7 years later…..
Ben & Sofia Murdock – age 81 & 80
Long ago retired, the aging couple moved in with Dannie and Cole. Ben is in a wheelchair stemming from hip and knee problems. They love spending time with their huge extended family and, of course, with each other.
Cole & Dannie Murdock – both age 61
Cole is gearing up for his retirement and plans to turn the clinic over to his youngest daughter Connie and her fiancé, Ray Dean. Connie followed in her Dad’s footsteps and became a veterinarian. Dannie still publishes her romance novels now that she has no children at home to steal her time. Sometimes she and Sofia can be seen sharing ‘tiramisu’ recipes to help spice up her novels.
Evan & Reagan Connor, age 43 & 36, Grayson age 14 and identical twins Alexandra and Cassandra age 11
Evan will take over management of C&M with his wife Reagan at his side. Grayson, their oldest, is a quiet teen, very smart and most would call him a nerd, always with his nose in a book. He’s discovered girls, but is too embarrassed to approach them. With his good looks, they’ll likely be approaching him soon. The twins, Alex and Cassie are inseparable and identical in appearance, although they are as different as night and day in personalities. Alex takes after her mother. She is artistic and loves to draw and paint and doesn’t mind being alone. While Cassie is just the opposite and very much the social butterfly. She can talk to anyone about anything and make them feel important, very much like her father. The Connors are a very close knit family.
Ryan & Maribel Murdock, age 36 & 42, Samantha 14 and Tyler 11.
Ryan runs a successful gym called Total Mind and Body which he has managed to franchise throughout the state. Samantha is a pretty young teen, however she looks and acts much older than her 14 years. She is very involved in child modeling and acting with the help of her stage mom Maribel. Tyler is athletic like his dad, but very hyperactive. He likes video games and playing music. They’ve put him on medication for ADHD, which he hates. He doesn’t like being ‘different’. Ty and Sam don’t get along very well and tend to avoid each other.
Elliott and Taylor Gray, age 42 & 38, Jackson – age 10
Elliott and Taylor own and operate a successful chain of high end English Pubs. The couple decided to take advantage of his experience with similar restaurants growing up in London. They spend time traveling around to train chefs for the new restaurants they open in addition to managing the original restaurant in Newcrest. Jackson, their son, is best friends with his cousin, Tyler and thinks he hung the moon. The cousins spend a lot of time together roughhousing and playing video games. Jackson’s parents would’ve preferred he showed more of an interest in the family business, regardless, they adore their son.
Connie Murdock age 26 and Ray Dean, her fiancé age 28
Connie lives with her fiancé in Newcrest. They are both Veterinarians, having met at her father’s practice in Willow Creek. They plan to open another clinic in Newcrest after they get married. Newcrest’s population has grown so much, it’s now in dire need of a pet clinic.
Noah & Ami Redcliffe – age 61 & 55
Noah and Ami, also empty nesters since Will, their only child, got married, are in the process of looking forward to retirement. They are handing C&M over to Evan and Reagan to finish out the last phase of homes and retail lots. It’ll be bittersweet for Noah as he started working there right out of high school. They are confident in turning it over to the grand daughter and son-in-law of one of the founders, Ben Murdock.
William and Genesis Redcliffe. Age 28 & 26.
Both attorneys, Will and Genesis met during his senior year at law school. They married shortly after she graduated. Will opened a law practice in Newcrest specializing in Corporate Law, his primary client being C&M, his family’s business. After they married, Genesis joined the practice and added family law since there was a bigger need for family law in Newcrest than corporate law.
Onwards to Gen 4….
Cassie and Alex’s bedroom…
“Did you hear what Mom and Dad said?” Cassie asked her sister excitedly.
Alex continued browsing on her tablet while she listened to her sister. She was accustomed to her non-stop jabber. “No, what?” asked Alex automatically, even though she knew Cassie would’ve told her anyway.
Cassie flopped down on her bed. “Sam is going to audition for a starring role in the upcoming season of Strangerville!” she squealed. When Alex didn’t answer, she frowned. “Don’t you know what that means?”
Alex put down her tablet, laid back on her own bed and sighed. “That she’ll get more stuck up?” Alex was unimpressed with their older cousin while Cassie was a bit star struck, though who knew why. Sam was snobby and always talking about herself. Tyler, Sam’s brother, was almost as hard to take as his sister, but not because he was stuck up. He was just sooo loud and rough. Nothing like their own brother who was quiet and usually played nice, or kept to himself. Grayson was super smart, already talking about what college he wanted to go to.
Cassie burst out laughing. “No silly! We’ll know someone famous! Maybe we can meet the guys on the show! That would be soooo awesome!”
“Oh Cassie,” said Alex and laughed, in addition to being star struck, Cassie was also boy crazy. Not that Alex didn’t like boys, she just didn’t need anyone else, as long as she had Cassie. And it was a full time job keeping Cassie calm. Maybe she was a little like Tyler. They said he had ADHD. Maybe she had just the ADD part.
There was a knock on the door and both girls quickly sat up as their father walked into their tiny bedroom. “I thought I heard your voice Cassie. It’s past your bedtime. You two have school tomorrow.”
“Okay Daddy,” they said in unison.
Evan began to laugh. “Do you two plan that?” he asked, shaking his head.
“No Daddy,” they said, again together. Alex and Cassie looked at each other and began to giggle uncontrollably.
“Love you Daddy,” said Alex.
“I love you more!” said Cassie.
“Do not!” shot back Alex.
“Girls! Enough already,” said the object of their argument. They both looked at their father and giggled. “Am I going to have to separate you two?” he asked, his eyebrow raised in a warning.
Alex could tell he wasn’t serious, but wasn’t surprised when Cassie panicked. “No!” said Cassie quickly, “We’ll be quiet. I promise.” Even though Cassie was somewhat of a social butterfly, she hated being separated from her twin. Even in school, the classes they had apart from each other were hard for Cassie. But the stupid school insisted they needed to become their ‘own person’. They already were their own person. That was just dumb. Alex didn’t mind as much as Cassie did, although she did miss her sister’s incessant chatting. It was strangely comforting.
“I promise too Daddy,” said Alex finally, “Goodnight.”
This was Alex’s favorite part. When their mom or dad tucked them in and kissed them Goodnight. It made her feel warm inside.
After settling down the girls, Evan made his way to his son’s room to make sure he was in bed too. He was ready for alone time with his wife. He knocked on Grayson’s door and when he didn’t answer, Evan peeked in to see if he was already asleep.
Not asleep, far from it. Grayson was sitting in front of the PC, talking softly to someone through his headset. “I don’t think she likes me,” he said to whoever was on the other end, most likely his best friend Greg.
“Grayson!” called out Evan, loud enough for his son to hear, but not loud enough for whoever was on the other end of the call to hear.
Grayson jumped, “I-gotta-go-see-you-at-school,” he said, quickly running his words together and pulling off the headset.
Evan sat down on the bed and Grayson swiveled his chair around. “Girl problems?” asked Evan.
“Gah, Dad. No. Why did you sneak up on me?” Grayson was clearly embarrassed.
“I didn’t. I knocked, but you didn’t answer, so I opened it to check on you. Want to talk about it?”
Grayson sighed softly before answering. “There’s this girl in my math class and Greg said he thought she likes me, but she won’t even look at me.”
“Maybe she’s shy?” suggested Evan.
“I don’t know. Greg’s gonna ask her best friend tomorrow and see,” he said.
“Oh. I see. You like her,” surmised Evan, unable to keep the grin off his face.
“Whatever,” said Grayson and tried unsuccessfully not to smirk. “I was gonna ask her to the Fall Dance.”
“Well, let me know if you need any pointers,” said Evan biting back a laugh.
“Whatever, Dad,” said Grayson and rolled his eyes.
“Okay. Got your homework done?” asked Evan and Grayson’s eye roll got bigger as his shoulders slumped. Right, thought Evan, my son is a little genius. Even girl troubles wouldn’t keep him from his homework – unlike Cassie.
If not for Alex, she’d probably be diagnosed with ADHD, just like Tyler. He figured it must run in the Murdock family. He often called Alex her Ritalin because she had a way of keeping her sister focused. “Okay, then, jump in bed, sounds like you’ve got a big day tomorrow. Good luck with … oh, what is her name?”
“Veronica,” he said plainly.
Evan stood up, but didn’t try to hug or kiss him goodnight. He knew at 14, Grayson thought that was baby stuff. At least he still allowed his mother to hug him and kiss his cheek. She’d be devastated if he didn’t. Evan figured it must be okay for moms but uncool for dads. He clapped his son on the shoulder on the way out instead. “Okay, good luck with Veronica. G’night.”
Evan softly shut the door and went to find his wife. He found her sitting outside with a glass of wine. Looking amazing. How had he managed to get so lucky? A beautiful wife and three wonderful children. He figured he was probably biased, but he had zero complaints. He walked out to join her.
“Here you are and with wine to boot?” he said. “Hard day?”
She looked up at him with those big green eyes. “No, not really,” she said and smiled, “It’s a beautiful night and I wanted to enjoy it with you. I already poured you a glass.”
Evan picked up the glass and moved to sit next to her. “Our son has his first crush,” he said.
“Oh no, Evan,” she said, “how do they grow up so fast? It just seems like yesterday that he was born. God I hope the teenage years are as easy as it has been so far and our angels don’t morph into full blown, hormonal strangers. I feel bad for Ryan though. He already has his hands full with just his two.”
“Well,” said Evan, “I think Sam is a product of her mother, maybe Ryan too – sorry Reagan. But poor Tyler, well, he simply can’t help it. He doesn’t have an Alex to keep him focused.”
“Yes, Alex does seem to calm Cassie. I just hope they’re doing okay,” lamented Reagan, “The last time I spoke to Ryan, he seemed really down. Maribel is such a stage mom. She only focuses on Sam and has no time for Tyler, or Ryan either, it seems. Sam’s a beautiful girl, but …”
Evan pulled Reagan close. “I know babe. Sadly, our kids don’t even like being around them and I’m sure Ryan knows,” said Evan. “Maybe it’s the difference in ages plus the opposite sexes. But Sam can be hard to take and Tyler is just … Tyler. I wish I had half that kid’s energy.”
“Don’t we all,” agreed Reagan and took a sip of her wine. “But I do worry about Sam. You’re right, she’s learning her values from her mother. Both Sam and Maribel have their heart set on this Strangerville thing. Maribel’s convinced she’s going to get the part. If she doesn’t, I think she’s going to be more upset than Sam. And if she does, they’ll have to move to Del Sol Valley during the filming. Ryan and Tyler won’t be able to go. And honestly, Evan, I’m not sure if Maribel even cares. I was hoping they would be as happy as we are. Maybe they were for awhile, when the kids were little.”
Evan sighed deeply. “A tiger can’t change their stripes Reagan.” He really hoped Mari had changed, but slowly over the last 15 years, she’d morphed back into the same attention grabbing, money hungry person she was during his own short marriage to her. “The lure of fame and wealth is just too powerful. She gets drunk on it. And why are we talking about her when I have you sitting right here and our own kids are in bed asleep?”
Reagan giggled. “Because you’re not kissing me?”
“I can fix that,” he said and leaned into her and kissed her deeply. He wanted her to know exactly how much she meant to him and that she still turned him on. Even after 14 years of marriage, he had never wanted anyone but her. He came up for air, “How about we go back inside?”
“Who says we have to go inside?” she whispered in his ear, her voice breathy and sexy making his pants instantly tighter.
“Hot tub?” asked Evan, trying to think of a place they wouldn’t easily be discovered.
Reagan grinned. “Turn out the lights,” she instructed.
Evan quickly did as instructed. When he headed back over, Reagan got up, making a show of slowly peeling off her dress while she made her way across the now darkened yard to the hot tub. Evan groaned watching her performance.
Once she was in, he mimicked her and stripped himself. He enjoyed the way she was watching him, her eyes full of both lust and love.
He climbed in and moved over to her to where she was sitting, smirking at him. He took her in his arms and kissed her softly. “I love you. God, you’re perfect,” he said, his voice husky with his need for her.
When Reagan climbed on top of him and joined their bodies, he almost lost it. “Fuck Reagan,” he muttered and grabbed her hips to try and still her movements so he could recover.
But his Reabear knew what she wanted and slow wasn’t on her agenda. She put her hands on his and helped set the tempo. They quickly went over the edge together, collapsing into one another in a breathless heap in the steaming bubbles.