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"Now for my briefing," began Melvin. "Downplay the attempted break-in. We don't want to encourage the intruder by giving him a lot of publicity. Play up the engagement ring. Make sure you show your hand to the photographers. It's a feel-good moment that can overshadow this morning's incident. Charlie, no matter how insulting the questions become, don't lose your temper! I know the tabloid story is ugly, but you'll only make things ten times worse by creating a scene. Adam, make sure you mention that Charlie and her family are only here for the day, and that they will be going home, tonight. We've told the press that you and she aren't engaging in premarital sex, so let's endeavor to give a consistent front. Remember, people, this is your first public interview, TOGETHER! Act happy and smile a lot!"

"Am I smiling?" asked Charlie, turning to Adam. "I'm so nervous, I can't tell."

Before the front door opened, Adam mouthed the words, "I love you," to Charlie. She smiled, and the entourage stepped outside. Immediately, camera flashes went off, and the crowd became excited.

"We love you!" shouted one fan.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press," said Melvin, "Wallace Shipley and Miss Charlotte Overholt will take your questions, now."

Several reporters began talking at once until one voice won out over the others. Charlie noticed more than one news camera training in on them, and tried hard not to show how intimidated she was feeling.

"Charlotte," asked the reporter, "the Twin Yucca police said that an intruder tried to break into your home, at two this morning. Is it true that you knew the individual?"

"I never saw the person's face," replied Charlie, "but I can't imagine anyone I know doing such a thing."

"Charlotte," asked another reporter, "can we see your engagement ring?"

Smiling, Charlie held out her left hand so everyone could get a look. The crowd clapped and cheered at this, and the mood of the questions began to lighten. Melvin had been right-- the ring did overshadow the break-in, especially when Charlie told them how much the ring was worth.

It was during this line of questioning, that the phrase, 'the Shipley-Overholt diamond' was first used. The large, sixteen carat diamond made quite an impression on the fans, (namely the women), and the general feeling was that it was evidence of true love. After all, no one would give their fiancée a ring that expensive, if they intended to break up immediately after the wedding, right? We know that no piece of jewelry, no matter how precious it may be, is enough to keep two people together. Public opinion is as changeable as the wind, but for today, the crowd decided to approve of Charlie.

When the questions were over, Adam made another plea to please keep down the noise, as it was disturbing the neighbors. However, when they went back into the house, Adam could hear another round of, "Wal-lace! Wal-lace!"

The police had been called in earlier to keep the crowd under control, and now that there seemed little chance of seeing Adam or his future wife again, most of the fans began to weary of their vigil. When the media began to disband, it sent a message to the others that they had seen all there was to see. After that, the crowd dispersed, one by one, until there were only a few die-hard fans left sitting on the sidewalk, just in case Wallace Shipley should stick his head out. It was a beautiful summer night, and they, unwittingly, were stopping Adam from going out and enjoying it, himself.

At five o' clock that evening, Maggie arrived to help Charlie prepare the dinner. Jeff came shortly after that.

"Go on, I can take care of the meal," prodded Charlie, trying to shoo her girlfriend from the kitchen. "After all, Jeff didn't come here to see Adam!"

In the living room, Adam and Jeff were arranging the dinner plates and silverware on the short coffee table, for this was an informal gathering of friends. When Maggie walked into the room, Jeff beamed contentedly.

A happy, relaxed feeling pervaded the house. Even Kevin, from his silent vantage in a corner of the living room, enjoyed watching the two couples mingle and interact with each other. Vera napped in the recliner while Chuck had a seat of his own right in front of the TV, so he wouldn't be in the way.
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