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"This isn't just about Maggie, is it?" asked Charlie. "You're fishing for something."

"Is there anything you want to tell me?" inquired Adam. "You know I'm you're friend, right?" he asked, smiling.

Charlie relaxed a little. His smile was disarming her resistance.

"It seems as though you're a better friend to me than I've been to Maggie," Charlie acknowledged, angry at herself for placing Maggie in such a spot.

"I wouldn't go that far," said Adam. "But, I'm glad you're aware of the situation before Jeff had a chance to pursue Maggie any further!"

"Do you think I should invite him to Thanksgiving dinner?" asked Charlie.

"I think it's a start," replied Adam. "Don't forget to include Jeff's little girl in the invitation."

Charlie nodded.

"So, you're not going to tell me?" asked Adam.

"Tell you what?" asked Charlie, knowing full well that she had left Adam's inquiry to the cop question unanswered.

"Someday, maybe you'll be able to talk about it," said Adam, preparing to leave.

"Someday," replied Charlie.

"Happy Thanksgiving," said the plumber, departing. Charlie heard the front door shut behind him.

"Happy Thanksgiving," whispered Charlie, reflectively. If her father had been the one conducting the conversation, Chuck would have immediately pressed her for an explanation, thus provoking her stubborn side into an unbudging state. At least, that was the way father and daughter had argued in the old days-- before Alzheimer's Disease and becoming Christians. Now, Charlie tried hard not to disturb Chuck with disagreement or conflict, lest it should hasten the progression of the disease, which was the main reason Charlie refrained from speaking about Darren and the drugs.

However, Adam was not her father. Once learning of her life and death scrape back in North Carolina, would he feel obligated to go to her father and tell him everything? Sometimes she could sense Adam was trying to balance the delicate difference between close friend and concerned adult.

He must have been doing something right, because Charlie regarded Adam's tact. It was clear he felt she was hiding something significant-- significant enough to warrant concern on his part. However, Adam took everything in stride, trusting the teenager enough not to force her into an explanation.

As Charlie was musing this over, a burnt aroma wafted from the general direction of the oven.

"Oh!" she cried, "My pumpkin pies!"

Later, Maggie made an unprovoked confession that she had spent her time with Jeff Erickson that day, instead of at home with a headache. To Maggie's amazement, Charlie simply shrugged it off and announced that they were having two more guests at Thanksgiving.

Jeff Erickson was also surprised by the Overholts' invitation to join them and the Downens' for Thanksgiving dinner. He assumed Adam was behind it, and made up his mind to thank the Master Plumber the next time he should see him.

Thanksgiving Day began with Charlie rising early in the morning to tidy the house and polish Vera's good silverware. A quick breakfast was prepared and everyone was encouraged to eat quickly, for Charlie needed to clean the last of the breakfast dishes before taking the kitchen entirely over.

Realizing they were in the way, Vera and Chuck did as they were told. They both went to Mullen-Overholt so Vera could be near her husband, and so the staff could watch Chuck. They promised to return at noon to be ready to accept their guests. Since the Thanksgiving meal was to be such a large one, it had been previously agreed upon to start at one in the afternoon.

Maggie showed up promptly at eight, insisting that she should prepare some part of the meal by herself.

"I want Jeff to know I can cook," explained Maggie.

Charlie sighed, patiently. What could she trust Maggie to do?

"I know!" Charlie exclaimed. "You can make the cheese ball, and prepare the pre-dinner snacks!"
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