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"I suppose you mean the phones," replied Charlie, gathering her courage.

"I don't just mean the phones," answered Adam. "What did you say to that girl?"

"Nothing that she didn't have coming," replied Charlie, defensively.

"How could you?" he cried. "What in heaven's name possessed you treat her that way?"

"Maybe it's because she's treating you like her personal whipping boy, or maybe it's just because I couldn't take the incessant phone calls anymore! Take your pick!" Charlie shocked herself with her own boldness.

"Sit down!" shouted Adam. The forcefulness of his voice made Charlie instantly obey. "What you did today was not because you were trying to protect me! If you had thought at all about me, and what I asked you to do, you wouldn't have even answered the phone in the first place! God only knows what she'll do now!"

"What are you talking about?" asked Charlie.

"You really don't know what you did, do you?" reflected Adam.

"How can I, when you don't tell me anything?" said Charlie, indignantly.

Adam sat down on the facing couch across from Charlie, bowed his head and exhaled, trying to calm down from the rush of emotion that was overtaking him.

"I guess it's no use trying to keep it from you," he sighed.

"Wait," interrupted Charlie, realizing that she had hurt her friend by her own carelessness. "It's none of my business. You asked me not to answer the phone, and I forgot. But, when I remembered, I went ahead anyway, and meddled where I had no right to. You don't owe me any explanation. I'm truly sorry," apologized Charlie.

"I accept your apology," said Adam, "but I want to tell you, anyway. This is one secret that I think needs telling. How much do you know about my accident?"

"You mean the accident where you got those scars?" asked Charlie, pointing to his hands.

Adam nodded.

"Daddy said you were burned while pulling a girl from a burning car," said Charlie.

"Did he tell you that there was another young woman I couldn't save?" asked Adam, his voice straining for composure.

"Yes," mumbled Charlie.

"Her name was Cathy Enslow," related Adam, "and she was about your age and height. She was sitting on the front seat of the car-- on the passenger side, and her seat belt would not budge. It had been welded shut by the heat of the flames. I tried..." Adam's voice wavered, "I tried to free her, but I couldn't find anything to cut the belt with. Just one seat belt! She looked at me with those eyes-- eyes that said she knew she was going to die. All because I couldn't cut one simple seat belt!

"Jessica Enslow, the driver of the car, and Cathy's older sister, was the girl I was able to pull from the wreck. She is the one who has been calling me," revealed Adam.

"But, why?" asked Charlie.

"Jessica blames me for her sister's death," said Adam, taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly.

"It's not your fault!" cried Charlie, indignantly. "You did your best, and that's all anyone can ask of another! I have half a mind to tell her just that!"

"You will not!" declared Adam, resolutely. "It's because of your talk with her today that Jessica's father called to say she has run away from the hospital, and this time, they can't find her!"

"The hospital?" asked Charlie, a sinking feeling settling in the pit of her stomach.

"She attempted suicide a few weeks ago," explained Adam, "and these phone calls were the only thing stopping her from trying it again."

The overwhelming reality of what she had done landed on Charlie's shoulders with a sudden thud. The next thing she knew, Chuck, Vera, and Adam were looking down at her.

"She's going to be fine," said Vera, patting Charlie's hand.

"I shouldn't have been so abrupt," apologized Adam. "I didn't know she'd take it this way."
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