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Chapter Forty-five
Always In My Heart

"I [God] will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them... These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
~ Isaiah 42:16 ~

Kevin had just said the words Adam had dreaded to hear: "Charlie's gone!"

"Mrs. Jenkins went to wake her up for dinner," related Kevin, "but quickly discovered that Miss Overholt wasn't anywhere in the room. It appears as though she left by a bedroom window."

"Could someone have abducted her?" asked Adam, trying to gather his thoughts about what should be done next.

"I don't think so, Mr. Clark," answered the bodyguard. "Miss Overholt left a letter. It's addressed to you."

"Don't read it over the phone," directed Adam, checking his watch. "Vera and I should arrive at the airport, in a little while."

"I'll meet you with a car," replied Kevin. "I'm very sorry, Mr. Clark," he apologized. "You told me not to leave her alone, and I did. I blame myself for what happened."

"I didn't see this coming, either," consoled Adam.

When the musician hung up, he had the hard duty of breaking the news to Vera, who was resting at the other end of the private jet.

"Vera," he said, going to her seat, "brace yourself. Charlie's run away."

Vera's face fell, but after the news of Charlie's Alzheimer's test, this wasn't as big of a shock as it would have been, otherwise.

When the jet landed at the Silver Bow County Airport late that night, Kevin met Adam and Vera with a rented car. It was mid-April, and the Montana ground was still covered with snow. The difference in temperatures came as somewhat of a shock to Vera, who had just a little while ago, come from a dry, arid climate, to now step out into frigid air.

"Still no word," informed Kevin, as he helped Vera into the car.

"Do you have the letter?" requested Adam, getting into the passenger seat up front.

The bodyguard handed him a thin white envelope addressed to Adam. Inside, he could feel the small lump that was Charlie's engagement ring. When Adam opened the envelope, it slid out onto the palm of his hand and sparkled with all the luster of the night he had first placed it onto Charlie's finger. As the city lights of Butte passed before Adam, casting blurred images of luminance through the fogging windows, an inexpressible sadness pervaded his heart. He hadn't yet opened the letter, but he knew what was in it. He read it aloud for Vera's benefit, struggling to finish each sentence, and pausing a little before reading the next. It read:

"Adam, I've had doubts that relationships with so great an age difference as ours, could ever work. As July approaches, I know in my heart that I'm right-- it wouldn't be fair to you. I realize you won't understand, so I'm taking some time away from everything, for both of us to wake up from the dream we've been living in. Please don't come after me. Montana has been my home for most of my life, and I'll be fine. 'Sorry' isn't enough, but I don't know what else to say."

The musician dropped the letter into his lap and grieved inwardly.

"She's trying to protect me from the truth," Adam reasoned, his hand partially covering his mouth to steady the trembling lips.

"Charlie has never expressed any concerns over your age differences, to me," affirmed Vera. "She's only running away to spare you pain, Adam."

continued on next page...
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