Snowflake Day was just two days away, and Darcey had no idea what to get for Clint. There were so many things he needed, but everything was out of reach for a new college graduate with a cash flow problem. “Danae, what should I get for Clint?”
“You’re asking the wrong person, Darce. I have no idea.” Danae had problems of her own. The talent agency in town wasn’t taking more clients, and the Sing-A-Gram where Destiny began her career wasn’t hiring. “I might have gotten this degree for nothing.”
“Things will be better after the holiday,” Darcey said. “It’s always slow in the wintertime.”
“I hope you’re right.”
Downstairs that day, Clint was hoping to corner Travis before work. “Sir, can I talk to you right quick?”
“Clint, you can call me Travis, or Dad, or whatever you’d like. Please, don’t call me ‘sir.’ It’s much too formal.” Travis patted the couch seat across from him and sat down in the living room. “What’s on your mind?”
“Travis, I think you know I love your daughter. I want to marry her, and I have her engagement ring already. My mom gave it to me to give my future wife when I left for college, figuring I wouldn’t be back to Bridgeport.” He held out an impressive, antique diamond ring. “I don’t want to ask her, though, if you don’t approve of our relationship… If you don’t approve of me.” Clint blushed. “I guess, I’m asking for your permission to marry your daughter.”
Travis smiled. “I would be pleased to have you as a son-in-law, Clint. You have my blessing, and I can speak for Charlotte as well. Welcome to our family!” Travis hugged him and smiled. “She is going to flip out. When are you going to ask her?”
“On Snowflake Day. I was going to have the diamond placed into a better setting, but there’s just no money for it now.” Clint smiled.
“Well, I understand that. I bought Charlotte a second-hand ring from a pawn shop off-campus and had it polished. I think I paid less for it than my textbooks.” Travis smiled, remembering their anniversary. “Trust me, she will love it either way, and cherish it.”
“Thank you, Travis. It means a lot to me, you know, to have your blessing on our relationship. I know I didn’t always have your approval.” He blushed. “The last thing I wanted to do was break her heart, and me walking away from her would have destroyed us both.”
“That had more to do with me than it did with you, son. I wasn’t ready to let her grow up. But, she did, whether I liked it or not.” Travis glanced at his watch. “I hate to do this, but I have practice in two hours, and I need to be at the stadium.” He excused himself, and Clint went to the loft, sitting at the computer looking for a job.
About an hour later, he heard soft footsteps padding up the stairs. “Hey Boo Bear,” Darcey cooed at him as she wrapped her arms around his neck, and massaged his shoulders. “Any luck on a job yet?”
“I have an interview the day after the holiday at City Hall. I’m hopeful.” He stood to stretch and hugged her close. “When do you start at the hospital?”
“Same,” she said. “Day after the holiday.” She snuggled into his embrace, feeling comfortable and loved.
“You are so beautiful,” he remarked, noticing her hair and makeup. “How did I ever get lucky enough to find you?”
“We were at the right place at the right time,” she replied. “It wasn’t luck. We were destined to meet. I believe that with my whole heart.”
“I love that,” he said, kissing her. “And I love you, kitten.”
“I love you, too.”
Darcey, Danae, and Charlotte were on their way to the Los Sueños Strip headed for an electronics store, wanting to finish up shopping for Snowflake Day. “I know you girls probably didn’t get much chance to shop at school,” Charlotte said, navigating the slippery streets carefully. “I still have one more thing to get for your brother.”
“I don’t know what to get for Clint, Mama. I’ve given him most of what I earned for our house, and I’m broke.” Darcey remarked. “Not much I could do for him with the lint in my pocket.”
“Baby girl, you’re never broke when you’re living in our home,” Charlotte assured her. “Whatever it is you want for him, your Daddy and I will help you get it. Same goes for you, Danae.”
“I don’t know, Mama,” Darcey said. “I want us to make our own way.”
“You’re not married to him yet, Punkin. You’re not even engaged, so until that happens, let your Daddy and me take care of you. My time is limited being able to spoil you,” Charlotte lamented. “You went and grew up without our permission,” she teased.
“Sorry, not sorry,” Danae laughed. “Why don’t you get him a console system, Darce? I saw him eyeing Daddy’s when we got home a few days ago. He’s a nerd. He’d probably like one, no?”
“Not really practical,” Darcey countered. “There is so much he could use.”
“Who says gifts have to be practical?” Charlotte parked the car, and the three women got out, heading for the store. “I think a game console is a great idea, Darce.”
“If you say so, Mama.” Darcey had been racking her brain for days. She knew he loved computers, gaming and stuff related to it, but she was worried about the expense. Darcey certainly didn’t act like she was the daughter of a millionaire, one of the things that Clint especially loved about her. Danae helped her pick out a good console, and Charlotte happily paid for it. She knew it was likely the only gift Clint would have under their tree, something she deeply regretted. Before they left the store, Darcey pulled Charlotte aside and thanked her. “I promise I’ll pay you back when we have it to spare.”
“Nonsense!” Charlotte replied. “I don’t have anything under the tree for him, so we’ll consider it good.”
“I’ll put yours and Daddy’s name on it then,” Darcey offered.
“No, you won’t either. Honey, that’s all you. Please, let me help you spoil him.” Charlotte smiled sweetly at her daughter. Knowing she was fighting a losing battle, Darcey yielded. If there was one thing she knew about her mother, it was that she had a kind and generous heart.
Darcey left the console in Charlotte’s car when they got home, and intended to wrap it later on that night to place under the tree. Everything else was brought to the master bedroom, where Charlotte would prepare it for Snowflake Day.
“Darcey, tell me. What is Clint like? I want to get an idea of what he likes, doesn’t like. You know, basic stuff.” Charlotte knew the best way to know was to spend time with him, but for now, she wanted the ‘Cliff Notes’ version from Darcey.
“Well, he’s into computers. He likes to fish, swim, but that’s about it for sports stuff. He’s a geek, really, nothing like any of us. But at the same time, he’s funny, romantic, charming and friendly. He had my heart in no time flat. He loves a good book, but he wants to see the movie, too. He loves to dance. We spent most of our dates at the dance club on campus. And he’s really good at it, too.”
“What is his family background? What do his parents do for a living? Does he have siblings?”
“His father died when he was a little boy, I guess, in the line of duty. Clint mentioned he was a soldier. He has no brothers or sisters, and he said he grew up poor, but he never noticed. He had me figured out right away.”
“What do you mean, honey?”
“Well, he said he knew by how I carried myself that I was from money. We almost had our first fight before we even got started, but he dropped it when I asked him to.”
Charlotte nodded. It was true, what Clint had said. Rich people did carry themselves differently. She saw the change in Travis herself, going from a starving college boy to an affluent sports legend. “He’s not wrong about that, you know.”
“He casually mentioned something about our family’s worth, with Daddy being a sports star and all. I just figured anything we had came from Nana Destiny.” Darcey shrugged.
“Do you not realize that your Daddy is a millionaire, honey? That makes you, by extension, a millionaire, too.”
“No, Mama. It makes you and Daddy millionaires. It makes me a college graduate with no debt and a good future as a doctor. I know none of that translates to me. To us.”
“You’re a good kid, Darcey. Humble and unassuming. Your daddy would say you’re just like me, but you’re more like him than you know.” Charlotte hugged Darcey and kissed her forehead. “I’m glad you let me help you get something for your sweetheart, baby girl.”
“Thanks again, Mama. I love you.”
“I love you too, more than you know, Punkin.”
Devin was the first one awake on Snowflake Day morning. He crept down the stairs and peered into the living room, where the tree stood, decorated but dark. A mound of gifts sat under it, as it did every Snowflake Day since he was a little boy, and excitement overtook him. But no one else was awake, and he didn’t want to wake Travis and Charlotte. It was only 5:30am, and the last thing he wanted to hear was that it was too early. So, in quiet anticipation, he sat on the top step of the staircase, waiting.
Clint stirred and woke up shivering, observing the snow falling outside the house. The loft had few solid walls, most of them were covered in floor to ceiling windows, allowing him little privacy from the outside, if anyone could actually observe from the street. Still, he was a modest man, and wrapped himself in a robe, covering his bare chest before he made his way to the first floor to start a pot of coffee.
He met Devin sitting on the top step. “Hey kiddo,” he said jovially. “Couldn’t sleep?”
“Nope,” Devin replied. “I always get excited on Snowflake Day. I hope I never outgrow it.”
“It’s the most magical day of the year. It never gets old. You’ll be okay.” He motioned for Devin to join him downstairs. “Do you drink coffee?”
“I’m not allowed yet, but it doesn’t even smell good. I usually make cocoa.”
“Well, how about I make you some cocoa, and we can get to know one another?” Clint offered, and Devin agreed.
“I hear you work on computers,” Devin said, fascinated. “I love them, but they’re frustrating to me.”
“I do, in fact, I’m looking for a job in IT. I have an interview tomorrow at City Hall. I could use some luck.” Clint finished making Devin’s cocoa, topped it with a marshmallow and handed him the steamy cup.
“Oh cool!” Devin was very impressed. “What do you do for fun, Clint?”
“Well, I like console gaming, but I haven’t had a gaming setup since I moved to college.” He poured a cup of coffee from the brewing pot, and set it back under the filter to finish. “I see you have a nice one here.”
“Yeah, it’s my Dad’s console, but I can play it whenever I want.” Devin turned the television on as they walked to the living room. “Hey, do you want to play a game or two while we’re waiting?”
“You know, I think I would!” Clint replied, setting his coffee cup on the table. “You pick the game.”
The guys sat playing for an hour, and after awhile Travis appeared in the stairwell, smiling at his son and his future son-in-law bonding over a game. “Good morning gentlemen,” he beamed. “Happy Snowflake Day.”
“Dad, when is Mama getting up? I’ve been waiting since five.” Devin was getting anxious.
“She’ll be down in a few minutes to make breakfast. She’s in the shower, son.”
“Can I wake the girls?” he pleaded. “It’s time for them to get up, too!”
“Okay, but be gentle. They were up late last night giggling.” Travis smiled. He sure missed his girls.
Devin ran up the stairs and nearly knocked Charlotte over in the hallway. “Careful, honey,” she warned him.
“Darcey! Danae!” Devin shouted. “GET UP!” He burst into laughter and continued to make noise, exactly the opposite of what Travis told him. “Come on! It’s Snowflake Day!”
Danae opened her eyes and frowned at her younger brother. “Go away, brat,” she snarled at him.
“Don’t make me pull you out of bed,” Devin teased. “Come on, Darce. Clint is awake already.”
“Clint is up?” Darcey said, half asleep. She pulled herself from the bed, and put her robe on, slippers on her feet and shuffled to the staircase.
“Come ON, Danae!” Devin pestered her.
“Okay, okay,” Danae finally relented. “I’m up.”
Devin slid down the railing and jumped off the banister before he reached the bottom. “Danae is coming!”
Clint had prepared a cup of coffee for Darcey and held it out for her to take, fixed just the way she liked it. “Thank you, love,” she said, kissing him. “Happy Snowflake Day.”
“Happy Snowflake Day, my kitten.” Clint smiled, nearly bursting at the seams with anticipation.
Charlotte made breakfast for everyone and waited for Christopher and Greg to come before they tore into gifts, as it was Chris’ birthday. Travis already had the tree lit up, and it was so pretty with multi-colored lights, garland, and tinsel. Charlotte and Devin had decorated it for the second year in a row, as that had been the twins’ job before they left for college. Holiday music was on the stereo, and the girls had already begun making dinner together in the kitchen for the family. The mood was festive, and the family was together. Charlotte was a happy mama.
Chris and Greg arrived shortly after breakfast after he picked Greg up from Cade’s house. Even though they were divorced, she was still entitled to see their son on the holidays. But Greg chose to spend the bulk of it with his dad, Aunt Charlotte, and her family, instead of his mother and stepfather. Clint brought Darcey another cup of coffee and sat down with a fresh cup for himself, his mother’s heirloom ring in his robe pocket, and well-rehearsed words in his head.
Travis could tell Devin was chomping at the bit to tear into the gift pile, so he gathered the family around the tree, and they started handing out gifts to each other. Clint felt a little out of place, being from a very small family. Holidays were never terribly significant because his mother could never afford to make them extravagant like this one was. Nevertheless, he waited for the right moment to give Darcey her special gift. She sat by his side, with the guiltiest look on her face. “What’s troubling you, honey?” Clint asked her. “You should be so happy! Your family is here together. I know last Snowflake Day was very hard for you and Nae, being so far from home.”
“I don’t have much under that tree with your name on it, Boo. I’m so sorry. I will make it up to you after my first paycheck.” Darcey took his hand in hers.
“It’s okay. I’m not used to all of this anyway. I’m used to having nothing. That’s why my necklace was so special to me last year.” She noticed he had it on, and she smiled.
After the gifts had been opened, and most of the mess cleaned up, Travis and Charlotte couldn’t believe that Clint hadn’t given Darcey her gift yet. Chris knew, and waited around, talking and sipping cocoa.
“I almost forgot,” Clint said out of the blue, pretending to find a square ‘lump’ in his robe pocket. “I have something for you, my love.” He took Darcey’s hand and spoke the words he had rehearsed hundreds of times in his head. “Darcey, from the moment we met at that party, I have loved you. Love at first sight was never my thing, but when I met you, all of that went out the window. Kitten, the past two years with you have been nothing short of amazing, and I hope we can spend the rest of our lives together.” He reached into his pocket and brought out a black silk box. “Darcey, honey, will you marry me?” He opened the box, revealing the diamond engagement ring.
Darcey couldn’t speak, her eyes welled with tears. All she could do was nod, and she did so emphatically. “Yes! Oh Clint, yes!” she finally squeaked out, threw her arms around him, and kissed him.
Clint smiled, trying to look casual. “I was hoping you’d say that.” He took the ring from its box and slipped it onto her finger. From the corner of his eye, he saw Charlotte as she wiped the tears from her own eyes, and hugged Travis. As he held her close, he whispered into her ear, “Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world.” And she smiled, laying her head on his shoulder.
Danae looked as though she was caught off guard, but beamed at her twin. “See, Clint? I told you you’d make a great brother-in-law.” She hopped up and hugged them both, and then went to sit beside Devin. Travis stood and shook his hand, and Charlotte hugged both of them.
“Who would have thought my sweet little niece would be engaged before my son,” Chris said, taking a playful jab at Greg. “Darcey, I’m so proud of you, sweetie.” He shook Clint’s hand, and said, “If you hurt this little girl, we’re going to have a problem,” and then winked. “But I know you won’t.”
“Thanks, Chris,” Clint replied. “This woman is my world. I will never hurt her.”
The next morning, Darcey awoke to the blaring sound of her alarm clock. It wasn’t as though she had never been awake at five o’clock in the morning, but with the holiday and the excitement of her engagement, she slept poorly. The only other person who would likely be up would be Charlotte, but it was not certain. She didn’t have to work, and Darcey knew her mother was tired.
She walked down the steps to make a cup of espresso, and in the dark stubbed her toe on the chair in the living room. “Bless it!” she yelped, hopping on her good foot, hoping her cry in pain woke no one else. She limped to the kitchen and prepared the coffee maker when she heard footsteps above her. A few seconds later, Travis appeared in the dining room.
“Good morning Doctor Jones,” he smiled at his daughter. “Are you excited for your first day on the job?”
“I am, Daddy. What are you doing up so early?” Darcey looked at her watch. It was nearly five-thirty.
“Oh, I can’t sleep late anymore like I used to.” He prepared a pot of coffee rather than going for the espresso. “You and your designer coffee,” he laughed, pointing at Darcey’s cup.
“Yeah, I know. I can’t help it. I drank a lot of coffee doing studying.” Together, father and daughter sat, enjoying each other’s company and a cup of coffee. Darcey grabbed breakfast from the fridge and warmed it, offering to make some for Travis.
“Thanks, sweetie, but I’m not hungry yet. I’m still full from yesterday.” He patted his belly and smiled. “I need to do an extra lap or two around the stadium today to make up for that awesome pumpkin pie you and Nae made.”
Darcey smiled, then noticed the time on her watch. “Ooh! I have to get into the shower,” she announced. And I have to sneak in time to kiss Clint before I leave, she thought. Travis put his shoes on and trekked out to find the paper, buried in four new inches of snow overnight.
Forty minutes later, dressed in blue scrubs and her hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, Darcey was ready for work. Quietly, she tiptoed up the stairs to the loft and watched Clint sleep. The air seemed twenty degrees cooler than the rest of the house, and she hoped he was warm enough. She walked to his bed and kissed his cheek. He stirred, feeling her kiss, and opened his eyes. “Hey kitten,” he greeted her. “Leaving for work?”
“Yes, Boo,” she replied. “Let me know how your interview goes. Good luck, honey.” She kissed him again.
“I will, love. I’ll leave a voicemail when I know something.”
“Are you warm enough up here, Clint?” she asked, shivering. “It feels cold to me.”
“I’m fine. The blankets are quite warm. It won’t be long, and we’ll have our own house.”
“You know I won’t be able to live with you until we’re married, even if we buy a house now. My father won’t allow it.”
“With all respect to your dad, it’s not his decision when you move out, and where you go. You’re a grown woman. It’s your choice, love.”
“I know, but —”
“No buts. If we buy a house, we live there together.” Clint respected his father-in-law to be, but this was not his choice. He had no right to tell Darcey any such thing, and as scary as it would be to confront Travis, he wouldn’t hesitate if needed.
“We’ll talk about this later, sweetie. I’m going to be late for my carpool.” She kissed his cheek, and wished him luck on his interview, and descended the stairs.
As the carpool pulled away from the house, Darcey noticed moving trucks at the house just down the street bringing furniture and boxes in. Oh good, she thought. That house has been empty for too long.
Most of Darcey’s first day of work was doing paperwork and orientation. Charlotte was going to be her mentor, as agreed upon by Guy’s successor, a young woman. Delores Cannon, or Dee as everyone called her, looked forward to having Darcey on the staff and knew she was a third-generation doctor. Her grandfather, Dr. Rogelio St John, was legendary in the hospital, and people still knew his name.
At lunch, Darcey found a voicemail from Clint stating he had gotten the IT job at the police station and was very excited. She texted him back:
Oh Boo! I’m so happy for you! When do you start?
She slipped her phone back into her purse, which went into a locker. She wouldn’t receive an answer from Clint until after her shift. She walked back to the director’s office and spent the rest of the day learning hospital protocol and regulations. By the time her shift had ended, she had ten pages of notes and a research journal to study. It looked like she would have a busy weekend, but she was thankful Charlotte was there to guide and teach her. She checked her phone as she walked toward the car, and found a message from Clint:
I start on Monday, but I have an interview tomorrow with a game developer. They seem interested. I love you, and I’ll see you when you get home.
A game developer! Darcey had heard only the top percent of people even get offered that type of job, and to know Clint had an interview was amazing. With a spring in her step, she nearly skipped to the car, and drove home happy.
Danae was busy looking for work on her computer when she got a text message from her father. Travis was at the stadium.
Tell your mama, please, that Emmitt and his son are coming tonight for dinner? She’s not answering her phone. Thank you Punkin.
Since Danae had the night off at the coffeehouse, she decided to get a head start on dinner for Charlotte. All she needed was an idea for dinner, so she texted back.
What should I make, Daddy? I can’t wait to meet your best friend!
Immediately, she began going through recipes that Charlotte kept in a small box on the counter, waiting for Travis’ reply.
Why don’t you make lobster thermidor? I know you love it, and you make it awesome every time. Your mama will thank you, and I’m proud of you for stepping up.
Love you more,
Thermidor! That was the favorite dish of almost everyone in the family, and she knew the recipe by heart. She got into the car and drove to the market, and picked up a couple of fresh lobsters and other things she needed, and made her way back home, driving carefully in the freshly fallen snow.
Dinner was already started by the time Charlotte got home from work, and she was impressed. “Wow, Nae. It smells amazing in here,” she complimented her younger daughter.
“Daddy said that Emmitt and his son are coming for dinner tonight. I thought I’d get it started for you.” Danae beamed with happiness.
“Well, aren’t you just the sweetest!” Charlotte gushed over Danae. “I wonder why he didn’t call me himself?”
“Daddy said you weren’t answering your phone, so he texted me.”
Charlotte looked at her phone. Four missed calls, all from Travis. “Yep, I guess my phone was turned off. Darcey had to work late, by the way, but she will be home for dinner.”
Danae nodded. “I planned for eight of us, so there should be plenty.”
“I’m so impressed, Danae. Thank you for taking the initiative to cook dinner. I really appreciate it.” Charlotte walked to Danae and hugged her.
Darcey and Clint arrived home at almost the same time and were surrounded by the intoxicating aroma of their favorite dish. “Wow, Mama, that smells amazing!” Darcey said.
“It’s not me, this one is Danae’s cooking.” Charlotte smiled at Nae and gave her a wink.
Clint walked to Darcey and hugged her. “I missed you today.”
“I missed you, too.” Darcey looked toward her sister. “Danae, is there anything I can do to help out?”
“Nope, I have it under control,” she answered confidently.
Travis arrived home at his normal time, with Emmitt and his son, Anduin in tow. “Everyone, this is my best friend, Emmitt, and his boy, Anduin.” Darcey and Clint both shook hands with them, and when it was Danae’s turn, her eyes locked with Anduin’s, and time froze. She realized some fifteen seconds later that he was still standing there, her hand in his, smiling at her.
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Danae. What a pretty name.” Anduin looked into her eyes and saw the lilac hue. “And beautiful eyes to boot.” I hope she is not attached, he thought to himself. “A man would consider himself lucky to have your heart.”
Danae blushed a deep red, and bashfully loosened her grip on his hand. Travis and Emmitt looked at one another and smiled oddly. It was something they had never considered, and Travis found it amusing. Suddenly, the normally outspoken Danae had no words, and at once, she felt uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, Anduin was it?” she asked softly. “I’m pleased to meet you, too,” she squeaked out after a long and awkward silence.
She sat down, her legs shaky. Was this what it felt like to fall in love? And then she wondered, did he feel it too, or was he just being polite? “Are you okay, Danae?” Charlotte asked. Danae looked as though she would pass out.
“Yes, I think so,” she said. “I just got a little woozy there for a moment. I’ll be okay in a minute or two.” The lobster was in the oven, baking to perfection while she sat at the dining room table, feeling foolish. Certainly, Anduin couldn’t have felt what she did.
During dinner, Travis and Emmitt controlled most of the conversation, reliving old memories, not all of them good, but their stories were entertaining nonetheless. Danae picked at her dinner and noticed Anduin looking her way. She blushed, and turned her head away from his, to break the eye contact. All of this attention was making her feel lightheaded. From the corner of her eye, she saw Darcey nudge Clint and whisper something, and they both laughed, looking in Danae’s direction.
Charlotte and Darcey cleaned up after dinner, allowing Danae a well-deserved break from kitchen duty after preparing and cooking a superb meal. She sat by the fireplace watching the flames when she felt a presence near her. “Mind if I sit?” Anduin asked her, pointing toward the chair adjacent to hers.
She swallowed hard. “Not at all,” she croaked, feeling fluttery and nervous.
“So, Danae, you cooked the meal tonight? Because if you did, I’m very impressed.” Anduin complimented her. She nodded and smiled, trying to appear normal. “So, what is there to do here in Starlight Shores?”
“It depends on what you like to do. There are lots of bars, a karaoke place, and a dance club.” Danae was trying to think, but that was all she came up with in just a moment.
“Hmm,” Anduin pondered. “I was thinking about skipping out and going for a drink, maybe some karaoke. Would you like to come with me?”
Danae smiled, wondering if the moment was real. “What about your dad?” she asked. “I mean, will he mind?”
“Oh, I think he’ll be okay with us going on a date.” Anduin smiled at her.
A date? Danae didn’t know how to feel. On the one hand, she felt giddy and excited at the idea of a date, but on the other hand, she wondered why he would want to go with her.
“I would need to get changed,” she said, trying to stall him.
“You look gorgeous as you are, Danae. I wouldn’t change a thing.” He smiled at her and held his hand out to her. “Hey Pa, Danae is going to show me a few of the local hotspots, if you don’t mind that is, Mr. Jones?”
Travis sneered at Emmitt. “I thought you told your kid to call me Travis! You have my blessing, Andy. Have fun with her. She’s my special little lady.” Travis blew Danae a kiss, and she looked at him, her eyes wide open. She was half freaked out, and half ecstatic.
Anduin, or Andy, as he preferred, drove them to Mick’s Karaoke bar, and they sat together near the stage. “What do you like to drink, Danae?” he asked her.
Ordinarily, she would order a glass of wine or a fruity mixed drink, but tonight, she didn’t want to put herself in a bad situation with him. “I’ll just have a glass of nectar, semi-sweet is good.”
“Really? That’s all you’re going to have?” He smiled at her. She blushed and turned her head from him, feeling very uneasy. “Okay then, nectar it is for the lady.” He left for the bar and returned with a glass of blush wine, and a glass of nectar, semi-sweet as she had requested. After he sat and had the first sip of wine, he leaned back in his chair, cringing at the singer at the karaoke machine. “So, tell me about you, Danae.”
“What do you want to know?” she asked, sipping her glass of nectar. He had gotten her favorite blend, and she was amazed. “I’m a pretty boring person, Andy.”
“What are you passionate about? What are your dreams? What makes you Danae Jones?” Anduin couldn’t help but stare at her lilac eyes. He’d never seen any like hers before. The majority of native Dragon Valley residents had black or dark brown hair, and brown to hazel eyes. He was completely taken by hers.
“Well, I just graduated summa cum laude from Sim State with my degree in Fine Arts, which in this job market means absolutely bupkis.” She shook her head. “I work part-time at the coffeehouse waiting tables. I want to be a singer, but that seems a little far fetched right now.” She took a sip of nectar and savored the taste on her tongue. “I’m still hoping to get into music until I can make my big break. My daddy says once people hear my voice, I won’t have any problems finding work.” Danae sighed deeply. “I know he has to say stuff like that, though. He’s my dad.”
“Well,” Andy suggested. “Why don’t you get up and sing?” He smiled sweetly at her, hoping she would. He loved to watch her speak, animated and expressive.
“Me? No,” she said, embarrassed. “I couldn’t—”
“How about I go up with you? So you won’t be alone,” he offered. He knew he was being persistent, but she was so fascinating to him.
Danae thought about it for a moment. “You don’t have to come up with me,” she said. “If I’m going to be a singer someday, I need to get over being shy about it.” She stood fearlessly and took the mic from its holder, punched in the code for the song she wanted to sing, and the machine began to play the music she had chosen. And when she opened her mouth to sing, everyone in the bar turned around to see her. Her voice was reminiscent of a vocal legend that everyone still knew, even some 70 years after her death.
“She’s lip-syncing to Destiny Hill’s hit song,” she heard one person say. “No one sings like her!”
“Wow, is that Destiny Hill?” another person remarked, and had to look around.
Andy sat in stunned silence, as her angelic voice filled the barroom. Wow, he thought. She’s beautiful AND talented. The inflection, the tone of her voice was astounding.
When the song finished, the whole bar stood and cheered for her. Wow, she thought, This feels amazing! She walked back to the table where Andy sat, and he just stared at her, still in awe. “I wasn’t anticipating that reaction,” she finally said as she joined Andy.
“Danae, that was… phenomenal!” He was speechless as he sat there, gawking at her, and to his surprise, felt proud of her. “You sound just like her.”
“Sound like who?” Danae asked, oblivious.
“Destiny Hill. It’s like she’s been resurrected and she lives in you.”
“Well, she was my great grandmother,” Danae said.
“That explains a lot,” Andy remarked. It explains your voice, your beauty, your family, he thought. “You know what, Danae? I’m going to cut to the chase. I like you.”
“Because my great grandmother was Destiny Hill?” Danae seldom told anyone that fact, and for this exact reason.
“No, not at all. You are so much more than I expected, after talking with your dad. Look, when we shook hands back at your house, something awakened inside of me. I almost thought I was going to pass out. Tell me you felt it, too.”
She wanted so badly to say yes, but she felt uneasy. “I don’t know what I felt, Andy.”
“But you felt something, right?” He was eager to hear her say yes.
“Okay, I’ll admit it. But things like this don’t happen to me. Darcey gets a man who falls for her on their first date. Darcey gets a job right from college that will make her a wealthy woman someday. Darcey gets the perfect life. But not me.”
“Why not you?” he asked. “Don’t you feel like you deserve to be happy? To be loved? To have a great career you want, and are good at?”
“Of course.” She shrugged her shoulders. “But, things like that —”
He pulled her to him and kissed her, interrupting her as she spoke. At first, she tried to resist him, but the chemistry between them was too strong to deny, and Danae gave into him, kissing him passionately. When they finally broke their embrace, she was breathless. “That was very nice,” he said, smiling. “Tell me now, Danae. Tell me there’s nothing between us, because I know you felt that.”
“Yes, I felt it, Andy. I just don’t know what to do with it.” She sighed, frustrated.
“Say you’ll go out with me. I am new in this town, and I would love someone who knows her way around.” She stared into his caramel brown eyes, and she melted. He was almost as tall as Travis, the same darker skin and black hair, but unlike his father Emmitt, Anduin Murphy was slender and muscular.
“I’d like that,” Danae replied, and then remembered Travis’ words to her just a little more than a month ago. ‘Someday, when you least expect it, you will find your prince.’
And Danae smiled.
Up Next: Chapter Four, Generation Five