The Journey Collection
has been compromised, but we’d like for you to consider coming on as a coach. Jerry left, and we’re looking for a fresh new leader for special teams.”
    “You’re offering me a job?” Travis laughed. Max huffed and ran out of the house. The screen door slammed shut behind him. Travis took a step to follow him, but Penelope shook her head and chased after him. Travis sighed and leaned back against the wall. “No.”
    “What?” Stewart paused. “You can’t be seriously turning down a job?”
    “I — I am,” Travis stammered. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate the offer, Stewart, but my life isn’t in Miami anymore. I’m sorry, but I have to respectfully decline your offer.”
    “You won’t get another one, Travis,” Stewart cautioned him. “Not from me anyway.”
    Sighing, Travis replied, “I know, but I still have to say no. Sorry, but I have people who are counting on me and I can’t let them down — not again.”
    “Well, okay, I guess if there’s nothing I can do to change your mind. I mean, hell, Travis, you didn’t even hear how much I’d be paying you or anything.”
    “No, sir, I didn’t, but like I said, I can’t accept it. Money isn’t going to make me change my mind, either.”
    “Not even for the high end of seven figures?” Stewart asked.
    “No,” Travis said. “I’m sorry.”
    Stewart huffed. “Okay, well, I guess that’s it. We’ll keep to the terms of your current contract, but after that, we’re done.”
    “Thank you, Stewart, for everything. I’ve loved my time with the Sharks.”
    “You’re a good player, Travis. Probably one of the best I’ve seen. I hope you know what you’re doing.”
    Travis moved over to the screen door and looked out at Penelope and Max sitting on the front steps. “I know exactly what I’ve giving up — and what I’m gaining.”
    Ending the call, Travis placed the phone on the coffee table before he opened the screen door. Penelope and Max looked back at him. Both of their eyes were red, and their cheeks were stained from their tears. Penelope stood up and walked past him without a word. Travis reached out for her hand, stopping her from going inside. She looked back at him but didn’t say anything as she pulled her hand from his grip. The door closed behind Penelope, leaving Max and Travis on the porch.
    “Are you going to leave now?” Max asked. The despair in his voice tugged at Travis’ heart.
    With a sigh, Travis sat on the step next to him. “No,” he said.
    Max’s head whipped up, and he smiled. “No?”
    Travis shook his head. “I can’t leave you, Max. You and your mom — well, you’re my family. I can’t be away from you anymore.”
    “What about the Sharks?” Max frowned. “They offered you a job, right? Are you just gonna abandon them now?”
    “They don’t need me anymore.” Travis shrugged his shoulders. “I had a good career, but now, I’m ready to stay home.”
    “And home is with me and my mom?”
    Travis inhaled a sharp breath and nodded. “If you’ll have me.”
    Max scoffed. “Dude, of course we will.” He stood up and wrapped his arms around Travis. “I’ve been waiting for you to come home. Don’t leave us again. We need you.”
    Travis’ lips trembled as he hugged his son back. “I need you, too. You have my word that I will not leave you.”
    “I hope your word is worth something, Travis,” Max said, pulling back. The sound of the screen door opening pulled their attention to Penelope. “I’m gonna go shoot hoops at the courts.”
    “Be safe,” Penelope called after him. Max waved her off and took off down the driveway. She sat next to Travis, sliding her hand into his. “Did you mean it?”
    “Mean what?” Travis brought their hands up in front of him. “Did I mean it when I told him that I need him? Or maybe you’re referring to my promise.”
    “Both,” she whispered, tilting her head back and meeting his gaze.
    “I did. Coming home and meeting Max . . .

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