"Do you like it?" Finlay asked, nervously watching as Charlie surveyed the nursery he had created.
"It's perfect." She finally replied.
He exhaled a sigh of relief. Charlie and the twins had been in hospital for almost a week following their early arrival, and Finlay had worked extra hard to get the nursery just right for their first day home.
Although the money had not been easy to come by he had managed to pull it off.
The sacrifice he had, had to make to get the cash had been worthwhile when he brought his two bundles of joy home and as he and Charlie settled Ivy and Iris into their matching cribs he knew he had done the right thing.
Looking back now he could barely believe he had even considered borrowing from the council budget, he would never stoop so low.
Instead he made the difficult decision to sell his Grandpa's guitar.
It had brought a tidy sum and more than covered the nursery costs, however the household bills were mounting up and without the buffer of his mother's money as comfort to him, Finlay was struggling to make ends meet.
The burden that the two extra mouths had put on the finances was worsened when Hope arrived to stay for a fortnight while Cherry and Don went on honeymoon.
Naturally Finlay was happy to have his eldest daughter around, but the extra cost was crippling him and soon drained the last of the guitar money.
Hope managed to put a smile back on his face though as she stumbled along while learning to walk. He hadn't realised just how much he was missing out on by not living in the same house as her, he vowed to cherish each minute they spent together over the next two weeks.
She was always his first port of call after a long day at City Hall, her big eyes lit up every time Finn walked into the room. He spent hours teaching her new words and telling her all about his important job looking after the Sims of Bridgeport.
As with all things enjoyable the fortnight passed by too quickly, Cherry and Don were due home that morning and had been invited to the Traytor household to celebrate Hope's birthday.
As she sat nestled against his chest Finlay realised that he didn't want her to leave, extra expense aside he loved having Hope with him and the rest of his family.
Once the guests had arrived Finlay held onto Hope as she blew out her candles.
As she aged into a child she developed the Perceptive trait to go along with brave and grumpy which were the traits she was born with.
Everyone gathered around the dining table to enjoy the yummy birthday cake, Don and Cherry recapped the adventure of their honeymoon to Al Simhara.
Finlay listened trying not to feel jealous that they had such an amazing time while he and Charlie still hadn't been able to go to Champ Le Sims.
The dream of a honeymoon seemed to be completely faded now they had the twins, not that they could afford it anyway.
"So how did you like staying with Daddy?" Cherry asked Hope.
She thought about it a while while cramming cake into her mouth then answered, "I wanna stay here."
Finlay caught the look on Cherry's face at their daughters reply, it was a mixture of anger and hurt.
"Sweetheart, you know you're welcome here whenever you like." He told Hope, "But your Mom is going to take you back home tonight."
"No! I wanna stay here." Hope pouted.
Finlay looked at Cherry who seemed like she may explode at any moment.
"Finn may i speak with you please?" She asked through gritted teeth.
"Have you put her up to this?" Cherry demanded angrily.
"What? No of course not!" Finlay exclaimed, "I had no idea she was going to say that."
"Well where has she got this idea from?" Cherry demanded.
"I don't know Cherry, maybe she's just enjoyed being here for longer than a couple of hours." Finlay snapped.
"Mom are you and Daddy fighting?" Hope asked, tugging on Cherry's sleeve for attention.
"No sweetheart, go and finish your cake we're leaving now." Cherry replied.
"But Mom i want to stay with Dad some more." Hope whined.
"Do as your mother says." Finlay directed, he hated to see her little face wrinkled in disappointment.
"Thank you." Cherry offered.
"This isn't the time or place to discuss this Cherry, not in front of Hope." Finlay said, explaining his assistance, "I think we need to all sit down and discuss sharing custody properly."
At the office the following day Finlay buzzed his assistant to come to his office, but the woman who entered was not Carey Mullins his usual secretary.
This woman was far more glamorous, Finlay didn't recall seeing her around City Hall before.
"Mr Traytor, I'm Mimi I'm here to fill in for Carey while she's sick." The woman explained.
"Oh, I wasn't aware that she was sick." Finlay said offering Mimi a seat, "Please make sure and send her some flowers from me, i hope it's nothing serious?"
"No just flu i think." Mimi replied, "So shall i make you some coffee?"
"No thank you, i usually make my own. I actually need to dictate a letter." Finlay explained.
"Oh, OK." Mimi said.
She sat staring sweetly at Finlay for a while.
"You might want to get a pen and some paper." Finlay prompted after what felt like ages.
"Oh, sure." Mimi said her face flushing with embarrassment, she rose from the chair and shimmied to the reception area.
Finlay couldn't help but take a look as she walked out of the room, her outfit was incredibly revealing and it seemed a little inappropriate for the office.
He couldn't help but feel that Mimi didn't exactly have the necessary experience for the job, but he figured as she was only temping until Carey returned, he could put up with her until then.
After Cherry had calmed down her and Finn were able to discuss Hope's request rationally, they had compromised on allowing her to stay over with her father three nights a week.
That weekend Finlay was called to deal with an emergency at work and Hope was left hanging out with Charlie in her Grandpa Tate's garden. Charlie showed her how to water and care for the plants but Hope seemed disinterested and sullen.
"Is everything OK Hope?" Charlie ventured.
"I guess so." She replied, her shoulders slumped to indicate that her response was less than truthful.
"You know you can talk to me, don't you?" Charlie encouraged.
Hope shrugged and regarded her feet for a while before answering, "I wish i could live with you and Daddy all the time."
Her face blushed at the words that had left her mouth and she found it hard to meet Charlie's gaze.
"Is everything OK at home?" Charlie pressed.
Hope fixed Charlie with a sullen glare, "I hate my new Step dad!" She pouted, "He's always kissing my Mom and making dumb jokes." She clarified.
Charlie stifled a giggle, it did sound like Don, "Honey i know it must be tough having someone new living with you but Don is just trying to be your friend."
"I don't want to be his friend I HATE HIM!" Hope yelled suddenly losing her temper.
"Hope you shouldn't say that, Hate is a very strong word, do you understand me?"
Hope balled her fists and jammed them into her shorts pocket, she nodded but Charlie could see the frustration in her face.
"Why don't you go play on the swing set while i finish up here?" Charlie suggested, not wanting to continue the discussion any further until she had spoken to Finlay.
Hope skipped off towards the playground triumphant, she knew that Charlie would tell her Dad what she had said maybe then she would finally get her way.
Why should i have to live in a crummy house all across town when i could be living here? She thought.
Over her two week stay she had a taste of a better life, with Grandma's cooking to eat every day, a playground to play to her hearts content and her amazing room that Daddy had decorated in her favourite colour.
There was no way she was settling for second best in her Mom's tiny house, she figured if she complained enough they would soon give her, her own way soon.
The next weekend brought the twins birthdays, Charlie had her heart set on a big party the guest list she had written ran to two pages.
"Honey don't you think this is a bit over the top? They're babies it's not as though they will remember it." Finlay persuaded.
"Finn how often do you have your first birthday? We have to mark the occasion." She begged.
"Can't we just have a small gathering just us, Mom and Hope?" He pleaded, he hated to not give her, her way but the thought of finding all that money was overwhelming him.
"If that's what you want." She conceded.
"We can go all out for the next one, i promise." He replied, hoping that he would have their finances back on track by then.
Ivy was born two minutes before her twin sister so she went first. Finlay blew out the candles on her behalf.
Ivy grew into a beautiful blond little girl developing the brave and virtuoso traits.
She was closely followed by Iris who inherited Charlie's hair colour and developed the loves the outdoors and athletic traits.
The girls soon began to develop their own personalities, Ivy was quite a handful always crying for attention and usually getting it!
While Iris was content to amuse herself and loved nothing more than playing for hours on end inside her toy box.
She was also eager to be active and started to walk almost immediately.
Whereas Ivy was talkative, in fact once she started she didn't stop. As soon as she learned to talk she was constantly asking "What's that?" to everything new she encountered.
Charlie loved her girls immeasurably, she was glad that they were both so unique, yet she wished that Finlay could be around to see it for himself.
She had lost track of the number of milestones he had missed in the girls lives by being at work, like Ivy's first word which had been "Dada".
Finlay had experienced yet another brutal day at work, although the tax rise had solved the immediate cash flow worries Finlay now had to concentrate on what it should be spent on. He received so many requests for money that he didn't know which projects should be financed and which should be scrapped, they all seemed to have some merit.
He glanced at the clock in his office, it was 6.30 and he was getting no where. Sighing he brushed his paperwork aside and dialled Charlie at home.
"Hey hon', I'm going to be a little late tonight."
"Again?" She asked, "Finn that's the third night in a row you haven't been here to put the girls to bed, they're growing up so fast and you're missing it."
"I'm sorry Charlie but i need to get through this." He apologised.
He hung up the phone feeling worse than before, he knew she was right but he needed to clear his head and figure out what he was going to do.
Instead of going over the proposals for the tenth time he headed to the private gym on the top floor of City Hall, it was only open to employees most of who would be at home now so he was confident of finding some peace and quiet.
He stared out of the floor to ceiling window across the City, Bridgeport thrived below him. Thousands of Sims resided here and he was responsible for them all, the weight of this sat heavy on his young shoulders.
He had all the pressures of his job compounded by his money worries, he was already letting his girls down and he knew it. Sinking his head underneath the cool water of the pool he tried to wash away his fears.
A voice pierced through the water making him shoot to the surface. He wiped his eyes which were filled with pool water, they were blurred at first but he could just about make out.....
"Mimi?" He asked surprised to see anyone here let alone his temporary assistant.
"I didn't think anyone would be here." She explained.
"That's OK i was just leaving." Finlay replied hoisting himself out of the pool.
"Oh please don't go on my account." Mimi asked sidling up to Finlay.
"You know most politicians don't look like you." She stated.
"Really?" Finlay asked.
"They're usually old men, they're not as athletic as you." She answered running her eyes up and down Finn's exposed chest.
Finlay felt his cheeks burning, he couldn't believe what she was saying.
Her costume was even more revealing than her office wear and her ample cleavage was virtually on full display.
"Oh are you admiring my costume?" She asked, preening herself and twisting to reveal the cutaway sides, "I just got it last week, do you like what you see?"
Finlay was certain his face grew even redder at her flirtatious question, he suddenly felt very uncomfortable standing next to a half dressed Mimi in only his swim shorts.
As if reading his thoughts she sauntered past him.
She walked toward the stack of towels and grabbed one from the shelf lingering just long enough to give Finlay a good look at her thong clad behind.
"Here you go." She called tossing him a towel, "I'll see you tomorrow." She said before stalking out of the pool.
Finlay grasped the towel and wrapped it around himself, the feeling of unease remained even thought she had left. He was certain that she had been flirting with him, but why had she showed up here pretending to want to swim and then just taken off? It made no sense at all.