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Chapter Forty-seven
For the First Time

"My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone."
~ Song of Solomon 2:10, 11 ~

Why do I have to get all fixed up, just to go pick out a wedding dress?" sighed Charlie, looking into the mirror across the motel room, as Vera arranged her hair.

"You want to know how you're going to look in the dress, don't you?" replied Vera, pinning up Charlie's brown locks.

"I hope Constance calls soon," wished Charlie, rubbing her ankle. "I gave her my satellite phone number so she can call me the minute we get Villa Rosa."

"Pumpkin, stop fidgeting," said Vera, trying to finish the teenager's hair. "You need to settle down. Remember, if your ankle starts to bother you, we'll come straight back. I wish we could do this another day, but your wedding is only weeks away. We'll be doing good to find a gown you like in just one day."

"You mean it could take longer?" asked Charlie, with a surprised groan.

"Charlie," replied Vera, patiently, "this is your wedding dress. It's something that you'll always treasure, and maybe even pass on to your own daughter. It's the single most important dress a woman ever buys."

"What happened to your own wedding gown?" asked the teenager, smiling at this sudden wave of sentimentality in her grandmother.

"It's packed away somewhere," replied Vera. "I'd let you have it, but the last time I saw it, it had considerable water damage. My, my! I haven't thought about that dress in a long time," Vera smiled to herself.

At nine o' clock, Shirley arrived to pick up Charlie, Vera, and Kevin. As Kevin helped Charlie into the car, her future sister-in-law began discussing what gown styles she thought were the best. Shirley was excited-- even more so than Charlie, who had a difficult time getting her mind off of the (hopefully) impending purchase of Villa Rosa. She clutched her satellite phone, and silently prayed that God would give Constance wisdom to secure the estate.

"What's your opinion?" asked Shirley, suddenly requiring Charlie's input.

Because she hadn't been paying attention, the young woman smiled politely and shrugged.

"Grandma and I went house hunting," Charlie announced, trying to change the subject from whatever it was.

"Really?" said Shirley, in surprise. "Did you see anything you liked?"

"Yes, I did," smiled Charlie. "In fact, I found a house that I liked so much, Constance is going to close escrow on it today!"

"'Today'?" repeated Shirley, her voice pleased but stunned. She wondered why Constance hadn't called her and told her the good news, when it happened. "I thought you and Adam didn't want to live in Twin Yucca," she recalled.

"It's not in Twin Yucca," answered Charlie.

"Near it then?" asked Shirley, hopefully.

"Not exactly," hesitated Charlie. "It's an hour and a half drive from Twin Yucca."

"Well," said Shirley, "at least it's still in the Mojave, right?"

"It's most definitely in the Mojave," laughed Charlie. "I've never been so excited about a house, Shirley! It's going to need some serious renovations, but when it's done, it'll be perfect! Adam and I are going to live in a trailer or mobile home on the property until the house is livable."

continued on next page...
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