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"Mrs. Garner? You mean Shirley?" asked Adam.

"She's asking Grandma to see me," informed Charlie, feeling a little frantic. "But she can't know, because you haven't told her yet, right?"

"No, I haven't told her," replied Adam, feeling a little frantic himself. "However, there is a small possibility that she might already know," he conceded, remembering the newspaper Gary had shown him. Even though Shirley didn't get the Raleigh paper, maybe someone had told her of it.

"What do I tell her?" cried Charlie. "Are we engaged? What do I tell her if she asks? Oh, Adam, I wish you were here right now!"

"Take it easy, Charlie-girl," calmed Adam.

"I don't think you understand," said Charlie, "I still call her 'Mrs. Garner'! She's never really approved of me, and she always treats me as though I were a child! If I told her, 'I love Adam,' it would mean nothing more to her than a silly schoolgirl crush!"

"Charlie?" asked Adam.

"She doesn't like me, and she never will!" continued Charlie.

"Charlie!" repeated Adam.

"What?!" cried Charlie, annoyed that Adam wasn't as upset as herself.

"Will you marry me?" he asked.

All at once, Charlie was still.

"Do you have to ask?" replied the young woman."You know I will!"

"Stay in your room," instructed Adam. "I'm going to call your uncle, and get his permission to announce our engagement. He is your legal guardian. When I get his answer, I'll call you back!"

Before she could say another word, Adam hung up. Charlie was numb with pleasure and fear. She wondered what Uncle Jerome would say; she wondered what Shirley would say; and, she wondered what the world would say.

"Charlie, it's Grandma," said Vera, opening the teenager's door. "Shirley is here to see you, Pumpkin," she gravely informed her granddaughter.

Just by the look on Vera's face, Charlie knew it wasn't good.

"Let me get dressed, first," said Charlie, trying to stall long enough for Adam's return call.

"Don't be too long," said Vera, closing the door.

Charlie dressed and readied herself. The speed with which Adam called back alarmed her. Surely, if Jerome had said "yes," then it would have taken longer than this!

"Charlie, it's me," said Adam. "Your uncle gave his permission! However, there was a condition. When we marry, he wants to sign over Chuck's guardianship to me. I agreed, of course. That IS all right with you, isn't it?"

"Yes, certainly," replied Charlie, grieved that Uncle Jerome would use this as an opportunity to rid himself of a "weight around his neck."

"I would have accepted the responsibility, even if Jerome hadn't required it," said Adam, not wanting Charlie to think that he had been forced into it. "Your family will be my family. In fact, it's all right by me, if you want Chuck and Vera to live with us."

As Charlie wiped the tears from her eyes, Adam could hear her gently sobbing from happiness.

"I can remember my own disagreements with my sister when she placed Mom into the nursing home," explained Adam. "Mom said it was the right thing to do, but since I had been kept out of the decision process, it took a long time for me to live with their choice. They were trying to shield me, but because they did, it only made it harder for me to accept. I know that sounds crazy, because I wasn't the one who had to live in that place-- Mom was. It's only that I wished she could have lived with me. I would've loved that opportunity."

"I'm so grateful that you understand," said Charlie. "I admit, I was wondering what I would do if you refused to let Daddy come live with us. And thank you for including Grandma!"
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