“Babe, how much longer are you going to snooze your alarm? It’s almost nine.” Danae rolled over and tapped Andy on the shoulder.
“Aw man,” he groaned. “I’m up.” He got right into the shower, almost an hour later than he wanted to be. It meant grabbing breakfast at the office, or on the way.
“I’m sorry, Andy. I overslept, too. I’m glad Trixie is here.” She wrapped up in a robe and walked into the living room. Elyse was on the sofa with her blanket watching television. Emmitt was playing in her bedroom inside the toy box. Both children were fed and happy.
“How are you feeling Lysie?” Danae asked her. She felt her forehead, and it was cool.
“I’m feeling better, Mama. Is Daddy still home?”
“Yes, sweet pea. He’s in the shower, but he’s running late. He will have time for a hug and a kiss, and he needs to go to work.” She poured a cup of coffee as Trixie walked into the house from the yard.
“Hi Danae,” she greeted her. “How was your trip?”
“Fantastic! Thanks for covering me this morning.”
“You’re welcome. I assume Eamon was to go to school this morning, since you didn’t let me know otherwise?”
“Yes, the principal issue is resolved. How long has Lysie’s fever been broken?”
“Since Saturday. She probably could have gone to school today, but one more day won’t hurt. Besides, she really missed you.” Danae smiled. Elyse had come a long way from the days of ‘I hate you.’
Andy walked out of the bedroom, dressed to impress and ready for work. “I don’t even have time for coffee, my sweet. I have to run.” Elyse stood and wrapped herself around his waist. “Good morning, sweet pea,” he said as he patted her head. “Daddy’s late for work, honey.” He picked her up and hugged her. “I’ll see you when I get home, okay?”
Elyse nodded. “I can’t wait, Daddy.”
“Me too, sweet pea.” He walked to Danae and kissed her. “I’ll see you tonight, baby. I love you.”
“I love you too, Andy. Have a great day.”
Trixie and Danae sat at the table with a cup of coffee. “You’re free to go if you’d like. And if not, you’re welcome to stay. We can talk about you moving in and working here today, if you are open to the idea. The pay will be worth your while.”
“I would love to,” Trixie quipped. “I’m here all the time anyway, so I might as well make it official, right?”
“Exactly!” Danae replied. “Your room is already occupied, so just make yourself at home. You may come and go as you please, until we need you. I don’t anticipate it will be more often than we do now. The kids adore you, and so do Andy and I. Welcome to the family.” Danae hugged her.
“I just need to let my roommate know I’ll be moving out. I never saw him anyway.”
Danae choked on her coffee. “Him? Trix, are you in a relationship?”
“Not really. Well, I am. He’s not.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m done with it.”
“I’m sorry. Been there, done that,” Danae said with sympathy.
Trixie laughed. “I can’t imagine you with anyone else but Andy. You’re made for each other.”
She smiled. “Thanks, Trix. I can’t anymore, either. He and I have been together for so long now that I can’t remember life without him. Believe me, it wasn’t that good before him.”
“That’s not what I hear,” Trixie countered. “Andy tells me you were on the path to stardom and fame.”
Danae chuckled. “I have the fame now and wish I didn’t. I can’t let myself think about what could have been. I’m content right where I am.”
“Contentment is good,” Trixie agreed. “So few people ever really find it. Seems no one is ever satisfied with their lives anymore. You’re refreshing, Nae.”
“Aww! Thank you!” She stood and took her coffee cup to the kitchen. “Lysie, why don’t you rest, sweet pea? You’re technically home sick from school.”
“But Mama,” she protested. “I feel okay.”
“Maybe you didn’t hear me. Lysie, please go lay down awhile so I can get some housework done.”
She was about to protest but thought the better of it. “Yes, ma’am,” Elyse said politely.
“If it’s okay with you, I’m going to head back to the apartment and grab some of my things,” Trixie said. “I shouldn’t be very long.”
“Take your time,” Danae replied.
She had gotten most of the house cleaned and laundry started when Trixie returned from her apartment with a few bags of clothing and some personal things.
“Well, it’s done. I’m done,” Trixie said, a little downhearted. “The sad thing is, he probably won’t notice I’m gone until the rent is due, or he wants something.”
Danae looked at Trixie oddly. “Wants something?”
She sighed. “Yes, the wonder of having a friend with benefits. That’s the only part I’ll miss.”
Danae laughed. “I get that.”
Elyse walked from her bedroom with Emmitt’s hand in hers. “Mama, we’re hungry.”
Danae knelt down to their level. “What would you like for lunch, sweet peas?”
“Grilled cheese, please?” Elyse asked politely. Emmitt nodded his agreement.
“Alrighty. Grilled cheese it is.” Danae began preparing lunch for the kids.
“I’m going to go get settled upstairs, Nae,” Trixie said. “I won’t be long, and if you need help with dinner, let me know.” Danae simply nodded.
Andy returned home from work at his usual time and his family was happy to see him. Eamon and Elyse ran to him for hugs and kisses, and Emmitt squealed his delight.
“Ooh, I missed you guys!” Andy said, his children wrapped around him. “We brought presents home for all of you from Dragon Valley. Did you know that’s where Daddy was born?”
“Where is Dragon Valley?” Eamon asked.
“It’s way north of here, about eight hours by airplane.” He opened a map on his phone and showed the kids where it was, and they marveled.
“Wow, Daddy, that’s a long way!” Elyse remarked. “You were born there? That’s cool!”
Andy looked at Danae. “Are we ready to give the kids their presents?”
Danae nodded. “You are going to love this stuff.”
Andy went to the bedroom and brought out the bags with the things they had for the kids while Danae gathered them together.
“Emmitt, this is for you, son,” Andy handed him a teddy bear they had gotten at the Renaissance Faire, and he squealed and hugged it to his face.
“Fanks!” he took the bear by its arm and ran around the living room with it. Trixie, who was on her way down the stairs, chuckled to see him so excited. “Look!” Emmitt squealed, holding the bear for Trix to see it.
“How cute!” she told him. “What a nice bear.”
Andy took a small package out for Elyse and held it to her. She carefully unwrapped it and found a music box with a unicorn inside it. Her eyes got huge as she wound it and watched the unicorn dance while the music played.
“Daddy! This is awesome! Thank you!” She hopped up and kissed Andy’s cheek, and then ran to Danae. “Thank you, Mama!”
“You’re welcome, baby girl,” Danae hugged her.
“Last but not least, Eamon,” Andy was beaming inside. “Son, I had so many of these when I was your age, so it’s only fitting you should have one, too.” Andy handed him the package that Danae had wrapped around the egg. He opened it and looked at it oddly.
“What is it, Daddy?”
“It’s a dragon egg, sport. These things are all over the village, so I brought one home for you. It will be something none of your friends have.”
His eyes got big when Andy said ‘dragon.’ “For reals, Daddy? A real dragon egg?”
“Well, it’s a fossil. Whatever was inside is long gone. I used to collect them.”
“This is so cool, Daddy! Thank you!” Eamon hugged him. “Wow!”
“Do you like it?” Andy asked.
“I love it!” Eamon ran and put it on his dresser in the bedroom and sat watching it intently.
The kids dispersed, happy with their goodies and Danae returned to making dinner. Andy walked up behind her and kissed her neck. “I missed you today,” he purred into her ear.
“I missed you, too.” She reached up to his cheek and held his head near hers. He nuzzled into her neck. “You’re going to start something you’ll need to finish later,” she whispered to him.
“I can’t wait,” he whispered back. He kissed her ears and neck, and she sighed.
“Stop, we have eyes watching us,” she chuckled, pointing at Elyse. “How are you feeling now, Lysie?”
“Why don’t you go play with Eamon, sweet pea? Dinner is still an hour away.”
“No, Mama, I’m okay here.”
“I don’t think that was a suggestion, Lysie. Go play,” Andy told her.
“Yes, sir,” she said almost sarcastically and went to Eamon’s bedroom.
“I’ll be outside at the pool if you need me,” Trixie said, not wanting to be a third wheel.
Danae nodded as she turned around in Andy’s embrace, and they kissed. “I can’t wait for dessert,” he growled.
After dinner, Andy, Danae, and Trixie sat by the pool sharing a glass of wine together. It would be their first night with her on the payroll, though she was more a friend than an employee. Andy swirled the wine in his glass and took a sip.
“Baby, this stuff is just the best,” he said. “Thank you for keeping it on hand for me. Nothing is more relaxing than sitting out here at the end of the day with you, my sweet.”
“Always my pleasure. Do you like sweet or dry wine, Trix?” Danae asked.
“I tend to like wine a bit on the dry side. This is very good.”
“The garden has a bunch of rare grapes, almost like our own vineyard. We should set up the nectar making machine my Nana brought home from France. We could make our own,” Danae suggested.
“That’s a great idea, my sweet,” Andy agreed. “The garden has plenty of fruits. I bet I could even recreate the semi-sweet one you like.”
“I love that idea.” They took each other’s hands and sat, enjoying the evening.
“Well, I’m going to go inside to bed.” Trixie felt like she was intruding into their private time. She knew they had a special night planned, and she didn’t want to impose.
“You don’t need to go if you don’t want to, Trix. We don’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” Andy said.
“No, this is your house. You don’t need to tiptoe around me, or walk on eggshells.” Trixie got up. “Have a good night, you two.”
Danae smiled. “Goodnight, Trix. You can sleep in tomorrow morning. I’ll get the kids up for school.” Trixie nodded and waved as she disappeared inside the house.
She wasted no time with Andy, moving to his lounge chair and snuggling with him. “When is the season over, babe?” she asked, kissing his chin.
“Regular season is over in a few weeks, then it’s playoffs. We’re on target for another cup, baby. Aaron is a genius.”
She kissed him passionately. “So are you.”
“Believe me, I’m not that smart.”
“That’s not what I meant,” she purred. “Let’s go to bed.”
Without another word, they both stood and walked to their bedroom and closed the door behind them.
Danae woke early to wake the kids for school. She walked to Eamon’s bedroom and woke him first. “Eamon, honey, time to get up for school,” she sang to him. His bright, happy smile warmed her heart. “Get into the shower before I wake Lysie so she doesn’t take all your hot water.”
“Okay, Mama,” he said sleepily. She walked into the bathroom with him and got the water the correct temperature, and she left him to shower alone.
Next, she walked to Elyse’s room. The music box was sitting on her nightstand, and it was opened as though she fell asleep listening to the music. “Lysie, sweet pea. Time to get up for school.”
She rolled over and coughed, trying to sneak one more day off. “Good morning, Mama,” she said, and coughed again.
“You’re going to school, Lysie. You’re not sick anymore,” Danae said firmly.
Elyse sighed. “Okay.”
She made French toast for breakfast and had just put the pan into the oven to cook when Eamon came out from the bathroom, showered and dressed for school. “There’s my big boy!” Danae praised him. “Would you like some fresh orange juice, sweetheart?”
He nodded his head. “Yes please!”
“Lysie, do you want breakfast before your shower honey?”
“No, I want to take a shower first,” she said, yawning.
“It’s all yours,” Danae told her. “I’ll keep breakfast hot for you, sweet pea.”
Eamon sat at the counter with a glass of juice, waiting patiently for breakfast. Trixie walked down the steps earlier than Danae expected her.
“Good morning little twerp,” she greeted Eamon. He giggled at her nickname for him. “How’s your egg this morning?”
“It’s awesome,” Eamon squealed. “I can’t wait to tell my friends about it.” Danae served him two slices of French toast and he dug in like he hadn’t eaten in days. “Thank you, Mama,” he said between bites.
“You’re welcome baby boy.”
The bus came at 8:00 am, and Danae walked them both to the gate, gave them kisses and sent them on their way. She walked back inside and Trixie was wiping the counters down, cleaning up the breakfast mess.
“You don’t have to do that, Trix. I’ll get it.” Danae loaded the dishwasher and started it. “I’m going to make beds and clean the bathrooms. Go relax. I’ve got this. But first, I need to wake Andy for work.”
Trixie grabbed a cup of coffee and walked outside onto the patio to enjoy the morning air. She never expected she would find a job this cushy, a live-in nanny for one of the best known, richest families on the isle. On this morning, she sat and counted her blessings, every one of them had the last name ‘Murphy.’
About two hours later, after Emmitt had gone down for his morning nap, Danae was sitting in the living room watching television. Trixie had gone to the library. It felt good to get back into a routine with the kids and house, she thought as she relaxed on the sofa. She heard an odd noise coming from Eamon’s bedroom and she got up to investigate. When she got to the door, a green flurry of wings flew at her, and she shrieked. Her screech woke Emmitt, and she scooped him out of his crib and ran from the house, screaming and afraid.
Emmitt cried as she set him down on the patio and dialed Andy’s cell phone.
“ANDY!” she screamed. “There’s something in the house!”
“Calm down, honey. What kind of something?” Andy asked.
“I don’t know, but it flies! It scared me half to death. Please see if you can come home. It’s locked in the house!”
“Baby, call a pest guy or something. It’s probably a fruit bat.”
“If it’s out in the daylight, isn’t it sick? Please, Andy, come home! I don’t want this thing in our house!”
Andy grumbled on the other end of the phone. “I’m on my way. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. Just keep the door closed and stay outside.”
Out of sick curiosity, she opened the back door to listen and heard the creature flapping around, squawking and making a racket in the living room. Emmitt was playing in the sandbox when Andy pulled into the driveway.
Danae picked up Emmitt and ran to Andy’s side, trembling.
“Where’s the bat? I have a net to see if I can trap it myself.” Andy walked toward the house bravely.
“The living room,” she said with a quivering voice. “It’s been squawking since I closed it in.”
Andy stopped in his tracks. “Squawking? Bats don’t squawk.” Cautiously he opened the living room door and his mouth fell open. On the floor sat a baby dragon, green in color, just as frightened as Danae.
“What is it?” Danae asked, almost in tears.
“It’s… it’s a baby dragon.” Andy gently fell to his knees and approached it slowly. Cautiously, he held his arm out, and it flew to him, perching itself on his forearm. “I’ve never seen an egg hatch like that. How?”
“You said it was dead!” Danae cried. “Is it dangerous?”
“There are four different colors,” Andy explained. “Of the four, green whelps are the most docile by nature. This is phenomenal! These were supposed to be extinct decades ago.”
“They can’t be that extinct, Andy, if this thing is here. What do we do with it?!”
“I’m not sure how to even care for it. Danae, do you know what this means for Dragon Valley?”
She shook her head. “I’m not sure I want to know.”
“The villagers could be in grave danger, especially if some of the eggs hatch red or black whelps. Tales of their destruction are legendary throughout the Valley.”
“Get it out of our house, Andy. We have kids! We can’t afford to take chances with a wild animal like this.” Danae held Emmitt to her, protecting him.
The whelp rubbed against Andy’s face. “We can’t just set it free, Danae. It won’t survive. This is historic. Besides, I think it likes me.”
“Please, babe, take it somewhere and let it die. We can’t have it in the house with Emmitt.”
“Sweetie, this is history being made right in our own house. I won’t just kill it. But I will need to bring it back to Dragon Valley. It won’t survive here. It’s too warm.”
Danae laughed nervously. “Good luck trying to get that thing through security on an airplane.”
“I’ll get a carrier for a dog and bring it back that way. And while I’m there, I need to warn the village government. They don’t know what’s coming if these things start to hatch.” Andy could remember seeing at least ten different eggs scattered around the village. It could be the start of something terrible.
“When are you going? I don’t think Kirby will let you go back so soon, will he?”
“I have some vacation time coming. I’ll just book the private jet so I don’t have to go through security. I will reimburse the team for my expenses. This can’t wait, baby. I have to go back with it.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“Just the day. For the time being, I’ll bring it to work with me and feed it. The green ones are pretty harmless, but it’s fragile. It needs to be cared for.”
“Andy, that’s a long, expensive trip for this thing. Can we afford it?”
“Let me do some research on it. Maybe it will survive down here. We can’t keep it, but I don’t want to see it die, either.” He petted the whelp and it snuggled against his face. “Yeah, it’s not going to die on my watch.” He kissed her. “I need to go back to work, sweetie. I’ll see you afterward.”
“Be careful with that flying rat, Andy. I don’t trust it.”
He laughed. “I love you, baby,” he said as he got into the car with the whelp and drove back to the stadium.
Trixie came back about an hour later with a few books, looking relaxed. “You missed out on some excitement while you were gone, Trix.”
“Oh? What happened?”
“Andy brought that ‘fossilized’ dragon egg home from the Valley, the one he gave to Eamon. Well, the dang thing hatched! It was flying around the house like a kamikaze pilot, dive-bombing me. It scared the daylights out of me!”
“Dragon? You mean like a fire-breathing, flying reptile?” Trixie’s face went sheet white.
“Not exactly. It was actually kind of cute, but it’s still a wild animal. We can’t take any chances with Emmitt being so little. It took a liking to Andy.”
Trixie snorted. “Everyone likes Andy, so that’s not a big surprise.” Danae laughed and agreed.
The ride back to the office with the tiny green whelp was interesting. The little creature was extremely friendly and docile, almost as if it had imprinted on Andy. He was secretly hoping the little guy would survive the warm climate, and that Danae would allow him to keep it if it could live long enough. But he still had a problem. He had knowledge that could potentially save lives, and it would be careless to do nothing.
He walked to his office with the whelp perched on his shoulder. Aaron passed him in the hallway and did a double-take.
“Now I’ve seen everything,” he said, staring at the whelp.
“We had a stowaway from Dragon Valley, I guess. I brought home an egg I thought was dead. I had no reason to believe it would hatch. Aaron, I had dozens of these things when I was a kid. They were everywhere. Danae doesn’t want it at the house, so here it is with me.”
“Will it bite or burn my face off?” Aaron laughed. He reached to touch it and it licked his fingers.
“It shouldn’t do either. Green whelps are the meekest. Just don’t stick your fingers in its face on purpose. I need to find out some information on this thing. But I won’t just let it die. It doesn’t know it’s supposed to be extinct.”
“Extinct? So much for that theory,” Aaron joked. “Good luck with your little friend.”
“Thanks, I might need it,” Andy replied.
Andy sat at his desk and opened his web browser. Information on the dragons from Dragon Valley was scarce since they were long considered extinct. But a historian from the Valley had a website with limited data. The gentleman had a phone number, so Andy dialed it.
“Hello. My name is Andy Murphy, and I have some news on the Dragon Valley dragons that might interest you.”
“I’m listening,” the man said.
“My wife and I were in the Valley over the weekend and brought an egg back to Isla Paradiso with us. I am from Dragon Valley and had dozens of fossilized eggs when I was a kid. When we brought this one home, I expected it to just be a keepsake I gave to my son.” Andy took a breath. “But the egg hatched this morning and scared my wife half to death. Sir, I’ve never seen a living dragon until today. I believed, like everyone else, they were extinct.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a shuffling of papers and a slammed door. “You’re telling me you have a living whelpling?”
“I am,” Andy confirmed. “A green one. My concern is the black and red whelps. I know what lore says about them, and I don’t want to see harm come to my hometown.”
“This is disturbing,” the man said. “By the way, my name is Nigel. Where are you now, Andy?”
“I’m still in Isla Paradiso. I have the whelp in my office at work. I’m concerned with its survival and care. I don’t know what to even feed the thing, and I don’t want it to die. This is historical, and I recognize that.”
“I have to see this creature,” Nigel said. “The green whelps aren’t dangerous and are omnivorous, so it will eat nearly anything small enough. Fruits, vegetables, small vermin. Very handy to have around a garden.” Andy heard some tapping on a computer keyboard. “Do you mind if I come to see it? Maybe bring it back with me? There is much to learn from it, and the science facility here is equipped to examine it.”
“You have to promise me that you won’t harm it. It’s rather fond of me, and I’m getting attached to it. I don’t want to see you kill it in the name of science.” Andy was adamant.
“We won’t harm it, trust me. We want to see what we can learn from it, observe its behavior. Understand, Mr. Murphy, that this is the first living whelpling in over 70 years. We don’t even know what to expect with it.”
“You’re welcome to come get it, but I can’t leave the island again. My job is such that I can’t leave on such a long trip. When can I expect you?”
“I’m going to speak with the CEO of SVP and see if there is interest in this. Maybe I can get a grant to come retrieve it. If not, it will be a while. Archaeology doesn’t generate much revenue, Mr. Murphy.”
Andy sighed. If Fiona McDonald had any say in it, Nigel would not be coming down anytime soon. “Will it survive in a tropical environment, or does it need the cold?”
“They are cold-blooded animals, Mr. Murphy. It will thrive in the tropics. That is most likely the reason this one hatched. The eggs tend to be dormant under a certain temperature threshold. Is the number you called from a good number to reach you?”
“It is,” Andy confirmed. “Thank you for the information on it. I look forward to your call.”
A half-hour later, a soft knock came at Andy’s office door. News of the whelp spread quickly and Kirby had to see it for himself.
“Where’s the critter?” he asked Andy, curious and slightly afraid.
“It’s on my shoulder, Kirby. It’s safe to come in.”
Kirby cautiously entered and was amused to see it perched on Andy’s shoulder as if it was a bird. “It’s kinda cute, in its own way, I guess. Does it bite?”
“I hope not, or it will be spending its time in our garage,” Andy laughed. “I gave him part of my lunch, so he should be content. It likes me.”
Kirby laughed. “Andy, everyone likes you, except maybe your brother-in-law. But he’s a generally unlikeable guy.”
Andy rolled his eyes. “I spoke with someone in Dragon Valley who wants to come get it for research and observation. These things were supposed to be extinct decades ago. It’s quite historic, but there is a real danger in the Valley if other whelps begin to hatch. The red ones are particularly nasty.”
Kirby cringed. “What do the red ones do?”
“I’ll just say they have a hot end. In the old lore, they had been known to destroy whole villages. Black ones don’t spit out fire, but they kill people with a disease, and it can spread quickly.”
“You lucked out, getting a green one and not a red one. We don’t need the island to burn. I’m not sure if my insurance covers dragon fire. So, when is the guy coming to get it?”
“I’m not sure. He’s looking to see if Fiona will gift a grant to his archaeological study to get it back to the Valley. Without the funding, it might be stuck here a while.” Andy reached to pet it, and it licked his face.
“Wow, it really does like you, Andy. How are you going to part with it?” Kirby smiled, almost tempted to pet it himself.
“I don’t know, Kirby. We’ve been wanting a pet for the kids. Who says it couldn’t be an endangered green dragon, right?” Andy chuckled.
“What does Danae think of it?”
“Oh, she will be a hard sell, I think. The kids will love it once they realize it won’t hurt them, especially Eamon. He loved the egg before it hatched. He would adore it.”
“Well, I wish you luck with it. I bet my kids would love it, too. They’ve never heard of dragons before.”
“Most people outside the Valley have never heard of them, but villagers are keenly aware of their history. Most people nowadays believe it’s myth or just lore, though. I’m lucky to have found someone who knows a little something about them.” The creature snuggled up to Andy’s neck and fell asleep.
“If you need a ride to bring it back, you’re welcome to take the jet. I know it’s a long trip, but it needs to be where it can be looked after. Just spring for the fuel, and it’s yours.”
“Thank you, Kirby. That’s very generous of you.”
“It obviously likes you. I’d hate to see something happen to it.” Kirby turned to leave. “Let me know.”
At the end of the workday, Andy took his briefcase and with the whelp still nestled on his shoulder, walked to his car. “Danae is going to kill me,” he talked to the creature as though it could understand him. But the drive home was peaceful, and he parked in the garage. “Come on, little guy,” he told the whelp. “You need to stay in here for a while.” He took an empty box, placed a few dirty towels in it and set him down in the box. “I’ll be back to feed you.”
He walked to the house feeling guilty he’d brought it back home, but he couldn’t leave it at the stadium, either. Danae ran to him as he entered the back door, and greeted him with a hug and a kiss.
“How was your day, my love?” she asked. Trixie was in her room, resting.
“Interesting,” he replied. “I found someone in the Valley who is interested in the d-r-a-g-o-n,” he spelled the word out, so the kids wouldn’t understand.
“Where is the flying rat?” she asked. “I hope you left it at work.”
Andy’s guilty face gave him away. “It’s in the garage. Baby, it’s very friendly. It spent most of its day nestled up on my shoulder. The historian said it’s handy to have around a garden. It eats small vermin and fruits. I gave him a banana earlier, and he settled right down.”
“Friendly? Andy, it’s a wild animal.” Danae shook her head. “Just keep in the garage until you can get rid of it.”
“I took a few old, dirty towels and lined a box, so he’d have a comfy place to sleep. The green whelps are harmless. I’ll take you out to see it later.”
Danae backed away from him, afraid. “No you won’t either.”
“Would I purposely put you in harm’s way, honey?” Andy asked.
“No, but… Andy, it dive-bombed me earlier.”
“It was frightened. Who knows how long the egg had been dormant? The historian told me it likely hatched because it’s warm here. They are cold-blooded, so it will thrive down here.”
“What if it hurts one of the kids, Andy? You don’t know what that thing is capable of doing.”
“I don’t think it would, Nae. I can teach them how to handle it—”
“It isn’t staying here. Period. You have to find something to do with it.”
He felt himself starting to get angry. “Danae, you’re being unreasonable.”
“Am I? What if it bites one of the kids and makes them sick? How will they treat it? Nothing like this exists anywhere but in our home!” She shook her head. “Andy, it needs to go.”
He took her by the wrist and pulled her. “You’re going to see it, Danae. You’ll see it’s nothing to fear.” She resisted, trying to pull against him, but he was so much stronger.
“No!” she cried. “Andy, you’re hurting me!” With her wrist still in his grasp, he turned and picked her up over his shoulder, continuing to walk to the garage. “Stop!” she screamed, but he wasn’t listening.
He reached the door and put her down. Her fear overcame her, and for a moment, he regretted doing this to her. But she had to see for herself. She fell to the ground, crying. “Please, Andy, don’t make me do this,” she sobbed.
“Baby, I would never put you in a place where you would be harmed. Don’t you trust me?”
She shook her head. “Please…” Tears rolled down her cheeks.
He opened the door to the garage and whistled. The whelp flew to him and settled on his arm.
Danae tried to scream, but nothing came out. Her face was pale, all the blood had drained from it. Slowly, the whelp approached her, and as it got closer, it looked at her. It must have decided she was okay because it sniffed her. Danae was frozen in fright until it licked her.
“See? It likes you, too. Baby, there is nothing to be afraid of. Hold your arm out, like this.” He held his arm out and the whelp jumped from his shoulder.
The quick motion startled her, but she followed suit. Gingerly, the whelp stepped from Andy to Danae, and she stifled a scream. “Shh, see? It’s okay, and I’m here.”
Still scared speechless, she trembled as the whelp sat on her. Andy reached for it to pet it, and it made a funny noise but settled down on her shoulder. “Baby, breathe,” he said. “Try to pet it. Danae, it likes you.”
She took a breath and reached her free hand to it, and it lowered its head, almost inviting her touch. She held her hand out flat, and the whelp nuzzled its head into it. At that moment, she relaxed. “This is the strangest thing I’ve ever done.”
“It’s a little odd for me too, Nae. The green dragons are harmless unless you’re a rat or mouse. Then all bets are off.” He hugged her shoulders and watched her with the whelp. “How are you doing with it?”
“Well, I’m not as freaked out as I was. But I’m still not sure I want it in the house. It’s still a wild animal, docile or not. And we have young children. The ‘what ifs’ torment me.”
“I don’t think there’s more danger with this than there would be with a puppy or kitten. I know you’ve been wanting a pet for the kids. Why not this?”
“Andy, have you lost your mind? It’s a dragon, not a puppy or a kitten. It breathes fire, and who knows what diseases it could carry. Yes, it seems to be tame, but I don’t want to take a chance, not with our babies.”
“Technically, only the red ones breathe fire, baby. The green ones have a purpose, but I don’t know what yet.”
“You know the kids are going to want to see this thing. Are you prepared for that?” The whelp still sat on her arm, still making a funny noise. Andy figured it was a happy sound, because it was peaceful.
“Eamon should know why his egg is broken open. He should be allowed to see it and so should Lysie. This is part of who they are. They are more than half Dragon Valley blood, whether you like it or not.” He was still irritated with her.
“I don’t know, Andy.” She took a deep breath and sighed. “Maybe just Eamon and Lysie can see it. Emmitt is too little to understand, and he might scare it. I don’t want it to attack him.”
He had reached the point of being too frustrated to care anymore. “Whatever you think is best, Nae.” His tone was chilly, but she didn’t notice.
“Maybe tomorrow. I don’t want to deal with nightmares if it scares them tonight,” she suggested.
Andy shrugged his shoulders. Any excitement he felt about it Danae had managed to suck out. “Whatever you want, baby.” He peeled the banana he had in his hand and broke off a piece to feed to the whelp. It jumped onto his shoulder and gulped the banana pieces. Danae watched with wonder. He gently set the whelp into the box he had prepared for it, and closed the garage door. He walked back toward the house quickly, leaving Danae behind, saying nothing.
When he walked back into the house, Trixie was cleaning up dinner. She had served the kids and encouraged them to finish their homework. “Thanks for taking care of the kids, Trix,” Andy said, a chilly tone in his voice as he walked to their bedroom.
“It was no problem…” she yelled to him as he slammed the door.
Danae walked into the house, dinner obviously over and cleaned up. “Were we outside that long?” she asked Trixie. “It didn’t seem so.”
She nodded. “Yes, you were out there for almost an hour. I took the liberty of feeding the kids so they could finish their homework and get to bed. Emmitt still needs a bath, but the older two are doing homework together.”
“Thanks, Trix,” Danae said. “Is Andy in the bedroom?” She looked around the house but didn’t see him.
Trixie nodded. “He didn’t look very happy.”
“I’m going to sit outside with a glass of wine, if you’d like to join me, Trix.” Danae poured a glass of the semi-sweet wine she liked and walked outside.
She stuck her head outside. “I’ll join you after Emmitt is in bed, Nae.” And Danae waved at her. Whatever had happened between them was obviously not good.
Andy was not in the mood to argue anymore about the whelp, so he undressed and got into bed early. Sleep eluded him as he tossed and turned, frustrated with the whole situation.
Eamon knocked quietly on the bedroom door. “Daddy?”
Andy quickly put his flannel pants on and opened the door. “Hey, son. What’s on your mind?”
“Daddy, what happened to my egg? Did Elyse break it?” Tears formed in his eyes.
Andy sat on the bench at the end of their bed and patted the seat next to him. Eamon plopped down and wiped tears from his face.
Andy took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Eamon, Lysie didn’t break your egg, sport. It, um, well, it hatched.”
“Hatched? What came out of it? A chicken?” Eamon tried hard to understand.
Andy smiled. “No, son. A baby dragon came out of it.”
Eamon’s eyes got huge and a smile crossed his face. “Where did it go?”
“It’s in the garage. I know you’ll want to see it, so before Daddy takes it back to Dragon Valley, I’ll make sure you get to see it. Okay?”
“Why are you taking it away from me? It’s mine!”
“Eamon, it’s a wild animal. We just don’t know enough about it to know if it’s safe to keep him.” Andy tried to comfort him the best he could, but in truth, he didn’t want to bring it back, either. It was grossly unfair. “I’ll take you to see it tomorrow after school. Sound good?”
Eamon sighed and nodded his head. “I want to keep it, Daddy.”
“Me too, sport. But we can’t.” He kissed Eamon’s forehead. “Come on, I’ll tuck you into bed.”
Danae came to bed a few hours later feeling silly and a little amorous, having had no dinner and a glass of wine too many. She stripped naked and got into bed with Andy, curled around him and began kissing his shoulders.
He ducked away from her and scooted toward the edge of the bed. So she moved closer to him.
“Go away, Danae,” he muttered.
His words stunned her. “What did I do?”
“I’m not in the mood,” he stated simply.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” Andy repeated and shook his head. “You know what, never mind.”
“Babe, I don’t understand.”
“You tore my heart out when you said you didn’t trust me.”
“When did I say I didn’t trust you? Andy, you’re not making any sense.”
“Outside by the garage. I asked if you trusted me, and you shook your head. You…” his voice trailed off. “Just never mind.”
“Andy, you know I trust you with my life. I was frightened.”
“And I tried to show you there was nothing to fear. But don’t worry, I’m taking it back to Dragon Valley this weekend.”
“Can we afford it?” she asked.
Her questions weren’t helping his mood. “Yes,” came his one word, snippy answer.
“Can I come with you?”
“No. I’m going alone. Or maybe Aaron will go with me. But not you.”
His words stung her. “Why not me?”
“Because I don’t want you to go. Don’t worry, I’m saving you being on the same airplane with it.”
“Andy…” she sniffled and lost her battle with tears. She turned her back to him and shook with sobs. And then he felt guilty.
He sighed deeply and turned over, facing her back. “Oh honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make you cry.”
“Why is that flying rat so important to you?” she sobbed.
“Baby, it’s the only living whelp in the world. Surely you can understand the significance of that?”
“I wish we had never brought it home,” she cried.
He nodded his head. “I’m regretting it, too. It’s not worth fighting over. Kirby offered the private jet to bring it back. There’s a guy who is interested in it up in the Valley, but he can’t come without funding. So I’m going to take it home, where it belongs.”
“But why do you have to take it there? I need you here with me.”
“Because it’s in my care. I brought it home. I’m responsible for it. And Danae, I refuse to let it die, despite what you want.”
“If you’re going to pay for the fuel to get it there, why don’t you pay for the guy to come get it? Isn’t that better?”
“I hadn’t thought of that. You always have a good idea. But that still doesn’t resolve our issue.”
“Babe, I trust you. I’m sorry I shook my head. I was afraid of the whelp.”
“Did it hurt you?”
“No buts. Honey, I’m sorry I made you cry. And I’ll see how much Nigel needs to come pick up the whelp. It should be gone soon. But I’m not going to lie, Danae. I will miss having it. I feel like it’s a part of my heritage. I’m honored to have the only living one. We made history with it.”
Danae laid quietly on the bed for a few minutes, pondering the evening. She needed to know the answer to the burning question in her mind.
“Andy, do you still love me?”
“That’s a silly question, Danae. You know I do.”
“Show me? Please. I need you.”
He smiled and curled up behind her. “Oh baby, you know I’d love to.”
The next morning at work, Andy called Nigel. He intended to fund the archaeological society that would study the whelp.
“Nigel, Andy Murphy. How is the grant money coming along?”
“Actually, it’s going well. I have a private benefactor willing to fund the trip. I was going to call you this morning. I am planning to come tomorrow. My flight leaves tonight, and I’ll be in Isla Paradiso in the morning.”
Andy was shocked. “I had no idea this would happen so quickly, but I’m happy. My wife isn’t thrilled with having it in the house. We had a fight about it and frankly, this isn’t the hill I want to die on with her. I’m surprised Fiona McDonald splurged for the grant.”
“Who? No, the grant came from out of town. SVP wasn’t interested.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, who is funding this?” Andy had a feeling he knew.
“A gentleman named Kemp. Said he had a vested interest in this project, but I can’t imagine how.”
Andy nodded. “Kirby Kemp is my boss. He is generous to a fault sometimes. I will thank him personally. He knows what this means to me.”
“I wouldn’t mind meeting him if it’s possible. You know, to express my appreciation personally.”
“I will ensure it.” He took Nigel’s email address so he could send him details. “I will have the whelp at the stadium tomorrow. Our limousine will pick you up and bring you here. I guarantee Kirby will be here. Watch for my email.”
“I will, Mr. Murphy. I look forward to meeting your little friend.”
Andy hung up from the phone call, happy. He walked to Kirby’s office and knocked on his door.
“Come in,” he called, not looking up from his desk.
“Kirby,” Andy said, a smile in his voice. “Thank you.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Kirby replied with a grin. “You’re welcome.”
“Will you be here tomorrow morning? Nigel would like to meet with you to express his gratitude personally.”
“I’ll make sure I am, Andy. I know how important that little guy was to you. And I know it’s significant for your hometown. If I was in your shoes, I’d want to help my hometown, too.”
“I was going to offer him the money myself. That was Danae’s idea. I did an awful thing with her last night. She was frightened of it, but I forced it on her and made her cry. In the end, she ended up feeling better about it, though she still doesn’t trust it. She won’t go into the garage, so guess who does the laundry until it leaves?”
Kirby laughed. “You?”
“Yup!” Andy chuckled. “She will be pleased to know it’s leaving tomorrow.”
Kirby’s phone rang, and Andy excused himself. On his way back to the office, he called Danae.
“Baby, I have some good news for you.”
“Oh? Well, I have some news for you, too. But you go first.”
“Nigel, the historian from Dragon Valley, will be here in the morning to pick up the whelp. I will bring it with me to work, and it leaves from there to go home.”
“Oh.” Danae sounded disappointed.
“Is there something wrong?”
“No. But I found out why the dragon is good around a garden.” She stared at a pile of fruits and vegetables the whelp had harvested and placed at her feet.
“Oh? What happened?”
“I’ll just say I didn’t need to harvest anything from the garden today. He did it for me, and I don’t know how he did it. But there is a pile of produce on the back patio. Trixie and I have been carrying it inside for the last half hour, and it’s still a pile.”
“Holy cow.” Andy almost dropped his phone.
“I even gave him a banana as a treat. He perched on my shoulder and licked my face. Andy, I don’t want him to go.” Danae chirped happily with the whelp still sitting on her.
“Baby, it’s too late for that. Nigel is coming in the morning.”
“No!” she cried. “Don’t take him away from me!”
Andy was happy she had changed her mind. But it was much too late to stop the ball from rolling. Come morning, the whelp would be on its way back home, and Andy was powerless to prevent it.
Pose Credits for this chapter:
Anger, and Dark by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses
Wedding Bell Blues by Spladoum at ModTheSims
Zutara by Skylar Arden at Skylar’s Sanctuary
Last, but certainly not least,
That’s My Girl, Getting Sick, I’m Dizzy and Money Disputes by Bee at PosesByBee
As usual, thank you so much for the hard work and dedication that brings these stories to life.
Any/all custom content in this chapter is not mine, and I take no credit for it.