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"It was the request of a Grandma who didn't think she was going to live out another year," replied Adam, solemnly.

Charlie sank down into a chair.

"Grandma did say something about not always going to be here," remembered Charlie. "I thought she only meant she was going to take a trip. I don't understand. Why would grandma think she's going to die?"

"Does Vera have any outstanding health problems?" asked Adam.

"I don't think so," replied Charlie, growing concerned. As Charlie was wondering, Vera walked into the kitchen.

"Good morning, Pumpkin!" greeted Vera, sitting down at the table. "Thank you for coming without any explanations, Adam," said Vera. "This is very important. Charlie, I want you to hear this. Come, sit down." Charlie left off washing the dishes from the party yesterday, and sat down at the table.

"First of all, Adam," said Vera, reaching out across the table and touching his hand, "I want you to know how very sorry I am for being the one to burst in on your incognito. I had absolutely no idea that you were who you were. That said, I thought that there might be still some way of preserving your secrecy."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well, Adam," began Vera, "first thing this morning, I splurged and called a taxi. I visited your sister Shirley and had a talk with her. I explained to her my regret and asked her if there wasn't some way to still keep Wallace Shipley a secret. (It's an almost impossible idea, especially considering the gossip-ready place Twin Yucca is.) Shirley expressed her dislike of your 'hobby,' and said she was more than willing not to tell a living soul, save her husband Thomas and of course, Mike and Sandra. She and Chad both promised not to reveal your secret, with the understanding that they would not tell a lie. There is a catch, however. Shirley said it's your responsibility to tell your Mom."

"I was going to," replied Adam.

"Next," continued Vera, "I visited Jeff Erickson. I found out that he never had any intentions of saying anything about last night. Jeff said he had always respected you as an artist and as a citizen. He felt it was none of his business to repeat information that had been intentionally withheld. Debbie, his little girl, had also been instructed to keep quiet. So, there was no need for alarm concerning Jeff.

"Maggie's house was my next stop. By the time I had gotten to her, Maggie had already told her parents, both of whom, fortunately, did not believe her. Maggie is willing to remain silent, also. She told me to tell you that she's sorry she talked, but that her Mom wasn't really listening, and that her Dad was drunk and he never remembers anything when he's that way." Vera sighed. "Poor thing! So Maggie is taken care of.

"Charlie's friend from school, Sara, had also told her Mom, but was told not to repeat confidential news. I don't think Sara's Mom really believed her, either. Sara has also promised to keep silent.

"Scottie, I learned, is not aware of Adam's other identity. The only thing he had to say about last night was that he had left before he had a chance to eat any birthday cake!

"That brings me to Gloria Jacobs," said Vera. "Fortunately for you, Adam, she was called away to Topeka. If she had stayed for the entire birthday party, your secret would have been all over Twin Yucca by now!"

"I was wondering what was going to happen," said Adam, his voice betraying how relieved he was feeling. "I was so shaken that I called in a friend to fill in for me at the store, this morning."

"I've already asked Chuck not to say anything, but in his condition, who knows if he'll remember," warned Vera. "But, there's nothing we can do about that. As long as Charlie and I won't talk, then Adam, I think your secret still has a good chance of being kept."

"What about Uncle Jerome?" asked Charlie, wondering if her Grandma would be willing to keep a secret from her son.

"What he doesn't know, won't hurt him," replied Vera.

"Thank you, Vera," replied Adam. "I can't express how much I'm grateful to you for doing this! Going public was a life change that I wasn't prepared for. Last night, I just had to trust to God's Providence."

"It does appear God was looking out for you," admitted Vera.

"Grandma," asked Charlie, "when you made the birthday request, you said you thought you only had a year to live. Is it true?"

The suddenness of the question caught Vera by surprise. She got up from the table and poured herself a cup of coffee.

"Are you going to die, Grandma?" asked Charlie, her voice quivering.
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