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Charlie waited with bated breath.

"Please, God," she prayed. "Please, 'bring to light the hidden things of darkness.'" [1 Corinthians 4:5] It wasn't only just the sentiment attached with the ring, but Charlie wanted to get it back because of Shirley, who was still reeling from the shock of dropping a million dollars down the kitchen plumbing.

Just then, Charlie heard Mike excitedly shout from the front yard,

"I found it! I found the ring!"

Inside the house, Adam sighed in relief and grinned at Charlie as she ran outside to retrieve the golden band from Mike.

"I saw something brilliant flash into the bucket," related Mike, still elated over his find. "Here it is, Charlie. All it needs is a good cleaning, and it'll be as good as new!"

He handed her the treasured object. Charlie held it up to the fading light of the early evening sky. Yes, it was her engagement ring!

"Thank you, Mike," said the teenager gratefully. "It's so good to have it back!"

"You're welcome, Aunt Charlie," he replied.

Charlie smiled. That was the first time any of Adam's nephews had called her 'Aunt Charlie.'

"And thank you for treating Mom better than she treated you," added Mike. "Especially when Mom lost your ring."

"Yes," agreed Thomas, "you handled yourself with grace and dignity. Since no one else has said it yet, welcome to the family."

With that, Thomas shook Charlie's hand.

"Thank you," beamed Charlie.

"Well, come on Mike, we've got to put this lawn back together," said the father, as Charlie left to go find Adam.

"Congratulations!" said Horace, as she returned to the house.

"I'm so happy for you," added Millie, as the Westons were departing. "We would go say good-bye to Shirley, but I think we'll just let her rest, instead. God bless you!"

With the excitement quieting down, Chad fell asleep on the couch to digest his meal in peace, while Sandra made herself useful by tidying the house while her husband worked outside with his father.

"What was all that about?" asked Adam, when Charlie had at last found him in the kitchen, preparing to reinstall the pipe under the sink. "Did my eyes deceive me, or did I actually see you shaking hands with Thomas and Mike?"

"I was just officially welcomed into the family," announced Charlie, with a beaming smile. "And guess what else? Mike just called me 'Aunt Charlie'!"

"Did he really?" said Adam, happily. "Well, you've got your ring back, and you've finally been accepted by my family. It looks like everything ended happy, after all."

"Don't you dare think you can get off that easily!" warned Charlie with a smile. "I haven't forgotten that you ran out on me, when you promised to be here! I had to face your sister WITHOUT you! And that was no small matter. She apologized later, but wow, there were several times when I wanted to leave this house at an all out run."

"I admit," conceded Adam, "that I should have been here. At the time, I thought I could do the interview and the get-together, but I should have had my priorities straight. I'm sorry for leaving you like I did. Will you forgive me, too?"

He said this with a playfulness that melted Charlie's heart. When the playfulness turned to something more serious, Charlie could feel herself being drawn to him. The feeling put her on guard.

"You and I have to be careful," she quietly reminded him.

"I know," said Adam, wistfully. "I wish we could get married tomorrow, like Jeff and Maggie."

"This isn't a long engagement," pointed out Charlie. "We're getting married next summer."
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