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"If we fly back today," planned Gary, "I think we could probably reschedule the concert for tomorrow. That nine million, however... I'm afraid we've lost it for good."

"I understand," said Adam, getting his coat. "I could've flown here after the concert was over, and not before. It wasn't a life or death emergency. As much as I wanted to be here, I should have remembered that there are a lot of people depending on me."

"Don't beat yourself up, too hard," said Gary, smiling a little for the first time since arriving. "She's your first love, you're my first big client, and this is our first tour together. A lot of things are happening to us, for the first time."

It was settled that Vera would stay with Mrs. Jenkins, who was more than happy for the company, while Kevin hired a private detective to go looking for Charlie. The rest would return to the tour. When Adam left Butte that day, he left his heart with Charlie.

At an undisclosed address, Charlie flicked on the television set and watched news footage of Wallace Shipley once more back in front of the piano.

"Good," she breathed to herself. "He's getting on with his life."

Even through Charlie's brave front, she knew she still loved him.

April passed, and Charlie spent her seventeenth birthday away from her family and away from Adam. She had called Jerome on occasion, assuring him that she was all right, and not to worry. The assurances weren't for her uncle, but for the others, for Charlie sensed that Jerome was little more than amused by the whole situation-- at least, that's the way he came off to her. From Jerome, she learned that Vera was still in Butte, and that Adam had hired a private detective to help Kevin hunt her down. Half of Charlie was happy that Adam still cared, and the other half was saddened, for it meant that things were far from over between them.

When May came to Montana, the snows began to melt. Rivers were full to overflowing, and life started to spring up from the ground once again. By the beginning of June, the hiking grounds Charlie had so often traversed with her father in the past, were now ready for her. This is what she had been waiting for.

Charlie prepared her hiking gear, and set out for a little known hiking trail near Stonecreek that wound through an old deserted copper mine, dating from the 1800's. This had been a favorite route of Chuck's and he would often tell stories of miners who had found wealth beyond imagine, only to lose it, and to spend the rest of their lives in search of it again. Charlie tried to ignore any parallel she saw to her own life.

It was a warm June day, and all of nature was out in force. Flies buzzed around her, while birds gathered twigs and moss for their nests. The earth was lush with green. Everything Charlie saw was thirstily drinking in life, for the days of winter and snow were at last over. Charlie bent over to relace her boots, while the ever majestic snowcapped Rocky Mountains jutted into the crystal blue sky above her. She breathed in the fresh air and thanked God for such a beautiful day.

"If only Adam were here," she caught herself thinking.

After a day's hard hiking, she made her way to the top of Grant's Bluff, affording her a panoramic view of the forest wilderness beyond.

Charlie unrolled her sleeping bag near the base of a tall Ponderosa Pine, and built the campfire. As the sun set in the horizon, she settled down by the fire, and ate her dinner of hot beans and cornbread. Owls hooted in the treetops, while other nocturnal animals came out to forage for food. When dinner was over, Charlie extinguished the campfire and climbed into her sleeping bag. She stared wakefully at the stars which peeked through the canopy of trees overhead, and wondered how Adam was doing, and if he was all right. At last, sleep came, and so ended Charlie's first day.

The next day began much as Charlie had expected it would. After pulling up camp, she left the trail and took a shortcut that only people familiar with the area would have taken. On the hiking map, it was marked for experts only. Chuck had come this way many times before, and Charlie was in no doubt that she could handle the rocky terrain with little to no problem.
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