G4 Chapter Twenty Three – The Love Of A Lifetime

The flight was on its final approach to the tropical paradise, with Charlotte and Travis in the first-class section. Both of them had fallen asleep, snuggled up with one another, and the flight attendant woke Travis gently. “Mr. Jones, we are getting ready to land.” He woke, with Charlotte wrapped around him.

“Baby,” he said to her, “we’re almost on the ground, honey.” He kissed her cheek, and she awakened. 

“Wow, already?” she yawned and peered through the window. Everything seemed so tiny, but she could still make out the palm trees, white sandy beaches, and the landscape. It felt like their home away from home, and she hoped Rosa still worked as the concierge at the resort.  

The airliner touched down as though it had been flying on a cloud, and he smiled. “I truly love it here,” he said. But now that Darcey was two months away from giving birth, Travis knew he’d never convince her to move here. She wanted, no… she needed to hear giggles from grandchildren. 

“Me too,” she said softly. For the first time since they discovered it, she was okay with this being their last time there. So many good things waited for them at home. At the same time, it was a sad trip. A trip for closure, grieving a lifestyle they always wanted, but the timing was never right. 

At the baggage claim, a driver from the resort waited to pick them up, holding a sign that simply said, “Jones.” They had one small suitcase between them, and a carry on that Charlotte toted with her. Travis grabbed the bag, and the driver took it from him. “For you, Mr. Jones, there is no work,” he said with a smile. 

At the resort, they went to the concierge desk to find their old friend, Rosa. She looked different, however. Her black hair had turned to silver, and it looked like she had shrunk a little. But the gleam in her eyes when she spotted them was just the same, brilliant and fiery. “Mr Travis! Mrs Charlotte!” she exclaimed, hobbling toward both of them. “Oh honey, it’s so good to see you!” 

Charlotte wrapped Rosa in a gentle hug. “You look fantastic!” Charlotte complimented her. “Oh, how we’ve missed you and the island life!” She kissed Rosa’s cheek and broke their embrace. Rosa had her eye on Travis, whom she totally adored.

“Mr Travis! You got that championship! I watched it with Jayna… before she…” Rosa’s eyes filled with tears. “Miss Jayna is gone, Mrs. Charlotte. She loved you so.” 

Charlotte’s lip began to tremble. “Oh Rosa, no!” A single tear rolled down her cheek. 

Travis embraced her, kissing her cheek. “I’m so sorry, Rosa,” he said, sniffling back his own tears.

“I’m sorry, Mr Travis, Mrs Charlotte. I didn’t mean to start your vacation with tears.” Rosa dabbed her eyes with a pink handkerchief. She collected herself and typed on her computer. “Here are your key cards. You’ll be on the ground floor by the pool, close to the lobby.” She breathed a heavy sigh and wiped her eyes again. “I am so sorry. I hope you enjoy your visit with us, and I’m here whenever you need me.” 

Charlotte smiled softly at Rosa. “We’ll be okay, honey.” She took Travis’ hand. “Are you ready, my love?” 

“Always ready, baby.” He raised her hand and kissed her fingers. “We’ll see you soon, Rosa.” She waved as they walked toward their room. 

They strolled, hand in hand, slowly as they made their way along the flowered paths, past the pool and to their room door. Stopping at a hibiscus bush, he stopped and picked a flower and placed it into Charlotte’s hair. 

They had stayed in this building before, but just a few doors down when they visited for their anniversary so many years ago. Travis opened the door with the card and looked at Charlotte. “I’d better not,” he lamented. “My leg is still on the mend.” 

“I wasn’t expecting you to carry me, honey.” Charlotte looked into his eyes. “I just want this to be perfect, our time here. We don’t have to do anything but relax on the beach, or swim in the pool. I only want to be with you, my love.” 

“I want nothing more than to show you, honey, how much I still love you after all these years. However I can manage to do that, I’m all over it.” He touched her cheek, love in his eyes. “My goodness, Charlotte. You are so beautiful.” 

She blushed. “Even with the graying hair and wrinkles?” 

“Especially with the graying hair and wrinkles. Baby, you are my everything. You are my reason to live, to get up every morning, to breathe in and out, for my heart to beat. It doesn’t matter what you look like, because you’re still drop-dead gorgeous, from the inside out.” He wiped away a tear that formed in her eyes. “Charlotte, honey, I love you with every ounce of my being, heart and soul.” 

“I don’t know how I can compete with that, baby. You always know just the right thing to say. And I know, for absolute certain, that I could not live without you. Honey, when it’s our time, I hope we go together.” 

“Oh, honey, let’s not talk about that. Let’s live for now. The Reaper can wait for us some other time.” Travis kissed her tenderly. “Let’s go get settled.”


Charlotte put on a brand new bathing suit, and Travis a new pair of swim trunks, and together they went to the pool. Hand in hand, they walked together, and she picked a pair of chairs that sat side by side and placed towels on them. “I’m going to go do my therapy exercises in the pool, sweetheart,” Travis said. “I don’t get a rest just because I’m in paradise.” 

She smiled at him. “Do you want something from the bar?”

“Just a sweet tea, honey. You get whatever you’d like.” He stepped into the pool and sighed relief. It was warm like bathwater, and it felt good to get some weight off his leg. The waitress walked by casually when Charlotte stopped her. 

“Two sweet teas, and an order of coconut shrimp,” she asked. 

“Absolutely, Mrs. Jones.” Charlotte looked a little stumped. How did the waitress know her name? 

She heard a commotion at the pool and glanced toward Travis, who was surrounded by fans wanting autographs and pictures. That poor man, she thought. He’s never going to have rest on this vacation as long as there are people around. Not that he minded, of course. Travis had always loved that part of being famous. He never forgot where he came from. It kept him humble and grounded, and he knew that without his fans, he would be nothing.

The waitress returned with the tea. The shrimp would be a little longer, the waitress explained. The kitchen was a little behind on orders. “That is fine,” Charlotte said. “No hurry.” 

Travis walked back from the pool after signing every autograph and posing for every photo the fans wanted from him. “Well, that was fun,” he joked. “It wasn’t good for exercising, but I love making my fans happy.” He rubbed the scar on his leg, as though it pained him.

“How is your leg doing?” she asked him. 

“It’s sore. Charlotte, we have some soul searching to do when we get home.” Travis was six months out after his injury, and it was becoming apparent that a full recovery wasn’t likely at his age. 

“What do you mean?”

“This leg, baby. It’s not getting any better, honey, and I’m not getting any younger.” He hung his head. “It may be time to think about retiring.”

“You know, whatever you decide, I’m here for you.” 

“I’m so glad we get to grow old together, baby. Thank you for loving me, through all my faults and all my mistakes.” 

“I don’t know how to do anything else but love you, Travis. You are my first, my only and my forever love. You always have been, and you always will be.” 

“I wish we had our whole lives to live again. There is so much I would do differently.” 

“Like what?” 

“Well, I never would have gotten drunk that night. If I hadn’t, Kathleen never would have been a problem.” Charlotte hated that it still haunted him. It had long ago been forgiven and forgotten. 

“You don’t know that for sure about Kathleen, baby. She could have been a nuisance with or without that night.” 

“That is true, but not as likely. She wouldn’t have ever gotten close enough without the bar incident.” 

“Well, that’s all in the past, honey. There’s no need to dredge it up now.”

“What would you have done differently, baby?” He sipped on his sweet tea. 

“The first thing that comes to mind? I wouldn’t have left Sim State without you when I graduated. That was months of needless pain trying to contact you after I left.”

“I’m sorry about that, too. I never should have blown you off like that. Every bit of pain in your life, I’ve inflicted it.” His pained look troubled her.

“But you’ve been there for the incredible highs, too. The birth of our children. Your whole career. Every single day I wake up and you’re there. Those moments far outweigh any pain.” 

“This right here is why I love you so much, Charlotte. Your incredible, loving heart. Your ability to forgive almost anything, and not just me, either. Mary Riggins. Baby, that woman nearly ruined your life, and yet you not only forgave her, but you founded the Logan Riggins Memorial Scholarship.”

“I wasn’t always this way, you know. I had a moment in my life where it all changed.” Her fingers touched the scar beneath her left eye. “I was a spoiled brat. I felt entitled to anything I wanted. My mother’s mess scarred me in so many ways. I grew up in fear of a man I never met. And yes, Mama and Dad loved each other, but they weren’t perfect, either. They fought. They screamed at each other. My mother was a handful, Travis, full of spunk and fire. Dad was no slouch either. Their love life was second to none, even ours.”

“I remember a fight they had. They didn’t know I knew about it, but somehow I found out about everything. Dad had been living with a woman when he met Mama, and apparently, she had been in love with him, but the love wasn’t reciprocated. As far as Dad was concerned, they were roommates and nothing more. And for years after they married, she still sent him gifts and love letters in the mail. And my Dad, bless him, he kept all of the things she sent him. And one day, Mama found the shoebox of love letters and a few of them were very explicit, detailing what she wanted to do with him, and how, and she had invitations for him to see her. And the fight they had when Dad came home from work that night was intense. All of these things, they chip away at your security when you’re a kid.”

Travis was listening intently, though he couldn’t relate to much of it. His childhood had been a living hell. “I would imagine so.”

“Look at me, going on about this. I don’t think sometimes.” She squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry, honeybear.” 

“Don’t be. You were telling a story.” 

“Yeah, so anyway. Mama and I had a big fight because of something she did. And I’d had enough of her selfishness, so I skipped school. On my way home, I hit another car and killed a man. An innocent man, whose only wrong was to turn in front of me. He didn’t deserve to die. And I felt guilty that I didn’t die, too. But when I was in the car, before they got me out, I swear I saw someone come to me and tell me to go back, like I had died. He told me I still had a lot to do here, and it wasn’t my time. I never knew him, but I think it was my Papa Arthur.” 

“That’s the moment my life changed. I realized I had been blessed with a second chance. That life was too short to hold grudges or fight with people you love. If I had died in that accident, Travis, my final words to my Mama would have been ‘I hate you.’ And she would have lived with that regret. That torment. I never wanted to do that again.” 

“I never heard the whole story of that accident. That’s incredible, Charlotte.” 

“It wasn’t the highlight of my young life. I have had to live with that man’s death on my conscience every day. So when Logan was brought into my ER, it was personal. I had to try to save him, because that should have been me.” 

The sun was starting to set, and the air was getting chilly. Travis realized they hadn’t eaten all day long. “I’m getting chilled out here in this wet bathing suit. Let’s go get cleaned up and order dinner in.” 

“Now, that sounds like the best idea you’ve had today, Mr. Jones.” She stood and gathered their towels and slipped into her shoes. Travis took her hand, and together they walked the short distance to their room.

The fragrance of jasmine woke Charlotte the next morning. How she loved mornings in Isla Paradiso. The temperature was cool, almost chilly if the breeze came in the window just right, and all that could be heard were birds chirping happily as they sought their breakfast. A warm sunbeam found its way in and filled the room with light. 

She dialed Rosa’s phone and was greeted with her happy voice on the other end. “What can I get for you this morning, Mrs. Charlotte?” 

“I was thinking just some coffee for Travis and me. We might stroll around the festival in the town center, and munch our way around the food tables there.” 

“Oh, what a beautiful morning to visit the bazaar! If you need a scooter for Mr. Travis, let me know, and I’ll arrange it for you.”

“I will, Rosa, though it’s better for him to walk on it. I love how you think of everything!” 

“I love you two. Of course, I do.” Rosa blushed on the other end of the phone. It wasn’t like her to get emotionally attached to their guests, but she adored Travis Jones.

“Thanks again, Rosa. I look forward to seeing you this morning.” Charlotte hung up the phone and made sure that Travis was covered and decent. 

A few moments later, a light knock came at the door, and Charlotte answered it. “Coffee and goodies for my favorite couple!” Rosa chirped. “Enjoy your morning! I left some maps of the festival attractions for you. Have fun!” 

“Thank you, Rosa!” Charlotte thanked her and brought the coffee cart inside. Travis woke when he smelled the coffee she poured. 

“Good morning, my love,” he said sleepily. “You look ravishing, as usual.”

“You need glasses, Travis,” Charlotte laughed. “I am literally just out of bed.” 

“That doesn’t matter to me,” he countered. “You’re stunning, even after your worst night’s rest.” He sighed at her, smiling. 

“Coffee?” she offered, pouring him a cup.

“You bet,” he replied, taking the cup she poured for him. “No breakfast?” 

“I thought we’d go to the town center to that festival. We managed to catch it while it’s in town this time around. Lots of food to sample walking around there.” She sipped her coffee, breathing in the steam. 

“I can walk around for a little while,” he said. “I’m sure there are places to sit.” 

“Rosa mentioned a scooter, if you’d like one, honeybear.” She thought it might be something he’d like, though he really could stand to walk on it. 

“No, those are for old folks,” he joked, well aware he qualified for that designation. And she only smiled at him.

“Let’s shower together, and get ready to go. What do you think?” she asked. 

“You always have the right suggestion. I’m all over that shower,” he cooed at her.

An hour later, the shuttle picked them up from the resort and carried them down to the town center. Using a cane, Travis walked alongside Charlotte, tasting different pastries and delicacies from all over the island. They stumbled upon an artisan who was making jewelry, and Travis was fascinated by it. 

“How do you do that?” he asked, as he watched the goldsmith polish a ring he had made. 

“Not very difficult at all,” the artisan explained. He showed the process, using props, how a ring is made. “If you pick a setting, I’ll set your choice of stone into it for free.” 

“Really?” Travis couldn’t resist. He took the goldsmith aside and asked about a special ring. “Can you make an anniversary band for my wife? Our forty-first anniversary is coming up, and I’d love to surprise her.” 

“I have this one already made,” he beamed and picked it out of a box not displayed for the public. “I know who you are, Mr. Jones. I made this one for someone special, and when I made it, I told myself I’d know who that someone special was when I met him. It would be my honor to sell you this ring for your lovely wife. And in honor of your recent championship, I’ll give you a great deal on it.” 

Travis took the ring from the man and inspected it. It had two hearts in gold, with a diamond set inside each heart. He knew instantly she would love it. “You’ve made me an offer I can’t refuse,” he said, keeping an eye on where Charlotte was. The two men shook on the deal, and Travis slipped the ring into his pocket. He would give it to her at dinner, and he couldn’t wait.

He caught up with her at a table selling handmade baby clothes, and she was gushing over the cute outfits. She held up a frilly dress with a matching headband and sighed. “If only Darcey was having a girl,” she said. 

“It’s really cute,” he replied, as he snuggled up to her. Immediately, she got suspicious. “Why are you so snuggly?” 

“No reason,” he laughed. “Do I always have to be up to something to want to be close to you?”

“You don’t have to be, but you usually are.” She looked at him, trying to read him. “You’re up to something. But I don’t have to be nosy.” She took his hand, and they walked to the next booth.

After a few hours of walking around, Travis was done and found a place to sit. He rubbed his leg, trying to work the soreness out when Charlotte noticed him. “You’re hurting, aren’t you?” she asked. 

Not wanting to admit it, and be the reason that Charlotte didn’t get to see the whole festival, he tried to fib. “No, I just needed to sit awhile.” 

“Well, it’s okay, I’m getting tired, too. I’m not thirty anymore,” she laughed. She took his hand, and they walked for the resort shuttle. She rang the courtesy phone and was told the shuttle would be there in no more than ten minutes. “Here, honey, sit while we wait. It’s okay.” She looked him in the eyes and saw pain. “Why did you tell me you weren’t in pain, love? It’s not like I can’t tell.” 

“I didn’t want to be the reason we left before you were finished shopping.” He felt frustration overtake him, and he sighed. “I hate this. I’m not ready to be an old man, Charlotte. Make me feel young again.” 

She walked away from him, about twenty or thirty paces, and turned around. She walked back toward him, shyly. “Is this seat taken, sir?” she asked demurely.

Travis smiled. “It is. You’re sitting here, Miss… what is your name?” 

“Charlotte. You have the nicest blue eyes,” she fluttered her eyelashes at him, flirting madly. “You’re not from around here, are you?” 

“No Miss, I’m not,” he said, pretending to be shy. “You are just the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, Charlotte. Would you like to, oh, I don’t know, come back to my resort and make passionate love with me?”

Charlotte giggled madly. “You know what? I would love to!” She put her hand on his leg and winked at him. She was about to kiss him when she made a funny face. Travis, who was already having a hard time staying in character, laughed out loud. “I love you, Travis,” she whispered into his ear, and rested her head on his shoulder.

“I love you so much more,” he replied, taking her hand in his. “Thank you.” 

The next few days were spent lounging on the beach, just relaxing in the sand and listening to the waves as they broke on the shore. The air was scented heavily with coconut and pineapple, Charlotte surmised, from beach bunnies slathering suntan lotion on themselves. Sea birds circled overhead, looking for their next free meal from an unsuspecting diner, their cries seemed natural and normal for the beach. The sun was warm, and Charlotte spent her time working on her tan. 

About twenty or so yards away sat a beach volleyball set, and an impromptu game broke out among strangers. Travis, deciding that looked like fun, went to watch on the sidelines. At first, no one recognized him, and he sat, thoroughly enjoying the game. And when one of the young girls on the women’s team recognized him, the game was over. People surrounded Travis and asked him to sign anything and everything they could get their hands on. And he posed for pictures and signed autographs until everyone had what they wanted. 

He hobbled back to where Charlotte sat, her eyes closed and listening to the waves, and sat beside her. “Did you have fun, baby?” she asked, having seen the whole thing.

“I did!” His name recognition had doubled, maybe tripled since his injury and the championship game. Charlotte didn’t mind sharing him with the public most days, but at night, he was all hers. “I thought I was going to get away with just watching, until a young girl recognized me.” He sat back in his chair, smiling. “I will miss the fans, when I retire,” he said sadly. “After I’m gone, will they even remember I existed? Or will Devin’s star burn as brightly as mine? Maybe he will take my place in every way.” 

“I don’t know, honeybear.” She knew the thought of retirement tormented him. She also knew he was a realist. Maybe this was his way of preparing himself for the inevitable. “I think your name will be remembered long after you and I are gone. You know, you live on in our children. Devin is your spitting image. As long as our kids are alive, you will be, too. And their children, and their children after that. Just like Nana Destiny lives in me and the twins.” 

“She really lives in Danae. That girl can sing. She will be a big hit in the Shores, if someone would just discover her.” 

“She’s signed with a good agency. She just needs that one break. A proprietor with an ear for talent. Someone willing to take a chance on her. Just one time.” Charlotte wished desperately that Jen Crawford still lived, and that her agency was still in business. But Jen had been gone longer than her mother. “But you know, she would walk away from any chance at fame, if Andy would allow her to just be a mama.” 

“I know. She has always wanted that. But I think she would do well to keep getting her name out there. Maybe once she has some name recognition she could do studio work while her kids are little, and then maybe tour once they get older.” 

“She isn’t even pregnant yet. I know they’re trying, but nothing.” Charlotte remembered their struggle with the twins. “I hope she doesn’t have the same problems we did, love. That would break her.” 

“She’s a strong woman, Charlotte. As long as she has Andy by her side, she could bounce back from anything.”

“True. I just hope she doesn’t have to.” She would never wish that heartbreak on either daughter.

About an hour later, Charlotte had enough of the beach and the sun. “I’m ready to go back, love, if you are.” 

“Me too. I’m getting darker by the minute,” he said, joking. “I’m almost as dark as Andy right now.” 

They gathered their belongings and called for the shuttle to bring them back to the resort. As they waited, Travis had to ask her. “Baby, what do you want to do for dinner tonight, honey?” 

“How about that little Spanish place next to the resort?” she suggested. 

“I was thinking more along the lines of the resort restaurant. Did you bring that dress with you?” 

“You know I did, silly.” She flirted with him. 

“Then it’s a date.” 

When they got back to the resort, they showered together, and while she was getting dressed, he slipped the ring he bought her into his pants pocket. He couldn’t wait to give it to her. 

“Honey, could you tie this for me, love?” He stood at the mirror, still very stymied by the tie on his dress outfit. She loved how his pants fit him, and she touched him as she walked by. “I’m going to need a cold shower if you keep that up,” he lamented. 

“Here, honeybear,” she said, ignoring him. “Your tie is done.” She straightened it out and looked at him. “Hmm, I wonder what it would look like with no tie, and this button undone?” And she slipped the tie off, unbuttoning the two top buttons.

“This restaurant is five star. I can’t go without a tie.” 

“I know. Can’t a girl dream a little?” she teased. 

“Dream all you want,” he cooed and wrapped his arms around her. He stroked her cheek gently. “My goodness, Charlotte. You’re amazing.” 

“I bet you say that to all the old biddies,” she joked as she buttoned his shirt, and put the tie back around his neck, tying it perfectly. 

“I don’t see any old biddies here. Just a smokin’ hot wife.” He kissed her passionately.

“If you do that again, dinner is off.” She smiled at him.

“Well, I have to see that dress for longer than five minutes, so dinner it is,” he said, pretending to be disappointed. She checked her hair in the mirror and touched up her makeup. 

“How do I look?” she asked. 

“Like a movie star,” he responded, and he meant it. She was irresistible.

Hand in hand, they walked to the lobby and approached the host station at the restaurant. “Ah, Mr. Jones,” the Maitre D’ greeted them. “Right this way.” He led them to a private table in a small room, Charlotte guessed, reserved for people with name recognition. Travis held the chair for her as she sat, and he sat directly to her right. 

“Champagne, please, whatever you have that is recommended,” he ordered. The waiter introduced himself and went to retrieve their drink order. 

“This is nicer than I remember,” she commented. “I wonder if they redecorated.” 

“Well, we were always in the main dining room. This is a special room, just for us.” He stared into her blue eyes and smiled. “Would you like to dance, my love?” He stood and held his hand for her. 

“I’d love to,” she said, taking his hand. He held her close as they swayed to the music, just enjoying each other’s company. She rested her head on his shoulder as they danced. Suddenly, he jerked, and he drew a quick breath. “Are you okay, honeybear?” 

He sighed, frustrated. “I’ll be okay. But if it’s alright with you, I really need to sit down.” He walked the short distance back to their table and sat. “I think it’s inevitable, honey. I’m going to need to have that talk with Lionel when we get home.” 

She knew what he meant, but she didn’t want to say it. Instead, she nodded and held his hand in hers. He felt her hands on his and remembered he had a brand new ring to put on one of her fingers, and he smiled at her. “There’s that look again,” she snickered. “What are you up to, mister?” 

“You could always see right through me, love. Close your eyes,” he requested. 


“Don’t ask questions. Just close your eyes.” When she did, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the delicate gold ring. He took her hand and slipped the ring on her finger, and he saw her smile. “Okay, baby. You can look.” 

She gazed at her hand, and tears welled in her eyes. “Oh sweetie, this is so pretty!” She admired the artistry of the ring, the delicate design and the stones in the middle. “When did you get this?”

“The other day at the festival. Remember the goldsmith?” 

“Oh yeah,” she nodded her head. “I didn’t remember seeing anything this intricate.” 

“He said he had made this ring for someone special. He didn’t have it out for the general public to see, and said when he saw the right person, he’d know it. I have to admit, it was pretty romantic.” 

“I love it, Travis. It’s so perfect.” She smiled serenely at him, and she just couldn’t think of how she could love that man more than she did at that moment. 

“I love you, Charlotte. I’m so happy you love the ring.” Travis tried to ignore the throbbing in his leg. 

She was just about to ask him about it when the waiter came with the champagne, which was poured into glasses, and the bottle placed on ice. Travis lifted his glass and offered a toast. “To the love of a lifetime, with the sexiest, most beautiful woman alive. I will love you forever, Charlotte.” 

She blushed and raised her glass, not able to speak. “Travis, you are just amazing,” she finally said. “You have transformed me from a shy, sheltered young woman to the confident, professional woman I have become. This is all you, my love. Everything I am, it’s because of you.” 

“Baby, I can’t wait to get back to our room, honey.”

“Do you want to skip dinner?” she suggested.

“The thought crossed my mind, love.” He looked around for the waiter. “Could we please just have our check? I’m not feeling well.” 

“Certainly, Mr. Jones.” The waiter walked from the table and returned a few minutes later with the check. Travis signed it to their room, and he took her hand. 

“I love you so much, Charlotte,” he whispered in her ear. 

“I love you more,” she replied. They held hands as they strolled back to the room. Travis put up the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, and locked the door behind them.

The phone rang at six o’clock, and Travis answered it. Rosa’s voice, which was usually peppy and happy, had a trace of sadness in it that morning. “This is Rosa, Mr. Travis. Time to wake up.” 

“Thank you, Rosa.” Travis hung the phone up and sighed. It would be the last time Rosa would wake them. Charlotte was sleeping peacefully next to him, and he hated to wake her. Since they arrived a week ago, this was the day they dreaded. Nevertheless, he curled around her, brushed the hair from her neck, and nuzzled his face into her neck. His warm breath woke her, and she purred.

“Mmm, good morning honeybear.” She snuggled closer to him, not wanting the night to end. “It’s time, isn’t it?” 

“It is,” he said sadly. 

She turned over to face him, feeling emotional. “This is the last time we’ll ever come here.”

“I’ve thought of nothing else for most of the night. We have wanted this so badly, and now. Now, it seems like a distant dream.”

“We have good things waiting for us at home, love. Darcey’s baby. Who knows when Danae will give us one? All the giggles and stories and snuggles wait for us.” Charlotte wiped a tear from his eyes. “I know we wanted this, and we’re so close to retiring. But we didn’t count on the girls giving us grandbabies so fast. I’m afraid if we move here, we’ll never see them again, and given the choice between never coming back, and never seeing my family, I’m afraid this place loses in a landslide.” She kissed him tenderly.

“I know what you mean, honey. The idea of never seeing the kids again is painful.” He sniffled and held her tightly. “I suppose we should get up. We have a flight in a few hours.” 

Charlotte sighed. “We probably should.” 

They showered and walked to the lobby to have breakfast at the restaurant on the property, and then walked to the spa to grab some cologne and oils for the girls and themselves. One last walk back to the room had them feeling emotional, and as Charlotte packed the oils into their luggage, she cried.

After their bag had been retrieved, they had a little time to kill, so they walked around the property, hand in hand, enjoying the morning, reliving their memories together. “This is where we met Ron for the first time,” Charlotte mused, as they passed the bench. 

They walked past the pool, and Travis chuckled. “This is where we almost got drenched the night of our anniversary. Remember that thunderstorm?” 

“I couldn’t forget it,” she laughed. “I’ve never seen it rain that hard, that fast.” 

They got to the lobby, and Rosa stood at her desk, trying not to look at them. When they approached her, she gazed their way, and Charlotte saw tears in her friend’s eyes. “Mrs. Charlotte, Mr. Travis, I will miss you.” Rosa breathed a heavy sigh, knowing this would be the last time she would ever see them. She noticed Travis’ cane and wiped tears from her eyes. “I won’t even see you on the field anymore, will I, Mr. Travis?” 

“No, Rosa, probably not. I will be retiring soon. My poor old body can’t handle an injury like this anymore.” He hugged her and felt her tremble as she choked back a sob. “But my son, Devin, he is on the team. You’ll see a lot of him. You won’t be able to tell it’s not me.” He tried to lighten the mood, but he was doing a terrible job of it. 

“No offense, Mr. Travis, but your son will never be you.” She walked to Charlotte and kissed her cheek. “I will miss you, Mrs. Charlotte. Enjoy your grandchildren. Love them well, and be blessed, my dear friend.” 

“Rosa, I will never forget you. Ever.” Charlotte wiped tears away and hugged her one last time. 

“I love you guys,” Rosa said, as the shuttle driver came to retrieve them.

“We love you too, Rosa.” Travis hugged her and kissed her cheek one last time. “Take good care of yourself, honey.” 

No more words were said, as Charlotte and Travis waved, and left the lobby of the Grand Tower Resort.

Up Next: Chapter Twenty Four, Generation Four

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