Charlotte hung up the phone, looking troubled. Travis walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “That was news I never expected,” she said. Darcey surprised her with news of a new boyfriend, and she wasn’t sure she approved.
“I didn’t send that girl to Sim State to go on dates,” Travis agreed. “She’s too young to get serious about a guy who is four years older than her.” He shook his head. “He’s twenty-two years old, and she is just eighteen. What is she thinking? She said she thinks he’s ‘the one.’ How could she possibly know that after two days and one date, baby?”
“I don’t know. I think she’s just testing the waters. Maybe she’s rebelling a little bit. Do you think she’ll be careful?” Charlotte shrugged her shoulders, hoping there wouldn’t be a grandchild in nine months.
“She’d better be careful. I liked your idea, though, of making them tell Devin about babies. Brilliant piece of parenting genius!” He laughed, swaying with her, still wrapped around her. Travis thought for a moment and laughed harder. “Danae, in an odd twist of fate, is now the ‘good daughter.’ Imagine that.”
“Woo boy.” Charlotte pondered that a moment. “At least Nae asked questions when she wanted to know stuff. I have no clue what Darcey really thinks.”
“Well, whatever we didn’t get right with the twins, we can fix with Devin,” he teased. “He’s been a lot easier.”
“Mama told me Christopher was easier than me. Now I understand. My poor grandfather had three girls. He probably ate antacids like candy for 30 years straight.”
Travis laughed harder than he should have, picturing it. “Yeah, I guess your mama was a handful.”
Charlotte laughed. “You have no idea.”
Devin came in from the cold, shivering. He had been raking leaves, as Travis had asked him, so they didn’t blow into the pool. “It’s cold out there,” he said plainly.
“You just missed the girls, sweetie,” Charlotte said. “They miss you.”
‘It’s okay. I’ll catch them next weekend,” he replied. “I’m going to sit by the fire.” Devin rubbed his hands together and blew into them, trying to get some warmth back.
“Honeybear, don’t you have a game today?” Charlotte asked, suddenly aware of the time.
“Oh goodness, yes! I have to run!” he answered hurriedly. “I’ll see you afterward. I love you!” Travis ran for his car and sped off to work, late for practice.
“Thank you for raking, Dev,” Charlotte patted him on the shoulder. “You did a great job out there.”
“It beats laundry,” he quipped. Devin never had much to say, and when he did, it was short, sweet and to the point.
Charlotte giggled. “Dinner will be ready when your dad gets home. Is your homework done?”
She never knew what else to say to him. His personality changed drastically when the girls left home. He seemed more sullen and introverted. “Why don’t you call Greg and see if he wants to play an online game with you?”
“He doesn’t want to play games with me. I’m almost 8 years younger than him, Mama.”
“You two got along so well when he and Uncle Chris stayed here,” she countered.
Devin grunted and rolled his eyes, as he picked up the controller for the console game.
“I’ve got nothing then.” Charlotte grabbed the book Bella wrote about Rog and started it over.
“Are the girls coming home for Snowflake Day this year, Dad?” Devin asked, as he patiently tied Travis’ tie. He was meeting Armand for contract negotiations, and though he was fairly certain he would be renewed, nothing was guaranteed any more. The Llamas had their worst season since Travis was signed years ago, and he was having fewer and fewer good games.
“I don’t think so, son.” Devin finished the tie and rolled his eyes. “There isn’t enough time to make the trip worth it.” Besides, Travis and Charlotte didn’t want to deal with an uncomfortable situation should Darcey want to bring Clint home with her. He still wasn’t that thrilled with the idea of her dating.
“That sucks,” Devin stated.
Travis laughed. “Thanks for the tie, Dev. By the time I learn this, I’ll be retired.” The statement stopped him in his tracks. It seemed with his poor performance these days, that might be coming sooner than he’d like. “I’ll see you after work, kiddo. Homework first, then you can play on the console until your Mama gets home from work.”
He got into his car, which was starting to show its age, and drove himself to Armand’s downtown office. The valet took his keys and gave Travis a claim check, and he walked through the front doors of the tallest building in the city center. It was an office he had been to numerous times. “Penthouse,” he told the elevator operator.
“Yes, Mr. Jones,” came the polite reply.
Travis stepped off the elevator, and Armand’s receptionist greeted him immediately. Pressing her intercom button on the phone, she happily said, “Mr. Jones is here, Mr. Halsey.”
“Please send him in, Mona.”
“He’s ready for you, Travis.”
Travis walked slowly to the office, inexplicably nervous. Gently, he knocked on the door, to Armand’s friendly, “Come on in, son!” A smile crossed his face as he approached the desk, and he stood to greet him. “As always Travis, a real pleasure!” Armand extended a hand for him to shake, which he did.
“It’s good to see you,” Travis replied. “How is your family?”
“They’re good, thank you.” Armand had some paperwork on his desk, which Travis assumed was a contract for the coming year or two. “Please, have a seat.” As he sat, a feeling of discomfort washed over him. Armand shuffled the paperwork, and set it aside, cleaning his desk off. “Do you know why you are here, Travis?”
A bead of perspiration formed suddenly on Travis’ forehead. “I thought so, until you just asked me. Instead of playing guessing games, why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind, Armand?”
“Well, we were supposed to be negotiating a new contract for you to stay with the Llamas for another five years. And believe me, Travis, that is exactly what I want as the owner of the team.” Armand paused and looked hard at his star player. “But, that is not going to be what takes place here today, I’m afraid. I wanted you to know before word of this gets out, that I am announcing my retirement, Travis. I am selling the team.”
Travis nodded his head. “You know, I’m extremely sorry to hear this, Armand. But I understand, none of us are getting younger —”
“Travis, you are the first and only person to know this outside my family,” Armand interrupted him. “I am dying. This is not a sale because I want to. I don’t have much time, and I want to spend what I have left with my family.”
The shock of the awful news hit Travis hard. “I… I don’t know what to say,” he finally said. “I’m so sorry.”
“I am going to try to negotiate the terms of the sale so that you are guaranteed at least another five years, but I need to offload this quickly.” Armand sighed deeply. “The odds are not on your side, my friend.”
Travis nodded his head. “I understand.” He tried to swallow a lump of emotion that rose in his throat. “Hey, I always knew this job had pitfalls. I’m lucky I’ve avoided this as long as I have, right?”
“Thanks for being in good spirits about this,” Armand said sadly. “Believe me, if it was up to me, I’d keep you until you needed a walker on the field. And with your kids in school, I know this comes at a bad time.”
“It’s not your fault, buddy.” The reality of Armand’s words still had not sunk in. “Thanks for keeping me up to date on this. And check in from time to time. I care about you.”
“Thanks, Travis. I will have my wife call you…” Armand couldn’t speak the words. He had only months to live. “It was good to see you.” He walked Travis to the door of his office and hugged him. “Take good care of your Charlotte. Goodbye, son.”
Travis left the building and handed the valet his ticket, choking back emotions, praying desperately for his car to arrive quickly. Paparazzi were gathering around the building entrance as news of the pending sale broke. Immediately, three of them went to Travis to get his opinion, but he had no official comment. The valet pulled up in his car, and he got in and made his way home.
Charlotte was there when Travis pulled into the driveway. She was concerned that he was home so soon, when he wasn’t due for another two or so hours. Outside the gate, more Paparazzi gathered, and soon at least two dozen of them were outside the Jones home, waiting for Travis to give an official statement on the sale of the team, and the quick spreading rumors that his contract would not transfer to the new owner.
“What is going on out there?” she asked innocently, noticing the growing crowd.
“You’re not going to believe this, Charlotte,” Travis said, unable to hold his emotions in check. The devastation on his face scared her.
“What happened, honeybear?”
“Armand is selling the team. He is dying… not much time… I don’t know what is next.” Travis buried his face in his hands.
“Oh honey,” she cried, “Oh no.” She sat with him at the dining room table and hugged him. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I know what Armand means to you.”
“That’s not all of it, baby. Chances are, my contract will not transfer to the new owner.” His shoulders heaved in sorrow. “I might be done.”
“Oh Travis,” she cried harder. “No, no no no!” The career he loved, his livelihood, it couldn’t be gone. Not yet. It would be difficult to move now. Devin had just started high school, and she didn’t want to move while the girls were away from home. The timing was all wrong. “What if you don’t get offered a contract with the new owner? What next?”
He sniffled, trying to collect himself. “Well, I could possibly pick up a contract for another team, but unless it’s with the Twinbrook Tigers, we will either have to move, or I’ll have to commute and demand two days off every few weeks, so I can come home once in a while.” He sighed. “This is the worst-case scenario that could have happened today. Absolute worst. I’m not only in danger of losing a career I love, and I’m not ready to retire from, I’m losing a friend, too.” He removed his vest and hung it on the back of the dining room chair. “I’m not hungry tonight, honey. I’m sorry.” He walked up the stairs, feeling defeated and terribly depressed.
A week passed, and there was no news on the pending sale of the Starlight Shores Llamas, other than the rumor circulating that Travis would likely be a free agent. And with his string of recent losses, the possibility of being scooped up by another team seemed less likely. Headlines across the cities gleefully predicted the end of his career. The house phone rang off the hook, as newspapers and news outlets demanded an interview.
The phone rang for the umpteenth time that afternoon, and Travis’ patience was growing thin. Charlotte was at work, and Devin was in school, so he was alone to field the barrage of incoming calls. “What?” he answered the ringing phone, annoyed.
“Is that any way to greet your old friend?” a long-familiar voice greeted him. A voice of an age gone well past. A voice seemingly from beyond the grave.
“Who is this?” Travis demanded.
“Travis!” The voice sounded surprised, “It’s Emmitt!”
“No, Talia told me Emmitt was dead.”
“Well, she was wrong. How the hell have you been man? Dang, I’ve missed you!”
“Whoever this is, please don’t play with my emotions like this. I can’t take it.” Travis felt more emotions welling up within him. Talia had told him herself. Emmitt died 5 years ago in Dragon Valley.
“Travis, I swear, this is Emmitt. Here, I’ll prove it. Ask me something only I would know.”
Travis thought for a moment. “What color shirt was Amy wearing the day she told you she was pregnant?”
“Oh come on! That’s too easy! She was wearing that cute little blue gingham shirt, and she tied it so it showed her belly. She was also wearing a pair of cut off shorts, and her mother’s boots, her blonde hair was in pigtails.”
Travis smiled, but he couldn’t believe it. “It really is you! You old dog! Where are you?”
“I’m actually in town on business. I have been following your career, but I figured you were just too busy to call me.”
“I’ve wanted to call you for years now, and when Talia said you had died, I was bitterly sorry I had never done it.” Travis still felt like he was talking to a ghost.
“When did you see Talia? She hasn’t lived in Dragon Valley in 10 years, since your mother passed away, that old crone.”
“I didn’t even know mother was dead.” Travis smiled, in spite of himself. “My beautiful wife and I saw Talia in Isla Paradiso a couple of years ago. We brought the kids for a weekend. She ruined my whole trip, too.” He shouldn’t have been surprised to know that Talia was still up to her old, crazy tricks. She had never been much for the truth, only inflicting the most pain with the fewest number of words, just like their mother.
“Well listen, I haven’t got much time in town, but I want… No, I need to see you before I head back.”
“Emmitt.” Travis was going to ask him the most selfish favor ever. “Please, buddy. Don’t go back to Dragon Valley. Stay here.”
“You know I can’t do that, Travis. I run my old man’s shop. My own boy is going to take it over someday.”
“Move your family here. There is so much opportunity in the city. You and your family can make a good life here.”
“It’s just me and my boy. My wife died about 7 years ago. Things haven’t been the same without her.”
“All the more reason to pack up and come here, man. Come on, Emmitt. Now that I know you’re alive, I need my best friend.” Travis meant it.
“We’ll discuss it when I meet you. Bring your wife. I can’t wait to meet her. You better watch out, though. I’m still sexier than you.” Emmitt laughed. “She’s going to fall in love with me. I’m still trying to figure out why Amy went with you. Stud boy.”
Travis belly laughed. “Charlotte is off work around 4 today. How’s that?”
“That works great. Where’s a good place to get a drink here?” Emmitt looked at his watch. It was 2pm.
“Well, there’s the Los Sueños Private Club. I think I could get you in there. How about we meet there, say four-thirty?” Travis suggested.
“Sounds like a plan. I’ll see you two there.”
Jubilant, Travis texted a message to Charlotte.
I just got the most amazing news. Meet me at Los Sueños Club at four-thirty. I love you!
Figuring his time at the stadium was limited anyway, he called in sick to work. “Neil, I’m not coming in today.”
“Why the hell not? We have a practice, and you’re still part of this team, like it or not.”
“Because I’m meeting an old friend. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Before Neil had a chance to protest, Travis ended the phone call and placed the phone into his pocket. Not two minutes later, it chimed Charlotte’s text tone.
Oh? I can’t wait to hear it! I’ll meet you. I love you more.
Devin walked into the house shortly after Travis hung up the phone with Emmitt. “Hey Dev,” he greeted his son. “Your mama and I are going to go meet someone in about 2 hours. Will you be okay alone for a little while?”
“Of course, Dad. I’m not a baby anymore.” He seemed a little annoyed at the suggestion.
“You’re right, Devin. You’re a mature young man. We should be home for dinner, but if we’re not I will call you. You’re to do your homework, don’t let anyone in that gate, and if we’re not home by eight o’clock, then lock everything. Understand?”
“Yes Dad,” he replied, rolling his eyes. He sat at the table, opened his backpack and started his homework.
The clock moved excruciatingly slowly as Travis waited for four o’clock to come, but when it did, he reminded Devin of his instructions and left the house in his sports car. Pulling his car into the back lot of the club, he waited outside for Charlotte and Emmitt to arrive. Casually, he checked the license plates of the cars nearby, but saw only local ones. Charlotte arrived less than five minutes later, and they walked into the club together.
Seated at a table near the stage was a dark-haired, darker-skinned, short and stocky man, wearing a full beard and mustache. Travis recognized him immediately. In this town of light-skinned people, Emmitt stuck out like a sore thumb, just like he did.
“It really IS you!” Travis bellowed, catching Emmitt’s attention. “Emmitt, you old dog!” He looked at Charlotte, grinning.
“Emmitt?” she repeated, confused. “But honeybear —”
“Talia lied, for whatever reason, baby. This is my best friend, Emmitt.” Travis wrapped his friend in a hug. “Emmitt, this is my beautiful bride, Charlotte. Now, shake her hand, but keep your mitts off her!” he teased.
“Enchanté!” Emmitt bowed before Charlotte as though she was a queen, took her hand and kissed it. “Travis said you were beautiful, but I know his taste, so I almost didn’t believe him.” She blushed a deep red.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Charlotte said quietly. Together, the three of them sat a table.
“I can’t even tell you how much I’ve missed you, Emmitt,” Travis said, looking at his friend, still not truly able to believe he was really there, and very much alive. “Tell me, what brings you here?”
“Well, I wasn’t exactly truthful with you when I said I still have my dad’s old shop, Travis. I am here on business, though. I thought you might be particularly interested in the reason for my visit to the Shores.”
“Okay, I can forgive the slight deception,” Travis joked, then paused. “Wait, what do you mean, I might be particularly interested?”
“Travis, I work for one of the richest families in Dragon Valley. You probably remember the O’Reilly family?”
“Very well, yes.” The patriarch of the family worked with Travis’ father, Randy, at the science facility, in pharmaceutical research. It was well known the O’Reilly family owned most of the facility and the pharma company in Sunset Valley. The O’Reillys resided in Dragon Valley, but invested in Sunset Valley, because the taxes were much lower in the southwestern part of the county.
“They heard about the Shores Llamas being placed for sale, and they showed an interest in buying the team. Their son, Lionel, is running the whole gig now and has followed your career. He remembers you, though he was about two years younger than us, so you might not recall him.” Travis shook his head and shrugged. “Anyway, when they heard the soccer team was for sale, they arranged for me to negotiate with Mr. Armand Halsey, not only for the sale of the team but for your five year, 30% higher contract with it. They are very motivated to make sure this sale is finalized within the next three weeks. You have no idea how brightly your star shines in Dragon Valley, Travis. They’ve renamed Mithrilen Manor to Jones Street. The signs leading into the village state that Dragon Valley is your hometown.”
Travis sat across from his buddy, his mouth agape. “I truly don’t know what to say.” He knew Armand would agree to the sale with the provision for his new contract in it. “A week ago, I was devastated, and now… now I have all this hope.” Charlotte took his hand and squeezed it.
“Yeah, you’re a huge deal back home. It’s quite sickening, really.” Emmitt couldn’t resist a dig, as he chuckled. “Hey, how about I buy the first round? You get the next one.”
Travis looked at Charlotte, and she nodded her approval. “I’ll just have nectar, thank you,” she said politely.
“Make that two,” Travis added. The only alcohol he consumed anymore was an occasional glass of wine at home, with Charlotte.
“You guys are making me look like the town lush!” Emmitt laughed. He called the waitress and placed the drink order with her. “So Charlotte, tell me about your beautiful self. You’ve caught yourself an awesome guy.” He looked at Travis with respect, and yes, maybe even love. He wasn’t ashamed to admit it, either.
“Well, my family is from here, I was born and raised in Starlight Shores. My grandmother came from Appaloosa Plains, so I guess we really come from there. We have three children, identical twin eighteen-year-old daughters and a 13-year-old son, who is ahead of his classmates and on target to graduate early from high school. But, he wants to be a soccer player, like his Daddy.” She beamed with pride talking about her family.
“What made you fall in love with this one?” Emmitt was back to teasing, pointing toward Travis. “He was a hot mess when I sent him to Sim State.”
“Everything, Emmitt. We were best friends first. I didn’t actually realize I loved him until I graduated and left him on campus. My brother and I cleared the curriculum in two years. When I came back here, I realized I was smitten with him.”
“Enough about us, Emmitt. How did you land such a prestigious position with the O’Reilly family?” Travis asked his old friend.
“It’s my gift of gab, Travis. I did some transmission work on Lionel’s car one day, and we got to talking. He realized I’d be a great salesman, so they took me on, trained me. I’ve worked my way up. Even though we still live in Dragon Valley, I work in Sunset Valley, so I commute two hours to work each way every day. We’ve been trying to get a private investor to build a municipal airport to make commuting easier. I’m surprised the O’Reillys don’t do it.”
“It’s amazing, how you got that job. Amazing that you are the one negotiating for my job.” Travis was thunderstruck by it all. “I don’t anticipate that Armand will give you much trouble, especially since they’re planning a contract provision for me. He was heartbroken when he told me he had to sell the team.”
“We are hoping to snag and keep Trey Smith as well. Lionel likes how well you work together on the field. But that insufferable coach, Neil Whats-His-Face, he has to go.” Emmitt made a sour expression. Neil was a toad during pressers, but worse on the sidelines, and Lionel O’Reilly noticed. “We’re waiting on word from Mr. Halsey, and when I have confirmation, I’m signing the paperwork.”
“This is astounding,” Charlotte remarked. “Emmitt, we never expected this kind of news. Travis had resigned himself to being away from home for weeks at a time. I would have been lost without him.”
“Don’t you worry, beautiful Charlotte,” Emmitt smiled at her. He looked at his friend as he admired his wife, and smiled. “You’ve done so much better away from the Valley, Travis. Her love looks awesome on you, better than it ever did with Amy…” He suddenly cringed. “I’m sorry, Charlotte. I wasn’t thinking.”
“You’re fine, Emmitt. I’m okay with Amy. It’s taken me a long time to get there, but I think we could have been friends in different circumstances, as long as we weren’t fighting over my man.” Charlotte smiled sweetly at Travis. “I’ll tell you, this man is my life. I don’t remember how to be without him, and I certainly never want to relearn it.”
“And this woman, she has the sweetest, most generous heart, a kind, gentle soul. I’d die for her,” Travis added, looking at Charlotte starry-eyed.
“Okay, you guys are just too cute.” Emmitt laughed and ordered another round.
“So how long are you in town?” Charlotte asked.
“Until we hear from Mr. Halsey on the sale. Either I sign the papers and head home, or I head back with no deal, which I really don’t want to do. My boss will not be happy with me if I come home empty-handed.” Emmitt sipped his drink, twirling the ice with his finger. “I’m expecting he will sign, and I’ll be on my way home tomorrow morning.”
“I hate to ask this, but I need to know,” Travis said, though he wasn’t sure why. “Is that old barn still standing on the east side?”
“Nah, it collapsed years ago. It still sits in ruins, still abandoned. In fact, that is where the airport will be built if it’s approved by the village government.” Emmitt understood why Travis asked about it. It was the site of his and Amy’s love nest. The old barn was his last link to her, and now that it was gone, so was every trace of her from his life. Travis nodded, and Emmitt thought he saw a flicker of sadness in his eyes.
Emmitt’s phone rang, and he noticed the caller ID. “I’m sorry, I have to take this,” he said, excusing himself.
“I’m sorry I asked about the barn, sweetheart,” Travis said to Charlotte. “I don’t know why I even care.”
“It’s okay, and I understand.” She took his hand, and he kissed hers.
Emmitt returned to the table a few minutes later, his smile bright. “It’s a go, Travis. I’m headed to Armand Halsey’s office to sign the paperwork.” He picked up his briefcase and tucked his phone into it.
“Do you need a ride? I’d be happy to take you.” Travis offered.
“Oh, no thanks, buddy. I have a limo to carry me around town.” He hugged Charlotte, and then turned to Travis. “We’ll be talking a lot more, now that I’ll be actively managing the team. Welcome aboard!” He hugged Travis. “I’ll be in touch with your contract within the week.”
“Thanks, Emmitt. Best of luck, and safe travels back home.” Charlotte waved as he left the club.
Travis pulled Charlotte to him, and hugged her, smiling ear to ear. Whispering, he said, “I’ll see you at home, and I promise you, tonight will be a night you will never forget.” He caressed her cheek, and she bit her lip, smiling.
“Charlotte, could you please tie this for me, baby?” Travis came from the bathroom, trying, as usual, and in vain, to tie his complicated dress tie. “I think I almost have it, but not quite.”
She laughed and walked to him. “You have it right, honey. Just make it neater.” She fussed with the tie he wore around his neck. “See? Like this.”
“Well, I’ll be. I did it.” He smiled, pleased with himself.
“It only took you twenty years, honey,” Charlotte laughed. She swatted him on the butt, and he turned around, an impish smile on his face.
“You’re playing a dangerous game, little missy,” he teased playfully. “You still make a man want to skip work.”
“But you have to go,” she pouted, pretending to be sad. In actuality, it was a good day. Today, a press conference would be held with Emmitt, Travis, Trey Smith and Aaron Hall, the new coach of the Shores Llamas, announcing the finalized sale of the team and the new team roster, and Travis was looking forward to it. Since Emmitt’s visit, he had a renewed joy, a renewed zeal for life and his craft. Charlotte loved to see him so happy, so merry. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. “I can’t wait for you to come home.”
“Woman, you are killing me,” he purred at her. “I have to get going. Are you going to watch?”
“I wouldn’t miss it,” she smiled. “I’ll be waiting for you.”
Travis walked down the stairs, a spring in his step. Devin, who was sitting at the counter doing his homework, noticed. “What’s gotten into you, Dad?”
“I finally tied my tie, son. It’s a good day.” Travis smiled, walked to him, and hugged his shoulders. “You’re a good kid, Devin, and I love you.”
He looked at his father, confused. “What’s going on? Are you dying?”
Travis laughed. “No, son. I’m just happy.” He grabbed the keys to his brand new sports car and walked for the door. “I’ll see you later!” he called.
Charlotte skipped down the steps, heading for the television. “Do you want to watch Daddy on television with me, Devin? Today is a good day for him. I know he’d appreciate it if you watched.”
“Yeah, I’m just gonna finish this, and I’ll be there.”
“Travis! My man!” Emmitt yelled to him from across the field. Travis jogged to his best friend and gave him a hug. “I see you’re all set for the presser. Are you enjoying your new car?”
“Oh, man, Emmitt. That car is sweet, but it wasn’t necessary.” The car had been a part of his generous benefits package and replaced the car that Armand had given him some ten years earlier. “Smitty is on his way out of the locker room.”
“Good deal, bud. Have you met the new coach?” Neil had been fired with great ceremony, with Travis standing by, enjoying Neil’s comeuppance just a little too much. The new coach, a competent young man from Sunlit Tides, was hired to take the head coach position after Neil’s termination. Aaron Hall showed a lot of promise, and Emmitt was pleased with his choice.
“I have,” Travis answered. Noticing the throng of fans, he excused himself, walking to shake hands and sign autographs while the press set up their cameras and mics. Trey joined Travis, and together they signed autographs and posed for pictures with their fans.
About ten minutes passed, and Emmitt addressed the crowd that was present for the media event, effectively calling Travis and Trey to the assembled stage. The teammates walked to the event and took their seats among the others. The cameras were live, and the press conference was underway.
“My name is Emmitt Murphy, and I am representing the O’Reilly family from Dragon Valley, the new owners of the Starlight Shores Llamas. We are pleased to introduce the new coach, who will replace coach Neil Oberly. Aaron Hall comes to us from Sunlit Tides, the former coach of the Tides Lady Starfish, and brings with him an impressive 90% win ratio. We are also announcing the promotion of Travis Jones to team captain, and Trey Smith to assistant captain. Both Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith will return to the Llamas with a renewed five-year contract, so their fans can rest easy.”
“And now, without further ado, I would like to introduce the new owner of the Starlight Shores Llamas, Mr. Lionel O’Reilly. Lionel is the owner of Sunset Valley Pharmaceuticals, a name that most of you know. SVP the largest pharmaceutical company in all of Simville, and employs thousands of people nationwide.”
Lionel stepped up to the microphone, which was located offstage. The cameras panned to him as he spoke. “Thank you, Emmitt, for that kind introduction. I was excited to learn that the Llamas team was for sale about a month ago, and Emmitt here became my emissary to negotiate and seal the deal with the former owner, Mr. Armand Halsey when he announced his retirement. We were pleased to officially close the deal last night during a business dinner with Mr. Halsey’s oldest son. One of the provisions that Mr. Halsey and I wanted was the retention of the two star players on the team, two names everyone in Simville knows well, Mr. Travis Jones, and Mr. Trey Smith. Travis hails from Dragon Valley, my hometown, and naturally, I followed his career closely. Trey is from Barnacle Bay, and has been with the Llamas for about 8 years, is a hard worker, and works well with Travis both on and off the field.”
“Our other big announcement was the acquisition of Mr. Aaron Hall, from Sunlit Tides, as head coach. We are confident his skill set will greatly enhance the Llamas’ current bunch of talented players. His record is impressive, and we look forward to great things, and national championships under him. Emmitt Murphy will be my spokesman when it comes to the team, so look for that face in all future press conferences and team functions. I look forward to a prosperous and victorious relationship with the Starlight Shores Llamas. Emmitt, back to you, and thank you.” Lionel stepped down from the podium, and walked away, escorted by security.
Emmitt continued on, announcing the roster for the upcoming season, and ended the meeting shortly afterward. The press had questions, but most of them concerned the rumored health problems plaguing Armand, and he had no comments. That was not his place to confirm or deny anything, and he ended the Q&A quickly. Travis rose, and shook hands with the new coach, Emmitt, and Trey, and stepped off the stage, heading back to the crowd of fans chanting his name. Trey joined him, and they both signed autographs until every one of their fans had what they came for.
“I guess you figured out, Travis, that I’m relocating here to the Shores,” Emmitt told him after the presser. “I’m technically your boss.” He smiled at the irony.
“Well, isn’t that just a riot,” Travis teased, nudging him. “Welcome home, buddy.”
Travis left the stadium feeling good, energized by the press conference, hopeful that the new coach was everything he claimed to be. He climbed into his new car and drove home, truly happy, to Charlotte’s waiting, loving arms.
Up Next: Generation Four, Chapter Twenty