Fran awakened in a chilly bedroom, but instead of shivering in the cold, she snuggled into Charlie’s arms. He stirred slightly and woke, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her shoulder. Since he had arrived home two days earlier, they hadn’t spent much time outside their bedroom. That was the plan on this day as well.
Charlie had called Penny ahead of his arrival home to arrange to have the house to themselves. He knew he would be back earlier than planned, and he wanted to surprise Fran. Penny was happy to grant the young newlyweds some privacy. They had one more full day to be alone before Penny was due home, and Charlie would need to return to base. For now, he simply held his wife and caressed her skin. He’d forgotten how soft she was, and he could barely stop touching her.
“I can’t believe I didn’t know you were going to be early,” she purred. “I really can’t believe Mama left on her own to give us some space.”
“She was a newlywed once, too, Frannie. She knows all about this stuff, whether you recognize it or not.” Charlie kissed her shoulders and caressed her neck.
“I need to take care of the animals this morning, Charlie. They shouldn’t be—”
“Are you going to let me do your chores, Frannie? I hope so,” he interrupted her. “You’ve worked all summer long. Don’t you need a break?”
“I do, but you’ve worked nine long months, Charlie. I should be taking care of you.”
“We’re in this together, my love. And right now, I want to spoil you. Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon to give you that baby we want so badly.” He kissed her as he got up from the bed and got dressed. “You stay put, or make breakfast if you’d like. Either way, I want you to take it easy. The work will still be there when you’re ready for it, Frannie.”
She got up and put her robe on and followed him down the stairs. She started the coffee pot and dough for some biscuits. Charlie walked out to the barn to care for the animals. A light dusting of snow had fallen overnight.
Missy lumbered to him, looking for her morning treat, and he patted her nose gently. “Yes, Missy, I have your apple for you.” Cora looked slightly less impressed by Charlie’s presence even with the apple, but he knew Cora was a surly old cow. Nevertheless, he fed her the apple he had cut for her and patted her neck. “Good girl, Cora,” he praised her.
Charlie’s visit to the chicken coop was much less eventful. The hens clucked as he collected eggs, and the old rooster stared at him expectantly. Charlie laughed as he spread feed on the floor of the coop. Later, he would come out and clean it thoroughly, and in the spring, he would build a bigger, roomier coop for them. For now, the brood was content, and that was good enough for Charlie.
He kicked his boots off at the sunroom door and stepped into the kitchen where the smells and sounds of breakfast awaited him. Fran had just pulled the biscuits from the oven as she finished the sausage gravy. “It’s ready, love,” she said. “If you’re pouring coffee, I’ll have a cup.”
Charlie grabbed two mugs from the cabinet and filled them. Cream and sugar were already on the table, so he helped Fran bring plates to the dining table. Together they sat and held hands and prayed before their morning meal. It was a practice Fran had resumed when Charlie deployed, his unit in her morning prayers. He took a sip of coffee, her hand still in his. “This looks delicious, Frannie. You outdid yourself this morning, love.”
“Well, I’m sure it’s miles better than what they fed you in Dragon Valley,” she said. “I know the military isn’t known for its chefs.”
Charlie laughed. “You are right about that. But most mornings we had a hot breakfast so I can’t complain. Sometimes, it was the only hot meal we had.”
“Tell me more about Dragon Valley, Charlie. What was it like?”
“Well, the villagers look nothing like we do down here. They’re dark-haired, dark-skinned people with a proud heritage. The village itself looks very old-world, nothing is modern. There are farmlands on the west side of the village and older homes to the east along the mountains. The main road, Mithrilen Manor, goes through the middle of town. There’s a theater, but it’s all live-action plays instead of movies. There was supposed to be a medieval fair or something in the spring, but the sickness scared them off. I don’t blame them, either. It’s a cute place to visit, but I think I like it here with you much better, my love.” He pulled up a map of Dragon Valley and showed her where they found the hatchlings. “You can’t believe how many caves exist on this side of the river. I’m sure we missed a few here and there.”
“It does look rather old, but charming. How many natives died in the plague?”
“Initial reports were well overstated. In addition to the twelve we lost, only another twenty or so died from the plague. There seemed to be a lot more immunity up there than they originally thought, but our guys walked right into it, not suspecting anything. They never had a chance after exposure.” Charlie sighed, emotional. “They were gone in days.”
She took his hand and held it. “I’m so sorry, love. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to watch them die.”
“It was, but you know, that is why we do drills. We always hope we don’t have to use our training, but we all know what we signed up to do. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, too.”
“I hope you don’t have to make that decision. Isn’t there a safer job you can get in town, Charlie? One that won’t take you from me or put your life in danger?”
“Sweetheart, I risk my life every day walking outside that door. We never know when the Reaper will call us home. We just have to be prepared for every contingency, every factor, so that when it happens, we’re not caught off-guard.”
Fran sighed. “I guess you’re right.” Breakfast had left a mess in the kitchen, and she wasn’t looking forward to cleaning it. But instead of leaving it for Fran, Charlie cleaned up the entire kitchen. When he finished, they met back in their bedroom.
Later that afternoon, Penny turned her key in the door of the house and called up the stairs to give them fair warning she was home. She and Dora never left the county, never went on their shopping trip. Instead, the best friends had the equivalent of a slumber party while her daughter and son-in-law had some much needed time together. Penny carried nothing more than the overnight bag she had brought with her and set it on the living room floor. Upstairs, there was not a sound heard from either room, so Penny walked to the kitchen and started the tea kettle for hot water.
Fran and Charlie had fallen asleep together and never realized how late it had gotten. But the rest was needed in between their periods of activity. And when a soft rap sounded on their door, Fran realized their lives had returned to normal. “Mama?”
“Yes, child. I wanted to let you two lovebirds know I’m home. But pretend I’m not here. I know you weren’t counting on me until tomorrow.” Fran’s cheeks blushed deep, hot red.
Charlie heard the exchange and noticed Fran’s obvious embarrassment. “Sweetheart, it’s okay. She’s the one who suggested that we have the house to ourselves. She is not as naive as you think.”
“We just have to be more considerate of Mama from now on, Charlie. Certainly no walking around in that!” she laughed. He was wearing nothing but a smile.
“I can agree with that. I don’t want this weekend to end, love. And I don’t want to go back to work tomorrow.” He kissed her and patted her belly. “But I feel good about that promise.”
“Well, let’s not tell her we’ve been trying. I don’t want her to be disappointed if it doesn’t happen,” Fran suggested.
“Very well, my love,” Charlie said. “I haven’t seen her in months. I need to give her a proper hello, don’t you think?”
Fran nodded. “I think you should, Charlie.”
They both got dressed and went downstairs to greet Penny. Upon seeing him, she hugged her son-in-law and kissed his cheek. “It’s so good to have you home, Charlie!”
“It’s great to be home,” he said. He moved closer and whispered in Penny’s ear, “Thank you.”
She patted his hand and gave him a knowing look. “It was no problem.”
It was only one month until their first wedding anniversary. Fran’s quiet weeping woke Charlie from a sound sleep. Alarmed, he walked to the bathroom to see her clutching a pregnancy test. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes.
“Oh, baby,” he said and walked to her. He took the stick and looked at it. One pink line. “I’m sorry.” He thought for sure they would have a baby by the end of their first year. But for another month, the dream was crushed.
“I thought it was real this time, Charlie,” she sniffled. “I was late. I had symptoms. But the test shows nothing.”
“Well, maybe it’s too early, love.” He kissed her forehead. “Wait a week and retest.”
She got up and threw the stick in the trash. “You’re right.”
He smiled at her. “As usual.”
She giggled slightly. “I had no idea when I married Mr. Right, his first name was Always.”
“Well, Frannie,” he chuckled, “now you know.” He hugged her tightly. “Honey, if we aren’t expecting a baby after a good six months of trying, we can see a specialist, okay?”
“Okay.” She sighed deeply. “I just want this so badly. I never saw myself not being a mama, Charlie.”
“Sweetie, you’re only 21 years old. We have a lot of time to have a family.” He kissed her forehead, took her hand, and led her back to their bedroom. “Let me do your chores today, Frannie. Relax and let me spoil you.”
“You’ve done nothing but spoil me since you got back from Dragon Valley. How will I ever get back into my routine?”
“As I’ve said, the work will always be there when you’re ready, Frannie. When is Missy due?”
“End of winter by our best estimate. We’re expecting a spring calf.” Missy was getting bigger by the day, but just shy of halfway through. Fran wondered if she would have two calves.
“Plenty of time then,” Charlie said. “Please, Frannie, let me do this for you today.”
She sighed and plopped down in the chair by her side of the bed. “Alright. You win.”
Charlie’s eyes sparkled. Oh, how he loved spoiling her. “That’s my girl,” he chirped.
“Don’t forget an extra apple for Missy. She’s eating for two now,” Fran reminded him.
She washed her face and walked downstairs to start the water for tea, but Penny was already up and working on breakfast. Fran had a difficult time concealing her emotions, and Penny knew something was wrong.
“Good morning, Fran,” she said. “Is everything okay?”
She nodded her head. “Just a little disappointed is all, Mama.”
Penny knew that pain intimately. She and Jake had a difficult time conceiving Fran and, as a result, ended up having her later in life. Penny walked to her daughter and took her hand in hers. “You’re still young, Fran. You have plenty of time.”
“I’ve never wanted anything this badly, Mama. It’s just frustrating, and we lost nine months with his deployment.” Tears welled in her eyes, and she dabbed them with a tissue.
“Give it time, child. Just a few months is no reason for concern.” Her heart ached for her daughter. “What are you two going to do for your anniversary?”
“I don’t know. I don’t even have a gift for Charlie yet. Money has been tight, so I haven’t thought about it,” Fran sighed.
“You know, your daddy and I never exchanged gifts on our anniversary. We usually went to the bistro downtown, and that was it. We didn’t have much money either, Fran. Firefighters didn’t earn much back then.”
“Well, maybe we can do that, too. I would feel terrible if Charlie got something for me, and I had nothing to give to him.” Charlie walked into the kitchen just as she finished talking.
“What’s for me?” he asked, a sly smile on his face.
Fran chuckled. “Nothing. That’s the problem. Charlie, money has been so tight that I have nothing for you for our anniversary.”
“Oh honey, don’t worry about that. All I need is you, sweetie. Besides, I’m going to take you to supper. That’s all I was planning.” Charlie kissed her cheek.
“Are you sure, Charlie? I don’t want any surprises when I have nothing for you.”
“I promise, Frannie. I’ll see you when I get home from work.”
“I thought you had today off?” Fran asked.
“I did, but I’m covering for someone else. It’s extra hours, and we can use the money.” He kissed her cheek. “It’s not a full shift today, love. I’ll be home before you know it.”
She nodded her head. “Okay. I’ll see you when you get home.”
It was a chilly Sunday morning. The snow was falling at a blizzard pace, and in just a few hours, they had gotten almost nine inches of it. Outside was hardly a noise, sounds of the farm muffled by a thick blanket of snow. Charlie finished up chores in the barn and chicken coop, and he walked back toward the sunroom. Before he climbed the steps, he paused and looked around the yard and beyond at the wintry surroundings. It was beautiful and peaceful.
The aroma of fresh coffee and biscuits baking in the oven greeted him when he walked through the kitchen door. “Good morning, sweetheart,” he said to Fran. “Happy anniversary.”
She turned her head and smiled. “Good morning, love. Happy anniversary.” He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. It sure feels good to have him here, she thought. Gently, he rocked her in his arms, and she turned around to face him.
“You are simply beautiful, my Frannie,” he said. “You’re glowing.”
“Well, I am pregnant,” she chirped.
“What did the doctor say?”
“She said everything looked good so far. But I’m only about seven weeks along.” She shifted uncomfortably on her feet. “I have my first ultrasound in a couple of weeks.”
“I have a great feeling about this baby, Frannie. What are we going to name him?”
She chuckled. “How do you know it’s a boy?”
“A daddy knows these things, my love. It’s a boy.”
“What are we doing tonight?” she asked as she finished making breakfast for her and Charlie.
“I thought we’d go to the restaurant downtown for supper. How’s that?” He kissed the tip of her nose.
“If you think we can, I would love to.”
They hardly ever dined out, but Charlie had saved a little money for this night. “Of course we can, love.” He caressed her cheek and smiled. “It seems like just yesterday we were getting married. It went so quickly.”
“Not to me. Every day you weren’t here was miserable. I hope you don’t deploy again.”
“I hope not, too, but we have to be ready for that, Fran. It may not be a probability, but it’s a possibility we need to consider for all three of us.” He saw her distressed look and hugged her tightly. “I don’t think we have to worry about it anytime soon, sweetie.”
“You’re probably right.” They carried their plates to the dining room table and sat together. They joined hands, and Charlie prayed.
That evening, Fran wore her best dress, and Charlie wore his dress uniform for their supper at the restaurant downtown. It wasn’t fancy by most standards, but more upscale than the diner where Fran worked when they reunited.
They walked into the bistro, and Charlie gave their name. The hostess led them to their table by the window. From it, they could watch the snow falling, children ice skating on the lake behind the park, and families enjoying the snow together.
Fran, in all her twenty-one years, had never set foot inside the bistro before. She looked around in wonder and squeezed his hand.
“Are you sure we can afford this, Charlie?”
He nodded his head. “I got a nice bonus last month for service in Dragon Valley. I didn’t tell you because I wanted to surprise you. I know we need to save for the baby, but I wanted to spoil you on our anniversary, Frannie.”
She smiled at him. “This is lovely.”
“And so are you.”
Nearby, a pianist sat and played. They ordered supper, and while they waited, Charlie asked her to dance. It was the first time they had danced together since the wedding. He held her close to him, and they swayed to the music together.
“What’s on your mind, love?” he asked her.
She gazed around the room and back into his hazel eyes. “What a difference from last year to now,” she replied. “We’re expecting our first baby, we each had a busy year, we spent most of it apart from one another. I’m just amazed by us, Charlie. You promised me a baby, and you delivered it. I want you to know how happy I am and how much I love you.” She laid her head on his shoulder, and he pulled her closer.
“I am so happy to hear that, Frannie. You have made me the happiest man alive. Thank you for your love.”
Fran smiled, content and loved beyond her wildest dreams.
Fran was excited about her first meeting with the doctor following the discovery she was pregnant. She took a taxi to the appointment since Charlie was on the base that morning.
She checked in and waited, and when they called her name, Fran jumped up and nearly skipped to the exam room.
“The doctor will do an exam, Mrs. Farmer. Please put this on and use the drape to cover up. Dr. Engle will be in shortly.” The assistant handed a cloth gown and sheet to Fran and turned to go.
“Thank you,” Fran replied. She undressed and put on the gown she was given. In just two minutes, she was ready.
Dr. Starla Engle entered the room shortly after. “Hi, Fran!” she greeted her friend. “How have you been feeling?”
“Awesome!” Fran chirped.
“No nausea or vomiting?”
“Not yet, no. I’m hoping to skip the whole morning sickness thing,” Fran chuckled.
“That’s not unusual,” Dr. Engle told her. “We’re going to do an ultrasound today to make sure everything looks good. We’re looking for the fetal heartbeat today which we should detect during the scan, and measuring growth. It will give us a more accurate idea of gestation and your due date. Do you have any questions, Fran?”
“Not yet,” Fran replied.
“We’ll be back shortly,” the doctor told her after the exam. “You may get dressed.”
Fran sat up and got dressed and sat back on the exam table. She was eager to see their baby. It wouldn’t seem real to her until she could see it.
About 10 minutes later, the technician came into the room with a portable ultrasound machine. She greeted Fran warmly and introduced herself.
“I’m Katie, and I’ll be doing your ultrasound. So, I know the doctor told you we’re looking for the heartbeat today. I’ll also be measuring, and we will determine approximate gestation. You’re about ten weeks, Fran?”
“Give or take,” she replied. She was positive the baby was conceived the weekend Charlie returned home from Dragon Valley.
“The doctor should be able to give you a better idea today.” The tech squeezed a warm glob of gel on to Fran’s belly and positioned the wand on her. She pointed out the baby on the screen. And suddenly, it was real.
“That’s our baby?” Fran nearly squealed. “It’s so tiny!”
The tech looked at the screen, furrowed her brow, and excused herself. Two minutes later, she returned with Dr. Engle in tow. She placed the wand on Fran’s belly again and pointed to something on the screen. The doctor mumbled quietly to the tech and left the room.
Sensing something was wrong, Fran tensed up. “Is everything okay?” she asked.
“The doctor wants to do a more invasive test. It’s not unusual, so there’s no reason for concern.” Katie’s face, however, told a different story. “I know you just got dressed, but I need you to undress from the waist down. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
A sense of panic washed over Fran as she prepared herself. She was ready when Katie re-entered the room with the doctor. She grew more frightened watching the doctor’s face, and she had to know. “What’s wrong?”
The scan confirmed what Katie had suspected, and the doctor took Fran’s hand. “The baby has no heartbeat, Fran. I’m so sorry.”
Fran felt sick and immediately faint. She could hear nothing but her heart pounding in her ears, and her head felt light. “What?!” Tears filled her eyes, and she shook her head.
The doctor held Fran’s hand in hers and looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry, Frannie, the baby is gone.”
“No!” she cried. The room began to spin, and she couldn’t breathe. “Please… No…” were the last words she uttered before she passed out cold.
The office notified Charlie immediately, and the phone call alarmed him. But he drove to the doctor’s office, scared half to death. When he arrived, the receptionist led him back to the exam room where Fran waited for him. And when she saw him, she cried, her heart broken.
“What’s going on?” he asked the doctor’s assistant.
“The doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat during the ultrasound. The baby has died,” she said coldly. “Now that you’re here, I have other patients.” The assistant didn’t stick around for questions.
Fran looked broken as she cried into her hands. Charlie kneeled beside her and tried to comfort her. But words didn’t come.
“I’m sorry,” Fran wept. “I lost it, Charlie.”
“Shh, baby, it wasn’t your fault,” he cried. “These things happen sometimes.” He kissed her forehead and wiped tears from her eyes. “What happens now?”
Fran shook her head. “I don’t know. Dr. Engle wanted to wait until you were here before she went over that stuff.” She took a deep, ragged breath. “I am devastated.”
The doctor walked in with Fran’s chart and greeted the young couple. What should have been a happy event had turned tragic, and the doctor hated it for them. Starla was a family friend and Fran’s babysitter when they were younger. She knew both the Hutchins and Farmer families well.
“What happened?” Charlie asked.
“Well, we failed to detect a fetal heartbeat, Charlie,” the doctor said. “The baby deceased a week or two ago from my best guess. It is approximately eight weeks of gestation. Please accept my sincerest condolences.”
“What happens next?” he asked.
“I recommend that she have a D&C as soon as you can arrange it, the sooner, the better. I’m surprised her body hasn’t already begun to pass it.”
“Is it possible to allow this process to occur naturally?” he asked.
“Technically, yes, but it could take weeks for the process to complete, and it will be painful. It is my professional opinion that the D&C is the best option.”
Charlie looked at his wife. “Let us have a day to process this and discuss it, and we’ll make the appointment.” He hugged Fran’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “I’m sure one more day won’t hurt, right?”
“That’s fine. Again, I’m sorry. If you need anything before the procedure, please don’t hesitate to call the office.”
“Thank you, Dr. Engle,” Fran said.
On the way home, Fran was quiet. She stared out the window of the pickup as Charlie drove them back to the farmhouse from downtown. “How do I tell Mama, Charlie?” she finally broke the silence.
“We’ll tell her together, love. You don’t have to walk this path alone, Frannie. You have your mama and me to love on you. We will make it through this together.”
“I don’t believe this. But I guess it all makes sense. I never got nauseated, never once threw up. All the symptoms I had gradually faded, but I never really noticed it. I thought it was normal.” She heaved a deep breath. “What do we do now?”
“Well, we talk about whether you want to wait for your body to pass the baby on its own, or we follow Dr. Engle’s advice and have the procedure done. It’s really up to you, honey.”
“No, I mean, how do we go on? I didn’t know about it for more than three weeks, and two of those weeks, it was already gone.” Her voice quivered in sorrow. “I wanted this so much.”
“I know, love. We just take one day at a time from here forward. And when the time is right, we try again, Frannie. And we don’t give up until we have a wiggly, pink babe placed into our arms.” He pulled into the driveway and parked the truck, looked at her, and touched her face tenderly. “I still love you. We are going to survive this.”
“I love you, Charlie.”
Penny was sitting in her rocking chair by the fire when Charlie’s key opened the front door. And as soon as she saw him with Fran, she knew something had happened. Fran stepped through the door as Charlie held it for her, and tears filled her eyes.
“What’s wrong, child?” Penny asked as she held her arms open.
“I lost the baby, Mama,” she cried and allowed Penny to embrace her. “It had no heartbeat.”
Penny wept. “Oh, Fran, I’m so sorry. I know how excited you were.” She hugged her daughter close and let her cry.
“I’m going to take care of her, Penny. She hasn’t started to pass the baby yet. I’d like her to do it naturally, but the doctor wants to do a D&C.”
“Well, you know natural is almost always better. But Fran will have considerable pain if you let it happen naturally. A procedure will be over quickly.” Penny hugged Fran close once more and released her grasp. “It just depends on you, sweetheart.”
“I don’t know, Mama. I can’t remember ever being this sad. I want to sleep right now.” She walked to the staircase, but Charlie carried her up the steps and into their bedroom.
He set her on the bed and sat beside her. “I am here for you, my love. Whatever you need, I’ll get it for you. Just say the word, and it’s yours, Frannie.”
“Just hold me, Charlie. I feel so lost.” She laid down and began to cry, and Charlie laid down beside her. He embraced her, and she wept in his arms. And they stayed that way until they both fell asleep.
Up Next: Chapter Five, Generation One
Moondance by Lenina90
Hospital for Storytelling by Jamee at Jamee’s Sims 3 (Custom content used within the hospital lot documented at Jamee’s Sims 3.)
Lace Table Cloth by LilyOfTheValley at The Sims Resource
Pregnancy Test Accessory by ILTDS (Comes with Pose Pack)
Nouk’s Long Wavy Hair (Fran’s Hair) by Anubis360 at ModTheSims
Custom content and poses are not my property and used in compliance with the TOUs.