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To take on another passenger, however, some alterations were necessary. As Chad moved over, he slid his still sleeping uncle, (who's only acknowledgment of the move was to make a small groan), hard up against Mike. Mike now found it difficult to sit in the driver's seat and still remain behind the wheel. With a patient shake of the head, Mike accepted the new arrangement. Charlie squeezed in and shut the door.

"My name is Mike Garner," introduced Mike. "That's my uncle, Adam Clark. And the kid who impolitely jerked your suitcase away was my baby brother, Chad," apologized Mike with a laugh. Chad cringed at the sound of "baby brother."

"I'm not a baby," retorted Chad, embarrassed that Mike had said that in front of a pretty girl.

"My mistake," replied Mike.

"My name is Wendy," said the girl, seeing that it was her turn to introduce herself.

"Slow down, Mike," yawned Adam, waking up from his nap.

"Yeah, slow down," teased Chad.

"Everyone's a critic," joked Mike, adjusting his speed once more. Adam yawned again, stretching one arm out behind Chad's head, and the other behind Mike. As he stretched, he felt his right hand run into someone's face. Adam leaned forward to see who else was in the van.

"I beg your pardon," he apologized. "Who do we have here?"

"This is Wendy. We're giving her a lift into Twin Yucca," replied Chad.

"It's not safe for kids to hitchhike," explained Mike. The girl looked up reproachfully. He had just inferred that she was a kid.

"These days, hitchhiking isn't safe for anyone," asserted Adam, leaning back in his seat once more. Adam wrinkled his forehead thoughtfully. Suddenly his face brightened. He glanced back at the new passenger and gave a knowing smile.

"So, where are you from, Wendy?" asked Mike.

"Here and there," evaded the girl, uneasy that someone was asking her questions that she really didn't want to answer.

"Are you staying or just passing through?" continued Mike.

"Not sure yet," came the reply. Mike looked in the mirror at the girl, catching her shyly watching him. When she saw he was looking at her, she quickly looked away.

Adam chuckled to himself. When Mike was little, he could remember the small girls that would constantly follow his nephew around. Mike was so young that his appreciation of the fairer sex had not yet developed. He protested their interest in him at the top of his lungs. It was like that throughout Mike's childhood. He had good looks that attracted attention wherever he went. Now twenty-five, Mike saw nothing unusual about the fact that when women passed him on the street, they would do a double take; that mothers would drag their daughters up to him so they could be introduced; and that girls, especially in Twin Yucca, dreamed of being Mrs. Mike Garner. Adam could not help being amused. It looked like Mike had inadvertently made another conquest.

"Do you have friends and family in Twin Yucca?" pressed Mike, realizing that Wendy was doing all that she could to evade his questions.
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