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Chapter Forty-one
The Wedding Trousseau

"God hath endued me with a good dowry."
~ Genesis 30:20 ~

The grandfather clock had just sounded one o' clock in the morning, when there was a knock on the Overholt front door.

"Just once, I'd like to sleep an entire night through!" muttered Charlie, as she got out of bed and put on her robe, for only the night before, a mysterious intruder had tried to break in. "At least this time, they're using the door!" she laughed softly.

Vera, who was sharing Charlie's bedroom, continued to snore away, too tired to notice that someone was at their front door. Charlie noiselessly slipped out of the room and walked down the hall, where she met Kevin.

"Are you expecting anyone?" he asked, picking up his shoulder holster.

"No, I'm not," replied Charlie.

"I had better be the one to answer the door, then," instructed Kevin, motioning her to stay where she was.

The ex-Navy SEAL carefully approached the door, and called out,

"Who is it?"

"It's me!" replied a woman's voice.

Though Kevin had only just met Maggie, he already recognized her voice.

"It's Miss Downen," Kevin informed Charlie, as he opened the door.

"Maggie!" said Charlie in surprise, rushing to meet her friend's tearstained face. "What happened?"

"First, could you come inside so we can shut the door?" Kevin requested, firmly but politely.

When Maggie stepped inside, he secured the door.

"Miss Overholt," he instructed Charlie, "never open this door if I'm not in the room."

"I won't," promised the teenager, sitting Maggie down on the couch for a talk.

"In that case, I'm going back to bed," yawned the bodyguard, returning to the bedroom Vera had vacated for him.

"What happened?" repeated Charlie, sitting down on the couch beside Maggie, while the middle-age woman dried her tears and struggled to find her voice.

"Dad kicked me out of the house!" she sobbed, pulling out a handkerchief to blow her nose.

"Why on earth would he do that?" asked Charlie, in a voice that betrayed little wonderment, for she had already guessed that Jeff's recent marriage proposal likely had something to do with it.

"It's because of Jeff!" explained Maggie, still sobbing. "When I got home tonight, Dad was drunk. He accused Jeff of really bad things. I can't remember how it happened, but when I opened my mouth to defend Jeff, I accidentally mentioned that we were getting married in a few days."

"Oh, no," groaned Charlie, heavily.

"I know, I was supposed to keep it a secret," sighed Maggie.

"What did he say then?" asked Charlie.

"Dad said he wasn't going to have a whore living under his roof," related the woman in a hushed voice, for she was ashamed to repeat it, untrue though it was. "Then, he grabbed me by the arm and shoved me outside. I didn't have a chance to get my clothes, or anything!"

Here Maggie began to cry once more. Charlie hugged her friend, and tried to comfort her.

continued on next page...
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