accustomed to it.”
“Misty is a well-trained horse. She should be fine with bareback.”
“That sounds good,” Andy nodded.
Danae admired the young mare. “She is beautiful,” she said as she reached to rub the horse’s nose.
“Thank you,” the stable hand answered. “She’s our most popular horse. Steady on her feet, good-tempered, not easily spooked.” He rubbed Misty’s neck and gave her an apple. “Yep, she’s a good girl.”
Andy took her lead and brought her from the stall. “Need a hand up, my love?” he asked Danae.
“I think so,” she chuckled. “I’ve never ridden bareback before.”
“Just hang onto me, baby. You’ll be fine.” Andy gave her a boost up, and Danae slid toward the back, giving Andy room to mount her. He made it look so simple as he climbed up and took her reins in his hand. “Shall we, my sweet?”
“Whenever you’re ready, my Andy.” She wrapped her arms around him and laid her head on his back.
The stables were close to the beach, and directly across from the gondola venue they visited on their first day, so Andy took Misty for a ride along the water in the firm sand at the edge. Danae was amazed at how smooth her gait was, but she held onto Andy tightly anyway. About a mile from their starting point, he let Misty rest for a few minutes, and they sat on her back, enjoying the view.
“How are you doing back there, honey?” Andy asked. He patted Misty’s neck and she nickered at him.
“She has an amazingly smooth gait. I’m doing well,” Danae said.
“I was wondering, because you have a death grip on me. Not that I mind, of course.”
“That’s more because I want to hang on tight,” she made a kissy noise and laughed.
“I figured.” Andy chuckled as he nudged Misty forward. “How about visiting the winter festival here, my love?”
“Lead the way.”
The festival grounds were about five miles off the beach where they rested, so Andy guided Misty towards their destination. Even with traffic passing on the roads, the mare never spooked. He was impressed.
By the time they arrived at the festival, Danae needed a break from sitting on Misty’s back. Andy tied her at the hitching post in front of the grounds. There, she would be able to drink and re-energize with some fresh hay. Andy helped Danae down, and they walked hand in hand into the festival.
“Ooh! A skating rink!” Danae chirped. “Andy, let’s skate a while?”
“Whatever you want, my darling.”
They both rented a pair of skates and hit the roller rink. Andy was in the center before long, spinning like a pro. Danae snorted when she saw him.
“What?” he asked as she skated to him.
“Another thing you excel at, my Andy. Must you outdo me at everything?” she teased.
“I bet you’re better at spinning than I am,” he countered. “You’re much more flexible than I am, and a whole lot more beautiful.”
“Well, let’s spin together,” she offered. “That way, neither of us will be better.”
“You’re on,” he agreed.
They joined hands and began to spin together in a circle. And for a moment, they had great momentum. But suddenly, their front wheels bumped together, and they both scrambled to catch themselves. There was no saving face for either of them. Danae’s feet came out from beneath her completely, and it was though she was suspended in the air for a split second before she landed hard on her backside.
Andy fell forward, doing his best Superman imitation before he fell on the wood floor, knee first.
“Oww,” Danae groaned, in that odd place between pain and laughter. “I’m going to feel this tomorrow.”
Andy laid prone on the rink and grumbled. “I haven’t hurt this bad since that one time in band camp,” he joked, trying to make light of the situation. “You fall better than I do, Nae. You looked so graceful, bent in half seconds before your rump hit the floor. I just looked like a klutz.”
“So you spin better, and I fall better?” She couldn’t help but laugh, but Andy looked like he was hurting.
“I’m getting too old for this mess,” Andy grumbled, holding his sore knee. “Baby, help me up please?” Danae got to her feet and held her hand for him. They limped off the rink together and sat on a nearby bench. When hiked his pant leg up, his knee was already swollen.
“Oh Andy, I’m so sorry. This is my fault. I should have kept my mouth shut.”
He kissed her hand. “No, it’s on me. I’m the clumsy one,” he laughed. “But I really do need to get some ice on this soon.”
“Can you ride Misty back to the center?”
Andy thought a moment. “If I can get on, I can ride. Getting on a bareback horse might be a challenge with a bad knee.”
“I’ve never ridden bareback, or I’d ride her back and pick up the car.”
“Everything is fine, Nae. We’ll figure this out and get back. But I think my acrobatics might have ended our picnic plans. I’m sorry, my sweet.”
“Do you think Misty can scale the stairs? Is there another way down here? You could stand on a bench and that might give you some leverage.”
“Wait, I think there’s a bench near the hitching post, by the photo booth. Right?”
“I’ll go check. Wait here.” Danae kissed his cheek and walked up the steps. Andy laughed as she walked away. Where am I going to go?
She returned a few minutes later with a decided spring in her step. “There’s a bench on either side, so you should be okay. Let’s hope Misty is okay with it now.”
“She’s a pretty good horse, so this should work well, my sweet.” With her arm around his waist, she walked with Andy up the steps, steadying him. Danae untied Misty from the post and patted her neck, led her to where Andy stood and she nickered at him.
“Good girl, Misty,” Andy praised her. “Just let me help you up, Nae, and I’ll get up here last.” Andy held his hand for Danae and gave her the boost she needed.
Their plan worked, and with no incident, both were safely atop Misty’s back. He started toward the equestrian center, taking the beach paths when possible. Just because he was hurt didn’t mean they couldn’t enjoy the ride back. But when they finally got to the stables, Andy could hardly bear weight on his knee.
A different stable hand was working when they brought Misty back. “How was our favorite girl? Was she good for you?”
Andy nodded. “She’s a great horse. In fact, she makes me miss riding. But I tore up my knee at the festival showing off on the skating rink, so I cut our day short, unfortunately.”
“Oh, sorry to hear,” he said. “You’re welcome to come back anytime and take her again.”
“We only have a few days left,” Danae said. “Otherwise, I’d love to come back and ride again.”
“If you really want to, Nae, we can. I don’t have much planned until we leave.” Andy took her hand and kissed it.
“If we have a chance, I’d love it. If not, that’s okay, too.” They both thanked the stable hand as he began to groom Misty. She helped him walk to the car, and he was limping badly.
When they returned to the resort Danae packed a bag of ice for Andy and carefully set it on his knee. She sat by him on the lounge chair by the pool while he relaxed, and they cuddled together.
“I’m sorry, Andy, about your knee,” she said. “I didn’t count on that happening.”
“Baby, don’t worry about it. After the ice, I’ll be feeling better. Maybe we could walk down to the beach and swim in the ocean for a while. The saltwater will be good for it. Soothing, even. What do you say, my sweet?”
“You are way too forgiving. But the beach sounds good. I’ll wear my one piece, so I don’t have to worry about losing my top in the water.” She winked at him.
“It’s settled then. Honey, please don’t worry about my knee anymore. I’m okay.” He stroked her cheek and she pressed her face to his chest, content.
A few days later, Danae was gathering items up for packing. Neither of them could believe their ten days were up already, and they had a red-eye flight back to Isla Paradiso that left at eight o’clock that night. It was the vacation of a lifetime, and she hated to see it end. But her camera was full of beautiful photographs that she couldn’t wait to have framed. As she packed all her new clothes into their suitcase, a tear fell from her eye, and she sniffled.
“What’s wrong, Nae?” Andy asked as he packed up the garment bag.
“I don’t want to go home yet,” she said. “I mean, I miss the kids, but we’ve had such a great time. I’ve fallen for you all over again.”
He walked over to where she stood and wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m glad you had a good time, baby. We’ll have to do this again for another anniversary sometime.” He kissed her cheek and rocked her in his arms. “I fell in love with you all over again, too.”
“Is there anything downstairs, or do we have everything up here?” she asked.
“I’ll go check,” he replied, and walked down the steps. A few minutes later, he came back with a bag he had found by the front door. “If we forget this stuff, we will have three angry kiddos,” he chuckled.
“Oh my!” she exclaimed. “Thank you for the save. Daddy for the win!” she laughed. Inside were three adorable dolls, each one different, that she had found at the winter festival. Each was handmade and unique, and they were positive the kids would adore them.
“You’re welcome, baby.”
With everything packed and ready to go, they had just an hour before their limo would arrive to bring them to the airport, so they walked out onto the back deck one last time to watch the sun settle over the horizon and dip into the waters way beyond where their eyes could see. When it was dark, and the sun had said its final goodbye, they walked back into the suite and toward the office to check out.
The limo arrived shortly afterward and brought them to the airport. The driver accessed a restricted gate, as it had in Isla Paradiso, and brought them directly to Kirby’s jet, which was nearly ready for departure. Victor, as he had done each time they had flown, greeted them as they boarded.
“Hello, Andy, Miss Danae. I trust your vacation was pleasant?” Victor said as they approached.
Danae smiled. “This man treats me like a princess, Victor. I will never deserve all he did for me this trip.” Andy gave Victor a sly smile.
“Yes, she deserves it,” Andy chuckled and nudged Victor’s arm.
“Welcome aboard,” Victor officially welcomed them. “Dinner will be served as soon as we are in flight, and we will be stopping for fuel at some point, likely near Hidden Springs. I trust you’ll be napping in the sleeping quarters?”
Andy nodded. “Most likely.”
They settled down into their seats at a table, Danae’s carry on bag beneath her, and Andy across from her. She sighed heavily as she fastened her belt across her lap and Andy looked at her.
“What’s on your mind, honey?”
She smiled at him and took his hand. “In case I didn’t tell you already, thank you for our time together. I had the best time. I just wish it wasn’t over yet.”
He pondered for a moment. “You know, baby, this isn’t the end of what I have planned for our anniversary.”
Her jaw dropped open. “What now?”
“You’ll see. I’m not ready to reveal it just yet. But it’s coming, and soon.” He kissed her hand as the jet taxied to the runway for departure.
“I don’t know what you are doing, but it must be big.” She smiled. “I can’t wait.”
“Baby, you will love it. I promise,” he said as the jet roared down the runway, and Sunlit Tides disappeared beneath them into the darkness.
Love and Horses by Kaleeko at Mod The Sims
Stay Together and Embrace by Spladoum at Mod The Sims
Engagement Poses, Wedding Poses, Conversation Poses, Meeting in the Bar, Adult Emotions, by Bee at Poses By Bee
Moondance by Lenina90 at The Sims 3 Planet
Romantic Dinner 2 by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses
I take no credit for the custom content used in this chapter. I cannot possibly credit each individual, or I’ll be another five pages! See acknowledgments for frequently used sources, or message me on the Contact Page, and I’ll do my best to find the link for you.