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Inside, Shirley had a heartbreaking talk with her youngest son. When she emerged with Chad, the boy ran to the arms of his uncle. Shirley drew her husband aside, so that their son couldn't overhear what she was about to say. The conversation was short and to the point. Thomas didn't seem very surprised, but he had secretly harbored the hope that maybe she would overlook his latest indiscretion, and pretend that it hadn't happened as she had done in the past when he fell under her suspicion. But this time would be different.

Chad watched his father take off the work gloves he had been wearing and walk back to his car. Thomas looked in his son's direction for a moment and then drove away. Shirley came to Chad and gave him another big hug.

"Uncle Adam and Aunt Charlie are going to take you on a trip," she informed him tenderly. "Then, you'll come back to me."

"I won't go!" cried the eleven year old, defiantly. "I won't leave you by yourself! You need me, Mom!"

"I do need you," affirmed Shirley, trying to remain strong for her youngest son. "I need you to do something very important for me. I need you to go with your uncle so I can take care of things here. Your father and I have to work some issues out, and I need to know that you're having a good time. Please," she asked him, "do this for me? Have as good a time as you possibly can, for my sake."

Charlie had spent the last hour driving around the fenced property to see the land that surrounded their new home. Since she was in no danger of strangers, Kevin relaxed his rigid policy of always keeping her within eyeshot, and had let her go alone. As she returned to the house, Charlie saw Adam sitting on the front step with Chad, who looked very shaken. Kevin was sitting on a barrel a few feet away, silent and sympathetic to what was going on.

"What is it?" she asked, getting out of the vehicle and running to her husband.

"Shirley and Thomas are separating," answered Adam, looking up at her from his seat on the front steps.

Charlie took a surprised step backward, but her face revealed little shock.

"I have to go talk to your aunt," Adam said to Chad. "I'll be right back."

"When did this happen?" asked Charlie, as she and Adam took a short walk from the house.

"Just this afternoon," he answered. "Back there, when I told you the news-- you didn't seem very surprised. Why?"

"I suppose it's all right for me to tell you now," said Charlie with a sigh. "Before we were married, Shirley confessed to me that Thomas had been unfaithful once."

"Why didn't you tell me?" asked Adam, a little hurt that she could have kept such an important thing from him.

"She made me promise not to repeat it," explained the young woman. "Are you angry?"

"No," replied the man, lovingly hugging his wife. "Charlie, I'm going to need a lot of these to get me through the next few days."

"Just reach for me," she replied tenderly, "and I'll be there."

"I'm afraid we're going to have to put Villa Rosa on temporary hold," apologized Adam, breaking more bad news to her. "I promised Shirley we would take Chad away for a while, so she and Thomas can work out an agreement about the house and who gets custody of Chad."

"I understand," said Charlie, burying her disappointment in the graveness of what had just happened to Adam's sister.

"Shirley will be back in an a few hours with Chad's things," he sighed, looking back in Chad's direction.

"Where will we go?" wondered Charlie.

"I don't know," replied Adam. "I'd take him to the Grand Canyon, if I wasn't afraid of all the attention it would draw. We'll take him someplace fun-- somewhere he might be able to forget for just a few minutes what's happening to his family."
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