What a difference a day makes, Andy thought as he drove home from work. Though he was looking forward to introducing Eamon and Elyse to the whelp, the meeting would be bittersweet. And he absolutely could not believe the change in Danae. Last evening, she feared it to the point of almost making herself sick. Today, she didn’t want to give it up. He was the one who wanted to keep the whelp, and he would be the one ripping it away from the family who wanted it. The irony was not lost on him. Life really sucked sometimes.
He parked in the driveway, unsure of the whelp’s whereabouts, and got out of his car. Andy wasn’t sure he was prepared for the storm that loomed. Eamon’s questions the night before tore him up. He opened the back door and Danae ran to him from the kitchen, tears in her eyes.
“Andy! You’re not really taking the whelp away tomorrow! Please tell me it’s not true!” Danae cried.
“I’m sorry, honey. The plans have been set in motion. At this time tomorrow, he’ll be on a flight back to Dragon Valley with Nigel.” Andy sighed deeply. He wished she could have had this revelation a day sooner.
“Daddy!” Eamon greeted him as he came from the bedroom, a piece of the broken eggshell in his hands. “I want to see Icky.”
“What’s an icky?” Andy replied, confused.
“The dragon baby, Daddy!” Eamon said, exasperated. “How could you not know his name? Duh!”
“Oh. OH…” This wasn’t good. It has a name? “I’ll get changed and take you and Lysie out to see him.”
He walked to Danae and whispered to her. “Did you name it?”
She shook her head. “Eamon named it Icky because of the stinky mess it left in the shell. It was pretty disgusting.”
Andy walked to their bedroom and closed the door. First things first, he thought. When he was done in the bathroom, he washed his hands and got undressed. He slipped into his flannel pants and put a sleeveless shirt on top. After strapping a pair of sandals on his feet, he was ready to take the kids to see ‘Icky.’
Eamon and Elyse were at the ready, waiting by the back door patiently for him to take them to the garage. “Come on, kiddos,” he called them and opened the door. Like little ducklings in a row, they followed him and Andy stopped before he unlocked the garage.
“I want you to know how to handle Icky before you see him, okay? He’s just a baby so you need to be careful. Don’t get near his face, and move slowly so you don’t surprise him. Do you understand?”
Both nodded and squealed with excitement. Andy opened the door and whistled, and the whelp flew right to his arm. “Oh wow!” Eamon exclaimed. “This is awesome! Can I pet him?”
Andy nodded. “Be careful, and don’t get near his head. Let him come to you.”
Eamon held his hand for Icky to sniff, and he nuzzled his head into Eamon’s hand. He was surprised at how Icky felt. He was cool to the touch with soft scales on his head. “Daddy, I want to keep him!” he cried.
“We can’t, Eamon. Someone is coming to get him tomorrow.” His quiet weeping broke Andy’s heart.
Elyse watched from a safe distance, nervous. “Lysie, do you want to pet him?” Andy asked her.
She shook her head but her gaze never left the small creature. She watched every move Icky made.
“This is your only chance, sweet pea. If you want to pet him, this is it.” He walked toward her with the whelp on his arm, and she backed away. “Lysie, it won’t hurt you. Hold out your hand for him to sniff.”
She held her hand as Andy directed, and nearly screamed when Icky got close to her. But when he licked her fingers, she giggled. “That was cool!” she squealed with obvious delight.
“See? He doesn’t want to hurt you. Just be gentle.” Andy encouraged her as she reached to pet him again.
“He feels funny!” she laughed. “Icky, you’re so cute!” she chirped. “Can I feed him?”
“You and Eamon can both feed him.” Andy had a banana in the waistband of his pants, and he snorted when he reached for it. Yes, he had a banana in his pants. It struck him as funny, and he started to laugh.
“What’s so funny, Daddy?” Elyse asked him.
He cleared his throat and stopped laughing. “It’s nothing, honey.” He peeled the banana and gave half to each of them. “Break it into little pieces and hold it in the palm of your hand, so he can take it.”
The kids did as Andy instructed them, and they giggled as Icky ate the banana pieces from their hands. They were absolutely mesmerized by him, and he by them.
Suddenly, Icky jumped into the air and flapped his wings, hovering in place. Magically an uncut gemstone appeared at Andy’s feet. Afterward, he resumed his position on Andy’s shoulder and nuzzled into his neck.
“That’s a nifty little trick you have there, Icky,” Andy laughed. “Eamon, since you don’t get to keep the egg and Icky, that gemstone is yours.”
“No thanks, Daddy,” he said sadly. “I want to keep Icky.”
Andy knelt down to Eamon’s height. “I wish we could, believe me. But he’s going back home with people who can take care of him the right way. He won’t survive down here without proper care, and he’s a pretty big deal. Besides, Eamon, he won’t stay little forever. He’s going to grow into a big dragon, almost the size of this house.” Andy dried his tears. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll get Mama to take some pictures of Icky tonight, and you’ll always be able to see him when you want.” It wasn’t perfect, but it was all he could offer in the circumstances.
Eamon began to cry. “I want Icky, Daddy.” Oh, how he hated this.
“I know, sport, but we can’t.” Andy hugged him again and dried his tears.
“I hate you!” Eamon screamed at him and ran from the garage. Elyse followed, saying nothing to Andy as she ran away. He sat back on his heels and buried his face in his hands, heartbroken.
He settled Icky into his makeshift bed for the night and left some banana chunks on the floor for him to nibble on, turned and closed the garage door for the night. Andy fought back tears as he walked from the yard to the house. When he opened the door, he heard the cries of two sorrowful children who desperately wanted that little dragon. Danae and Trixie were both helping to calm them down. Andy walked to the bedroom and flopped on the bed, defeated.
An hour later, the crying and whining was finished. Danae crept into the bedroom, at a loss with the kids, and fighting tears. She didn’t want the whelp to go anywhere, either. Seeing Andy on the bed asleep, she tiptoed around the room to keep quiet. When she got into bed beside him, she rolled over to kiss him.
“Goodnight, my Andy,” she whispered. When she touched him, she felt his shoulders heave. “What’s wrong?”
“Eamon… Lysie… they both despise me,” he sniffled.
“No they don’t,” she reassured him. “They’re just upset about the dragon. They’ll get over it.”
“Eamon gave me the most hateful look I’ve ever seen on a child. I will never forget it.”
Danae got out from under the covers and wrapped around him. “Babe, he’s just a little boy. He doesn’t really know what he’s saying.”
Andy shook his head. “Yes, he does. That look, Danae, it broke my heart. I love that child, my firstborn son, and he hates me.”
“What did he do when you said I didn’t want Icky here?”
“You want him here, baby.”
“But I didn’t at first. You must have said something to him. He was inconsolable.”
“I didn’t tell him, Danae. I took this burden. It’s all on me.” He sighed.
“Why did you do that?”
“Because it’s my fault that Icky is going away. Because I’m the one who arranged it. Because I remembered how it broke you when Elyse hated you. I couldn’t let you endure that again.”
“Oh Andy, you should have told them it was me.” She snuggled close to him. “You shouldn’t suffer this alone.”
“What purpose would that serve? Getting them angry with both of us? No, let it fall on me. I’ll get over it.”
“You don’t have to play the martyr, Andy. Let me tell Eamon I didn’t want Icky here.”
“Danae, if you do that, I’m cutting you off for a month.”
She laughed. “You couldn’t go that long.”
“Don’t try me, Danae. I went years before I met you. A month is nothing.”
She read his expression. “My goodness, Andy. You’re not joking.”
“I never joke about loving you. But you don’t want to try me on this, because I am dead serious.”
She was tempted to play with him because she didn’t want him to be the sole target of the kids’ wrath. At the same time, she couldn’t chance it, either. “If you really mean it, I will leave it alone.”
“You know, at first I wanted to keep him. But he’s brought nothing but heartache to our family. Look what has happened. You and I have been at each other’s throats. The kids resent me. For what? A flying rat. You were right, Danae.”
“Oh Andy,” she sighed. “I’m sorry for my role in this mess. I knew how excited you were and I was awful. Tomorrow he’ll be gone and it’s my fault. But you… you let the children believe it was all you. I don’t deserve you, Andy, not one bit.” She kissed his shoulder again, hot tears dripped onto his shirt.
“Baby, there’s no reason to cry. Once it’s out of our lives, we can pretend it never happened.”
“You know there’s no going back. Icky will be a fond memory for all of us.”
“Not for me,” he said sadly. “Icky has brought me nothing but grief. I can’t wait until he’s gone.”
Danae felt guilty. “What can I do to make this better for you, Andy? Tell me, and I’ll do it.”
He shook his head. “There isn’t anything. I don’t want you to feel this, to suffer it, because it feels awful.” He turned to face her. “Tomorrow morning, I will meet with Nigel and hand Icky over to him. I was assured he won’t be harmed. It was my condition, that they don’t harm him. I just wish the kids could understand what he truly means, but they’re too young to grasp it. They’re too far removed from the Valley to know.”
“Why don’t we take the kids to Dragon Valley someday, when they’re old enough to appreciate it? You can take them to the science facility and show them where Icky lives. Maybe the Renaissance Faire will be in town. They’d love it there, Andy.”
“That’s a few years down the road, baby. That does nothing to calm the hurt of right now. It might actually open old wounds that are long healed if we do go. I don’t see an upside to it.”
She sighed. “Maybe you’re right. Now I understand why Daddy was so critical of the Valley. He said it sucked the life out of people.”
Andy nodded. “I get that. I never saw it until we brought that egg home, and now I see the destruction.”
She sniffled. “This is all my fault, babe. I’m so sorry.”
“I will get over it, Danae. I’m an adult. I won’t treat the kids any differently than I always have. I will still love them unconditionally. I will still do fun things with them as long as they want to.” He sighed deeply. “I just want this to be over, and for life to return to normal.”
“Me too,” Danae agreed. “Andy, I love you.”
“I love you too, precious. But I’m too sad for time together. Please forgive me.”
“What if I just snuggle with you?”
“Now that I’d love, honey.”
They both snuggled under the covers together, holding one another until sleep overtook them.
When Andy awakened the next morning and shuffled to the kitchen for his morning coffee, there was no happy greeting from the children. Eamon refused to look at him, and Elyse never acknowledged that he was there. He prepared his coffee and sat in front of the television, checking scores from the previous evening’s games. The next evening, he would leave for an away game in Moonlight Falls, but his heart wasn’t in it.
Danae was unusually quiet that morning, but tended to the kids before school. It was almost time for the bus, and she had their lunches packed and backpacks ready for them.
“Come on kids, kiss your daddy before you leave,” she told them. But Eamon walked right past Andy. Elyse walked to him and gave him a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, but no words were exchanged.
“Have a good day at school, guys,” Andy said to them, but it went unanswered. He sighed deeply and got up from the sofa. “I need to shower before work, Nae. You know where I’ll be.”
Danae wasn’t happy. On their way to the gate, she spun Eamon around and scowled at him. “Why are you mad at Daddy, Eamon?”
One word left his lips. “Icky.”
“We’re going to have a little talk about this when you two get home from school today. Do you understand me?” Danae was firm.
“Yes, Mama,” Eamon sighed.
“Lysie?” Danae said.
“Yes, Mama,” she replied.
She hugged them both and gave them kisses. “You two have no reason to be sad. I love you both. Have a good day.” She watched as they boarded the school bus, and the driver waved.
Andy was already dressed and ready for work when she went back inside. He was at the mirror in the bathroom adjusting his tie when she walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around him.
“I’m going to make this right with the kids, Andy. You will not leave on a trip with them angry at you. I promise.” She kissed his shoulder, and he rested his hands on the vanity.
“Remember my promise, Danae. A whole month. I mean it.”
“I won’t give your secret away. But this has to stop.”
“Leave it, Danae. They will outgrow it. And if they don’t, I’ll learn to deal with it.” He turned around in her arms and kissed her fingers.
“But babe, I have to fix this. It’s my fault.”
“Danae, please drop it. I need to take Icky to work. Do you want to say goodbye?”
She nodded. “I do.”
He took her hand and together they walked to the garage, where Icky waited for his breakfast and a cuddle or two. Andy whistled and he flew up to his shoulder and snuggled against his neck. Danae choked up with tears.
“He really loves you, Andy.”
“He’s imprinted on me. It isn’t really love in the traditional sense. He thinks I’m his mother.” He peeled the banana he carried in his hand, broke it into pieces and fed it to him. “Here,” he handed Danae the last little piece. “You feed him this. Just hold it in your palm, and he’ll take it from you.”
She placed the last morsel of food in her hand, and Icky jumped to her shoulder. Gently, he took the banana from her and licked her face. “He really is friendly. You weren’t joking when you said he was.”
“I have to go, baby.” He held his arm for Icky to perch on, and the whelp jumped to him. Andy kissed her. “I love you, my precious. Don’t be too hard on the kids. They’re just being kids.”
She wiped a tear from her eyes. “I love you, Andy. And I’m so sorry about all of this.” She patted Icky on the head one last time and he cooed at her, making the same funny noise.
“I’ll see you tonight, my sweet.” He settled Icky into the back of his car and pulled out of the driveway, through the gate and waved as he drove away.
When Andy got to work, Aaron and Kirby were waiting for him outside his office.
“What?” Andy asked, suddenly nervous.
“Nothing. We just wanted to see the whelp one last time before Nigel brings him back to Dragon Valley,” Kirby said.
Andy was visibly relieved. “The kids named him Icky. Which reminds me, they both hate me now. I wish Danae would have decided she liked him before I called Nigel yesterday morning because now she wants to keep him, too.”
Aaron chuckled. “Icky, eh? Where did they get that name?”
“I guess the shell it hatched from stunk up his room, so Eamon named it Icky. Danae said it was pretty disgusting.”
“When is Nigel due?” Kirby asked.
“Anytime, I guess. I am assuming he’s on schedule since I haven’t heard otherwise.”
Aaron patted Icky one last time and started walking toward his office. “I have much to do before practice tonight, so please excuse me. It was nice to meet you, Icky.”
“See ya later, Aaron,” Andy called as he left.
“Come get me when Nigel arrives,” Kirby said. “I’ll be in my office.” Andy nodded.
He got the whelp settled onto his shoulder and went about his business, preparing for the trip to Moonlight Falls when a knock sounded on his door.
“Come in,” he called.
“Mr. Murphy?” Nigel asked.
“Yes. You must be Nigel.” He resembled everyone else from Dragon Valley: Dark-skinned, black-haired, short and pudgy. “I’m Andy, and this is Icky.”
Nigel stared at the whelp sitting on Andy’s shoulder. “He is magnificent.”
“My children fell in love with him last night. My son named him Icky. Telling that little boy I was taking his baby dragon away was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.” The memory of it grieved him.
“You’re doing the right thing by him, Andy. The facility is equipped to care for him properly.”
Andy nodded. “He is very fond of bananas. Take good care of him, Nigel. My entire family is angry with me for arranging this. Please make it worth my sacrifice.”
“Your whelp is in good hands, Andy.”
“I’ll take you to meet with Kirby. He is awaiting your arrival.” Andy set Icky on his desk and led Nigel down the long corridor to Kirby’s office. He gently rapped on the door.
“Come in,” he called.
“Hey Kirby,” Andy said. “This is Nigel from Dragon Valley. Nigel, your benefactor, my boss, and owner of the Isla Paradiso Sharks, Kirby Kemp.”
“I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Kemp, and so very thankful for this opportunity. The historical significance of this is profound, and we are grateful.”
“It was my pleasure. Andy and his sweet family are special to me. It was no problem at all.” Kirby stood to shake his hand. “I trust your flight was comfortable?”
“Extremely, Mr. Kemp. I’ve never flown on a private jet before. It was exquisite.”
“Well, let’s get ol’ Icky ready for his trip home. I have a carrier for him, which you can keep.” Andy turned to Kirby. “Thank you again for this. It means so much to me to know he will be safe, and that he will survive.”
“You know how I feel, Andy. By the way, I’ll need you to stop by around 1:00 pm if that’s okay?” Andy nodded and shook Kirby’s hand and led Nigel back to his office.
“Come on, Ick,” Andy said, holding his arm for him to perch upon. “Time to go home.” Andy had placed towels inside the carrier he had in the box back at the house. The scent would be familiar and would help reduce stress he‘d likely suffer on the trip. Gently, he placed Icky into the carrier and secured the door. “I’ll carry him to the limousine, Nigel.”
The two men walked outside, and Andy placed the carrier in the back seat. “Let me know when you get him settled. As hard as I tried to avoid it, I got attached to him. I care about his well being, and I appreciate what you’re doing.”
“I will keep you updated, Andy. Thank you again for allowing my archaeological foundation this opportunity. He will provide much knowledge, much understanding, in the event the other eggs begin to hatch. The villagers of Dragon Valley are forever in your debt.”
Andy simply nodded, choked with emotion. He shook Nigel’s hand and watched as they drove away.
At the one o’clock meeting with Kirby, he surprised Andy with a brand new car as a congratulatory bonus. The team clinched another division title and was heading into the playoffs. The car was a cherry red, fully equipped Aston Martin Vanquish, and it was as beautiful a piece of machinery as Andy had ever seen. He nearly passed out when Kirby handed him the keys.
“Kirby, I-I don’t know what to say,” Andy stuttered. “This must have cost a bundle.”
“Well, revenue on the team has exceeded over ten times what it was before you came on board and worked your management magic. This was the least I could do. Enjoy it, Andy. You deserve it.”
“Thank you, Kirby.” He removed the keys for the old car from his keychain and left them on Kirby’s desk.
His drive from work was lonely, knowing what awaited him when he got home. Danae was helping Eamon with his homework when his car pulled into the driveway. She hadn’t talked to them yet, though she knew she needed to do it, and soon. Andy walked through the front door not expecting a warm welcome, and he was not disappointed.
“Hi baby,” he greeted Danae and walked into the bedroom. He reappeared several minutes later in his swimsuit. “I’m going to go for a swim. I need to decompress, and I don’t feel like running.”
“Okay, Andy,” she said.
Danae saw the conflict on Elyse’s face. On the one hand, she really wanted to swim with her dad. On the other hand, she was still angry with him for taking Icky away.
“What’s on your mind, Lysie?” Danae asked her.
She shook her head. “Nothing, Mama.”
“Okay you two, I need your attention. Eamon, pencil down, please.” She sat both of them down in front of her. “I need to know something from you two.” She thought about how she was going to ask and chose her words carefully. “Do you love your daddy, Eamon?”
Eamon squirmed in his seat, not wanting to answer the question. Instead of words, he mumbled, trying to stall her, hoping to not answer.
“I didn’t hear you, Eamon. Do you love your daddy, because I can tell you that man outside in the pool loves you with his whole heart and soul, little boy.”
Eamon sniffled. “I’m mad at him, Mama.”
“Why did you say you hate him? You broke his heart.” Danae noticed Elyse wipe a tear away and heard her sniffle.
“He took my dragon away from me, Mama.”
“I see. So you loved Icky?”
“Yes,” he said sadly. “I didn’t want him to take Icky.”
“Do you love Icky more than your Daddy, Eamon?”
“I see. So, do you think you could forgive your daddy, honey?”
Eamon nodded his head. “I still want Icky back.”
Danae embraced him. “Sweetie, I know you don’t understand why Icky had to go away, but someday you will. Daddy loved Icky, too, and he wanted what was best for him, even if it meant giving him up.”
“Why couldn’t Daddy take care of him?” Eamon’s soft cries tore at her heart.
“Honey, Icky is a dragon, and this isn’t his home. He needs care we can’t give him here. Icky is the only living dragon in the whole world, Eamon. He is a pretty important little dude.”
Elyse spoke up. “Really, Mama? He’s the only one?”
“Really, sweet pea. Everyone thought dragons died out years ago and would never come back. So when Icky hatched, he made history. You and Eamon are part of history, just like Daddy is, too.”
“That’s cool, Mama,” Elyse said.
“Did you take pictures of Icky last night, Mama? Daddy said you would,” Eamon asked. This was the first Danae had heard it.
“Oh honey, Daddy never told me you wanted pictures of him.” As soon as she said it, she wished she hadn’t.
Eamon sat and his face contorted, ready to cry. “He lied to me.”
“Oh no, Eamon, this is my fault! Sweetie pie, I should have known to take pictures of him without you even asking. I’m so sorry.” She threw Andy under the bus and didn’t think twice about it. Not only did she feel like a terrible mother, but now she felt like the world’s worst wife, too.
Eamon’s sobs echoed through the house. “Daddy lied to me!”
“No no, sweetie, he didn’t lie to you.” She hugged Eamon into her embrace. “Oh Eamon, I’m so sorry I messed this up for you.” Danae got emotional with their son sobbing in her arms. Elyse didn’t know what to think, because her father had never lied before. She didn’t want to believe it.
“Lysie, sweet pea, why don’t you go swimming with your dad? I know you want to,” Danae suggested as she rocked Eamon in her arms.
She thought a moment, but shook her head. “I don’t feel like it.”
“Then go play for a while, Lysie. I’ll talk to you later.”
Elyse sighed, not really wanting to leave her brother. They were in this together, unified with the same desire. But she realized Icky was gone forever, and her daddy was to blame. To a seven-year-old, it was almost unforgivable.
“Do I have to, Mama?”
“Please, sweet pea, like a good girl.”
“Okay,” she finally agreed.
With Elyse occupied, she could concentrate on Eamon. And she was nearly ready to confess everything to him, consequences be damned. The guilt of what she had done to Andy and the kids was almost unbearable.
Just as she was about to confess, Andy walked through the back door.
“I need to go pack for my trip tomorrow night. I leave from work, so morning is it,” he announced. Danae looked at him, wearing so much guilt on her face she couldn’t hide it. “One month, Danae. Keep it close,” he reminded her.
Eamon was still sobbing in her arms, and she wept with him, ashamed of herself.
Trixie returned from the library and heard the crying. In her bag, she had a book she hoped might solve the problem with Icky. She approached Danae and touched her shoulder.
“Nae, you look like you could use a break. Why don’t you and Andy go for dinner somewhere tonight, and I’ll take the kids.”
“Are you sure, Trix? The kids’ emotions are running high. It won’t be easy with Eamon crying and carrying on like this.”
“I’m sure. Go, rest together and have some fun before his trip. We’ll be fine here. I promise.”
Danae hugged Trixie and thanked her before she walked back to their bedroom to clean up. “Trixie offered to take the kids tonight so we could be together,” she announced before she sat down on the bed.
“Did you spill the beans?” He asked quietly.
She shook her head. “No, but I made it worse.”
“How could it possibly get worse?”
“Eamon asked me if I took pictures of Icky last night, and I threw you under the bus. It was a mistake, I swear! As soon as I said it, I knew I flubbed it.”
“It’s okay, Danae. You know, I’m not supposed to be their friend. I’m their father, and sometimes I have to make difficult decisions. Let it fall on me. But I decided I will not force my love on them. If they don’t want to be around me, I will comply. Maybe they will miss me on their own and come around.”
Danae wept bitterly. “Babe, I’m so sorry. This is so unfair to you. It’s killing me.”
“Let’s just go out for dinner since Trix has the kids and simply relax, forget about the whelp, and plan for the future. Let’s enjoy each other before I have to go away, honey. I need some time to unwind.”
Danae washed her face. “Where are we going?”
“That depends. Where would you like to go? Kirby’s, or that little Spanish place by the resort?”
“I don’t deserve to go to Kirby’s place, babe.”
Andy sat on the bed and pulled her to him.
“Danae, listen to me. This is not your fault. I could have defied you and kept Icky here, despite what you wanted. Realistically, he wasn’t going to stay a baby forever. Those dragons get huge, bigger than this house. What would we do with him then? It was much better this way. If the kids can’t deal with it, that’s not on you, my sweet.”
“No buts, baby. Get dressed up all pretty in something that will knock my socks off, and we’ll go to Kirby’s tonight. And then when we come home, we’ll spend the night loving each other before I have to go away. Plan?”
Danae smiled. “Plan.”
She put her hair up in a different style, dressed in a pretty peach and red ombre dress, slipped into some pumps that matched, and the pearl necklace Andy bought for her at El Sabor de la Isla. Andy dressed in a pair of tan dress slacks, a tan vest with a tie and boots. They both looked like a million dollars, and Trixie noticed.
“Danae, that dress is gorgeous. And Andy, you look like a movie star.”
“Thank you, Trix. And thank you for taking care of the kids for us tonight,” Danae replied.
“As always, my pleasure.” She motioned Andy to her and whispered. “Andy, I found an old book at the library today about the Dragon Valley dragons. I don’t know how much is lore or truth, but I thought it might be helpful with the Icky situation. Would it be okay with you for me to read it with them?”
“It couldn’t make things worse, Trix. You have my blessing. And thank you.” Andy forced a smile. “Are you ready, my precious?
Danae nodded. “We shouldn’t be very long, Trix. A few hours or so.”
“Take your time. You deserve it.”
They walked to Andy’s brand new car, and he opened the door for her, helped her in, and walked around to the other side. She settled into the soft leather seat and fastened the belt around her.
“How do you like the car, baby?”
“It’s beautiful. When did you get this?”
“Kirby surprised me with it earlier today and spared no expense with it. He said it was a bonus for the team’s success. It’s an Aston Martin.”
“I love it, Andy. Congratulations!”
He drove the familiar streets to Kirby’s place and valet parked the car. Together, they walked in, and the Maitre D’ recognized him immediately.
“Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, such a pleasure to see you. This way, please.” Andy had a permanent reservation, an exclusive table only for Danae and him.
They were seated immediately. Andy held the chair for her as she sat, and he took his place at her right side. Though he had seen her dress before, he was still amazed by her.
“Danae, how is it you get more beautiful every time I see you?”
“Oh Andy, you’re just being nice.” She blushed as he took her hand to kiss it.
“Baby, I am never dishonest with you. So believe me when I say I love you more now than I did when I married you.”
“How can you say that Andy, when I have messed everything up?”
“Nae, Icky could have never stayed as long as we wanted him to stay. He will grow into a big dragon. Even though he is friendly now, who knows what he would be like when he’s the size of a car? Or our house? And what would we feed him when he’s that big? Trixie found a book on the dragons, and she asked my permission to read it to them. I told her it couldn’t hurt. Maybe this will help them realize what Icky really is.”
“I hope the book helps, and the kids realize the truth,” Danae replied.
“Me too, my sweet.” He stared into her eyes. “Oh Danae, I almost don’t want to stick around for dinner.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. We will have plenty of time.”
Andy nodded. “As you wish, my precious.”
After they ordered, he stood and took her hand. “Dance with me?”
“I’d love to,” she answered. Since the remodel of the restaurant, there wasn’t as much room to dance, so they just stayed by their table and swayed to the music.
“You are the picture of perfection, my love,” Andy purred at her as they took their seats again. “I love how you still wear that pearl necklace. I should get you one with a big diamond on it.”
She shook her head. “No, Andy. I love this necklace. You gave it to me while we were on vacation here.”
He breathed in her vanilla perfume. “You are still my hopeless romantic.”
“I try. Sometimes I fail miserably, but I try.”
“When I get home from Moonlight Falls, let’s see if we can find a puppy for the kids. I know it’s not Icky, but maybe it would help a little.”
“Babe, it’s a great idea, and you should be the one to bring it home.”
“I wonder how Trixie is doing with the kids and the book,” Andy said as the waiter brought their meals.
Back at the house…
Trixie was finished feeding the kids and put Emmitt to bed. She gathered the oldest two and sat them down.
“I have a special book I’d like to read with you about dragons like Icky. Would you like to hear about them?”
Eamon’s eyes widened. “Yes please!” he said excitedly.
“How about you, Lysie?” Trixie asked.
“Yes please!” she squealed.
Trixie sat with them and read to them. They listened with great interest until she got to a section that explained that dragons of all colors had great potential to be dangerous.
“Even green dragons, Trixie?” Eamon asked timidly.
“That’s what it says, twerp,” she nodded. She tousled his hair.
“What does it say they can do?”
“Well, all dragons need to eat. And this says they eat animals like cows, sheep, cats, dogs, even horses. I’d imagine they could eat people, too if they got hungry enough.” She patted his head. “You have to remember, sweetie pie, dragons are wild animals. According to this book, no one has ever tamed one.” Trixie noticed the tears in his eyes as she spoke. “It looks like your daddy did the right thing, huh?”
Elyse sniffled. “I need to tell Daddy I’m sorry.”
Eamon nodded. “Me too.”
Trixie hugged them both. “That is a great idea, and I know for a fact he would love that.” She looked at her watch. “However, you two have school in the morning, and you need to get to bed. I’ll have him come tuck you in when he and your mama get home. Okay?”
Both children nodded. “Thank you for reading that book to us,” Eamon said. “I don’t want a pet dragon anymore.”
Trixie chuckled. “Me neither, twerp.” She kissed both of them and tucked them in.
Danae and Andy returned home about an hour after the kids went to sleep, and quietly stepped into the house. Trixie was awake and downstairs watching television, and she was genuinely happy to see them.
“I have some good news for you, Andy,” she said. “The kids understand about the dragons, and they told me they are ready to apologize.”
“Trixie, I could kiss you,” he replied, relief in his voice.
“I told them you would tuck them in when you got home. They both wanted to see you.”
Danae kissed his cheek. “I’m going to get ready for bed. Don’t be too long, babe.”
Andy walked to Eamon’s bedroom and watched him sleep for a moment before kissing his forehead. His eyes opened and he smiled when he saw Andy standing there.
“Hi Daddy!” he whispered. “I’m sorry I said I hate you. I don’t want Icky to eat us.”
Andy chuckled and knelt beside his bed. “It’s okay, son. Icky is a long way from here now, and we’re safe. Eamon, I love you very much.”
Eamon smiled. “I love you, Daddy. I’ll miss you when you go away tomorrow.”
“I will definitely miss you, too.” He kissed the boy’s cheek. “Let me tuck you in, snug as a bug in a rug!”
Eamon wrapped his arms around Andy’s neck. “Goodnight, Daddy.”
“Goodnight, Eamon. I’ll see you in the morning.” Andy blew him one more kiss and left his bedroom.
He tiptoed into Elyse’s room and watched her sleep. He loved that little girl more than could comprehend like he did his boys. But Elyse was his baby girl, his firstborn, and they had a special bond. He walked to her bed and knelt beside it, and kissed her forehead.
“Hi Daddy,” she smiled when she saw him. “I have something I want to tell you.”
“What’s that, sweet pea?”
“I’m sorry. I will never love Icky as much as I love you. Do you love me, Daddy?”
“Oh sweetheart, of course, I love you. You kids are my life.” He hugged her close, tears in his eyes. “You will always be my special little girl, Lysie. Never forget it.”
“Tuck me in?” she asked.
“As you wish, my little princess.” He kissed her forehead again. “I’ll see you in the morning. Sweet dreams, Lysie.”
“Night night, Daddy.”
Andy walked to their bedroom, happy for the first time since Icky made his first appearance in their lives. Danae was waiting for him.
“You look happy, babe,” she purred at him.
“I am,” he said, smiling ear to ear. “I have Trixie to thank for giving my children back to me.”
Danae gave him her best ‘come hither’ look. “I’m waiting for you, Andy. Come love me.”
“You don’t have to ask me twice, baby. Make my sendoff memorable.”
“Oh, you bet I will.”
Pose Credits For This Chapter:
Comfort Poses, Lost Children, Family Fight, First Day of School, Child Bully Poses, and Wedding Poses, by Bee at Poses By Bee and Mod The Sims.
Zutara2 – Broken by Skylar Arden at Skylar’s Sanctuary.
Kid’s Stuff by k2m1too at Mod The Sims.
Embrace, and Next To You by Spladoum at Mod The Sims.
Romantic Dinner 1 and Romantic Dinner 2 by Zhippidy at Zhippidy’s Custom Poses.
Warm Hugs by Sea at Sims-Modeli
Seafood Restaurant (Kirby’s place) by Aya20 at Mod The Sims