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"I always say," laughed Mae, "that it's good for a man to wait. It helps us retain our mystique."

Charlie laughed in spite of herself.

"I'm afraid I don't have much mystique covered in anti-itch ointment," she laughed.

Charlie's laughter was quickly followed by several strong coughs. Mae handed her a glass of orange juice, and Charlie sipped it down.

"Sorry," apologized Mae, "I didn't mean to make you cough. I'd better let you rest some more. Don't worry about Adam. We'll make sure he eats regularly. I'll be back at lunch."

Soon, Charlie fell asleep.

The days passed slowly for Adam. While he was thankful for Uncle Rick's hospitality, he couldn't enjoy himself because Charlie wasn't with him. What made it even worse, was the fact that Charlie refused to let Adam be near her, and didn't even allow him to help take care of her. Adam knew he had to exercise patience, and spent many evenings walking alone in the orchards, longing for his Charlie-girl.

The rash only lasted six days, but the other symptoms persisted for days more. Adam continued to patiently wait, and hovered near the bedroom door whenever he could, to be near her.

By the end of the fifteenth day, the last of the illness had left; Charlie was feeling healthy and back to her old self again. She arrived from the bedroom, looking as beautiful as she had before the measles. Uncle Rick and Mae had left, knowing that Adam wanted to be alone with her.

Adam made a loving advance toward Charlie, but she awkwardly pulled away from him.

"I have to return Mae's humidifier," she explained, realizing how lame the excuse had sounded the second it left her lips.

Adam was overjoyed that Charlie was well, but disturbed by her continued awkwardness toward him. Now that the measles were over, he had expected that they could at last enjoy their honeymoon.

Puzzled, Adam took off for another walk in the orchard to clear his mind. As he came around a turn in the path, he came face to face with Charlie.

"Why did you leave?" she asked him.

"I didn't think you wanted me around," replied Adam, in a hurt voice. "I'm trying, Charlie, I really am."

"It's not that I don't want to be with you," explained the young woman, blushing. "I'm embarrassed, Adam. Here you are, a mature man with a silly wife that came down with the measles on your wedding day! Then to top it all off, I made you sleep on the sofa! You've been incredibly patient with me."

"There's never been any awkwardness between us before," said Adam. "Wait a minute, I take that back. There was the time you found out I was Wallace Shipley, and the time you told me you loved me, and the time you showed up in my hotel room with your grandmother... unannounced, I might add. I know I didn't want to admit it at the time, but I was so happy to see you again." Adam hesitated. He noticed that the awkwardness between them was slowly melting away. "Do you realize," he smiled, "that for the first time as a couple, we're alone together? There's no grandma, no manager, publicist, agent, or bodyguard, sitting in the corner pretending not to hear. It's just you and me."

Adam moved closer to Charlie and lovingly caressed her face with his hand.

"I didn't think it was possible for a man to love a woman as much as I love you, Charlie-girl," he whispered softly.

A light breeze blew past them, gently rustling the leaves overhead, spreading their perfume into the warm summer air, while the sun filtered down through the treetops, dancing with the shadows on the ground.

Charlie took Adam by the hand and led him back to the cottage. Once inside, she closed the door. In the warmth of Adam's embrace, Charlie knew she had found honest and true love, in the form of her best friend. For the first time, the man and wife shared in the tender innocence of intimate love that comes when two people save themselves for each other, and not with someone other than a spouse.

When the couple hadn't emerged by the following day, Uncle Rick knowingly hugged his wife.

"I guess the measles are definitely over!" he laughed.

"Therefore shall a man... cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
~ Genesis 2:24 ~

"Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
~ Matthew 19:6 ~

end of chapter
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