Sunny traveled with me to Egypt to help me with the Sphinx, but in the end I had to complete the quest for the Sphinx’s Grace myself. To be honest, the tomb was not as difficult to navigate as that of the maze to obtain Pangu’s Axe. Though there were many traps to overcome, the route was fairly direct. I eventually made it to the central chamber where I faced an upright statue of Anubis.
I’m not sure how I knew what to do, but I did. I sat cross legged and began my mediation. I could feel the power of the Sphinx wash over me. It seemed to sift through all of my memories. It started with my parents, then Kindra and Jack, then it flashed through the memories of my travels and quests. Finally it sifted through my relationship with Therese and then with Sun Young Kim. The whole time I was watching my life passing before my eyes, an overwhelming feeling of peace filled me.
Mine hadn’t been a bad life. Although I had messed up with Jack and again with Therese, mostly I had a lot of happy memories. As I realized this, I heard the voice of the Sphinx in my head and all around me:
“You have found your center, demonstrated your strength, and discovered your heart. I will grant you the Sphinx’s Grace. You have been judged worthy. May the remainder of your life be equally blessed.”
And my life was blessed. From Egypt Sunny and I traveled back to China where we purchased a vacation home. I wanted Sunny to feel like we were always be able to return to her country. But, I wanted to get married surrounded by my family. For that we had to travel back to Desert Shores.
This time I didn’t try for a quick ceremony and causal affair. We had a lavish wedding outside at the Whimsy Park. Sunny wore a traditional red Chinese wedding dress. I wore an exquisitely tailored black tux.
When I was told I could kiss the bride, everyone cheered. Then my uncle Caleb started to play his bass and we kicked off our reception party with an opening dance. Finally, we sat down to eat our wedding dinner. It was probably the best day of my entire life.
I wasn’t the only person who was extremely happy on my wedding day. My cousin Emma was also feeling blessed. While I had been struggling to figure out how to cure my mummy’s curse, Emma had found love with one of her co-workers, Wayne Keaton.
She’d been seeing him since Anabeth’s birthday. I met him at the party, but I’d been so wrapped up in my own problems that I didn’t pay attention to him that much. On some level, I suppose I knew that he and Emma were going out together. I felt badly that I hadn’t really been paying that much attention to my cousins, but I was very happy for Emma. She and Anabeth both deserved to have the happiness of having a complete family.
Several days after Sunny and I were married, Wayne and Emma also exchanged vows. Theirs was a simpler ceremony held in our back yard. Emma looked like a fairytale bride.
That same day, it was Anabeth’s birthday again. I was struck at how much she took after my aunt Samantha, though she did have my uncle Edmund’s deep green eyes. The only thing I could see in her that reminded me of Jack (and of myself) was her nose.
She was a sweet natured girl who got along well with Wayne. He treated Anabeth like his own daughter. He helped her with her homework at night and taught her how to play Gnubb. It was good to see Anabeth with a father-figure in her life.
Sunny and I honeymooned in France. I had always wanted to see that country and so had she, so it was only fitting that we went there together. Never had I seen a more picturesque countryside!
Despite what people might have expected, Sunny and I didn’t spend our entire honeymoon in bed. We actually managed to do some exploring, too. It was a different experience for me to have someone else with me when I was searching through the tombs, but Sunny was a good companion.
The best part of exploring, though, had to be sleeping in the tombs. Sunny, who is an adventurous soul, didn’t balk at spending the night underground. She was the perfect traveling companion.
She also joined me on my fishing expeditions. I tried to keep up with my profession, but I had never really been that good at it. It was more fun to fish with Sunny under the stars in France. Then, when we were tired, we slept out in the new tent I had purchased.
Of course we couldn’t stay in France forever, but we had such a good trip that we knew we’d be going back.
At home Sunny and I both continued our martial arts training. Sunny had always wanted to master the art. I, who had only learned the art to cure the mummy’s curse, simply found it a peaceful way to pass the time.
After we had been home for a week, Emma announced that she and Wayne were expecting a baby. I was so happy for them. This time Emma’s pregnancy would be perfect, I knew. She had the loving support of her husband and she was truly happy.
The same day that Emma made her announcement about the baby, Shelby also made an announcement. She had gotten a promotion at the station and was being transferred to Sunset Valley.
“That’s fantastic, Shelby! But don’t you want to stay here with Emma and Anabeth?” I was worried that Shelby was feeling like she was left out of Emma’s life.
“Of course I want to stay, but Emma doesn’t need me here. She’s finally happy with her life. It’s time for me to start living mine.”
“But do you have to do it in Sunset Valley?” I really didn’t want to have my cousin leave. She’d always been a part of my life. I would miss her.
“I am looking forward to going to Sunset Valley. You know I have Tragedy cousins there. I’ve never met them, but they’re triplets about the same age as me and Emma. Dad always talks about his brothers and their wives. I guess there’s a whole Tragedy clan over there.”
“At least you won’t be lonely,” I said. “But Emma and I will miss you.”
“I’ll miss you guys, too, Charlie. But I’m excited. I think this is going to be a great move for me.”
Right after Shelby left town, Sunny started to get really sick in the morning. We were really hoping she might be pregnant. Still, when we finally had the pregnancy confirmed, I was pretty surprised and excited.
“I’m going to be a father!”
“Yes. I hope we have a girl. Is that ok? You don’t want a boy, do you?”
A boy would be great, but when I pictured a little girl who looked exactly like her mother, I knew that I also wanted a girl. “I think a girl would be perfect.”
We had a party to announce the pregnancies of both Emma and Sunny. Kindra was very happy to finally become a grandmother. Sunny, who was a little intimidated by Kindra who was very famous as a business woman, was just happy that Kindra was happy.
Caleb, Leslie and Dillon were also happy for us. Leslie and Sunny talked about what we were going to name the baby. Dillon, who had just gotten married to a local girl named Hermia, told me that he was glad it was me and not him becoming a father.
“You’re a lot older than me, dude,” he said. “I want to enjoy being married first.”
Time passed and Emma and Wayne became the parents of a little boy named Johnny. They were really happy. Both of them had wanted a boy. Emma said that she always wanted to have one of each and now she had both a daughter and a son.
A few weeks later, Sunny and I were fishing on the beach when she went into labor. I panicked a little, which is only natural when you’re a first-time father. But I did manage to pull it together and get Sunny to the hospital.
After a few hours, Sunny delivered our healthy son, Will. Although he was not a girl, we weren’t disappointed. I was so proud of Sunny and so much in awe of Will. He was so small and perfect. I took one look at him and knew the most profound love.
Life continued on after the boys’ births. But tragedy came with it. My aunt Sam got pancreatic cancer. It was inoperable and we lost her. Uncle Eddie was heartbroken.
“I always expected to go first,” he said at her funeral. “She was like the cheese in my sandwich,” he continued, using food metaphors to explain his love for her. He never quite got over her loss. No matter what Emma did to comfort him, he continued to grieve. Finally, Emma told me that she was going to move in with her father.
“He needs me,” she explained at the party we were having for Anabeth and Johnny. “Since mom died, he’s been alone in their huge house. Maybe if we move in, he won’t think about her so much.”
What was I going to do? I would miss Emma and her family when she was gone. But Edmund did need her. Even though he tried to enjoy the party and talked to uncle Caleb about music and the restaurant, I could tell he was very depressed. He even said he was going to retire.
“Dude, I just can’t face the restaurant anymore without Sam. I’m going to sell it.”
Uncle Edmund still managed to play the birthday song for little Johnny while Emma helped him blow out his candles. And he continued to play when Anabeth blew out her own candles. But when he got a good look at the teenaged Anabeth, he gasped in shock. She reminded everyone of aunt Samantha.
When he left the party, he kissed Anabeth on the cheek and told her that her grandmother would have been proud of her. She had grown into a beautiful girl just like Sam had been. I knew in that moment that Emma was making the right decision to move in with Eddie. With her and Anabeth living with him, he’d get over his depression.
Our life was pretty quiet with my cousins gone. Both Sunny and I wanted to go to China, but we felt that Will was too young to travel. So we occupied our time with mundane things. For me, I spent most of my time tinkering with or fixing the appliances in the house.
Sunny spent a lot of her time practicing martial arts in the back yard. When she was pregnant with Will, I had advanced to brown belt. She wanted to catch up with me. The only problem was that we soon suspected that she was pregnant again.
Will had reached the toddler stage, so it was a good time for us to expand our family. We were very proud of him. When we brought him over to Emma’s to play with Johnny, we found that he was much more advanced than his older cousin. I didn’t want to say it and possibly jinx him, but I suspected he might be a genius. Maybe all fathers feel that way about their sons.
Unfortunately the news that we were expecting another baby was overshadowed by bad news. Kindra, my second mother, had died. She was working in her office when she suffered a heart attack. Caleb was devastated, of course, but he did his best to make me and Leslie and Dillon feel comforted. I didn’t think it would hurt as much to lose Kindra as it did to lose Mina and Greg, but it did.
It broke my heart that Kindra wasn’t around to see the birth of the twins, like Leslie and Dillon, we had boy and a girl. We named them Paul and Kara.
However, I do think that Kindra must have been looking down on us, because as the twins grew up, they both grew into the vibrant red of Kindra’s hair—the same hair that she passed down to me.