Adam’s co-operative was going well. As more and more sims saw how it worked and that it worked, more sims signed up to participate. Of course, whenever there was an issue, it was up to Adam to sort it out. He got all the blame when things went wrong. Not that he minded. He’d expected hiccups.
He couldn’t imagine doing it all without Mae. She knew many of the people in town and she heard folks talk. She often heard rumors of unrest and could pass it on long before Adam or Abraham would have discovered the issue.
“Mama Wakefield is complaining again,” she told him one night.
“Is she getting the wrong fish again?” he sighed, “I told her that she couldn’t expect the same fish every day.”
“No, it’s not that. People have been coming to her with small tears and mending to do. It’s talking up all her time when they could fix it. And she’s not able to get new orders done.”
Adam paused. “That’s a problem, isn’t it.”
“Her family has the neatest seams, it’s no wonder sims want her to fix all their clothes.”
“Can she have her kids do more work.”
“They’re already doing as much as they can.”
“An apprentice, perhaps?”
“Someone from a different family who doesn’t have a good job yet – a teen.”
“There’s Monty. He just turned 13.”
Mae kissed him then and his thoughts scattered. How did she do that? He broke away and her eyes were shining.
“Will you come to bed tonight?”
“Let me just finish getting this apprentice idea down so I can run it by Abraham tomorrow.”
“Don’t stay up too late.”
Mae woke up alone, again. She’d waited several hours last night, but he never showed up. She could hear him scribbling away downstairs until she’d been too tired to stay up any longer. She’d hoped he’d be here when she woke up. She wanted to talk to him – and not about his work.
She sat up and stretched. Swinging out of bed with a sigh. Adam had probably slept on the couch again. She listened, but couldn’t hear him downstairs. Was he already at work? She could count the number of times she woke up next to him on one hand.
Her stomach growled greedily in the silent house. Although they were due some fish this afternoon, Mae found she was far too hungry to wait.
There was no rule again supplementing the traded goods. That was something she kept trying to explain to everyone else. Adam’s plan wasn’t that only the fishersims fished, but that no one would starve if they didn’t fish. Her friends were slowly figuring it out. You could send your mending to Mama Wakefield, but you’d have to wait. It might be faster just to do it yourself if you didn’t care about quality.
Her stomach growled painfully as she finally caught a bluefin and she hurried back home. Her cooking was improving steadily under Adam’s supervision. He could make any dish sing with just a handful of ingredients. Most of the time her meals turned out bland if he wasn’t around. But he never complained when he ate them.
Sonya was waiting outside when she returned. She gave her friend a hug and invited her in.
“So did you tell him?” she asked once they’d sat down. Mae munched on her fish.
“Not yet. I tried last night, but his mind was a million miles away.”
“He hasn’t noticed?”
“I don’t think so. He hasn’t said anything yet.”
Sonya eyed her speculatively. “Have you tried hitting him over the head to get him to stop moving long enough to pay attention to you? Everyone else is less busy now that his co-operative plan is working.”
“Everyone except him.” Mae agreed. “I may have to.”
“Is he with Abraham today?”
“I think so, I haven’t seen him since last night.”
“How’s Mae?” Abraham asked he joined Adam.
“Mae?” he frowned. “She’s fine.”
“That’s good to hear,” Abraham said with a smile. “I’m glad there aren’t any complications.”
Ah! Adam figured it out. “No, no, she’s really easy to live with. I’m glad she’s with me.”
Abraham gave him an odd look, but shrugged. “What’s on the agenda today?”
“Apprentices, it was Mae’s idea – well, she sort of supplied the need. Some folks are getting swamped with more work than they can handle.”
“Mama Wakefield again eh?”
Adam shrugged. “She’s the best seamstress we have. But her kids aren’t enouhg to help out. So if we apprentice some other kids who might be interested, they can learn a skill and help her with the basic stuff.”
“What if they don’t like sewing?”
“They can be temporary assignments, if they like it great, but if it doesn’t work out, we can trade the kids around. Keeps them out from underfoot as well.”
“Sounds good, we starting with Monty?”
“Well, let get this over with so you can go home to take care of that girl of yours.”
Mae could see that Adam was exhausted as he trudged home. But she had decided she couldn’t wait for the perfect moment any more. She went to greet him as he came up the sidewalk.
“Mae!” he said clearly surprised to see her. He looked her over, worry filling his face. “Is everything okay? Abraham was asking about you. Nothing wrong, is it?”
“No.” She kissed him on the cheek and accompanied him inside.
He flopped down on the couch closing his eyes. She frowned. He really did give all his attention to everyone else. When was the last time he really looked at her? Everyone else had already congratulated her, and yet he remained clueless as far as she could tell.
“Dinner smells good,” he said not opening his eyes.
“I hope so, we got some bluefin and yellowtail today so I made skewers.”
“Two types of fish?”
“I went fishing this morning. It’s important that I get plenty of eat so I thought to supplement what we get.” He still hadn’t opened his eyes. She sat down next to him. “Adam.”
“You’re working to hard, you know that.”
Now his eyes opened. He frowned. “I’m the only one who can figure out what to do when this whole co-operative thing runs into problems. Abraham’s good at sorting it out once we have a plan, but someone’s got to come up with the solutions.”
“I know, but – ” She had his attention at least. It was now or never. She took a deep breath. “But you’re never hear and I need you too.”
“You’re doing great, Mae,” he protested.
She shook her head. “Adam.” She grabbed his hand and pressed it on her belly.
He froze, his eyes going wide.
“I shouldn’t have to wait a week to find the time to tell you something this important.”
She smiled and nodded.
“How long?” He pressed his hands against her clearly pregnant belly.
“I know your work is important, but I need some of your time too.”
He swept her up in a tight embrace driving the one worry from her mind. That he hand’t noticed because he didn’t want kids. Or that he didn’t care.