G5 Chapter Twenty Eight – Ten Years Together, Part One

Andy was out of town on business to negotiate for a new star player, and Danae was lonely. He had been gone nearly a week in Appaloosa Plains and he was due home the following day. Danae stood and admired herself in the full-length mirror at the salon. I hope he likes this, she thought as she gazed upon newly-colored flaming red locks. 

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Since their trip to Starlight Shores two years prior, Danae had been aching to color her hair red. Maybe it was because she felt a new connection to her great grandmother Destiny Hill. Maybe it was just because she wanted her hair to match her freckles. Whatever the reason, she took the plunge and finally did it. Ironically, the red hair didn’t make her resemble Destiny and made her feel less like a Jones. 

On her way home, she stopped at the Scroggins house. Darcey was unpleasantly surprised when she saw it. “Nae, what were you thinking?!” Darcey chided her.

“I wasn’t thinking, I guess. Do you think Andy will hate it?”

“You just don’t look like you. Maybe Andy will like it, but I’m willing to bet he won’t. He didn’t fall in love with a redhead, Danae. I hope you can color it back.”

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“Thanks for your support,” she snapped, her tone bitingly cold. “I’m the only one who has to like it, by the way.” 

“I’m sorry, Nae. It’s just going to take some getting used to. You know I love you no matter the color of your hair.” 

“Well, I think I look like Nana Bella, and you know how I adored her,” Danae said confidently. 

“Well, you sure don’t look like Mama anymore. I wonder what Daddy would say.” Darcey shook her head.  

“Well, it will be a surprise. But Andy loves me for who I am, not what I look like.” Danae picked up her car keys. “I have to run. We need to do dinner soon! Love you, Bug.” 

“Love you, Nae,” Darcey called to her as Danae almost ran from the house.

She drove home sputtering but filled with doubt. Will he like it? If he hates it, will he be angry? So many questions fluttered around in her brain, and no one but Andy could answer them. She was almost dreading his return.

It was after nine when he finally called her that evening. She was itching to tell him but wanted more to surprise him. So she bit her tongue when he asked what was new.

“Nothing,” she fibbed. “I got my hair trimmed today and a new manicure. And a few other things done while I was at the spa, if you catch my drift.” 

Andy cleared his throat. “You’re making the wait difficult, you know that little missy?” 

“I meant to.” She had to get him looking forward to something, anything that would soften the blow of being married to a redhead. “I can’t wait for you to come home. I’ve been miserable all week missing you.” 

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“I hate to say this, but the week has been a giant waste of my time. The player wasn’t really interested in leaving the Plains. What is it about this place that makes people want to stay? It’s just a little hick town.” 

“Hey!” Danae feigned insult. “I have Plains blood running through my veins!”

“And Dragon Valley, and Pleasantview and Monte Vista,” he teased. “You’re so far removed from Appaloosa Plains now.”

Except for my flaming red hair, she thought. “Well, just the same, I’m no hick!” she laughed. 

“I know you’re not. You’re way too sassy to be a Plains girl. You’re born and raised Starlight Shores. I never noticed it until I came here.” 

“I don’t know whether to be insulted or flattered,” she snorted. 

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“Take it as a compliment, my sweet.” She heard his heavy sigh. “My goodness, Danae, I miss you so much, and I can’t wait to come home.”

“I will be waiting for your limo to pull up outside the house. And I will not leave you alone for days once you get here.”

Andy belly laughed. “And that’s different from usual how, exactly?” 

“Alright,” she snickered. “That’s enough. I miss you, babe. Come home safely to me.”

“I will, honey. Oh, I love you so much.” 

“I love you, too. See you tomorrow.” 

She felt better after she talked to Andy. He loves me no matter what, she convinced herself. She undressed and climbed into bed, dreaming of tomorrow.

*****

Today could not have gone any slower if it tried, Danae thought as she finished washing dinner dishes. It was almost seven, and Andy’s plane was due into Isla Paradiso at 8:30. Ugh! Two more hours. 

“Lysie, Eamon, is your homework finished?” she called to the kids. Emmitt was ready for pre-school and would be starting after the Snowflake Day holiday for spring classes. Luckily, the holiday was still six weeks away. Emmitt could stay her baby for just a little while longer. 

“Yes, Mama,” they yelled back in unison. “We’re playing charades.” 

Danae smiled. I haven’t played that since I was their age, she thought. She and Darcey played it sometimes after dinner between homework and bedtime. Darcey, however, was much better at it than she was. But it was still fun teaching the kids how to play. 

“Okay. Just a half-hour longer, and I need you to brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” Emmitt was in the living room watching television. “Not going to play with your brother and sister, Emm?” 

“No, Mama,” he sighed. “They don’t want me.” 

She snuggled her youngest into her lap. “I’m sure that’s not it, baby boy, but charades might be a little old for you. Maybe when Daddy gets home, you can play a game with him?” 

“I’d like that, Mama,” Emmitt said happily. “When do I start school again? I can’t wait!” 

“After Father Winter comes this year. Do you remember when he comes?” 

He counted on his fingers. “One, two, three, four, five… six! Six weeks, right?” 

“Good boy!” she praised him. “You’re getting that down really good, honey.” She kissed his forehead. “Do you want me to read to you tonight?” 

He nodded his head. “Yes please!”

“You got it,” she smiled. “You pick the book, and we’ll read together. How’s that?” 

“You’ll help me with the words I don’t know, right, Mama?” he asked, excited to learn.

“You bet I will. Go get your teeth brushed for Mama, and I’ll be in to read and tuck you in soon.” She kissed the top of his head and gave him a gentle swat on his rear end, and he turned around with the biggest smile. She sure did love that little boy.

An hour later, all three kids were in bed and hopefully on their way to sleep, though Elyse was allowed to read for twenty minutes a night. There wasn’t a peep in the house, and Trixie was on a date, so Danae curled up on the sofa with a blanket throw and the television, waiting for Andy to come home.

The limo arrived at 9:30 and dropped Andy out front at the gate, and he half expected Danae to be there. But when he opened the front door, he noticed the flicker of the television, and Danae’s familiar soft snores emanated from the living room. He put his bags into his office and padded to the living room. At first, he didn’t recognize her, but as he gazed upon her, he smiled. Quietly, he tiptoed to where she laid down, knelt by her head and kissed her. 

“Okay, who is the sexy redhead and what did she do with my smokin’ hot wife?” He teased quietly. 

His kiss roused her and she laughed. “Hey babe,” she said and yawned. 

“Wow, Danae, you look so different!” 

“Is different good, or bad?” she asked, uneasy.

He looked at her in the dim light of the television and nodded. “I think I love it!”

She heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness! Darcey hated it and said I made a huge mistake.” 

“How do you like it, baby?” 

“I love it, though I probably won’t do it again once it grows out. I don’t feel much like me.” 

“So, I get to make love with a redhead tonight, and I’m not even cheating on my wife. Hot dog!” Andy chuckled. 

“Yes you do,” she purred. “When do you want to do that, specifically?” 

“Name it,” he said.

“Yesterday.” 

“Uh oh,” he laughed. “Looks like I need to make up for some lost time.” 

“Yup, a whole week’s worth,” she growled and led him to the bedroom.


Ten days later…

It was the first day of a two-week vacation, and Andy wanted so badly to sleep in. But they had a flight to catch and Danae had no clue. His plan was flawless and he couldn’t wait for it to come to fruition. Five months in the planning and it was finally here. He couldn’t believe it.

It wasn’t an easy task to choose a destination for their tenth anniversary. Where exactly do you vacation when you live in paradise? He pondered. But Aaron’s recommendation for Sunlit Tides sold him. Beautiful, white sand beaches. Scuba diving. West coast atmosphere and sun. Plenty of fun and romantic things to do. 

He booked a room at the most exclusive resort, right on the beach, a five-star establishment. Known for its spa, Andy couldn’t wait to partake in a couple’s massage and pampering with her. In his opinion, she more than deserved it. Kirby gifted them the use of his private jet and catered the flights to and from Sunlit Tides. Everything was in place and ready to go. 

With Darcey’s assistance, Andy bought Danae a whole new wardrobe for the vacation, his favorite was a beautiful ball gown that would make her look like a fairytale princess. He had three different gowns and dresses and a weeks’ worth of brand new clothing packed away and hidden upstairs in Trixie’s bedroom, along with new clothing for himself. He had much invested in the vacation before he even booked a room, but he didn’t care about the expense. 

Trixie was in on everything and, together with Darcey, helped plan and coordinate every detail with Andy. Even the kids knew and promised to keep his secret. Danae was kept completely in the dark for months. And when they returned from Sunlit Tides, he had another surprise planned she would absolutely adore. It would be a vacation Danae would never forget. 

With just hours until their flight, she slept soundly, wrapped in his arms, comfortable and happy. Andy was dying to wake her but just watched her for a few more moments. The alarm on his watch buzzed, notifying him it was time. This is it, he thought, more excited than he’d ever been. 

“Nae, baby,” he kissed her shoulders and whispered in her ear. “Honey, I love you.” 

Danae purred at the sensation of his kisses and opened her eyes. “Mmm, good morning, my handsome Andy.” 

“Good morning, precious,” he purred back. “It’s time to wake up.” 

“No,” she protested. “Trixie is helping the kids today. I don’t have to be up.” 

“I know, my sweet. But we still need to get up. I have a huge surprise for you.” 

Her eyes popped open and she was fully awake. She loved his surprises. “Oh?” 

“I’m not telling you details. You’ll just have to trust me.” 

Danae chuckled. “I get it. I surprised you, and now it’s payback time. It took you long enough.” 

He nuzzled his face into her hair and breathed in. “You smell amazing, my love.” 

“I just woke up, babe. I can’t smell that good.” 

“It’s that vanilla. It smells delicious on you.” He would have loved to stay in bed with her all day, but they had three hours to get to the airport. “Come on, love. Up and at ‘em.” 

“I need to shower. Is coffee made yet?” 

“I’ll start it, and then I’ll join you, so take your sweet time in there.” He blew her a kiss.

Thirty minutes later they were enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast together. Trixie had gotten the children ready for school, and they waited for hugs and kisses. It would be a while before they saw their parents again. 

Andy snuck upstairs and brought down three pieces of luggage and put them into his office. Danae was playing with Emmitt in the boys’ room, counting with him. It was almost time to go. 

“Baby, come with me a sec?” he asked her, bursting at the seams.

“I’ll be right back, Emm,” she told him, got up and walked to Andy. “What’s up?” 

“Take a look.” He gestured toward the bags. 

“Andy! What did you do?” She squealed, giddy with excitement. 

“I’ll just say we’re going away for a while. I’m not telling you where or how long. But our flight leaves in ninety minutes. We need to get going, baby.” 

“Andy, you never cease to amaze me. I love you.” She kissed him tenderly. 

“I love you with everything I have, Danae. You deserve this time away, and I’m going to show you the time of your life.” The limo driver rang the call box, signaling he had arrived. “It’s time. Let’s give Emm one more kiss and we have to go.” 

Ten minutes later, they were on their way, a small bottle of champagne waited for them. He opened it and poured two small glasses, which was all it held. He smiled sweetly at her and raised his glass.

“To you, Danae. The mother of my children. The love of my life. The rocker of my world. To the vacation of a lifetime.” 

“Cheers!” Danae chirped and sipped on her glass. “You got semi-sweet?” 

“Just for you, my love,” he said.

The ride to the airport wasn’t very long, and as it had before, the limo accessed a restricted gate. After verification, it was allowed to pass and they drove to Kirby’s hangar. The same jet they had taken on its maiden flight awaited them with the same waiter onboard. 

“Welcome Andy, Miss Danae,” Victor greeted them. “Don’t tell me. One of you doesn’t know where we are headed. Am I right?” He grinned ear to ear.

Andy laughed. “You are correct. Miss Danae is being treated to a special anniversary trip, destination undisclosed. But she will love it.” 

Victor nodded. “If you and Mr. Kemp planned it, I have no doubt it will be most pleasurable. Welcome aboard. We are on time for a 10:30 departure.” 

“Thank you, Victor.” Andy took Danae’s hand and escorted her to their seats at a table. Their luggage would be loaded beneath in the hold, and as soon as the pilot had clearance, they would be on their way. 

“A penny for your thoughts, my love,” he said. Danae was peaceful and relaxed. 

“I’m just wondering what you’re up to, Andy. I can’t wait to find out.” She reached for his cheek and caressed it, and he nuzzled into her hand. 

“We won’t be on the ground at our destination for quite a few hours, and I’m sure we will need to stop and refuel once. I promise it’s not Dragon Valley again.” Andy rolled his eyes at the memory. He was not going to repeat that mistake.

“Then I guess all we need to do is sit back and enjoy the flight.” She fastened her seat belt and put her feet up on the seat directly across from her. 

“You know, this is the plane with the sleeping area, honey.” 

“I figured as much. But this isn’t an overnight flight.” 

“So? Nothing says we can’t nap on the way. It’s a long trip.” The copper highlights in her hair shone in the sunlight that peeked through the window. “You sure make a beautiful redhead, honey. I love it.” 

She blushed. “I’m glad you do. I still don’t feel quite like myself with this color hair, though.” 

Victor walked from the front of the airplane and announced their departure. “Lunch will be served in approximately ninety minutes, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Kemp which comes with a message.” He took a note from his pocket, unfolded it and read it aloud:

Dear Andy and Danae,

Rae, the kids and I wish you all the best on your tenth wedding anniversary trip. We wanted you to travel in luxury and comfort, and we provided your flight, expenses covered and your in-flight meal. Enjoy it and each other during your vacation. We will see you when you return.

All our love,
Kirby, Rae, Cody, and Corrie Kemp.

Danae wiped a happy tear from her eyes. “I can’t believe you did all this without me knowing, Andy.” 

“Oh honey, this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

*****

Hours later, the plane landed in Sunlit Tides. Andy and Danae had been napping since lunch in the sleeping quarters and Victor rapped on the door. 

“Andy? Miss Danae? We’ve arrived at our final destination.” 

Andy checked his watch. It was four o’clock local time. “Thanks, Victor. We’ll be out in a few minutes.” He touched her shoulder and kissed her cheek. “Nae? We’re here, baby.” 

“Mmm,” she purred as she roused from her nap. “I really must have been asleep. Did we stop for fuel?” 

“Yeah, about two hours ago. I felt us touch down, but that was it.” He took a comb from Danae’s purse and ran it through his hair. “Come on, sweetie, they’re waiting on us.” 

They gathered their belongings and walked into the cabin of the plane. Victor was waiting for them. “Enjoy your stay here. We’re headed back home tonight.”

“Thank you, Victor. Have a safe flight back. We’ll see you in about ten days.”

Danae’s mouth fell open. “T-ten days?” 

Andy just smiled and took her hand. “Are you ready, my sweet?” 

The limo was waiting to take them to their resort. Danae looked around at her surroundings, trying to figure out where she was. Andy chuckled at her bewilderment.

“Still don’t know, do you, love?” 

She shook her head. “No. It doesn’t look like home, yet I know it’s tropical.” 

“We’re in Sunlit Tides, honey,” Andy smiled as he watched the excitement build within her. 

“Andy! I’ve never been this far away from home before!” She snuggled up next to him, taking the scenery in. The town itself was disconnected from the mainland, but the island had been mostly connected by small bridges and causeways, unlike Isla Paradiso. The foliage was so much different, prettier, and she noticed coconuts hanging from the trees. “We don’t have coconut palms at home!” Every little thing animated her. This was the woman he fell in love with almost eleven years ago.

“I knew you would love it here.” He kissed her tenderly. “Happy Anniversary week my precious.” 

The resort was not like any other she had ever been to before. Instead of small, stuffy rooms, they had a huge 3 bedroom suite, fully equipped with a kitchen, formal dining room and living room, much bigger than the VIP suite at Kirby’s resort. It had every amenity they needed and wanted, and then some. 

“What do you think, Nae? Isn’t this beautiful?” Their bedroom opened to a deck overlooking the most scenic beach in the area. The air was balmy and only slightly humid, and the sun was getting lower on the horizon. 

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“Oh Andy, this is simply elegant. We can watch the sunset from here!” She walked onto the deck and took a deep breath. “Dare I say this is more beautiful than home. How did Aaron and Avery leave here?” 

“Zachery, too. I suppose if you’re born here, it could get a little monotonous.” He walked up behind her and held her. “It sure is beautiful out here. Are you hungry, my sweet? I think I saw a bistro within walking distance, or the resort has room service. Whatever you want to do, baby, we’ll do.” 

“Maybe in a little while,” she said dreamily. “I think I want to watch the sunset with a glass of wine and you wrapped around me.” 

Andy smiled impishly. “I can deliver both of those things, my sweet.”

After dinner, the night was already dark, but fireflies dotted the evening as they walked hand in hand around the grounds of the resort. They passed one of two huge resort-style pools, not counting the one that was adjacent to their suite, and Danae stopped to stick her toes in. 

“Andy, it’s like bathwater,” she said, amazed. Even at home, their pool always ran on the cool side. 

“Good for skinny dippin’,” he said. He squeezed her hand as they continued their stroll. 

“If we had our own private pool, you bet I’d be all over that,” she purred.

Andy wondered how long it would take for her to realize their suite was the only one with access to the adjoining pool. When they walked back through the gate that surrounded their suite building, she finally noticed it.

“Wait,” she said, looking around. “We do have our own pool.” 

“So, armed with that new information, beautiful, what would you like to do tonight?” 

“What do you think?” 

Andy smiled at her. “Oh, baby, I’m all over that.” 


The next morning, Andy surprised Danae with a bouquet of fragrant, velvety red roses on her nightstand. Two days to go until their anniversary, and he could barely wait. He ordered room service for coffee and breakfast and woke her gently. 

He snuggled up behind her and kissed her shoulders. “Good morning, my precious princess,” he purred into her ear. “I love you, baby.” 

Danae smiled and yawned. “Good morning, my Andy,” she purred back. “What are you doing up so early?” 

Andy chuckled. “It’s nine-twenty in the morning. This is hardly early, honey.” 

“Really? It looks earlier than that outside.” 

“It’s a little overcast, but it is supposed to be sunny and mild today. I have something in mind for today, my sweet. I know you’ll love it.” 

She rolled over in his arms and kissed him. “As long as I’m in your arms, I don’t care what we do or don’t do. I’d be just as happy staying right here in bed with you all day.” 

“Well, breakfast is here, and we should get up and eat before it gets cold,” he said. “I got a little something extra. I’m surprised you didn’t notice, baby.” 

“Where?” and then she smelled the roses. “Oh, Andy, those roses are exquisite. Thank you.” She kissed him tenderly.

“You’re welcome, honey.”

Andy ordered quiche for breakfast, and they sat and ate together. After a shower, they were ready to get started for the day. 

He had rented a beautiful car for them to use while they were in Sunlit Tides. It had been delivered to the suite that morning, a bright red Tesla. They got into the car, and he set the GPS for a venue Aaron had told him about, a romantic place with a gondola ride and a wedding chapel. Danae admired the scenery as Andy drove the car, and when he pulled up and parked by the venue, she melted. 

“Oh Andy, this is so adorable!” she chirped. The lot was a miniature recreation of a European village. The architecture was beautiful, and Danae fell in love with it.

“Let’s stroll around, my love.” He slipped his hand into hers and together they began to take in the sights.  

They strolled around slowly, enjoying the atmosphere and each other. They found a small, flowered garden on the far end of the property and sat to rest their feet. Andy stretched out on the ground, his head in her lap. Danae stroked his cheek and gazed into his eyes.

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“How do you like this place so far, my sweet?” Andy asked her as he relaxed on the ground. 

“Andy, this is so romantic!” Her heart was bursting with love for him. 

“I’m glad you think so, baby. I knew you’d love this. The way Aaron described it, I knew we had to visit here.” 

She moved out from beneath him and climbed onto his lap, straddling him. Her sweet, soft kisses melted him, and he held her close. “I love you, Andy, so much. This scored you some big brownie points today.” 

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Andy chuckled. “I would have brought you here even without the brownie points.”

Danae got up and excused herself for a few moments to freshen up and stretch. While she was gone, Andy stood and propped against a tree, brushed the grass and dirt from his pants, and waited for her return.

She walked back a few moments later and he wasn’t where she’d left him. “Psst!” he called to her. 

Danae smiled and approached him, took his hand and leaned against the tree with him. “Is this spot taken, handsome?” she flirted madly.

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“It is now, beautiful.” She noticed the gondola floated by empty, and she squeezed his hand. “Do you want to take a ride on that, honey?” 

“I would love to,” she chirped. Hand in hand, they walked back toward the loading zone. “I’ve never done this before,” she said happily. 

Andy stepped into the boat first and held his hand for Danae to help her. They settled into the seat and held hands. The surroundings looked very different from inside the boat, and she pointed excitedly at the hanging wisteria that draped over the canal. Andy loved watching her so fascinated with everything.

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“Are you having fun?” Andy whispered into her ear.

“So much fun,” she whispered back, caressed his cheek and kissed him. The gondolier smiled. 

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The sun was setting during their ride, and by the time the gondola returned to the loading dock, it was dark outside, the air a bit chilly.

“I had a lovely time today, Andy. Thank you so much.” Danae slipped her hand into his as they walked toward the car. 

“I’m so glad you did, baby. I knew I had to bring you here. Are you just wanting to go get some dinner and head back, or do something else?” 

“I’m thinking maybe just having some dinner, getting a bottle of wine and sitting by the pool with you.”

“Now that sounds like the perfect end to a beautiful day, my sweet.” 

“I love you, my Andy. Thank you for today.” 

“I love you, my beautiful, precious princess.” 


One day until our anniversary. Andy woke with it on his mind, and he thought the wait might kill him. He had nothing really planned but beach time for the day and couldn’t wait for Danae to wear the bikini he bought for her. It was still dark when he got up to use the bathroom and laid back down with her. 

Danae woke some hours later, surprised Andy was still asleep. But he was, still curled around her, his soft breath tickled her shoulder. She traced his fingers with hers, hoping the delicate touch would awaken him. But he smiled and chuckled in his sleep, and tightened his grasp on her. She kissed his fingers and snuggled into his arms. That did it.

“Good morning, precious,” he smiled at her. “How is the most beautiful woman in the world this morning?” 

She smiled and thought about being snarky, but the moment was far too tender, too loving. “She loves the sexiest man alive more than he knows.” 

“Mmm, baby, you sure know how to start the day off right,” he purred. “Let me love you, Danae.” 

She turned over in his arms and kissed him. “Love me, Andy,” she whispered. 

A couple of hours later, they were showered and ready for breakfast, albeit a bit late. “What’s on the schedule for today, my love?” she asked.

“I was thinking of going to the beach out back behind the resort here, my sweet. I know you want to work on your tan, and I have a new bikini for you. I can’t wait to see you in it.”

She laughed. “Always an ulterior motive.” 

“Not true!” he snickered. “Well, maybe. But the water is so crystal clear, I want to stick my feet in the ocean on this coast, listen to the waves, and admire you. Then tonight, I was thinking we could go to that exclusive dance club down the street from the place we visited yesterday. What do you think?”

“I think it sounds like a lot of fun, babe.” She took his hand and kissed his nose. “So, where is this bikini?”

“Back in the bedroom.” He cleaned up the dishes from breakfast, placing them into the dishwasher, and led her back upstairs. 

“I had one like this once upon a time,” Danae said, admiring the bikini. “Mine was green with orange flowers, but I have to admit I love the black with red. Let me see your new suit, my Andy.” 

“Nope, not until I put it on,” he teased, “which I’m going to do right now.” He walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind him, leaving her to change in the bedroom. He was done first, so when he walked back into the room, she was fussing with the clasp on the back of her top, but he stopped in his tracks. 

“What?” she asked, still fumbling.

“You… holy cow, Danae, you look amazing in that bikini.” She spun around and spotted him in a pair of very short, skin-tight shorts, black with a red stripe on either side. He looked so good, she dropped her bathing suit top. He laughed as it landed at his feet. “You, um, dropped something, my sweet.” 

She blushed. “I guess I did.” He handed it to her and offered his fastening services. With it secured around her, she turned around for his inspection.

“Perfection, baby. You are drop-dead gorgeous.” They took beach towels he had in the suitcase and headed for the beach, hand in hand. 

The temperature was mild, in the high 70s, beautiful for sunbathing and perfect for a little swimming when the sun got warm. They spread their towels on the sand, and Danae laid down on hers. Andy watched every move she made as she settled in and got comfortable. 

“Is there a problem, sir?” she teased, one eye half-open as she noticed him watching her.

“Not a single one,” he chuckled. “I’m just making sure you’re covered. No one else gets to see you but me.” 

She clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes. “No one wants to see that but you, babe. Relax.” 

“You’d be surprised, Nae.” He reached for her hand and took it into his, and they sunbathed together. 

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At four-thirty, Andy felt a bit warm, and since the water was right there, he ran toward the ocean and dove into the surf. Danae heard his heavy footsteps running from her, and looked up in time to see him make a splash. A huge smile crossed her lips as he walked back toward her, shaking water from his ears. 

“Do you feel better now, honey?” she asked. He sprinkled water from his hair onto her skin, and it was chilly. “Eee!” she squealed. “That’s cold!”

“I do feel much better, and you’re welcome,” he laughed. “Let’s go clean up and go dancing, my sweet. You got yourself a beautiful tan, baby. I can’t wait to see your dancing outfit.” 

“Andy! Did you get me a new club outfit, too?” 

“No, baby, I packed the one you brought to Dragon Valley. Turns out, I couldn’t find its match anywhere.” He held his hand to her, and she stood up easily. Andy picked her towel up and slung it over his arm with his towel, and they walked back to the suite hand in hand.

An hour later, after a shower and a quick bite to eat, they got into the car and he drove them to the club. The bouncer stood outside the door, guarding the entrance, but Andy whispered to her, and she opened the ropes, allowing both of them access. 

“What did you tell her?” she asked Andy.

“I told her you were Travis Jones’ daughter.”

“Why did you do that?” Danae was confused.

“Because here, you’re a bigger star than I am baby.” Andy was so matter-of-fact about it. “Apparently, they’re still a little salty about losing Avery and especially Zach to the Sharks.” 

She nodded. “Well, whatever gets us in. I’m ready to dance, I don’t know about you.” 

They danced for about an hour when Danae wanted to sit, so they took a seat by the bar, and Andy bought a bottle of beer for himself, and a mixed drink for her. 

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“What’s this?” she asked, stirring the ice with her finger.

“It’s called ‘Passion-ade.’ I thought you might like it.” He took a swig of his beer and winked at her.

“Are you going to get me drunk and take advantage of me, Mr. Murphy?” she teased. 

He laughed. “I don’t have to get you drunk for that, my love.” She took a sip from the glass and licked her lips. “Is it good, Nae?” 

“It’s sweet, fruity, a little spicy. I like it!” They sat and sipped their drinks until they were gone, and he led her back onto the floor. 

A few minutes later, she was feeling no pain at all. “What was in that drink, Andy? I’m… not feeling so good.” Her head swam, and the flashing lights were not helping.

“Just fruit juice and some spirits, I think.” She never drank hard liquor, and it was affecting her more harshly than just wine. “Are you okay?” 

“Yeah, I’m just a little tipsy.” She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. “Let’s go find a quiet corner and make out,” she suggested. 

Andy grinned. “Now you’re talking, baby.” He helped her to the second floor, which was mostly video arcade games and seating. He found a quiet, out of the way corner and they sat together. He sat beside her, and she was all over him as soon as he hit the seat. “Wow, baby. I guess when they called it ‘passion-ade’ they meant it.” 

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“I can’t help it,” she purred. “You’re just too handsome tonight.” 

A few minutes later, and she was nearly passed out.

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“Whatever they put in that drink did you in,” he said as he sat and held her. He couldn’t leave her upstairs alone, but he needed to find out what was in the drink, so he carefully carried her down the steps and to the bar. 

“What is in the drink called, ‘Passion-ade’?” Andy asked the woman tending bar.

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She named off six different hard liquors, and then a splash of passionfruit juice. “Is there a reason why, darlin’?” 

Andy looked at her, incredulous. “Are you kidding me? My wife is nearly knocked out from it. Had I known, I wouldn’t have gotten it for her.” 

“I thought it was for you, handsome,” she flirted with Andy. “I never thought to warn you. It’s the strongest drink we have on the menu.” 

“Thanks a bunch,” he spat sarcastically. This wasn’t how he intended their night to end, at all. He carried her outside to the car and sat her in the passenger side, buckled her in and drove back to the resort. 

He was helping her into the house when she groaned. “Andy,” she said. “I think I’m gonna be sick.” 

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“Just a second, baby,” he replied, but he realized he wouldn’t make it to the master suite upstairs. He set her down on the front porch, and she immediately retched, throwing up six different liquors and a splash of juice into the bushes. Quickly, he picked her up and ran up the stairs, into the master bathroom and placed her on the floor by the toilet. 

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“I don’t feel so go—” was all she managed to say before she vomited again. Suddenly, Andy had an appreciation for her distaste of his overindulgence. But hers was quite by accident and very avoidable had he known what he was giving her. He knelt down beside her and rubbed her back. 

“I’m right here, sweetie,” he comforted her. Inside, he was ticked, not at Danae but the bartender. What did she mean she thought it was for him? 

“I don’t feel good,” she cried. “I haven’t been this sick since I was pregnant with Emm. Wait, am I pregnant, Andy?” 

He sighed. Wishful thinking. “No, baby, you’re just a little drunk but it wasn’t your fault.” He helped her to her feet, but she looked like she would collapse if he let her go. So he lifted her and carried her into the bedroom.

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“Why is the room spinning?” she asked as he laid her into bed.

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“Baby,” he kissed her head, “I’m so sorry. This is my fault.” 

“This is weird,” she laughed. “You’re usually the drunk one…” her voice trailed off as sleep took her. He couldn’t even wiggle her clothes from her. He changed into his favorite flannel pants and laid down beside her, not sure how much, if any, he would sleep. 

“I’m so sorry, my precious Danae,” he whispered into her ear and wrapped around her. “Tomorrow will be better. I promise.”

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Eight, Part Two. Generation Five


Pose Credits:

Poses By Bee:  I’m Dizzy, Getting Sick, Couple’s Poses, Adult Emotions, Engagement Portraits, Meeting At The Bar.
Spladoum: Mine, Embrace
Nay101: Marry Me
Lenina90: Telephone Calls

 Assorted CC from TSR, Around The Sims 3 and MTS.

As always, I take zero credit for any poses/custom content featured in this chapter. A fond “thank you” to the dedicated artists for their hours of love and hard work. 

G5 Chapter Twenty Seven – Trouble For Andy

What a difference a day makes, Andy thought as he drove home from work. Though he was looking forward to introducing Eamon and Elyse to the whelp, the meeting would be bittersweet. And he absolutely could not believe the change in Danae. Last evening, she feared it to the point of almost making herself sick. Today, she didn’t want to give it up. He was the one who wanted to keep the whelp, and he would be the one ripping it away from the family who wanted it. The irony was not lost on him. Life really sucked sometimes.

He parked in the driveway, unsure of the whelp’s whereabouts, and got out of his car. Andy wasn’t sure he was prepared for the storm that loomed. Eamon’s questions the night before tore him up. He opened the back door and Danae ran to him from the kitchen, tears in her eyes.

“Andy! You’re not really taking the whelp away tomorrow! Please tell me it’s not true!” Danae cried.

“I’m sorry, honey. The plans have been set in motion. At this time tomorrow, he’ll be on a flight back to Dragon Valley with Nigel.” Andy sighed deeply. He wished she could have had this revelation a day sooner.

“Daddy!” Eamon greeted him as he came from the bedroom, a piece of the broken eggshell in his hands. “I want to see Icky.” 

“What’s an icky?” Andy replied, confused. 

“The dragon baby, Daddy!” Eamon said, exasperated. “How could you not know his name? Duh!”

“Oh. OH…” This wasn’t good. It has a name? “I’ll get changed and take you and Lysie out to see him.” 

He walked to Danae and whispered to her. “Did you name it?” 

She shook her head. “Eamon named it Icky because of the stinky mess it left in the shell. It was pretty disgusting.”

Andy walked to their bedroom and closed the door. First things first, he thought. When he was done in the bathroom, he washed his hands and got undressed. He slipped into his flannel pants and put a sleeveless shirt on top. After strapping a pair of sandals on his feet, he was ready to take the kids to see ‘Icky.’

Eamon and Elyse were at the ready, waiting by the back door patiently for him to take them to the garage. “Come on, kiddos,” he called them and opened the door. Like little ducklings in a row, they followed him and Andy stopped before he unlocked the garage.

“I want you to know how to handle Icky before you see him, okay? He’s just a baby so you need to be careful. Don’t get near his face, and move slowly so you don’t surprise him. Do you understand?” 

Both nodded and squealed with excitement. Andy opened the door and whistled, and the whelp flew right to his arm. “Oh wow!” Eamon exclaimed. “This is awesome! Can I pet him?” 

Andy nodded. “Be careful, and don’t get near his head. Let him come to you.” 

Eamon held his hand for Icky to sniff, and he nuzzled his head into Eamon’s hand. He was surprised at how Icky felt. He was cool to the touch with soft scales on his head. “Daddy, I want to keep him!” he cried.

“We can’t, Eamon. Someone is coming to get him tomorrow.” His quiet weeping broke Andy’s heart. 

Elyse watched from a safe distance, nervous. “Lysie, do you want to pet him?” Andy asked her.

She shook her head but her gaze never left the small creature. She watched every move Icky made. 

“This is your only chance, sweet pea. If you want to pet him, this is it.” He walked toward her with the whelp on his arm, and she backed away. “Lysie, it won’t hurt you. Hold out your hand for him to sniff.”

She held her hand as Andy directed, and nearly screamed when Icky got close to her. But when he licked her fingers, she giggled. “That was cool!” she squealed with obvious delight. 

“See? He doesn’t want to hurt you. Just be gentle.” Andy encouraged her as she reached to pet him again. 

“He feels funny!” she laughed. “Icky, you’re so cute!” she chirped. “Can I feed him?” 

“You and Eamon can both feed him.” Andy had a banana in the waistband of his pants, and he snorted when he reached for it. Yes, he had a banana in his pants. It struck him as funny, and he started to laugh.

“What’s so funny, Daddy?” Elyse asked him. 

He cleared his throat and stopped laughing. “It’s nothing, honey.” He peeled the banana and gave half to each of them. “Break it into little pieces and hold it in the palm of your hand, so he can take it.” 

The kids did as Andy instructed them, and they giggled as Icky ate the banana pieces from their hands. They were absolutely mesmerized by him, and he by them. 

Suddenly, Icky jumped into the air and flapped his wings, hovering in place. Magically an uncut gemstone appeared at Andy’s feet. Afterward, he resumed his position on Andy’s shoulder and nuzzled into his neck.

“That’s a nifty little trick you have there, Icky,” Andy laughed. “Eamon, since you don’t get to keep the egg and Icky, that gemstone is yours.” 

“No thanks, Daddy,” he said sadly. “I want to keep Icky.” 

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Andy knelt down to Eamon’s height. “I wish we could, believe me. But he’s going back home with people who can take care of him the right way. He won’t survive down here without proper care, and he’s a pretty big deal. Besides, Eamon, he won’t stay little forever. He’s going to grow into a big dragon, almost the size of this house.” Andy dried his tears. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll get Mama to take some pictures of Icky tonight, and you’ll always be able to see him when you want.” It wasn’t perfect, but it was all he could offer in the circumstances.

Eamon began to cry. “I want Icky, Daddy.” Oh, how he hated this.

“I know, sport, but we can’t.” Andy hugged him again and dried his tears.

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“I hate you!” Eamon screamed at him and ran from the garage. Elyse followed, saying nothing to Andy as she ran away. He sat back on his heels and buried his face in his hands, heartbroken.

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He settled Icky into his makeshift bed for the night and left some banana chunks on the floor for him to nibble on, turned and closed the garage door for the night. Andy fought back tears as he walked from the yard to the house. When he opened the door, he heard the cries of two sorrowful children who desperately wanted that little dragon. Danae and Trixie were both helping to calm them down. Andy walked to the bedroom and flopped on the bed, defeated.

An hour later, the crying and whining was finished. Danae crept into the bedroom, at a loss with the kids, and fighting tears. She didn’t want the whelp to go anywhere, either. Seeing Andy on the bed asleep, she tiptoed around the room to keep quiet. When she got into bed beside him, she rolled over to kiss him. 

“Goodnight, my Andy,” she whispered. When she touched him, she felt his shoulders heave. “What’s wrong?”

“Eamon… Lysie… they both despise me,” he sniffled. 

“No they don’t,” she reassured him. “They’re just upset about the dragon. They’ll get over it.” 

“Eamon gave me the most hateful look I’ve ever seen on a child. I will never forget it.” 

Danae got out from under the covers and wrapped around him. “Babe, he’s just a little boy. He doesn’t really know what he’s saying.” 

Andy shook his head. “Yes, he does. That look, Danae, it broke my heart. I love that child, my firstborn son, and he hates me.” 

“What did he do when you said I didn’t want Icky here?” 

“You want him here, baby.” 

“But I didn’t at first. You must have said something to him. He was inconsolable.” 

“I didn’t tell him, Danae. I took this burden. It’s all on me.” He sighed. 

“Why did you do that?” 

“Because it’s my fault that Icky is going away. Because I’m the one who arranged it. Because I remembered how it broke you when Elyse hated you. I couldn’t let you endure that again.” 

“Oh Andy, you should have told them it was me.” She snuggled close to him. “You shouldn’t suffer this alone.” 

“What purpose would that serve? Getting them angry with both of us? No, let it fall on me. I’ll get over it.” 

“You don’t have to play the martyr, Andy. Let me tell Eamon I didn’t want Icky here.” 

“Danae, if you do that, I’m cutting you off for a month.”

She laughed. “You couldn’t go that long.” 

“Don’t try me, Danae. I went years before I met you. A month is nothing.” 

She read his expression. “My goodness, Andy. You’re not joking.”

“I never joke about loving you. But you don’t want to try me on this, because I am dead serious.”

She was tempted to play with him because she didn’t want him to be the sole target of the kids’ wrath. At the same time, she couldn’t chance it, either. “If you really mean it, I will leave it alone.” 

“You know, at first I wanted to keep him. But he’s brought nothing but heartache to our family. Look what has happened. You and I have been at each other’s throats. The kids resent me. For what? A flying rat. You were right, Danae.”

“Oh Andy,” she sighed. “I’m sorry for my role in this mess. I knew how excited you were and I was awful. Tomorrow he’ll be gone and it’s my fault. But you… you let the children believe it was all you. I don’t deserve you, Andy, not one bit.” She kissed his shoulder again, hot tears dripped onto his shirt. 

“Baby, there’s no reason to cry. Once it’s out of our lives, we can pretend it never happened.” 

“You know there’s no going back. Icky will be a fond memory for all of us.” 

“Not for me,” he said sadly. “Icky has brought me nothing but grief. I can’t wait until he’s gone.” 

Danae felt guilty. “What can I do to make this better for you, Andy? Tell me, and I’ll do it.” 

He shook his head. “There isn’t anything. I don’t want you to feel this, to suffer it, because it feels awful.” He turned to face her. “Tomorrow morning, I will meet with Nigel and hand Icky over to him. I was assured he won’t be harmed. It was my condition, that they don’t harm him. I just wish the kids could understand what he truly means, but they’re too young to grasp it. They’re too far removed from the Valley to know.” 

“Why don’t we take the kids to Dragon Valley someday, when they’re old enough to appreciate it? You can take them to the science facility and show them where Icky lives. Maybe the Renaissance Faire will be in town. They’d love it there, Andy.” 

“That’s a few years down the road, baby. That does nothing to calm the hurt of right now. It might actually open old wounds that are long healed if we do go. I don’t see an upside to it.” 

She sighed. “Maybe you’re right. Now I understand why Daddy was so critical of the Valley. He said it sucked the life out of people.”

Andy nodded. “I get that. I never saw it until we brought that egg home, and now I see the destruction.”

She sniffled. “This is all my fault, babe. I’m so sorry.”

“I will get over it, Danae. I’m an adult. I won’t treat the kids any differently than I always have. I will still love them unconditionally. I will still do fun things with them as long as they want to.” He sighed deeply. “I just want this to be over, and for life to return to normal.”

“Me too,” Danae agreed. “Andy, I love you.” 

“I love you too, precious. But I’m too sad for time together. Please forgive me.” 

“What if I just snuggle with you?”

“Now that I’d love, honey.” 

They both snuggled under the covers together, holding one another until sleep overtook them.


When Andy awakened the next morning and shuffled to the kitchen for his morning coffee, there was no happy greeting from the children. Eamon refused to look at him, and Elyse never acknowledged that he was there. He prepared his coffee and sat in front of the television, checking scores from the previous evening’s games. The next evening, he would leave for an away game in Moonlight Falls, but his heart wasn’t in it.

Danae was unusually quiet that morning, but tended to the kids before school. It was almost time for the bus, and she had their lunches packed and backpacks ready for them. 

“Come on kids, kiss your daddy before you leave,” she told them. But Eamon walked right past Andy. Elyse walked to him and gave him a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, but no words were exchanged. 

“Have a good day at school, guys,” Andy said to them, but it went unanswered. He sighed deeply and got up from the sofa. “I need to shower before work, Nae. You know where I’ll be.” 

Danae wasn’t happy. On their way to the gate, she spun Eamon around and scowled at him. “Why are you mad at Daddy, Eamon?”

One word left his lips. “Icky.” 

“We’re going to have a little talk about this when you two get home from school today. Do you understand me?” Danae was firm. 

“Yes, Mama,” Eamon sighed. 

“Lysie?” Danae said.

“Yes, Mama,” she replied. 

She hugged them both and gave them kisses. “You two have no reason to be sad. I love you both. Have a good day.” She watched as they boarded the school bus, and the driver waved. 

Andy was already dressed and ready for work when she went back inside. He was at the mirror in the bathroom adjusting his tie when she walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around him.

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“I’m going to make this right with the kids, Andy. You will not leave on a trip with them angry at you. I promise.” She kissed his shoulder, and he rested his hands on the vanity.

“Remember my promise, Danae. A whole month. I mean it.” 

“I won’t give your secret away. But this has to stop.” 

“Leave it, Danae. They will outgrow it. And if they don’t, I’ll learn to deal with it.” He turned around in her arms and kissed her fingers. 

“But babe, I have to fix this. It’s my fault.”

“Danae, please drop it. I need to take Icky to work. Do you want to say goodbye?” 

She nodded. “I do.” 

He took her hand and together they walked to the garage, where Icky waited for his breakfast and a cuddle or two. Andy whistled and he flew up to his shoulder and snuggled against his neck. Danae choked up with tears. 

“He really loves you, Andy.” 

“He’s imprinted on me. It isn’t really love in the traditional sense. He thinks I’m his mother.” He peeled the banana he carried in his hand, broke it into pieces and fed it to him. “Here,” he handed Danae the last little piece. “You feed him this. Just hold it in your palm, and he’ll take it from you.” 

She placed the last morsel of food in her hand, and Icky jumped to her shoulder. Gently, he took the banana from her and licked her face. “He really is friendly. You weren’t joking when you said he was.” 

“I have to go, baby.” He held his arm for Icky to perch on, and the whelp jumped to him. Andy kissed her. “I love you, my precious. Don’t be too hard on the kids. They’re just being kids.” 

She wiped a tear from her eyes. “I love you, Andy. And I’m so sorry about all of this.” She patted Icky on the head one last time and he cooed at her, making the same funny noise. 

“I’ll see you tonight, my sweet.” He settled Icky into the back of his car and pulled out of the driveway, through the gate and waved as he drove away.

*****

When Andy got to work, Aaron and Kirby were waiting for him outside his office. 

“What?” Andy asked, suddenly nervous.

“Nothing. We just wanted to see the whelp one last time before Nigel brings him back to Dragon Valley,” Kirby said. 

Andy was visibly relieved. “The kids named him Icky. Which reminds me, they both hate me now. I wish Danae would have decided she liked him before I called Nigel yesterday morning because now she wants to keep him, too.” 

Aaron chuckled. “Icky, eh? Where did they get that name?” 

“I guess the shell it hatched from stunk up his room, so Eamon named it Icky. Danae said it was pretty disgusting.” 

“When is Nigel due?” Kirby asked.

“Anytime, I guess. I am assuming he’s on schedule since I haven’t heard otherwise.”

Aaron patted Icky one last time and started walking toward his office. “I have much to do before practice tonight, so please excuse me. It was nice to meet you, Icky.” 

“See ya later, Aaron,” Andy called as he left. 

“Come get me when Nigel arrives,” Kirby said. “I’ll be in my office.” Andy nodded.

He got the whelp settled onto his shoulder and went about his business, preparing for the trip to Moonlight Falls when a knock sounded on his door. 

“Come in,” he called.

“Mr. Murphy?” Nigel asked. 

“Yes. You must be Nigel.” He resembled everyone else from Dragon Valley: Dark-skinned, black-haired, short and pudgy. “I’m Andy, and this is Icky.”

Nigel stared at the whelp sitting on Andy’s shoulder. “He is magnificent.”

“My children fell in love with him last night. My son named him Icky. Telling that little boy I was taking his baby dragon away was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.” The memory of it grieved him.

“You’re doing the right thing by him, Andy. The facility is equipped to care for him properly.”

Andy nodded. “He is very fond of bananas. Take good care of him, Nigel. My entire family is angry with me for arranging this. Please make it worth my sacrifice.” 

“Your whelp is in good hands, Andy.”

“I’ll take you to meet with Kirby. He is awaiting your arrival.” Andy set Icky on his desk and led Nigel down the long corridor to Kirby’s office. He gently rapped on the door.

“Come in,” he called.

“Hey Kirby,” Andy said. “This is Nigel from Dragon Valley. Nigel, your benefactor, my boss, and owner of the Isla Paradiso Sharks, Kirby Kemp.” 

“I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Kemp, and so very thankful for this opportunity. The historical significance of this is profound, and we are grateful.” 

“It was my pleasure. Andy and his sweet family are special to me. It was no problem at all.” Kirby stood to shake his hand. “I trust your flight was comfortable?” 

“Extremely, Mr. Kemp. I’ve never flown on a private jet before. It was exquisite.” 

“Well, let’s get ol’ Icky ready for his trip home. I have a carrier for him, which you can keep.” Andy turned to Kirby. “Thank you again for this. It means so much to me to know he will be safe, and that he will survive.” 

“You know how I feel, Andy. By the way, I’ll need you to stop by around 1:00 pm if that’s okay?” Andy nodded and shook Kirby’s hand and led Nigel back to his office.

“Come on, Ick,” Andy said, holding his arm for him to perch upon. “Time to go home.” Andy had placed towels inside the carrier he had in the box back at the house. The scent would be familiar and would help reduce stress he‘d likely suffer on the trip. Gently, he placed Icky into the carrier and secured the door. “I’ll carry him to the limousine, Nigel.”

The two men walked outside, and Andy placed the carrier in the back seat. “Let me know when you get him settled. As hard as I tried to avoid it, I got attached to him. I care about his well being, and I appreciate what you’re doing.” 

“I will keep you updated, Andy. Thank you again for allowing my archaeological foundation this opportunity. He will provide much knowledge, much understanding, in the event the other eggs begin to hatch. The villagers of Dragon Valley are forever in your debt.” 

Andy simply nodded, choked with emotion. He shook Nigel’s hand and watched as they drove away.

*****

At the one o’clock meeting with Kirby, he surprised Andy with a brand new car as a congratulatory bonus. The team clinched another division title and was heading into the playoffs. The car was a cherry red, fully equipped Aston Martin Vanquish, and it was as beautiful a piece of machinery as Andy had ever seen. He nearly passed out when Kirby handed him the keys. 

“Kirby, I-I don’t know what to say,” Andy stuttered. “This must have cost a bundle.” 

“Well, revenue on the team has exceeded over ten times what it was before you came on board and worked your management magic. This was the least I could do. Enjoy it, Andy. You deserve it.” 

“Thank you, Kirby.” He removed the keys for the old car from his keychain and left them on Kirby’s desk. 

His drive from work was lonely, knowing what awaited him when he got home. Danae was helping Eamon with his homework when his car pulled into the driveway. She hadn’t talked to them yet, though she knew she needed to do it, and soon. Andy walked through the front door not expecting a warm welcome, and he was not disappointed. 

“Hi baby,” he greeted Danae and walked into the bedroom. He reappeared several minutes later in his swimsuit. “I’m going to go for a swim. I need to decompress, and I don’t feel like running.” 

“Okay, Andy,” she said. 

Danae saw the conflict on Elyse’s face. On the one hand, she really wanted to swim with her dad. On the other hand, she was still angry with him for taking Icky away. 

“What’s on your mind, Lysie?” Danae asked her.

She shook her head. “Nothing, Mama.” 

“Okay you two, I need your attention. Eamon, pencil down, please.” She sat both of them down in front of her. “I need to know something from you two.” She thought about how she was going to ask and chose her words carefully. “Do you love your daddy, Eamon?”

Eamon squirmed in his seat, not wanting to answer the question. Instead of words, he mumbled, trying to stall her, hoping to not answer. 

“I didn’t hear you, Eamon. Do you love your daddy, because I can tell you that man outside in the pool loves you with his whole heart and soul, little boy.” 

Eamon sniffled. “I’m mad at him, Mama.” 

“Why did you say you hate him? You broke his heart.” Danae noticed Elyse wipe a tear away and heard her sniffle.

“He took my dragon away from me, Mama.”

“I see. So you loved Icky?” 

“Yes,” he said sadly. “I didn’t want him to take Icky.” 

“Do you love Icky more than your Daddy, Eamon?” 

“No, Mama.” 

“I see. So, do you think you could forgive your daddy, honey?”

Eamon nodded his head. “I still want Icky back.” 

Danae embraced him. “Sweetie, I know you don’t understand why Icky had to go away, but someday you will. Daddy loved Icky, too, and he wanted what was best for him, even if it meant giving him up.”

“Why couldn’t Daddy take care of him?” Eamon’s soft cries tore at her heart.

“Honey, Icky is a dragon, and this isn’t his home. He needs care we can’t give him here. Icky is the only living dragon in the whole world, Eamon. He is a pretty important little dude.”

Elyse spoke up. “Really, Mama? He’s the only one?” 

“Really, sweet pea. Everyone thought dragons died out years ago and would never come back. So when Icky hatched, he made history. You and Eamon are part of history, just like Daddy is, too.”

“That’s cool, Mama,” Elyse said.

“Did you take pictures of Icky last night, Mama? Daddy said you would,” Eamon asked. This was the first Danae had heard it.

“Oh honey, Daddy never told me you wanted pictures of him.” As soon as she said it, she wished she hadn’t. 

Eamon sat and his face contorted, ready to cry. “He lied to me.” 

“Oh no, Eamon, this is my fault! Sweetie pie, I should have known to take pictures of him without you even asking. I’m so sorry.”  She threw Andy under the bus and didn’t think twice about it. Not only did she feel like a terrible mother, but now she felt like the world’s worst wife, too. 

Eamon’s sobs echoed through the house. “Daddy lied to me!” 

“No no, sweetie, he didn’t lie to you.” She hugged Eamon into her embrace. “Oh Eamon, I’m so sorry I messed this up for you.” Danae got emotional with their son sobbing in her arms. Elyse didn’t know what to think, because her father had never lied before. She didn’t want to believe it.

“Lysie, sweet pea, why don’t you go swimming with your dad? I know you want to,” Danae suggested as she rocked Eamon in her arms. 

She thought a moment, but shook her head. “I don’t feel like it.”

“Then go play for a while, Lysie. I’ll talk to you later.”

Elyse sighed, not really wanting to leave her brother. They were in this together, unified with the same desire. But she realized Icky was gone forever, and her daddy was to blame. To a seven-year-old, it was almost unforgivable. 

“Do I have to, Mama?”

“Please, sweet pea, like a good girl.”

“Okay,” she finally agreed. 

With Elyse occupied, she could concentrate on Eamon. And she was nearly ready to confess everything to him, consequences be damned. The guilt of what she had done to Andy and the kids was almost unbearable. 

Just as she was about to confess, Andy walked through the back door. 

“I need to go pack for my trip tomorrow night. I leave from work, so morning is it,” he announced. Danae looked at him, wearing so much guilt on her face she couldn’t hide it. “One month, Danae. Keep it close,” he reminded her.

Eamon was still sobbing in her arms, and she wept with him, ashamed of herself. 

Trixie returned from the library and heard the crying. In her bag, she had a book she hoped might solve the problem with Icky. She approached Danae and touched her shoulder. 

“Nae, you look like you could use a break. Why don’t you and Andy go for dinner somewhere tonight, and I’ll take the kids.”

“Are you sure, Trix? The kids’ emotions are running high. It won’t be easy with Eamon crying and carrying on like this.” 

“I’m sure. Go, rest together and have some fun before his trip. We’ll be fine here. I promise.” 

Danae hugged Trixie and thanked her before she walked back to their bedroom to clean up.  “Trixie offered to take the kids tonight so we could be together,” she announced before she sat down on the bed.

 “Did you spill the beans?” He asked quietly.

She shook her head. “No, but I made it worse.”

“How could it possibly get worse?”

“Eamon asked me if I took pictures of Icky last night, and I threw you under the bus. It was a mistake, I swear! As soon as I said it, I knew I flubbed it.”

“It’s okay, Danae. You know, I’m not supposed to be their friend. I’m their father, and sometimes I have to make difficult decisions. Let it fall on me. But I decided I will not force my love on them. If they don’t want to be around me, I will comply. Maybe they will miss me on their own and come around.”

Danae wept bitterly. “Babe, I’m so sorry. This is so unfair to you. It’s killing me.” 

“Let’s just go out for dinner since Trix has the kids and simply relax, forget about the whelp, and plan for the future. Let’s enjoy each other before I have to go away, honey. I need some time to unwind.” 

Danae washed her face. “Where are we going?”

“That depends. Where would you like to go? Kirby’s, or that little Spanish place by the resort?” 

“I don’t deserve to go to Kirby’s place, babe.”

Andy sat on the bed and pulled her to him.

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“Danae, listen to me. This is not your fault. I could have defied you and kept Icky here, despite what you wanted. Realistically, he wasn’t going to stay a baby forever. Those dragons get huge, bigger than this house. What would we do with him then? It was much better this way. If the kids can’t deal with it, that’s not on you, my sweet.”

“But—”

“No buts, baby. Get dressed up all pretty in something that will knock my socks off, and we’ll go to Kirby’s tonight. And then when we come home, we’ll spend the night loving each other before I have to go away. Plan?” 

Danae smiled. “Plan.”

She put her hair up in a different style, dressed in a pretty peach and red ombre dress, slipped into some pumps that matched, and the pearl necklace Andy bought for her at El Sabor de la Isla. Andy dressed in a pair of tan dress slacks, a tan vest with a tie and boots. They both looked like a million dollars, and Trixie noticed. 

“Danae, that dress is gorgeous. And Andy, you look like a movie star.” 

“Thank you, Trix. And thank you for taking care of the kids for us tonight,” Danae replied. 

“As always, my pleasure.” She motioned Andy to her and whispered. “Andy, I found an old book at the library today about the Dragon Valley dragons. I don’t know how much is lore or truth, but I thought it might be helpful with the Icky situation. Would it be okay with you for me to read it with them?”

“It couldn’t make things worse, Trix. You have my blessing. And thank you.” Andy forced a smile. “Are you ready, my precious?

Danae nodded. “We shouldn’t be very long, Trix. A few hours or so.”

“Take your time. You deserve it.” 

They walked to Andy’s brand new car, and he opened the door for her, helped her in, and walked around to the other side. She settled into the soft leather seat and fastened the belt around her. 

“How do you like the car, baby?” 

“It’s beautiful. When did you get this?” 

“Kirby surprised me with it earlier today and spared no expense with it. He said it was a bonus for the team’s success. It’s an Aston Martin.” 

“I love it, Andy. Congratulations!”

He drove the familiar streets to Kirby’s place and valet parked the car. Together, they walked in, and the Maitre D’ recognized him immediately. 

“Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, such a pleasure to see you. This way, please.” Andy had a permanent reservation, an exclusive table only for Danae and him. 

They were seated immediately. Andy held the chair for her as she sat, and he took his place at her right side. Though he had seen her dress before, he was still amazed by her. 

“Danae, how is it you get more beautiful every time I see you?” 

“Oh Andy, you’re just being nice.” She blushed as he took her hand to kiss it. 

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“Baby, I am never dishonest with you. So believe me when I say I love you more now than I did when I married you.”

“How can you say that Andy, when I have messed everything up?” 

“Nae, Icky could have never stayed as long as we wanted him to stay. He will grow into a big dragon. Even though he is friendly now, who knows what he would be like when he’s the size of a car? Or our house? And what would we feed him when he’s that big? Trixie found a book on the dragons, and she asked my permission to read it to them. I told her it couldn’t hurt. Maybe this will help them realize what Icky really is.” 

“I hope the book helps, and the kids realize the truth,” Danae replied.

“Me too, my sweet.” He stared into her eyes. “Oh Danae, I almost don’t want to stick around for dinner.”

“I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. We will have plenty of time.” 

Andy nodded. “As you wish, my precious.” 

After they ordered, he stood and took her hand. “Dance with me?” 

“I’d love to,” she answered. Since the remodel of the restaurant, there wasn’t as much room to dance, so they just stayed by their table and swayed to the music. 

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“You are the picture of perfection, my love,” Andy purred at her as they took their seats again. “I love how you still wear that pearl necklace. I should get you one with a big diamond on it.”

She shook her head. “No, Andy. I love this necklace. You gave it to me while we were on vacation here.”

He breathed in her vanilla perfume. “You are still my hopeless romantic.” 

“I try. Sometimes I fail miserably, but I try.” 

“When I get home from Moonlight Falls, let’s see if we can find a puppy for the kids. I know it’s not Icky, but maybe it would help a little.” 

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“Babe, it’s a great idea, and you should be the one to bring it home.” 

“I wonder how Trixie is doing with the kids and the book,” Andy said as the waiter brought their meals. 

*****

Back at the house…

Trixie was finished feeding the kids and put Emmitt to bed. She gathered the oldest two and sat them down. 

“I have a special book I’d like to read with you about dragons like Icky. Would you like to hear about them?”

Eamon’s eyes widened. “Yes please!” he said excitedly.

“How about you, Lysie?” Trixie asked.

“Yes please!” she squealed. 

Trixie sat with them and read to them. They listened with great interest until she got to a section that explained that dragons of all colors had great potential to be dangerous. 

“Even green dragons, Trixie?” Eamon asked timidly.

“That’s what it says, twerp,” she nodded. She tousled his hair. 

“What does it say they can do?” 

“Well, all dragons need to eat. And this says they eat animals like cows, sheep, cats, dogs, even horses. I’d imagine they could eat people, too if they got hungry enough.” She patted his head. “You have to remember, sweetie pie, dragons are wild animals. According to this book, no one has ever tamed one.” Trixie noticed the tears in his eyes as she spoke. “It looks like your daddy did the right thing, huh?”

Elyse sniffled. “I need to tell Daddy I’m sorry.” 

Eamon nodded. “Me too.” 

Trixie hugged them both. “That is a great idea, and I know for a fact he would love that.” She looked at her watch. “However, you two have school in the morning, and you need to get to bed. I’ll have him come tuck you in when he and your mama get home. Okay?” 

Both children nodded. “Thank you for reading that book to us,” Eamon said. “I don’t want a pet dragon anymore.” 

Trixie chuckled. “Me neither, twerp.” She kissed both of them and tucked them in. 

*****

Danae and Andy returned home about an hour after the kids went to sleep, and quietly stepped into the house. Trixie was awake and downstairs watching television, and she was genuinely happy to see them.

“I have some good news for you, Andy,” she said. “The kids understand about the dragons, and they told me they are ready to apologize.” 

“Trixie, I could kiss you,” he replied, relief in his voice. 

“I told them you would tuck them in when you got home. They both wanted to see you.” 

Danae kissed his cheek. “I’m going to get ready for bed. Don’t be too long, babe.” 

Andy walked to Eamon’s bedroom and watched him sleep for a moment before kissing his forehead. His eyes opened and he smiled when he saw Andy standing there.

“Hi Daddy!” he whispered. “I’m sorry I said I hate you. I don’t want Icky to eat us.” 

Andy chuckled and knelt beside his bed. “It’s okay, son. Icky is a long way from here now, and we’re safe. Eamon, I love you very much.” 

Eamon smiled. “I love you, Daddy. I’ll miss you when you go away tomorrow.” 

“I will definitely miss you, too.” He kissed the boy’s cheek. “Let me tuck you in, snug as a bug in a rug!” 

Eamon wrapped his arms around Andy’s neck. “Goodnight, Daddy.” 

“Goodnight, Eamon. I’ll see you in the morning.” Andy blew him one more kiss and left his bedroom. 

He tiptoed into Elyse’s room and watched her sleep. He loved that little girl more than could comprehend like he did his boys. But Elyse was his baby girl, his firstborn, and they had a special bond. He walked to her bed and knelt beside it, and kissed her forehead. 

“Hi Daddy,” she smiled when she saw him. “I have something I want to tell you.” 

“What’s that, sweet pea?” 

“I’m sorry. I will never love Icky as much as I love you. Do you love me, Daddy?” 

“Oh sweetheart, of course, I love you. You kids are my life.” He hugged her close, tears in his eyes. “You will always be my special little girl, Lysie. Never forget it.” 

“Tuck me in?” she asked. 

“As you wish, my little princess.” He kissed her forehead again. “I’ll see you in the morning. Sweet dreams, Lysie.” 

“Night night, Daddy.” 

Andy walked to their bedroom, happy for the first time since Icky made his first appearance in their lives. Danae was waiting for him. 

“You look happy, babe,” she purred at him. 

“I am,” he said, smiling ear to ear. “I have Trixie to thank for giving my children back to me.”

Danae gave him her best ‘come hither’ look. “I’m waiting for you, Andy. Come love me.” 

“You don’t have to ask me twice, baby. Make my sendoff memorable.” 

“Oh, you bet I will.”

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Eight Part One, Generation Five


Pose Credits For This Chapter:

Comfort Poses, Lost Children, Family Fight, First Day of School, Child Bully Poses, and Wedding Poses, by Bee at Poses By Bee and Mod The Sims.
Zutara2 – Broken by Skylar Arden at Skylar’s Sanctuary.
Kid’s Stuff by k2m1too at Mod The Sims.
Embrace, and Next To You by Spladoum at Mod The Sims.
Romantic Dinner 1 and Romantic Dinner 2 by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses.
Warm Hugs by Sea at Sims-Modeli

Featured CC:

Seafood Restaurant (Kirby’s place) by Aya20 at Mod The Sims

G5 Chapter Twenty Six – The Stowaway

“Babe, how much longer are you going to snooze your alarm? It’s almost nine.” Danae rolled over and tapped Andy on the shoulder. 

“Aw man,” he groaned. “I’m up.” He got right into the shower, almost an hour later than he wanted to be. It meant grabbing breakfast at the office, or on the way. 

“I’m sorry, Andy. I overslept, too. I’m glad Trixie is here.” She wrapped up in a robe and walked into the living room. Elyse was on the sofa with her blanket watching television. Emmitt was playing in her bedroom inside the toy box. Both children were fed and happy. 

“How are you feeling Lysie?” Danae asked her. She felt her forehead, and it was cool.

“I’m feeling better, Mama. Is Daddy still home?”

“Yes, sweet pea. He’s in the shower, but he’s running late. He will have time for a hug and a kiss, and he needs to go to work.” She poured a cup of coffee as Trixie walked into the house from the yard. 

“Hi Danae,” she greeted her. “How was your trip?” 

“Fantastic! Thanks for covering me this morning.” 

“You’re welcome. I assume Eamon was to go to school this morning, since you didn’t let me know otherwise?” 

“Yes, the principal issue is resolved. How long has Lysie’s fever been broken?” 

“Since Saturday. She probably could have gone to school today, but one more day won’t hurt. Besides, she really missed you.” Danae smiled. Elyse had come a long way from the days of ‘I hate you.’

Andy walked out of the bedroom, dressed to impress and ready for work. “I don’t even have time for coffee, my sweet. I have to run.” Elyse stood and wrapped herself around his waist. “Good morning, sweet pea,” he said as he patted her head. “Daddy’s late for work, honey.” He picked her up and hugged her. “I’ll see you when I get home, okay?”

Elyse nodded. “I can’t wait, Daddy.” 

“Me too, sweet pea.” He walked to Danae and kissed her. “I’ll see you tonight, baby. I love you.” 

“I love you too, Andy. Have a great day.” 

Trixie and Danae sat at the table with a cup of coffee. “You’re free to go if you’d like. And if not, you’re welcome to stay. We can talk about you moving in and working here today, if you are open to the idea. The pay will be worth your while.”

“I would love to,” Trixie quipped. “I’m here all the time anyway, so I might as well make it official, right?” 

“Exactly!” Danae replied. “Your room is already occupied, so just make yourself at home. You may come and go as you please, until we need you. I don’t anticipate it will be more often than we do now. The kids adore you, and so do Andy and I. Welcome to the family.” Danae hugged her. 

“I just need to let my roommate know I’ll be moving out. I never saw him anyway.” 

Danae choked on her coffee. “Him? Trix, are you in a relationship?” 

“Not really. Well, I am. He’s not.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m done with it.” 

“I’m sorry. Been there, done that,” Danae said with sympathy. 

Trixie laughed. “I can’t imagine you with anyone else but Andy. You’re made for each other.” 

She smiled. “Thanks, Trix. I can’t anymore, either. He and I have been together for so long now that I can’t remember life without him. Believe me, it wasn’t that good before him.” 

“That’s not what I hear,” Trixie countered. “Andy tells me you were on the path to stardom and fame.” 

Danae chuckled. “I have the fame now and wish I didn’t. I can’t let myself think about what could have been. I’m content right where I am.” 

“Contentment is good,” Trixie agreed. “So few people ever really find it. Seems no one is ever satisfied with their lives anymore. You’re refreshing, Nae.” 

“Aww! Thank you!” She stood and took her coffee cup to the kitchen. “Lysie, why don’t you rest, sweet pea? You’re technically home sick from school.” 

“But Mama,” she protested. “I feel okay.” 

“Maybe you didn’t hear me. Lysie, please go lay down awhile so I can get some housework done.” 

She was about to protest but thought the better of it. “Yes, ma’am,” Elyse said politely.

“If it’s okay with you, I’m going to head back to the apartment and grab some of my things,” Trixie said. “I shouldn’t be very long.” 

“Take your time,” Danae replied.

She had gotten most of the house cleaned and laundry started when Trixie returned from her apartment with a few bags of clothing and some personal things. 

“Well, it’s done. I’m done,” Trixie said, a little downhearted. “The sad thing is, he probably won’t notice I’m gone until the rent is due, or he wants something.” 

Danae looked at Trixie oddly. “Wants something?” 

She sighed. “Yes, the wonder of having a friend with benefits. That’s the only part I’ll miss.” 

Danae laughed. “I get that.” 

Elyse walked from her bedroom with Emmitt’s hand in hers. “Mama, we’re hungry.” 

Danae knelt down to their level. “What would you like for lunch, sweet peas?” 

“Grilled cheese, please?” Elyse asked politely. Emmitt nodded his agreement.

“Alrighty. Grilled cheese it is.” Danae began preparing lunch for the kids.

“I’m going to go get settled upstairs, Nae,” Trixie said. “I won’t be long, and if you need help with dinner, let me know.” Danae simply nodded.

*****

Andy returned home from work at his usual time and his family was happy to see him. Eamon and Elyse ran to him for hugs and kisses, and Emmitt squealed his delight. 

“Ooh, I missed you guys!” Andy said, his children wrapped around him. “We brought presents home for all of you from Dragon Valley. Did you know that’s where Daddy was born?” 

“Where is Dragon Valley?” Eamon asked. 

“It’s way north of here, about eight hours by airplane.” He opened a map on his phone and showed the kids where it was, and they marveled. 

“Wow, Daddy, that’s a long way!” Elyse remarked. “You were born there? That’s cool!” 

Andy looked at Danae. “Are we ready to give the kids their presents?” 

Danae nodded. “You are going to love this stuff.” 

Andy went to the bedroom and brought out the bags with the things they had for the kids while Danae gathered them together.

“Emmitt, this is for you, son,” Andy handed him a teddy bear they had gotten at the Renaissance Faire, and he squealed and hugged it to his face. 

“Fanks!” he took the bear by its arm and ran around the living room with it. Trixie, who was on her way down the stairs, chuckled to see him so excited. “Look!” Emmitt squealed, holding the bear for Trix to see it.

“How cute!” she told him. “What a nice bear.” 

Andy took a small package out for Elyse and held it to her. She carefully unwrapped it and found a music box with a unicorn inside it. Her eyes got huge as she wound it and watched the unicorn dance while the music played. 

“Daddy! This is awesome! Thank you!” She hopped up and kissed Andy’s cheek, and then ran to Danae. “Thank you, Mama!”

“You’re welcome, baby girl,” Danae hugged her. 

“Last but not least, Eamon,” Andy was beaming inside. “Son, I had so many of these when I was your age, so it’s only fitting you should have one, too.” Andy handed him the package that Danae had wrapped around the egg. He opened it and looked at it oddly.

“What is it, Daddy?” 

“It’s a dragon egg, sport. These things are all over the village, so I brought one home for you. It will be something none of your friends have.” 

His eyes got big when Andy said ‘dragon.’ “For reals, Daddy? A real dragon egg?” 

“Well, it’s a fossil. Whatever was inside is long gone. I used to collect them.”

“This is so cool, Daddy! Thank you!” Eamon hugged him. “Wow!”

“Do you like it?” Andy asked.

“I love it!” Eamon ran and put it on his dresser in the bedroom and sat watching it intently.

The kids dispersed, happy with their goodies and Danae returned to making dinner. Andy walked up behind her and kissed her neck. “I missed you today,” he purred into her ear.

“I missed you, too.” She reached up to his cheek and held his head near hers. He nuzzled into her neck. “You’re going to start something you’ll need to finish later,” she whispered to him.

“I can’t wait,” he whispered back. He kissed her ears and neck, and she sighed. 

“Stop, we have eyes watching us,” she chuckled, pointing at Elyse. “How are you feeling now, Lysie?”

“Okay.”

“Why don’t you go play with Eamon, sweet pea? Dinner is still an hour away.” 

“No, Mama, I’m okay here.” 

“I don’t think that was a suggestion, Lysie. Go play,” Andy told her. 

“Yes, sir,” she said almost sarcastically and went to Eamon’s bedroom.

“I’ll be outside at the pool if you need me,” Trixie said, not wanting to be a third wheel.

Danae nodded as she turned around in Andy’s embrace, and they kissed. “I can’t wait for dessert,” he growled. 

*****

After dinner, Andy, Danae, and Trixie sat by the pool sharing a glass of wine together. It would be their first night with her on the payroll, though she was more a friend than an employee. Andy swirled the wine in his glass and took a sip.

“Baby, this stuff is just the best,” he said. “Thank you for keeping it on hand for me. Nothing is more relaxing than sitting out here at the end of the day with you, my sweet.” 

“Always my pleasure. Do you like sweet or dry wine, Trix?” Danae asked.

“I tend to like wine a bit on the dry side. This is very good.” 

“The garden has a bunch of rare grapes, almost like our own vineyard. We should set up the nectar making machine my Nana brought home from France. We could make our own,” Danae suggested.

“That’s a great idea, my sweet,” Andy agreed. “The garden has plenty of fruits. I bet I could even recreate the semi-sweet one you like.” 

“I love that idea.” They took each other’s hands and sat, enjoying the evening. 

“Well, I’m going to go inside to bed.” Trixie felt like she was intruding into their private time. She knew they had a special night planned, and she didn’t want to impose. 

“You don’t need to go if you don’t want to, Trix. We don’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” Andy said.

“No, this is your house. You don’t need to tiptoe around me, or walk on eggshells.” Trixie got up. “Have a good night, you two.” 

Danae smiled. “Goodnight, Trix. You can sleep in tomorrow morning. I’ll get the kids up for school.” Trixie nodded and waved as she disappeared inside the house.

She wasted no time with Andy, moving to his lounge chair and snuggling with him. “When is the season over, babe?” she asked, kissing his chin.

“Regular season is over in a few weeks, then it’s playoffs. We’re on target for another cup, baby. Aaron is a genius.” 

She kissed him passionately. “So are you.” 

“Believe me, I’m not that smart.” 

“That’s not what I meant,” she purred. “Let’s go to bed.” 

Without another word, they both stood and walked to their bedroom and closed the door behind them.


Danae woke early to wake the kids for school. She walked to Eamon’s bedroom and woke him first. “Eamon, honey, time to get up for school,” she sang to him. His bright, happy smile warmed her heart. “Get into the shower before I wake Lysie so she doesn’t take all your hot water.” 

“Okay, Mama,” he said sleepily. She walked into the bathroom with him and got the water the correct temperature, and she left him to shower alone. 

Next, she walked to Elyse’s room. The music box was sitting on her nightstand, and it was opened as though she fell asleep listening to the music. “Lysie, sweet pea. Time to get up for school.” 

She rolled over and coughed, trying to sneak one more day off. “Good morning, Mama,” she said, and coughed again.

“You’re going to school, Lysie. You’re not sick anymore,” Danae said firmly. 

Elyse sighed. “Okay.”

She made French toast for breakfast and had just put the pan into the oven to cook when Eamon came out from the bathroom, showered and dressed for school. “There’s my big boy!” Danae praised him. “Would you like some fresh orange juice, sweetheart?” 

He nodded his head. “Yes please!”

“Lysie, do you want breakfast before your shower honey?” 

“No, I want to take a shower first,” she said, yawning.

“It’s all yours,” Danae told her. “I’ll keep breakfast hot for you, sweet pea.” 

Eamon sat at the counter with a glass of juice, waiting patiently for breakfast. Trixie walked down the steps earlier than Danae expected her.

“Good morning little twerp,” she greeted Eamon. He giggled at her nickname for him. “How’s your egg this morning?” 

“It’s awesome,” Eamon squealed. “I can’t wait to tell my friends about it.” Danae served him two slices of French toast and he dug in like he hadn’t eaten in days. “Thank you, Mama,” he said between bites.

“You’re welcome baby boy.” 

The bus came at 8:00 am, and Danae walked them both to the gate, gave them kisses and sent them on their way. She walked back inside and Trixie was wiping the counters down, cleaning up the breakfast mess. 

“You don’t have to do that, Trix. I’ll get it.” Danae loaded the dishwasher and started it. “I’m going to make beds and clean the bathrooms. Go relax. I’ve got this. But first, I need to wake Andy for work.” 

Trixie grabbed a cup of coffee and walked outside onto the patio to enjoy the morning air. She never expected she would find a job this cushy, a live-in nanny for one of the best known, richest families on the isle. On this morning, she sat and counted her blessings, every one of them had the last name ‘Murphy.’

About two hours later, after Emmitt had gone down for his morning nap, Danae was sitting in the living room watching television. Trixie had gone to the library. It felt good to get back into a routine with the kids and house, she thought as she relaxed on the sofa. She heard an odd noise coming from Eamon’s bedroom and she got up to investigate. When she got to the door, a green flurry of wings flew at her, and she shrieked. Her screech woke Emmitt, and she scooped him out of his crib and ran from the house, screaming and afraid.

Emmitt cried as she set him down on the patio and dialed Andy’s cell phone. 

“Hel—” 

“ANDY!” she screamed. “There’s something in the house!”

“Calm down, honey. What kind of something?” Andy asked. 

“I don’t know, but it flies! It scared me half to death. Please see if you can come home. It’s locked in the house!”

“Baby, call a pest guy or something. It’s probably a fruit bat.” 

“If it’s out in the daylight, isn’t it sick? Please, Andy, come home! I don’t want this thing in our house!”

Andy grumbled on the other end of the phone. “I’m on my way. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.  Just keep the door closed and stay outside.”

Out of sick curiosity, she opened the back door to listen and heard the creature flapping around, squawking and making a racket in the living room. Emmitt was playing in the sandbox when Andy pulled into the driveway.

Danae picked up Emmitt and ran to Andy’s side, trembling. 

“Where’s the bat? I have a net to see if I can trap it myself.” Andy walked toward the house bravely. 

“The living room,” she said with a quivering voice. “It’s been squawking since I closed it in.” 

Andy stopped in his tracks. “Squawking? Bats don’t squawk.” Cautiously he opened the living room door and his mouth fell open. On the floor sat a baby dragon, green in color, just as frightened as Danae. 

“What is it?” Danae asked, almost in tears.

“It’s… it’s a baby dragon.” Andy gently fell to his knees and approached it slowly. Cautiously, he held his arm out, and it flew to him, perching itself on his forearm. “I’ve never seen an egg hatch like that. How?”

“You said it was dead!” Danae cried. “Is it dangerous?”

“There are four different colors,” Andy explained. “Of the four, green whelps are the most docile by nature. This is phenomenal! These were supposed to be extinct decades ago.” 

“They can’t be that extinct, Andy, if this thing is here. What do we do with it?!”

“I’m not sure how to even care for it. Danae, do you know what this means for Dragon Valley?” 

She shook her head. “I’m not sure I want to know.” 

“The villagers could be in grave danger, especially if some of the eggs hatch red or black whelps. Tales of their destruction are legendary throughout the Valley.”

“Get it out of our house, Andy. We have kids! We can’t afford to take chances with a wild animal like this.” Danae held Emmitt to her, protecting him.

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The whelp rubbed against Andy’s face. “We can’t just set it free, Danae. It won’t survive. This is historic. Besides, I think it likes me.” 

“Please, babe, take it somewhere and let it die. We can’t have it in the house with Emmitt.” 

“Sweetie, this is history being made right in our own house. I won’t just kill it. But I will need to bring it back to Dragon Valley. It won’t survive here. It’s too warm.” 

Danae laughed nervously. “Good luck trying to get that thing through security on an airplane.” 

“I’ll get a carrier for a dog and bring it back that way. And while I’m there, I need to warn the village government. They don’t know what’s coming if these things start to hatch.” Andy could remember seeing at least ten different eggs scattered around the village. It could be the start of something terrible.

“When are you going? I don’t think Kirby will let you go back so soon, will he?” 

“I have some vacation time coming. I’ll just book the private jet so I don’t have to go through security. I will reimburse the team for my expenses. This can’t wait, baby. I have to go back with it.” 

“How long will you be gone?” 

“Just the day. For the time being, I’ll bring it to work with me and feed it. The green ones are pretty harmless, but it’s fragile. It needs to be cared for.” 

“Andy, that’s a long, expensive trip for this thing. Can we afford it?” 

“Let me do some research on it. Maybe it will survive down here. We can’t keep it, but I don’t want to see it die, either.” He petted the whelp and it snuggled against his face. “Yeah, it’s not going to die on my watch.” He kissed her. “I need to go back to work, sweetie. I’ll see you afterward.” 

“Be careful with that flying rat, Andy. I don’t trust it.” 

He laughed. “I love you, baby,” he said as he got into the car with the whelp and drove back to the stadium.

Trixie came back about an hour later with a few books, looking relaxed. “You missed out on some excitement while you were gone, Trix.”

“Oh? What happened?” 

“Andy brought that ‘fossilized’ dragon egg home from the Valley, the one he gave to Eamon. Well, the dang thing hatched! It was flying around the house like a kamikaze pilot, dive-bombing me. It scared the daylights out of me!”

“Dragon? You mean like a fire-breathing, flying reptile?” Trixie’s face went sheet white.

“Not exactly. It was actually kind of cute, but it’s still a wild animal. We can’t take any chances with Emmitt being so little. It took a liking to Andy.” 

Trixie snorted. “Everyone likes Andy, so that’s not a big surprise.” Danae laughed and agreed.

*****

The ride back to the office with the tiny green whelp was interesting. The little creature was extremely friendly and docile, almost as if it had imprinted on Andy. He was secretly hoping the little guy would survive the warm climate, and that Danae would allow him to keep it if it could live long enough. But he still had a problem. He had knowledge that could potentially save lives, and it would be careless to do nothing.

He walked to his office with the whelp perched on his shoulder. Aaron passed him in the hallway and did a double-take.

“Now I’ve seen everything,” he said, staring at the whelp.

“We had a stowaway from Dragon Valley, I guess. I brought home an egg I thought was dead. I had no reason to believe it would hatch. Aaron, I had dozens of these things when I was a kid. They were everywhere. Danae doesn’t want it at the house, so here it is with me.”

“Will it bite or burn my face off?” Aaron laughed. He reached to touch it and it licked his fingers.

“It shouldn’t do either. Green whelps are the meekest. Just don’t stick your fingers in its face on purpose. I need to find out some information on this thing. But I won’t just let it die. It doesn’t know it’s supposed to be extinct.” 

“Extinct? So much for that theory,” Aaron joked. “Good luck with your little friend.”

“Thanks, I might need it,” Andy replied. 

Andy sat at his desk and opened his web browser. Information on the dragons from Dragon Valley was scarce since they were long considered extinct. But a historian from the Valley had a website with limited data. The gentleman had a phone number, so Andy dialed it.

“Hello?” 

“Hello. My name is Andy Murphy, and I have some news on the Dragon Valley dragons that might interest you.”

“I’m listening,” the man said.

“My wife and I were in the Valley over the weekend and brought an egg back to Isla Paradiso with us. I am from Dragon Valley and had dozens of fossilized eggs when I was a kid. When we brought this one home, I expected it to just be a keepsake I gave to my son.” Andy took a breath. “But the egg hatched this morning and scared my wife half to death. Sir, I’ve never seen a living dragon until today. I believed, like everyone else, they were extinct.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a shuffling of papers and a slammed door. “You’re telling me you have a living whelpling?” 

“I am,” Andy confirmed. “A green one. My concern is the black and red whelps. I know what lore says about them, and I don’t want to see harm come to my hometown.” 

“This is disturbing,” the man said. “By the way, my name is Nigel. Where are you now, Andy?”

“I’m still in Isla Paradiso. I have the whelp in my office at work. I’m concerned with its survival and care. I don’t know what to even feed the thing, and I don’t want it to die. This is historical, and I recognize that.” 

“I have to see this creature,” Nigel said. “The green whelps aren’t dangerous and are omnivorous, so it will eat nearly anything small enough. Fruits, vegetables, small vermin. Very handy to have around a garden.” Andy heard some tapping on a computer keyboard. “Do you mind if I come to see it? Maybe bring it back with me? There is much to learn from it, and the science facility here is equipped to examine it.”

“You have to promise me that you won’t harm it. It’s rather fond of me, and I’m getting attached to it. I don’t want to see you kill it in the name of science.” Andy was adamant. 

“We won’t harm it, trust me. We want to see what we can learn from it, observe its behavior. Understand, Mr. Murphy, that this is the first living whelpling in over 70 years. We don’t even know what to expect with it.” 

“You’re welcome to come get it, but I can’t leave the island again. My job is such that I can’t leave on such a long trip. When can I expect you?”

“I’m going to speak with the CEO of SVP and see if there is interest in this. Maybe I can get a grant to come retrieve it. If not, it will be a while. Archaeology doesn’t generate much revenue, Mr. Murphy.”

Andy sighed. If Fiona McDonald had any say in it, Nigel would not be coming down anytime soon. “Will it survive in a tropical environment, or does it need the cold?” 

“They are cold-blooded animals, Mr. Murphy. It will thrive in the tropics. That is most likely the reason this one hatched. The eggs tend to be dormant under a certain temperature threshold. Is the number you called from a good number to reach you?”

“It is,” Andy confirmed. “Thank you for the information on it. I look forward to your call.” 

A half-hour later, a soft knock came at Andy’s office door. News of the whelp spread quickly and Kirby had to see it for himself.

“Where’s the critter?” he asked Andy, curious and slightly afraid.

“It’s on my shoulder, Kirby. It’s safe to come in.” 

Kirby cautiously entered and was amused to see it perched on Andy’s shoulder as if it was a bird. “It’s kinda cute, in its own way, I guess. Does it bite?”

“I hope not, or it will be spending its time in our garage,” Andy laughed. “I gave him part of my lunch, so he should be content. It likes me.”

Kirby laughed. “Andy, everyone likes you, except maybe your brother-in-law. But he’s a generally unlikeable guy.”

Andy rolled his eyes. “I spoke with someone in Dragon Valley who wants to come get it for research and observation. These things were supposed to be extinct decades ago. It’s quite historic, but there is a real danger in the Valley if other whelps begin to hatch. The red ones are particularly nasty.”

Kirby cringed. “What do the red ones do?” 

“I’ll just say they have a hot end. In the old lore, they had been known to destroy whole villages. Black ones don’t spit out fire, but they kill people with a disease, and it can spread quickly.” 

“You lucked out, getting a green one and not a red one. We don’t need the island to burn. I’m not sure if my insurance covers dragon fire. So, when is the guy coming to get it?” 

“I’m not sure. He’s looking to see if Fiona will gift a grant to his archaeological study to get it back to the Valley. Without the funding, it might be stuck here a while.” Andy reached to pet it, and it licked his face.

“Wow, it really does like you, Andy. How are you going to part with it?” Kirby smiled, almost tempted to pet it himself.

“I don’t know, Kirby. We’ve been wanting a pet for the kids. Who says it couldn’t be an endangered green dragon, right?” Andy chuckled.

“What does Danae think of it?” 

“Oh, she will be a hard sell, I think. The kids will love it once they realize it won’t hurt them, especially Eamon. He loved the egg before it hatched. He would adore it.”

“Well, I wish you luck with it. I bet my kids would love it, too. They’ve never heard of dragons before.”

“Most people outside the Valley have never heard of them, but villagers are keenly aware of their history. Most people nowadays believe it’s myth or just lore, though. I’m lucky to have found someone who knows a little something about them.” The creature snuggled up to Andy’s neck and fell asleep. 

“If you need a ride to bring it back, you’re welcome to take the jet. I know it’s a long trip, but it needs to be where it can be looked after. Just spring for the fuel, and it’s yours.” 

“Thank you, Kirby. That’s very generous of you.” 

“It obviously likes you. I’d hate to see something happen to it.” Kirby turned to leave. “Let me know.”

“Will do.” 

*****

At the end of the workday, Andy took his briefcase and with the whelp still nestled on his shoulder, walked to his car. “Danae is going to kill me,” he talked to the creature as though it could understand him. But the drive home was peaceful, and he parked in the garage. “Come on, little guy,” he told the whelp. “You need to stay in here for a while.” He took an empty box, placed a few dirty towels in it and set him down in the box. “I’ll be back to feed you.” 

He walked to the house feeling guilty he’d brought it back home, but he couldn’t leave it at the stadium, either. Danae ran to him as he entered the back door, and greeted him with a hug and a kiss.

“How was your day, my love?” she asked. Trixie was in her room, resting.

“Interesting,” he replied. “I found someone in the Valley who is interested in the d-r-a-g-o-n,” he spelled the word out, so the kids wouldn’t understand.

“Where is the flying rat?” she asked. “I hope you left it at work.” 

Andy’s guilty face gave him away. “It’s in the garage. Baby, it’s very friendly. It spent most of its day nestled up on my shoulder. The historian said it’s handy to have around a garden. It eats small vermin and fruits. I gave him a banana earlier, and he settled right down.” 

“Friendly? Andy, it’s a wild animal.” Danae shook her head. “Just keep in the garage until you can get rid of it.” 

“I took a few old, dirty towels and lined a box, so he’d have a comfy place to sleep. The green whelps are harmless. I’ll take you out to see it later.” 

Danae backed away from him, afraid. “No you won’t either.”

“Would I purposely put you in harm’s way, honey?” Andy asked. 

“No, but… Andy, it dive-bombed me earlier.”

“It was frightened. Who knows how long the egg had been dormant? The historian told me it likely hatched because it’s warm here. They are cold-blooded, so it will thrive down here.” 

“What if it hurts one of the kids, Andy? You don’t know what that thing is capable of doing.”

“I don’t think it would, Nae. I can teach them how to handle it—”

“It isn’t staying here. Period. You have to find something to do with it.” 

He felt himself starting to get angry. “Danae, you’re being unreasonable.”

“Am I? What if it bites one of the kids and makes them sick? How will they treat it? Nothing like this exists anywhere but in our home!” She shook her head. “Andy, it needs to go.” 

He took her by the wrist and pulled her. “You’re going to see it, Danae. You’ll see it’s nothing to fear.” She resisted, trying to pull against him, but he was so much stronger. 

“No!” she cried. “Andy, you’re hurting me!” With her wrist still in his grasp, he turned and picked her up over his shoulder, continuing to walk to the garage. “Stop!” she screamed, but he wasn’t listening. 

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He reached the door and put her down. Her fear overcame her, and for a moment, he regretted doing this to her. But she had to see for herself. She fell to the ground, crying. “Please, Andy, don’t make me do this,” she sobbed. 

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“Baby, I would never put you in a place where you would be harmed. Don’t you trust me?”

She shook her head. “Please…” Tears rolled down her cheeks. 

He opened the door to the garage and whistled. The whelp flew to him and settled on his arm.

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Danae tried to scream, but nothing came out. Her face was pale, all the blood had drained from it. Slowly, the whelp approached her, and as it got closer, it looked at her. It must have decided she was okay because it sniffed her. Danae was frozen in fright until it licked her. 

“See? It likes you, too. Baby, there is nothing to be afraid of. Hold your arm out, like this.” He held his arm out and the whelp jumped from his shoulder.

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The quick motion startled her, but she followed suit. Gingerly, the whelp stepped from Andy to Danae, and she stifled a scream. “Shh, see? It’s okay, and I’m here.”

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Still scared speechless, she trembled as the whelp sat on her. Andy reached for it to pet it, and it made a funny noise but settled down on her shoulder. “Baby, breathe,” he said. “Try to pet it. Danae, it likes you.” 

She took a breath and reached her free hand to it, and it lowered its head, almost inviting her touch. She held her hand out flat, and the whelp nuzzled its head into it. At that moment, she relaxed. “This is the strangest thing I’ve ever done.” 

“It’s a little odd for me too, Nae. The green dragons are harmless unless you’re a rat or mouse. Then all bets are off.” He hugged her shoulders and watched her with the whelp. “How are you doing with it?” 

“Well, I’m not as freaked out as I was. But I’m still not sure I want it in the house. It’s still a wild animal, docile or not. And we have young children. The ‘what ifs’ torment me.”

“I don’t think there’s more danger with this than there would be with a puppy or kitten. I know you’ve been wanting a pet for the kids. Why not this?” 

“Andy, have you lost your mind? It’s a dragon, not a puppy or a kitten. It breathes fire, and who knows what diseases it could carry. Yes, it seems to be tame, but I don’t want to take a chance, not with our babies.” 

“Technically, only the red ones breathe fire, baby. The green ones have a purpose, but I don’t know what yet.”

“You know the kids are going to want to see this thing. Are you prepared for that?” The whelp still sat on her arm, still making a funny noise. Andy figured it was a happy sound, because it was peaceful.

“Eamon should know why his egg is broken open. He should be allowed to see it and so should Lysie. This is part of who they are. They are more than half Dragon Valley blood, whether you like it or not.” He was still irritated with her. 

“I don’t know, Andy.” She took a deep breath and sighed. “Maybe just Eamon and Lysie can see it. Emmitt is too little to understand, and he might scare it. I don’t want it to attack him.”

He had reached the point of being too frustrated to care anymore. “Whatever you think is best, Nae.” His tone was chilly, but she didn’t notice.

“Maybe tomorrow. I don’t want to deal with nightmares if it scares them tonight,” she suggested.

Andy shrugged his shoulders. Any excitement he felt about it Danae had managed to suck out. “Whatever you want, baby.” He peeled the banana he had in his hand and broke off a piece to feed to the whelp. It jumped onto his shoulder and gulped the banana pieces. Danae watched with wonder. He gently set the whelp into the box he had prepared for it, and closed the garage door. He walked back toward the house quickly, leaving Danae behind, saying nothing.

When he walked back into the house, Trixie was cleaning up dinner. She had served the kids and encouraged them to finish their homework. “Thanks for taking care of the kids, Trix,” Andy said, a chilly tone in his voice as he walked to their bedroom. 

“It was no problem…” she yelled to him as he slammed the door.

Danae walked into the house, dinner obviously over and cleaned up. “Were we outside that long?” she asked Trixie. “It didn’t seem so.” 

She nodded. “Yes, you were out there for almost an hour. I took the liberty of feeding the kids so they could finish their homework and get to bed. Emmitt still needs a bath, but the older two are doing homework together.”

“Thanks, Trix,” Danae said. “Is Andy in the bedroom?” She looked around the house but didn’t see him.

Trixie nodded. “He didn’t look very happy.”

“I’m going to sit outside with a glass of wine, if you’d like to join me, Trix.” Danae poured a glass of the semi-sweet wine she liked and walked outside.

She stuck her head outside. “I’ll join you after Emmitt is in bed, Nae.” And Danae waved at her. Whatever had happened between them was obviously not good.

*****

Andy was not in the mood to argue anymore about the whelp, so he undressed and got into bed early. Sleep eluded him as he tossed and turned, frustrated with the whole situation. 

Eamon knocked quietly on the bedroom door. “Daddy?”

Andy quickly put his flannel pants on and opened the door. “Hey, son. What’s on your mind?”

“Daddy, what happened to my egg? Did Elyse break it?” Tears formed in his eyes.

Andy sat on the bench at the end of their bed and patted the seat next to him. Eamon plopped down and wiped tears from his face.

Andy took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Eamon, Lysie didn’t break your egg, sport. It, um, well, it hatched.”

“Hatched? What came out of it? A chicken?” Eamon tried hard to understand. 

Andy smiled. “No, son. A baby dragon came out of it.” 

Eamon’s eyes got huge and a smile crossed his face. “Where did it go?” 

“It’s in the garage. I know you’ll want to see it, so before Daddy takes it back to Dragon Valley, I’ll make sure you get to see it. Okay?” 

“Why are you taking it away from me? It’s mine!”

“Eamon, it’s a wild animal. We just don’t know enough about it to know if it’s safe to keep him.” Andy tried to comfort him the best he could, but in truth, he didn’t want to bring it back, either. It was grossly unfair. “I’ll take you to see it tomorrow after school. Sound good?” 

Eamon sighed and nodded his head. “I want to keep it, Daddy.” 

“Me too, sport. But we can’t.” He kissed Eamon’s forehead. “Come on, I’ll tuck you into bed.” 

Danae came to bed a few hours later feeling silly and a little amorous, having had no dinner and a glass of wine too many. She stripped naked and got into bed with Andy, curled around him and began kissing his shoulders. 

He ducked away from her and scooted toward the edge of the bed. So she moved closer to him. 

“Go away, Danae,” he muttered. 

His words stunned her. “What did I do?” 

“I’m not in the mood,” he stated simply. 

“Why? What’s wrong?” 

“What’s wrong?” Andy repeated and shook his head. “You know what, never mind.” 

“Babe, I don’t understand.” 

“You tore my heart out when you said you didn’t trust me.” 

“When did I say I didn’t trust you? Andy, you’re not making any sense.” 

“Outside by the garage. I asked if you trusted me, and you shook your head. You…” his voice trailed off. “Just never mind.” 

“Andy, you know I trust you with my life. I was frightened.”

“And I tried to show you there was nothing to fear. But don’t worry, I’m taking it back to Dragon Valley this weekend.”

“Can we afford it?” she asked. 

Her questions weren’t helping his mood. “Yes,” came his one word, snippy answer.

“Can I come with you?” 

“No. I’m going alone. Or maybe Aaron will go with me. But not you.” 

His words stung her. “Why not me?” 

“Because I don’t want you to go. Don’t worry, I’m saving you being on the same airplane with it.”

“Andy…” she sniffled and lost her battle with tears. She turned her back to him and shook with sobs. And then he felt guilty. 

He sighed deeply and turned over, facing her back. “Oh honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make you cry.” 

“Why is that flying rat so important to you?” she sobbed.

“Baby, it’s the only living whelp in the world. Surely you can understand the significance of that?”

“I wish we had never brought it home,” she cried. 

He nodded his head. “I’m regretting it, too. It’s not worth fighting over. Kirby offered the private jet to bring it back. There’s a guy who is interested in it up in the Valley, but he can’t come without funding. So I’m going to take it home, where it belongs.”

“But why do you have to take it there? I need you here with me.” 

“Because it’s in my care. I brought it home. I’m responsible for it. And Danae, I refuse to let it die, despite what you want.”

“If you’re going to pay for the fuel to get it there, why don’t you pay for the guy to come get it? Isn’t that better?” 

“I hadn’t thought of that. You always have a good idea. But that still doesn’t resolve our issue.”

“Babe, I trust you. I’m sorry I shook my head. I was afraid of the whelp.”

“Did it hurt you?” 

“No, but—”

“No buts. Honey, I’m sorry I made you cry. And I’ll see how much Nigel needs to come pick up the whelp. It should be gone soon. But I’m not going to lie, Danae. I will miss having it. I feel like it’s a part of my heritage. I’m honored to have the only living one. We made history with it.” 

Danae laid quietly on the bed for a few minutes, pondering the evening. She needed to know the answer to the burning question in her mind. 

“Andy, do you still love me?” 

“That’s a silly question, Danae. You know I do.” 

“Show me? Please. I need you.” 

He smiled and curled up behind her. “Oh baby, you know I’d love to.” 


The next morning at work, Andy called Nigel. He intended to fund the archaeological society that would study the whelp. 

“Nigel, Andy Murphy. How is the grant money coming along?” 

“Actually, it’s going well. I have a private benefactor willing to fund the trip. I was going to call you this morning. I am planning to come tomorrow. My flight leaves tonight, and I’ll be in Isla Paradiso in the morning.”

Andy was shocked. “I had no idea this would happen so quickly, but I’m happy. My wife isn’t thrilled with having it in the house. We had a fight about it and frankly, this isn’t the hill I want to die on with her. I’m surprised Fiona McDonald splurged for the grant.” 

“Who? No, the grant came from out of town. SVP wasn’t interested.” 

“If you don’t mind me asking, who is funding this?” Andy had a feeling he knew.

“A gentleman named Kemp. Said he had a vested interest in this project, but I can’t imagine how.” 

Andy nodded. “Kirby Kemp is my boss. He is generous to a fault sometimes. I will thank him personally. He knows what this means to me.”

“I wouldn’t mind meeting him if it’s possible. You know, to express my appreciation personally.” 

“I will ensure it.” He took Nigel’s email address so he could send him details. “I will have the whelp at the stadium tomorrow. Our limousine will pick you up and bring you here. I guarantee Kirby will be here. Watch for my email.”

“I will, Mr. Murphy. I look forward to meeting your little friend.” 

Andy hung up from the phone call, happy. He walked to Kirby’s office and knocked on his door. 

“Come in,” he called, not looking up from his desk.

“Kirby,” Andy said, a smile in his voice. “Thank you.” 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Kirby replied with a grin. “You’re welcome.” 

“Will you be here tomorrow morning? Nigel would like to meet with you to express his gratitude personally.”

“I’ll make sure I am, Andy. I know how important that little guy was to you. And I know it’s significant for your hometown. If I was in your shoes, I’d want to help my hometown, too.”

“I was going to offer him the money myself. That was Danae’s idea. I did an awful thing with her last night. She was frightened of it, but I forced it on her and made her cry. In the end, she ended up feeling better about it, though she still doesn’t trust it. She won’t go into the garage, so guess who does the laundry until it leaves?” 

Kirby laughed. “You?” 

“Yup!” Andy chuckled. “She will be pleased to know it’s leaving tomorrow.” 

Kirby’s phone rang, and Andy excused himself. On his way back to the office, he called Danae. 

“Baby, I have some good news for you.” 

“Oh? Well, I have some news for you, too. But you go first.” 

“Nigel, the historian from Dragon Valley, will be here in the morning to pick up the whelp. I will bring it with me to work, and it leaves from there to go home.”

“Oh.” Danae sounded disappointed. 

“Is there something wrong?” 

“No. But I found out why the dragon is good around a garden.” She stared at a pile of fruits and vegetables the whelp had harvested and placed at her feet.

“Oh? What happened?” 

“I’ll just say I didn’t need to harvest anything from the garden today. He did it for me, and I don’t know how he did it. But there is a pile of produce on the back patio. Trixie and I have been carrying it inside for the last half hour, and it’s still a pile.”

“Holy cow.” Andy almost dropped his phone. 

“I even gave him a banana as a treat. He perched on my shoulder and licked my face. Andy, I don’t want him to go.” Danae chirped happily with the whelp still sitting on her. 

“Baby, it’s too late for that. Nigel is coming in the morning.” 

“No!” she cried. “Don’t take him away from me!”

Andy was happy she had changed her mind. But it was much too late to stop the ball from rolling. Come morning, the whelp would be on its way back home, and Andy was powerless to prevent it.

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Next Up: Chapter Twenty Seven, Generation Five.


Pose Credits for this chapter:

Anger,  and Dark by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses
Wedding Bell Blues by Spladoum at ModTheSims
Zutara by Skylar Arden at Skylar’s Sanctuary
Last, but certainly not least,
That’s My Girl, Getting Sick, I’m Dizzy and Money Disputes by Bee at PosesByBee

As usual, thank you so much for the hard work and dedication that brings these stories to life.

Any/all custom content in this chapter is not mine, and I take no credit for it.

G5 Chapter Twenty Five, Part Three – Dragon Valley

Even though it was spring, the morning air was chilly when Andy awakened. He gently peeled himself from Danae’s grasp and walked to the bathroom. When he was finished, he gazed out the window. He was not surprised to see a light dusting of snow outside. 

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His watch read 7:32 am. It was still early, and he was really not ready to get up, so he shimmied back under the covers with Danae and snuggled with her. As gentle as he was she still roused from sleep. He kissed her forehead as she opened her eyes.

“Good morning, my precious princess.” 

“Mmm, good morning, my handsome king.” She nestled her face into his chest and yawned. “What are you doing awake so early, my love?” 

“Well, I had to pee. And then I looked outside at the weather. It’s cold. There’s snow on the ground.” He moved closer to her, not wanting the night to end.

“It’s a good thing I put a couple of hoodies in the garment bag. The car will be heated, and so will the inn be heated. We’ll be good.” 

“I’m used to cold. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more snow on the ground as we drive north. The seasons are screwy up here.”

“I can’t wait to see your hometown, Andy. I’m excited.” She kissed his chin and neck. “What do you say we begin the day on the right foot?” 

Andy grinned. “Now you’re talking.” 

A couple of hours later they were showered, dressed and packed up, ready to pick up their rental car. “What would you like for breakfast, my sweet?” Andy asked her. “There are a few nice little places between here and there to stop if you’re hungry.” 

“You choose, babe. This is your territory. I trust you.” 

“I can promise you there is nothing close to what we dined on last night. Most places are family-owned, a lot like your old favorite place in the Shores. No rules, no fancy stuff. Just good food and good service.” Andy smiled sweetly at her. He felt at home here with her. 

“Anything at all you’d like is fine with me. It might feel good to get back to humble roots for a weekend.” 

The car was much less fancy than what Andy was used to driving, but it was a nice car nonetheless. By the time they hit the road on their way north, the morning air had warmed, and Danae opened her window, enjoying the fresh country air. 

Andy recognized a diner his father told him about on his commutes back and forth, so they stopped for breakfast. The atmosphere was very retro, with red stools, red metal counters, and white laminate tables. It was charming and inviting, and Danae felt comfortable with Andy by her side.

They sat and enjoyed breakfast and their morning coffee together. “Is everything good here?” the waitress, named Nelly, asked. “More coffee?” 

Andy declined. “Everything has been fantastic, thank you. Baby, would you like a coffee for the road?” 

Danae thought a moment. “I think I would, yes.” The waitress nodded and returned with a cup and plastic lid, filled it and smiled. “Thank you,” Danae said as she prepared it. 

“My pleasure,” Nelly replied. She pointed at Andy. “You look like you’re from around these parts. But this lovely young lady is certainly not. Where are you from, sweetheart?” 

“I was born in Starlight Shores, but my daddy was from Dragon Valley. I guess that makes me half native.” 

“How about you?” she asked Andy. “I know you must be from Dragon Valley. It’s written all over you.” 

Andy nodded. “My family goes back at least ten generations up here. My dad used to come through here on his way back and forth to work. Maybe he sat at this very table when he stopped here.” 

“Who’s your dad, honey? I’ve been working here for a long time. I could have known him.” 

“Emmitt Murph—” Andy began.

“Oh, Emmitt! What a sweetheart! He was your father?”

“Yes,” he smiled. 

“How’s he doing?” 

“He’s been gone almost five years now. He and Travis both died way too young.” 

A weird look crossed Nelly’s face. “Travis. Jones? The big soccer star?” 

Danae nodded. “He was my father.” 

Suddenly, the waitress was starstruck. “Are you Danae or Darcey? The whole area followed his career up here. He’s quite a big deal even now.”

“I’m Danae. My sister is back home in Isla Paradiso with her family. We all moved there a few years ago.” 

“Murphy… You’re the manager of the Sharks!” She pointed at Andy, finally putting everything together, and clapped her hands with glee. “Holy cow, we have a huge celebrity couple sitting here!” Nelly couldn’t handle any more excitement. “Do you mind if I get a picture of you two? My husband will be so jealous that I met you!” 

Andy was used to being fussed over, but the experience was still new for Danae. She blushed wildly at the attention. But they posed for a photograph with her and were pleasantly surprised when she paid for their breakfast.

“You don’t need to do this,” Andy insisted. “Please, let me take care of our check.” 

“It is my honor! It isn’t every day we get a huge celebrity like you here. This one’s on me.” No amount of convincing would sway her. 

“Well, in that case, thank you.” Andy left a huge tip, which more than covered breakfast and their usual twenty percent. “What do you say, Miss Danae?” 

“I’ve got my coffee, let’s hit the road. It was a pleasure to meet you,” she called to Nelly.

“The pleasure was all mine,” she swooned. “Have a safe trip! Welcome home.”

They walked to the car, and Andy was beaming. “That was truly fun. I didn’t realize I would be recognized so far away from home. It feels good.”

“You are a big deal everywhere, babe. You shouldn’t be so surprised.” She leaned left and kissed his cheek. 

The drive through the valley was scenic, and with spring approaching everything was in bloom. Rolling hillsides were dotted with wildflowers, trees covered in buds and the two-lane road cut through some of the most beautiful parts of the valley. Andy forgot how pretty it was here.

As they approached Dragon Valley, signs stood along the highway welcoming visitors to the hometown of Travis Jones and Andy Murphy. This revelation surprised him. 

“Wow.” Andy shook his head. “I feel honored to share a billboard with your dad, honey. I don’t deserve the legendary status he has achieved.” 

“You do too deserve it,” she countered. “Look at what you have accomplished.” He looked at her, amazed. “I meant to ask you, could you show me where he used to live?” She asked. “The school, and maybe where the old barn stood, too? I want to connect with him here like I never have before.” 

“Of course, baby. I’ll show you everything.” 

The air was colder as they drove into the village, and Andy’s guess that there still would be snow on the ground was correct. He found his way through the familiar streets and dirt roads until they arrived at the bed and breakfast. Though it was early, he figured they could check-in and relax for an hour or so. Andy really needed to stretch his sore knee.

The inn was cute and rustic, decorated with retro tones of gold and rust orange. Mismatched furniture and soft, plush throws made the small home feel warm and welcoming. The host was at the front desk when Andy and Danae opened the door. 

“Welcome!” she beamed. “You must be the Murphys.” She looked at her reservation book. They were the only guests she expected that morning.

“We are,” Andy affirmed. “I’m Andy, this is my wife, Danae.” 

“Welcome to Dragon Valley! My name is Yvette.” 

“How long have you been opened here? I don’t remember this when I left years ago.” 

“This inn was my childhood dream. We opened it three years ago. But we don’t get many visitors through here. Are you the Andy Murphy whose name is on the billboards outside the village?” 

“I am. Danae’s father was Travis Jones. This is her first time in the Valley.” 

“Oh, well this will be a nice getaway for you, honey,” she said to Danae. “I have your room ready for you if you’d like to rest a bit. I know the airport is a two-hour drive. Welcome home, Mr. Murphy.”

“Thank you,” Andy nodded. She gave them the key and the meal schedule for the day, and they went to the car to grab their bags. 

When they got to the room, Danae was shivering. “It’s colder than I thought it would be up here,” she said. “I might have misjudged it.” 

“Don’t worry, sweetie, I’ll keep you warm,” he winked. 

The room had a comfy queen bed, a small desk covered with a coordinating tablecloth, a shared bathroom and a hot tub at floor level. The heat from the hot tub kept the ambient room temperature warm, and Danae settled onto the bed next to Andy to stretch out.

“What would you like to do today, my sweet?” He asked. “I was thinking of going to see Mom and giving you a tour of the village. Your dad’s house is on the other side of the river, and I don’t think anyone has lived in it since your grandmother passed away in it. Maybe we could see the inside of it.”

Danae smiled, but she wasn’t sure about seeing the inside. Travis had always described his bedroom as if it was a dungeon, with no furniture and cold, wooden floors. “If we can, I’d like it. If not, it’s okay, too.”

“It might be run down. The village doesn’t have a historical society, believe it or not. That house would qualify if such a thing existed. His star burned very brightly here for a long time.”

Danae shook her head in disbelief. Travis had been gone for years, but his name was still big in his hometown. He would be so impressed. 

They got into the car and Andy drove to the Drake School for Life and Learning, Travis’ alma mater. Classes were in session so they couldn’t get close, but seeing where her father had gone to school was fascinating to her.

The way back toward the house winded through the flat, rich farmlands of western Dragon Valley. The scenery was so much different than any place she had ever been, and she finally understood why Andy loved it here.

He turned left onto Jones Road and Danae saw the small, wooded park next to the house. From Travis’ descriptions, she recognized it immediately. Andy parked the car along the quiet road and they got out. Cautiously, she stepped foot onto the soft grass and took a breath. A family she never knew lived in this house. 

Andy walked to the property line confidently. “No one lives here even now,” he said. “The front garden is overgrown terribly. Look, Nae, in this window.”

She climbed up onto the front porch and peered through the front window. The furniture still sat inside, dusty and covered in cobwebs. 

“It looks like the haunted house at the fall festival,” she said. 

They walked to another front room and peeked inside. It must have been a bedroom, for it only had a dresser and a couple of pillows on the floor. 

“Check this out, Nae. Pillows. Do you think this was your dad’s room?”

From how she remembered his description, it had to be his. “I think it’s possible, yes.” Seeing the house, his bedroom got her emotional. Andy heard her sniffling and hugged her. 

“Let’s see if the door is open,” he suggested. He strode up to the front door and knocked. Carefully he reached for the doorknob and it turned, the door gave way and it creaked open. 

“Oh, Andy, I don’t know,” she said timidly. “What if there’s something living in here?”

“If anything, it would only be a rat or a squirrel. Nothing that will hurt you, my sweet.” He took a step inside the door, and a musty, rotting odor stung his nose. “Be prepared, it smells dusty and old in here.” 

Danae followed him cautiously as they made their way around the house. The furnishings were exactly as they had been when Elizabeth Jones met the Reaper years ago. Everything had a thick layer of dust and cobwebs filled every corner. “This way,” Andy called to her as he walked toward the bedroom they had seen outside. “This is it, Nae.” 

They walked into the room together. Inside was a dresser, tilted and shoved up against a wall, and pillows sat on the floor. Danae shivered as she stood there, imagining what her father endured at the hands of his own mother. “This place is giving me the creeps, Andy. I’m sensing an evil spirit here.” 

He looked around. “This is certainly not a comfortable place. I feel it, too. Let’s get out of here.” Andy took her hand and led her out the front door. They hurried to the car and got in, locked the door and sat for a moment. 

“That was everything I expected it to be. My poor father,” she said, choking back tears. “How could he have lived like that?” 

“He was much stronger than either of us knew, honey.” He shuddered as they drove away toward the cemetery.

Andy parked the car and they got out. He took her hand and led her to the spot where Tessa Murphy was laid to rest, carrying a bouquet of roses and a vase of sunflowers. He stopped about ten feet away from her headstone and tears filled his eyes. As he walked to the gravesite, Danae took his arm.

“Hi Mom,” he spoke to her gravestone and placed the sunflowers next to it. “I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve been here, but I brought Danae.” He knelt down by the stone and wept. “Oh, how I miss you and Dad.” Danae knelt down beside him.

She didn’t know what to say, but seeing him cry tore her up inside. 

Andy sighed as he ran his fingers through the grass. “Mom, this is Danae,” he said, reaching for her hand. “You would have loved her, Mom. She has given you three beautiful grandchildren, a girl and two boys. We named our youngest son after Dad. I was hoping we’d have a fourth, another girl so we could give her your name.”

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Danae cried openly. She never knew he wanted another baby, and it killed her she couldn’t give him one. “I’m so sorry, Andy,” she wept. “If I could, I’d give you another girl in a heartbeat.” 

“The three we have are always more than enough, my precious, as are you. Sometimes, though, I wish life had dealt us a better hand.”

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She nodded and leaned forward to kiss his head. “I’m thankful that I’m enough for you without all the stuff. I’m happy we had our kids young, but I wish your mom was here to enjoy them. She never knew…” Danae sniffled as tears rolled down her face.

Andy sat up and comforted her. “Oh, honey, she knows. We’ll see them again someday. You can tell her all about her grandchildren when you finally meet her, my love.”

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The afternoon sun was quickly fading, and a chill returned to the air. Andy felt Danae begin to shiver. “Are you ready to go back, baby?” 

“I think so. I’m emotionally worn out.” He helped her to stand, and together they walked back to the car. 

They returned to the inn with time to spare for dinner, but they opted out. She was still shivering when Andy opened their room door, and they were greeted by a warm, cozy hot tub. “Oh, I love this idea,” Andy said quietly. “Would you like to soak with me for a while, honey?” 

“I’d love to. I didn’t bring my bathing suit, though.”

“Who needs a bathing suit?” Andy stripped down to his skin and turned the jets on in the spa. He stuck one foot in, and then the other and sat down on the seat. “This is amazing.” 

Danae followed suit, stripping down naked and settling into the hot tub with him. He opened his arms and she snuggled into his embrace. 

“We really need to use our hot tub at home a lot more than we do,” she said, the warm jets of water felt good on her sore body. All the traveling and walking left her feeling stiff. This was just what the doctor ordered.

“I will agree with that, my precious.” He kissed her passionately. “I need you,” he whispered into her ear. “Do you need me, baby?” 

“I will always need you.” They got out of the tub and he lifted her off her feet and placed her on the bed. 


Danae woke early with Andy beside her. The room was chilly despite the hot tub’s warmth and though she needed to pee she had no desire to move. It can wait, she thought as Andy tightened his grasp on her. After their emotional visit to the house and cemetery the day before, today she wanted to rest and relax.

Another hour passed and she was still awake and grew increasingly restless. But Andy was sleeping peacefully. Little by little she wiggled from him and freed herself, hoping she did not wake him. 

As usual, her absence in the bed awakened him, and he looked around the room for her.

“Nae?” he called to her, “are you there baby?”

“Yeah, I’m in the bathroom,” she replied. “I wasn’t even gone that long,” she chuckled. “You are too attached to me.”

“I can’t help it,” he cooed. “I just love you so much.”

Danae smiled and walked from the bathroom. “How much exactly?”

Andy belly laughed. “You’re worse than me, Nae.”

“So is that a yes?” she asked.

“Oh baby, of course, it’s a yes.”

A couple of hours later and after a warm shower, they were dressed and ready for the day.

“What would you like for breakfast, my love?” she asked as he dried his hair. Andy was taking her to the Renaissance Faire that morning. It was one of his favorite festivities, similar to the Spring Festival at Starlight Shores. He hadn’t been since he was a teenager and he looked forward to it.

“There are some really great food vendors at the festival. The stuff sounds medieval but it’s all just regular food  like you would find at El Sabor De La Isla.”

Danae nodded. “That sounds so good.”

“Would you care to walk there or should we drive?”

“Why don’t we walk if your knee is okay. It’s a beautiful, sunny day, nice and cool.”

Hand in hand, they walked from the inn toward the fair. Their slow, comfortable pace was perfect for taking in the morning sounds and sights. Andy stopped and picked a wildflower from a field close to the road and gave it to her. She smiled and kissed his cheek. 

“It is so amazing to be here, to see the valley through your eyes and understand why you loved it.”

He watched her as she spoke, animated and expressive, and he remembered why he was so attracted to her. Andy felt himself falling in love with her all over again. Danae truly was the love of his life.

Danae saw him deep in thought. “What are you thinking, babe?”

“Just how much I love you, precious.” A new pet name. Of all the ones he had for her, this new one was close to her favorite

“I love you, babe, and I love your new pet name for me.”

“It suits you so well because you are my beloved, Danae.” She grinned. Andy took in a deep breath. “I smell greasy fair food! Oh, this brings back so many memories.”

Hand in hand they walked to the festival entrance. Employees inside were in costume, dressed for the time period. Danae was enthralled by the atmosphere, she had never been anywhere like it before. Everyone in attendance was having a good time, and it was obvious Andy was, too.

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They stopped at a booth to grab a cup of coffee and a breakfast hand pie, similar to what they called Empanadas on the Isle. This particular one was stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese and pan-fried in a crispy dough.

“This is delicious!” Danae exclaimed.

“I have to agree with you, my sweet.” Maybe it was the fresh air, or maybe it was the company he kept but to him, everything that morning was exceptional.

Danae wandered toward a vendor that sold handmade dolls. Her first thought was to buy one for Elyse. The detail was intricate and each doll was unique, but the price they wanted for one was outrageous, considering she couldn’t even play with it. Andy shook his head and took her hand. 

“We will find the perfect thing for the kids, my precious, but if we don’t, I’ll come back and get one of those dolls for her myself. Deal?”

“Yeah,” she agreed. The doll was indeed beautiful, but she still wasn’t sure about it.

Andy was drawn to an archery exhibition. “I used to do archery. It was a class at my private school.” He picked up a bow and handed one to Danae. 

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“Were you good at it, babe? I bet you were,” she smiled at him. “You’re good at almost everything.” 

Andy snorted. “There are some things I’m not so good at, you know.”

“Name one,” Danae said. “I’ve never seen you fail at anything.”

“No comment,” he said, a little embarrassed.

“You’re phenomenal at that, babe,” she teased.

“That wasn’t what I was thinking,” he replied. “I’d rather drop it.”

“If that is what you truly want, then consider it dropped.”

He hugged her close. “Thank you, sweetie.” 

They walked back from the festival before the sun started to drop over the horizon. Hand in hand they strolled as the sounds and smells of the fair faded into the background. Andy kicked a pebble down the dirt road as they walked. 

“It’s still early, babe. Did you want to do something else tonight?” Danae asked.

“Well, that dance club is right across the street from the inn. We could go there, dance awhile and get silly. Or there’s that hot tub in our room. We could just sit in the tub until we’re wrinkled and pruned and make love all night.”

She had to think long and hard about it. On the one hand, she missed dancing with him, and there was no club back home on the island. On the other hand, it was a difficult proposition to decline. “Or,” she countered. “We could go dancing for a while and get silly, then come back here, soak in the tub and make love for the rest of the night.” 

“You should have been a lawyer, honey.  Your counter offers are always the best ones.” 

“Wait until you see the outfit I brought with me. You’ve never seen it on me before. It will knock your socks off,” she beamed. 

“Uh oh,” he teased. “I might need a cold shower now.” 

“Nah,” she said. “Besides, it will give you something to look forward to.” She wore a mischievous smile. He loved that look.

“So dancing, hot tub and you? In that order?” He laughed. 

“In that order.” She retrieved an outfit from the garment bag, still in the package from the store with tags on it. “I’ll be right back,” she announced and went into the bathroom to change. 

Andy dug into the garment bag and found a nicer button-down shirt, a tan vest, and his favorite pair of tan slacks, some dress shoes and the musk cologne she loved so much. He trimmed his stubble back down to five o’clock shadow length, got dressed and stepped back, admiring his reflection. Hot dog, Andy, you clean up good, he thought to himself. You are getting lucky tonight.

The bathroom door opened and Danae walked out, her hair braided and she was dressed in black. Her top was a cropped tank with rhinestones encrusted on it in a cute design. But the pièce de résistance was her mini skirt. It wrapped around her waist and hips and fit snugly. The skirt split halfway around and the fabric joined with buckles at her hip. His jaw dropped open when he saw it. It was the sexiest thing she owned, and he swallowed hard.

“My goodness, Danae, you are smokin’ hot.” 

“Save the gawking for later, babe,” she snorted. “Are you ready?” 

“Are you sure that order stands, my precious? You will drive me out of my mind in that skirt.” 

She bit her lip and nodded. “Yes, the order stands. You will make it, I promise.” She brushed his cheek with her lips as she stood on her toes to whisper. “Just think of how good it will be later on, my love.” He coughed and squirmed uncomfortably.

Together, they walked across the street to the club right after opening. The place was dead, but the music had a good beat to it. Instinctively, Danae moved her body to the music. Oh, it feels so good to dance again, she thought to herself. And she caught Andy watching her. 

“Are you going to join me, or just watch all night?” she teased. 

“Oh, I’m going to dance with you, baby. I’m just enjoying the view.” 

They danced until almost seven when Danae realized she was hungry. “Why don’t you get us some wings or something from the bar, babe? I’m a little peckish.”

“Your wish is my desire,” he kissed her cheek before he left her on the dance floor. She’d stay out until he came back.

A man with long, black hair had been watching her from the corner of the room. As soon as Andy walked away from her, he approached. 

“I’ve been watching you,” he said. “You’re not from around here are you, vanilla pudding?”

Suddenly, Danae was self-conscious. She was the lightest skinned person in the whole club, and she stuck out like a throbbing, sore thumb.

“No, I’m not.” She blushed, uncomfortable.

He held his hand to her to shake, and she offered hers to him. But instead of shaking her hand, he kissed it. “What’s your name, gorgeous?” he asked her.

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She looked around for Andy, but he was not at the bar. Danae figured he’d gone to the restroom, but she wished he was nearby. “Danae,” she finally squeaked out. “My name is Danae.” 

“That’s an uncommon name even in these parts, and you can find some pretty odd names here in the Valley. My name is—”

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“Liam!” Andy shouted at him. He wasn’t sure how he felt about seeing Li again, but he thought he’d play it cool. “I see you’ve met my wife.” 

“I thought that was you, Murphy. So, this one’s with you, eh?” Liam nodded his head. “I should have known she was yours. You always attracted the most beautiful babes. How have you been?”

“Spectacular,” he replied with little enthusiasm. “How’s life up here in the great white north?” 

“The same as always, Murph. Boring, cold and lonely.” Liam gestured toward Danae and licked his lips. “I haven’t seen a filly like this one since Kaitlyn.”

“Well, this one is definitely MY filly, so keep your hooves off her.” He knew Liam’s game. He was once the recipient of Li’s brand of destruction. Luckily for Andy, Danae was not a flight risk. She wanted him and him alone. 

“Kait moved away from the valley a few years ago, if you’re looking for her. She married some guy from that island and landed a sweet job.” Liam looked halfway disappointed. “I always thought I’d get her to marry me, but she stuck to the schtick about not being the marrying kind. I guess the husband is loaded. Money talks, and BS walks, so they say.” 

Andy growled to himself. First Kaitlyn and now Liam. “Yeah, we ran into Kaitlyn a few days ago. That reunion wasn’t friendly.” Liam was still ogling Danae, and it made her uncomfortable. Andy felt her grip his arm as she stepped behind him, needing his protection.

“So, tell me more about your wife. Where did you meet her? How long have you been married? Are you willing to part with her for an evening of fun?” Liam asked, half-joking. I’d love to hit that, he thought, because damn, she is hot.

Immediately, Andy was on the offensive. “What is wrong with you? No, you’re not even going to talk to her, let alone touch her. She is mine and mine only. You don’t get the courtesy of my other answers. Come on, Danae,” he said as he took her hand and led her away from Liam. 

“Come on, Murphy, don’t be like that. I was joking!” Liam insisted as he chased them. 

“And I’m not joking. You’ve already stolen one love away from me. You will NOT take my Danae. Do you understand me?” Andy got in Liam’s face and shoved him.

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“What’s your problem, Murphy? You afraid I’ll take her, too?” 

“I’m not afraid of any such thing. Walk away, Liam, and I won’t beat you into a pulp.” 

“You don’t have the guts, you cowardly wretch,” Liam spat.

“You made an unwise choice,” Andy growled as he picked Liam up by the collar and slammed him against the wall. “You will NOT take Danae from me.” 

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“You don’t know that,” Liam goaded him, gasping for breath. 

Again, Andy shoved Liam, knocking him to the ground. “Get out before I hurt you,” Andy warned him. 

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Liam rested on all fours, trying to catch his breath. “I concede. You’re a lot bigger than I am. But you’re not as crafty.” Liam’s elbow caught Andy in the groin and put him on the floor. Liam got to his feet and grabbed Danae on the way by and kissed her forcefully. His grip was iron and it was painful. 

“Ouch!” Danae yelled as he pulled away from her. She took a swipe at Liam, but he was quick on his feet and dodged her attack. Andy still laid on the floor writhing in agony. 

“Enjoy yourself tonight, loverboy,” Liam laughed at him before he ran from the dance club.

“Babe!” she squealed. “Are you okay?” 

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“I will be in a minute. That dirty bastard had to hit me where it hurts, twice. Baby, did he hurt you?” 

She shook her head. “He had me by the arms, and it hurt, but it’s nothing. Let’s get back to the room. I’m sorry you got hurt. This is my fault.” 

He stood on shaky legs. “No, it isn’t either. He is the one who pushed it. I gave him ample opportunity to back away from me. I meant it, Danae, when I said I would protect you with my life. He was not taking you from me, not while I live. I’m glad you tried to fight back, my sweet.”

“Do you think he would have tried? He seems pretty weak compared to you.” 

“He would have done more than try. If he thought he could have grabbed you and gotten away from me while I was on the ground, you’d be long gone. And I would have turned this village upside down searching for you.” 

Danae’s face went pale. “Gone? You don’t mean—”

“I do, honey. He wouldn’t have thought twice about it, either. He’s a predator and has been since I’ve known him. That is how he got Kait away from me, though she was no prize. If he hurts you, I will kill him with my bare hands. Nothing happens to you on my watch, and I mean nothing.” He saw the fear in her eyes and knew he had to tamp it down a bit. “So, do you still find my protective side sexy?” He had hoped to get a laugh, maybe even a smile. But she only cried.

“I don’t feel safe here anymore,” she wept. “Please, take me back to the inn.” 

He took her arm and held her to him tightly. The walk was short, but it was dark. However, they did not run into Liam again. Andy locked the door to the inn with his key and they retired upstairs to their bedroom.

Danae was shaking when she sat on the bed. “Oh baby, you are okay. I promise.” He took her hands and stood her up. He wrapped his arms around her tightly and held her close to him. “Shh, I’ve got you.” 

She cried in his arms, and he just held her. “I’m done for the night, babe. Just hold me until I fall asleep?”

“Of course I will, honey. You don’t even have to ask.” They undressed and got into bed together, and he clung to her as she cried herself to sleep.


Danae was restless the entire night, hardly sleeping at all despite Andy’s strong and protective arms around her. The incident replayed over and over in her head with Andy’s warning about Liam. He’s a predator and has been since I’ve known him. In an instant, she could have been gone, separated from him, maybe never to be found. The thought of it shook her to the core.

She considered trying to arrange their return trip earlier than the scheduled six o’clock flight. She fidgeted, getting uncomfortable from lying down, but she didn’t want to wake Andy.  Maybe I’ll just sit in the chair by the window and look outside for a while, she thought. Snow flurries were coming down lightly, and she desperately hoped the weather would not delay them leaving Dragon Valley.

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She sat in the chair, hugging her knees to her chest, fighting to stay awake when Andy stirred and reached for her. The cold spot in the bed alarmed him, and he panicked. 

“Nae?” he called to her, barely awake.

“I’m here,” she answered softly, her voice cracked with tiredness. 

He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. “What are you doing out of bed, honey? We don’t have to be up for a long time yet.” 

She continued her stare out of the window. “Couldn’t sleep.” 

Andy looked at his watch. It was almost 5:00 am. “Do you want to talk about it?” 

“There isn’t much to talk about,” she whispered almost too softly for him to hear her.

“Did I do something wrong?” 

She shook her head. “No, babe. It’s not you.” 

Liam. Andy pushed the covers off and stood. He walked to where she sat and picked her up, turned around and placed her on the bed with him. “You are safe here with me, Danae. He will not hurt you.” 

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“It’s snowing outside,” she said. “Do you think we should leave early?” 

“Maybe,” he replied. “Did you hear me, Nae? He won’t hurt you.” 

She nodded. “I’m tired.” 

“Close your eyes and sleep, and I will protect you. You never need to feel afraid when I’m here with you, my sweet.” He kissed her shoulder and held her tightly. “I’m never letting you go.” 

“I trust you,” she said as she dozed off in his arms. 

They both awakened a few hours later, and while Danae was still sleepy, Andy was rested and ready to drive. The snow had stopped and was already melted. 

“I’m going to shower,” she announced. “Maybe I’ll wake up a bit.” 

“Good idea,” he agreed. While she was in the shower, his phone rang. It was Kirby.

“Andy, I’m glad I caught you before your flight home,” Kirby said happily. “I have some news that should please you.”

“You have my attention,” Andy laughed. “I’m all about being happy.”

“We held a board meeting last night concerning Kaitlyn’s continued employment with the Academy. By unanimous vote, she is gone. Danae’s recording helped the board tremendously. Please tell her thank you for me?” 

“I think Danae will be the one thanking you. This is a huge worry off our shoulders. We are so grateful to you and Rae.”

“It was no problem. How did the airplane trip go? Does she fly smoothly?” 

“Oh Kirby, it’s like a dream. It’s a beautiful craft. Someday, maybe I’ll look into one for ourselves.” 

Kirby laughed. “If you can afford that thing, I’m paying you way too much.” Andy belly laughed. “You know I’m joking, right Andy? Anyway, I’m happy you got back home this weekend. Did you do everything you wanted?” 

“Yes, it was an extremely emotional but much-needed trip. But it’s darn cold up here. I’m looking forward to swimming tomorrow night with my kids.” 

“Well, have a safe trip home, and rest well on the flight. I’ll see you in the morning.” 

“Thanks, Kirby. I’ll see you soon. And thank Rae for us, too. We owe you one.” 

“Will do.” They hung up the phone as Danae was walking out of the bathroom, her hair wrapped in a towel. 

“Who was that?” she asked.

“That, baby, was Kirby bearing some awesome news. Kaitlyn is no longer the principal of the school. Your recording did that. Kirby said it was a unanimous vote.” 

Danae smiled. “There’s the news I was looking for. I’m so relieved.” 

Andy walked to her and embraced her. “Seeing you happy makes me happy.” He kissed her tenderly. “Do you feel better after a shower, love?”

She nodded. “I’m ready to get out of here, though. I’m still a little spooked from last night.”

“I’ll wait until morning to shower. I will need it to wake up in the morning before work.” He helped her gather their clothes and pack the bags to bring to the car. Danae did one last look around and found an odd-looking rock Andy had picked up at the cemetery.

“Are you bringing this home with us, Andy?” she asked with it in her hand. It wasn’t terribly heavy, so it wouldn’t cause a problem onboard the flight.

“Yeah, I found it near Mom’s grave. It looks like a fossilized dragon egg. I used to have quite a collection of them back in the day. They are all over the valley, even though dragons have been extinct up here for generations.”

“Dragon egg? You’re sure it’s a fossil?” Danae put the rock back down on the table as though it was toxic.

“If it was going to hatch, it would have by now, Nae. It’s dead. I had dozens of them when I was a kid, and they’re safe. I thought Eamon would like it.” 

“I have to admit, it’s a pretty cool thing. I think he would love it.” She wrapped it carefully and placed it into the overnight bag. “Is there anything else to go in here?”

Andy looked around the room. “I think we’re good, baby.” He gathered both bags and put them in the trunk of the car. “Let’s check out and get on the road.” 

The drive to the airport was uneventful, and they spent most of their time talking about their weekend. They dropped the car off at the rental area and Andy dug their credentials out to access the commuter terminal. A security guard escorted them to the airplane, which had been sitting there since it landed early Friday morning. Victor and the pilot were already on board, preparing for the flight. Kirby had ordered the catering for their return trip, allowing them plenty of time to enjoy a meal and rest.

It was nearly four o’clock when they approached the aircraft, and Victor was waiting in the cabin for them. Happily, he welcomed them back. 

“How was your stay?” Victor asked.

“Relaxing,” Andy replied. “It was a much-needed trip home. Danae got to see where her father was born, lived, and went to school and we visited my mother’s grave. Very emotional.” 

Victor nodded. “Get settled in, you may rest in the sleeping quarters if you’d prefer. We have an hour or so to wait before we can depart. We weren’t expecting you quite so early. But dinner will be served once we are in the air. I’m waiting on catering to deliver it.” 

“Thank you. Maybe we will go lay down a bit. Danae is tired.” He took her hand and led her back to the sleeping quarters. “Here, baby. Rest a while, and I’ll lay down with you.” They snuggled together on the bed, and Danae drifted to sleep easily.

*****

The plane was thirty minutes away from the airport in Isla Paradiso and Andy was still asleep. Danae had been awake and sitting in the cabin for an hour, and she was surprised he hadn’t awakened. But she walked back to the room and touched his shoulder gently. His eyes opened, and he smiled.

“Hey precious,” he said. “Are we home?” 

“About half an hour,” she replied. “You should get up and join me. I’ve been awake for about an hour.” 

“How did I not wake up?” 

“Beats me. You must have needed the rest. I’ll sleep when we’re home. Trixie can hopefully cover me tomorrow.” 

Andy yawned. “I bet she can.” He stood up and together they walked back to the cabin, sat down and watched out the windows of the jet. Home was on the horizon, and it would be good to get back. He took her hand and looked into her eyes. “Nae, thank you for this weekend. I had a great time. I love you, my precious.” 

“I’m happy you did. You deserved a weekend away. I love you, babe.” 

They sat hand in hand as the plane touched down in Isla Paradiso, still pitch dark outside early on Monday morning. The limo met them at the hangar where it dropped them off and brought them home safely. Trixie and the kids were asleep when they turned the key in the front door. It was 4:30 am. 

“I’m going to check on the kids, babe, and I’m coming to bed. Are you going to sleep a little?” 

“I am,” Andy said. “I don’t have to be in until 10:30 this morning. It’s way too early to be up.”

“I’m going to let Trixie get the kids up. I want to see how Elyse is feeling though.”

Danae tiptoed into Elyse’s bedroom and heard her soft, congested snores. Poor kid, she thought. Gently, she put her hand on her forehead, and Elyse opened her eyes. 

“Mama!” she whispered. “When did you get home?” 

“Just now, sweet pea. How are you feeling?” 

“Still coughing. I missed you. Is Daddy home, too?”

“Yes, honey. He will see you in the morning, baby girl. He has to get some sleep for work. You’re staying home again today. I will take care of you.” Danae kissed her forehead. “Go back to sleep, and I’ll see you when you wake up.” 

“Okay,” she said sleepily. “I love you, Mama.” 

Danae smiled. “I love you too, honey.” 

She walked back to their bedroom and Andy was already in bed and half asleep. She put pajamas on and slipped into bed with him, and when he felt her next to him, he smiled. 

“How’s Lysie?” 

“Still sick. She missed you.”

“I figured. You’re wearing too much, you know that.” 

She laughed. “And you’re supposed to be sleeping. Rest quickly, your alarm will go off before you know it.” She kissed him and snuggled with him, sleep overtaking both of them.

“I love you, my precious,” he whispered into her ear. “Thank you again for the trip.” 

And Danae smiled. “You’re welcome. I love you, my Andy.” 

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Six, Generation Five


Poses by:

Sleeping In A Chair, I’m Dizzy, Wedding and Male Emotions by Poses By Bee
Bang Door, Adult-Anger Fight, Fight Scene, Janna Set, and Moments by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s  Custom Poses
Coax, by Chinikinesis at MTS

I am pretty sure I missed an artist in here somewhere. For that, I apologize. None of the CC seen in this chapter is my own, and I take no credit for it*

*I can’t remember where I got Danae’s outfits. Credit to the artist(s). They are gorgeous!

G5 Chapter Twenty Five, Part Two – The Showdown

“So, Andy, this is what you settled for? The daughter of Travis. Freaking. Jones.” She looked Danae up and down with disgust. “I’m surprised at you, slumming around with her.” She clicked her tongue and shook her head. Kait couldn’t have been more condescending if she tried.

Andy spotted the huge diamond and wedding ring on her left hand. “I thought you weren’t the marrying kind, Kait? What happened?” 

“Oh, I didn’t say I wasn’t the marrying kind, Andy. I was never, and I mean never EVER, going to marry you.” 

“Andy—” Danae began, but he cut her off. 

“Yes, I’m sorry, my love.” He took Danae’s hand and squeezed it. He clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. “We have business to discuss with you, Mrs. Reyes, concerning our young children.”

“Yeah, about that. You told me yesterday, Mrs. Murphy, that your five and seven-year-old children were left behind after the field trip to the mausoleum. How did we come up with an accurate headcount of children when the buses returned from the cemetery?”

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“You’re going to need to ask your bus driver and chaperones that question, Kait. Elyse called my phone. I have the call log right here.” Andy pulled his phone from his pocket and scrolled to her incoming phone call from a payphone near the cemetery.

“Psh,” Kaitlyn rolled her eyes. “This only proves you received a phone call from that number. That doesn’t prove the call was from your daughter.”

“LOOK,” Andy stood angrily. His right foot pushed his chair hard enough to knock it over. His hands gripped the desk in an aggressive stance Danae had never seen him take before.

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“My children were left behind on that trip. I don’t care how it happened. I don’t care who did it. But my only daughter was in the hospital with the flu for TWO NIGHTS because of someone’s negligence. YOU are the one in charge here, so it’s YOUR responsibility! I don’t want to hear your excuses, Kait. I want you to make it RIGHT!”

“You haven’t changed a bit, Anduin,” Kait taunted him. “You still have a superiority complex, and you’re still an angry, bitter little boy.” She got up from her desk and paced back and forth behind it. “I pity you.” 

Danae tried to speak some sense in the chaos. “Kaitlyn, do you have children of your own? Can you begin to understand the panic a mother feels when her children aren’t where they are expected to be?”

Kait looked at Danae with disdain. “Who, me? I don’t even like kids. People like you and Mr. Doofus over here can have all the kids you want. I’ll keep my body perfect, just the way it is, thank you very much. You were a knockout too before you started pushing babies out. What a shame.” 

Danae had heard enough. “I don’t know who you think you are, or who you think you are talking to, but we pay tuition for our children to attend this school. That means, our money pays your salary. You work for us, Mrs. Reyes, not the other way around.” Danae had a long fuse, but Kait poured accelerant on it. She was hot and itching for a fight, by either words or fisticuffs. It mattered not to Danae.

Now I see it,” Kait nodded her head and continued. “You two are perfect for each other. A rich, entitled shrew and a self-important ignoramus.” Her laughter sent a cold chill down Danae’s spine.

“Come on, Danae” Andy took her hand. “I’m filing a complaint with the owner of the school.” Andy pointed a finger at her and threatened her.

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“Don’t get comfortable here, Kait. Your days in this job are numbered.” 

“I’m not afraid of you, Anduin,” Kait called to him as they left the office. 

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Andy hadn’t been this angry in a long time, and never in front of Danae. It was senior prom all over again, and regretfully he let Kait get the best of him. But this time, he would have the last laugh. 

When they got into the car, he sat in the driver’s seat, shaking. Danae truly didn’t know what to say. But when she touched him, he flinched and knocked her hand away. 

“Andy?” She touched him again, and he took her hand. 

“I’m sorry, baby,” he apologized. “I didn’t mean to push you away. It’s just that… well, I wasn’t prepared for that. To see her again.”

“I get that. She’s hardly a pleasant person.” Danae stroked his cheek tenderly. “It’s over, and we’re okay.”

“Oh, baby, it’s far from over. You know who owns the school, don’t you?”

Danae shook her head. “No, I don’t.” 

“Rae Kemp. This was the benevolence project she started when she married Kirby years ago. The fact that Rae adores our children, and you by extension doesn’t bode well for Kaitlyn.”

“Had I known Rae owned the school, I would have called her first. Andy, why didn’t you say anything?” 

“I know that she prefers parents to work out differences with school faculty directly, but when the principal is this shameful, she needs to know directly. I’ll call Kirby when we get home.”

“You don’t seem like you’re okay to drive, Andy.” 

“I’m not right now.” He held his hand out, and he was visibly shaking. “I shouldn’t have let her get to me. And above all, I should have defended you, baby. I’m so sorry.” 

“You did fine, Andy. I’m proud of you for holding it together. That protective side of you. It was, dare I say it, sexy.” 

“Let’s save that for later, honey. I have plenty of tension to work out right now, it’s just not the time.” 

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that, Andy. You’re not in the mood? Really.” Danae chuckled. First time for everything.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t in the mood. It’s just not the time. We need to get home, and in broad daylight, there is nowhere to go.” 

Danae thought for a moment. “Your office is right here, is it not?” 

His expression brightened. “You are brilliant, baby!” He opened his car door and walked to her side. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier.” Arm in arm, they walked into the stadium, which sat adjacent to the academy.

He walked to his office and then right past it. Danae stopped at his door. “Ahem,” she said softly, and he turned around.

“What? Kirby is in his office. I’m taking care of this Kait thing right now.” Danae rolled her eyes. It wasn’t what she meant when she suggested his office. She shrugged her shoulders and followed him, running to catch up.

“Wow, you walk fast when you’re angry,” she gasped, almost out of breath. He continued his quick pace, his eye trained on Kirby’s office door some 100 yards away. “Andy, wait!” Her voice echoed in the hallway, her footfalls chased him to no avail. He was already knocking on the door.

“Come on in Andy. How’s Lysie?” Kirby greeted him. The patter of Danae’s feet sounded in the hallway, followed by her pants and grunts of exhaustion. “Danae?” 

“Yeah,” she heaved. “Hi… Kirby…” 

Andy pulled a chair out for her to sit, and she collapsed it in. “Sorry, my sweet.” He reached into Kirby’s mini-fridge and grabbed a bottle of water for her. 

“What can I do for you guys? It’s odd to see you here together.” Kirby was intrigued.

“We have an issue with the Academy, Kirby. I know this is Rae’s baby, and I know she would rather us deal with faculty on our own, but we have a situation where mediation might be required.”

Kirby sat forward in his chair, listening intently. “You know there isn’t much I won’t do for you guys. How can I help?” 

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Danae caught her breath enough to speak. “A couple of days ago, Lysie and Eamon went on the field trip with the K through 6 classes to the mausoleum. Somehow, at the end of the trip, the buses left without them. Lysie called Andy from a payphone near the property to tell him, and I went to pick them up. It was the day he hit his knee on the desk.” 

Kirby nodded. “Okay, I remember that day. I wasn’t aware that your children were left behind, though. I couldn’t imagine your panic when they didn’t come home.” 

“Well, they were at the cemetery, huddled under the oleander bushes on the far side of the property trying to stay dry. Kirby, they were both shivering, soaking wet and scared when I found them. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. Then Lysie ended up in the hospital with the flu for two nights, which brings us to today.” 

Andy took over. “Danae called the school to complain about them being left, and at first it seemed like the new principal was willing to make it right. That was until we met with her face to face. Kirby, Rae hired my ex-girlfriend from Dragon Valley, believe it or not. She is… well, let’s just say she hasn’t changed very much from when I knew her. She’s crude, unnecessarily hurtful and uncooperative.”

“Wait, so Kaitlyn is your ex? How small of a world is this? Dragon Valley is a couple thousand miles to the north of here.”

“Yes, she’s my ex, and it’s clear she has every intention to fight us on this issue, Kirby. She is going to try to absolve the school of any wrongdoing. This isn’t right.” His emotions got the best of him, and he broke down in tears. His frustration was obvious. Andy didn’t want justice for himself, but for those two precious babies at home. Danae knelt down beside him to comfort him. “Baby,” he whispered to her. “I’m so humiliated.” 

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She rubbed his back and kissed his temple. “You’re okay, honey,” she whispered in return. 

Kirby sat back in his chair. “I will talk to Rae tonight, though chances are she’s already heard Kait’s side. However, she will be fair and impartial. Well, maybe a little partial. She adores your babies, and she is very fond of Danae. Look, don’t worry about this, guys. Rae and I have your back. And you’re correct, Andy. It’s not right. The faculty messed up, and whoever did it needs to be reprimanded.”

“Thanks, Kirby. I hope you don’t think I can’t fight my own battles, but when the deck is so obviously stacked—”

“Come on, Andy. I know you better than that. You have never let me down. Ever. Let me take care of you.” He shut his computer down for the night. “Go home, get some rest, and take care of that precious little girl. She needs her mother and father.” 

Danae smiled. “I can’t thank you enough, Kirby. Please hug Rae for me, and let her know we’ll get together for tea or coffee someday soon.” 

“Will do, Miss Danae.” 

They walked together to his car, and both were feeling better. “You did good today, my sweet. I know seeing Kirby wasn’t what you had in mind, but it played out well. I’m still worked up enough for later anyway. Let’s stop and bring something home for dinner. We’ll get some soup for Lysie, and some fresh fruit juice for her at that little stand downtown. What do you think?” 

“Andy, it sounds fantastic. You always know how to take care of me just right.” She smiled. Andy truly did dodge a bullet by not marrying Kait, she thought. Emmitt was right all those years ago. 

*****

Danae was wrapped around Andy after dinner as they laid in bed together talking. “Life has a funny way of working out, doesn’t it, love?” she said.

“How so?” 

“Well, now that I’ve met Kait, I know you either would have been divorced by now or locked in a loveless, horrible marriage with her. I’m sure at the time the breakup didn’t feel so good.”

He huffed. “No, it sure didn’t. My dad was right, though. He told me he had a bad feeling about her. He never cared much for Kait. She was the reason I never saw myself being a father. I didn’t think I could trust a woman after her. But you…” he caressed her cheek softly, “baby, you showed me what love is. Without you, I’d have never known. Every day I’m thankful for you.” 

She snuggled closer to him, feeling secure. “I would never have known what love was without you, either. Dave was a piece of work. You met him. Dishonest Dave. If he was my standard, the bar wasn’t set very high.”

“If you hadn’t met me, baby, I’m sure someone else would have come along and swept you off your feet. You were ripe for the picking. What surprises me is that you didn’t have a waiting list. Danae, you’re perfect in every way. Smart, kind, generous, sensitive but tough as iron when you need to be. You’re nurturing, sweet, sexy, beautiful. If we wouldn’t have met, you’d have found someone else. But me… I wasn’t looking for someone, baby. I would probably be a confirmed bachelor, living a lonely life of privilege, probably not unlike what Devin is doing, but without his attitude. Or maybe I would. Who knows?” 

“Oh Andy, I don’t believe for a second some beautiful woman would have passed you up. The Shores was full of gorgeous, eligible women. And you’re a very handsome, sexy guy.”

“If I truly am sexy, Danae, it is your influence that has made me so. You have given me confidence I only professed to have before. And it’s because you believe in me so thoroughly, so completely. When I interviewed for the job with the Llamas, I was pretending so hard. I gave myself the biggest pep talk. My dad tried to build me up, but inside I felt like that eighteen-year-old boy who lost everything two weeks before graduation. It wasn’t just the relationship with her that I lost. I lost my self-confidence, my self-worth, everything I knew that was good and right. All of the security I had in my youth disappeared when I found her and Liam in bed together. I knew I’d been taken for a fool, and I vowed it would never happen again.”

“My mom died when I was 14 years old…” his voice trailed off as he collected his thoughts. “In some ways, dad died with her that night. The man I knew as a boy, that man was long gone, buried with her in that pine box six feet under in Dragon Valley. Dad was an empty shell of a man for so long until we moved to the Shores. Nae, that was the happiest he had been in almost ten years, being reunited with your dad. I felt like I finally had him back. And then, they died young, too. Both of them.” Andy sighed deeply, fighting back tears.

Danae hadn’t seen him this emotional about his dad since he had passed away. And it was one of the first times he’d really spoken about his mother. “When was the last time you visited your mom, Andy?” 

“Way before the crash. I didn’t figure I’d ever get back there to see her again, not after I left SVP. First, I never wanted to chance running into the wicked witch of the north. The stupid thing is, Danae, Kaitlyn only got more beautiful as she’s aged. She took my breath away when she turned around this afternoon. But her ugly shined right back through all of it.”

Hearing him speak of Kaitlyn in this manner hurt more than she thought it would. “She took your breath away?” 

“She was always a beautiful girl, and now she’s a stunning woman. I definitely would have known her if I met her on the street. She didn’t change a bit.” He saw her eyes glistening with tears. “Baby, you don’t have to feel threatened by her. There is a less than zero percent chance of that ever happening again. Trust me.” 

“Do you think she’s more beautiful than me?” 

“Of course not. Baby, you are the most drop-dead gorgeous woman I have ever known, and your beauty comes from the inside out. You are my first and only true love. And I mean that, Danae. I’m not just blowing smoke up your backside.”

“Sometimes, I still wonder why you chose me. What did you see in me, Andy? I had no self-confidence, no job, no future.”

“No, see that’s where you’re wrong, my sweet. You had a future. You were going to be a star. You were destined for greatness, honey. You have the look, you have the sound, all you needed was your big break. And I stole that from you.” 

“Baby, where is all of this self-doubt and regret coming from tonight? I hope not from Kait.”

“Some of it is today’s events. Seeing her again, and being with you made me realize I never loved her. I forgot how awful she is. My friends tried to tell me she was no good, even Liam did and he wanted her for himself. But my infatuation blinded me. I was a fool, Danae. I believed I had changed her. But I see now she will never change. She called you entitled, but she is the epitome of entitled. From a rich family, she never wanted for anything. And she still believes the world owes her everything.”

“Babe, don’t let her win. Look at what we have built here! Our love. Our children. Our life together. Your job, our friends. Our family. Andy, you are the foundation I built my house on. You are strong. Faithful. Steadfast. Hard-working. By myself, my house would have crumbled years ago. But in you, I found a firm, solid footing. Together, we make it stand and flourish. You are more than enough for me.”

She kissed his neck, trying to bring him out of his funk. “Andy, please don’t give her any more thought. In the end, you made the right decision all those years ago. You walked away.”

He shook his head. “If Liam hadn’t opened my eyes, I probably wouldn’t have walked away until it was too late. My dad couldn’t talk me out of her, and I couldn’t see it in her. It makes me ill. What if I would have married her? I would have never met you. It’s depressing.” He fiddled with her hair restlessly. 

“But you didn’t marry her. Andy, I am right here, willing and ready to love you. Please come back to me, babe.” She tucked some hair behind his ear and stroked his cheek. “The ‘what ifs’ don’t matter, not tonight. What matters is what’s right in front of you.” She wiped a lone tear from his eyes. “Andy, I love you.” 

His expression softened. “You’re right, Danae. Oh, baby, why am I concentrating on what would have been when I have you in my arms right now? I’m so sorry.”

“Love me, babe. I need you.” 

“Oh honey, you know I will. I need you too.” 


The next morning, Danae’s cell phone rang as she was finishing up breakfast with Emmitt. It was Rae Kemp.

“Hey, Danae. It’s Rae. Kirby told me you two had some problems with our new principal at the school yesterday. I want to assure you I am personally looking into the incident with her.”

“Oh, thank you, Rae. I don’t know what she is like when Andy isn’t in the room with her, but the two of them together were like gasoline and a match. There is some bad blood between them, and if she remains in an administration position at the school, I fear for our kids, Rae. What will she do to punish Andy? That scares me the most.” 

“She interviewed very pleasantly. Her husband is a native of Isla Paradiso, in fact, I went to school with him. He asked me to give her a chance, but I have no loyalty to them. My first obligation is to the children with whom we’ve been entrusted, and their parents. Danae, I’m so sorry that Lysie and Eamon were treated badly on our time. It never should have happened. If Kaitlyn refuses to make it right, then I will.” 

“I ordinarily wouldn’t ask you to terminate someone in this situation. Rae, I have to tell you if she isn’t gone, I can’t leave Lysie and Eamon there in her care. I don’t trust her.” 

“Danae, I understand. Technically, she is still in a probationary period, and we don’t have tenured positions at the Academy.”

“Would it help if I had a recording of what she did yesterday? Because when Andy figured out who she was, I sensed it would go badly. I caught her tirade on my phone. Andy doesn’t know about it. I’m not even sure why I recorded it.”

“I would love to hear it, Danae. Why don’t I come to your house, and I can play with Emmitt for a little bit while we talk? It will be good to catch up.”

“That sounds wonderful, Rae. Come at any time. I’m home all day.”

“How’s twenty minutes?”

“Perfect. Coffee or tea, so I can be ready for you?” 

“Tea sounds lovely. I am looking forward to seeing you again, Nae.”

They hung up the phone, and Danae smiled. 

As promised, twenty minutes later, Rae was at the call box, and Danae let her in. She greeted Rae at the door with a hug. 

“It’s good to see you, Danae,” Rae chirped. “Where’s that baby boy?” 

“He’s in Lysie’s room, probably playing inside her toy box. He’s discovered that’s a good place to hide when he thinks he’s in trouble.” Danae snorted. “He never gets into trouble. He’s the happiest little boy.”

“Well, business first.” Danae prepared two cups of hot water and brought the selection of tea and fresh, local honey to the table. She plopped an oolong bag into her cup, and Rae chose Earl Grey.

Danae retrieved her phone from its charger. “I had a bad feeling about the meeting when Andy said Kait was his ex, so I recorded the whole thing.” She set the phone on the table and played the video. 

Rae listened in horror, not believing the things Kaitlyn had said.

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“Oh Danae, this is disgraceful. I knew Andy was a man of great restraint, but how he didn’t completely blow his top is amazing. Thank you for letting me listen to this. Do you mind if I have a copy of it? Kirby will want to hear it. He sits on the board of directors at the school, and since she is an admin, it will require a vote from the board. This recording will seal the deal.” 

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“I will email it to you, Rae. Thank you.” Rae patted Danae’s hand. 

“Mama!” Emmitt called to her, increasingly frantic. She hadn’t heard him calling for her over the recording, and he was on the verge of tears.

“Oops! Excuse me, Rae.” Danae sprinted for Elyse’s room and rescued Emmitt from the toy box. Crocodile tears rolled down his cheeks until he saw Rae. Elyse, who had been awakened by Emmitt’s cries, brought her blanket with her and settled on the sofa. 

“Nana!” he cooed. Danae shook her head.

“No, Emm, that’s Rae,” she corrected him.

“It’s okay, Danae. He’s called me Nana since we’ve been taking care of him. I think it’s cute.” 

“Well, he never knew his Memaw, so I don’t have a problem with it if you don’t.” Danae smiled as Rae cuddled her son into her arms. 

“Of course not. He’s such a happy baby.” Rae cuddled and tickled him, his baby giggles filled the house. Danae loved to hear it. 

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They sat and visited for about an hour before Rae stood to leave. “I will be waiting for the email. As soon as I have it, I’ll call an emergency board meeting. Don’t worry, Danae. Kaitlyn won’t be at the school by the beginning of next week. In the meantime, keep Eamon home. It’s only one more day before the weekend, so he won’t miss much.”

Danae hugged her friend. “Thank you for everything, Rae. We appreciate it.” 

*****

When Andy arrived home from work, Danae was almost finished with dinner for the children. A pot of mac and cheese bubbled on the stove, and a saucepan warmed up leftover soup for Elyse. He took a sniff and smiled. 

“It smells great in here, Nae. What’s for dinner?” He picked Emmitt up and snuggled him. Elyse was laying on the sofa, watching Eamon play video games. She was feeling better.

“For the boys, macaroni and cheese, and soup for Lysie.”

“And for us?” He sat on the sofa with Elyse and got a hug from her. 

“It’s a surprise.” 

“Okay…” 

“Go check the bedroom.” 

Andy got up from the sofa and walked to their bedroom, Danae right behind him. “I don’t see anything, baby.” 

“Look closer.”

He looked around the room and everything looked normal. And then he spotted an overnight bag and a garment bag hanging on the closet door. “Danae, what did you do?” 

“Tomorrow is Friday, your day off. Eamon and Elyse will be home from school. You are I are taking a private jet to an undisclosed location for a weekend getaway.” 

“Undisclosed, eh?” He wrapped her in a hug. “I don’t know what you’ve planned, but I love the idea. When do we leave?” 

“Tonight, as soon as Trixie gets here. All you need to do is change your clothes, and be ready to go when the limo arrives at six to get us.”

“A red-eye flight. It must be a long one.” He kissed her neck.

“A few hours. Maybe more. In fact, we might need to refuel on the way, so it’s not a direct flight.” 

“Holy cow, Danae, where are we going?” His smile was bright. She knew he needed time away from Kaitlyn. Time to relax and recover while Rae and the Board of Directors worked their magic at the school.

“You’ll see, babe. You’ll love it, I promise. There might even be a sleeping section on the plane.” 

His eyebrow raised. “Don’t mess with me, Danae. Really?” 

She nodded. “It’s a long flight.” He kissed her tenderly. “I need to get dinner finished for the kids and get Elyse in the bath before Trixie gets here.” 

“I’ll help,” he offered. He didn’t know how she knew he’d had a terrible day, but he was all over a secret trip. 

Andy walked back into the living room and sat down with the kids. “How was school, Eamon?”

Usually, he loved it and was excited to go back the following day. But he shrugged his shoulders in indifference. “It was okay.” 

“Just okay? What happened, sport?” Andy asked.

His eyes welled with tears. “I got in trouble and had to see the principal.” 

“What got you in trouble, Eamon?” This wasn’t like him.

“I don’t know, Daddy. I thought I was being good, but she yelled at me. I really don’t know what I did, Daddy. I don’t like her.” Tears welled in his eyes. 

Andy patted him on the shoulder and walked to the kitchen. He looked at Danae, troubled. “It’s starting already,” he said quietly. 

“Well, you don’t have to go to school tomorrow, sweetie pie,” Danae comforted him. “Trixie is going to be here the whole weekend, and she is going to play with all three of you. How’s that?”

“Where are you going now?” Elyse asked, almost annoyed. 

“Mama and Daddy are going away for a weekend. We will be home Monday morning.” 

Elyse was obviously distressed, and she began to cry. “But I don’t feel good,” she protested. 

“Sweet pea, you’ve been feeling better all day.” Danae took a seat next to her and took her hands. “Lysie, Daddy really needs a vacation for a couple of days. You want him to be happy, right honey?” 

She nodded her head. “You can go, Daddy.” 

Andy kissed her forehead. “Thank you, sweet pea.” 

“Who’s hungry?” Danae called in a sing-song voice. “Mac and cheese for the boys, and soup for my princess.” 

Trixie arrived at the house at five o’clock sharp, about fifteen minutes earlier than she was due. “Thanks, Trixie,” Andy said to her. “Can I get a bag for you?”

“Oh, no thanks, Andy. I have it.” She chuckled a little. “Would it be creepy to admit I leave clothes here in the upstairs bedroom?” 

Danae laughed. “Not at all. In fact, I’m this close to asking you to move in and be a live-in nanny anyway.” She held her fingers a half-inch apart.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea,” Trixie said. “You’re pretty much my only client anymore.”

“We’ll discuss it when we get home, then,” Danae replied. “I was just going to get Lysie into our bathtub and let her soak. It helps her breathe before bed.”

“I can get that, Nae. In fact, I can get all three of them in the tub tonight if you’d like.” 

“The boys like to play together in the tub, so that’s fine, if you feel you want to. Emmitt doesn’t need a bath, but he loves the water.” Danae rubbed Elyse’s back as she coughed. 

“Is Lysie still running a fever?” 

“Only slight. It’s been right around 100. Medicine breaks it, but it comes right back, so she’s still fighting it. I’ll call when we get in tomorrow morning.” 

Trixie nodded. “The kids are home from school tomorrow, right?” 

“Yes. Eamon had a problem with the principal today, so he’s been excused until we can straighten it out. Monday should do it, but I’ll let you know for certain if he will go back then.”

Andy looked around for anything last minute to put into the overnight bag. Everything he asked about, Danae already had packed. 

At long last, the limo arrived to pick them up. Danae and Andy both kissed the children and gave them hugs, thanked Trixie one last time and waved goodbye as they walked out the door.

Once they were settled into the limo, Andy put the privacy partition up. “So, are you going to tell me what this is all about?” 

“Nope. I’m keeping it a secret until we land. But we will have dinner on the airplane, courtesy of Kirby and Rae.”

Andy’s face was serene and happy. “If Kirby and Rae are in on this, it can only be good.” 

“Well yeah, we’re using his new jet, and Rae helped me plan this.” She kissed him tenderly. 

“He has a new jet? I don’t remember seeing a new jet in his fleet.” 

“This is his personal one. In fact, we’re the first to fly in it. He told me it’s first-class, top-notch, luxury all the way.” Danae was pretty proud of herself.

Andy swallowed hard. “What kind of favors did you promise to pull this off, Danae?”

“I didn’t. Kirby offered when I told him why I wanted time off for you. I called him to clear it and mentioned you might be a little late on Monday morning. That’s when he offered this new jet. He had it built with a small sleeping area for his longer trips with Rae, and a different pilot flies it.”

“Baby, I-I don’t know what to say. You always know exactly what I need. I had a really awful day today.”

“What happened?” 

“Now that Kait knows where I work, and that we have a common thread, she would not leave me alone. Trying to get me angry, toying with me. And then I hear that Eamon had trouble today, and he didn’t know why. Baby, we’re going to have to change schools if she doesn’t get fired. I can handle her, but the kids… honey, they don’t deserve this.” 

“I agree,” she kissed his chin, his neck, and ears. “I kinda already took care of it.” 

“Wait, you did?” 

“Rae called me this morning and asked me about what happened. And I might have given her some evidence that backs up our story with Kait.” 

“What kind of evidence, Nae?” 

“Well, when I heard you say Kait was your ex, I sensed it might go badly. So just before she began her tirade, I started video recording her, though you can’t see anything but the desk. But her voice is crystal clear.” She cringed, not knowing how he’d react.

“Danae, you’re amazing. I just want you to know that.” He kissed her deeply. 

“You might not want to kiss me like that, babe.” She stroked his cheek. 

“Why not?” he whispered in her ear, his warm breath on her skin felt delicious.

“Because I won’t let you stop,” she replied in breathy whispers. She felt the car cross the bridge, and they knew the airport wasn’t far away.

Five minutes later, the limousine drove up to a gate marked “Restricted.” The limo driver showed credentials and was allowed to pass. The short driveway led to a hangar painted with the familiar turquoise and melon colors of the Isla Paradiso Sharks, and Andy guessed it was Kirby’s. 

The driver stopped the car and opened the door beside a brand new jet. A mechanic was finishing an inspection as the plane’s door opened. A waiter appeared at the top step and motioned Andy and Danae up into the plane. The driver retrieved their two bags and handed them to the pilot, who stowed them on board. 

“I’m right behind you, my sweet,” Andy said as he allowed Danae to walk before him. At the top step, the waiter took Danae’s hand and helped her. 

“Welcome, Andy,” the waiter greeted him. “And Miss Danae.” 

“Hi Victor,” Andy returned the greeting. “Fancy meeting you here.” 

“I know. I was expecting the boss man. Where are we headed this evening?” 

Danae spoke up. “It’s a surprise. He doesn’t know where we are going.” She smiled at Andy. He was going to love this.

“You must trust this little lady, Andy. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to get on a charter flight when I don’t know where I’m going.” Victor chuckled. “Everything is ready to go once you are settled. We will be cleared for departure shortly.” 

“Thank you,” Danae said as they took their seats. There were eight chairs and four tables on the airplane. 

When the flight was in the air, the waiter served two glasses of wine and a piping hot serving of fried calamari to share. 

“To you, my sweet,” Andy raised his glass for a toast. “For treating me like a king.” 

“To you, my love. Because you deserve a weekend away for pleasure once in a while.” She clinked her glass with his and they both sipped. Hers was a semi-sweet blend, while Andy’s was the dry wine he loved so much. 

They fed each other morsels of calamari, sipping wine and getting a little silly together. It wasn’t much, but just enough to whet their appetites for their dinner. The waiter returned after clearing their table with two specialties that Kirby knew they both loved: pepper-crusted Wagyu rib eye and blackened Mahi Mahi. Andy smiled.

“Now who is being extravagant?” he cooed as he cut a bite-sized morsel from the steak and fed it to her.

“Still you,” she smiled. “You’ve turned me. I used to be happy with simple things. But now I’m used to your taste, which is so refined, so elegant.” 

They finished dinner, and the waiter informed them they had four hours before they needed to refuel, and an additional two hours beyond that. “You’re welcome to make yourselves at home, use whichever amenities you would like.” 

“Thank you, Victor,” Andy said as he finished his last sip of wine. “I think I’m going to lay down awhile. Care to join me, Mrs. Murphy?” 

“I thought you’d never ask,” she answered. They walked to the rear of the airplane to the sleeping quarters and entered, locking the door behind them.

*****

Somehow, they slept through the refueling stop and a soft knock woke them with ten minutes until they landed at their destination. They got dressed quickly and walked back out into the main cabin of the plane and sat, still sleepy.

“Did you nap well?” Victor asked them. Andy nodded and yawned, and Danae spoke up.

“Very well, but not nearly long enough. It’s okay, though. Our resort room should be ready when we arrive in Sunset Valley.” She smiled at Andy with an impish grin.

“Sunset Valley?” 

Danae nodded. “When we are rested enough, we drive into Dragon Valley to spend the weekend. Babe, I wanted you to visit your mom again.” 

Andy was completely overcome with emotion. It was minutes before he could collect himself enough to speak. “Danae, how did you think to do this?”

“When we were talking last night, you were talking about your mom. I’d never really heard you speak of her like that before. I really want to meet her.” 

Andy wiped tears from his eyes. “You are just amazing, baby. My sweet, precious Danae. How I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She took his hand and squeezed it. 

The plane was on its final descent into Sunset Valley, and Andy watched out the window. Everything was intimately familiar. He recognized the landscape, the surroundings. Many times he had flown into this airport, and he felt nostalgic. He knew it would be an emotional weekend, but one he desperately needed. He missed Dragon Valley in a way Travis never had. He had mostly good memories there, and he couldn’t wait to show Danae around his hometown.

A limo met the plane when they arrived and brought them to the resort on the outskirts of town, not far from the airport. In the morning, they would rent a car and drive the two scenic hours north into Dragon Valley and stay at a bed and breakfast on the river. Andy couldn’t wait to see what, if anything, had changed. 

It was 4 am local time when they walked into the entryway of the resort and checked in. Their room was off the main lobby and overlooked the indoor garden. Hand in hand, they walked to the door, and Andy opened it. 

“Ladies first,” he announced as he held the door open for her.

“Thank you, kind sir,” she replied. The room was beautiful and richly appointed with dark, mahogany furniture, rich, luxury fabrics and shiny, brass fixtures. Too bad we’re only here overnight, Danae thought. The accommodations were elegant. It was one of the nicer places she had ever stayed.

Andy stripped down and pulled the bed apart. “I don’t know about you, baby, but I need to sleep. We have a long drive tomorrow, and I need to be rested.” 

“That’s the plan, sweetie,” she affirmed. “I am tired.” She followed suit and got ready to sleep, climbing into the bed with him. The softness of the sheets was unmatched, and she sighed deeply. “Ooh, this is nice,” she cooed, sleep quickly overtaking her.

Andy opened his arms and she snuggled up to him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “Thank you,” he whispered into her ear as she fell asleep. “I love you.” 

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Five, Part Three – Generation Five

Credits for this chapter:

Poses By Bee, for her fabulous poses.
Anger, by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses.
Girl Talk, by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses.
Upset, by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses.
Pose Player, by cmomoney at ModTheSims.

CC by:
Around the Sims 3 for assorted office decor items.
The entire Rover Office Set, by Nynaeve Designs at TSR
File Folders by Living Dead Girl at TSR
Printer by Living Dead Girl at TSR
Leather Journal by Nynaeve Designs at TSR
Altara Books by Nynaeve Designs at TSR
Vertical Blinds by martoele at TSR
Sara Office Mixed Books by Flovv at TSR
Tipsy OMSP by newshoes at ModTheSims

G5 Chapter Twenty Five, Part One – The Forgotten

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.” 

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One by one, they jumped into the water, their masks on and regulators functioning properly. There would be no more talking for four hours. 

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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.

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“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. 

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In the distance, she could hear them call to her. “Mama!” 

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“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. 

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“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. 

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Their sniffles and soft cries broke her heart as she drove them home. Danae called Andy from the car. 

“Hello?” 

“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. 

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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.

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“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.” 

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“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.

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“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.

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The next morning, Dr. Becker woke Danae. “You look more comfortable this morning, Mrs. Murphy,” she said.

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“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.

“Two o’clock.”

“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…

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Five, Part 2, Generation Five


Author’s Note:
I would like to thank the following talented artists for their tireless work on The Sims 3 projects:

Pose Credits:
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

CC Credit:
Blue Sea by srgmls23
Hospital Set by Hekate999
Around The Sims 3 for assorted items

G5 Chapter Twenty Four – The Reunion

A Week Before Snowflake Day…

He tapped the keys on his computer, searching for a diving experience that would blow Danae’s mind. Andy knew that she wanted to scuba dive since she was a little girl, and he wanted to surprise her with a day trip to one of the most sought-after dive sites in Isla Paradiso. 

It was a popular spot called Davy Jones’ Locker, the site of an old shipwreck from at least a hundred years ago. The bulk of the wreckage had long been picked over, but what was left had grown coral around it, and colorful, native fish now lived in the artificial reef. 

Andy would spare nothing when it came to Danae. So, as a surprise for Snowflake Day, he booked a diving trip, bought the best fins money could buy and wrapped them to place under the tree. He couldn’t have been more excited. Snowflake Day, since they had moved to the island, had not been very festive. Without the snowflakes, Snowflake Day was just another day.

Danae was putting the finishing touches on the house, decorating it completely. The children were excited for Father Winter to come, and she wanted to make the experience as wonderful as she remembered it when she was little. Theirs was a life of luxury and abundance, and they spared nothing for their children on the holiday.

Aaron came to the house and took some pictures of the family by their holiday setup, and Danae was pleased with them. The best poses made into holiday cards, she sat at the table and finished up her card list, a stack of envelopes about fifty pieces high. While Eamon and Elyse were in school, she packed Emmitt into his car seat and together they visited the mail service. 

“Mrs. Murphy! It’s always a pleasure. And who is this handsome little man?” The clerk behind the counter cooed at Emmitt, and he giggled. 

“This is my baby, Emmitt, though he isn’t a baby anymore. He’ll be three next month. I can’t believe it.” Danae handed the stack of cards to the clerk. “Just meter those, and put them on our account, if you would.” 

“Absolutely! I think I have something for you from Starlight Shores. A package from a Greg St John.” 

“Oh?” Danae was surprised. It had been a long time since she had talked to Greg, never mind exchanged gifts. “I’ll have to call him. It’s been too long.”

“A family member?” the clerk asked jovially.

“Yes, my cousin. The only surviving family member in Starlight Shores, actually. I’ve been trying for years to get him here to visit. But he’s always too busy working.” Danae seemed lost in thought. Emmitt’s coos and giggles brought her back to reality. “Well, we should be going. Say ‘bye-bye’ Emmitt.”

The young boy squealed, “Bye-bye!” Danae and the clerk both laughed as she waved. Together, she and her son left the building. 

When they returned home, Danae opened the box from Greg. Inside was a small wrapped gift addressed to her alone, and a letter. Curious, but willing to wait, she slipped the box beneath the tree with some other small things. She got Emmitt a sippy cup of water and sat at the dining room table with the letter.

Dear Danae,

I know you’ve been after me to come visit, and I hope the invitation is still open. I have some time around the holiday, and I was thinking of escaping to the tropics, away from the snow and the big city. 

I hope you and Andy are well. I heard you had another baby. Congratulations! Oh, how I miss you and Darcey. It’s lonely here in the Shores with no family. 

Call me. My phone number hasn’t changed. Hope to hear from you soon.

Love, Greg

Excited, she texted a message to Darcey and then called Greg back.

“Hello?” he answered his phone.

“Greg! It’s Danae. How are you?” 

“Oh Nae, it’s so good to hear your sweet voice. I’m doing okay. Did you get my letter?” 

“Yes! Are you really coming? Darcey will be so excited.” 

“I am really coming. Do you have room for me, or do I need to make reservations somewhere?” 

“We have a suite that has your name on it. Oh, Greg, I’m so happy you’re getting away from there, even for a little while.” 

“Me too. I’ll email my itinerary when I have it together. Is it a problem to pick me up at the airport?” 

“I’d love to! Oh, sweetie, I’m so happy. You just made my whole holiday!” She couldn’t deny she was tickled.

“Look for my email, and I’ll call you before I get on the plane. Love you Nae.” 

“Love you too Greg. We’ll see you soon!”

They hung up the phone and Danae was energized. Maybe she could talk him into moving to the island, too. 

Andy came home from work, tired and frustrated. Though they had known for months that the Llamas would face the Sharks on Snowflake Eve, he was dreading having to spend his night at the stadium. He dropped his briefcase in his office and flopped in the chair by the television.

“Bad day, babe?” she asked.

“Just frustrating. I can’t wait for this game to be done. I don’t want Devin to be anywhere near our family. It’s not exactly a secret where our house is located.” 

I do have some good news, babe.” She sat beside him and took his hand. “My cousin Greg is coming for Snowflake Day. He’ll be here for a few days.”

A smile crossed Andy’s face. “Really? When did he call you?” 

“He actually sent a package. I got it today when I brought the cards to mail at the post.” 

“I know how long you’ve been asking him to come here, baby. I’m happy for you and Darce.” 

“I guess I need to plan to have family over on Snowflake Eve, too. Darcey and Clint will want to spend as much time with Gregory as they can. He doesn’t get much time off from work.” 

“I feel better about this home game having Greg in the house with you. He’s a big guy, and Devin won’t mess with you if he’s around.” He got up. “I need to change from this outfit. Maybe I’ll go for a swim. Lysie, do you want to go swimming, sweet pea?” 

“Ooh! Yes please!” she squealed. She got up and ran to her bedroom to change into her bathing suit. 

“Eamon, get into your trunks, honey. Daddy’s going swimming.” 

With the kids occupied, Danae continued making dinner, all the while planning Greg’s stay in her head. What would she cook? What would they do while he was in town? She was excited beyond words, and she sang while she cooked. 

After dinner, Danae and Andy sat by the pool with their glass of white wine to discuss the day. The air was unseasonably warm and humid. The sound of crickets and frogs filled the night air as they chatted. Fireflies lit up the pampas grass on the far side of the pool. 

“How are we going to protect the kids from their uncle? If he was brazen enough to attack me in public in broad daylight, I shudder to think of what he might try when he realizes where we live, where no one is watching.” Andy sipped on his wine, savoring the blend. It was his favorite, and Danae made sure she always had a bottle on hand for him.

“Do we really have to worry? I mean, the team usually leaves after the game, right?”

“But it will be Snowflake eve. No flights out until after the holiday. He will be here until the day after.” 

“Isn’t our security around the house good enough? We have the best available, don’t we?”

“I think so, and yes. Hopefully, the miserable wretch will find something honorable to do with himself on Snowflake Day. We just have to be on our guard, baby. That’s all I’m saying.” 

“You have me a little worried about it now. If he wasn’t a psychopath, and things were better among us, I’d have no problem inviting him in. But with three little ones, and his overdeveloped sense of vengeance, I don’t dare. I know he’s after you in a big way. I am not taking any chances.” She sniffed the wine in her glass and made a face. “Do you want the rest of this, babe? I think I’m done.” 

“Nah, I’m good with this glass. I need to be up in the morning. But I’ll join you inside for a little fun.”

“I’ll never pass that up, babe.” He took her hand and led her to their bedroom. 


The Arrival…

Danae watched the clock and checked Greg’s flight. Still on time. “Babe, I need to get Greg from the airport. Can you take care of the kids for me until I get home?”

“Of course, my sweet. I was going to read that book to Emmitt, so I’ll have the other two sit and listen, too.”

“Great! They all love that story. I shouldn’t be more than two hours, counting travel time. I love you, Andy.”

“I love you, Danae. Drive carefully.”

At the airport, she stood at the gate waiting for Greg’s flaming red hair to appear atop the others. But she was surprised when he appeared beside her, bald, looking thin and gaunt. She would not have recognized him in a hundred years.

“Danae!” He tapped her shoulder, his arms opened for a hug.

“Greg! Wow, you look so different. I was expecting your red hair. But I like it! Bald is all the style now.”

“Yeah, it was falling out anyway, so I embraced it,” he chuckled. “It’s so good to see you.” His firm hug felt good around her. 

“I’m so happy you came, Greg. It made our holiday.” She neglected to tell him her other family would be in town. He took her hand and they walked to baggage claim, and then to her car.

“Wow, nice wheels, Nae. You guys must be killing it here on the isle.” He admired her beautiful new red car.

“Andy has a fantastic job. It affords us some luxuries most others don’t have. I haven’t worked since I found out we were expecting Elyse. He’s a wonderful father to those kids.” She beamed when she spoke of Andy. 

“I can’t wait to get to know him better. He seems like a really down to earth guy.”

She nodded. “He’s the real deal. Always working, though. He has a game tomorrow afternoon. He wants me to stay home from it, though.”

“Aren’t the Llamas going to be here? That should be an interesting game. Didn’t the Sharks humiliate the Llamas last season?”

Danae laughed. “Yeah, they did. Devin had no idea how to handle it. It was beautiful.”

Greg grimaced. The name ‘Devin’ hadn’t left his lips in quite some time. The man was reviled in Starlight Shores, a millstone around the Llamas’ neck. “Ugh. Will he be in town?”

“Unfortunately. Andy fears for the family while he is here. With three little ones, he worries. Plus, he is still recovering from a knee procedure, courtesy of Devin. Andy can’t afford another encounter with him.”

“What happened?”

“When we were in the Shores last year, Devin assaulted him in the Clips Center parking lot. He tore his knee up pretty bad. He had some fluid drained and scar tissue removed just a few months ago.”

“Well, Andy doesn’t need to worry about your family while I’m here. I will protect you and those babies with my life.” Greg looked around at the peaceful surroundings, the tropical landscape, and felt at ease. 

“Ten more minutes, and we’ll be home.” Danae followed the turns and curves of the road that led back to the main island. The only bridge onto the island led to the airport, and they had just crossed it. 

She pulled up to the house and opened the gate. Carefully, she parked in the garage, and they got out of the car. “Don’t worry about your luggage, Greg. Andy can come get it.”

“Nonsense. I have it.” He reached into the back seat and grabbed his carry on and small bag. “This place is amazing, Danae. The property is huge.” 

“The house was much smaller when we bought it. We had to add some room when we found out we were expecting Emmitt. But the lot was the reason we bought here. Out of sight, hopefully out of mind.” Together they walked toward the house and Danae opened the door, letting Greg enter first.

“Greg!” Andy greeted him happily. “You look great! I love the hairdo.” 

Greg laughed. “Yeah, I thought I’d embrace the pattern hair loss. You look fabulous. Danae is good for you.” 

“Thank you.” Andy smiled. “I crazy love that woman.”

Danae showed Greg the house and got him settled upstairs in the suite. “If you need anything at all, let me know. We probably have it tucked away somewhere. Our home is your home. Feel free to make yourself comfortable.” 

“Thanks, Danae. I know what an imposition holiday company is, and I appreciate your hospitality.” 

“Come on, Greg. You’re family, not company.” She hugged him. “Come down when you’re ready. We usually sit outside in the evening and sip wine by the pool. You’ll meet the kids in the morning. They’re on leave from school until the first of the year.” 

“I might just join you. It’s been a long time since I’ve had wine.” Greg unpacked his few things into the empty dresser in the suite, slipped into a pair of slippers and joined Danae and Andy on the patio. 


Andy was up early for a team meeting the next morning. The game was scheduled for 4:00 that afternoon, and he would have no time at home between the meeting and the game. Greg was upstairs, asleep, and Andy was happy he would be at the house while the game was in process. But he regretted that he would miss the kids and their excitement, waiting for Father Winter to arrive. 

He kissed Danae gently before he left the house. “Mmm, good morning, my handsome prince,” she said sleepily.

“Good morning beautiful,” he answered. “I am leaving for the day, baby. I just wanted a little sugar before I had to go.” He sat on the bed next to her, and she sat up to kiss him. 

“I’m glad you woke me. I’m going to miss you today. The kids will all be in bed when you get home, but Darcey and Clint are coming tonight and tomorrow for dinner.” 

“I’m so glad Greg is here with you. I feel better about being gone today.” He brushed her hair out of her face. “Oh honey, I love you. Don’t have too much fun without me today.” He kissed her again.

“I love you too, babe. We’ll be here when you come home. Hurry back.” He stood to leave and took her hand, kissed it, their grasp broke as he walked away from her.

The bedside clock read 7:30. The kids were home, and she planned to sleep until Emmitt wanted breakfast. But half an hour later, Greg found his way to the kitchen, hoping to find some coffee and his family. Danae heard him looking through cabinets, and chuckled. I guess I’m up, she thought. 

“Good morning, Greg,” she chirped. “I see you need some morning brew. I’ll get it.” 

“Yeah, I don’t feel human without it.” He sat at the dining room table. “You two really have a beautiful life here, don’t you?” 

“We do. Andy is a good provider, but days like today are hard. He’s going to miss so much tonight because of his work.” She sat beside Greg and sighed. “I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I feel bad for him. He’s always gone.” 

“I was married to my job for so many years. Working my fingers to the bone, never home, never had time for me. I was with Layla for many years, but she left me when I couldn’t give her enough of myself. And then…” his voice trailed off. 

“And then what, honey?” 

“I was tired all the time, everything hurt. So I went to the doctor for a check-up and my blood work came back abnormal. Long story short, Nae, I have cancer.”

Tears stung her eyes. “You what?” 

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“I don’t have much time left. The doctor told me to get my affairs in order. That’s why I sent you the rings. I was afraid I wouldn’t get here to give them to you in person, but I knew I had to come.” 

The present. His dad’s wedding ring and his mother’s anniversary band. “When? When did you find this out?” Danae dabbed tears with her shirt. “I can’t believe this.” 

“About six months ago. I’ve been in treatment for the past five months, but it hasn’t helped. I wanted to take this trip because I always felt bad I never came when you asked me to.” He looked down at his hands. “I only have about another six weeks, by the doctor’s best estimate. This is as good as I’ve felt in a month, so I’m glad I made it. I got to see paradise.” 

Danae couldn’t speak. She only hugged her cousin and let tears stain her face. “Well, sweetie, I’m happy you get to spend your last Snowflake Day here with us.” She kissed his forehead. 

“Thanks. It means everything to me that Darcey and her family are coming tonight, too. I can’t wait to see her.” Danae brought him a cup of coffee. “I’m not supposed to have this either, but at this point, it makes no difference. I’m a dead man either way. I might as well enjoy what’s left.” 

She only smiled weakly at him, her heart, broken.

*****

Dinner was at six, and Danae got the meal started before noon. Emmitt was napping, and the two older children were playing with Greg. “Do you need help, Nae?” Greg asked. “I don’t want to freeload.” 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she chuckled. “Play with the kids. Tell them stories. Show them pictures. Bond with them. This is their only chance.” 

Greg nodded and began telling stories about their mother and Aunt Darcey when they were little and they listened with great interest. Their giggles filled the house with every funny and embarrassing story he told. Oh, how she wished things were different. 

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Her cell phone rang just before 3:30, Andy’s cell phone number on the Caller ID. “Hey honey,” he greeted her. “I just wanted to check in, see how things are going.”

“They’re going. It smells good in here. I have dinner planned for six, but I’ll keep yours warm. Lysie and Eamon are having a grand time with Greg.” She walked toward their bedroom and closed the door behind her. “I have some news when you get home tonight.”

“Oh?” he half-smiled, hoping it would be a preview of the holiday festivities. 

“I will tell you later,” she said, her voice shaky, on the verge of cracking. Her breath hitched, and she choked on a sob as she exhaled.

“Is something wrong, honey?” 

“Yes, but I don’t want to say it on the phone. It’s not good.” 

“Is it Devin? I will kill him if he comes near the —”

“No, babe, it’s not Devin. Please don’t try to pull it out of me. I will tell you later.” She wiped a tear from her eyes and sniffled. 

“Okay, honey. I will wait. Hey, I love you.” 

“I love you too. Wish everyone a happy holiday for me?” 

“You bet I will, baby. I’ll see you around nine tonight.” 

“It’s a date.” She blew a kiss on the phone and hung up.

“Are you okay, Nae?” Greg asked as she walked from the bedroom.

“Yeah, it was Andy. I didn’t want the kids to hear. He had some private information about Father Winter.” 

Elyse heard her and her ears perked up. “What did Daddy say?” she asked. 

“Daddy told me that he knows for certain you and Eamon and Emmitt are on the Good List this year.”

Elyse looked at Eamon and they both smiled and squealed. Greg laughed. “See? I told you!” Since they got up that morning, Greg had both kids hanging off him, playing with him. That’s it, guys. Make memories with him, Danae thought, dreading a time when memories were all that was left of him.

Darcey, Clint and their two boys walked through the door about half an hour later, a beautiful pie in her hands. She set it down on the counter and walked to Greg. “You are a sight for sore eyes, mister,” she said and wrapped him in a hug. “How are you?” She looked him over. He does not look good. 

“I’m doing okay, Darce. Man oh man, it is so good to see you.” He turned to Clint and shook his hand. “Clint! How are you? Are you taking care of my cousin?” 

“You know it. Good to see you, Greg!” 

“Come on Greg!” Elyse whined. “Come play with us!” Noel and Shan joined their cousins, and soon all five of them were keeping busy with games, tickle fights and stories. Darcey helped Danae in the kitchen, while Clint helped Greg with kid duty. Danae was surprised to see how Noel had grown in the past six months. He was almost as tall as Clint, and he was only eight years old

“It doesn’t seem right without Andy here. He’s always the life of the party,” Darcey remarked. 

“I meant to put the game on for background noise, but it would just remind me that Devin is in town, and Andy isn’t home.” She finished chopping up potatoes from the garden and set the pot on the stove to rest. 

“Oh, I forgot he’s in town. Is Andy freaking out?” Darcey stole a strip of pepper Danae had cut up and munched on it.

“You could say that. I think Greg being here is comforting to him, though.”

“I meant to ask you, Nae, is Gregory okay? He looks different, slender.” 

“It’s not my place to say, Darce. He will tell you in his own timing.” 

Darcey plopped down on a stool. “Well, I didn’t want to hear that. That means something is wrong.”

“I’ve already said too much.” Danae shook her head. “Please, don’t try to coax it out of me. It’s Greg’s news to tell, not mine.” She wiped a tear from her eyes, hoping Darcey didn’t notice.

When dinner was ready, Danae and Darcey called the family to sit. The girls had prepared a turkey with all the fixings, and the meal smelled heavenly. The only person noticeably missing was Andy. 

Greg stood and offered a toast. “To my wonderful family and friends. To a lifetime of love. Happy Snowflake Day.”

“Cheers!” Everyone said in unison. Clint carved the turkey, and dinnertime chatter reverberated off the walls of the dining area. In the living room, the game played, cheers from the home crowd rang as the Sharks scored goal after goal. 

“Danae, you are a fantastic cook,” Greg sat back in his chair and patted his belly. “I am stuffed.” 

“Thank you, Greg,” she beamed. Danae took pride in her cooking ability. Everything she learned came from her mother, Charlotte.

“How did the game end up? It’s quiet in the living room.” Clint stood to bring dishes to the kitchen and checked the final score on the way back. “Holy cow, 14-0 Sharks!” he exclaimed.

Danae smiled. There was always a celebration when they won an important game. “Andy will be in a good mood when he comes home,” she beamed. And she couldn’t wait.

*****

The mood at the stadium was jubilant. Andy had a great time watching Devin and his team run in circles trying to figure out which plays to make. Aaron had a knack of keeping five steps ahead of every team they played. It was almost unfair. 

Almost.

After the game, Andy met with the guys in the locker room briefly. “Gentlemen, congratulations on another game well played. Go home and be with your families tonight, relax and enjoy the holiday. You have well earned it. And on behalf of myself, my wife Danae and our three children, I’d like to wish you all a blessed holiday. We’ll see you after Snowflake Day!”

Aaron caught up with him before he went to the media room for the after game presser. “Hey, Murphy. Are we still on for tomorrow? What do you need me to bring?” 

“We are most definitely still on. And just bring yourself, whatever you want to drink, and a hearty appetite. You know Danae has something spectacular planned for dinner tomorrow. Oh, and your suit if you want to swim.” 

Aaron straightened out his tie in the green room. “You got it. It will be weird this year without Wyatt. Silly fool got himself a woman. Now he has to spend it with her family.” 

Andy chuckled. “You mean he gets to spend it with her family. He loves her. I’m sure he doesn’t mind.” 

“Yeah, I’ve never seen him like this. I’m happy for them.” Aaron smiled. “How do I look?”

“You look like a champion, Aaron. As always.” They patted each other on the back and walked to the media room together.

At the house, the children were getting ready for bed, but waited in front of the television to see their father. Elyse swooned when Andy’s face appeared on the large screen television, and Eamon smiled. Emmitt toddled to the screen and babbled, smiling and squealing in his three-year-old voice. The presser only lasted a few minutes, and the game coverage ended. 

“Okay kiddos, off to bed! You know Father Winter won’t come if you are still awake.” Danae scooted them off to their bedrooms, and picked Emmitt up, making the rounds for kisses and hugs. Noel and Shan cuddled up in the boys’ room on the floor until Darcey and Clint were ready to leave. 

The adults cleaned the kitchen and mess, and Danae made a plate for Andy and kept it warm in the oven. To keep the noise at a minimum, they retreated to the patio. Clint lit a fire in the pit, and they all sat around laughing and telling stories.

Andy opened the front door shortly before nine o’clock, and was surprised to see the house was quiet. But the glow of the fire outside lured him. With his dinner plate in hand, he joined his family. Danae hopped up to greet him with a kiss, and he winked at her. 

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Andy was ravenous and savored every bite. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast more than twelve hours earlier. Everyone was enjoying the evening with a glass of wine, the chatter mostly about the game. And Devin came up in the discussion.

“What is that little ray of sunshine up to, Andy?” Greg asked. 

“Hopefully, he’s staying far away from here tomorrow. Their team has activity scheduled, so he won’t have much free time.” He stood and brought his plate to the kitchen. 

Greg looked around the pit at the faces of his family. He hated to break news like this just before the holiday, but he had come to learn that tomorrow was never a guarantee. No better time than now, he thought. When Andy rejoined them, dressed casually in his flannel pants and a muscle shirt, Greg got everyone’s attention.

“I have some news I want to share with you.” Danae blinked back hot tears. “You all know Danae has been after me since you relocated here to come visit. Had I known what a beautiful place this is, I might have followed you here.” The group laughed. 

“The truth is, I’ve always been married to my job. I never took time for myself, for Layla. We separated about six months ago after a routine checkup uncovered an illness.” Greg paused to take a breath. It was harder to say with an audience than it had been with just Danae, and he wasn’t sure he’d make it without choking up.

“I’ve been in chemotherapy for the past five months, but the treatments have been unsuccessful.” Darcey gasped, and tears welled in her eyes. “The doctors say I have anywhere from four to six weeks to live, give or take a few. He told me to get my affairs in order, so here I am. I wanted to spend my last holiday with my family.” Gasps and sobs were heard around the fire pit. 

Darcey sniffled. “I knew something wasn’t right, but I never expected this, Greg. This is unbelievable.” 

“Well, it was a shock for me, too. And with no family back in the Shores, I couldn’t tolerate spending the holiday alone. Coming here was a no-brainer. I knew I had to come. To see all of you. To say goodbye.” 

That was it for Danae. The tears came, and they came hard. Andy rubbed her back and whispered to her. “Was this your news, baby?” She nodded, grasping at him to hold her. 

Andy spoke. “You don’t deserve this, Greg. You’re my age. We’re only thirty-three! My goodness, we’re too young for this mess.” He wiped a tear from his eyes. “I’m so sorry, man.” 

Clint was stunned. Though he didn’t know Greg well, Clint knew what he meant to Darcey. “Me too. I’m sorry. But, at least you’re here. These girls will make it count.” He smiled at his wife and her sister. Together, they had a way of making everything good.

“I’ve spent most of my day playing with your children, Andy. They are just like their Mama. Sweet, tender-hearted, loving. They didn’t know me from anyone, but they were all over me from the time they got up until we sat for dinner. It was almost as though Lysie had some kind of intuition. She never left my side all day.” 

Andy smiled. He sure was proud of his girl. “That’s my baby,” he gloated. “A daddy’s girl if I’ve ever seen one.” Then, something tickled his memory. Andy remembered the night Lionel had passed away when Elyse had called him ‘Papa.’ And he remembered Tarah’s words: Little ones have a way of knowing things we can’t possibly understand. Suddenly, her words had a whole new meaning.

After the news began to sink in a bit, and the topic eventually changed to something more cheerful, Andy stood. “Baby, I’m exhausted, and I’m sure those munchkins will have us up before dawn. I hate to do this, but I’m off to bed.” He walked to Danae and kissed her. Into her ear, he whispered, “Wake me when you come to bed, honey. I’m sure you will need me.” She nodded and kissed him goodnight.

“Oh, babe. Is Aaron coming tomorrow?” she almost forgot to ask him.

“Yes, he’s very excited, too,” he replied. Andy said goodnight once more and walked through the French doors that led to the bedroom.

Greg piped up. “Aaron is the coach, right?” 

Danae nodded. “He’s a brilliant coach, too. His plays are genius. No team can figure out what he will do next. It’s especially fun to watch, and I really don’t like football that much.” 

Greg cocked his head. “Football?” 

Danae laughed. “Yep. That’s what it’s called here. It’s the official pastime on the island, too. But don’t dare call it ‘soccer’. They will bite your head off!” 

He laughed. “Got it.”

Clint looked at his watch. “Kitten, it’s after eleven. We should get the boys home. Shan will have us up early in the morning.” 

“You’re right, Boo,” Darcey answered. She stood and hugged Danae. “Thank you for cooking such a fantastic meal. You outdid yourself.” 

“My pleasure! Tomorrow, my life of the party will be here with me. He can’t wait!” Danae hugged both of them before they went to wake the boys. Clint ended up carrying Shan over his shoulder. “We’ll see you tomorrow! Happy Snowflake Day guys!”

Darcey blew kisses as they walked to their car, and Danae watched as they safely got in and drove away.

Greg walked to Danae and hugged her. “Thank you again for having me. This means everything—”

Danae put her finger over his lips. “We love having you here. You should get some rest. We have a long, exciting day ahead of us.” She kissed his cheek. “I love you, Greg.” 

“I love you too, Nae.” He smiled at her and walked to his suite, tired but happy.

Danae tiptoed into their bedroom, and Andy was sound asleep. She undressed and slipped into bed with him, snuggling into his arms. Though he wanted her to wake him, she was content to fall asleep wrapped up with him. And she did just that.


Snowflake Day Morning…

Eamon tiptoed out of his bedroom and saw the lights sparkling on the tree, mountains of presents under it. His eyes lit up, filled with the wonder of childhood and expectation. He had never seen so many presents under the tree, not that he could remember in his five years. Excitedly, he ran to Elyse’s bedroom, but she was still asleep. So he did what any good five-year-old boy would do: he snuck into Danae and Andy’s bedroom, climbed on the bed with them and gave it a good jump or two. 

“Mama! Daddy!” he squealed. “Father Winter came! Wake up! Wake up!” 

Andy snorted quietly when he felt the bed bouncing. He and Danae were naked, wrapped up in one another, and he truly had no idea where the boy found room to jump. But there he was in the pajamas Danae had bought for him, ones that matched the pajamas she bought for the family to wear. 

Eamon saw his jumpy petition was getting him nowhere, so he walked to where Andy pretended to sleep and wiggled his fingers with ticklish intentions. Andy was quick and snatched the boy’s hands, making him squeal with delight. 

“What are you gonna do now, son?” he laughed as he grabbed the boy down on top of him. The ruckus woke Danae, along with a swift kick in the bladder, courtesy of Eamon’s little feet.

“Thanks, babe,” she said sarcastically. “You made him kick me.” 

He belly laughed. “I’m sorry, honey.” He turned to Eamon. “Go wake Lysie and tell her Father Winter has been here. Mama and Daddy will be out in a few minutes, okay?”

“Yeah!” he squealed again, jumped down from the bed and they laughed as his little feet pattered to Elyse’s bedroom. 

Danae got up and ran for the bathroom. “Curse you, Andy. I almost didn’t make it!” she huffed, laughing. All things considered, it was a great way to wake up. 

“I’m sorry, love.” He got up to get dressed, but stood in the doorway to the bathroom before he did and struck a pose. “This is what you gave up last night by not waking me,” he teased. 

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, you were exhausted. You need your beauty rest.” She gave it right back, and he chased her. When he caught her, she turned around in his embrace and kissed him. “Get dressed. We have excited children waiting for us.” 

You have an excited husband right now, he thought. “Dang it,” he said with feigned exasperation. “You, me, later. No exceptions this time!” 

“Deal,” she smiled.

Danae walked to get Emmitt from his crib while Andy made coffee. The clock on the stove read 6:32 am. They let us sleep longer than I thought they would. Heavy footsteps descended the stairs, and a weak greeting left Greg’s lips. Danae could tell he wasn’t having a very good morning.

“Coffee, Greg?” she asked. “Andy is making a fresh pot as we speak.” 

He groaned. “I’ll try.” A bottle of medication rattled in his pocket. “This first. It should help with the nausea. I forgot a glass of water when I went upstairs last night.” 

“I’m going to get breakfast for the baby, and we can let the kids tear into stuff.” She turned to Greg. “I’ll make sure they leave a spot for you on the sofa.” He nodded, holding the wall on the step.

The family gathered around the tree, the excitement nearing peak capacity. Andy smiled at his two oldest. “Are you kids excited or what?” 

“Please, Daddy!” Elyse begged. 

“Wait until Greg gets settled in,” he said. 

“They don’t have to wait for me,” Greg countered, smiling. “Let them open their gifts, for goodness sakes. Don’t you see they’re chomping at the bit?”

“Are you sure, hon?” Danae asked. 

“Yeah, let them be kids.” He stood on the steps, trying to get his bearings.  

Andy made the kids sit down for a minute or two, their eyes closed tightly, while he went into their bedroom closet and pulled out the two big gifts: brand new bicycles. He stood them up, their eyes still closed, and made them wait. Danae was wrapped in his arms, waiting for their reaction.

“Open your eyes,” Andy said, beaming with excitement. 

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“A bicycle!!” Elyse squealed. “Thank you, Mama and Daddy!”

“Oh yeah!” Eamon shouted. “Now you gotta teach me to ride it, Daddy!”

Danae walked to the kitchen to get coffee and a glass of water for Greg. “Thanks, Nae. I should be feeling better shortly,” he nodded as he swallowed two huge, bitter pills. 

It didn’t take long for the kids to plow through the gifts, but one had Danae’s name on it. She and Andy had stopped exchanging gifts a couple of years ago, but he surprised her. She picked it up and shook it, trying to guess.

“Give it up, baby. You’ll never guess.” Greg stirred as he lounged on the sofa, Emmitt sleeping curled up in his arms.

“What is it?” she asked. 

Andy belly laughed. “I guess you’ll have to open it to find out!”

She gave him a dirty look and chuckled. “Alright, alright. You win.” Carefully, she opened the paper wrapper, taking her time. She knew Andy was excited, and she took great joy in prolonging the anticipation.

“Oh come on, woman!” he joked. “Open it already!” 

She smiled playfully at him. The paper covered a generic-looking brown box. The suspense was killing him. She peeked inside the box and dug through wads of tissue. And then she saw them.

“Diving fins?” she was shocked. “Does this mean—”

“Davy Jones Locker, baby. Just like you’ve always wanted.” 

She jumped to her feet and pulled him up with superhuman strength, and hugged him. “I can’t believe this! Oh, Andy, you’ve outdone yourself yet again.” She kissed him tenderly. “Thank you!” 

“You’re welcome, honey. Happy Snowflake Day.” 

Danae gave him a knowing smile, and he winked at her. 

Andy got the paper mess cleaned up while Danae worked on starting dinner. She was making a rib roast with everything. Most of the vegetables were from their extensive garden and were fresh picked. Everyone was due to arrive around noon, so there was plenty of time to cook and play with the kids before their company came.

Greg stood and stumbled. “I’m going to go back and rest awhile before Darcey and Clint come. Please don’t let me miss them.” 

“Do you need help up the stairs?” she asked.

“I think I’m okay. But thank you.” He walked slowly to the steps and climbed them gingerly. Danae heard the door open and close quietly. 

“Andy, we can’t let him go back home to die alone. Darcey and I are all he has.” She wiped a tear from her eyes. 

He thought for a moment and nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Nae. If he has no insurance here, we’ll cover him. We have more than enough. Besides, Darcey can look in on him, too. There’s no reason for him to be alone, not now.” 

She walked over to where he stood and embraced him. “I love you, Andy.”

“Oh baby, you have such a kind, generous heart. It’s one of your best features.” He kissed her tenderly. “I love you, too.” 

“Should we tell him together now, or wait for Darce and Clint to come? I mean, if we’re volunteering her for this, she might want a say in it.” 

“I think she would be hurt if we didn’t include her, baby. She adores him, too.” Andy was right. He usually was.

“It’s settled,” she nodded. “Before we wake him, we’ll talk to Darcey and Clint. He can stay here with us, since I’m always home. We might have to switch bedrooms with him, though, once he…” her voice trailed off into silence. She couldn’t bring herself to think it, never mind say it.

“I already thought of that. If we do, we do. No harm done.”

Danae smiled at him. “It’s my last gift to my Uncle Chris. He would be peaceful knowing Greg was surrounded by family.” 

Andy gently rubbed her back. “This will be difficult. I know you know that, though.” 

“I know. But I want to do this.” For the first time since he had told her the news, she felt peaceful, knowing she was doing exactly the right thing.

*****

Shortly before noon, Aaron plowed through the front door, bearing a cooler with chilled wine and a bag of gifts, mostly for the children, but two were special. “Happy Snowflake Day!” he called in the foyer. 

“Aaron! My brother,” Andy chirped. “Happy Snowflake Day, man.” Quietly, he whispered, “I see you have the goods.” Aaron nodded. “Just leave it under the tree and join us in the kitchen.”

Danae walked to Aaron and kissed his cheek. “Happy Snowflake Day, sweetie,” she greeted him.

“Miss Danae, the same to you.” He returned a hug and a peck on the cheek. 

Andy was about to open a bottle of wine when Darcey called in the door. “We’re here!” she yelled. 

“We’re in the kitchen, Darce. The kids are in the playroom upstairs, and Emmitt is taking a nap. He was a tired little munchkin this morning.” Shan and Noel scaled the steps in seconds, headed for the playroom. 

“How’s Greg this morning, Nae?” she asked, looking around for him.

“He looked terrible this morning, so I hope a nap will refresh him a little.” Danae finished scooping coffee into the machine and started a fresh pot. “Andy and I want to talk to you about Greg, Darce.” 

The four of them sat at the dining room table while Aaron changed into swim trunks. “What’s up?”

“I was thinking, with him not being well this morning Darce, I can’t let him go back to Starlight Shores to die alone. He has no one there. Layla left him, and Devin is worthless. Andy and I want him to stay here with us, until…” 

Darcey understood. “I think that’s a fantastic idea, Danae.”

“In light of that, I have a huge favor to ask of you.” 

Darcey nodded. “I know what you’re going to ask, and I’d love to.” She sighed. “I hate this for him, but I want to honor Mama and Uncle Chris. I will do anything you need for him, Nae.”

Danae hugged her sister. “It’s settled then. We’ll tell him in a bit.”

*****

The Proposition…

Danae padded up the steps to wake Greg for visiting. She knocked gently on the door, but he was napping, dressed in the pajamas she had given him. They matched the ones the family wore that morning. Aaron had promised he would take family photos with Greg in them. They were sure to be cherished for many years to come. 

She walked into the suite and touched his shoulder gently. He startled awake, looking wide-eyed and frightened. “Gregory, it’s just me,” she said softly. 

He shook his head and sat up. “I’m sorry, Nae. I must have really been asleep.” 

“Are you feeling better?” she asked.

“A little. I have to accept that those pills won’t work forever.” He sighed. “I’m not looking forward to going back to snow. This place soothes my soul.”

Danae smiled. “Everyone is here. You can stay in your jammies. We’re all wearing them downstairs.” 

“Sounds like a plan.” Together, as they walked down the steps, she steadied him. 

“It smells great down here, Nae. Whatever you’re making, I can’t wait to try it.” Greg’s mouth was actually watering. He hadn’t eaten this well in months. 

“Standing rib roast,” she boasted. Another of Charlotte’s recipes, though this one wasn’t prepared as often as the others. 

Greg sat on the sofa, and they all gathered around him. Andy spoke. “Greg, Danae and I have a proposition for you, and I hope you will seriously consider it.” 

“I’m listening,” he replied. 

Danae spoke first. “I know you’re not getting better, Greg. And it breaks my heart to know that when you leave here, you’re going home to die alone. I’m not okay with that.” 

“Well, I’m not okay with dying either, but I have no choice in the matter—”

“Let me put it this way. I’m not okay with you going home to be alone. You should have your family with you.” 

“Yeah, but you guys are planted here. I can’t ask you to come back with me.” 

“What if we asked you to stay here with us? Greg, let me and Darcey take care of you. Please don’t go back.”

“Wow. There’s so much to consider. Treatment plans, medication. My doctors know my case back home. I don’t know…”

“I can have your records sent here, Gregory,” Darcey assured him. “I can take care of everything you need easily. I make free house calls.” She grinned.

“But you have small children, Danae. I can’t impose on your time with them.”

“The two oldest go to private school during the day, and Emmitt naps most of the morning. I have nothing but time.” Her eyes pleaded with him.

Every objection he had was met with sound rebuttal, and he had no reason to say no. But he really didn’t want to object, and he was grateful for the offer. “Okay,” he nodded. “I’ll stay.” 

The girls hugged him at the same time, making a Greg sandwich with twin bread. “The first order of business will be to switch bedrooms. Andy and I will take the upstairs suite, and you will have the master suite to yourself.”

“I don’t want to put you out of your bedroom, Nae.” 

“It’s nothing. I don’t want to worry about you on the stairs. I’ll swap everything out tomorrow morning. I need to launder the bedding anyway.” 

“I feel bad about this, Danae,” Greg protested.

“Don’t,” Andy countered. “We want to do this. Please let us.” 

Greg’s eyes filled with tears. For the first time since he got sick, he felt at peace. 

The family sat around the tree for the second time that morning, the kids thundered down the steps. With Emmitt snuggled up in Greg’s arms, Aaron sat on the floor, ready to hand out gifts to the kids. But he also handed one to Darcey and one to Clint.

“What is this?” Darcey asked. “I thought we agreed to get stuff for the kids only.” 

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Andy said. Oh, he knew alright. And they were going to love it.

Darcey gave him a stink eye. “I’m watching you, Murphy.” He stuck his tongue out at her. 

Aaron watched Andy’s face as he tried to keep it straight. And he snorted at his best friend. Darcey and Clint opened the gifts together, and they were both surprised. “Oh my goodness! Andy!” Darcey almost cried as she inspected the gift: a home team manager’s jersey like the one he had purchased for Danae a year earlier. Each shirt had their name on the back. Darcey’s shirt read Dr. Darcey, and Clint’s had his first name. 

“You guys are too much,” Clint remarked. “These are extraordinary.” 

Danae beamed. “When you come to a game with us now, you’ll be dressed in style!” 

“You knew about these, didn’t you Nae?” she asked, and Danae nodded. “This is so unexpected. Thank you both.” 

“What, am I chopped liver?” Aaron teased. 

Andy nodded his head. “I think that’s going to stick. Liver lips.” 

Aaron laughed. “Bite me, Murphy.” 

*****

Dinner was cooked, served, eaten and cleaned up. The gifts were exchanged. Everyone had gone home. The children were tucked into bed, and Greg had retired for the evening. Danae and Andy had the house to themselves. So they curled up together on the sofa, thinking about the day. The holiday had gone much differently than he had planned when he booked Danae’s diving trip. He would need to reschedule the trip a little further out. 

“A penny for your thoughts,” he said quietly as he ran his fingers through her hair.

“I’m just thinking of Greg. I think he had a good time with the kids today. I bet the pool felt good for him.” 

“I bet so. Are you sure you’re up to caring for him, Nae? It’s going to be a big job for just two people.” 

“Of course. He’s family, and I can’t turn my back on him now when he needs us the most. If he had a wife or a child, it would be different. I never guessed Layla would flake on him like that. They were almost good as married at one point. They’d been dating since high school.”

“Illness, especially terminal illness, can be rough on a relationship with no commitments. In a way, I see her point. She is young, too. I’m sure she wants kids someday soon. Greg couldn’t give her what she wanted.” Andy traced her arm and watched goosebumps form on her skin. 

“Keep that up, mister, and I’ll ravage you right here on the couch,” she flirted. 

“Promises,” he laughed. 

She got up and took his hand, pulling him. “Come on.” 

“What happened to the couch?” 

“Just never mind and come on.” She led him to their bedroom and locked the door.


Two weeks after the holiday, Andy was getting ready for an away game in Bridgeport, and he would be away overnight. Greg was still feeling decent, even though his health was steadily declining. Darcey was over every day after work to care for him and assess his needs. Overall, she was happy that he seemed to be holding steady. 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay home alone with Greg, honey?” He straightened his tie, running a bit late for his limo pickup. 

“Of course. He’s doing okay, and Darcey is here. She’ll be over after work to check on him.” She walked to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I will miss you.” 

“Oh honey, I always miss you when I’m gone. Sometimes, I hate my job, but it’s too much fun to truly hate it.” He kissed her tenderly. “Call me if something happens.”

She sighed. “Oh, believe me, I will. But he’s still doing okay. I don’t anticipate it, thankfully.” She pushed his hair behind his ear. “That looks better.” 

Andy smiled. “The limo is outside, and I need to go.” He kissed her again, grabbed his bags and walked into the living room. “Come here, kids, I need to go. I need hugs and kisses!”

Elyse and Eamon ran to him and hugged him. “I’m gonna watch the game, Daddy,” Elyse said. She covered his face in kisses. “I’m gonna miss you.” 

“I’ll miss you too, sweet pea,” he said. He hugged her tightly.

Eamon gave him a high five. “Good luck, Daddy!”

“Thanks, Champ. I’ll be home tomorrow night.” Danae held Emmitt, and he held his arms open for Andy’s attention. “Be a good boy for Mama, Emm.” He kissed the boy’s cheek, and the limo driver called the box. “I have to go. I love you, honey.” Andy kissed Danae one last time, picked up his bags and blew kisses to the kids as he walked from the house. 

Greg had been watching the family from his wheelchair and he smiled. “Those kids love their father.” 

Danae sat with Emmitt in her arms. “Yeah, they do. He adores them, too. It’s funny, Andy’s dad told me he didn’t want children until he met me. He also told us we make beautiful babies.”

“Andy’s dad sounded like a wise man.” Emmitt reached for Greg. “And I love this little boy. He’s become my snuggle buddy.” 

Danae smiled at her cousin. “He knows where to get the good cuddles.” She looked around at the mess in the house and sighed. “Lysie, Eamon. Pick up your toys please,” she called to them. “I’m going to order in tonight. I do not feel like cooking.”

“That sounds like a good plan, Nae.” Greg relaxed in his chair, Emmitt snuggled into his arms. 

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Darcey knocked on the door lightly before she opened it and called for her sister. “Nae. I’m here!” 

“Come on in,” she called back. “Greg’s in the living room with the baby.” 

Darcey walked in and saw them, and her heart melted. “Isn’t that sweet?” she whispered.

Danae nodded. “Yeah, Emmitt loves him.”

Darcey laughed. “Emmitt loves everyone. That kid doesn’t know any strangers.” 

“Don’t think that doesn’t terrify me, either! He’s fearless.” She walked to Emmitt and picked him up, kissed his cheek and set him down. “Sorry little man. Aunt Darcey needs to see Greg.” 

When she was through checking him, she drew a few vials of blood and prepared to bring them back to work for testing. “You’re a good patient, Greg,” Darcey complimented him. “I’ve seen my share of combative people. You’re an angel.” 

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“I don’t figure I have much choice anymore, Darce. I’ve resigned myself to being poked and prodded for the rest of my life, however long it is. But I can tell you now, this is so much better than waiting to die in a hospital room. Thank you.”

Screenshot-2042

 

Danae wiped a tear from her eyes. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” 

*****

Two weeks later…

A medical supply company brought in a hospital bed and placed it into Danae and Andy’s downstairs bedroom. Greg’s condition had deteriorated rapidly, and Darcey believed his time was short. She tried her best to keep the bedroom looking like a bedroom, and not a modified hospital room. She took personal time from work to help Danae, and be there to keep Greg comfortable. 

Danae knew the end would be difficult, but with Andy and Darcey there to support her, she was doing okay. On this day, Greg had put in a long, painful day, and she wanted to sleep by his side, just in case. Darcey came in to check him briefly before going to bed. 

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“How are you feeling, Gregory?” she asked. “Your color is good.” In truth, it wasn’t. Dark circles formed under his eyes, and veins showed through his skin. 

“I’ve been much better,” he joked weakly. “I have to admit, I love seeing pictures of the family. I’m so happy you have so many of them, Danae. It’s really great to see Dad again.” 

“I knew you would love the photos,” she said. “I’m staying in here tonight, Greg. We can talk as long as you’re feeling up to it.” 

He groaned in pain. “I don’t know how long, but I’d love that.” He motioned to Darcey. “When can I have something for pain, hon?” 

 

“Anytime you want it,” she replied. “Now?”

He nodded and closed his eyes.

Darcey prepared an injection for him and administered it through his IV. A smile of relief crossed his face. “Thank you.” 

“Any time, Gregory. That’s what I’m here for.” She leaned forward to kiss his forehead. His skin was cold and clammy. 

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Danae stood. “I’m going to say goodnight to Andy, and I’ll be right back.” 

Andy just put Emmitt to bed, and Elyse and Eamon were already asleep when Danae caught him at the bottom of the stairs. “I’m going to stay with Greg tonight, babe.” She hugged him close. “I’ll come get you if…” she couldn’t say it.

Andy nodded. “I hope tonight isn’t the night, but I’m here for you if it is. I love you, Nae. Sweet dreams.” 

“I love you, Andy. Sweet dreams.” She kissed him, and he turned to go upstairs. 

Darcey was in with Greg when Danae walked back into the room. “The pain meds knocked him out, so he should sleep for a few hours in comfort. You know, you don’t have to stay with him, Nae.” 

“I know, but I’m going to anyway.” She hugged her sister, pulled up a chair and rested her head on the bed, holding Greg’s hand. 

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A few hours later, Danae awakened. Greg was awake, stroking her hair gently. “Hi Nae,” he said quietly. “Would you get Darcey for me? I need pain medicine.” 

“Of course,” she said, squeezing his hand. She stood and groaned. Her back was sore from sleeping bent over. Darcey was sound asleep on the sofa in the living room.

“Darce, wake up,” she gently nudged her. “Greg needs you.” 

Darcey nodded and grabbed a pair of gloves from the bag that sat beside her. “I might as well check him over while I’m giving him meds.” 

Greg smiled when he saw her, but Darcey turned pale when she saw him. He didn’t look good. “Oh honey, how are you feeling?” 

“I’m dying, Darce. I need my family with me.” Danae turned and ran up the stairs, tears streaming down her face.

“Andy,” she nudged him. “Babe, I need you.” 

“What’s wrong, honey?” 

“Greg.” Sobs ripped through her body. “Please come with me.” He got dressed quickly and walked downstairs with her. 

Darcey was sitting on the bed examining him when Danae and Andy got back. Greg smiled weakly at them as they entered the room. She sat in the chair that she had slept in, which was now against the wall. Andy knelt down next to her, comforting her. 

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Elyse woke, hearing the commotion and walked to the bedroom. Everyone was there, and though Danae wanted her to be able to say goodbye, she didn’t want either Elyse or Eamon in the room when he died. It would be too much for them to handle. “Lysie, get Eamon, sweetheart.”

They heard the pattering of her feet to Eamon’s room and they both returned quickly. “What’s wrong, Mama?” Eamon asked. 

“Sweetheart, Greg is going to die soon, honey, and he wants to see you and Lysie.” Danae had talked with them at length about him, what was happening and why. Death wasn’t an unfamiliar concept for them. 

Elyse only wanted to sit in Danae’s lap, while Eamon knelt beside Greg’s bedside, weeping. Darcey knelt on the other side of his bed, praying to whoever would listen that he would pass peacefully and painlessly.

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Greg looked at Eamon and touched his face. “Hi, sweet boy,” he said weakly. “Can you do me a big favor?” Eamon nodded sadly. “I want you to take good care of your mama and Aunt Darcey for me. Can you do that?”

Danae choked on a sob. “Yes, I promise, Greg,” Eamon cried softly. 

“That’s my good boy.” He motioned to Elyse, but she shook her head. “That’s okay, sweetheart,” he reassured her. “You stay with your mama. Make me the same promise? That you’ll take care of your mama and Aunt Darcey for me?” She nodded her head, and Danae hugged her. Hearing the exchange between Greg and his children grieved him, and Andy stood and leaned against the wall, hiding his emotions from him. 

Danae kissed Elyse’s cheek and put her on the floor. “Come on, kids. I’ll tuck you back into bed.” She walked from the room, her babies both crying. 

“Mama, what will happen when he dies?” Elyse asked. 

“Well, his body will stop working, and he won’t be able to walk, or eat, or play with you anymore. You won’t be able to see him anymore. And sweet pea, it’s okay to miss him, and it’s okay to cry.” She kissed her daughter’s forehead and tucked her in. “Try to sleep, honey. You won’t have to go to school in the morning. I’ll excuse you.” She turned out the light. “I love you, Lysie.” 

“I love you, Mama.” 

Danae walked back to the room, and Darcey was kneeling by the bed, Greg was not awake. “It won’t be much longer,” she wept. 

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Andy was still leaning against the wall, weeping quietly. Danae hugged him and walked to Greg’s beside. Leaning over, she kissed his forehead. “Darce, he’s cold.”

Darcey took her stethoscope and listened. “His heartbeat is faint.” Danae knelt down on the side of the bed, and Andy sat in the chair behind her, his face in his hands. 

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“I don’t deal well with death,” Andy cried. “I’m sorry, Nae.” 

“We will need each other tonight, babe.” 

Greg awakened and opened his eyes. “I feel it coming for me. I don’t want to leave without telling you…” he coughed, “thank you, and I love you all…” 

A chill ran down their spines, and the odor of death permeated the room quickly. The Reaper appeared in a cloud of thick, black fog and looked around. Danae looked it in the eye, and it seemed to remember her, nodding its head to her. 

“Fly away, Greg,” she said. “Go to a place where there is no more pain. We will miss you.” Andy walked to her and gently touched her shoulder. The only sound in the room was weeping. 

The Reaper swooped his scythe and Greg was gone. The apparition left as it appeared, in a cloud of thick, black fog. 

And in a heartbeat, nothing was left of Gregory St John but a golden urn and his broken-hearted family.

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Five, Generation Five, Part One

G5 Chapter Twenty Three – Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

The next morning, Andy sat at his desk checking his email when Aaron walked past his office. “Aaron!” he yelled. “Can I see you for a minute?” 

“What’s up, Murph?” 

“Did old man Faust approach you yesterday about leaving the Sharks?” 

“The guy in the white leisure suit with the Panama hat? Yeah. He offered me an insane amount of money.”

“What did you tell him?” Andy asked.

“I told him to go pound sand. He offered me over a million a year, Andy. If I had a family to support, I still wouldn’t even think about it. I make more than enough now, and I can’t spend it all. Besides, you and Danae are my family now. I don’t want to leave here.” 

Andy smiled. “Did he approach anyone else? We can’t afford to lose players. I’m worried about Avery and Zach, though they are both contractually bound right now. A million might look good to Dina, and I know Kirby can’t top that.” 

“Not that I know of, but I’ll do some damage control during practice today.” Aaron patted Andy on the back. “Don’t worry. No one will leave here for that team if I can help it.”

“Thanks, Aaron. I got a disturbing, dishonest vibe from him, and so did Danae. Something about him isn’t right.” 

Aaron nodded in agreement. “By the way, Wyatt wants to meet for lunch again today. Are you in?”  

“Yeah, come get me when you leave. We’ll go together.” 

Andy walked to Kirby’s office, and much to his surprise, he was actually sitting behind his desk, reading the newspaper. “Hey Kirby, can I talk to you a minute?” 

“Sure, Andy. Great job on the game yesterday by the way.” 

“Thanks, but I had nothing to do with it.” He pushed some hair behind his ear and ran his fingers through it.  “Hey, do you happen to know Alonzo Faust?” 

“Hmm,” Kirby thought. “The name sounds familiar. Who is he?” 

“He’s the owner of the Dolphins. He tried to headhunt me yesterday, and he cornered Aaron, too. He offered me almost a million a year.” 

Kirby sat back in his chair, bracing for bad news. “What did you tell him?” 

“I told him I wasn’t for sale.” Andy saw relief wash over Kirby’s face. “He was throwing numbers around like nothing. There is no way my job is worth that much money.” 

“It would be to me if you decided to go.” Kirby tapped his fingers on the desk. “I can’t afford to lose you, not now.”

“How am I worth that, Kirby? I don’t even generate income on merch. My name is worth literally nothing to the team.” 

“Your work is behind the scenes. You are the unsung hero, if you will. But having you here has made my life so much easier, that I can’t let you go. I won’t let you go, so whatever it would take to keep you, I’d do it.” 

“Well, keep that in mind. There are a few vulnerable players who, if they got offered that kind of money, might decide to pack it up and leave. Oh, and Kirby?” 

“Yeah?” 

“Is it possible to get Danae her own jersey? She mentioned something about wanting to wear my jersey from last season the next time a game rolls around, but I thought maybe she would love to have her own. Maybe it would say ‘Mrs. Murphy’ on it. Or just ‘Danae’.”

“I love it, Andy. Have Aaron put you in touch with the uniform guy. She needs to have her own shirt. How about ‘Miss Danae’?”

“Hmm, that would work. Almost everyone on the isle calls her Miss Danae, so that would be better.”

“I’ll even spring for it. I’ll get her a home and an away jersey, just in case you bring her along. You do know she is welcome to accompany you at any time, right? If you’re booking a suite for you, you may as well make a date of it.”

“If she comes along, I’ll pay her way. The team shouldn’t have to do that.” 

“Nonsense!” Kirby protested. “She’s an important part of you. And anytime you want to bring her, Rae and I will take the kids for you. Corrie would love to babysit them, and Rae adores your little ones. She misses when the twins were that little.” 

“Kirby, you really need to stop spoiling us. Seriously. At some point, I won’t be worth your investment.” 

Kirby laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous, Andy. That will never happen.”

Andy smiled. “Thanks, Kirby. Really, I appreciate it.” 

“Get in touch with the uniform guy, and have him send me the bill.” Kirby waved as Andy left his office.

The next away game was in Twinbrook versus the Tigers. The chances that Danae would want to go there were pretty slim. The sleepy town of Twinbrook wasn’t exactly a desired destination. Andy took a walk to Aaron’s office and sat in front of his desk while he finished up a phone call. 

“What can I do for you, Murph?”

“I need the name of the uniform guy. I need two manager jerseys.” 

“Uh oh. What happened to yours?” 

“Not for me. I thought I’d surprise Danae for our anniversary and get her a couple of jerseys with her name on them. She wanted to wear mine the next time she goes to a game.”

“Oh, cool. What are you going to have printed for her name?” 

“I was thinking about ‘Miss Danae’ since everyone here seems to call her that. Unless you have a better one.”

“Actually, that’s good. Everyone does call her Miss Danae. It’s perfect.” Aaron checked his watch. “Wyatt wants to meet us at the sushi place a few doors down for lunch. I don’t know if that’s your thing. It’s not mine.” Aaron gagged, and then chuckled. 

“I hope they have other stuff besides sushi, or Wyatt will be eating alone,” Andy laughed. “I’ll see you then.” 

Aaron handed the number for Danae’s shirts to Andy and waved as his phone rang.


Three weeks later…

The plane touched down at the airport thirty minutes outside of Starlight Shores. Andy, Danae, Aaron, and the entire Sharks team were aboard. The matchup between the Llamas and the Sharks was scheduled for the following day. 

“Nae? Sweetie, we’re on the ground.” He gently touched her shoulder, and she roused from her nap. 

“Already?” 

“Yes, love. Already.” He smiled at her. 

They gathered her carry on bag and waited for the team to deplane before they stood. Aaron, Andy, and Danae were sharing a limo to the resort just on the outskirts of the Shores, someplace new and not in town. When they arrived, Andy helped her from the car, and the three of them walked into the lobby together. 

“You up for a nightcap?” Aaron asked him. “We could hit the strip and just have a few.”

As much as Andy wanted to have a few drinks with the guys, he promised Danae he wouldn’t drink anymore. “No, why don’t you and Wyatt go without me tonight. I have other things to do.” He winked at Aaron. “Maybe when we get back?” 

“You’re just no fun, Murph,” Aaron teased him.

He and Danae walked hand in hand around the grounds until they found the suite. He opened the door and let her in first. “It is weird being here, Andy.” 

“I know. It was weird two years ago, too.”

“Should I try to contact Devin? Let him know I’m in town. Maybe he’s changed.”

“Baby, if I were you, I’d steer clear of him. Remember the pictures? He still has them. Don’t give him an excuse to release them.” 

Danae sighed. “Sometimes I forget how wretched he really is.” 

“Life is bliss on the island without him. Let’s keep it that way, my sweet. He’s no good, and he will die a bitter, lonely old man.” He wrapped his arms around her. “I have a better idea anyway.” 

“You always have better ideas,” she purred at him. 

“Well, that too. But I have a gift for you, my love.”

“Oh? When did you have time to do that? I’ve been with you this whole time.” 

“I brought it from home. Baby, you’re going to love this.” He brought a wrapped bundle from his overnight bag. “This is for you.” 

Her eyes widened. “What is it?” 

His smile was pure mischief. “You’re going to have to open it to find out, my sweet.” 

She tore into the paper, and immediately happy tears filled her eyes. “Is this what I think it is?” 

“That depends. What do you think it is?” 

“Is this my own Sharks jersey? What number?” She took the shirt from its packaging and looked at it. “Oh, Andy! It’s mine!” Her heart melted when she saw Miss Danae printed on the back. “This is perfect!” She wrapped her arms around him tightly and kissed him. And that’s when she saw the second shirt in the darker, home game colors. 

“Do you like it, baby?” 

“Like it? No, I love it!” She covered his face in kisses. “My own jersey, with MY name on it! It’s perfect!”

“When you asked about wearing my old shirt, I thought you should have your own. It was Kirby’s idea to get you the two colors. He really adores you, sweetie.” 

“I’ll have to thank him when we get home tomorrow night.” 

“Yeah, about that,” he smiled. “We’re not going back tomorrow night.” 

“W-we aren’t?” 

“No, baby. We’re staying a few days. Starting tomorrow night, I have us booked at the bed and breakfast in the honeymoon suite.”

“For real?” 

“For real, honey.” 

“Andy, you’re just something else, you know that?” She wrapped her arms around him and nuzzled her face into his neck.

“I have one more big surprise, but you’re going to have to wait for that one.” 

“I can wait one more day. After that, all bets are off.” She kissed him tenderly.

“You’re in luck, then. That’s when it happens.” 

“Andy, thank you. I couldn’t love you more if I tried.” 

“I have barely gotten started yet, baby.”


Andy got up the next morning and yawned. Danae was still sleeping soundly, but he couldn’t let her stay asleep much longer. The game was at noon, and there wasn’t much time to pack up. He carefully removed his uniform for the meeting and game. 

Before he took a shower, he decided to wake her, so he climbed back into bed and wrapped his arms around her.

“Baby,” he purred as he kissed her. “It’s time to get up.” She opened her eyes and smiled.

“Good morning, my handsome prince,” she said. “Happy anniversary.” 

“Good morning, my beautiful princess. Happy anniversary to you, too!” He snuggled her to him and kissed her once more. “We don’t have much time this morning, sweetie. You’ll have to come to the team meeting with me.” 

“No problem,” she yawned. “Not much got scattered around last night, and I’m going to wear my new jersey today.”  

“I can’t wait to see how it looks on you, my sweet.” He took her hand and led her to the bathroom. “Let’s shower together, you know, to save some time.” 

“Sure. Save some time,” she snickered. 

At eight o’clock, they were both ready for the limo to bring them to the Binder Clips Center for the team meeting. “I catered a breakfast meeting for the guys, so we don’t have to worry about that.”

“How are the bags going to make it to the bed and breakfast?” 

“The limo driver will take them and leave them in our room. We’re going there right after the game is over.” 

“Okay, but that’s odd.”

“Well, I don’t want you to run into Devin while we’re at the stadium, honey. We’re limiting your potential exposure.”

“Oh yes, wise move,” she agreed. It wasn’t the real reason, but he wasn’t ready to reveal it yet, either.

The limo brought them to the visiting team locker room entrance, and Andy felt weird. For so many years, this was the home field. He fully expected Danae to be emotional, especially when she saw Travis’ retired number hanging in the stadium. 

The guys looked at Andy strangely when he walked Danae to the board room that sat off the main locker room. The entrance was in the tunnel, and he guided her inside. 

“Baby, just relax here until the guys are ready.” He pulled a chair out for her to sit, and poured her a cup of coffee. “The team meets in the locker room, but breakfast will be delivered at any time. You can help yourself while we do our thing, and I’ll join you afterward.”

“This is exciting!” she said happily. “But it feels weird being the visiting team.”

“It’s going to get weirder, so hang on.” He kissed her and left the room. 

Breakfast was delivered and served while the meeting was going on. Though Andy told her to get started without them, it felt funny to her, so she waited, sipping on coffee and smiling at the intermittent cheers from the pep talk. 

Aaron was the first one in the board room after the meeting to refill his coffee and he smiled at Danae. “I love the shirt, sis. It looks great on you.” 

“Thanks, Aaron. I love it. So, you going to bring us another win today?” 

“Hopefully. Devin is counting on the plays we had last year, but I’m not using any of them. Let’s see how he deals with change.” He tried to fake an evil laugh, but he just looked silly.

“You guys got this,” Danae said confidently. 

“I’m surprised to see you not rooting for the Llamas, Danae. I know your heart still belongs here.” Aaron took a sip of coffee and a croissant.

“My heart is where Andy is. I can’t wait to see Daddy’s number in the stadium, but I’m a Sharks girl all the way now.” 

Little by little, the team poured into the board room for breakfast, but Andy was still nowhere to be found.

*****

Andy had stepped outside the locker room to confirm their dinner reservation when someone shoved him from behind, nearly knocking him off his feet. 

“You!” Devin Jones barked at Andy. “What are YOU doing here?”

“You know that I manage the visiting team, do you not?”

“I don’t care what you do in your miserable life. You aren’t welcome in this stadium.” 

“That’s not your decision,” Andy growled. 

“You want a piece of me, Murphy? You can’t handle me.” Devin spat. 

“I will not fight you, Jones.”

“Coward,” Devin taunted Andy, trying to bait him into a fight. As Andy turned to walk away, Devin charged him, hitting him in the back and pushing him forward. He tried to catch himself, but he landed on the pavement. He hit his head on the building and made it bleed profusely, and his work pants were torn, his knee scraped and bloodied. 

“You are contemptible,” he said as he got to his feet. “Stay away from me, and stay away from my wife. Do you understand me?” Andy spat a glob of blood from his mouth. 

“Gutless punk,” Devin continued to taunt him as he walked back to the locker room. 

Wyatt saw Andy with blood dripping down his face and torn pants. “What happened to you?” 

“I had a run-in with my brother-in-law outside. He sucker-punched me as I walked away and knocked me down.” Andy shook his head. “Danae cannot see me like this. She will freak out.” 

Wyatt checked him out. “What size pants do you wear, Andy? I might have an extra pair of slacks you can wear until we get home. You can’t go to the game like that.”

“No, I’m good. I just don’t want Nae to see the blood.” 

Andy had no sooner spoken the words when Danae rounded the corner, searching for him. And when she saw blood on his face and in his hair, she did exactly as he predicted.

“What happened?!” she gasped. “I couldn’t find you anywhere! I was getting worried.” She hugged him to her, but he groaned in pain as she pulled him. “Andy, please!” 

He sighed. “Devin cornered me outside while I made a phone call. He waited until I turned my back to him and shoved me down. I think I hit my head on the sidewalk or something. I don’t even know. It happened so quickly.”

He watched her face go through emotions swiftly, from angry to concerned and finally frustrated. And then she noticed his pants. “Oh, babe,” she said. “Is your knee bleeding, too?” 

“I don’t even know, but I’d imagine so. I know it hurts.” 

“What a despicable pig.” 

“What’s done is done, sweetie. I need to clean up before the game.” He kissed her and walked toward the showers.

The lather from the shampoo was bright red when he washed his hair, and blood continued to drip into the drain. This is still bleeding, he thought. His knee was scraped up pretty badly and had bits of gravel inside the wound. But he washed it as best he could, and rinsed his head once more before stepping out of the shower. Luckily, the water ran mostly clear. 

When he got out, a medic was waiting with Danae. “Your wife would like me to look at your head, Mr. Murphy,” he said. 

“Might as well look at my knee, too. It had some gravel in it, but I think I was able to wash it pretty well.” 

It was determined that Andy did not suffer a concussion, but he was developing a pounding headache. Though the bleeding had slowed, it was still oozing a bit, and the medic cleaned it up quickly. His knee was meticulously cleaned, treated and bandaged, and for his troubles, Andy got a tetanus booster. 

It was almost game time when they finally left the locker room. He would not allow Devin to ruin his plans, and he limped to midfield with Danae at his side. The stadium was standing room only, and he was thankful they had seats. 

About twenty minutes into regulation play, an announcement was made over the PA system. 

Ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to the screens for a special message.

Andy smiled, watching her face as she read the monitors.

My sweet, darling Danae, thank you for the last eight years together, for our love, our children, our lives together. You will always be more than enough. Happy anniversary, my sweet. All my love and kisses, Andy.

She looked at him, tears in her eyes. “Andy, I love you so much.” She hugged him close and kissed him. He pointed at the monitors, and she looked in time to see them in a sweet, tender kiss. The applause in the stadium was thunderous, and even more tears flowed down her face. 

“Happy anniversary, my sweet,” he whispered into her ear. “I crazy love you right now.” 

“Was this your big surprise for today?” she asked as she wiped tears from her eyes.

“No, actually this was a bonus. The big surprise comes tonight.” 

“I’m intrigued,” she cooed. 

“You’re going to love it,” he said. “Oh honey, I can’t wait.”

“This was awesome! Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, my love.” He took her hand and kissed it.

At the half, the Sharks were up 6-0, and Andy was laughing watching Devin and the team scrambling, trying to figure out the next plays. Danae watched his face as he laughed. 

“It looks as though you’ll get the last laugh today, babe,” she grinned. “Devin can try to hurt you, but we’re kicking their butts on the field. Aaron is a genius. You were right.” 

“I underestimated how awesome it would be to watch them struggle, trying to figure out what to do. This is very entertaining.” He winced in pain. “I wish this headache would go away, though.” 

“Well, we’re going back to the room after the game. You can lay down a while then.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “I’m sorry he hurt you.”

“I am sure I’ll survive the day, my sweet.” He leaned to her and kissed her cheek.

Just before the second half began, Andy felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He looked beside him, and Trey Smith was standing there. “I thought that was you, Murph! How are you?”

Andy stood and embraced his old friend. “Smitty! What a pleasant surprise!” He was shocked to see how much Trey had aged since his retirement. Andy barely recognized him.

“Danae, you look stunning, as usual.” He took her hand and kissed it. “How is my second- favorite Jones?” 

“I’m well, Trey, thank you! You look fantastic!” She hugged him tightly. 

“I have to tell you, sweetheart, I’m a little surprised to see you in a Sharks jersey. I thought you’d wear your father’s number 10 much longer.” 

“All things considered, I’m much happier where we are. My daddy would be sad to see the Llamas now.” 

Trey nodded his head in agreement. “Fiona and her ilk are undoing his legacy every day. It’s shameful.” 

 Feeling emotional, she only nodded. 

The teams reentered the field, and the second half was nearly ready to kick off. Trey wished his old friends well and returned to his family. “I almost didn’t recognize him, Nae.”

“Me neither. I’m actually surprised he’s still around. I didn’t think he was that much younger than Daddy.” 

“I’m happy we saw him.” Andy figured it would be the last time they would. 

The Sharks humiliated the Llamas, shutting them out with an impressive 15-0 win. After the game was over, they walked down through the tunnel and into the locker room. Andy shouted a warning to the guys and escorted her through to meet the limousine. 

Considering what had happened to him earlier, Andy was not willing to hang around at the stadium. Just as Danae was inside the car, he spotted Devin again, outside the lockers, screaming at some poor soul. Andy was safely in the car before Devin saw him, but he ran after the limousine anyway, screaming obscenities and throwing rocks as they drove away. 

“Was that—”

Andy sighed. “Yes, baby, it was.”

“I see neither of us are safe here with him in town. He is a menace.” To see how bad Devin had gotten saddened her greatly, and she was happy Travis and Charlotte could not see him now.

The limo made the short journey to the inn, and Andy got out first to take Danae’s hand. Together, they checked into the honeymoon suite and walked through the old house to the room where their marriage had begun eight years prior. He slid the card into the lock on the door and it swung open. But when he tried to pick her up, she fussed at him. 

“You hurt your knee. You’re not going to carry me anywhere.” 

“Baby, it’s only a scrape.” 

“I’ll be fine on my own two feet,” she smiled at him. “Wow,” she remarked. “This place looks exactly the same as it did eight years ago.” 

“It’s beautiful, that’s for sure.” Their luggage had arrived hours ago, and he looked forward to getting out of his torn slacks. 

“I bet your knee will put a damper on any plans you had for the evening,” Danae stated, a little melancholy. 

“Not at all.” He smiled slyly at her. “In fact, I was just about to reveal part of your big surprise.” 

“Mmm, what’s that?” She walked to him and ran her fingers carefully through his hair.

“Take a look in my garment bag, and see if you can guess.” 

“You’re a brat,” she pouted, but took the bag and hung it, zipped it open and rifled through it. “I see a tuxedo, a couple of work uniforms…” she smiled brightly when she spotted it. “My favorite evening gown! What did you do?” 

“We have reservations at six for dinner at The Tower, baby.” 

“Really?” The last time she remembered dining there was the night of the plane crash that should have taken his life.

“Really.” He reached up to his head where it had bled and felt a scab begin to form. “Baby, could you look at this real quick? I don’t want to get it wet if it’s scabbing up.” 

The actual cut on his head was less than half an inch long, but it produced a frightening quantity of blood in a short time. She looked at it, and the area was clean with just a tiny wound. “It looks a lot better than it did this morning. How is your knee?” 

He removed his slacks and inhaled sharply as the fabric touched the wound. “Oh my,” he gasped, his knee twice its normal size. “That’s going to leave a mark.” 

“You should have called the police, babe. You could have charged him with assault.”

“It would have made the game a lot less entertaining without your brother scrambling around on the field. He didn’t know if he was coming or going. It was glorious.” Andy smiled. “That was the best revenge I could have had.”

They rested at the inn, and Danae had an opportunity to tend to Andy’s knee. She asked the host for a bag of ice as she explained what had happened. She walked back to the room and Andy started to shake his head.

“Oh honey, you’re not going to plop that on my knee, are you?” 

“It will feel better if I do.” She kissed his forehead. “It will help the swelling. Please let me do this. I won’t hurt you on purpose.” 

She laid it gently on his injury, and he inhaled sharply as pain shot through his entire leg. Andy gritted his teeth, and slowly let the air from his lungs. “Damn, that freaking hurts, Danae.” 

“It will feel better once it numbs I promise, sweetie. Cry if you need to, I’m right here.” She sat beside him and he rested his head on her shoulder. She stroked his face tenderly.

“How long do I leave this on?” 

“Twenty minutes is best.”

“You take such good care of me.” Andy smiled through the pain.

“That’s because I love you, Andy.” She smiled and kissed him. “You’re my world.” 

*****

As she had predicted, the ice reduced some of the inflammation in Andy’s knee, and by the time they were ready to leave for The Tower, they were both feeling good. He looked handsome in his tuxedo, and Danae looked like royalty in her evening gown. 

The limousine delivered them to The Tower well before their reservation time, and they were seated early. The Maitre D’ led them to a table tucked into a semi-private corner and Andy held the chair for her to sit. He admired her as he sat down. Her beauty astounded him. 

“Why are you looking at me like that, Andy?” His gaze made her self-conscious. 

“You’re just so stunning, my sweet. Every now and then, I remind myself that you’re all mine, and I get overwhelmed.” 

Danae blushed. “You still say the sweetest things.” 

“So, after I order dinner, you’ll have the last part of your big surprise. I can’t wait.” 

“I can’t believe you still have something up your sleeve, Mr. Murphy. You spoil me too much.” 

“I could never spoil you too much, my love. You deserve so much more than I can give you.” Andy took her hand as the waiter arrived. 

“What can I get for Monsieur and Madame this evening?” the waiter asked in a thick French accent. 

“We will begin with a bottle of your finest champagne, if you please,” Andy requested. “I will have our dinner order when you return.”

“Very well,” the waiter replied and left the table. 

“So, I want to give you this now, honey. The big part still comes later.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled an envelope from it. He handed it to her and watched her expression as she opened it.

“Tickets to the museum!” she squealed. “How did you pull this off? I’ve been with you since we’ve been here.” 

“I’ve been busy planning this mini-vacation, baby. I figured since we were here on our anniversary, we could do it up the right way.”

“I can’t wait to see it. Hopefully, they’ve done some good with the restoration and decor.” 

“I understand it looks pretty much the same as it did when we lived there. The wax figures are supposed to be spot on, though. I hear the ones of your dad and mom are lifelike.”

“You’ve outdone yourself, but I’m afraid I haven’t been prepared to reciprocate. I have nothing for you.” She hung her head in shame. “I feel truly awful about it, too.” 

“Aww honey, there’s no need to feel awful. All I need is right here with me.” He took her hand and kissed it. 

The waiter brought the champagne and popped the bottle open easily. While he poured, he asked Andy if they were ready to order. And as usual, he simply pointed at items on the menu, keeping his selections secret from her. In the eight years they had been together, he never disappointed her. For a man from a small village, his taste was refined and sophisticated.

After the waiter stepped away, Andy’s surprise would wait no longer. He took her hands in his once again and looked into her beautiful, crystal violet eyes. 

“Danae, honey, our lives together have been amazing, and I can’t tell you how much I adore you. The words to describe it simply don’t exist. Now, I know I will never deserve your love and affection, and no mere trinket could sufficiently show you how much I appreciate and love you. But I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to you.” He reached into his jacket pocket and presented a velvet box, wrapped with a single red bow. “I hope you will accept this as a token, a reminder, of how much you mean to me. How very much I love you.” 

She beamed at him. “Andy, you’ve already done so much.” She shook her head as she took the box from his hand. He was ready to burst from anticipation. Carefully, she untied the satin bow and removed it. She swallowed hard, and she could wait no longer. Danae opened the box, peered inside and closed it. Tears welled in her eyes as she reopened it. 

“Oh Andy,” she exclaimed. “This is exquisite.” Inside the box was a diamond anniversary band. Set in white gold were two larger stones, both diamonds, and eight smaller ones set in a channel, four on each side of the bigger ones. 

“The two diamonds are our birthstones, and the smaller ones represent the years we’ve been married. Eight flawless, beautiful diamonds. Flawless and beautiful, just like you.” 

Andy took the ring from the box and slipped it onto her finger. “Baby, would you marry me again?” 

“In half a heartbeat,” came her quick reply, followed by a kiss that was anything but quick. Gently, he wiped her tears from her eyes. 

“I love you,” he whispered into her ear.

“I love you, forever and always.”


Morning found Andy stiff and sore, hardly able to move. The shove had done more than just injure his knee. His back was sore, and muscles he had forgotten existed ached as though he had the flu. He groaned and got out of bed and went into the bathroom. 

There was technically nothing to do, nowhere to be for the day so he decided to get back into bed with Danae. She felt him curl back around her and snuggle into his embrace.

“Good morning, my handsome prince,” she purred. “How are you feeling?” 

“Oh baby, I’ve been better. Everything hurts.” Oh, how he hated feeling unwell. 

“The weather is nasty today. Why don’t we stay in, and let me take care of you?”

“We’re on vacation, honey. You don’t have to spend it caring for me.” 

“I know I don’t have to. But you’ll let me anyway, won’t you?” She kissed whatever she could reach. 

“Oh, I don’t know, Danae. You’re not being very convincing.” He hugged her closer to him and kissed her neck.

“What do I need to do to persuade you?” She was anticipating some early morning fun.

“Order us some breakfast and coffee. If you do that, I’ll let you take care of me.” 

Danae snorted. “That’s what you want?” 

“What did you think I wanted?” he teased.

“Not breakfast and coffee!” she laughed. “As soon as you let me go, I’ll call the host.” 

“There is always a catch,” he chuckled. “I don’t want to let you go.” 

“Well then, let me love you,” she purred. 

“How can I say no to that?” 

A few hours later, the breakfast hour had gone past, and they were hungry. Andy still felt awful, stiff and sore, so the museum would wait until tomorrow. Without a rental car, Danae was stuck, and lunch was not a provided meal. Nevertheless, she walked to the kitchen area, searching for the host.

“Can I help you?” he asked. 

“Yes, I was wondering if it is possible to get something for lunch? My husband was injured yesterday at the game, and he isn’t able to move around very well.”

“Oh? Does he play for the Llamas?” 

“Actually, no. He’s the team manager for the visiting team.” 

“How was he injured? I thought managers stay out of gameplay.” 

“It’s a long, complicated story, but to make it short, someone assaulted him in the parking lot at the stadium.” Danae’s temper began to flare, but she kept it close. It wasn’t the host’s fault.

“Well, that’s too bad. Crime isn’t usually that terrible here in the Shores.” The host walked with Danae back to the kitchen. “Please, have a seat. I’ll make some grilled cheese and soup for you, even though you guys clobbered the Llamas last night.” He smiled. “The team hasn’t been the same since that Murphy guy left.” 

Danae smiled. “Thank you. I appreciate that.” 

“You’re in the honeymoon suite, correct?” 

“Yes, we are,” she confirmed.

“I’ll bring it to you when I’m finished. It would be my pleasure.” 

“That would be great, thank you again.” Danae stood and walked back toward their room. 

She opened the door, and Andy was sitting on the loveseat, his leg stretched out. “How is it feeling, babe?” 

“Stiff. Sore. I know it will heal, but I’m in a bigger hurry than my body is apparently.” He chuckled softly. “I’m sorry we’re stuck here today. We can’t even go to the beach. It’s blustery and snowing.” 

“Our host is bringing soup and sandwiches when he is finished cooking. I think he wanted to meet you.” 

“Well, he’s in for a surprise.” He sat back on the loveseat and groaned. “I’d love to have some ice for this.” 

“That I can do, babe.” She took the bag they had the previous day and walked to the small ice maker that sat in a nook near the room. Danae filled the bag with ice and closed it, and walked back to Andy.

“Here,” she said as she gently placed it on his knee. It was still quite swollen, but the wound had scabbed and looked healthy, not red or infected. He winced when the bag touched the injury, but felt better after a few minutes.

Ten minutes later, the host knocked on the door and Danae answered it. “Come in, please,” she invited him in.

He saw Andy sitting on the loveseat and recognized him immediately. “Andy Murphy,” he remarked. “Welcome back to the Shores.” 

Andy nodded. “I’d get up and greet you properly, but I’m a bit under the weather. You look familiar.” 

“I should. I used to work at the stadium in concessions. Nate Crist.” 

“That’s it. Of course!” Andy exclaimed. “How are you, Nate?” 

“Better than you seem to be doing. What happened?” 

“I had a run-in with an old rival. He bested me in the parking lot, but I ended up with the last laugh.” Andy chortled, remembering the embarrassment the Sharks delivered to Devin and his merry band of chuckleheads.

“Well, I promised your lovely wife some soup and sandwiches. I hope you two enjoy your day. Good to see you again, Andy.” 

“Likewise, Nate. And thank you.” 

Danae brought him a cup of soup and a sandwich and plopped herself on the floor near him with her own meal. “You’re a pretty popular guy around here.” 

“Only with some people. Apparently I have some enemies, too. One is your brother.” Andy took a bite of his gooey, warm grilled cheese. “Oh, this is so good.” Neither of them had eaten since dinner the evening before.

“Soup and grilled cheese always tastes good on a snowy day.” She leaned up against his good leg and snuggled up to him. 

“If I could walk better, I’d say let’s go to the winter festival here. Snowboarding is something we can’t do at home.” 

“Well, don’t push it. You aren’t feeling well, babe. Let’s just stay in. Tomorrow is another day.” He caressed her neck and ran his fingers through her hair. “Mmm, you know I love it when you do that, Andy.” 

He smiled. “That’s why I do it, my sweet.” 

They finished lunch and Danae gathered the dirty dishes, placed them onto the cart and walked it back to the kitchen. Nate was surprised to see her. 

“You know you didn’t have to bring the cart back,” Nate remarked. “I could have gotten it.” 

“It’s okay, I didn’t mind.” She thanked him again for the meal and walked back to the suite. 

They spent the rest of the afternoon laying in bed, watching television, flirting and talking. Dinnertime came and went, but neither of them were hungry, and when it was bedtime, they curled up together and slept.  


By morning, Andy’s aches had disappeared, his knee was almost normal size and he felt much better. It would be a perfect day to walk around the museum, he thought to himself. Carefully, he peeled himself away from Danae and walked to the bathroom. He had missed a shower the day before, feeling sore and miserable. But this morning, it would feel good, he figured. So he ran the water and stepped into the tub. 

The warmth felt good, so he stood there under the showerhead, his eyes closed, lost in thought when the shower door opened. Danae snuck in behind him, and he smiled. “Are you feeling dirty this morning?” he teased.

“A little,” she said. “How are you feeling today?” 

“Much better than yesterday, my sweet. I’m glad we spent the day in. Though we lost a day, it was worth it.” 

“I’m glad, babe. I don’t like when you’re not feeling well.”

“It’s because you took such good care of me, you know.” He turned around and kissed her gently.

“I only fed you and got some ice for your knee.” 

“But you spent the day with me, just doing nothing. You could have gone and found something fun to do, but you didn’t.”

“It wouldn’t have been fun without you.” She reached for the soap and washed up, and he sprayed her off when she was done. “I almost hate to get out. It’s nice and warm in here.” 

“Me too. But, we have tickets to the museum, and I know you want to go today.” He wrapped his towel around his waist and sat on the loveseat. “My knee looks disgusting.” 

She walked to him and looked at it. “It’s healing okay. It’s not red or oozing. Just leave the bandage off today and let the air dry it out.”

He nodded. “I might have to rethink wearing jeans, though. They might be a little snug around the scab. I don’t want to open it up.” 

“Good thinking. Just wear your slacks, honey. That way if it does ooze, no one will see it.” 

“You’re right,” he agreed. “I’m glad I brought a sweater. It’s cold out there.” According to his watch, the temperature was in the single digits. 

“I forgot what winter feels like. I don’t miss it.” Danae forgot her sweater, not realizing they would be staying longer than a day. “I’m going to be chilly, I think.”

“No, you won’t. Take my team jacket. I have a sweater.” He pulled it from the garment bag and set it on the chair near the door. 

“Thanks, love.” 

In less than an hour, they were ready to leave. Their first stop was a cute bistro that was new since they had moved. Both of them were famished, and Danae wanted some coffee. The next stop was the house on 200 Foothill Drive, the one they had called home before they picked up their lives and moved to Isla Paradiso. 

The limo dropped them at the front door, which looked exactly the same. The paint on the exterior looked fresh, though it was the same color. The security fence had been removed, which looked odd to Danae. She had never seen it that way, and it looked bare. Most of the landscaping was buried under almost a foot of snow, but the sidewalks and driveway were shoveled. During the summer, the driveway was used for special events, and the garage had been gutted, making room for a stage where Destiny’s old instruments were displayed. 

The first floor of the house looked empty. The spa room had only a doorway, and the inside was roped off, so the antique treadmill wouldn’t be disturbed. It looked nearly identical to how it did for years. But inside the spa room, on the wall nearest the pool, was a framed jersey, and statues of Travis and Charlotte danced near the shirt. Behind them, some family photos that were left behind hung on the wall. Danae saw them and immediately got emotional.

“My goodness, it really looks like Mama and Daddy standing there,” she cried. “Like if I touched them, they would turn around.” 

Andy marveled at the eerie likeness of both statues. “They nailed it, right down to the hairstyles. It’s almost creepy.” 

“This just makes me miss them all over again,” she wept. He gently took her arm and led her from the room. Behind them, the kitchen was roped off, and statues of Destiny and Arthur were placed there. From the photographs she had seen of Nana Destiny and Papa Arthur, they were identical, just like the ones of Charlotte and Travis.

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“They should have had her making pancakes,” she commented. “That would have been perfect.” She noticed the hand-printed recipe card that hung near the entrance to the kitchen, one she had read and used countless times. 

“You resemble your Nana Destiny,” Andy remarked. “Look here,” he said, pointing at her facial structure. “You have the same cute nose. I bet, if you dyed your hair red and permed it, you would look just like her, Nae.” 

“You think so?” 

“Yeah, I do. Maybe you should do that someday, just for fun.” 

They walked to the formal living area, just to the left of the staircase, and found another two statues of Charlotte and Travis, posed in a sweet, loving embrace near the fireplace.

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Danae swallowed a growing lump in her throat and sighed deeply. This is more difficult than I imagined, she thought. “This is almost exactly how they were sitting on the night I asked Daddy how he felt about us dating,” she smiled at the memory. 

Andy took her hand. “Come, my sweet. There is more stuff upstairs.” 

The sitting area at the top of the stairs was identical to how it looked. The loveseats were placed perfectly, the photos were hanging just where she left them. The old nursery where Elyse and Eamon lived was repainted and decorated to look like Devin’s old bedroom, complete with his old bed, dresser, and the soccer ball Travis had given him as a boy. 

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A plaque sat inside the room, acknowledging his place in the house’s history. Danae thought it odd there was no mention of his twin sisters anywhere or the fact that Danae and Andy had lived there previously. All things considered, Andy was a pretty big deal, both then and now. 

They walked down the hall to their old bedroom and passed the three gold albums Destiny had been awarded during her career. 

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The door to the bedroom was removed, leaving it permanently open, and ropes barricaded the majority of the room. Inside, Destiny and Arthur were posed in a tender embrace. 

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“It’s funny, Andy. I still don’t feel a connection with her. I mean, I know she’s my great grandmother, but it’s as though I’m looking at a total stranger.” They stood and looked at the bedroom, decorated as it had been when Destiny and Arthur occupied the space. 

“It looks weird with antique furniture here instead of ours.” The door to the master bathroom was removed and they guessed the rooms were empty.

Back down the hallway, they walked to the bedroom where Danae and Darcey had spent their childhood. And inside, Charlotte and Travis were posed together in a cute but romantic pose. Again, her eyes welled with tears. “They did a fabulous job of catching their emotions in these statues. They’re both so lifelike.” 

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Andy shook his head. It was almost as if they could speak to him. “Don’t worry, Travis. I’m taking good care of your baby girl,” he spoke. And when she heard him, Danae lost it, sobbing in his arms. 

“I miss them so much,” she cried. “This is killing me inside.” 

He took her arm and led her out to the loveseat. “Here, honey. Sit with me for a few minutes and collect yourself. I’m sorry I made you cry.” He held her while she wept.

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The museum curator followed the sounds of weeping and found Danae and Andy. “Is everything okay, Miss?” she asked.

“It’s fine, thank you. It’s just that the statues are so detailed, so lifelike, I could swear he was real.”

“Ah yes, we receive many compliments about Mr. Jones’ statues. The historical society spared no expense to get them right the first time. They wanted this to be as accurate as possible.” 

“Well, they certainly are. I thought he was going to turn around and call me ‘Punkin’ at any moment.” 

The curator thought for a moment. “Are you one of the twin daughters? I see the resemblance between you and Charlotte, now that I look closer.”

She nodded her head. “I’m Danae Jones Murphy.” 

“You’re the couple that sold the house to the historical society! How wonderful!”

“I do have a question, while you’re here. Why is the loft blocked off?”

“Ah yes, we haven’t quite finished that exhibit yet. We are still waiting for another statue of Destiny to display the wedding dress. But you’re welcome to see what we have up there if you’d like. We have one of her in the show outfit, and it’s quite lovely.” 

“I would love that,” Danae exclaimed. She turned to Andy. “Maybe this is what I need to see, you know, to feel that connection with her.” 

“Maybe.” He smiled at her as they climbed the familiar steps to the loft. 

“Someday, this will be all Destiny. Her karaoke machine, the makeover station, a small stage set up outside once we enclose the deck. And Arthur, of course,” the curator explained.

Danae walked to the statue of Destiny and looked at her. The red hair, her complexion, even her violet eyes were perfect. It was as though she was brought back to life. “May I?” Danae asked, motioning toward the statue.

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“Be my guest.” 

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Danae approached Destiny and just stared at her. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine seeing her on stage, dressed like a superstar, singing one of the hit songs she knew by heart. Then, Danae began to hum and sing her biggest hit. That was when she heard the similarity in their voices. 

Andy watched her, lost in the moment. And he caught himself wondering again how different their lives would be if she hadn’t sacrificed her career to raise their family. When she was finished, he just looked at her, in awe. “You still sound just like her, baby. Your tone, your pitch, it’s flawless. You are her great-granddaughter. You can’t deny it.”

She looked at Andy and smiled. “I’d never want to deny it.” She turned back toward Destiny. “Nana, I wish I could have known you,” Danae talked to the statue, wishing she could hear her. “But, I feel closer to you now.” She reached to touch the statue’s red hair, and it felt silky and soft, like her own. She turned to the curator. “Thank you, for this. For letting me connect with her in a way I haven’t been able to before now. You’ve given me an incredible gift.”

“It was my pleasure, Danae. I’m so happy to have met you. It was an honor, really.” She took Danae’s hand to shake it and led them back down the stairs. “Don’t forget the garage exhibit. You won’t want to miss it.” 

“Thank you again,” she said. Andy took her hand, and they walked outside to see the last part of the exhibition. 

When they had seen everything, Andy was sore from walking on his knee all day. The limousine picked them up and brought them to the inn, where they joined the host and one other couple for dinner in the elegant dining room. Afterward, they retreated back to the suite to relax and pack to leave in the morning.

“Danae,” he asked as they settled into bed, “Are you sure you were okay with giving up your career? Sometimes, I feel like the world is missing out on your talent because of me. You were meant for greater things than just being a housewife and mama.” 

“Why would you ask me that? All my life, being a mother is all I ever wanted. You gave that to me. I don’t feel incomplete because I stay home with our children. Yes, it’s a tough job, but it’s the one I chose. Your hard work is what affords me the privilege of making my dream come true.” She kissed him. “Thank you for that.” 

“But, your voice is perfect. Didn’t you want that more than anything at one point?” 

“I did. And then I met you. You complete me, not a career. You are all I will ever need to be fulfilled.”

“Now who is good at the mushy stuff?” he teased. 

“Still you, my hopeless romantic,” she laughed. 

“I am definitely not a romantic, but you are. It’s one of the things I adore most about you.” He hugged her and snuggled close to her. “Did you have a good anniversary trip, my sweet?”

“I had the best time, babe. Thank you, for everything.”

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Four, Generation Five


*****A special thank you to the fabulous Bee for the vast majority of the poses used in this chapter. Any and all custom content featured is not my own, and I do not take credit for any of it.*****

G5 Chapter Twenty Two – Elyse Has Mommy Issues

A month after Danae’s premiere at the art gallery, it was almost Emmitt’s second birthday, and Eamon’s fourth birthday was shortly afterward. Neither of them could believe the baby was two already. It was just yesterday that they found out they were expecting him, or at least it appeared that way. 

Even more unbelievable, the Murphy and Scroggins families had been on the island for almost three years, and Andy, Aaron, Avery, and Wyatt had led the team to their first championship. The second full season under their leadership would be underway shortly, and Andy was ready to announce Zachery Fulton, their new acquisition from Sunlit Tides, Avery’s former teammate on the Starfish team.

The press conference was scheduled for 1:00 pm. Andy’s training in PR kept him in the spotlight in his job, and though he didn’t mind it, he secretly wished Kirby would hire another PR person. Zach’s acquisition was big news in the soccer world, and though it was considered unethical by the owners of the Starfish, no league rules were broken. Andy simply had the instinct, knowing when to swoop in and make moves on valuable players. 

In the media room of Kemp Stadium, reporters and their cameras gathered, waiting for the announcement. In the green room just on the other side of the wall, the four men who would be doing the presser gathered. A makeup artist prepped them, though Andy laughed at the idea that the camera would make him look pale. For Kirby, Aaron and Zach, however, it was necessary.

At 12:45, Andy entered the media room and explained the format for the presser and took preliminary questions off the record regarding the event. With five minutes until airtime, the other three men entered the room, Kirby took his spot at the table with Aaron Hall and Zachery Fulton. Andy made sure everyone had water available and gave Zach some last-minute pointers. It was truly the first time such a fuss had been made over him, and he was nervous.

At 1:00 pm on the nose, the cameras went live and Andy spoke.

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“My name is Andy Murphy, team manager for the Isla Paradiso Sharks. Today, I am proud to announce the acquisition and signing of a talented player, a young man whose name is not well known, at least not yet. He comes to us from Sunlit Tides two years after his rookie season, where he led the Starfish in overall goals since the beginning of his short but very impressive career.”

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“We are excited to announce Zachery Fulton as a starter for the upcoming season. We look forward to many successful years with him. Together with head coach Aaron Hall, team captain Wyatt Searcy, co-captain Avery Tillman, and the many other talented players on this team, we anticipate a championship title this season. Now Kirby, if you’re ready, I’ll hand this to you.” 

At the house, Danae watched with Eamon in her lap, and Emmitt playing at her feet on the floor. 

“Daddy?” Eamon asked, pointing at the television screen. 

“Yes, baby, that’s Daddy.”

“What’s he doing, Mama?” he asked in his almost 4-year-old voice.

“He’s introducing Zach. You remember Zach, right? He gave you the teddy bear.” 

Eamon beamed, clutching the toy to his face. “Bear bear!” 

Danae smiled. “Bear bear.” 

Emmitt looked at Andy’s face on the television and recognized him. “Daddy!” 

Danae looked at her baby son, though he wasn’t much of a baby anymore. “Yes, Emm, that’s Daddy.” She picked him up and held him. He watched the screen, and each time Andy spoke, he laughed. 

“Daddy! Daddy!” he cooed happily. 

“Mama, I’m hungry,” said Eamon. 

“You just had lunch, sweetie. How about some fruit?” 

“No, thank you.” She knew he wanted a cookie, but she had given Elyse the last two in her lunch that morning. 

“You’re not that hungry then, Eamon.” She kissed his head, and he looked at her.

“Eww,” he giggled. “No kisses!”

Danae laughed. “Alright! No kisses for you then. I’ll just give yours to Emmitt instead.” She cuddled the baby a little closer and covered his sweet face in kisses, relishing his baby giggles. Of the three children, Emmitt was the happiest. His smile was infectious, his giggles contagious and he was always cheerful.

“Mama!” Eamon pouted. “No fair.” 

“You didn’t want Mama’s kisses,” she gently reminded him. “Emmitt loves Mama’s kisses, don’t you sweetheart?” 

“Mama mama!” Emmitt laughed. 

“Mama? When’s Lysie comin’ home?” Eamon asked. 

“In about an hour, honey. Why don’t you and Emmitt go play, so Mama can do some cleaning?” 

Eamon stood and took Emmitt’s hand, and walked him to their room to play. Danae laughed. It was the first time she’d seen him do that, and she was amazed.

Elyse’s school bus dropped her outside the gate, and Danae was there to meet her when she got home. Despite them living at the end of a long dead-end road, the Paparazzi still hung out relentlessly by the call box, and she didn’t trust any of them around her beloved children. Elyse ran to her, and Danae held her hand out for her. “Hi sweet pea!” she greeted her. “Your brother is waiting for you.” 

Elyse ran past Danae towards the house, her backpack still on her back, yelling Eamon’s name. She was still chilly toward her mother, even though the boys had gotten back on track with her. Danae had come to accept that her only daughter was a daddy’s girl, and she would likely never have a relationship with her like Andy did. 

“Lysie, do you have homework, sweetie?” Danae asked her.

“Yes, Mama.” Elyse sighed and braced for what would come next.

“Homework first, then play, okay?” She smiled at her daughter. “Maybe Daddy will take you guys swimming tonight when he gets home.” The press conference was long over, and she expected Andy home within the hour. 

“I hope so,” Elyse said. “I want to go swimming with Daddy.” 

With the children occupied, she started dinner. Lobster thermidor for her and Andy, and macaroni and cheese for the kids. With the new football season looming, time together would be at a premium, and she wasn’t looking forward to it. However, she had planned a date night at home with all the romance included. 

A half-hour later, Andy walked through the door and dropped his briefcase in his office, his sport coat hung over his shoulder. Danae was in the kitchen, and even by her own standards, it smelled good in the house. 

“I smell something delicious,” he announced as he turned the corner into the living room. He saw Danae and walked to her. “And there she is,” he stated, wrapping his arms around her. “How’s my favorite girl?” 

“Good. I saw your presser today. I had no idea Zach was so young. He’s only twenty-three? He’s younger than Devin.” 

“He’s much more humble than your brother, too. He was a good hunt. Once he gets his legs this season and learns Aaron’s plays, he’ll be extraordinary.”

“Why does twenty-three sound so young? I’m only thirty, but it sounds… young.” 

“These babies are aging you,” he teased. “They’re keeping me young, though.” He kissed her quickly and ducked away from the inevitable swat that he had earned. 

“That’s it. You’re still older than me, old man,” she teased back and shook her head, a huge smile on her face.

Elyse watched their exchange and rolled her eyes. “No hello from my sweet pea today?” he asked her.

“I’m doing homework first. Mama said I can’t play until it’s done.” 

“That’s a good thing, Elyse. You need to learn priorities. Schoolwork is first, then playtime.” Andy firmly reinforced Danae’s rule. 

“That’s no fun,” she grumped and turned back to her studies. 

He smiled at Danae, walked back to her and hugged her again. “You’re doing a fantastic job with the kids, honey,” he whispered into her ear.

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“She’s testing my patience today,” Danae replied softly. “She still hasn’t forgiven me.” 

“Do you want me to talk to her, Nae? This isn’t right.” 

Danae sighed. “No, babe. She has to come around on her own. But I’ve accepted that she will never love me like she loves you. It smacks of me and Daddy. Now I appreciate how Mama felt, but at least she had Darcey. I have no other little girl.” Her face conveyed sadness. 

“I’ll talk to her anyway. You shouldn’t be deprived of a close relationship with your only daughter because of me.” He kissed her neck, and she nearly melted into the floor. 

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“You can do that all night if you want,” she purred. 

“I’ll remember that, my sweet.” He winked at her. “I need to get out of this monkey suit.” He walked toward the bedroom to change his clothes. She followed him in, hoping for a preview of their evening together.

Danae wasted no time wrapping herself around him as soon as their door was closed. “Well, this is new,” he laughed, as he tried to peel himself away from her. “The kids are still wide awake, and the sun is out.” He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. “You must have really loved the presser.” 

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“Well, you know,” she said, trying to keep a straight face, “The guy on television is a total hunk. He really got my motor running.” 

“Which guy is that?” he played along.

“The one with the jet black, pin-straight hair. He wears a vest just like this one. A tall, dark, extremely sexy man,” she purred. “You know the one?”

“Mmm, yeah I’m familiar with him. I hear he has a smokin’ hot wife.” 

Danae snorted. “You’re incorrigible.” 

“Yeah well, you’re still smokin’ hot.” He kissed her tenderly. “Is tonight date night or something?” 

“Did you forget?” 

“Of course not.” He snuggled her into his strong embrace. “Oh honey, I’m looking forward to tonight.” 

“Me too, babe. But you should put your trunks on, because that little girl wants you to take her swimming, and I promised her.” 

“When’s dinner?”

“For them, in about an hour. For us, around seven.”

“Alrighty.” He changed into his swim shorts and Danae went to dress Eamon in his swimsuit. 

“Lysie, bathing suit, honey. Daddy’s going to take you swimming.” 

“Yes!” she squealed and ran for her bedroom.

A few hours later…

Danae fed Andy the last bite of dinner, and he sat back. “Baby, I’m stuffed. You make that perfect every time, just like the first time you ever made it for me.” 

“It’s my specialty,” she said. “Now all we need is a karaoke bar, an awkward kiss and a glass of wine, and we have our first date.” 

“I can do the awkward kiss right now,” he purred. He pulled her to him and he kissed her. She tried to resist him, but she either couldn’t or didn’t want to. “That was very nice,” he said when he pulled away. “Now, tell me there is nothing between us, Danae, because I know you felt that.” 

She belly laughed. “Okay, I felt it! I just don’t know what to do with it.” 

“Say you’ll go out with me,” he played. “I’m new here, and I would love a girl who knows her way around.” 

“You would, eh?” she flirted.

“Oh baby, you have no idea.” He picked her up and carried her into their bedroom, and locked the door behind him.


The next morning, the season schedule was released, and Andy hoped there were no ugly surprises in it. He and Kirby met for coffee at the restaurant while Kirby planned the menu for the dinner meal, and discussed the upcoming schedule.

“The first game is in Barnacle Bay versus the Dolphins. Didn’t we play them first last season?” Kirby asked, preoccupied. 

“No, it was the Twinbrook Tigers last season.” Andy poured over the schedule. The game this season against the Llamas was in Starlight Shores, and he sighed. “Are we doing the next day meetings with team managers after games this season?” 

Kirby sipped his coffee as he looked over menus and supply orders. “Nah, that turned out to be a bust. After the fiasco with Fiona and Cael, the league started rethinking that stuff.” The tantrum that Fiona threw became the stuff of legend and the great embarrassment of the Starlight Shores community. Shortly after, the league stopped the meetings.

“Danae will like that. She hates when I’m gone longer than overnight. Which reminds me, Kirby, this last negotiation in Sunlit Tides—”

“Yeah, I know it was a hardship for you and Danae to be apart that long. Elyse is so grown up, sometimes I forget you have two more children younger than five.” 

“When they’re all in school, it won’t be so difficult for her.”

“I would suggest you hire a nanny, but I know that didn’t work out well last time, either. Is Elyse still giving her a rough time?” 

“Yes,” Andy grumbled. “Danae claims she understands, but I know she wants a close relationship with Elyse while she is still little. There’s no guarantee once that child hits her tweens.”

“I would definitely encourage all the bridge-building while they’re little. Elyse has nothing to be cross about. She has a mother who loves her, a father who adores her and provides a very good life for her and her two little brothers.”

“She wants all of Danae’s attention for herself, and she wants all of mine for herself, too. The pediatrician says she’ll outgrow the selfishness. She is much more patient than I am with Elyse. When Danae’s feelings are hurt, I am much less tolerant than I should be.”

“It’s understandable. Danae comes first to you, as well she should, and vice versa. Long after the kids are grown, you’ll still have each other.”

“Thanks, Kirby. With twins, I knew you’d understand.” Andy closed up his laptop. “I need to get back to the office. Aaron and I are going through some staffing issues, and I need to get Zach settled into the team.”

“Are you and Nae busy tonight, Andy? You could come for dinner. I’m cooking.” 

“We just had a date night last night. She made her specialty, and we relived our first date, awkward first kiss and everything. It was magical.” Andy laughed.

“I guess that’s a no, then.” Kirby stood to shake his hand. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Oh, you don’t need to book me for the season opener with you. Rae will need me that night. Something with school for the kids.” 

“Gotcha. See you tomorrow.” Andy slipped his laptop into his briefcase, walked toward the back door and got into his car. 

It was almost lunchtime before he was finished with reservations for travel to Barnacle Bay. Accommodations were spotty at best during some times of the year, and he knew better than to wait until the last minute. He breathed a sigh of relief as he booked the last available block in the hotel for the team and a suite for him. Next were airline reservations, but they, in comparison, were much easier to make. 

Andy was still sitting at his desk when Aaron walked by the office. “Murph!” he called, “You going for lunch today?”

“I haven’t decided, Aaron. I might work through. Where are you going?” 

“Wyatt and I were going to grab a burrito before practice. Can I bring something back for you?” 

Andy signed his computer off. “I’ll go with you guys, since there’s two of you. I just didn’t feel like eating alone.” 

“You’re always welcome to come along.” Andy locked his office door, and they walked to Aaron’s car together. “Wyatt will meet us there. He has a surprise for you.” 

“Uh oh, should I be worried?” Andy laughed. 

“Trust me, you will like this one.” 

The guys met at the little Spanish bistro adjacent to the Grand Tower resort. Immediately, Andy noticed that Wyatt was plus one, a pretty young girl who looked native to the island, and they were quite affectionate with one another. Wyatt stood as Aaron and Andy approached. “Hey brothers,” he greeted them. 

“Who’s your friend, Wy?” Andy asked. 

“You haven’t met her yet. This is Raisa. We’ve been seeing each other for a few weeks now. Raisa, this is my best friend, Andy, and you know Aaron already.” 

The girl stood and shook Andy’s hand gently. “Pleased to meet you.” 

“Raisa, the pleasure is all mine. You have yourself a catch. Wyatt’s a great guy.” He nudged Aaron. “Now we just need to find a Señorita for this guy, and we’ll be all set.”  

Aaron and Wyatt each had a beer, but Andy ordered a sweet tea while they talked about the upcoming season and the first away game. All the guys were excited about Zach coming on board the team, and with Aaron’s creative new plays, they were sure to be off to a good start in two weeks.

At home, Danae received a call from the museum curator to give an update on the exhibit and to advise her of payment, the first of four to compensate for her work. She jotted a note to herself to let Andy know of the deposit and carried at least three loads of laundry to the garage to sort. After the first load was started, she walked back to the house. The boys were both napping, but she didn’t want them to sleep for much longer. 

She entered the boys’ room and woke Eamon first. “Eamon, honey,” she sang to him softly. He opened his eyes and smiled at her. 

“Hi Mama,” he said, sleep heavy in his voice. She set him down on the floor and went to Emmitt’s crib next. 

“Emmitt,” she sang softly, “time to wake up for Mama.” His happy face beamed when he saw her, and she changed him before setting him down to play. “I really have to work on potty training him,” she said out loud. A familiar horn sounded outside, and she glanced at her watch. “Elyse!” she exclaimed and ran for the gate.

“Mama!” she called to Danae from outside. Luckily, the bus driver waited for the gate to open before he pulled away. Danae waved and thanked him, and greeted Elyse with a hug and a kiss.

“How was school today, little sweet pea?” she asked. “Did you learn anything good?” 

“It was okay,” Elyse grumbled her answer. “When is Daddy coming home?” 

“He’ll be home in a little while, Lysie. Do you need help with homework today?” 

Elyse looked at Danae as though something was wrong. “Why?” 

“I remember Naomi used to help you with homework, and I’m pretty smart, you know. I can help you, too.” 

“No,” she said, disinterested. “I’m okay.”

“Lysie, can I ask you something?” 

She rolled her eyes. “What?” 

Danae didn’t appreciate the attitude, but let it slide. “Why are you still angry with me? I pour my love over you every day, and I don’t get nearly any of it back. Why?” 

“I’m not angry,” she protested. 

“You could have fooled me, sweet pea. You know I love you. At least, I hope you know it.” 

Elyse nodded. “I know.” 

“Do you love me, Elyse? You can tell me. I won’t get angry, I promise.” 

She looked straight into Danae’s eyes. “Yeah.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Yeah,” she repeated. “Can I go play now?” 

“Yes, but stay away from the pool until Daddy comes home.” 

Danae sat in the living room, her head in her hands. 

She didn’t hear the gate open when Andy came home, but Elyse did because she ran to greet him. He walked through the front door with her on his hip, wrapped around him and giggling. Danae wanted to smile at him, but Elyse was making her contempt very obvious. With hurt feelings, she simply got up and went to their bedroom and closed the door behind her. 

“What’s wrong with Mama, Lysie?” he asked her.

She shrugged her shoulders. “I dunno.” He set her down on the floor.

“Do you have homework?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Why haven’t you started it yet?” he asked. 

“Because Mama didn’t make me.” 

“Start it now, please. Don’t make me ask you again, Lysie.” 

“Yes sir,” she repeated. 

He walked toward the bedroom door and opened it. “Honey?”

“Come in,” she cried. 

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“Uh oh. What’s wrong, baby?” He knelt down beside her.

“Our daughter. I thought I’d talk to her, but I got nowhere. She used to love me. I’m not sure I’ll get that back again.” 

“Baby, of course, she loves you. She’s just going through a phase.” He hugged his wife and tried to comfort her. “Are you sure you don’t want me to talk to her?” 

“No, I’m not sure about anything anymore. I want her to come around on her own. But I don’t know if she will.” 

“I have an idea, though it won’t help with Elyse. Would you like to come to Barnacle Bay with me for the season opener? I have a suite all to myself. It’s only overnight, but I thought maybe you’d like to get away.”

“When do I have to let you know? Because right now, I don’t know which end is up.”

“The sooner the better, so I can book a seat in first-class for you.” 

“I don’t know, Andy. I mean, I should stay home and be with them. But I’m burning out. I don’t want to feel this way. The boys are great, it’s her. I’ll never forget when we did yoga together. I’d read to her all the time. Now, she only wants you. I just want back what I had…” her voice trailed off as she cried. “I want my daughter back.” 

Andy hated to see her cry, especially when it was so unnecessary. For months, he watched Elyse tear Danae’s heart to shreds. Every little bit of attitude, every cold word spoken shattered her, and it pained him to see her this sad.

“I’m going to talk to her.” Andy stood, troubled. “This needs to end now. I’m done with it. If she doesn’t want you, then I don’t want her.” 

“Andy, you can’t do that! She’s just a little girl. You’ll destroy her,” she pleaded with him.

“Maybe she needs a little tough love, Danae. But I can’t stand to watch you cry over this another minute without trying to fix it.” 

“Please don’t. Save tough love for her teenage years. Don’t make her hate you, too.” They were both in uncharted territory with Elyse, and neither of them knew how to handle it.

“Daddy?” her little voice trembled. “Don’t you love me?” 

“Lysie, how long were you standing there?” Andy asked her. By her reaction, he’d guessed she’d heard almost everything.

“Awhile,” she cried. 

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He opened his arms to her, and she walked to him, sniffling. “Lysie, it doesn’t feel good when you think someone doesn’t love you, does it?” 

She shook her head, tears rolled down her cheeks. “No, sir.” 

“Mama thinks you don’t love her. Do you?” He set her back down on her feet.

She cried harder and tried to hug Andy, but he wasn’t having any of it. “Answer me, Lysie. Do you love your Mama?” 

“Daddy…” she bawled. 

“Elyse Charlotte! Answer me now!” Andy demanded through clenched teeth.

She shook her head. “Daddy…” she cried harder.

“Go to your room, Elyse. NOW!” He’d had enough. Andy heard Danae’s ragged sobs, and he felt terrible for her. “Oh baby, I’m so sorry I asked her. I never expected she would say no.”

“At least I know. She looked me right in the eye and lied to me earlier.” She sniffled and took a deep breath. 

“How do I address this? I’ve never heard of a child who doesn’t love her mother.” He was beside himself. 

“Just leave it be, Andy. You can’t force her.” 

“If I can’t force her, I’ll guilt her.” He wasn’t sure that was the right action, either. 

“No, babe. Just… I’m going to survive this. Like you said, it’s a phase.” She wiped her tears away and sighed. 

“I need to go talk to her now. What do I say?” 

“Ask yourself how your mom would have handled it, Andy, and try that. That’s all I’ve been doing. But Mama was so much better at this than I am.”

“Sweetie, you’re a wonderful mama. Don’t let Elyse make you think otherwise.” He kissed her sweetly. “I need to go talk some sense into that child.” 

“Don’t do anything rash or harsh, Andy. Please, don’t break her heart.” She got up and walked to the bathroom, washed her face and laid down on the bed, broken-hearted.

He got up and walked to Elyse’s bedroom. She was crying on her bed, snuggled up with her blanket. He knocked gently on her door. “May I come in, sweet pea?” 

“Yes Daddy,” she sobbed. She sat up so he could sit down next to her. 

“Elyse, what was that back there?” He stopped himself and collected his thoughts. “Honey, you really hurt your Mama’s feelings today. Why don’t you love her?” 

She shrugged her shoulders. “I dunno.” 

“No, that’s not a good enough answer, young lady. You have to know why.”

“I dunno!” she cried.

“You would feel terrible if you didn’t have a Mama to love you and take care of you. Think about that. I don’t want to see you until dinner. And no more swimming.” 

“But Daddy!” she wailed, but he closed the door as he left the room. 

Danae heard Elyse crying in the other room, and it troubled her. Andy walked back into their bedroom, met by her pained cries, and laid down next to her, trying to comfort her. Somehow, poor Andy had gotten tangled in the middle and didn’t know how to get out.

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“It’s worse than I thought, Kirby,” Andy lamented the next morning over coffee. “Elyse told me last night she doesn’t love her mother. This is new territory for me. I’ve never heard of this.” 

“It’s not usual, but not unheard of, either. Maybe a child psychologist would be helpful in this case. I’m not sure how I’d proceed either.” Kirby patted him on the shoulder. 

“She wouldn’t even give me a reason, just ‘I dunno.’ I had Danae crying in our bedroom, Elyse crying in her bedroom. It drives me crazy that she is hurting Nae like this, and she does it so easily and without remorse.” 

“I’m sorry, Andy. I wish I had some nugget of parental wisdom for you. But Rae handles the emotional meltdowns with the kids. Maybe I’ll have her call Danae?” 

“That would be great. I finally lost my temper with Elyse last night and told her no more swimming with me in the afternoon. It’s her favorite thing, but now I feel like I was too hasty, just what Danae told me not to do.” 

“That might be what wakes her up. If she thinks she will lose your affection, she might come around.” 

Andy shrugged. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know my own kid anymore.”

They talked for a few more minutes, and Andy went back to his office and booked another round trip first-class seat for Danae. He was taking her to Barnacle Bay, end of story. She needed a break however short, from their ungrateful daughter. 

At home, Danae read stories to the boys like she did every morning after breakfast. They especially loved the books Bella had written, and Danae loved reading them. She nearly knew the stories by heart herself. By eleven, the boys were back in their cribs for naps, and Danae began cleaning the house. Today’s focus was all three bathrooms. The one that Elyse used was filthy, not because it didn’t get cleaned, but simply because Elyse was a slob and didn’t care.

She wanted to call Andy to lift her spirits, but she also hated bothering him at work when nothing was pressing. Instead, she turned music on in the exercise room and went for a run on their treadmill. The exercise felt good, and after a bubble bath, she felt almost good as new. That was until Elyse came home from school. 

Danae waited for the school bus, and when she got home, she walked right past Danae without a word, into the house and flopped on her bed. Danae stuck her head into Elyse’s bedroom on the way to wake the boys. “Elyse, homework please.” 

“I hate you!” she spat at Danae. She walked back to the bedroom door and stopped. 

“I’m sorry to hear that, Lysie. Because I love you.” She continued to the boys’ room and woke them, tears stung her eyes. 

Andy was home at his normal time with a smile on his face. Danae was in the kitchen preparing dinner when he peeked around the corner at her. “How’s my favorite girl?” he greeted her.

“Terrible. Today she hates me.” She sighed deeply. “Things just keep getting better,” she said sarcastically as she wiped her hands on her apron. “Maybe tomorrow, she will try to kill me in my sleep.” 

Andy laughed, mostly because it sounded too silly to be serious. But Danae glared daggers at him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I know this is no laughing matter.” 

“I’m sorry, too. It’s not your fault.” 

“I’m going to try talking to her again. But I’m sticking with no swimming until she loses the attitude.” Danae nodded as he went to get changed from his work clothes.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Elyse sneak into their bedroom. Andy was half-dressed when he spotted her in the mirror, and he jumped a foot. “Lysie, you startled me! What are you doing here?” 

“I missed you today, Daddy,” she said quietly. 

“Elyse, it is not okay to come into my bedroom without knocking.” He walked to the bed and sat down, picked her up and sat her next to him. She cuddled up to him and hugged him. “What’s on your mind?” he asked.

“I hate Mama,” she said, very matter-of-factly. 

“That’s not a nice thing to say. You shouldn’t hate anyone.” 

“But I do.” 

“Why? Why do you hate your mama?” 

She looked at the floor. “Because you love her more than you love me.” 

Her confession rattled him. “What?”

“You told Uncle Aaron you love Mama more than anything or anyone. I heard you say it. Did you mean me, too?” 

“Lysie, of course, I love your mama. I am married to her.”

“If Mama wasn’t here, would you love me more?” 

“Elyse Charlotte, what kind of question is that?” 

“Daddy, I want to marry you.” She was so serious. 

He smiled at her. “You know, I’m already married to Mama. I love her so ver—”

“I know. I hate her. She gets all your love. There’s never enough for me.” 

Andy began to understand. “Sweet pea, it’s okay to wish you could marry Daddy. Lots of little girls your age would like to marry their daddies, too.” He hugged her and kissed her forehead. “But Lysie, only Mama can be married to Daddy.” He watched her face. “You will always be my little sweet pea, and I will always love you, no matter what. I promise.” 

“But, will there be enough love left for me if you love her, Daddy? Don’t you ever run out?” 

“Honey, no, I never run out. I have more than enough love for you and your mama, and your brothers, too.” He looked her in the eyes, her beautiful, violet eyes, and told her, “You’re always and forever going to be my special little girl.” 

She looked at him, trying to figure out if he was telling the truth. “You never run out? Ever?” 

“Never ever, I promise.” He hugged her shoulders and kissed her cheek. “Are you okay, sweet pea? Are you okay with your mama now?”

“Yes, I think so.” 

“I sure hope so, baby girl. She loves you even more than I do, and that’s the truth.” 

Elyse sighed quietly. “She does?” 

“Yes, Lysie, she really does.” Andy gently wiped tears from her face.

“Can I go talk to her and tell her I love her?” 

“I bet you would make her day, Lysie.” 

“I love you, Daddy,” she said.

“I love you more, sweet pea.” 

Elyse walked from the bedroom, sniffling. Danae was sitting at the dining room table, her face in her hands. Elyse sidled up to her, and put her head on her mother’s shoulder. Feeling her little body next to her, Danae cried.

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“Mama?” 

She sniffled. “Yes, little love?” 

“I’m sorry I said I hate you. I love you, Mama.” 

Danae didn’t say a word, but picked her up into her lap, and wrapped her in a tight hug. Gently, she rocked Elyse in her arms. It sure felt good to cuddle her daughter again.

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She released her from the hug and looked into her eyes. “Lysie, I love you so very much. I hope you never doubt that. You are my firstborn. You will have my heart until the end of time.” Danae kissed her cheek. “Do you understand what I’m telling you, sweetie pie?” 

“Yes Mama,” she cried softly. 

Danae put her down from her lap. “Do you have homework tonight, baby girl?” 

“Just a little. Would you help me?” 

“I will after dinner, Lysie. Go play with Eamon and Emm until dinner. Are we good?” 

Elyse nodded and smiled. “Yes, Mama.” She leaned in for a kiss and giggled. “I love you.” 

Danae wiped tears from her eyes. “I love you to the moon and back.” 

Andy walked from the bedroom, smiling ear to ear. Danae noticed him and grinned. He sat at the table with her and rubbed her back. “What was that all about?” she asked.

“She was jealous of you, honey. She thinks I give you all my love, and I have none left for her.” 

The revelation lifted a weight from her. This was familiar. “I remember when I was just about her age, wanting to marry my daddy. Mama told me she was already married to him. I was heartbroken.” 

“Yes! She told me she wants to marry me. I reassured her that I will always love her, but I made it clear you are my only wife. She took it better than I thought she would.”

Danae hugged him, relief on her face. “Oh Andy, thank you. You gave my daughter back to me.” 

“You’re welcome, my sweet.” 

“Maybe it would be a good idea to stop calling me your favorite girl in front of her for a while, until this passes?”

“I never considered that could be a problem. Good idea, baby. You are a phenomenal mother, Danae. Never forget that.”

“I love you, so very much.” She buried her face into his chest as he hugged her.

“I crazy love you, honey.” 


Two weeks later…

Danae took Andy’s hand as they boarded the airplane, destination Barnacle Bay. It was only for an overnight trip, but it was good to get away together. They settled down into their seats, and the concierge offered them complimentary glasses of champagne. She reached for his hand and they intertwined their fingers. 

Barnacle Bay was an hour behind the island, and about two hours west by air. The team was back in coach, except for them and Aaron, who was two rows after them. He paid for the upgrade himself, a luxury he didn’t partake in often. Though he was very well compensated for his work, Aaron lived modestly. 

A few hours later, a limousine brought them to the resort, a four-star hotel on the beach. Though it was smaller than the Grand Tower, it was much more scenic. The beach was littered with palm trees and overlooked the skeleton of a wrecked pirate ship, which was the main attraction in the Bay. The concierge gave Andy their room keys, and together they strolled to the suite. The climate was warm and humid, not unlike the island, but the sounds were much different. Wild boar, exotic birds, and small dingo-like dogs roamed the small island. In the distance, cicadas droned their clatter. 

“Here we are,” Andy said as they approached their room. “Ladies first, my sweet.”

“Oh, Andy, this is beautiful!” she exclaimed as she entered. Inside the room was a king bed with a luxurious spread, a dresser made from dark cherry wood, a table with coordinating chairs, and a small refrigerator. But the amenity that stood out was the hot tub that sat on the private patio. The bathroom was nicely appointed with a toilet, bidet and a shower big enough for a family of four. Luxury linens and towels finished the room. And she was right. The room was beautiful.

He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “This is a four-star hotel. I’d love to see what they consider a five star.” 

“I couldn’t imagine anything better than this.” She walked up to the bed and felt the bedspread. “This is sateen. It’s like touching butter.” 

“I suppose we should try not to dirty it up, then.” He winked at her, hoping to elicit a reaction from her. 

“Speak for yourself, Mr. Murphy. I fully intend on rumpling the sheets with you tonight.” 

“It will be so nice to not worry about little ears and eyes, or when she’s going to ask to sleep in our bed.” Andy sat down and sank into the mattress. “Oh, baby, this is memory foam, and it feels like a cloud.” 

“What are we waiting for?” she purred as she joined him on the bed. 

“Nothing.” He walked to the door, opened it and hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the knob.

*****

The next morning, they awakened to the sound of crashing waves and sea birds outside their window. The air was already warm, and the sun was shining brightly. Andy glanced at his watch in disbelief. 

“Oh my word,” he gasped. “I’m late for the morning meeting! My alarm didn’t go off.” 

“When is your meeting?” she asked sleepily.

“In five minutes. I will never make the stadium in time.” 

“Babe, it’s only eight. We gained an hour, remember?” 

Relief washed over him. “I still don’t have much time, but it’s better than five minutes.” He kissed her quickly as he walked toward the bathroom. “I’m sorry I have to leave you to pack up the room and check us out.” 

“You act as though I’ve never done this before,” she chuckled. “I’ll be fine. Just don’t miss your meeting.” 

His usual shower was shortened by half, and he hurried to get ready. Danae watched with great amusement as he scrambled. “You seem to be enjoying this,” he laughed. “Remember, I know where you sleep.” 

“There was little sleeping done here last night,” she teased. “Probably why you slept through your alarm.” 

“Very funny. How do I look?” He struck a pose, displaying his new away game uniform.

“Ooh, I like the colors on this. Very sexy.” 

“I wish you wouldn’t have said that,” he laughed again. He kissed her tenderly. “Unfortunately, that’s all I have time for right now. I’ll see you at the stadium for the game? It’s at 2:30 local time.”

“Of course. Do we have decent seats?” 

“Not terrible. Behind the net, up in the grandstands. If Kirby was with us, we’d have a box. I’m not big enough to get those privileges.”

“Yet,” she added. “You’re not big enough yet.” 

“Unless we become billionaires and buy us a soccer team, I’ll never be big enough for that.” 

“Keep working hard. The sky’s the limit, babe.” 

Andy chuckled. “I will want to retire someday. Just not now.” He kissed her. “I have to run. Let me know when you’re on your way, and I’ll meet you in the lobby area.” 

“Sounds good. Tell the guys I said good luck! They’re going to be fantastic.” 

“Yeah, they are,” Andy agreed. “I love you, honey.” 

“I love you, too. Be safe.” 

*****

Danae arrived at the stadium ninety minutes before the game began, and met Andy just past the entrance. “Wait until you see inside the stadium, Nae. It’s beautiful.” 

“I’m excited, Andy! I’ve never been anywhere but the Shores and home.”

As they were walking to their seats, a man in a white suit and Panama hat approached Andy. “Mr. Murphy?” 

“You found me,” he smiled. 

“Mr. Murphy, my name is Alonzo Faust, and I own the Dolphins. I’ll cut to the chase. What would it take to lure you away from ol’ Kemp in Isla Paradiso?” 

“I’m not for sale. My wife and I are happy on the island.” He took her hand and held it tightly. 

“Everyone has a price, Mr. Murphy. Name yours.” 

“Mr. Faust, I’m flattered, but I’m not interested in leaving the Sharks franchise.”

“Not even three times your current salary?” 

“It’s not about the money. It’s about my family, and we’re settled into our lives there. It’s about our happiness, and we’ve never been more content than where we are right now. I’m simply not interested.” 

“Four times your salary, and a mansion on the hill. The best schools for your kids. The finest life you could provide for them, all for the taking.” 

“I’m sorry, Mr. Faust. I’m very honestly not interested.” He squeezed Danae’s hand. “Let’s go find our seats, my love. Pleasure to meet you.” He offered his hand, but Alonzo Faust walked away, disgusted.

“Babe, four times your annual salary now is almost a million a year. How could you so easily say no to that kind of money?”  

“Danae, we’re building a life in Isla Paradiso with new friends, our family, Darcey and Clint. I couldn’t ask them to move again, and I don’t want to leave them behind. Besides, I’m rather loyal to Kirby, after all he’s done for us. His family is our family, too.” 

“That is true. There is much more to consider. Plus, Mr. Faust rubbed me the wrong way. Almost sleazy.” 

“Yeah, I didn’t get a good vibe from him at all,” Andy concurred. “No matter. Let’s go watch our boys get a season opener victory!”

“Now you’re talking!” she cheered. “Hey, babe?”

“Yeah, hon?” 

“Next time, can I wear your old jersey to a game?” 

“Of course! I’d be honored.” 

*****

The Sharks easily won the first game with a spectacular twelve point victory over the Dolphins. Aaron’s plays had the opposing team scrambling, and Andy couldn’t remember enjoying a game as much as he did that one. It was late when they arrived home that evening, and the kids were already tucked into bed for the night. 

“Thanks for covering us for the night, Trix. Here’s a little something extra, since we won the game.” He gave her a generous tip. “Go do something nice for yourself.” 

“Thanks, Andy,” she said, grateful. “The kids were great, even Elyse watched some of the game when she got home from school. Don’t worry, though. Her homework is done.” 

“I wasn’t worried. Thanks again, Trixie.”

“You’re welcome! Always a pleasure.” 

Danae was in their bedroom getting undressed when Andy walked in, happy. “That game today was insane,” he smiled. “Aaron is a genius.”

“He’s pretty impressive. You don’t think Faust will try to steal him away, do you?” 

“The thought had never crossed my mind, but I’m going to tell Kirby about him in the morning. I doubt Aaron would go. He’s happy here with all of us.” 

“Thank you, Andy.” She kissed him before she slipped into her nightie.

“For what?” 

“For bringing me with you. It was a nice getaway, even if only for a day.” 

“Sometimes, the short ones are the best. But I want to go back and visit someday.”

“Me too, babe. Me too.” 

“You know what we were doing exactly twenty-four hours ago?” 

“I do,” she smiled. 

“Want to pick up where we left off?” 

“I thought you would never ask,” she purred. 

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Three, Generation Five

Special thanks to Bee for her wonderful poses, and the others who have helped make this chapter come alive for me.

G5 Chapter Twenty One – Danae’s Debut

Danae was putting the finishing touches on her fourth painting in nearly six months and hoped it would be back from the framer before the exhibition in two weeks. In total, she had eleven paintings that would be on display at the art gallery, and she was nervous about having them out for all of Isla Paradiso to see. She would be expected to attend the grand opening, which would be a black-tie event. It was all very overwhelming for her.

In desperation, she called a local artisan to see about a custom frame for her newest completed work. Lena had given her the phone numbers of several craftsmen who did fast, quality work. 

“This is Grant,” the man answered.

“Hello, my name is Danae Murphy, and I’m looking to have a canvas framed. I would need it in about a week. Can you help me?”

“Ms. Murphy was it? I can complete a frame for you. What size do you need?” Danae read off the dimensions of the painting, and the man on the other end of the phone paused. “The rush job would be extra for a painting of that size. I had no idea your painting was so large.” 

“That isn’t a problem,” she replied. “I just finished it about an hour ago, so I can bring it to your studio tomorrow.”

“Oil or acrylic?” 

“It’s oil. This painting will be on display in two weeks at the gallery, and I’ll need it ahead of the opening.”

“Gallery, eh?” Grant was impressed.

“Yes, sir. Is there a problem?” she asked.

“No no,” he replied. “You must be the young woman from Starlight Shores. The community has been atwitter about your upcoming exhibit.”

Danae blushed. “That’s right.” 

“If you drop the painting by tomorrow, I’ll have it done well before the exhibit opens. I won’t be able to work on it directly for a few days, but I can cut the frame while it dries completely.” 

“Thank you, that is fantastic,” Danae replied. “I’m sorry, I forgot your name.” 

“Grant,” he replied. “Grant Green. I look forward to meeting you tomorrow.” 

“Likewise, Mr. Green.” Danae hung up the phone. 

The school bus would be at the front gate in less than twenty minutes, and she wanted, no… she needed to be there to meet Elyse. Since the picnic almost six months ago, when all of this began, she had not spent as much time with her children as she wanted, and she felt like a failure as a mother.

The nanny, Naomi, had done a fantastic job with the children during her six-month painting binge. In fact, she was almost too good. Emmitt had begun to call Naomi “Mama”. Hearing her youngest child call another woman “Mama” tore at her soul, especially since Andy was unmistakably “Dada”. 

Naomi was just getting Emmitt up from his nap when Danae walked downstairs. “I’ll get Lysie, Naomi,” she called. 

“Thank you, Miss Danae,” she replied. “Eamon is waiting for her to come home.” 

Danae smiled. Lysie and Eamon were close in age and relationship, despite their rocky start. “She will be excited. Andy is coming home from Sunlit Tides tonight, and she misses him when he’s gone.” 

“Yes she does,” Naomi answered. 

The bus pulled up outside, and when Elyse saw Danae waiting for her, she squealed loud enough to be heard in the yard. “Mama!” she cried, and immediately Danae felt guilty. Kneeling down, she opened her arms for her daughter. 

“Ooh, Lysie, Mama missed you so much today!” she said as she hugged Elyse. “Guess who is coming home tonight?” 

Elyse’s eyes got wide. “Daddy!” 

Danae kissed her forehead. “That’s right! I know for a fact he misses you so much, and he can’t wait to come home.”

“Yay!” Elyse squealed again. 

“Do you have homework, Lysie?” 

“A little,” she pouted. “But I don’t wanna do it.” 

“Why don’t you work on it until dinner, and then when Daddy gets home, you can spend some time with him?” 

Elyse nodded excitedly. “I can’t wait!” 

Me too, thought Danae. Andy had been gone nearly a week, and she missed him terribly.

When they got inside the front door, Elyse ran to Naomi’s arms, chattering about her day, and asked for help with her homework. And as her daughter covered the nanny in kisses and hugs, nothing was normal in Danae’s world anymore. 

“Naomi, I’m going to be in my room, if you need me. I’m not feeling well,” she half-lied. Physically, she felt great, but emotionally, she was drained. 

“Absolutely, Miss Danae.” 

She curled up on the bed and sobbed, missing Andy, missing her children, and hoped the sacrifice would be worth it. She had essentially lost the last six months of her children’s lives, and she regretted it.

She took her phone from her pocket and read the last text message from Andy.

Baby, I’m so proud of you! I miss you so much, but I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you!

She had sent him a photo of the VIP invitation to her art gallery premiere. At the time, she was happy. But, she reminded herself, after the grand opening, life would return to normal. Hopefully, her children would remember what normal used to look like. 

Danae fell asleep, waiting for Andy’s return. As much as she missed the children, she couldn’t lift herself out of her funk long enough to be with them. It was Andy she truly missed, and she wouldn’t feel like herself until his arms were wrapped around her again. 

Andy’s flight had been delayed by hours. The children were asleep, Naomi had gone upstairs for the evening, and Danae was left alone in the living room watching a romantic comedy. It was late when she heard the gate open. Andy! Her heart leaped at the sound, at the very thought that in mere moments, she would be in his arms. She seriously considered running out the front door, but before she could get up, he was already inside. She heard the quiet thud of his luggage as it fell over, and his whispered curses as he bent over to pick it up. He saw the glow of the television in the living room and tiptoed toward the back of the house. When he peeked around the corner, he saw her waiting for him, and tears filled his eyes.

 

“Oh baby, you are a sight for sore eyes,” he cried as he saw her, and he went to her. Effortlessly, he lifted her out of her chair and into a hug.

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“How I’ve missed you, honey,” he whispered into her ear. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She couldn’t speak, overcome with emotion. She simply covered his face in soft kisses and wrapped her legs around his waist as he held her. “Hi Andy,” she finally squeaked out, raw emotion in her voice. He carried her into their bedroom and laid her down on the bed. 

“Let me look at you, my sweet.” He sat down beside her, and she wrapped herself around him, crying softly. “Aww, honey, don’t cry. I’m here.” He gently wiped tears from her eyes and stroked her hair. 

“I have missed you something awful,” she cried. “Longest week of my life.” 

“Mine, too. It feels so good to be home, to have you wrapped around me like this. The kids are good?” 

She hated to admit it, but she didn’t know for sure. “Yes, I guess so. I’ve been trying to meet the deadline for the framer on that last painting.” She choked up. “I want life to be normal again.” 

“Did you finish it, honey?” 

“Today, yes. We won’t need Naomi much longer. But…” her voice trailed off, pain marked her words.

“But what, baby?”

“Emmitt started calling Naomi ‘Mama’ this week.” Her heart broke into pieces. There was no denying it. She was devastated.

“Oh honey, you’re always going to be mama to those babies. They are your heart and soul.” He kissed her tenderly until her tears were gone. “Sweetie, don’t think anything of it. He knows you’re his mother.” 

“Does he? Even Elyse gave Naomi hugs and kisses today when she came home from school, and I got nothing.” 

“Once life gets back to normal, the kids will be back on track, too. You’ll see.” He caressed her cheek. 

“Andy, I missed you. And I really need you tonight.”

“Baby, I thought you’d never say so.” He wrapped her in a hug and took her to bed, loving her into the early morning hours.


The next morning, Andy had off from work, so they slept in while Naomi took care of the children. But Danae had somewhere she needed to be, so she peeled herself away from Andy and jumped into the shower. When she turned the water off and opened the shower door, he was sitting on the edge of the bed, watching for her.

“Good morning, baby,” he purred at her. “Going somewhere?”

She nodded. “I have to bring my last painting to the framer this morning. Would you care to join me?” 

“I’d love to go with you, honey. Let me get into the shower and clean up a bit.” They traded places. He ran the water and showered while she dried off. Danae was dressed when he stepped out from the shower, her hair almost braided. He walked to where she sat on the bed and wrapped his arms around her and kissed her head. 

As he walked away, she had the edge of his towel in her hand, and it pulled from his body. He laughed, “Are you happier with your scenery now, my sweet?” 

“Much better,” she smiled. He walked back to her and took the towel from her, and dried off. While it was still wet, he combed his jet black hair. “Here,” she beckoned to him, “let me.” He returned to where she sat, and she stood, pushing his hair behind his ear. “That’s better,” she said, biting her bottom lip. 

“You do seem to love it that way,” he smiled. “Just like I love your hair braided like that.” He got dressed quickly, and hand in hand, they left the bedroom. Elyse was almost ready for her school bus to pick her up when she saw Andy.

“Daddy!” she squealed loudly. “I missed you!” she ran to him and wrapped her little body around his leg, her giggles filled the house. 

“I missed you too, sweet pea!” he squatted down to hug her and covered her in kisses. “How would you like to stay home from school today?” 

She stopped to think for a moment, and then nodded her head furiously. “Yes!” she shrieked in a high pitched voice. 

“Mama and I have one errand to run, but when we come home, we’re going to spend all day together. How does that sound?” 

“What about Naomi?” she asked.

“Naomi can have the rest of the day off once we get home. It will be just the five of us.” 

Naomi nodded her head. “It will be good for you to spend the day as a family,” she agreed. “Just let me know and I’ll be out of your hair.” 

“I have to bring that painting to the framer, but when we get back, you’re free to leave,” Danae said as she walked down the steps with the artwork. She turned it around to show it off, but Naomi only shook her head. 

“I’m sorry, Miss Danae. I’m not much for art.” 

Andy took the painting from her and slipped his hand into hers. “Ready, my sweet?” 

“You bet,” she nodded. “We’ll be home soon.” 

The short drive down to the town center was uneventful and quiet. Andy parked his car and walked to the passenger door to open it for Danae, held his hand for her and helped her out. An older lady passerby smiled at Andy. “I’m glad to see that chivalry isn’t completely dead, young man. Good for you!” And to Danae, she whispered, “Hang onto him! He’s a keeper!” and winked at her. Danae smiled and took his hand. 

They walked into the woodshop, and Grant greeted them both. His face brightened as he recognized Andy. “How can I help you folks today?” 

“I’m Danae —”

“Right!” he interrupted her. “I wasn’t expecting you to be with Andy Murphy. Pleased to meet you both, and congratulations on our football cup last season! I understand you’re to thank for that, Mr. Murphy.” 

“Thank you,” Andy nodded. “We’re looking at another championship this coming season, too. I just finished negotiating for another player from the west coast. That announcement will be coming shortly, so no spoilers from me!” 

“I guess I’ll just have to wait then!” Grant smiled. “Now, let me see this painting of yours, Mrs. Murphy.” 

“Please, you can call me Danae.” Andy handed the painting to him, and Grant admired it.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “I can see why the town is fired up about this exhibition. This is magnificent!” 

Danae blushed. “Thank you.” 

He inspected the canvas carefully and saw where the paint looked a little shiny. “This is where it’s wet, I see?” 

Danae nodded. “Yes, I had some touch-ups to do on it yesterday. But I know you can build the frame while that spot cures.” 

“Yes, I can.” Grant placed the painting behind the counter and wrote a work order up for the frame. “I know I told you this would be extra for the rush on this frame, but seeing as your husband is Andy Murphy, I’ll cut you a deal on it.” 

“Why, thank you,” she said. “I appreciate your generosity.” 

“Thank you!” he countered. “Good luck next season, Mr. Murphy. The town is counting on you and Mr. Hall to bring us another cup.”

“If anyone can do it, it’s Aaron,” Andy remarked. “Thank you again.” They left the shop together, hand in hand. 

When they got home, Andy dismissed Naomi for the day, and he made breakfast for Danae and the kids. Emmitt was crying in the bedroom, so Danae went to get him. But when he saw her, he screamed. “Mama! Mama! Mama!” 

“Baby boy, I’m your Mama,” she said, swallowing her emotions.  But he cried, trying to squirm away from her. Finally, she let him down on the floor, and he ran toward the kitchen, crying. 

“What’s wrong, Emm?” Andy cooed as he picked up their youngest boy. He blew bubbles on his tummy and set him down, and turned to see Danae, with tears in her eyes. 

“Dada! Mama!” he babbled, and ran to the door, looking for Naomi. “Mama! Mama!” he cried.

Andy’s heart broke for his wife. “Oh honey,” he hugged her. “Baby, he doesn’t mean it.” 

“What if I messed up, Andy? What if he never recognizes me as his mother?” Hot tears ran down her face. “I’ll never get the past six months back.” 

“Oh sweetie, of course, he knows you’re Mama. Just like Eamon and Lysie know it, too. Right Lysie?” 

Elyse was watching television, and heard her name. She looked up at Andy. “What, Daddy?” 

“Lysie, you know this is your Mama, right honey?” 

She nodded her head. “When is Naomi coming back, Daddy?” 

Danae blinked back tears. “She’ll be back tomorrow for a couple more weeks. And then, Mama is going to take care of you again, just like she used to. How’s that?” 

Elyse didn’t look up from her show but simply shrugged her shoulders. Danae couldn’t handle it anymore. “I don’t feel well, babe. I’m going to lay down.” 

“Honey, wait,” he called to her, but she closed the door behind her. “Okay, this is going to stop right now,” he said. “Lysie, can I talk to you a minute, sweetie pie?” He walked to the television, took the remote from her hands and turned it off. 

“Daddy!” she whined. “I was watching that!” 

“Yeah, well now you’re going to listen to me. Why are you mad at your mama, Elyse?”

“I’m not!” she said. 

“Then why did you treat her so badly, young lady?” 

“I didn’t!” she insisted. 

“Lysie, what is going on? You’re hurting your mama’s feelings, and I don’t like it. She feels bad.” 

“Why doesn’t she love me anymore, Daddy?” Elyse’s eyes filled with tears. 

“Whoa!” Andy was taken aback. “Your mama loves you very much, honey.”

“I don’t see her anymore. She’s too busy for me.” 

Andy felt terrible. “Lysie, your mama had something she needed to do, and she’s been working very hard at it. And she misses you so much, you and Eamon and Emm. But when you treat her like you don’t love her, it hurts her feelings a lot, because sweet pea, your mama loves you more than anyone else does.” 

“I miss her, Daddy.” 

“Why don’t you tell her that, Lysie? I bet she would love to hear it from you.” Andy took her hand and led her to the bedroom door. Before he opened it, he knelt down to her and wiped tears from her eyes.

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“Lysie, I need you to tell Mama that you’re sorry you hurt her feelings, okay? And then tell her what you told me. That you miss and love her.”

Elyse sniffled. “Okay, Daddy.” Andy opened the bedroom door and walked with her to the bed. “Mama?” Elyse approached Danae and kneeled down on the floor next to her. 

“Hi sweetheart,” Danae cried. 

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Elyse looked at Andy, and he nodded at her. “Mama, I’m sorry I hurted your feelings.” Tears ran down her face as she took Danae’s hand. “I love you Mama, and I miss you.” 

Danae looked at Lysie, tears in her own violet eyes, and she cried harder. “Oh, my sweet little girl.” She sat up and wrapped her daughter in her warm embrace. “I love you more than you know. And I’m sorry I haven’t been here with you, honey. But I don’t have to paint anymore, so all my time and attention is for you and your brothers.” 

“Really?” Elyse sniffled.

“Really really,” Danae said, and kissed her forehead. “Baby girl, I love you.” 

“I love you, Mama,” she replied, and kissed Danae on the cheek. 

“How much?” she asked.

Elyse held her arms open as far as she could get them apart. “This much!”

Danae smiled and picked her up, held her in her arms and tickled her. “Only that much, huh?” Elyse giggled and squealed, and Andy’s heart was overflowing with love for both of them. “Daddy is making breakfast. Why don’t we go get some pancakes!” 

“Pancakes! Yay!” she laughed. Elyse jumped down off the bed, stopped and turned around to look at Danae. “Are you comin’, Mama?”

“Yes, sweet pea, I’m coming.” On her way out of the bedroom, Andy stopped her, wrapped her in a hug and kissed her. “Thank you,” she whispered in his ear. “That meant everything to me.” 

Tenderly, he wiped tears from her eyes, and then his own. “I know, baby. I know.” 


“Danae, the limo will be here in thirty minutes. How are you on time, baby?” Andy called from the living room.

The gown she had intended to wear hung loosely off her body, and it looked awful on her. “I’ll make it,” she said, her voice on the verge of breaking. Everything in her closet felt too big for her, but she pulled out a dusty mauve evening gown she had worn before. She didn’t even have to unzip it before she put it on, but it somehow didn’t look as terrible as the others.

Andy walked into the bedroom, and saw her nearly in tears, the bed covered in dresses she had tried on. “Oh honey,” he said tenderly, “have you lost that much?”

She nodded her head, almost afraid to speak. For the past ten days, Danae had been sick with a stomach virus, and she hadn’t kept much solid food down. She had only been feeling better for a day or two, but in the week she was sick, she had lost twenty pounds, putting her well below her ideal weight. 

“Well, that gown looks beautiful on you, honey. I’d stick with that one.” She smoothed the fabric over her body with her hands and sighed.

“I look hideous,” she cried. 

“No, you don’t baby. You look stunning.” Andy meant it, too. 

She forced a smile. “I don’t, but thank you, love.” 

He hugged her and kissed her forehead. “This is your night to shine, and you’re gorgeous. You’re going to do great, and the public will love it.” 

“I hope you’re right, or all my sacrifice will be for nothing.” 

“Your hair is so pretty all braided up like that, Danae. Honey, you are radiant. Just touch up your lipstick, and we should be good, right?”

She sighed. “Yes, I’m ready. But I’m not really. This is a big deal. What if they hate it?” 

“I guarantee, no one will hate your artwork.” He kissed her forehead. “Baby, relax. It’s going to be fine.” 

This would be Naomi’s last night to be with the Murphy children. She would leave in the morning, once Danae’s commitment to the gallery had been fulfilled. She had Emmitt in her lap when Andy brought Danae from the bedroom on his arm. 

“You look lovely, Miss Danae,” Naomi said softly. “Have fun tonight!” 

“Thank you, Naomi,” she replied. “We shouldn’t be late.” 

Andy led her to the limo and helped her in. He got in behind her, and they rode to the gallery in silence. When they arrived, Danae was truly overwhelmed. The museum was crawling with Paparazzi and press, spotlights shone around the building, and banners bearing her likeness and name were displayed outside. As the limousine door opened, cameras, mics and reporters were stuck in Andy’s face, and he pushed them aside to help her out. Taking his hand, she stood, and he sheltered her from the car to just inside the museum’s front door. 

The curator greeted Danae once they were safe, away from the throng of people outside. Lena Sanchez was also on hand, and walked around the exhibit, smiling.

“Welcome, Mrs. Murphy,” Lena greeted her formally. “And congratulations on this fine exhibit of your work. I see quite a few masterpieces in here. The public is in for a real treat for the next six months.” 

Danae blushed. “I’ve been so nervous about this, since the final piece was framed. That’s when it got very real.” She walked around from canvas to canvas, admiring the presentation. “This is so beautifully displayed.”

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“Are you ready, Danae?” Lena asked her. “Let’s get a publicity shot or two with your paintings in the background before we open the doors, shall we?”

Andy and Danae posed with a few of her paintings, and the museum director opened the doors to the public. Waitstaff served champagne and hors d’oeuvres while a pianist played on a grand piano. Danae was formally introduced as the featured artist, and the Paparazzi and press gathered for photos of her. Afterward, she and Andy mingled among everyone, talking to guests and trying to read the crowd. It truly was a beautiful reception, and she was enjoying herself.

A town socialite, an elderly woman who everyone seemed to know, walked through the door, and the room hushed. All eyes were on her as she surveyed Danae’s work. Andy leaned in and whispered to her.

“Who is that, love?” 

“I have no idea, but I’m suddenly nervous.” Danae walked from where Andy sat to where the woman stood when Danae caught her eye.

“Is this your work?” she asked Danae as she looked down her nose at her. 

Danae nodded, her mouth instantly dry. “Yes,” she finally squeaked out.

“Mediocre at best. You shouldn’t be featured here with this… whatever you call it.” She pointed toward the abstract painting that Lena had been so fond of, and shuddered. “What an embarrassment.” The woman’s tone was condescending and demeaning. If she had intended to inflict pain, she had accomplished her mission. 

Even though Danae had no idea who this person was or what were her qualifications, her words shattered any bit of confidence Danae had in the exhibit. She walked back to Andy as tears stung her eyes.

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“What happened?” he asked, noticing her distraught expression. She sat on the bench next to him.

“She said this exhibit was an embarrassment, Andy. Mediocre. This was a huge mistake.” She buried her face in her hands, and Andy tried to comfort her. 

“She’s only one person, baby. Unless she’s a critic, I wouldn’t take anything she says seriously. Art is subjective, and you know that.” He rubbed her back and kissed her cheek. 

“I don’t know who she is, but she tore into me like Wyatt into a steak. I want to go home.” 

“What is your obligation for tonight?” 

“I think until close of business. We still have a couple of hours to go.” She sighed deeply. “It’s going to be a long six months.” 

 

Together they stood and mingled, but he didn’t leave her side for the rest of the evening.

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And when the museum closed for the evening, the curator found them and thanked them. 

“Mrs. Murphy, the reviews will be in the newspaper in the morning. We anticipate good ratings from the grand opening.” 

Danae wanted to laugh in his face. He hadn’t heard what she had heard, or felt the humiliation she had felt. Instead, she nodded politely. “Thank you. Now, if you please, I am tired. I’ve had a long day.” 

“By all means, Mrs. Murphy,” he said cordially. “You’re welcome back to sign autographs and souvenirs at any time.” She nodded her head and thanked him again. As soon as he was behind them, she rolled her eyes.

They got into the waiting limousine, and Danae burst into tears. “This was a burning hot dumpster fire, Andy,” she sobbed. “I don’t see myself going back there for any more humiliation.” 

He rubbed her back. “I don’t blame you, but at least wait to see what the reviews are in the morning, sweetie.” He hugged her close to him. “I’m still very proud of you.” 

She said nothing more on the way home, Andy just held her in his arms. The limo dropped them off outside the gate, and Andy pushed past more Paparazzi than usual to get her inside. The house was quiet and dark when he turned the key in the front door, and she moped in ahead of him.

Inside, the children were sound asleep, and they heard the sounds of Naomi packing her few suitcases. She would be departing in the late morning. 

“I’m tired, babe. I’m just going to sleep.” 

“Wow, I can’t even interest you in—”

“Nope.” 

“—a glass of wine?” he finished his sentence.

“Babe, I can’t even think about it. I’m so depressed.” 

Danae undressed, leaving her beautiful evening gown draped over a chair, climbed into bed and cried herself to sleep. 


Andy woke up first the next morning and noticed that Danae was facing away from him. It was out of the ordinary, but it was nothing. She had a bad night, he reasoned. The hour was too early to expect the newspaper, but he knew she would want to see it. 

Naomi carried the first of her bags down the steps, trying to be quiet. Andy was making coffee when she greeted him. “Good morning, Mr. Andy,” she said cheerfully.

“Good morning Naomi. Would you wake Lysie for me? She has school this morning.” 

“Actually, it’s a holiday today, Mr. Andy. The schools are closed.” 

He looked at her, puzzled. “What holiday?” 

“It’s Festival Day, the first day of the El Sabor de la Isla. It’s a big deal here.” The festival was an annual celebration, but the first one to occur since Elyse had started school. Unfortunately, he still had to be at the stadium. Football knew no holidays except for Snowflake Day.

“Wow,” he exclaimed. It seemed like we just had that last week.” How the time was flying past. 

“I will be out by eleven this morning, Mr. Andy. I have to report to my next job.”

He nodded. “Thank you for all your help. I wish the exhibition opening had gone better last night.” 

“I meant to ask. How did Miss Danae do?” 

“It was fine until some snooty woman came in and tore her confidence to shreds. She cried herself to sleep last night.” 

“That sounds like Mrs. Manzano. She’s an elderly, second-rate artist who thinks her work is better than anyone else’s. She’s been known to show up at these things and cause a ruckus.” 

“Really?” Andy was dumbfounded. “They just let her walk into grand openings like this and raise hell?” 

“They can’t keep her out, it’s a public exhibit.”

“Well, hopefully, the reviews in the newspaper will be positive. She needs a boost right now. The kids, this exhibit. Something needs to go right for her, and soon.” Andy poured a cup of fresh coffee and prepared it. “I’m going to sit outside while the kids are asleep. If you need help with bags, just holler, Naomi.” 

“Sure, Mr. Andy.”

About a half-hour later, Danae woke up and walked to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. She didn’t see Andy around, and the kids were still asleep, so she sat at the dining room table, feeling alone and dejected. A big part of her didn’t want to see the review of her gallery premiere, but she dragged herself to the mailbox to retrieve the newspaper anyway. 

Halfway through the front section, she changed her mind and tucked the paper into the garbage. That was when Elyse walked from her room, rubbing her eyes. “Good morning, Mama,” she said sleepily.

“Lysie! What are you doing home?” Danae asked. “I thought you were at school.” 

“Today’s a holiday, Mama. Can I have pancakes for breakfast?” 

“Of course, sweet pea,” Danae replied. The back door opened, and Andy spotted her. 

“Good morning, my beautiful princess,” he greeted her. “What’s the good word on your premiere?” 

She shook her head. “I don’t know, and I truly don’t care. I’ve given this too much of my time, and I’m done with it.” She measured the flour and sugar for the pancake batter. 

“Did you get the paper yet? I’ll look.” 

“It’s in the compactor, Andy. I chickened out.” 

He laughed. “Chickened out, huh?” He walked to the compactor and picked it out. “You did a good job burying it in there, love.” He brushed a good amount of coffee grounds off and unfolded it. The Arts section was near the end of the newspaper, but he turned to it first. The headline of the article was in large lettering, right under the section heading:

Transplanted Local Artist Debuts At Gallery; Critics Impressed

He read the headline to her, and she turned her head to look at him. “Andy, stop joking with me. I can’t take any more.” 

“Baby, I’m not joking. It really says this.” He handed the paper to her, and she took it from him. 

She scanned the article, and every emotion she felt in the past twenty-four hours played out on her face. “Masterpiece?” She smiled brightly. “Brilliant?” Her face turned to disbelief, doubt. “Stunning?” She shook her head. “Andy, they’re using those words to describe my paintings.” 

“See? I told you, though I hate to be one of those people who say ‘I told you so’.” He smiled and stuck his tongue out at her.

“B-But, I don’t understand! What about that woman?” 

“Naomi was telling me a bit ago that she’s an artist who likes to attend these things and start problems. Baby, the people who matter loved your work! That has to make you feel good inside, right?” 

“I can’t believe it. I was prepared for a long, tiresome six months.” Finally, he saw a smile creep across her face, and it made him happy.

 “Aww, Danae, I’m so proud of you! All of your hard work paid off!” 

“One problem solved. Now I just have to work on winning the kids’ affection and love back. I think Emmitt will be the hard sell. He’s so little, so impressionable.” 

“Well, you tell me if Elyse is giving you a hard time, because I’d love to tickle her until she submits.” He eyed the little girl and walked towards her, fingers wiggling and laughing. She squealed and ran away, giggling like mad. 

“That little girl loves you, Andy. She reminds me so much of me and my Daddy.” Danae put the first pancakes onto the griddle to cook, and took a sip of coffee. “Lysie, go wake Eamon for me, honey? And would you get Emm, babe? He probably needs to be changed, too.” 

“Of course, my sweet,” he said. 

*****

After breakfast, Danae started on what would be a long road with her children, earning their love and trust again. She sat with Eamon and Emmitt, the baby in her lap, and Eamon curled up next to her on the floor, and read to them, played with them and poured everything she had into her two boys. Eamon was a quick study and was back to normal within the day. Emmitt, however, was proving to be more of a challenge.

Andy played with Elyse and Eamon in the pool after work while Danae spent much-needed bonding time with Emmitt. 

“Emmitt, who am I?” she sang. 

The boy looked at her, then around for Andy. “Dada!” he cried sharply. 

“No, sweetheart, Daddy is outside. Say Mama.” 

He shook his head. “No Mama!” 

She picked him up and cradled him into her arms, and sang to him like she had done with Eamon and Elyse when they were his age:

Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Lay your head close to my heart
Never a tear, Baby of mine.¹

The song soothed the baby, and he began to coo at her. “That’s my boy,” she sang happily. She blew bubbles on his belly, and Emmitt giggled, a really good, strong belly laugh. Danae’s heart sang, in love with the baby boy she held in her arms. It was so good to hear him laugh! But then something changed, and he squirmed from her. Emmitt cried, yelling for Naomi, calling her ‘Mama’. But she was already gone from the house, and Danae felt all of the progress they had made slip through her fingers. 

Andy brought the kids inside after it was determined that Eamon was becoming a human prune, and Emmitt cooed when he saw his father. “Dada! Dada!” he cried, holding his arms up to be lifted.

“How did it go with him, my sweet?” Andy asked her as he picked Emmitt up from the floor.

“It was okay for a little while. But when he’d had enough of me, he cried for Naomi. I think it’s going to take a while for him, babe.” She sat, her shoulders slumped, and breathed deeply. “I just need to undo six months of neglect. It will take longer than one night, I suspect.”

“Honey, you know you didn’t neglect the kids. You’re being too hard on yourself.”

“Maybe so, maybe not. No amount of money or fame is worth losing my children. I’m sorry I did it, babe.”

“Give it time, Danae. Like you said, it took a while to get him to ‘Naomi is mama’. He will remember.”

“I wish I hadn’t weaned him. That would have helped him to remember for certain.” 

“I wish you hadn’t too.” He gave her a sly smile, and she rolled her eyes. “What?” 

“Oh, you,” she laughed. “You’re too much.” 

“So I’ve gone from ‘more than enough’ to ‘too much’, eh?” 

“I guess you have!” she snorted.

“Is that an upgrade?” 

She kissed him and put her arms around his waist. “I’d say so.” He hugged her close and nuzzled her neck. 

“Danae, I crazy love you right now.” 

“I love you, Andy, forever and always.” 

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty Two, Generation Five

 


¹© 1941 Frank Churchill / Ned Washington