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When the plane landed, Kevin rented a car to make the short drive into Butte, and then to the apartment building that Charlie and Chuck had called home for so many years. As they pulled up to the familiar building, Charlie felt herself longing for the comforting arms of her father, telling her that everything would be all right. It was eleven o' clock at night, and the the lights in the hallway were on.

Charlie led the way, straight to Mrs. Jenkins' apartment.

"We used to live on the door opposite hers," explained Charlie, as she knocked on the old woman's door.

Mrs. Jenkins opened the door, and hugged her favorite neighbor.

"My!" she exclaimed. "You've grown so tall, Charlotte!"

As Charlie and Kevin entered the room, a man stood up from where he had been sitting on the couch.

Charlie gasped in surprise. It was Adam!

"You're right," observed Mrs. Jenkins, smiling at Adam. "She is surprised! Well, I'll let you two talk while I put the kettle on."

With that, the old woman shuffled to the kitchen with Kevin. For a still moment, Adam and Charlie just stared at each other.

"Charlie," asked Adam, breaking the silence, "what's going on? Vera called me and gave me your address, and I flew down here as soon as I could. She's right, you don't look well."

Adam stepped forward to touch her face, but Charlie pulled away from him. The concerns he had been trying to talk himself out of, now suddenly seemed all too possible.

"You're scaring me, Charlie," he said, soberly.

"I need some time to think," replied Charlie.

"What happened in Jerome's office?" asked Adam. "Did he hurt you?"

"No, Uncle Jerome didn't hurt me," she answered. "This doesn't have anything to do with Uncle Jerome. I just need time to think."

"Yes, you keep saying that," muttered Adam, trying not to panic. "Are you thinking about us-- about me? Is that why you're here? Please, Charlie, I'm trying to understand! Is this because I've been too busy to talk on the phone with you, lately?"

"It's not you, Adam," assured Charlie. "It's me. Things are different now, and I don't know what to do about it, yet."

"What's different?" he asked. "I'm the same man who loves you as I was half a year ago, when you said you'd marry me."

"I know," answered the young woman, feeling a little weak.

Seeing this, Adam helped her to sit down on the couch. He checked her forehead.

"You don't have a fever," he observed, thoughtfully.

"Adam, please be patient with me," asked Charlie, touching his arm. "I'm asking a lot of hard questions, and the answers are frightening me. I have to sort this out on my own. I know you want to help, but this is something I have to do, myself."

"Are you leaving me, Charlie-girl?" he asked, his voice breaking at the last. "Wait, don't answer that. Maybe it's only my imagination, but I'm almost afraid you'll call off the wedding."

Adam stood up, unable to look her in the eye.

"I'll give you as much time to think as you need," he said, "but Charlie, I don't know what I'll do if you leave me."
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One of my longtime readers, Myra Valcourt, has created a Facebook group just for you! "The Works of Judith Bronte" offers a forum to discuss the stories and characters, and a way to get to know other readers. I hope to see you there!