One year later
In a distant place, Charlie sat in a strategy session with other leaders from allied units. The upcoming mission required Charlie’s expertise, and as a trained pilot, he was qualified to offer advice on tactical maneuvers. They were in their tenth hour of the meeting, and everyone was weary. Tempers flared, and they reached an impasse.
“Look,” Charlie said and rubbed his temples with his thumbs. “Everyone is dog tired. Arguing and bickering back and forth—this is not how we win battles, gentlemen.”
Lorne looked at Charlie, the usual voice of reason. “You know, Farmer is right. Let’s get some sleep and hit the maps in the morning.” Upon Major General Turek’s order, the meeting adjourned. Charlie picked up his briefings and tucked them under his arm.
“Where you headed, Farmer?” Lt. Colonel Jim Gentry asked.
“I’m going to call my wife, and I’m going to sleep. I’d suggest you do the same.” Charlie’s pace quickened until he reached his tent.
“Damn, Farmer, you’re such a square. We’re all going to the bar down the street. You should join us.”
Charlie knew the bar Jim spoke about was a seedy establishment—a sleazy strip club. “You know what will happen if you get caught there, don’t you, brother?”
Jim waved his hand. “Psh. We aren’t doing anything but having a brewski.” He nudged Charlie’s arm. “Come on, man. Fran will never know.”
“Frannie wouldn’t care if I had a beer with you guys. But that place? She’d be angry. Just be careful, Jim. You have much to lose.” Charlie clapped his friend on the shoulder. “See you at zero six hundred.”
Back in his tent, Charlie removed his cell phone from the footlocker where he kept his personal effects. He ached for Fran, and his eyes filled with tears when he heard her voice.
“Hi, love,” Fran answered the phone. “Oh, how I miss you.” Her sniffles and quiet weeping broke his heart.
“Oh, my sweet Frannie,” he wept. “How is my little family?”
“We are okay. Destiny wanted to talk to Daddy. She still doesn’t understand where you are, no matter how I explain to her.” Fran sighed. “Let me wake her. I just got her to sleep about thirty minutes ago.”
“Not this time, darling. I have little time, anyway. I just needed to hear your sweet voice before I went to sleep. What a day.”
Fran knew she couldn’t ask him, so she blew a kiss over thousands of miles instead. “She will not be happy she missed you, you know,” Fran chuckled. “That’s okay, though. Maya will keep her occupied.”
“How is Maya? Is she still living at the house with you and Destiny?”
“She will be until she goes to school next week. She can’t put her future off any longer,” Fran whispered. “I still have to learn to shoot your gun, Charlie.”
“Frannie, you promised me. Please, have Caleb show you?”
“I will, I promise you.”
“Oh, honey, I need to go. I have to meet with the squadron early. I love you.” Charlie wiped tears from his eyes.
“I love you, Charlie. Be safe and come home to me.” Fran hated to say goodbye.
“I will, sweetheart. I promise.” They blew kisses and wept together before they hung up.
“Well done!” Charlie exclaimed over the radio, as his air squadron hit, with pinpoint accuracy, the last target in the mission. “We keep it up, and we’ll be back home in no time, boys. Good job!” They left their ground target a smoking heap of rubble—a weapons depot the enemy had planned to use against the allied forces. “Let’s get back to base.” There was much cheering and hollering on the radio, and Charlie joined their celebration. A congratulatory ‘whoop’ left his lips. As a reward, General Turek granted the victors twelve hours of leave time. Hell, they earned it, and he was proud of them.
The sounds of triumph filled the night air on the base. The guys were celebrating, but Charlie just looked forward to a warm shower and a phone call home. This time, he hoped he’d get to hear the giggles and squeals of a little girl he hadn’t seen for half of her life.
He dressed in his fatigues after his shower and walked back to his bunk—a private, semi-permanent structure separated from the other tents. The sounds of triumph were loud outside in the encampment, and Charlie smiled. He knew his friend, Jim, would attempt to coax him to the strip club the officers frequented for a beer and some self-indulgence. What Charlie needed was in Appaloosa Plains, and they both had flaming red, curly hair.
“Charlie!” Fran squealed on the other end of the line. “You made it!” In the background, he heard the cheerful chatter of his three-year-old daughter. The one word he understood loud and clear was “Daddy.” He wiped tears from his eyes and felt excitement grow inside him. His baby daughter was awake!
“Hi, darling,” he said. “Our mission was an immense success. We may have ensured an allied victory tonight.”
“Does that mean you might be home soon?” she asked with a hopeful smile.
“It’s hard to say baby, but you just never know. The more we cripple the enemy, the less likely they are to be victorious.” He wanted to say more, but what he already revealed pushed the limit. “Where is that sweet little girl?” More than anything, he wanted to hear his daughter say ‘Daddy.’
Fran smiled on the other end of the line. “She is right here, and she can’t wait to tell you hello!” She held the phone on her shoulder, and he could hear the love of his life speaking to their little girl. “Do you want to say hi to Daddy, Desi?”
“Daddy! Daddy!” the baby babbled. She sat on the floor and reached to Fran for the cell. Once she had it in her hands, she unleashed a stream of unintelligible words—Charlie tried so hard to understand her. But then she grinned and giggled as she heard his voice. The four words he longed to hear came from her mouth in her sweet, three-year-old voice. His heart melted on the spot. “I wuv you, Daddy!” It was as clear a sentence as he’d heard her say, and he wept.
“Oh, Destiny, Daddy loves you so much.” She chattered on for another minute or two before he heard his wife laughing.
Fran had to wrestle the handset from Destiny’s sticky fingers and she snickered. “That little girl loves her daddy. I’m sorry I let her bend your ear for so long, baby. I thought I’d remind you we need you to come home.”
Charlie smiled a grin bigger than he had in a long time. “I already know what I have waiting for me at home. I love you both with all my heart and soul.”
“Do you think you could come home sooner than four more months, Charlie?” She almost didn’t want to dream about it.
“I sure hope so, darling.” Charlie yawned, the adrenaline of the victory fading. “I should go, honey. I am quite tired. The missions sap my energy these days. I’m not a young man anymore.”
“Do you need to go? I miss you so much.” Fran heard his affirmation and wiped tears from her eyes. “Sleep well, my love.”
“You too, darling,” Charlie answered. They blew kisses across the miles as they hung up.
Ten minutes later, Charlie still sat on his bed, the last family photo they had taken together in his hands. Jim showed up at the door of Charlie’s tent. “Hey Farmer, the bunch of us are going for a drink. You coming or not?”
Charlie had to decide. He wanted to celebrate with the guys; maybe drink a beer, see a pretty girl. It had been over a year since he’d been with Fran, and though he would never cheat on her, he grew tired of seeing boxers and undershirts.
“Yeah, just let me change and I’ll be there.” It’s only a beer, Charlie thought. He put the photo away and nodded. He felt justified to have some fun because they earned it, but it disturbed him how he changed his mind from just a few minutes earlier. Charlie shook his head to remove Fran’s smiling face from his memory. It’s only a beer, he tried to convince himself. She wouldn’t mind a beer.
Charlie changed into a comfortable pair of jeans, his button-down shirt, and his cowboy boots. It had been months since he’d been in civilian clothing, and it felt good. He tucked his dog tags inside his white undershirt and grabbed his wallet from the footlocker. The unit earned their victory, and he deserved to celebrate tonight with his brothers.
He met the group, and they walked the short distance to the bar just outside of the base. The lounge bustled with activity—an extensive selection of women to dance for any man willing to stuff money and phone numbers into their g-strings. When they walked in, a cloud hit them in the face. Two dancers entertained men looking for a cheap drink and cheaper thrills.
Jim walked to the bar and bought a round of drinks for the guys and passed them around. Charlie took his and twisted the top and took a swig from the bottle.
When spaces opened around the stage, Jim, Charlie, and a few others sat close and watched with great anticipation. Machines produced artificial fog in substantial quantities. The lights pointed to the dancers on the stage that danced to the music.
Jim stood and watched with a stupid grin on his face. “Farmer!” he nudged Charlie. “Get a load of this one.” He pointed toward a young girl dancing, wearing very little clothing. “She likes you!” Jim caught the girl’s attention and summoned her over. She bent down while he whispered to her, smiled at Charlie, and accepted payment from him.
The girls danced, attempting to please their patrons. Jim nudged Charlie’s arm again, pointed toward the stage, and grinned.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Jim said with a devious smile. “You’ll see.”
The server brought another round of drinks, courtesy of Jim, and Charlie twisted the top off his second bottle of beer. A few minutes later, the pretty black-haired dancer approached Charlie and tried to take his hand to get him on stage. He shook his head, but Jim nudged him.
The young girl came onto Charlie as though her livelihood depended on it. She danced around him with lewd gestures, rubbed against him, and touched him. Charlie wanted to return to his seat—with each attempt, she reached for him again.
The crowd loved the show with the awkward soldier and the pretty dancer. They stood and cheered for them as she delivered the show Jim had paid her to do. His buddies took their phones out and snapped photos of Charlie when the dancer kissed him.
It was no longer fun and games for Charlie. He broke away from her, stumbled from the stage, and ran toward the exit.
Jim followed his friend from the bar, but the damage was done. Charlie bent over, trying to catch his breath. “Did you pay for that?!” he screamed.
Jim put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “That shouldn’t have happened, man. I only paid her to dance with you.”
Charlie felt sick. The world spun around him at breakneck speed. “What were you THINKING, Jim? If Frannie sees those pictures, I am a dead, divorced man.” Charlie went after Jim and pinned him against the building, his arm drawn back and ready to hit him. “You’ve cost me everything!”
“It’s not my fault!” Jim tried to defend himself against the genuine threat of physical harm. “I only paid her to dance with you, I swear it.”
Charlie backed off without hitting him. “I don’t know if I believe you. You do what you want in your marriage, but you stay the hell out of mine!”
“No one twisted your arm to go, you know,” Jim stated. The moment the words escaped his lips, he wished to take it back. Charlie shoved him backward and knocked him to the ground.
“I should beat the crap out of you because you deserve it!” Jim got to his feet when they both heard footsteps running their direction.
“Guys!” a fellow soldier named Trent shouted and put himself between the two men. “Break it up! Turek is on his way!”
Seconds later, General Lorne Turek appeared, a scowl on his face, and looked at Charlie. “Farmer! Gentry! Get your butts back to base! NOW!”
Charlie shook his head, angry with himself for allowing the evening’s events to happen. He had a reprimand coming his way from Lorne. And he knew if Fran saw any of the pictures, he might return home to divorce papers instead of a happy welcome.
Word travels in a small town, where families know each other and their business. Appaloosa Plains was such a place. And in the earliest hours of the morning, Fran’s phone buzzed with a text message from her best friend, Sunny.
She awakened with the sound of her alarm, another day of the farmer’s market ahead of her. She needed to harvest the garden. Fran would need to feed and dress Destiny. She would turn Marne and Sweetie loose in their pasture before she left for the day.
Maya was already awake and had the coffee pot started. Her cheery voice lifted Fran’s spirits. Having her in the house with Charlie gone was priceless, and Fran would miss her when she left to prepare for school in a few days.
“Good morning, Maya,” Fran greeted her. “Did you sleep well?”
“I did, Miss Fran!” Maya returned. “Don’t worry about Destiny. We’ll be ready after you harvest the garden this morning.”
“You are a lifesaver, Maya,” Fran replied. “I don’t know what I’ll do without you.” She pulled her boots onto her feet and headed out of the back door to the garden.
A few houses down, Sunny Bradford sat with her phone in her hand, staring in disbelief at the photo she received from a close friend. It arrived hours earlier with the header, “We should tell Frannie,” and a damning photo of Charlie Farmer in a solid kiss with another woman. Though she didn’t want to, Sunny knew she was the only person to deliver such devastating news to her best friend.
Sunny packed her goods into the boxes Caleb prepared for her. He recognized the worry she wore on her face, walked to her, and kissed her. “Is everything okay, baby?” he asked.
Sunny shook her head. “No, Cale, it’s not. Look.” She handed her phone to Caleb and his eyes widened.
“No. That’s not Charlie. Sunny, it can’t be Charlie.” But when he saw the evidence of his own eyes, he couldn’t deny it. Caleb handed the phone back to Sunny. “You know you have to be the one to tell her, baby. You can’t leave her to find out through town gossip. It will destroy her.”
Sunny wiped tears from her eyes. “I know, Cale. I don’t want to break that woman’s heart. She has already suffered so much pain…” Sunny broke down in tears. “I can’t believe he did this.”
“Well, let’s hope he has a good explanation. And we’ll love Frannie through it all.” He kicked his shoe on the kitchen floor. “She will need you, Sun.”
Sunny nodded in acknowledgment. “I know,” she whispered. “I have to go. Would you bring this last crate of bread to the truck, honey?”
His face softened. “Of course.”
An hour later, Fran was ready to walk out of the door when she remembered Sunny’s text message. When she read it, a chill ran down her spine:
Frannie, we need to talk. I have something to show you, and you won’t like it.
She swallowed back a glob of bile that rose in her throat. I wish I had seen this earlier, she thought to herself. Fran typed a quick message back to Sunny and put her phone into her purse.
I’ll see you in a bit at the market.
Maya had Destiny, Fran loaded the truck with the morning’s harvest, and they were ready to head to the market. While she drove, Fran asked Maya if she’d heard from her mother.
“No, Miss Fran, I haven’t. Is there something wrong?”
“She sent me this message, but I didn’t see it until just before we left.” She slid her phone to Maya.
“Whatever it is, Miss Fran, we’ll hit it head-on,” Maya said with confidence. “It must be important, though, if she sent it that early. I’ll watch Destiny while you speak together.”
Fran smiled, though she felt no better about the text message. “Thank you, Maya.”
She pulled the truck into her parking spot at the market, and Fran grabbed Destiny from her car seat, kissed her cheek, and smiled as the toddler pulled her toward the stand. The baby loved Sunny, and when Destiny saw her, she giggled and ran to her. Fran grinned and walked toward her best friend. But when Sunny saw Fran, her expression changed.
“Good morning, Frannie,” Sunny hugged her best friend. In her ear, she whispered, “I need to talk to you right now before you speak to anyone else.”
Fran pulled back with fear on her face. “What is it, Sun? What made you so upset?”
Sunny gave Destiny to Maya, who took the child for a stroll while the women talked. Sunny sat down with her phone in her hand, and she patted the chair next to her. She wiped tears from her eyes, a nuclear heartbreak in her hand. She tapped on her phone and retrieved the text message.
Sunny held the phone close to her chest—a lone tear dripped from her eyes and landed on her capris. “I don’t want to do this, Frannie, but you need to hear it from me before you hear it from anyone else.” Sunny handed the phone to Fran and watched the total devastation wash over her.
Her shoulders heaved in sorrow, and she gasped for breath. “When was this taken, Sun?”
“After the mission, according to the message I got. Frannie, I’m so sorry.” Sunny sat and waited for Fran’s reaction, but she sat and stared at the photo. The pretty young stripper in a bar, thousands of miles from home, and the man she loved, locked in a kiss. Fran couldn’t believe her eyes.
Her hands shook with emotion, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to cry or kill him. “He did this after our phone call. After I reminded him I was waiting here for him.” She sniffled and handed the phone back to Sunny. “How could he do this? I don’t understand.”
Sunny hugged her as she cried. “I don’t know, sweetie.”
“This is such a slap in the face. I can’t deal with the stand today, Sunny. I need to go.” She broke the embrace and stood. “I’m glad I heard it from you.”
“If you need anything, Frannie, Caleb, Maya, and I are here for you. I will call you to check on you later.”
“Thank you,” Fran mumbled. “Would you mind bringing Maya back home if she wants to stay?”
“Of course not. Remember, sweetie, I’m a phone call away.” Fran nodded, wiped tears from her eyes, and waved as she walked from the stand.
Destiny woke Fran some hours later from a deep but restless sleep. She pulled herself from the bed and walked to the nursery. “Mama!” Destiny cried, holding her arms up. Fran lifted her from the crib and kissed her cheek. The baby sniffled and settled into her mother’s arms.
“You’re okay, little love,” Fran whispered. She sat in her favorite rocking chair, the one she bought years ago for her mother, and rocked with her daughter. Destiny babbled in her arms, content, but when she said the word, ‘Daddy,’ Fran cried.
“Mama sad?” she asked in her three-year-old voice.
“Yes, Desi, Mama is sad.” She couldn’t explain it, Destiny would never understand. She just held her baby girl and rocked her.
An hour later, Maya returned home after watching the market stall all day. She knew the circumstances, and she couldn’t believe it herself. “Miss Fran?” she called up the stairwell. “I’m home!”
“I was just getting supper for Destiny,” she said. “It’s only leftovers.” Fran walked down the steps with the baby on her hip.
“What about you, Miss Fran?” Maya asked.
Fran shook her head. “I’m not hungry tonight, Maya.”
“Why don’t you let me take her? I’ll bathe her and put her to bed tonight. You just concentrate on you. Deal?” Maya squeezed her in a bear hug.
Fran trudged to her bedroom and closed the door behind her. She expected a call from Charlie that night, but she no longer looked forward to it. Instead, she considered not answering it until she knew what she would say to him. The clock read five-thirty in the afternoon.
Charlie paced in his bunk. Since the incident the previous evening, he had kept himself isolated from the rest of his unit, secluded and ashamed. A text message from Sunny Bradford went unread, but the header said it all.
He didn’t look forward to the phone call that loomed ahead of him. Charlie didn’t want to hear the hurt in her voice, the tears, the rightful anger. He retrieved his phone from the footlocker at the end of his bed, dialed the phone number of the love of his life, and prayed that she would listen to everything he needed to say.
Fran tossed and turned in the bed she shared with Charlie. When her cell phone rang, she considered not answering it, but she needed to know the answers to the questions in her mind.
Charlie swallowed hard when he heard her voice. “Hi darling.” His words escaped him—the silence was deafening.
Fran sat for a moment to collect her thoughts. “Hello Charlie.”
“Honey, I realize you know I’ve made a terrible mistake. I never meant for it to happen.”
“Why were you there? Why did you go out to a strip club after we spoke and I reminded you I was here, waiting for you? You’ve made me look like a fool. Don’t you realize how hurtful this is to me?” Her sad whimpers broke his heart in two.
“The guys went to celebrate. Jim asked me to go. They go all the time, but I stay on base. Jim paid the girl to dance with me on stage, but she took it too far. I don’t want her, Frannie, please believe me. It’s not how it looked.” Charlie’s thoughts scattered—his mind raced, his words, desperate.
“Why did you go to that bar? I’m not as worldly as you, Charlie, but I know attraction when I see it. She wanted you,” she sniffled. “Why should I believe that it wasn’t mutual? You didn’t push her away!” As hard as she fought to keep calm, Fran lost her cool and cried. “Is she the first one you’ve kissed? Have you been with anyone else while you’ve been away?” She wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answers.
So many questions, so much hurt, and Charlie was not prepared to handle it. “I wish I was there to explain it in person, darling,” he wept. “I’m so sorry I hurt you, Frannie. I’m so, so sorry.” Sobs stole his words away. Regret and fear swept over him, and he could no longer speak, but just cry.
“That’s not good enough, Charlie. I need explanations. I need to know why.” Fran stood her ground. “Why did you humiliate me like this?”
“Baby, I didn’t mean to,” he sobbed into the phone. “It was just a beer.” He took a deep breath. “It was just a beer…” His voice faded away to uncontrollable sobs.
Fran sighed and disconnected the call.
Sims 3 Modeli
Warm Hugs by Sea
Pole Dance by Fanaskher
You Name It, I’ll Pose It
Nikolas Part 5 Pose Pack by Blams
Redheaded stripper – Peggy 524 Re-texture
Sunny’s Hairstyle – 060 (Donation)
The Exotic Pole by Puss ‘N Heels
Black haired stripper – RoseSims Donation Set2 (Note: Link does not lead to download. RoseSims3 is defunct)
The Sims Resource
Non-default F1 ABC Skin (Sunny’s Skintone) by S-Club
Smoking Ashtray by The77Sim3
Vicarious Living Sims
Simlish Neon Signs
Custom content and poses are not my property and used in compliance with the TOUs.
**Special thanks to my friend Ken D for the inspiration and creativity brainstorming sessions. Thank you for continuing to push me outside of my comfort zone and for challenging me.**