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"No, I don't deny it," replied Vera. "But I was present with Charlie every minute! You have my word for it! She and Adam were never alone together!"

"Will you swear before God, that this is true?" challenged the teacher.

"I swear, before God," replied Vera, "that what I said is true."

"Your word is good enough for us," interjected Principal Strickland. "If anyone here believes that Mrs. Overholt is lying, please declare it now. We must resolve this, today."

Every teacher and school board member looked to the person seated next to them, wondering if anyone was going to raise their hand. When it was apparent that no one was going to, Principal Strickland took another vote concerning the expulsion of Charlie. It was unanimous, she could remain at Galilee.

The meeting had lasted over an hour. When everyone dispersed, school was already out. Wearily, the Overholts went home. Charlie was too shaken to drive, so Jerome got behind the wheel. Leaning her head on the back of her seat, Charlie looked out the window, and noticed that the clouds had parted, allowing the sun to bathe the desert with its warm light.

"Praise the Lord, that's over with," sighed Vera, opening a car window to let a little air in, for Charlie looked pale.

When Jerome pulled up to the Overholt house, Mrs. Jacobs from across the street ran over to Charlie, carrying a medium sized package.

"This came for Charlie while you were away, Vera," she said, handing it to the teenager, "so I went ahead and signed for it."

"It's from Adam!" exclaimed Charlie, reading the shipping label.

Mrs. Jacobs lingered, as if wanting to see what was inside the parcel, so Charlie politely excused herself and went into the house for some privacy.

"Is what I've been hearing about Charlie and Adam true?" asked Mrs. Jacobs to Vera.

Inside, Charlie ran to her room, and closed the door. She cut the packing tape and opened the box. Inside, she found a beautiful wooden music box, ornately decorated with hand carved roses and butterflies. She wound the key and lifted the delicate lid. To her delight, it played a stanza from one of Adam's songs, 'Shades of Love.' Charlie eagerly opened the enclosed note. It read:

"Dearest Charlie-girl, of all the earthbound miracles that has happened, the greatest is that you love me. I wish I could be there with you. I love you. Adam."

Charlie collapsed into happy tears and kissed the note. Those handful of printed words had made the entire morning worthwhile. She grabbed the satellite phone and called Adam.

"Oh, Adam," she cried, happily, "it's so good to hear your voice!"

"Are you all right?" he asked, concerned by the tears he heard in her voice.

"I had a hard day at school," she explained. "Your music box came at just the right moment to cheer me up!"

"What happened?" asked Adam. "Did the rest of the Garner clan pay you a visit, yet?"

"No, but I did see Mike and Chad this morning," said Charlie. "I was walking to school..."

"You were walking?!" exclaimed Adam. "That road is too dangerous to walk on, Charlie! Only last year, a hitchhiker was struck by a car on that very road! Why were you walking, anyway?"

"I sort of had a fight with Uncle Jerome," confessed Charlie. "Actually, he was the one who did all the fighting. When I had enough, I got out of the car."

Charlie could hear Adam sigh heavily.

"Was the disagreement about me?" he asked.

"Besides unloading Daddy onto your hands, I think the real reason Uncle Jerome gave his permission for us to get married, is because he's certain the marriage will fail," admitted Charlie. "He told me about as much in the car."

"Why would he say 'yes,' then?" asked Adam.

"To punish you," answered Charlie.

Adam was silent. Charlie knew he hadn't hung up, for she could hear his breathing over the phone.
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