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.
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.