Finlay waited nervously by the waterfall, the ring box sat heavy in his trouser pocket.
He had spent days agonising over his decision.
Having Hope in his life changed everything, he was a father now and he had responsibilities.
He knew he had to do the right thing.
As she walked over to him his palms began to sweat, his mouth as dry as a desert.
He hoped he could find the right words.
Dropping to one knee he opened the box to show the brilliant diamond off, her face lit up at the sight of it and he instantly knew what her answer would be.
He slipped the ring onto its rightful finger, all fear over his decision faded as Finlay looked up into the eyes of his new fiancee and smiled.
There had never been any doubt in his mind that they would end up together.
"Oh Finn it's so beautiful." She gushed, admiring the diamond as it sparkled on her hand.
"You are sure that this is what you want?" She asked.
"Of course i am, Charlie it's always been you." He answered holding her to him.
"I know that we've been thrown a curve ball with Hope but we can make it work. I spoke with Cherry and she understands that i want to be a part of her life, but i made it clear that there's only one person i want to marry."
Charlie smiled broadly, "So I'm going to be the Mayor's wife." She laughed at the thought, "It sounds so important."
"You're going to be my wife and i can't wait." Finlay replied pulling her into another embrace.
Back at campaign HQ the news of the engagement was greeted with excitement.
"Aw you guys this is great news." Don said, he appeared to be particularly touched by the thought of the impending wedding between his two friends.
"This is excellent timing Finlay." Marcus added, "Might i suggest a quick wedding, it will go in our favour to have a married candidate, we can really push our family values policy then."
"Erm OK Marcus." Finlay replied laughing, "We do want to get married before the campaign really kicks off but not to win votes, because we love each other."
"Of course!" Marcus said apologetically, "I wasn't suggesting otherwise I'm just thinking of the campaign."
"Well that's what we're paying you for!" Don quipped.
The news about the existence of Hope however had gone down like a lead balloon.
"Finlay you need to speak with Cherry and convince her to stay in Sim City until after the election." Marcus had pleaded, "If people find out that you had a child out of wedlock then it will blow apart our whole campaign."
"I won't do that Marcus." Finlay replied, "Cherry's Grandma died a couple of months ago and left her a house in Bridgeport, she and Hope are moving out here as soon as possible. There's no way I'm asking her not to come, i missed three years of my kids life I'm not missing any more."
"You really think this is such a big deal Marcus?" Charlie asked, "I mean it's not exactly uncommon for people to have kids before they get married, or for them not to get married at all."
"I agree, it's not a problem to the likes of you and i, but we have to consider where our funding comes from." Marcus explained.
"The older generation will not approve and at the end of the day they are the ones who are going to be making the biggest donations."
"I don't care i won't sacrifice having a relationship with Hope for anything." Finlay stated firmly, making it clear that the matter was closed.
By the end of the week the campaign's policies were decided and with the tag line "Finlay Traytor is family values" in bold print, Don sent the press release to the Tribune to be printed the next morning.
"Mr Cain, i just got off the phone with a contact of mine at the Tribune." Ethan gushed as he raced into the Mayor's office.
"It appears that you will be running opposed for re-election, by Finlay Traytor."
"They just released a statement." Ethan continued.
"I knew it, the moment i saw that kid i knew he'd try this one day. That Martha Cole filled his head with pipe dreams before she died." Cain spat, his anger rising.
"Ethan i want to know everything, who's financing him, who's working with him, everything. How did you not know about this sooner?" Cain demanded.
"I'm sorry Mr Cain, i never thought that Finlay would try something like this i mean he's younger than me, there's no way people will take him seriously." Ethan grovelled.
"Well somebody must be, he's not running this campaign off hot air, find out who's backing him immediately."
"Right away Mr Cain."
"And Ethan, find out everything you can about Finlay. I want a full rundown on his family, any skeletons in their closets i want to know, you got it?"
"So Finlay Traytor thinks he can beat me! He won't know what's hit him." Cain laughed in derision at the thought of such an unworthy opponent.
A couple of months later and the Traytor family converged on the park to celebrate Finlay and Charlie's wedding day.
Charlie had picked out the spot especially as it was populated with the most beautiful butterflies which danced happily among the wedding party who were basking in the glorious spring sunshine.
Finlay took a sharp intake of breath as he caught sight of his bride to be.
Charlie looked simply stunning, the sight of her almost took his breath away.
He hoped that he could find a voice to recite his vows.
As he approached her she gave him the most dazzling smile and grabbed his hand, beaming with pride he knew then that the words would come.
"I Charlotte take thee Finlay to be my lawful wedded husband."
"I promise to always stand by you, no matter what life throws at us. I will always be yours."
"I Finlay take thee Charlotte to be my lawful wedded wife. I promise to cherish you, to be faithful to you and to love you until my dying day."
As he slid the ring onto her finger they grasped each others hands tightly, grinning like cheshire cats in delight at the realisation that they were now Mr and Mrs Traytor.
The wedding party applauded rapturously whilst throwing confetti and paparazzi snapped away, the marriage of the potential new Mayor was big news in Bridgeport.
Finlay and Charlie did their best to embrace their new found fame, it was to be expected if the campaign was to be successful.
Before the crowd converged upon them offering their congratulations Finlay stole a glance at his new wife, stroking her cheek he said, "Thank you."
"What for?" Charlie asked.
"For making me so happy." He replied before kissing her.
While the party continued until the small hours, Finlay and Charlie sneaked away to savour some alone time.
"I'm sorry we can't have a honeymoon." Finlay said kissing the top of Charlie's head.
"It's OK i don't mind, we need to focus on winning this campaign right now. Champs Le Sims can wait." Charlie replied snuggling further against Finlay's chest.
"I'm going to make you so happy Charlie." Finlay promised her.
"You already do Finn." She answered pulling him on top of her and kissing him passionately.
"Are you alright sweetheart?" Audra asked as she caught Tate wincing in pain.
"Huh! Yes Audra I'm fine." He snapped.
"You don't look fine." She replied, dismissing his abruptness. "Let me take your temperature."
"I said I'm fine." He yelled pushing her hand away and storming into their bedroom.
She left him a while to calm down before joining him.
"I'm sorry Audra." He apologised immediately, "But i don't like you to worry about me."
"Tate I'm your wife, worrying about you is my job." She gently reproached, "You haven't been yourself for a while now, i thought it was that you missed Eliza being around but it's more than that isn't it?" She asked carefully.
"I don't want you to worry Audra." He repeated, his hand shaking with nerves.
Taking his hand in hers to steady it she said "We're a team, we deal with whatever this is together."
Sighing he smiled gently at his wife, "I have cancer." he whispered.
Audra caught the tear which formed in her eye at his revelation, he didn't need to see her distress right now.
"How long do we have?" She asked him.
"We have the rest of our lives, however long that may be doesn't matter Audra. I just want everything to remain normal and happy for us for as long as possible." He said taking her in his arms he interlinked their fingers.
"I don't want the kids to know. They have their own lives to deal with, i don't want them preoccupied with worrying about me." He stated.
"Oh Tate." She cried unable to hide her emotions any more, "There's so much more i wanted us to do together."
"Audra we've had a lifetime together, a beautiful home and two wonderful children. That's more than most people get."
"Tate there's something i need to tell you, something i should have told you a long time ago but i was afraid to." She began.
"Shh." He told her, silencing her words with a kiss, "You don't need to say it Audra, i already know. I've always known."
She blinked away her tears and regarded him, "B-but how?"
"I know you better than anyone Audra, i knew when you told me you were pregnant with Eliza that she wasn't mine but i didn't care. I loved you then and i love you now and i have always thought of Eliza as mine. Does she know?" he asked.
Audra shook her head "No. But i feel so guilty for not telling her about her real father, she caught me visiting his grave once and she started asking all these questions. I came close to telling her but i didn't want to spoil the relationship the two of you have, she's always been a Daddy's girl."
"If you want to tell her i won't stop you." Tate offered, "She'll still be my daughter no matter what."
Audra snuggled into her husbands chest her mind raced with the implications of Tate's revelations, she did not know what the right thing to do was.
The next week it was time for Cherry and Hope to make the move back to Bridgeport. Finlay had volunteered his and Don's services to help unload the furniture, it gave him a good excuse to see his daughter.
He was a little nervous about being around Hope having only seen her briefly during Cherry's earlier visit.
He was afraid that she wouldn't take to him, he was virtually a stranger to her, but his Mother had assured him that the bond would be there naturally when he held her.
And she wasn't wrong, Finlay was dazzled by his little daughter.
Her tiny fingers reached out and grabbed his hand, she was the single most amazing thing he'd ever seen.
And Hope seemed quite taken with Finlay too, she laughed as he tickled her and clung to his tie so he couldn't put her down.
It seemed as if hours had passed by and Finlay realised he hadn't been much help moving furniture. Placing Hope down he went in search of Cherry and Don to see how he could help.
He found the two of them in the kitchen, they seemed to be sharing a particularly funny joke which Cherry was laughing hard at. When they noticed Finlay in the doorway they stepped apart.
"Oh here he is the slacker!" Don quipped.
"Sorry guys, i was just with Hope." He apologised.
"Well i gotta go." Don said.
"Oh, thank you so much for all your help Don." Cherry gushed.
"Not a problem." He replied, not meeting her gaze as he left.
Finlay stayed to help with the remaining boxes and tucked Hope into her crib before leaving.
"Thank you for all the help Finn." Cherry smiled pulling him into a friendly hug, "I'm so happy to be back in Bridgeport. It means a lot to me for Hope to have a father."
"Cherry, I'm sorry that things didn't work out for us but I'll always be here for you and Hope." He told her.
"If you need anything you know where I am."
"I'll drop Hope by on Wednesday." She said confirming their arrangements.
"OK see you then." He replied giving her a wave as he headed for the subway.
"Interesting." Ethan whispered to himself as he regarded the scene before him, it seems Finlay Traytor has more than one skeleton in his closet.