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"I didn't!" exclaimed Charlie, throwing up her hands in exasperation. "I mean, I did, but I didn't intend to. By the way, here's your kit," she said pulling the box from her back pocket and handing it to Mae.

"You're going to have to do a lot of explaining to Adam," sighed her friend.

"I know," said Charlie, "but I didn't want to say anything in front of your husband. It's amazing how a simple favor can suddenly turn so complicated! There, I'm back to normal now. I suppose I had better go face Adam."

After Mae had given her a hug of support, Charlie returned to the cottage to find Adam waiting on the living room couch, looking every bit as bewildered as he felt.

"See this?" she said, holding up the offending bottle for him to see. "I'm throwing it away. I didn't buy it for you, and I didn't buy it for me. I was doing Mae a favor by purchasing a home pregnancy kit, because she doesn't want Rick to find out until she's certain that she's pregnant. I only picked up the bottle so I wouldn't stand out so much when I checked out at the counter."

"I'm relieved to hear you say that," sighed Adam, "but you went without even a bodyguard!"

"It was only down the road a little way," argued Charlie, "and no one recognized me."

"At least you're all right," he said, getting up from the couch and making a loving advance toward her.

Charlie let him touch her but then pulled away, suddenly remembering the words that the woman in the pharmacy had said about her and Adam.

"I don't feel like it right now," she said, backing away from her husband. "I think I'll go help Mae get dinner ready. We're invited, you know."

Adam tenderly grabbed her by the arm, and shut the front door so she couldn't leave.

"What is it?" he asked her. "What happened?"

Charlie hesitated, not wanting to repeat what she had heard. But when she looked into Adam's loving face she couldn't hold back any longer. When she told him, Adam was grieved, but not ashamed.

"I'm not surprised that there are people in this world who would try and turn something as beautiful as our relationship into something shameful and evil," said Adam. "Why did you let her make you feel like that, Charlie? We haven't done anything wrong. The Bible says, 'Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.'" (Hebrews 13:4)

"I know," explained Charlie, struggling to put her feelings into words, "but it doesn't take much to make me feel embarrassed about what happens behind our closed doors. I know I'm acting immature, but I'm trying to grow up. Please be patient with me."

"You're not acting immature," consoled Adam, "you're acting like a new bride. And for the record, this is new to me, as well. I've never shared my bed with anyone before you. I confess, that bottle had me worried."

"You have nothing to be worried about," smiled Charlie.

"Come on," coaxed Adam, leading her to the bedroom, "we still have time before we're expected for dinner."

"As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
~ Song of Solomon 2:3 ~

When the couple emerged from the cottage that evening, Charlie had been comforted in the fact that no matter what anyone else said or thought about them, they were blameless before God. As they strolled to the main house past the apple trees, Mae called to them,

"We're in the backyard!"

Adam and Charlie found Mae setting the picnic table while Uncle Rick was attempting to light the barbecue grill.

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