Monday, 28 March 2011

Note to the readers

Hi everyone,

Just a quick message to let you know that I've just started back at college for the next two weeks, so my mind will be occupied with investment techniques and strategies!  (All very dull but totally necessary, apparently.)

It's long days for me so i probably won't have enough time to update as regularly as i normally do.

Rest assured that i will get the next chapter to you as soon as possible and thanks for bearing with me ;)


Saturday, 26 March 2011

CHAPTER 3.6: That was then, this is now

Two years had past since the night the election was lost and so much had changed.

Martha Cole had visited Finlay the following day, and he once again offered her his apologies but she shook her head to dismiss them as unnecessary.

"Finlay stop all this self pity please!"  She said, "The work you put into my campaign over the last week was nothing short of inspiring, I can see that you love this City as much as i do."

"But i failed."  He protested.

"The glory is not always in the victory."  She smiled, "At least we can hold our heads high and say that we were honest and we did our best."

"The Sims of this City are soon going to realise their mistake and they will need someone to turn to, that person should be you Finlay."  She advised.

"I'll never get a job at City Hall now, Cain told me i was finished."

"So you're just going to roll over?"  She asked, "You have to fight Finlay.  I'm too old for this now but you, you're just starting out."
"If you let me I'll teach you all i have learned about governing Bridgeport, by the time Cain's first term is served you'll be ready."

"Ready for what?"  Finlay asked.

"To run for Mayor of course!" She told him.

Having Martha's support and encouragement had meant the world to Finlay, she was the person he admired most in the political world.

True to her word she imparted all her wisdom to Finlay, right up until the day she sadly passed away.

Things at home had altered over the course of time also.

Audra had celebrated her transition into old age with a small family gathering.
As she aged and her hair turned white she smiled.

She had come so far in her life and now was her time to just be with her family and her beloved husband.  They both eagerly awaited the birth of their first grandchild, and couldn't wait to be as hands on as possible with his or her upbringing.
Eliza had gone into labour in the middle of the night, and was thankful to have her parents on hand.

The had both been at her side as she gave birth to a son whom she named Grady.

Grady was born a light sleeper and a genius.

Eliza was besotted with her son, she struggled to recall the meaning of her life before she held him.

She had contacted Orlando to tell him that he was father to a beautiful, healthy boy but he had hung up on her refusing to acknowledge that Grady was his.

Audra insisted that Delta be made aware of Orlando and Eliza's affair and invited her over to the house.

But she refused to believe Eliza's story, calling her a liar and accusing her of always being jealous of her and Orlando's relationship.  Even after meeting Grady she shunned the proof that was there in front of her face.

A few weeks later Eliza had spotted Delta in town on the arm of Danny Dagger, she had obviously accepted the truth about Orlando's cheating ways and had dumped him for good.

But the damage to the cousins relationship was irreparable as she had blanked Eliza and Grady completely.

With Grady in the care of Audra and Tate, Eliza had returned to work and had turned the agency around. 

She had solved so many cases that the whole town was talking about them and with all the extra business she brought in she managed to persuade Detective Hank Malone to accept her as his business partner.

Her first order of business had been to scout out new premises in a better neighbourhood.  The agency now employed four full time members of staff and was thriving with clients.

Hank didn't much care for the agencies new look, he preferred his grungy old room but he couldn't deny that Eliza had rejuvenated his business.

And more importantly she had turned his world upside down, the day she walked into his office had been like sunshine after the rain for Hank. 

Eliza forced him to remember why he started in this business all those years earlier, to help people. 
He realised he had lost sight of that goal, but with Eliza around he felt re awakened.

She had such determination and spirit, he had never known a woman quite like her and he realised that he had never felt for anyone what he felt for her.

Little Grady was a regular visitor to the agency, and like all the office staff Hank was smitten with him. 

Admitting how important Grady and Eliza had become to him had been hard for Hank, who wasn't exactly a wear your heart on your sleeve kind of guy.

But he found that he could contain his feelings no longer and thankfully when he made his move, Eliza did not object.

She had always harboured a secret crush on Hank, but she never imagined that he could feel for her the way she felt for him.  When he kissed her he made her knees weak and her stomach flip flop, she knew he was the one.
So when Hank got down on one knee Eliza squealed with delight. 
It was the happiest she could recall feeling beside the birth of Grady, and she happily accepted.

"Hello!  Is anyone in there?"  Charlotte's voice snapped him back to the present day.

"Huh?"  He muttered.

"You were miles away!  I'm going to the bar do you want anything?"  She asked.

"Oh, sorry i was just reminiscing."  Finlay grinned embarrassed "I'll take another beer." He said waving his empty glass at her.
"Huh Huh."  Don chuckled to himself .

"What's so funny?"  Finlay asked throwing a beer mat at his friend.

"Just you man.  You should see the goofy look you get every time you look at her, Huh huh."

"Shut up, i do not!"  He protested.

"Aw i feel your pain Finn, but give it up she's got you well and truly in the friend zone."

"Um we are friends doofus!"  Finlay retorted throwing a couple of peanuts at Don for good measure, he was always ribbing him about Charlotte.

"Whatever man!  If you're just friends then why don't you let me fix you up with Brandy?"

"I'm not interested in dating one of your rejects."  Finlay sighed, "Besides i can find my own girls."

"Oh sure you just choose not to."  Don laughed.

"Would you shut up she's coming back over."  Finlay pleaded.
"So you guys excited for the gig?"  Charlotte asked placing the drinks on the table, "Chad's been practicing like crazy he says it's gonna be their best show yet!"

Charlotte was always raving about her boyfriends band Battery Acid, he was the lead singer and from what Finlay could tell a total jerk.

"Yeah, I'm probably gonna miss it."  Finlay replied, "I've got stuff to do at home."

"Oh that's a shame, they're playing their new track tonight.  Chad wrote for me it's called Hey pretty lady."  She bragged.

"Sounds awesome Charlie but i gotta help out with the wedding."  He lied, he really didn't want to watch Chad singing some dumb love song to her.

"Oh OK, I'll see you there?"  Charlotte asked, confirming her invite to Eliza and Hank's big day.

"Sure will."  Finlay nodded, draining his glass as he got up to leave.
"Hey Finlay!"  Don called, "Why'd you ask her to the wedding?  It's not too late you can still have Brandy's number."  He winked.

"I asked Charlie because she's my friend, and for the hundredth time i am not interested in Brandy, if she's so hot why don't you go out with her?"  He replied, looking over his shoulder to make sure Charlie wasn't in earshot.

Don just chuckled to himself.
Finlay rolled his eyes, but deep down he knew Don had a point. 

Why did he ask Charlie to be his plus one?  He knew nothing could happen between them with Chad on the scene, maybe Don was right it was time he moved on and started dating again. 

The only problem was that since Cherry, Charlie had been the only girl he had been interested in.
"Unca Fee Fee!" Grady shouted from the floor, he still couldn't pronounce Finlay's name but it just made him all the cuter.

Finlay grabbed the boy from the floor and tossed him in the air making an aeroplane sound.

"Maw Maw!"  Grady cried not wanting the game to stop.

"Put my son down he has a very important job today!"  Eliza exclaimed in mock horror behind them.

Finlay turned to see his sister in a beautiful white wedding gown, "You're not really going to give him the rings to hold are you?"  He asked raising an eyebrow.

"She most certainly is not!"  Audra retorted scooping Grady from Finlay's arms, "I have them in a safe place though."  She winked patting her pocket.

The day of the wedding had brought a flurry of excitement to the Traytor household, Eliza had insisted on having the ceremony in the garden where her parents had wed years before.

"You look beautiful sweetheart."  Tate enthused, "I'm so proud to be giving you away."

"Well who else would give me away but my father?"  She replied smiling at him.

"Eliza i, i wanted you to know how special you are to me."  Tate started faltering over his words as the emotion of the day welled in him.

"I know Dad."  she answered grabbing his hand and squeezing it tightly.

"Are you ready?"  He asked and Eliza nodded.
Finlay had stepped in as best man as Hank had no family or friends, his life had been so empty until Eliza had walked into it.

As she walked toward him she saw her whole future ahead of her, she couldn't imagine anything more perfect.

"I didn't realise you had hair under that hat."  She laughed, teasing him lightly, he never removed that thing!

"You still want to marry a grey haired old man?"  He asked.

"You're 42 not 100!  Besides i like it, it's very George Clooney."  She answered.

"George who?"

She shook her head, he was so out of touch but it was all part of his charm, she wouldn't change him for the world.

After the happy couple had said their vows and exchanged rings, Tate looked at Audra.  He knew she was recalling their wedding day as he had been.

Smiling he brushed the hair from her eyes, "You are still as beautiful as the day we married."  He whispered before kissing her.

The sun had set in the sky, but the party continued with plenty of food, wine and dancing.
"So what does a girl have to do to get a dance around here?"  Charlie asked grinning at Finlay.
He offered her his arm and lead her to the unofficial dance floor on the lawn.

They danced around like fools for the first couple of tracks until the radio switched to a more romantic tone.

Blushing furiously Finlay said "Oh we can sit this one out if you like?"

"No!  That's OK."  Charlie replied, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Finlay swallowed, it was the closest he had ever been to her. 
He could feel her breath warming the side of his face and the smell of her skin, like fresh linen, surrounded him.

Nervously he placed his hand on her side and swayed her to the music.
As the song played out he basked in the pleasure of her touch and scent, losing himself as the three minutes passed by like days instead. 
When the track ended, the radio in it's wisdom reverted back to a classic disco track, sending Audra and Tate into a wild frenzy as they jived like teenagers!

Charlotte's mobile sprang into action and she excused herself to go and answer the call.

Finlay loosened off his tie, suddenly feeling very warm he walked to the impromptu bar area to get another glass of champagne.
He hadn't meant to eavesdrop but he couldn't help to overhear Charlie's raised voice as he approached her, she was gesturing wildly with her arms and yelling into the phone.

"So you just left without telling me?  How could you do this?"  She yelled.

Finlay hesitated, this was obviously a private matter he should just turn around and go back to the party before she saw him there.  But he remained as if rooted to the spot, listening to her argument.

"I don't care if it is a great opportunity Chad!  You should have told me first."  She continued her tirade into the phone, "Well if that's how you feel then just don't bother coming back!"  She slammed the phone shut and slung it to the floor in frustration.

Finlay stood there like a spare part, uncertain of how to act, but as the sound of Charlotte's sobs reached his ears he sprung to life.
Touching her shoulder she spun around and fell into his arms sobbing hard against his neck.

"Charlie what is it?  What's happened?"  He asked, his voice filled with concern.

"C-Chad he's l-left me."  She answered through her sobs.

"What?  Finlay asked, thinking what an idiot, "What did he say?"

Charlotte pulled away from him and rubbed angrily at her eyes, "Battery Acid have been offered a supporting act gig on The Funky Llama's latest world tour, so he's gone."

"Come on let's get you a drink."  Finlay offered leading her back towards the party.

As they sat sipping their drinks he said,  "He's not worth one of your tears Charlie."

She sighed heavily, "I know you're right Finn but I really thought he was the one, how dumb am i?"

"You're not dumb, don't run yourself down."  He begged.

"I always fall for the wrong guy."  She berated herself, "Why can't i just find a nice guy?  Someone who treats me right like you Finlay, you're such a good guy."  She sighed.

Finlay regarded her from the corner of his eye, what did she mean someone like me? He wondered, does Charlie like me?

Wait no don't even go there, he told himself, remember last time?  His brain prompted, it was a total disaster!

He shuddered at the thought of his stupidity that night, obviously she wasn't into him that way they were just friends.

"Shall i get us some cake?"  He offered.

"Sure." She shrugged.

Shall i get us some cake!  Nice one Finn, he mentally kicked himself as he went to fetch the food.

The next day Finlay relayed the antics of the previous night to Don.

"So you're telling me that she broke up with her boyfriend and told you she wished she could date someone like you and you just brought her cake?  Are you serious Finlay?"  he asked before creasing up in fits of laughter.

"Hey come on!"  Finlay protested, "What was i supposed to do, she was upset, it's not like i could have made a move on her."

"Man you are so clueless!"  Don exclaimed, "Don't you know girl code?"

Finlay looked at him blankly.

"You know it's when a girl says one thing but she really means another, like everything is fine means everything sucks and it's all your fault."  Don explained.

"So what should i have done?"  He begged his friend for advice.

"Look when a girl says i wish i was with someone like you, she means i wish you'd ask me out!  Come on Finn grow a clue!" Don said shaking his head at his hapless friend.

"I gotta go Don."  Finlay exclaimed, realising his friend was right he had to tell Charlie how he felt.
Pulling up outside her apartment complex Finlay paid the taxi driver. 
He had rushed straight here without giving much thought to what he would say to Charlotte.

Swallowing he strode through the doors only to be greeted by the sight of Charlotte, and her suitcase.

"Charlie what's going on?"  He asked his anxiety rising rapidly.

"Chad asked me to join him on tour."  Charlie replied, the excitement evident in her eyes.

"Oh, that's erm great!"  Finlay replied, trying to sound convincing whilst cursing his timing.

"I was going to call you."  She promised, "Look I really have to go Finn my train leaves in an hour."

"Of course."  He said nodding his head.

"I'll call you from the road."  She said hugging him hastily, before walking towards the door.

Finlay's shoulders slumped and he sighed, it was hard to take having yet another girl walk away from him.  Memories of Cherry leaving without so much as a goodbye flooded his mind, he had let her go without a fight, he could not make the same mistake with Charlie.

"Don't go!"  He called as she turned to face him.

"Finn my train."  She protested, "I'm going to be late."

He pressed a finger to her lips and repeated, "Don't go Charlie, stay here.  I've wanted to say this to you for so long but i never had the guts."

"Say what Finn?"  She asked looking at his face and melting him with her eyes in the process.

He looked down suddenly afraid of what he wanted to do, he had been here before with Charlie and she had rejected him but he couldn't risk losing her. 

Summoning all his courage he reached for her.

Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her close and kissed her. 

Her lips pressed against his in reply, this time she did not pull away.

"Chad's all wrong for you Charlie, you deserve so much more."  He said when they finally parted.
"Finn! I...." She began but stopped abruptly seeming lost for words.

"I love you Charlie, stay here, with me."  He said.

"You love me?"  She asked raising her face towards his.

"I do, i have for a long time."  He admitted, feeling the weight release from his chest as he did so.

She smiled broadly, "I guess I'll stay then, since you love me."  She said pulling him close for another kiss.

"I love you too Finn."  She whispered as they parted.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

CHAPTER 3.5: Election

Eliza woke that morning with the guilt from the night before still fresh in her mind.

Orlando had left in the night, he never stayed until morning. 
She felt disgusted with herself.  Sleeping with her cousins boyfriend was lower than she ever thought she could go, but when Orlando promised her that he would end things with Delta soon, Eliza believed him.

Sipping her coffee she picked up the mornings paper trying to distract her thoughts. 

The front page was emblazoned with the headline:

Mayor Cole open to bribes?

She flicked to the second page reading the lines of the story, how did they know about this? 
The case was still open, nothing had been proved against the Mayor yet? 
Who else knew about the investigation?

She read on:

When asked about the rumours opposing
candidate John Cain commented
"Corruption has no place in politics"

FINLAY!  She had told Finlay and he had evidently told this John Cain.

Slamming the paper down on the breakfast table she stormed into his bedroom, he was in for a very rude awakening.
Finlay had finally managed to drag himself up from the floor when his sister burst through the bedroom door her face full of fury.

"What the hell did you do?"  She yelled throwing a newspaper at him.

He just stared blankly back at her as the paper landed flat on the floor at his feet.

"Finn what is it?  What's happened?"  She asked noticing the distraught look on his face.

He said nothing but nodded to the crumpled note on the floor.  Eliza retrieved it and instantly understood her brothers forlorn face.

"Oh Finn, I'm so sorry."  She exclaimed pulling him to her, "I had no idea, I'm sorry i yelled at you, but you need to look at the front page of the paper."

Finlay did as instructed and read the headline story with horror, how had this gotten out?
Suddenly the pain he was filled with was replaced with anger at yet another betrayal of his trust. 

Wiping the remnants of tears from his eyes he dressed hurriedly and headed straight for the campaign headquarters.

"Whoa Finlay, wait!"  Charlotte called trying to block his entry to John's office, she could see how angry he looked. 
"You can't go in there!"  She called in vain as he burst through the door.

"Finlay what's the meaning of this?"  John barked.

"I'm sorry Mr Cain."  Charlotte gasped, "I tried to stop him."

"That's alright Charlotte, leave us."  He demanded.

Finlay tossed the paper onto John's desk, "Did you do this?"  he asked.

"I don't know what you're trying to imply Finlay but i do not care for your tone." John replied, rising to face him.

"What happened to corruption having no place in politics?"  Finlay spat, "That's what you told me isn't it?  Was it all just BS?"

"Son, you need to calm down.  I have no idea how this story got out, but don't you think the citizens of this city deserve to know the truth?"  John reasoned.

"Yes they do, but I told you that there was no evidence against Mayor Cole.  You leaked this story just to smear her good name didn't you?"  He challenged.
"Now you listen up kid."  John snapped, his demeanour shifted and Finlay saw the anger in his face.
"The only one to blame for this story is you and that sister of yours, I told you i had nothing to do with it and if you repeat that accusation to the press I'll have you arrested, do you understand me?"

Finlay looked John Cain square in the eye, he knew he had unsettled him, the truth often did.
"I understand that you're a fake and i will do everything i can to make sure that you lose this election."

He straightened up his tie and smoothed down his jacket to compose himself before turning and walking to the door, "Oh and in case i didn't make myself clear John I quit!"  He said smiling.

"You're done in this town Finlay, I'll make sure of it."  John threatened.

Finlay walked from his office, slamming the door behind him.
"Finlay, are you OK?"  Charlotte rushed over, "What happened?"

"I just realised that everything i thought i wanted for my life was wrong."  He replied, "You were right about it all, the marriage the career the white picket fence, who was i kidding."

"Hey don't talk like that."  She soothed, taking hold of him by both arms she looked deep in his eyes,
"You weren't wrong Finlay.  Do you know how much i envy you?"

"Me?  Why?" He asked unnerved by her sudden closeness.

"Because, you're so sure of yourself, you know exactly who you are while the rest of us are just scrambling around from day to day with no real clue." She replied.

"You've got me all wrong Charlotte, I'm just as lost as the rest of you."  He answered her sadly,
"Tell Don i said goodbye."  He added before walking from the office.
Finlay had not been the only one angered by the article, Detective Malone had flipped out on Eliza as soon as she reported for work that morning.

"How many times have i told you not to blab about our cases to your friends."  He lectured.

"Finn's my brother, and he didn't know this would happen."  She defended herself.

"Well now I'm gonna have to investigate this for real."  He sighed, "If the Tribunes printing false information that came from this office then i could be in serious trouble"

"Let me help you."  Eliza pleaded.

"I think you've done enough."  He retorted gesturing for her to leave.

Both Finlay and Eliza headed home with their tails between their legs.
As they walked up the cobbled path to their door neither one of them could muster the strength to speak.

But as they entered the house their spirits were lifted as......

they were greeted by both their parents.

With the return of Audra and Tate the household was restored to some semblance of normalcy, although Finlay was still down over the split with Cherry and the loss of a job he had loved, having his Dad around helped to bring him out of his sorrow.

Tate had headed straight to his beloved garden which to his dismay he found in a state of dire need.

"I see you didn't catch the gardening bug while i was away!"  He reprimanded Finlay.

"Sorry Dad, i guess i never really understood the appeal of gardening."  He confessed.

"Sometimes it's good to come out here and just clear your head, you know get some alone time."  Tate advised.

Sitting down Tate encouraged Finlay to unburden his troubles, and he found himself spilling the details of the awful past days events.

Tate listened carefully to his son, he hated to see him so fraught over Cherry and the campaign.

"Son, i know that you're hurting right now and this may seem like nonsense to you, but believe me when i say that all of your troubles will pass.  One day not too long from now you'll be sitting here wondering what you ever had to worry about, i promise you."

"But my life is such a mess."  He cried.

"Just trust me son."  Tate answered resting a fatherly hand on Finlay's arm.
"That John Cain has a lot to answer for, I'd like to give him a piece of my mind."

"Dad!  That's all i need."  Finlay moaned, "Besides it's my fault i should have never trusted him, i guess politicians are all liars!"

"Maybe not.  Mayor Cole has always seemed fair to me, that's why she always got my vote."

"Well it doesn't matter she's never gonna give me a job after i ruined her career." Finlay moaned.

"You should pay her a visit, at least you'll get to apologise for your mistake."  Tate suggested.

Meanwhile Audra and Eliza were having a much needed heart to heart indoors.

"So how far along are you?"  Audra asked, eying her daughter sympathetically.

"What are you talking about Mom?  I'm just a bit bloated that's all."  Eliza replied rolling her eyes.

"Eliza i have two children and i was a doctor for many years, i know a pregnant Sim when i see one.  Now let me examine you."  She demanded.

Eliza relaxed her arms as her mother felt her swollen stomach, if she was right then Eliza was carrying Orlando's baby and her world was about to turn upside down once more.

"Yes I'd say in about seven months I'll be a grandmother."  Audra concluded.

"Oh Mom no!"  Eliza cried bursting into tears.

"Here, come on now."  Audra cooed holding her daughter to her until the sobbing ceased,
"You'll be alright, I'm here and I'm not leaving you again, i promise."

"It's all such a mess."  Eliza sniffed. 

She would have to tell Orlando and Detective Malone who would probably never take her back on as a private eye, her life was officially over!

The next day Eliza waited for her parents and brother to go out and she called Orlando over. 
She had started to get her head around the thought of being a mother she even felt a little excited.

She knew Orlando would be surprised by her announcement but he had told her so many times that he loved her that she didn't worry overly about his reaction.

But much to her shock Orlando was aghast at the discovery.

"Pregnant!  But we were careful."  He exclaimed.

"Accidents happen."  Eliza soothed, "I know it's a shock but now we can really be together Orlando."

"Be together!  Are you mad?  I'm not leaving Delta to come and play happy families with you.  We have a life together, a fun life that doesn't involve dirty nappies and crying brats."  He spat the words out as thought the very thought of a child repulsed him.

"If you're so happy with her then why do you come to my bed every night?"  She cried in frustration.

The sound of the words coming from her mouth made her realise what a fool she had been, he had used her all along playing on the schoolgirl crush she had developed on him years before.

"You know what Orlando don't answer that because it doesn't matter, just get out."  She demanded.

"Are you gonna tell Delta about this?"  He asked.
"Answer me!"  He yelled grabbing her arm roughly and shaking her.

"I think you've outstayed your welcome Mr Belle."  A gruff voice called from behind them.

Eliza spun around to see Detective Malone place a firm hand on Orlando's shoulder before shoving him unceremoniously out of the door.

When he returned he was dusting of his hands, "Well that's the garbage taken out."  He stated.

"T-Thanks."  Eliza managed to stammer, "What are you doing here?"

"I came to apologise to you for what i said the other day and ask if you'd come back to the agency."  He replied grudgingly as though the apology was foreign to his lips.

"You came to apologise to me?"  She clarified, "Well wonders never cease!"

"OK lets not make a big deal of it."  He replied screwing his face up in discomfort at her teasing, "Are you alright he didn't hurt you did he?"

"Not physically."  she mumbled, "I'm fine but i can't come back to the agency, not in my condition."  She looked at him shyly from the corner of her eye trying to gauge his reaction to her news.

"Oh."  He shifted uncomfortably, "Well you still got a few more months right?  Until it comes, you could still help out if you want?"

Eliza smiled, at least something was going her way today.
Finlay found himself standing outside Mayor Cole's house with his father who had persuaded him that admitting his mistake was the right thing to do. 

His palms began to sweat, he was both nervous and afraid that she would not be able to forgive him.

"Come on Son let's get this over with."  Tate said striding over to the intercom and pressing it firmly.

Martha Cole buzzed them in.

"Wow this is quite a place."  Finlay enthused as they stepped inside the gates of the Mayor's estate.

"Yes it is, especially the gardens."  Tate answered.

"This is your handy work?"  Finlay asked.

Tate nodded, he was particularly proud of this garden as Mayor Cole had been his first real client.

"Tate!"  She called from behind them, "What a pleasure."
"Martha!"  He replied in equal pleasure, "Lovely to see you again, I see the garden is looking well."

"It misses you since you retired!"  She flattered him, "To what do i owe the pleasure?"

"My Son has something he wants to discuss with you."  Tate introduced, nodding to Finlay to take up his part in the visit.

"Mayor Cole."  He began, swallowing his nerves, "It's my fault that the story about you was published in the Tribune."

The shock and disappointment registered across her face instantaneously.

"I'm so sorry it was never my intention for that to happen. You see my sister is a private investigator, she followed Mr Henley here and put two and two together."  He started rambling trying to excuse his actions.

"And she came up with five."  The Mayor concluded.

"It's true that Mr Henley visited me but we are old friends and he has been a long time contributor to my campaign.  But corruption and bribery, i would never be involved in such a scandal."  She said, shaking her head.

"I realise that now, but you have to believe me when i say that it wasn't me who leaked the story.  I can't prove it but I'm certain it was John Cain."

"It wouldn't surprise me."  The Mayor spat, "The man is a cretin, lowest of the low.  And now thanks to this story he's going to win the election."

"We can't let that happen."  Finlay burst out.

"Finlay i appreciate the courage it took for you to come and face me today, and you are clearly passionate about this election but it's a lost cause.  Cain has the support of the majority of Bridgeport and i don't have enough time to change their minds."

"We have to try Mayor Cole, please."  Finlay begged.

"We?"  She said raising an eyebrow quizzically.

"I'm sorry i know it's presumptuous after what I've done, but if you'd give me the chance to redeem myself I'm sure i can help with your campaign."

Mayor Cole pondered Finlay's offer for a while and replied, "Well it certainly can't make things any worse, lets give it a shot."

Over the week, running up to the election, Eliza and Detective Malone worked hard to get to the bottom of the scandal. 
While Finlay worked every hour God sent calling all his previous contacts and trying to persuade them to switch allegiance to Mayor Cole, but it was a tough sell and many a Sim slammed the phone down on him.

When the day of the election arrived and the voting booths were opened at City Hall, the entire city converged on the plaza to register their votes. 

Finlay greeted some of the campaigns loyal supporters who had queued to vote for Mayor Cole.  He was buoyed by the numbers he saw, he started to believe that they could win this.
That evening, as the votes were being counted, the candidates and their campaign workers gathered at the Prosper Lounge to await the result. 

John Cain took to the stage with Ethan following closely behind like a loyal lap dog. 

He addressed the crowd.
"Ladies and Gentleman and my esteemed opponent."  He began nodding to Mayor Cole, "I wanted to once more say thank you to all of my supporters, i truly believe that the good people of Bridgeport will vote for change today, a change from the old regime of the past and welcome a new, better way of governing our beautiful City."

As he droned on and on Finlay sighed and rolled his eyes impatiently, and in doing so he caught a glimpse of Charlotte in the crowd.

She looked stunning in her floor length gown, he had never seen her look so elegant. 

Tearing his eyes away he focused once more on the stage.  John was still preening and congratulating himself while Ethan smirked confidently next to him.

Finlay could feel the anger welling up in him at the injustice of it all, Eliza and Detective Malone had worked so hard to uncover the true story but still found no new evidence to help undo the damage of the leaked gossip about Mayor Cole.

"And remember that a vote for John Cain is a vote for honesty, decency and the family values which we all hold dear."  He concluded winking and gesturing to his whooping supporters.

Urgh!  Thought Finlay, how can anyone be buying this?  But the crowd appeared to be eating up his every word.

Mayor Cole took to the stage next and Finlay cheered and applauded as loud as he could supported by Audra and Tate who had insisted on attending too.

She surveyed the crowd and smiled, she had served Bridgeport for the last forty years in one capacity or another and genuinely loved the City and it's people.

Stepping forward she decided to make, what may be her last speech count.

"Good people of Bridgeport, i want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  But not just for your votes."  She began.
"I want to thank you for making this City what it is today, a thriving and prosperous place to live and a safe and loving environment to raise a family.  I wasn't fortunate enough to be blessed with children but by allowing me to care for each and every one of you throughout my many terms as Mayor you gave me more than you could ever possibly know.  So i say thank you Sims of Bridgeport."  She smiled wistfully and raised her glass in toast.

The whole room applauded her, and Finlay caught a tear before it formed in his eye. 

Hearing Mayor Cole speak like that reinforced everything that he had ever believed in and reminded him that there were good and well intention Sims in the world of politics. 

He couldn't now imagine how he had ever looked up to John Cain he was so transparent to Finlay, he could only hope that others had recognised this too.

The votes were in! 

The announcer took to the stage and congratulated both candidates on their campaigns before ripping open the envelope and revealing the newly elected Mayor as............................................................

John Cain!!

Finlay could not believe his ears, it was like a nightmare from which he could not wake. 

He looked around to see people congratulating John Cain and Ethan, who was grinning from ear to ear threw a smirk his way.

"I'm sorry Mayor Cole."  Finlay said before running from the room. 

He couldn't bear to be in the same room as John and his supporters, he knew it was all his fault that the election had been lost.

Running from the lounge he headed out onto the streets of the city, not caring where he ended up.  He ran so far that when he finally came to a standstill he was at the banks of the river.

Panting for breath he looked up, the moon was heavy in the sky, it would soon be dawn.

"Finlay."  A voice called out behind him.

He spun around to find Charlotte, "How did you find me?"

"I've been driving around for hours looking for you."  She replied, "Are you alright?"
"Not really."  He shrugged, "I cost Mayor Cole the election and now Bridgeport is in the hands of a liar."

"Finlay, it's not your fault."  She replied, resting her hand gently on his arm, "People voted for John that's why he won not because of some story, you're being too hard on yourself."

Finlay looked into her ocean green eyes, filled with concern.  Why had she spent half the night looking for me?  He wondered, then it occured to him, Charlotte likes me!
If you asked him now he couldn't recall why he thought it was a good idea to try and kiss her, but that's exactly what Finlay did.
But unfortunatley his idea did not pan out as he'd hoped as she dodged his advances and pushed him away.

"Finlay!  What are you doing?"  She yelled, stumbling backwards.
"I'm sorry I thought that's why you were here!"  He exclaimed, confused at how he had managed to misread the situation.

"I'm here because i was worried about you and i thought we were friends." She said eyeing him suspiciously.
"I have a boyfriend Finlay!"  She threw at him.

"I'm sorry Charlotte."  Was all he could think to say before turning and once again running away from his shame.