Charlotte dug deep into the bedroom closet, looking for a box. “Travis? Have you seen my dress in the closet, honey?”
“In that box from the dry cleaner, right?”
“Yeah. I can’t find it.” She tore through the clothing in the walk-in closet, when she finally spotted a white box hiding in the corner. “Wait, never mind. I have it!” She emerged from the closet, triumphant.
“What do you need that for, sweetie?”
“Darcey wanted to see it. Maybe we can skip one crucial, critical step in this wedding planning.” As fun as it was to go to Isla Paradiso to shop for the dress with Bella, it was tiring trekking from shop to shop, in search of that perfect gown.
“You know, we don’t have a budget for her wedding. Whatever it costs, I’ll do it.” Travis smiled sweetly at Charlotte.
“I wasn’t thinking that, baby. I was thinking more about saving time trudging everywhere looking. Besides, I really wish one of them would be married in it. It’s really unique.”
“That it is, my love.” He walked to her and planted a smooch on her lips. “It doesn’t seem possible, does it? We have an almost 20-year-old daughter, engaged to be married, almost ready to go start her own family. How did this happen?”
“They grew up, whether we wanted them to or not. That’s what kids do. They grow. The giggles stop. And when they move away, we have an empty nest. I’m not looking forward to it.” She felt tears stinging her eyes.
“But then, we look forward to grandchildren. We’re plenty young enough.” Travis held her. “Besides, I think we will have Danae at home for a while yet. She’s having a hard time finding a job. She might have to go outside her degree for one. She feels like she wasted two years of her life. I get that.”
“Poor girl. No boyfriend, no job. She really wants to just be a housewife. She needs to be a wife first.” Charlotte felt bad for Danae. Eligible young men seemed to be at a premium, and wearing a purity band cut the field in less than half. Charlotte realized what a catch Clint was, now that she’d had time to get to know him.
When Darcey arrived home from her emergency at the hospital, Charlotte summoned her to their bedroom. “Darce! Can I talk to you a minute?”
Seconds later, soft footsteps made their way up the steps and to the master bedroom. “Yes, Mama?”
“Here, sweetie. You wanted to see my wedding gown, so I dug it out today.” Charlotte took the dress, which had been hanging up for a few hours, and brought it to Darcey.
“Oh, Mama!” she cried. “It’s perfect! It’s just what I would have wanted if we’d gone shopping for a dress. Are you sure I can wear it?”
“Of course I’m sure, Punkin. I was hoping you’d want to wear it. It’s truly one of a kind. Your Nana Bella and I went to Isla Paradiso, to Jayna’s shop, to buy it.”
“So that’s how you knew Miss Jayna.” Darcey ran her fingers over the intricate beadwork on the gown. “This is so beautiful. Can I try it on?”
“I thought you’d never ask, honey.” Charlotte helped Darcey get the dress on, and zipped the back. She stood back and looked at her daughter, and lost her cool. Charlotte wept as she looked at Darcey in her dress. “I can’t believe my little girl is getting married.” She turned Darcey around so she could see herself in the full-length mirror, and she gasped.
“Oh Mama, this dress is exquisite. I don’t think it even needs to be altered. I could take it right off the hanger and marry him tomorrow in it.” Darcey smoothed out the fabric, loving how it fit her, showing off her curves and yes, even her bosom. Danae may have gotten the cuter face, but Darcey got the bod, and this dress would accentuate every good thing about her figure.
“I guess I can cross the dress off my to-do list, then,” Charlotte chuckled.
Emmitt and his son, Anduin, moved to Starlight Shores shortly after the Snowflake holiday and bought a house in the western hills, just three doors down from the Jones house. Travis invited them for dinner one evening after work, and something happened that neither Emmitt nor Travis could have foreseen… Anduin was instantly smitten with Danae, and she with him. They had only been on three dates when they decided to be exclusive with one another. Travis and Charlotte both saw an incredible change within her. She was more confident, more outgoing, and so much happier than she was when she was yearning for a man she could never have.
Five months later…
Travis was getting ready for practice when Emmitt approached him in the locker room. “How’s my best friend today?”
“I’m feeling great! Where’s Andy? He wanted to see me before practice, I thought.”
“He is finishing a phone call with Lionel. He’s very pleased with the team’s progress this season. The post-season is coming quickly, and he believes we have a shot at the title.”
“He isn’t the only one. Aaron is thinking that, too. Shoot, even I believe it.” Travis stood to stretch. “Have Andy find me on the field when he’s done.”
Twenty minutes later, Travis saw Andy approach him, looking happy. “Travis! I’m so glad to see you.”
“What can I do for you?” Travis asked as Andy led him out of earshot of the team. “What’s on your mind?”
“This is personal. Travis, you know I love Danae, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. So, I would like to ask for your permission to marry her.”
He smiled at his best friend’s son. When Emmitt and Andy moved to the Shores months ago, he never could have seen this happening. “Andy, you have been so good for my daughter. She is a much different person than she was before Snowflake Day. So, it would be my honor to have you marry her. The only thing I ask is to let Darcey have her day. The wedding is so close, and she is so excited, it wouldn’t be fair for Nae to steal her thunder.”
“Fair enough,” Andy agreed. “Another few weeks won’t hurt.”
The morning of Darcey’s wedding came quickly, and suddenly it dawned on Charlotte her little girl was marrying the love of her life. She woke with tears in her eyes, and Travis felt the bed shake as he awakened. “Aww baby, what’s wrong? This is a happy day, honey!”
“My baby girl,” she cried. “Today, you give her away to her husband. I’m not ready to let go yet. I’m not done loving her, and teaching her.”
“Sweetie, it’s okay.” Travis held her as she cried. “We’ve known this was coming for six months. How are you still not ready?”
“Oh baby,” she sobbed. “I miss them being little. I miss their giggles. I miss the squeals of twin babies talking to one another in their own language. I miss belly bubbles…” her voice trailed off.
“Oh honey, you’ll have all those things again soon, but this time, they’ll be your granddaughters and grandsons.” Travis held her tightly. “Don’t you want grandbabies?”
“I’m not done raising my own son yet, Travis. How can I love grandbabies when my baby is still a baby!” The thought made her cry harder.
“Trust me on this, honey. You will adore grandbabies. At night, they go home with mama and daddy, and you get to sleep through the night.” Travis kissed her forehead. “We’re going to make it through this day, I promise you.”
“I’m so glad you’re here with me. I don’t think I’d make it otherwise.” Charlotte sniffled, wiping tears from her eyes. “I need to pull myself together, baby. I don’t want Darcey to see me upset.”
“Hold on until tonight, and I promise I’ll make it better. We just don’t have time now.” Travis wanted to take her pain away, but he had his own. In less than six hours, he would give his oldest child away. The thought of it tore him to bits.
Charlotte got into the shower with Travis, wrapped up in his blue robe, and headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. She was feeling a little better cooking until Darcey came down the stairs, saying it was her last morning in the house. Charlotte choked back tears and continued cooking until she had enough to feed the whole family, not saying much.
Charlotte and the girls rode to the chapel early so Darcey could get dressed and primp. The party was only Darcey and Danae as her maid of honor, so there wasn’t much to do other than help them as they needed it. She left the girls alone in the bride’s room while she did the final preparations on the reception. Charlotte was just putting the cake topper on when Travis came looking for her, all dressed in his tux and looking so very handsome. “Honey, you look beautiful,” he said, stroking her cheek. “You’re going to make it through this, I promise. I’m right here.”
She couldn’t speak. The time was growing closer, and her emotions were getting the best of her. Gently, he took her arm and brought her back to the bride’s room. Clint was standing near the front of the chapel, talking to his family when the organ player took to the seat and began to play processional music. Andy was waiting in the back of the chapel to escort Danae, and Devin was already on his way down the aisle with Felicity, Clint’s mother. Once Charlotte was seated, the bridal procession could begin.
Once Devin was seated with his uncle and cousin, Travis knocked gently on the door, letting the girls know it was time. Danae emerged, and when Andy saw her, his face lit up. Together, they walked to the front of the chapel, and stood with Clint, waiting for the bride. Darcey finally opened the door to the bride’s room and stepped out. Travis choked on his emotions, but couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down his cheeks. “Aww, Daddy, don’t cry,” Darcey said sweetly, but it was much too late for that.
“You are stunning, so much like your mama.” He took her arm and walked slowly to the back of the chapel with her. The organ player noticed them and began to play. This was the moment Travis had dreaded since those baby girls were born. Slowly, almost painfully, Travis walked his Darcey Bug down the aisle. When they reached the flowered arch, Travis lifted her veil and kissed her cheek. “I love you, Bug,” he whispered in her ear, and sat down with Charlotte, both of them weeping.
The ceremony itself was short and sweet, and when it was over, Darcey was no longer a Jones, but a Scroggins. Travis laughed when he heard Emmitt tell Clint to take good care of her, and that her daddy was a big man. They enjoyed getting to meet their in-laws and Clint’s second family. But his favorite part of the night was his last dance with Darcey. He embraced her as they swayed to the music, and tears dripped from his eyes.
“Remember when I taught you to dance, Bug? You stood on my feet, and we danced together.” Darcey smiled warmly at the memory and wiped tears of her own away.
“I remember, Daddy. I loved our dates together. That was when you taught me everything I needed to know about Clint. You just didn’t know it yet.” Travis loved that girl so much, it actually hurt.
“I am so proud of you, Darcey. And I couldn’t love you and your sister any more if I tried. You girls are my world.” He kissed her forehead and held her close, not even trying to hold his emotions back any longer. It was useless anyway.
When the song was over, Travis broke their embrace and saw a similarly emotional Felicity dancing with her son. Charlotte was standing by and he walked to her, emotionally wrecked. “Baby, I know how you feel, honey. I’m a mess.”
“Let’s dance, honeybear. I need you close.” Charlotte whispered, and he led her to the dance floor.
The party started dying down just after dark, and Travis pulled Darcey aside, handing her an envelope. “Your mama and I have paid for the honeymoon suite at the bed and breakfast for a couple of nights. The reservation is under Jones because I wasn’t thinking. I’m so sorry, Punkin.”
“It’s okay, Daddy,” she said sweetly. “In my heart, I’ll always be a Jones. Thank you and Mama both. I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you more than you’ll ever understand, Darcey.” He hugged her close, and kissed her forehead. “Go be with your husband, sweet girl. We’ll see you in a few days.”
Travis and Charlotte both watched as the young couple got into the limousine and pulled away, waving. “There goes my baby,” Charlotte wept and hugged him close. “Take me home.” They were both emotionally worn out.
“I’ll meet you in the car. I’m just going to tell Danae we’re leaving. Andy can bring her home, and I’ll let the pastor know I’ll come back tomorrow and clean up.” Charlotte nodded and walked out to his car slowly.
“Nae, I’m taking Mama home. She is exhausted, sweetie. Can you bring her and Devin home, Andy?”
“You bet I can.” He shook Travis’ hand and winked at him. “I’ll take good care of them. I promise.” Travis thanked him, and let the pastor know he’d be by in the morning to clean up the reception area.
He walked back out to the car, almost feeling like he could collapse with exhaustion. But he had made a promise to Charlotte, and tired or not, he was not going to back away from it. “Let’s go home, love,” he said to her, caressing her cheek. She heaved a heavy sigh, and looked out of the window, not saying much. Travis drove them home and parked in the garage. He opened her door and helped her up. As soon as she was on her feet, she wrapped herself around him, sobbing.
Without a word, he picked her up and carried her into the house and up the stairs, her arms wrapped around his neck. Gently, he set her down on the bed, so she was sitting up, and took her shoes off her feet. He knelt before her as she sat on the bed, and placed his head in her lap. She ran her fingers through his hair, noticing the specks of grey in his usually jet black locks.
“I love you, Travis. Thank you for getting me through today. I could not have done this without you.”
“Aww honey,” he answered. “It was my pleasure. Let’s make it yours, now.”
Her smile brightened. “You are just what I need right now.”
“Then let it be,” he purred.
Two weeks after Darcey’s wedding, Travis was preparing for the last game in the regular season, and they had clinched their spot in the playoffs. According to sports analysts, the Shores Llamas were favored to win the championship, going in with the best win record in the league. They were nine wins to no losses, thanks in large part to the new team dynamic. Aaron’s coaching intuition and Travis’ talent for the game made a formidable combination, and most teams had a rough time beating their plays.
Smitty had just finished stretching, and stood to greet Travis. “Hey Jones,” he said. “Are you ready for the most important game of your life?”
“I am surprisingly ready,” he replied. “My head is clear, and I’m in the game a hundred percent. How about you, my friend?”
“Same. Next week at this time, and we’ll be in Riverview playing the first playoff game. It’s nuts, isn’t it?”
“Indeed it is, Trey.”
Aaron blew his whistle and gathered the team for one last pep talk, and led them to the field for their last home game of the season. Charlotte, Danae, Devin, and Andy were in the stadium watching. Travis always believed Charlotte was his good luck charm, and he was thrilled to have his family there cheering them on.
On the last play of the first half, Travis was running downfield, about to score a goal that would bring them well ahead of the visiting team when it seemed he tripped over something. He went down hard, holding his knee as he writhed on the ground in pain.
“Travis!” Charlotte screamed from the stands, running toward the field. Security stopped her before she was able to jump the fence. “Please, I have to be with him! That’s my husband!”
“Ma’am, he’s in good hands.” The new head of security answered her. “Please take your seat.”
“No,” she cried, “That’s not good enough!” She watched in horror as Aaron called for paramedics to bring a stretcher for him. “TRAVIS!” She screamed loud enough for him to hear her, and the look on her face broke his heart. Danae was crying when Charlotte walked back to where the family sat, when Emmitt came and got her.
“Charlotte, they’re bringing him to your hospital. They think he’s broken something. The play is being reviewed. Something doesn’t smell right about this.” Emmitt hugged her.
“I have to go be with Daddy. Andy, could you take care of them for me?” Andy nodded his head, wearing a worried look. “I’ll call you when I know something, Nae,” she said as she walked with Emmitt back to the locker room.
Travis was still in the locker room, groaning in agony. “Let me through,” Charlotte demanded. “Why aren’t you giving him anything for pain!” she snapped.
“Once he’s transported to the hospital, we can assess that. You are his…”
“Wife. I’m also a trauma surgeon. Dr. Charlotte Jones.” She kissed Travis’ forehead, tasting the sweat on his skin. “This man needs something NOW!” she screamed. Charlotte took over his care on the spot, and taking a needle from the paramedic and strongest painkiller she knew he could handle, and gave him a dose of it. “This is short-acting, so it will only last an hour or so. But we need to get him to the hospital now.” She went with them as they wheeled him to the ambulance.
On the way out, he grabbed her arm and looked her in the eye with profound relief. “Thank you, baby,” he whispered.
“I’m so sorry, Travis. I’m going to fix this for you, I promise.”
They arrived at the hospital ten minutes later, and Charlotte clocked in. They got him to a room and brought an x-ray in to take images of his leg, and she made him as comfortable as she could. Dee, the hospital director, had already been made aware that Travis was coming in, and that Charlotte was going to oversee his care.
When the images came back, he had broken his leg in two places just below his knee. She knew this injury was a career-ender if it wasn’t treated properly, but she lacked the training in orthopedics to fix it. “Baby,” she told him, “I need to do surgery on this leg. I don’t know if a specialist will come and do it or not. If I can’t fix this, you might not play again. This is your call, honey.”
Travis was hanging on to the edge of sobriety from the pain injection, and he couldn’t answer her. “Do what you think is best, baby,” he slurred out. “I trust you.”
“Prep him for surgery. And call Dr. Webb from ortho, and see if he’ll come assist me.” She went to prep herself, and thought she should call Danae before she began.
“Mama?” Danae was near hysterical. Andy had to take them from the game, and he was worried.
“Nae, his leg is broken in two places. I need to do surgery on him. I’m going to do my best to fix this. He’s going to be okay, though. I won’t let anything happen to him.”
“May the angels be with you, Mama,” Danae said to her. Charlotte shook her head, amazed. Where did she hear that?
“I’ll call when he’s out of surgery, honey. Stay with Devin, okay?”
“Yes, Mama,” she cried. “I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetie. Call Darcey, please?”
Minutes later, she was prepared for surgery, and as she walked into the OR, Dr. Webb had joined the surgical team. “Oh thank goodness, Dr. Webb. I was afraid you were unavailable.”
“I wasn’t going to, but when I heard it was Travis, I knew I had to come.” He gave Charlotte a nod. “We’re going to save his career here tonight. Mark my words.”
“I’m counting on it, Doctor.” Travis was resting comfortably, and the surgical team was standing by. “Travis, honey… we’re going to fix this. Sweet dreams, my love.” She kissed his forehead as he drifted off to sleep.
A few hours later, Dr. Webb had placed the hardware into the bone necessary to stabilize it while it healed, and was very confident that the repair would hold. “The surgery was successful. If he behaves himself and goes to therapy on schedule, I think he’ll be back for the next season. Thank you for your help, Dr. Jones.”
“I can’t thank you enough, Dr. Webb. Without his career… I don’t even want to think of it.” Charlotte shuddered.
She got out of her surgical clothing and showered in the locker room, changing into a set of clothing she kept at work for just such an occasion. Not wanting to interfere with the nurses in recovery, she took the opportunity to make some phone calls.
“Emmitt, it’s Charlotte. What was the determination? How did he fall?”
“A player from the other team did it on purpose. He was given orders to take Travis out of the game. Needless to say, that team is subject to major penalties, their owner will have to pay hefty fines and the player and their head coach have been ejected from the league. There is no room in soccer for that kind of mess. Aaron is just beside himself.” Emmitt wasn’t doing too well either, but he stayed calm for her sake. “How is my buddy?”
“Well, an ortho specialist came and did the surgery. After watching him work his magic, there is no way I could have done what he did. I simply lack the training. But, the ortho said the repair should hold, and if he behaves himself and does PT, he could be back by the next season.”
“Well, we aren’t going to push him to come back if he’s not ready. We’ll take it a day at a time.”
“Did we at least win the game, Emmitt?”
“By default, yes. The other team was disqualified after that stunt. The game ended at the half.”
“Well, there’s the silver lining. I hope we go all the way to the title, even without Travis playing. He was really hoping to win a national championship before his retirement.”
“Technically, if they do, he will be credited with the win as the team captain. But I know he was hoping to be playing for it. How long will he be in the hospital?” Emmitt wanted to see him as soon as possible.
“Probably a day or two, depending on whether he can stand on it. They need to get him in therapy as soon as he can tolerate it. His age is not working with him.” He was nearly sixty and most people were surprised he was still playing at his level of performance.
“Well, when you see him, tell him we’re all pulling for him to come back. And hey, Charlotte,” he added, “tell him I love him.”
“I’ll do that, Emmitt. I have to call the girls, but I’ll be in touch soon.”
Her next phone call was to Danae.
“Mama!” she squealed. “How is Daddy?”
“I haven’t seen him since I got out of surgery, but the specialist says he should be okay. He might even still be able to play.”
She heard Danae breathe a sigh of relief, and then speak to Devin. “Daddy’s going to be okay, Dev. Andy is still here. He doesn’t want to leave me alone tonight.”
“Very well, Nae.” Charlotte wasn’t going to go into the ring thing. Either she was serious, or she wasn’t. Nagging her about it wasn’t going to help. “Did you call Darcey?”
“Yeah, she and Clint are watching television. I guess it’s all over the news.”
“I’m going to call her. Tell Andy thank you for staying with you.”
“I will, Mama. Tell Daddy I love him.”
The last call was to Darcey. “Mama?”
“Hey bug, I wanted to let you know that he’s okay, honey.”
“Mama, what happened? They’re saying on the news it was intentional. Why would someone do that?”
“Someone tripped or pushed him. I haven’t seen the official report yet, but the person was expelled from the league. I can go see him in a few minutes, so I’m going to let you go, sweetie. I’ll keep in touch.”
“Thanks, Mama. Tell him we love him.”
Travis woke from a drugged sleep and looked at Charlotte. “Hey gorgeous,” he said, feeling no pain. “What’s the good word?”
“The doctor thinks you’ll be able to play again.” She took his hand and kissed it tenderly.
“Yeah, well. What did he say about sex?” Travis asked, wearing a naughty smile.
Charlotte had to laugh. “It figures you’d want to know about that. I think you’re on hiatus for a while, honey.”
“Oh damn,” he said, sounding disappointed.
“I doubt you’re going to remember asking me about that in the morning.” She chuckled at him. Even at his worst, he still loved her enough to think about it.
“You’re probably right,” he said, and yawned.
“Do you remember what happened to you, baby?”
“I know I fell. I thought someone pushed me, and the way I fell, I guess, I tore up my knee.”
“Oh, you tore it up real good, baby. It broke in two places. You have some hardware in there, but you should be able to play again in a season or so.”
“This is the worst I’ve been hurt. I’m thinking it could have been so much worse.” If someone had done this on purpose, his injuries could have been much harder to recover from. Career ending, life-altering stuff. But he was so high on pain meds, nothing bothered him. “So, when did you say we could have sex again?”
She laughed again. “I didn’t, silly. But expect it to be awhile.” That’s my husband, she thought.
“Come here,” he slurred, trying to flirt. “I wanna kiss you.”
“Just one kiss, and you’re done, mister.”
“Then I better make it a good one,” he replied. She bent over to kiss him, and he nearly brought her down on top of him.
As she stood, she laughed. “You’d better rest, honey. But I’ll be here with you all night.” She kissed his forehead and stroked his cheek softly. “Sweet, painless dreams, my love.”
Danae had come home from Verde Park with an extra spring in her step. “No dinner for me tonight,” she exclaimed. “Andy is taking me to The Tower to celebrate!”
“And what are we celebrating?” Charlotte asked.
“The Sing-A-Gram hired me today, sight unseen, based on hearsay. My resume didn’t hurt, either.”
“Oh, baby girl!” Charlotte exclaimed. “I’m so proud of you!” She stopped what she was doing and turned off the heat on the stove to help Danae pick out a dress to wear. She didn’t have much time, as Andy would pick her up in less than an hour. She ended up in one of Destiny’s gowns, and even Charlotte had to admit, it was perfection on her.
Shortly after Andy came to pick up Danae, Travis walked into the house using his cane. He was getting around much better after a month or so of physical therapy, and Dr. Webb was pleased with his progress. “Hey baby,” he said, hobbling in and collapsing in the chair by the television. “I’m getting too old for this mess,” he joked. “Do we still have pain meds for me, or am I cut off now?”
“Technically, you’re supposed to be cut off. But I can get you a shot that will help. I don’t know why they don’t give you what you need. Broken bones, even ones that are fixed, still hurt.”
“I’m ready when you are,” he said, breathing shallowly. His leg was really throbbing today. PT was rough on him, and he wasn’t feeling well.
“Give me a second, and I’ll get it for you from my bag.” She wiped her hands on her apron and turned the burner back on to low heat. She ran up the stairs and winded herself in the process, but she returned with an injection of a fast-acting, short-duration medication. “Leg or butt?” she asked him, biting her lip.
“You already know what I’m going to say. If you touch my leg, I might hurt you.” He was half kidding. He was in excruciating pain.
She leaned him forward and rubbed some alcohol onto his skin, and gave him the shot. “There. You’ll be feeling better in a few minutes, sweetie.”
“Oh, thank you,” he said, already feeling the relief wash over him. “Will this stuff make me loopy?”
“Not as bad as the stuff you got at the hospital. But I’ll help you up the stairs when you’re ready.”
Travis looked around and noticed it was unbearably quiet in the house. “Where is Danae? Devin?”
“Devin is studying at a friend’s house, and Danae is out with Andy at The Tower.”
“Oooh!” Travis exclaimed. “He’s going to ask her tonight!”
“Really? She has no idea, does she?”
“Not a clue.” Emmitt had mentioned something about Andy bringing Danae to The Tower to propose at the earliest convenient time. He had waited until after Darcey’s wedding, but Travis’ unexpected injury delayed his proposal, something for which Travis was very sorry.
“She’s going to come home a very happy girl. She is getting everything she wanted, finally. She has a good man, and her chosen career is getting ready to kick start. We are blessed, Travis. Our children are good kids.”
He took a deep breath, finally pain-free for the first time that day. “I am so beyond blessed, my love. And right now, I’m thankful you’re a doctor. You saved me again today. That shot…” He smiled a dopey smile.
She knew she shouldn’t do it, but she was going to anyway. “Honey, I’m going to write you a prescription for a short bout of pain meds. You shouldn’t be left to suffer like this. You’re only four weeks post-op. That was a painful break.”
“Don’t do anything that will get you in trouble, baby. It’s not that important.”
“The most that would happen is a reprimand. I can’t watch you suffer like this. It’s not humane.” She scribbled the order on her pad and tore the top sheet off. “Are you okay for a few minutes, honey? I’ll be back soon.”
“Baby, you don’t have to do this.” As much as he enjoyed the relief from the agonizing pain, he needed her at home. “I need you here, not in jail.”
“Honey, it’s okay. Just stay put until I get home.” She walked to him and kissed him. “Would you like to lay down instead?”
“No, I’m okay here. But I wish you wouldn’t do this. I’ll manage.”
“Shush.” She kissed him again. “Stay put. I’ll finish dinner when I get home.”
She walked to her car and drove to the pharmacy. The pharmacist filled it with no incident, and she was on her way back home in less than ten minutes. She pulled into the driveway and parked her little car in the garage next to his, and walked to the house. When she opened the door, Travis was sound asleep in the chair, right where she had left him. She smiled sweetly at him. At least if he was sleeping, he wasn’t in pain. She had only gotten ten pills for him and hoped that would get him through physical therapy in the least amount of pain possible.
Danae waltzed through the door after her dinner with Andy, flying on cloud nine. Charlotte was by the fireplace alone, reading her research journal. Travis was upstairs, sleeping. “Hey Danae,” she greeted her daughter. “You were out late.”
Nae said nothing but simply walked to where Charlotte sat and held out her left hand. On it sat a ring that rivaled the one Travis had bought her for their anniversary. “We’re engaged,” she said, giggling. “I said yes!”
Charlotte stood up and gave Danae a hug, and kissed her on the cheek. “Oh sweetie, congratulations! Andy loves you so much.”
“Mama, I knew when I met him. Remember the night we had them over for dinner? When we touched, I felt weak. My heart pounded out of my chest. I got instant butterflies in my stomach. Funny thing is, he did, too. And then we spent that whole night trying to deny it.” Danae smiled her biggest smile. “Mama, can I tell you something?”
“Of course, honey. Anything at all.”
“Just before graduation, I was seeing someone at school. We were never meant to be serious, I was lonely because Darce had Clint, and I hardly saw her anymore. His name was Dave. Anyway, we had been together a few times, but something always stopped me from messing around with him. And I’ll tell you, he was sexy. Slim, muscular, blonde, blue-eyed. He had confidence oozing from every pore. And for a while, if he would have asked, I would have said yes.” She lowered her eyes, ashamed.
“Why did you not mention him, Nae?”
“Well, the last day of finals, we were going to get together. He lived really close to the buildings where my exams were held, and since we were in the same classes, we knew how much time we had. And I was ready, or thought I was. But when I got there, I caught him with someone else, and they were really going to town.”
“Oh Danae,” Charlotte replied. “That must have been difficult.”
“It was, Mama. I ran from the dorm and back to class, knowing full well I’d see him for my next exam. I couldn’t even look at him, I was so disgusted.” Danae wiped a tear from her eyes. The memory was still painful. “I know we weren’t supposed to be exclusive with each other, but the fact is, it hurt. Right after that, I told Darcey I wasn’t going to even consider breaking my promise. Until I met Anduin. Mama, it’s so hard waiting for Andy. I don’t know why I never believed you.”
Charlotte hugged Danae, and kissed her forehead. “It was hard waiting for your Daddy, too. Believe me, sweetheart, it will be more than worth it.”
“He’s had sex before, Mama. He told me he had a girlfriend in Dragon Valley a long time ago. What if… what if I’m not enough for him?”
“He loves you, Danae. You said he respects your promise. If that’s his decision, honey, I don’t think you have to worry about that. But if it bothers you, talk to him about it. Be open and honest with him.”
“You’re right, as usual. I will talk to him. How’s Daddy feeling today?”
“In pain, not feeling well. I don’t know if he’s going to play soccer again, honey. He’s just not as young as he used to be.” Charlotte sighed. It wasn’t the news she hoped for.
“He will be so depressed if he can’t retire on his terms, Mama. The game is his life.”
“You’re telling me. I know therapy wears him out. He was miserable when he came home today.” Charlotte was still encouraging him to do PT, and encouraging him to strive toward playing. It had to be his decision to retire, and no one else’s.
“I’m sleepy, and I have to be at work in the morning. Goodnight, Mama. Tell Daddy I love him, and I love you, too.” Danae blew her mother a kiss.
“I love you, too. Goodnight sweetheart.”
Up Next: Chapter Twenty Two, Generation Four