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"I doubt our ladies would mind if we double dated," proposed Adam, "for they're already pretty good friends. This really depends on if you and I can get together, or not."

"Right now, you're a hot topic in Twin Yucca," pointed out Jeff, tossing the remainder of his sandwich into the paper bag. "They're saying some pretty nasty things about you and Charlie."

"I know," sighed Adam.

"I'm not one to give credence to gossip," continued Jeff, gravely, "but if there's anything at all questionable going on between you and her, I want to know now. I'm not trying to offend you, but if my name is going to be connected to you, and your relationship with a minor, then I've got to be fully persuaded that nothing unlawful is taking place. And it's not only my name I'm thinking of," he added, "the Police department sure would get a black eye, if it turned out that one of its officers was 'aiding and abetting child molestation.'"

"Surely, you don't think that!" cried Adam, sitting bolt upright in his seat.

"I suppose I don't feel as though I know you very well--" replied Jeff, cautiously, "not enough to take the kind of risk you're asking me to take."

"I suppose you don't know me very well," smiled Adam, realizing that Jeff had a point. "You see, Maggie and Charlie talk about you and me, all the time with each other. When Maggie tells Charlie something, Charlie often repeats it to me. In a way, I feel as though I've known you for years."

Jeff looked at him, incredulously.

"For instance," related Adam, "I know your daughter, Debbie, skinned her left knee while jumping from a tree house last summer, and that it left a small moon shaped scar; you're allergic to strawberries, and break out in hives after just one bite; Debbie sometimes has nightmares about her mother's death, but you sing her to sleep with 'Jesus Loves Me;' your landlady has tried, on several occasions, to get you to go out with her daughter; you don't separate your colors from the whites when you do your laundry; Debbie's afraid you'll never remarry, so she plans on never moving out, so she can take care of you..."

"Okay!" sighed Jeff, grinning, sheepishly. "I can see Maggie has been talking about me!"

"I realize now, that this would be a leap of faith on your part," said Adam.

"Do you remember," asked Jeff, "we once had a talk about marriage? You told me that you thought you'd never marry. May I ask what changed your mind?"

"I fell in love," Adam smiled. "I never thought I would, but I did."

"Does her family support the marriage?" asked Jeff.

"Yes," replied Adam, "though Jerome isn't crazy about me. I think he's waiting for the whole thing to fall apart, but he's given his permission."

"What about her father?" inquired Jeff. "How does he feel about you?"

"Chuck hasn't said a word for quite a while," sighed Adam. "I don't even know if he recognizes me, anymore. But, when he was with us, we were good friends. I like to think that he would give his consent."

"So," ventured Jeff, "you and she haven't... you know?"

"No, we haven't!" exclaimed Adam, finishing Jeff's thought.

"I didn't think you had," mused Jeff, "but, it's my neck if you're lying to me. And, since you'd be sticking out your neck for me, I think it's only fair to tell you, that Maggie and I haven't... either."

"Conversation isn't very easy when you're trying to get around that word, is it?" chuckled Adam.

"I never use that particular word around my daughter," explained Jeff, a little embarrassed.

Just then, a call came over Officer Erickson's radio. Adam quickly jumped out of the squad car.

"I'll get back to you, later!" shouted Jeff, speeding away, his siren wailing.

Adam optimistically shoved his hands into his pockets, and walked back home to change into his gardening overalls. On the whole, he thought it had gone well.
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