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"So glad you could all come!" exclaimed Shirley. "Vera, I told you that you didn't have to bring any food! The caterers have it all under control, but I'm sure this will taste great later! Please, do come in!"

If there was one word that could describe Shirley right now, it would be "polite." She had on her best company manners, and even though Shirley's smile was strained, it was obvious that she WAS trying.

Sandra's parents, Horace and Millie Weston, were already in the living room as the Overholt's and their entourage entered the room. A round of formal "Hello," and "Nice to meet you," went through the gathering, as everyone shook hands with the newcomers. Charlie had never met the Westons before, but she had seen them at Mike and Sandra's wedding earlier that year. Sandra's blind little sister, Becky, sat beside her parents, overcome with shyness.

While everyone sat down in the living room to wait for Adam, Kevin took a look around the fashionable house, making sure that there were no glaring "breaches of security." Shirley seemed uncomfortable about this, but Thomas had already given his permission, so she tried to hide her annoyance.

For a minute, everyone sat there, dumbly staring at each other.

"This is a nice house you've got here," remarked Bill, for they weren't HIS new relatives.

"Thank you," replied Thomas, perking up at the sound of a compliment. "I designed it myself."

"Did you?" said Bill.

"Yes, and I wrote a book about it, also. Maybe you've heard of it? 'Adobe Homes: From the Ground Up'?" asked Thomas.

"Say," answered Bill in surprise recognition, "you're not that Thomas Garner, are you?!"

"I'm afraid he is," smiled Shirley.

"I thought your face seemed familiar," admitted Bill. "I saw you at the Boston Festival a few years back. I believe you were signing autographs at the time. I had no idea you were Adam's brother-in-law!"

"It's a small world," smiled Horace Weston, who up to now, had even less to say.

"Yes, it is," mused Bill.

Just then, Kevin came back and took a seat near Charlie.

"So," began Thomas, addressing Charlie, "How do you like the limelight? I can't turn on the news lately, without seeing either you or Adam."

"It's been an experience," smiled Charlie.

"Speaking of my absent brother," interrupted Shirley, "do you know when we can expect him, Charlie?"

"I couldn't really say," confessed Charlie, a little embarrassed. "He said he would be here just as soon as the interview was over."

"Yes, that's what he told me, as well," sighed Shirley, hoping that perhaps Adam had divulged more to Charlie than he had to her. "I must say, I can't see why any interview is more important than Thanksgiving with family and friends. Thomas was the one who talked to Adam, so by the time I heard of his plans, I couldn't do a thing about it."

By this, Charlie understood that Shirley was blaming her for not stopping Adam, or maybe even that she had perhaps been the one to urge him to go. Charlie bit her bottom lip and remained silent. Vera wanted to say something in Charlie's defense, but she was so nervous that no words came to mind.

"This is our first Thanksgiving with our new extended family, as well," smiled Millie Weston to Charlie, for she sensed what Shirley had meant by the last remark. "In fact, you have something else in common with my daughter," Millie continued. "Sandra and Mike had dated each other for a short time before they became engaged, as well. And I couldn't imagine them being any happier than they are right now."

Mike gave Sandra's hand an extra squeeze while his wife blushed.

"Yes," interjected Shirley, "they had both families' consent before marrying, so they could become engaged so soon."

Thomas cleared his throat uncomfortably.
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