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"Where exactly is this house?" inquired Shirley, a sinking feeling coming over her.

"Near Drywell," replied the teenager.

For a minute, Shirley was silent.

"What does Adam have to say about all this?" she asked, for Drywell was out in the middle of nowhere.

"He's fine with it," answered Charlie, leaning her head back and watching the desert speed by her window.

Shirley tried to hide her annoyance. She had wanted Adam to remain in the Mojave, but within a reasonable distance from her own home. The idea of driving ninety miles to nowhere, just to see her brother, was not appealing to her. But here, Adam's young bride had already made the important decision, and without her input or advice!

Diana's Bridal Salon was located in Palm Springs and sold only the best in wedding attire. Shirley had thought to look elsewhere at first, but knew that she wasn't likely to drag Charlie around from shop to shop on a sprained ankle, so she decided to start with the best, first.

Diana had been notified ahead of time that Charlotte Overholt was going to come in that day to look at wedding gowns, and had spent the entire morning in preparation for her arrival. The best and most exquisite dresses were hand selected by Diana, and placed near the front of the salon, to catch Charlie's eye. This was a high-profile wedding, and Diana knew that if she could advertise the fact that Wallace Shipley's bride had purchased her wedding gown from this salon, then it would mean publicity of the best kind. To that end, a large dressing room had been set aside for Charlie's exclusive use, to help ensure her safety and privacy while shopping at the salon.

Right on schedule, Charlotte Overholt and her entourage arrived. The staff at Diana's Bridal Salon peeked around corners and smiled broadly as the young woman passed by them, looking every bit as glamorous as they had imagined her to be.

"I can't believe it's really her!" excitedly whispered one coworker to another.

The women were shown into the fitting room, while Kevin patiently waited outside. This wasn't his first shopping trip with Charlie, and he knew this would likely take a long time.

Inside, Vera helped Charlie to a stately chaise longue, so she could rest her ankle until it was time to try on the gowns. Across the room was a large mirror and a rack of preselected wedding dresses. Charlie gazed at the fancy white gowns with long trains and shimmering fabric. For the first time, the realization of the importance of this one gown began to sink in. She had been so preoccupied by Villa Rosa that she had had little time to prepare herself for the surge of excitement that was welling up inside her breast.

Shirley and Vera went to the rack of wedding dresses and started browsing through them, each certain they knew what was best for Charlie.

"Charlie!" exclaimed Vera, holding up a huge gown with giant puffy sleeves, "isn't this beautiful?"

Beautiful wasn't the word Charlie would have used, but it was... big. Next was Shirley's turn. It too, was more dress than Charlie was prepared to climb into. The initial excitement began to wear off as one dress after another was set aside. Diana frantically scurried about, as her assistant handed her gown after gown. Only after Vera and Shirley had exhausted all their suggestions, did they allow Diana to venture one of her own.

"Miss Overholt's petite figure," expertly observed Diana, "should not be buried under large mounds of fabric."

Diana's assistant handed her the gem of the bridal salon and beamed with satisfaction. This was the dress Diana had been hoping to sell Charlie, all along.

"This dress has a fitted bodice with delicate hand embroidered flowers, a full length sweeping train, a delicate ivory organza overskirt, and a long veil embroidered with matching flowers," said Diana, holding up the exquisite gown before the women.

"Let me try it on," said Charlie, eagerly getting to her feet.

Diana helped the young woman into a silk petticoat and then lifted the dress over head so Charlie could pass her arms through. The dressmaker fastened the back of the gown and then assisted Charlie to the mirror.
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