Franklin was elected as Local Representative by a huge majority. His campaign was a resounding success. At his party, he attributed this success to me and the other members of his election team. It was a proud moment for me. As people came up to congratulate us, I couldn’t help but be surprised that no one seemed to be resentful of my position as an employee and as Franklin’s girlfriend. It had been almost two years since I started working for Franklin and just under a year since we’d been dating. That was also quite a shock to me.
One of the many reporters at the party came up to me while Franklin was off shaking the hands of his loyal supporters. “So, Miss Fields, what’s next for you and Mr. Churchill? Are you going to be working for him while he’s in office or are you going to lend your support to some other candidate?”
I couldn’t tell if the guy was trying to slyly suggest that I would date the next person I worked for or if he was accusing me of getting a promotion because I was the boss’ girlfriend or if he was just asking a genuine question. Facing him, I realized that I was more bothered by all of this than I thought I was.
“Mr. Churchill hasn’t decided on who will be assisting him and advising him while he’s in office. Of course I’d be excited to go, but I’d be just as excited to work on someone else’s campaign. Whatever I do, I look forward to gaining more political experience.”
“And what about your relationship? Will there be wedding bells soon?” The man’s eyes looked positively feral as he asked this question. I forced myself to smile at him.
“You’ll have to ask Mr. Churchill.”
“He’s a very handsome man. Many people consider him the most eligible bachelor in the country.” God I wanted to rip his face off.
“Well, the bachelor part is true enough,” I smiled fiercely. “Not the eligible part.”
The little vulture loved my comment and continued to probe into the status of my relationship with Franklin. I had to force myself to reign in my temper and answer noncommittally. Really, I was surprised that this sort of interview had never come up before. Eventually, my lack of anything of real substance caused the reporter to wrap up the interview. I knew that he’d be quoting me in his article. I hoped that Franklin wouldn’t be too upset about the “eligible” comment.
I don’t know why the reporter’s questions and comments had so bothered me. I was happy with my relationship with Franklin. Sure, I’d say yes if he asked me to marry him, but I wasn’t pushing for a wedding ring. I liked our relationship the way it was.
We spent most evenings and nights together. We made love often and quite vigorously. I had no idea that my gentlemanly lover was so passionate and daring about sex. What would the press say if they found out that we sometimes went skinny dipping and made love in the pool outside my apartment?
My favorite time of day was morning. I enjoyed waking up next to Franklin, getting up and having breakfast with him, and then riding with him to work. Actually, sometimes we were late to work because Franklin couldn’t keep his hands off me. He’d come up behind me, run his hand under my short nightgown, and kiss my neck.
“Get a room,” Kendra glared at us. She sometimes rode with us to the courthouse.
Franklin moved his hand, but continued to kiss my neck.
“Tell everyone that we’ll be late,” I told my roommate.
“Again,” Kendra gave a dramatic sigh.
I knew that Kendra didn’t much like Franklin and I dating. She had never come outright and told me that she didn’t like him, but I knew she didn’t. It hurt me that our friendship was suffering, but I didn’t know how to repair it. I figured Kendra would be moving on to some other person’s campaign. Even if he offered her a job, I don’t think she’d stay on with Franklin.
In the past year, I wasn’t the only one getting into a serious relationship. Roni, too, had found the man of her dreams. What a shock it was to me when she actually started dating Enrique Pike, our handyman. So I wasn’t the only one who had a man sleeping in her bed.
However, I was totally shocked when Roni asked all of us girls to sit with her in the living room. “I have important news,” she said. Her voice was serious and her face revealed nothing.
When we were all seated, she burst out, “I’m getting married!” She grinned hugely and flashed us the ring on her finger. It was a modest diamond in a gold setting.
We were all excited for her, offering our congratulations and praising the ring glowing on he finger. “I want you all to be bridesmaids,” she said. “I promise I won’t pick out hideous dresses.”
When we finally broke up the girl meeting, I spoke to Roni privately. “I’m so happy for you, Roni. I think Enrique is a lucky man.”
“I’m the lucky one. I love Enrique so much. I can’t wait. He wants to have lots of kids and he’s ok with me staying home to care for them. He is even supportive of me going back to school to become a teacher.”
“That’s great, Ron. You guys will make wonderful parents.”
Wedding, wedding wedding became the most common topic in our apartment after Roni and and Enrique got engaged. Cakes, churches, rings, dresses. If Roni was in the room, that’s what was being discussed. I’m not saying I wasn’t happy for them, but my enthusiasm was beginning to wane.
I walked past them discussing flowers one evening and I realized what was bugging me.
I was jealous.
Roni and Enrique were so happy and enthusiastic. I wanted that for myself. For the first time, I really did want to take my relationship with Franklin to the next level.
I decided that I would talk to Franklin about my feelings when I saw him congratulating Roni after the engagement party we threw for her at the Bonsai Lounge.
“…and thank you again, Franklin. You and Lila didn’t have to do this for us. It was a wonderful party. I hope our actually wedding will be as beautiful.”
“It will be even more beautiful,” I said, walking up to them. “Roni, how could it not be absolutely stunning with such a beautiful bride?”
“Lila!” She smiled. I wasn’t trying to flatter her. I really believed she was going to be beautiful on her wedding. She was practically glowing at her engagement party.
Franklin and I were the last to leave the Lounge. I hugged him as the last guest got into the elevator.
“I love you Franklin. Thank you for doing this for me.”
“It was my pleasure Lila. I like your friend. She and Enrique will be happy together.”
I stepped away from Franklin, looking down. I tried to figure out exactly how to say what I wanted to say.
“What’s wrong Lila?”
“Nothing…um…I just wanted to ask you something.”
“What is it?”
“Why didn’t you marry that girl you were engaged to before?” What? As I spoke the last word, I was surprised at what I had asked. That wasn’t what I was going to say at all, but I realized that I had never really asked Franklin about his past girlfriends.
Franklin appeared to be as shocked at my question as I was. “Um…what brought this on?”
“I just…I mean, I haven’t ever asked you about what happened. Everyone knows about it. People think that you fear commitment. They don’t think that you’ll ever get married. Even you said it. You once said that it would be more shocking to the paparazzi if you got married instead of dating.”
“I said that?” I nodded. “Do you want to get married, Lila?”
“No…well, yes…but not unless we’re ready. I just like knowing that it’s possible. What girl doesn’t want that?”
“Isn’t knowing that I love you enough?”
I looked into his eyes. I could tell he meant it. I felt horrible that it wasn’t enough. Instead of saying no, I said, “I love you, too.”
He gathered me into his arms. “Let’s go home. If you really want to know about Sheila, I’ll tell you.”
“You don’t have to. I just thought there might be some reason…”
So we went to Franklin’s house. He lived in a small house right by the beach. I was always surprised when I went there at how modestly he lived. As a representative he could have a really nice place in town, but he chose to live quietly.
“I like the beach,” he told me when he first invited me over. “I like the quiet of the neighborhood. Sometimes all I can hear is the lapping of the water against the shore.”
I liked his little house, too. There is something to be said about living away from the bustle of town. I loved my apartment and my roommates, but I could picture myself living in a house like Franklin’s someday. Maybe it would have to be bigger because I definitely wanted kids.
Would Franklin want kids? I didn’t know. That was a question I needed to ask him.
“So, you still want to talk about Sheila?” Franklin led me to the sofa in his living room. “Want a drink?”
I shook my head at the drink, but told him that I still wanted to know about his ex-fiancé.
“We were engaged in college. That’s where I met her,” Franklin began. “We had similar interests…politics, the environment, art and history. We had a lot of classes together.” He smiled at the memory of those times, and I was instantly jealous.
“How long were you engaged?”
“Two years. We wanted to finish our studies and get jobs before we were actually married. She wanted to be an environmental lobbyist. I was working for my local representative.” This time he smiled at me because his situation was similar to mine.
“We were both passionate about what we did. It wasn’t long before we had jobs we both loved.”
“So what happened?” Franklin’s eyes got that far-away look again.
“It would be easy to just say we grew apart.” He shook his head. “But that’s not really what happened.”
“Sheila loved her job at the Green Counsel. She worked late, sometimes she worked weekends. I didn’t see her because I was also working pretty hard.”
“So you did grow apart?”
“Yes, but there was more to it.” He took a deep breath and then looked at me. I got the feeling that I reminded him a lot of Sheila. I was that passionate about my work, and I often worked late and on weekends. But I worked for him.
“You know there’s a reason I told you that I didn’t date employees when I first invited you to dinner.” I remembered how professional he had tried to keep everything.
“I asked you out against my better judgment. I couldn’t seem to help myself even though I knew I shouldn’t. You reminded me a lot of Sheila.”
I knew it! “I had never gone out with a co-worker, let alone and employee,” Franklin continued. “Because just before Sheila and I broke off our engagement, she told me that she was seeing someone else. Her boss. One of the Green Counsel leaders.”
I gasped. Really? His fiancé had cheated on him? No wonder he was a little shy of commitment.
Franklin went on, “I was shocked. I never once suspected her of cheating. I really believed that her late nights and weekend work sessions had been work. But they weren’t.”
“It doesn’t matter now. It was long ago, but that’s why I was reluctant to change our relationship. I could tell that you were as ambitious as she was. I didn’t want to be the creepy boss who sleeps with his interns and I didn’t want to find out that you were the type of intern who sleeps with her boss to get ahead.”
Oh my Sims! No wonder I had to practically attack him to get him into my bed. And he must have been worried all this time that I was just after a better job!
Some of my shock must have registered on my face. Franklin was quick to assure me that he knew I wasn’t anything like Sheila.
“Lila. Lila I know now that you’re nothing like that. True, you are ambitious and passionate, but you aren’t the type to do what Sheila did. I stopped thinking that you were anything like her by our second real date. And the day I took you to the piano bar, I knew that someday we’d be at this moment. I knew it and I feared it.”
He looked at me gravely. I was pretty much still speechless. I wasn’t sure what he was getting at. What could he possibly fear about this moment? Was it that he didn’t want to tell me about Sheila?
Franklin looked embarrassed when I continued to be silent. He seemed to expect a response from me. I saw him gulp and look down. Then I saw him reach into his pocket.
“This wasn’t my plan. I had a more romantic plan for this, but I think now is the right time. I mean, I hope now is the right time.” I stared at the small box in his hand, barely registering that the normally self-assured and poised man was actually babbling. Awkwardly, he got down on one knee.
“Lila Fields. I love you. I want to marry you. Will you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?”