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Charlie made her way down the road, reflecting on her coming marriage. Her thoughts were quickly interrupted, however, by a steady downpour of rain from the heavens. As she held her backpack above her head to shield herself from the rain, Charlie was suddenly startled by a loud honk coming from behind. To her surprise, the Clark Plumbing Service and Supply van was pulling over to where she stood.

"Adam?" she wondered aloud.

The window on the driver's side rolled down and a familiar face peered out.

"Need a lift to school?" asked Mike.

"Thanks," she replied, gratefully.

"That's all right," he said, beckoning Chad to open the door for her. "We're headed there, anyway."

Thankful to get out of the rain, Charlie got in and sat down beside Chad.

"Mom had a sudden headache," explained Mike, "so I have to drive Chad to school."

By the hard glances Chad was giving her, Charlie sensed that she had been the cause of Shirley's sudden malady.

"Did your car break down?" asked Mike, curiously. It was unusual to see anyone making the long walk into Joshua Tree on foot-- let alone in the rain.

Charlie wondered how to reply to Mike's question. What should she say? "I got out of the car because Uncle Jerome is trying to punish Adam through me?"

"I just decided to walk," replied Charlie, deciding that, in this case, vagueness was better than brutal honesty.

For a while, the only sound to be heard was the swishing of the windshield wipers, and the muffled sound of the engine. Both brothers were unusually quiet, until Chad, who couldn't hold it in any longer, suddenly blurted,

"I don't care if you will be my aunt! I'm not going to call you 'Aunt Charlie'!" Chad protested.

From Mike's silence, Charlie sensed that he had been thinking a similar thought.

"That's fine," she answered, softly.

"I don't care if you will be my aunt!" repeated Chad.

Mike gave him a you-spoke-your-piece-now-be-quiet look, but the boy retorted,

"She's only six years older than me!"

"Remember what Mom said," reminded Mike, nudging his brother in the side with an elbow.

Thankfully, Galilee Christian School was just ahead. When the van pulled up in front of the school, Charlie and Chad got out. As she reached in to get her backpack, Mike stopped her for a moment.

"Are you really going to marry my Uncle?" he asked, incredulously.

"Yes," replied Charlie.

Mike shook his head, and sighed heavily.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I love him," she answered.

"But, you're just a kid," argued Mike.

"Apparently, not," smiled Charlie, bravely. "Thank you for the ride."

As she walked away from the van, Charlie breathed a sigh of relief.

"Charlie!" called out Kendra Hanna, running up to meet her, as though they were old friends. "Were you just talking to Mike Garner? I wonder if he'd leave Sandra for me?" she conjectured.

"That's a terrible thing to say!" exclaimed Charlie.
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