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Charlie stepped forward and peered down at the meter. Then she took the instructions, and reread a portion of it.

"What is it?" asked Mae. "What does it say?"

"According to this," replied Charlie, "you're pregnant."

For a second, there was stunned silence. Then the two young women erupted into laughter and cries of joy.

Uncle Rick turned the steak over and went back to the picnic table to talk to his guest.

"As I was saying," resumed the man, "Bill says the market could easily support a new Wallace Shipley album. Why, with all the publicity surrounding the wedding and the tour, I should think it's a sure thing!"

"I don't know," remarked Adam. "The public has a short attention span. What they're clamoring for today, they ignore tomorrow."

"But you're talking about loyal fans," reminded Uncle Rick. "They've listened to your music for years while you didn't put out anything new. They bought your music then, and they'll buy it in the future. Never underestimate loyal fans," he repeated.

"You sound like Bill," smiled Adam, accepting the glass of iced tea Uncle Rick handed him.

"Bill's a good boy," smiled the proud uncle.

Just then, the women appeared from the house. Adam raised his eyebrows to Charlie, and she replied with a half smile.

"There you two are!" exclaimed Uncle Rick, getting up and turning his steak on the grill again. "I had about given up on you!"

"Honey?" asked Mae. "I need to talk to you inside."

"Right now?" asked Uncle Rick. "My steak will burn if I don't take it off at just the right moment."

"I'll do it," offered Adam. "You go with Mae."

"What's going on?" asked the man, handing the large metal spatula to the volunteer.

Mae took her puzzled husband into the house while Charlie sat down beside her man.

"I'm happy for them," smiled Adam, putting an arm around Charlie. "They'll make good parents."

Charlie leaned her head on Adam's shoulder and waited for their hosts to return. The sweet fragrance of the apple orchard blended with the food on the picnic table, creating a lazy summer evening atmosphere that seemed to pervade every blade of grass.

"I had better get the steak off the grill," sighed Adam reluctantly, for he had been enjoying the quiet moment with Charlie.

Not long afterward, Uncle Rick and Mae returned to the small party outside.

"I suppose your missis has already told you the good news," grinned the expectant father.

"She did," replied Adam, heartily shaking his hand. "Congratulations!"

"I never thought I'd be a Daddy!" exclaimed Uncle Rick, sitting down to the picnic table with Mae. "You reach a point in your life when you accept that it's not going to happen to you, and then boom! it does!"

"I know the feeling," smiled Adam. "When Charlie found her way into my heart, no one was as surprised as me."

Uncle Rick hugged Mae, and shook his head disbelievingly.

"I feel like celebrating!" he exclaimed. "Mae, I'm going to break out the old vintage!"

Uncle Rick got up from the table and rushed to the house. Soon, he returned with an old bottle and a bucket of ice.
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