Finlay stepped up to the podium, his speech clutched in his palm.
The decision to run against Marcus for class president had been met with ridicule by both his competitor and his cronies.
"Ha Finlay Traytor thinks he can win against you Marcus!" Colin Parsons had snickered.
"It's hilarious!" Ash Singh agreed, "Who's going to vote for that class clown?"
But away from his friends, Marcus wasn't so confident.
The skills of leadership came naturally to Marcus, instilled in him from an early age by his overbearing father. He had the necessary confidence to win the election as he had in previous years, but Finlay had something that Marcus didn't.
People seemed to actually like him and Marcus realised that could be a vote winner.
Finlay looked out at the sea of faces staring back at him, his throat became constricted and the piece of paper containing his speech crumpled under the weight of his nervous fist.
Straightening the speech out on the podium he glanced at the page.
The words seemed to dance in front of his eyes and would not focus.
He could hear people begin to snicker, clearing his throat he began to speak.
"My fellow classmates." the words fell uncomfortably from his lips.
Why was he so nervous? His hand was shaking and he could feel his usual confidence failing him.
He Couldn't understand these feelings, he never felt nervous or afraid in class or around his friends.
The confidence to say what he thought had never failed him before.
He realised then that his everyday life wasn't scripted, his thoughts and his opinions came naturally to him.
Tossing the speech aside Finlay looked up and fixed the audience with his trade mark smile.
"You know I don't know about you guys but sitting listening to someone babble on about school policies isn't my idea of fun." He quipped.
"Look you all know me, you can all count on me to represent your needs at this school and if you vote for me i promise there will be no more boring speeches!"
Everyone was silent, the pupils looked around at each other for what felt like forever.
Then they started to applaud, they cheered and whooped with an enthusiasm usually reserved for a Llama's game.
As he got down from the stage Cherry Adams rushed over and gave him a great big hug.
She enveloped him in such a sweet aroma, it was the first time he realised she actually smelled like cherries too.
"Dude you were awesome up there!" Brody exclaimed, "Man you get my vote for sure."
"Thanks Brody, but i kinda though i already had it." Finlay laughed, "Lets hope you're not the only one."
"Look out here comes Marcus." Brody nudged his friend.
"Great job Finlay!" Marcus stated sarcastically, "Yeah I'm sure that's exactly what the people want, a stand up comedian for president." He sneered loudly.
"Get outta here Marcus." Brody instructed, creating a fist to scare off the creep.
Marcus retreated to his waiting group of friends laughing the whole way. If that was the best Finlay Traytor could do, then this election was in the bag!
"He's right." Finlay sighed, "I blew it, i shoulda stuck to the speech."
"Don't listen to him!" Brody retorted, "Listen to your adoring fans." he gestured to the crowd of well wishers
But Finlay knew that to win he needed votes not fans, there was no way the class would take him as a serious contender.
The day of the election results arrived, and Finlay sat nervously amongst his friends awaiting Principal Hall's announcement.
"Good luck Finn" Cherry smiled.
"Thanks." He whispered, his voice cracking.
As Principal Hall took to the podium Finlay saw Marcus sitting confidently at the front, his cronies patting him on the back as if the outcome was pre-determined and his victory inevitable.
"I'd firstly like to congratulate both candidates, i think we can all agree they did a fine job." Principal Hall stated, eliciting a flat applause from the class.
"Well then i can now announce that your class president for senior year is...............................
Finlay beamed with amazement as his name was called, he couldn't believe he had actually won!
"Yes! In your face Marcus!" Brody jumped up from his seat yelling.
After the announcement everyone crowded around Finlay congratulating him and slapping him on the back.
"Man look at Marcus's face!" Brody exclaimed, "He's real mad, let's go rub it in."
But Finlay knew the right thing to do was to shake his opponents hand.
"I just wanted to say no hard feelings." Finlay said offering his hand for Marcus to shake.
But Marcus pushed it aside sneering, "Huh! If that's what the idiots at this school want then you're welcome to the stupid job! You're popularity will only get you so far Finlay." He spat before storming out of the assembly hall.
Finlay enjoyed his new role over his final year of school, he loved representing the needs of the students at board meetings and his confidence swelled with each speech he made.
He also found himself spending more and more time with Cherry.
He liked the fact that Cherry, unlike some of the other girls in school, never threw herself at him.
Finlay found himself wondering if he kissed her would she taste like cherries too?
She was certainly sweet! He wasted no time in asking her to go steady.
A couple of days before graduation his Mom and Dad called a family meeting.
"You both know that I've been working on raising the profile of the anti serum." Mom started, "Well I've been given a fairly substantial donation and I've decided to set up a foundation in Dr Kaminski's name."
"That's great Mom." Finlay replied, "Do you need us to volunteer?"
"That's very sweet of you to offer honey, but it's not what i wanted to tell you." Audra explained.
"You see there's a lot of work involved in starting the foundation, it will probably require me to travel. So I've decided that this is the perfect time to hand over the house to one of you."
Eliza and Finlay looked at one another, they both knew that this day would come, but neither was prepared to hear their mothers choice.
"I've decided that the responsibility should be Finlay's." Audra finished.
"Really? Me?" Finlay asked, "But Eliza's the eldest."
"Does this mean i have to move out?" Eliza asked.
"No sweetheart of course not, this is still your home. But i want Finlay to take over the running of the house and the finances too." Audra answered.
Audra drew Eliza to one side and said, "I hope you're not too disappointed? It's just that Finlay really has his head screwed on, what with his role as class president and all, i think he'll do a great job." She explained.
"Mom it's OK." Eliza answered, "I don't mind really."
Eliza fixed a smile on her face to reassure her mother, she wasn't mad at Finlay he probably was the more responsible one but something made her doubt her mother's reasoning.
Could this have anything to do with her snooping into her mothers past? Something told Eliza that there was more to her mothers decision than she was prepared to admit.
The weekend following graduation, it was Finlay's turn to grow into a young adult. Naturally his mother threw a big party for him.
Cherry, who had her birthday the previous week came as did Delta and Orlando and all of his family.
He glanced at his parents, they were so excited whooping and cheering the loudest.
Both Audra and Tate were so proud of Finlay who had graduated top of his class, they were certain he would go onto achieve great things with his life.
As he pondered what to wish for he realised he already had so much, now that his Mom had handed him reign of the house he didn't need to worry about money.
But there was one wish he had pertaining to a question he planned on asking Cherry that night.
As he blew out the candles he wished for her answer to be yes!
Finlay developed the charismatic trait! And decided to pursue a career in politics, after all his role as class president had more than prepared him for the job.
Cherry enveloped him in a big hug surrounding him with her individual fragrance. "Happy birthday Finn." she breathed in his ear.
"Cherry, there's something i want to ask you." He started, eager to hear her reply.
"Ooo! But can i go first?" She enthused.
She seemed really over excited and Finlay hoped that Eliza hadn't blabbed about his proposal, he instantly regretted asking her to help choose the ring.
"You remember that internship i applied for?" Cherry continued.
"Sure, at the Bridgeport Tribune." He replied.
"Well i actually applied for another one with Simstyle magazine." She confessed biting her lip.
"And i got it!"
"That's fantastic!" Finlay cried pulling her into a passionate embrace.
"You really think so?" Cherry asked quizzically as she extracted herself from his arms, "But I'll be so far away."
"Wait. What do you mean?"
"The internship with Simstyle is in Sim City." Cherry answered.
Finlay had to swallow his disappointment to prevent it showing. He could clearly see how much this internship meant to Cherry and he couldn't ruin it for her by making her feel that she had to stay in Bridgeport.
"So we'll do the long distance thing." He promised. He patted the ring box in his pocket, it could wait until she got back.
Feeling a little down after Cherry's revalation he sought out Eliza. She was the only one who knew about his plan to propose and he didn't want her letting the secret slip now that the plan had changed.
He couldn't see her outside so he tried her bedroom door. As he entered he realised that she wasn't alone.
Orlando Belle was with her and the two of them seemed to be very cozy with each other, it took them a little while to notice he was standing there.
"Finn!" Eliza called out in surprise, "What's up?"
"I just wanted to let you know that I've cancelled operation diamond." He said winking conspiratorially at her.
"Really?" she frowned in pity, "Are you OK?"
"Yeah, I'm cool." He replied. The atmosphere in the room felt a little tense to Finlay so he backed toward the door, but Orlando's eyes never left him.
It was certainly strange for Orlando to be alone with Eliza in her bedroom, but he knew they were friends and maybe he had been getting some ideas for Delta's birthday present, maybe he was going to propose!
But something about the way they had looked at each other made him think that it wasn't so straight forward.