The two women giggled together as Sunny put the last bit of frosting on Charlie’s birthday cake. “You did an outstanding job, Sunny,” Fran complimented her friend.
Sunny blushed. “It’s your mama’s recipe,” she replied. “It should be delicious.”
Fran shook her head. “Your decorations made it beautiful. This will surprise Charlie. Thank you for all your help.” She looked at her watch. “Shoot! He will be home soon. He expects me to be home, too.”
“Maya, bring Destiny to Fran, please?” Sunny called her youngest daughter.
“Sure thing, Mama,” Maya called from the living room. Moments later, the youngest Bradford appeared with Destiny on her hip. “She’s been a good girl today, Miss Fran.”
“Thank you for watching her, Maya,” Fran said. “Come on, sweet pea. We’re late for Daddy.” She held her arms to Destiny, and the toddler went to her mother. “Thanks again, Sunny. We’ll see you tomorrow!”
Fran plopped Destiny into her stroller and hurried back toward the house. As she approached the farm, Marne and Sweetie were in the pasture playing together. Fran noticed Charlie was not home. She pushed the stroller into the garage, plucked her daughter from it, and walked into the house. Fran had just gotten Destiny settled into her swing to play when Charlie’s truck pulled into the driveway. I just made it! Fran thought to herself.
He opened the front door to a welcome of squeals, giggles, and babbling. Charlie walked to the swing, lifted Destiny from it, and sat in his recliner. He snuggled the child close to him and sat with her. It was a long day, and he needed their daughter close to him. Fran heard him enter the house and walked from the kitchen.
“Hi, love,” she greeted him. “How was your day?”
Charlie took a breath and sighed. “Frustrating. I just want to hold this little girl and love her.”
She recognized the look on his face, one she had seen twice before, and it alarmed her. “What’s wrong?”
Charlie shook his head. “I don’t want to entertain the rumors that swirl around the base, Frannie.” He buried his face into Destiny’s hair and breathed in. “It’s only rumored…” His mind wandered back to the whispered words that frightened him to his core.
Fran moved closer to him. “You’re scaring me.”
“I’m eligible for retirement next year. It can’t happen again.” A tear ran down his cheek and into the baby’s hair.
“What, Charlie? What can’t happen again?” And when she peered into his eyes, she saw the anguish. “Oh, no…”
He nodded his head and sniffled. “I don’t want to think about leaving you here alone with our baby. I can’t be away from you.”
“When?” she asked.
“If we go, our unit deploys in a few days. If we don’t, we are on standby. I should have retired when I had the chance, Frannie. We wouldn’t be facing this now.” Charlie took a deep breath and exhaled. “I can’t leave you, not now.”
Fran took his hand and squeezed it hard. “Don’t do this to yourself, Charlie. We decided together that you would stay in so we could save for our procedure. We might not have had Destiny had you retired.”
He rubbed his head with his fingers. “What if I don’t—”
“No!” Fran cried out. “Don’t entertain that thought! I need you, and Destiny needs her daddy.”
Charlie swallowed hard. He hated to see her frightened, and he knew what he had to say would scare her senseless. “You must understand something, darling. My rank makes me a target—”
“Then, your rank should excuse you from going!” Fran said, her voice raised. “Charlie, you cannot go, do you understand me?! I will NOT send you away from me to die!” Sobs choked her words. “I can’t do this alone… I can’t take any more.”
Charlie sat the baby on the floor so he could embrace his wife. He held his arms open to her, but she collapsed on the floor in tears. “Honey, please don’t cry,” he begged her.
“Things are different now. We have a baby. Charlie, I need you.” Her tearful pleas broke his heart.
“There isn’t anything I can do about it, love. Don’t you think I’ve tried everything to get out of this?”
“How long is it this time? Two years? Five years?” Fran spat at him.
“Six months minimum,” he replied and looked at the floor. “In reality, it will be closer to eighteen months.”
Fran stopped crying for a moment and picked Destiny up off the floor. She cradled the toddler in her arms and brushed the hair out of her face. “She’s two years old. You’d be absent almost half of her life!”
“I know,” Charlie whispered. “She is too young to remember me.” He stood and straightened his uniform. “I will care for the horses tonight. I need a distraction, and this argument isn’t helping.”
“Charlie, I’m sorry,” she tried to apologize, but he walked up the stairs to their bedroom and closed the door behind him.
Fran sniffled and tried to calm herself. She and Sunny had planned Charlie’s surprise birthday party for that weekend, and she wasn’t sure if he would be there for it. She had Sunny’s number dialed when his quiet footsteps padded back down the stairs.
“Frannie, not now. Please.” He stood at the bottom of the steps and squeezed his eyes shut. “I need to feed the horses and muck the stalls.”
“But we need to talk,” Fran said.
He held his hand up and gave a deep sigh. “Not now. I need to think.” Charlie walked through the living room toward the backyard. “I’ll be in soon.”
Charlie closed the back door—his mind focused on his task. The phone in her hand, Fran redialed Sunny’s number.
“Hi, Fran!” Sunny said.
Fran tried not to cry, but her best friend’s greeting on the other end made her voice quiver with emotion. “Sun, we might have a problem.”
“Why? What’s going on?” Sunny asked.
“Charlie…” Fran put her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone to keep her composure. “It’s possible he will deploy in a few days.”
Sunny gasped. “Oh, no! Not again.” Charlie and Fran had already been through enough with his previous two deployments. “How are you holding up?”
Fran choked a sob back into her throat and spoke. “Not good, Sunny. We have a daughter now. I can’t do this again!”
“How much of a possibility? Did he say?”
Fran shook her head. “No, he didn’t. If he goes, they’ll be leaving in a few days, and if they don’t, they’re on standby until it’s over.” She took a deep breath. “He said his rank makes him a target…” She couldn’t hold back the flood of emotion any longer, and she cried into the phone. “I need my husband, and Destiny needs her daddy. What am I going to do, Sunny?”
The Bradfords had zero influence on the military base. Sunny was at a loss. She sat in her chair in the living room, her head in her hands. “I don’t know, Fran. Caleb and I are here for you, no matter what. Call if you need anything. You know there isn’t anything I won’t do to help you.”
“Thank you,” Fran whispered and hung up.
Fran walked to the sunroom and watched Charlie play with Sweetie. The young mare favored him, and their bond was strong. She couldn’t imagine dealing with the farm alone for eighteen long months, and she was sorry she had planted so many seedlings. Charlie turned and spotted Fran watching him, so he walked toward the barn with Sweetie’s halter in his hands. He gave a sharp whistle, and the mare trotted to where he stood. Fran wiped her eyes with her handkerchief and sighed.
Destiny toddled to Fran and wrapped herself around her mother’s leg. “Mama?” she asked.
Fran scooped Destiny into her arms and covered her face in kisses. The little girl giggled and tried to wiggle from Fran’s grasp. They tumbled to the floor, both of them laughing when Charlie returned from the yard.
“What’s going on here?” he asked. He smiled for the first time.
“Destiny needed some kisses, and I lost my balance when she nearly slipped out of my arms. She’s safe, but I think I hurt my back. Help me up, Charlie?”
He reached for her hands to help her, but when she stood, pain shot through her body. Fran doubled over in agony. “Where does it hurt, darling?” Charlie asked.
The pain took her breath away. “My bottom,” she cried. “I’m going to throw up.”
Charlie helped her to the bathroom in time for her to vomit, and he knelt beside her. Destiny toddled in behind them, a confused look on her face. “Mama sick?”
Fran pulled her hair from her face and retched. “Yes, baby girl,” she answered. “Charlie, please help me to the sofa…” Fran got to her feet, but she could not stand up straight. His steady grasp guided her to the sofa where she plopped down face first.
“How are you doing, honey?” Charlie asked.
“I’ve never had pain like this before,” she whispered. “I think I broke a bone.”
Charlie pulled his cell phone from his pocket. “I’ll call an ambulance,” he said. “What about Destiny?”
Fran struggled to catch her breath. “Call Sunny. Maya will watch her.”
Charlie kneeled beside her and kissed her forehead. She was clammy to the touch. “Help is on the way, Frannie.”
Five minutes later, Maya was at the front door. “Charlie?” she called as she knocked.
“Come in, Maya. Destiny is here with Frannie. The diaper bag is here. We’re waiting for the ambulance to come.”
Maya saw Frannie on the sofa, splayed out and resting. “How are you feeling, Miss Fran?” Maya asked her.
“Not as good as I was earlier,” Fran laughed and then grimaced in pain. “Thank you for helping with Destiny.”
“She’s no problem at all,” Maya assured her. “Just worry about feeling better. I’ll sleep on the sofa down here tonight.”
Charlie sighed with relief. “Maya, you’re a lifesaver. Thank you again.”
Fran and Charlie returned home from the hospital early that morning. The odd way Fran had fallen bruised her tailbone, but she was in excruciating pain from it. Under doctor’s orders, she couldn’t lift weight or sit for any length of time. And suddenly, they had a problem. Fran could not care for Destiny, and Charlie still awaited word on his probable deployment. The timing of her injury was terrible.
Maya tucked Destiny into bed, and she was sound asleep when they got home. Maya slept on the sofa in the sitting room. He walked her up the steps to their bedroom, where Fran laid down on her stomach. The pain shot down her legs and up into her back, and she thought she’d vomit again.
“Do you need some ice, love?” Charlie asked her.
Fran breathed a pained sigh. “Yes, please.”
He bent to kiss her cheek. “I’ll be right back. Hang in there, honey.”
Charlie walked down the steps, careful to be quiet. But Maya was awake and in the kitchen when he arrived.
“How’s Miss Fran? I hope everything is okay.”
Charlie shook his head. “She has a bruised tailbone, and she can’t lift or sit for a couple of weeks.” He took the ice bag from the cabinet above the coffeemaker and filled it. “I’m going to see if Lorne will pardon me from my deployment. I can’t leave her here like this. The authorities won’t be pleased to see our daughter neglected because Frannie can’t care for her.” He checked the time on his watch. “I need to shower for work. Do you mind staying just a little longer, Maya? It shouldn’t be very long. I would appreciate your help.”
“Of course! I adore that little girl, and you know I’m here to help whenever you need me.”
Charlie smiled. She was just like her parents. “I’ll keep that in mind, Maya. Thank you.”
An hour later, Charlie had just parked his truck in his reserved spot on the base. He stood and straightened his uniform. A quick check of the lot revealed that Lorne was already there, and he was just the person Charlie needed.
He adjusted the hat on his head and knocked on the office door. “Colonel Charles Farmer,” he announced.
“Come in,” the General called him. Charlie entered the office and stood at attention. “At ease, Farmer.”
“May I?” Charlie asked and pointed toward the chair opposite his commanding officer.
“Of course, Charlie. What can I do for you?” Lorne extended his hand to shake, and Charlie returned the gesture.
“Lorne, I have a problem. Fran fell yesterday and bruised her tailbone. She’s in an incredible amount of pain, and the doctor doesn’t want her to lift or sit.”
Lorne sat back and scratched his chin. “That is a problem, since we’re shipping out in two days.”
Charlie swallowed hard. “I hoped that you would excuse me from duty on this deployment. Lorne, I can’t leave Destiny when Fran can’t care for her. My sisters live out of town. Both of our parents have died. Fran has nobody she can rely on for help. Please cut me some slack.”
Lorne stood and paced behind his desk. “You know I need your tactical expertise for this deployment, Charlie. You’re the only guy with the experience and knowledge to complete this task. I can’t spare you.”
“Lorne, please, we’re talking about my baby girl here. The one we waited for twenty years to have. I can’t leave her with no one to care for her.” Charlie was desperate, one moment away from begging.
“What about friends? Neighbors? Aren’t you and Frannie active at the chapel? There should be someone there who will help you guys?”
“If I had some time, perhaps. But on such short notice? I don’t know, Lorne. Please, you can’t leave us like this.”
Lorne sat back in his chair. “I’m sorry, Charlie, they’ve tied my hands. We are shipping out on Friday. You and Fran need to plan for your obligations. Report to base Friday morning at 0500. Dismissed.”
“Lorne, I will quit if I—”
“Be careful, Charlie. You don’t want to be court-martialed and receive a dishonorable discharge for failure to report. I’ll see you Friday morning.” Lorne stood and walked Charlie to the door, escorted him out, and closed it behind him.
Charlie walked to his truck, opened the door, sat in the driver’s seat and wept.
Charlie sat on the bed upstairs to pack his duffle bag for an early morning departure. He had already resigned himself to the possibility he would not come home. But his departure would be different. Fran was injured—there would be no marathon love session. It was a forbidden activity while she was hurt.
He laid his uniform out, shined his shoes, and showered early. When he packed his bag, he lugged it down the steps. No matter the outcome, this would be his last deployment—the last time he would leave his wife and family behind while he served his country. And if he came home alive, he would retire from his twenty-seven-year career in the armed forces at his first opportunity.
“Are you sure you don’t mind doing this, Maya?” Fran stood and held the door for Caleb, who carried Maya’s last box. Maya volunteered to be a live-in nanny and helper for Fran during Charlie’s deployment.
“Don’t be silly, Miss Fran,” Maya replied. “I love you guys, and you’ve helped me. It’s my way of paying it back.” She planted a kiss on Destiny’s cheek, and the baby giggled. “Charlie doesn’t have to worry about you while he is away.”
Fran snickered. If they owed anyone, it was Caleb and Sunny. “Well, we appreciate you more than you realize,” she said. “All of you.” Charlie’s heavy footsteps descended the stairs, his bag in his hand, and Fran’s eyes welled with tears. “Give us a moment?” she asked Maya, and the young girl complied. Caleb followed his youngest daughter up the stairs to Penny’s old bedroom.
“Honey, please don’t cry.” Charlie embraced her. “I’ll be home before you know it.”
“How can you expect me not to cry? All you’ve talked about is not coming home!” She threw her arms around him and sobbed on his shoulder. Her tears were hot and plentiful, and Charlie blinked back his own.
“Please, honey, with all your heart, pray for us all to come home. It’s my only chance to survive.” He clung to her, fearing it would be one of his last times to hold her. When he pulled away from her, he gazed into her green eyes. “Promise me, Frannie. Say you’ll pray for us. I need to hear it.”
Fran nodded. “Of course, I will pray. I will do everything I can on my end to ensure your safe return.” Charlie wiped tears away from her face, and he kissed her.
“That’s my girl.” He forced a smile. “When I come home, this is it, love—no more deployments, no more military. I quit. That, I promise.” Charlie hugged her close to him and kissed her forehead. “I’m happy Maya will be here with you while I’m gone. We owe the Bradfords a debt we can never repay.”
“I wish you weren’t leaving in the morning, Charlie. We were going to have a surprise party for your birthday on Saturday.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “We spent a month planning it. Your sister Jenny and Paul were coming with the twins.”
“Oh, honey. I’m sorry, I am going to miss it. But I want you to have the party, anyway. Have fun and be with our friends and family. I want that for you.”
“But you won’t be there. What is a birthday party without the guest of honor?”
“I will be there in spirit, love. Anywhere you go, I am with you. Remember that, baby.”
“Always,” she whispered.
Charlie’s alarm sounded the next morning, and he turned it off. For a few extra minutes, he stayed warm and cozy in bed with Fran, and he snuggled her close to him. His arms around her woke her, and she knew time was short.
“Good morning,” she whispered and kissed his fingers.
“Good morning, my darling.” He buried his face into her hair and took a deep breath. Her hair always smelled like apples, and he would miss it while he was away.
“How much time do we have?”
“Just a few more minutes. The carpool is coming at four-thirty to get me.”
Fran rolled over to face him, wrapped her body around his despite the pain, and kissed him. “I know this won’t hold you until you come home. Please, Charlie, wait for me.”
“You are my only love, Frannie. I will wait for you, however long it takes.” He kissed her again and pulled away from her. “I have to get up, sweetie. I need to kiss Destiny and tell her goodbye.”
Fran shook her head. “This isn’t goodbye, Charlie. I refuse to believe it. But I won’t let her forget you. I will talk about you, show her your photos. She will grow, but she will not forget you, I promise.”
Together, they got up from the bed, and Fran watched as Charlie got dressed. She wept, and he walked to where she stood, and he embraced her. “Sweetie, please don’t cry anymore. I will come home to you. I believe it. Pray for me one last time, darling. We will never be apart again.”
“I will miss you,” Fran whispered. “Kiss me.”
Hand in hand, they walked into the nursery where Destiny still slept. When Charlie returned home, she would be almost four. He reached into her crib, his soft touch on her cheek awakened her. With a bright smile, she squealed when she saw him. “Daddy!”
“Daddy is going bye-bye, sweet pea. I’ll see you soon.” He lifted her from the crib and covered her face in kisses. Her giggles filled his heart with joy. “Oh, Destiny, Daddy loves you so much.”
“Daddy! Daddy!” she babbled and continued to giggle. He held the baby close to him and wept into her hair, Fran’s arms around him. It would be their last time as a family for eighteen months. Outside, a horn sounded for his carpool, and Charlie sighed.
“Be a good girl for Mama, Destiny,” Charlie said and kissed his daughter one last time. He placed Destiny into her crib and turned out the light. Hand in hand, they walked downstairs to the front door.
“I will wait for your call tonight,” Fran cried. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Charlie, be safe. I love you to the moon and back.”
“I love you, darling, and I will call you tonight. Pray for us, love. I will come home.” He kissed her one last time, grabbed his duffle bag, and slung it over his shoulder. Halfway to the car, he turned to blow one last kiss. “I love you, Frannie,” he called to her. She watched him get into the car and drive away.
Fran walked back into the house and up the steps to their bedroom. She got back into bed alone, pulled the covers over her head, and cried herself to sleep.
Mod The Sims
Sad Pose Pack
Sims 3 Modeli
Don’t Let Me Down by Sea
Zhippidy’s Custom Poses
Upset – 3 Couple Poses
Fran’s Hair by Anubis360 at MTS
The Sims 3 Exchange
Stars Blue Red (Sunny’s shirt pattern) by skyeseeker