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With the score at a tie, Kevin promised to make a comeback before the day was out. As they neared Fort Nelson early that evening, Shirley called on Adam's satellite phone.

"Thomas is nowhere to be found," said Shirley, her voice strained from crying.

"What are you talking about?" asked Adam, still in the back seat with Charlie.

"We had a big argument over Chad, and he walked out," cried his sister. "I've called all our friends, and I can't find him!"

"Maybe it's for the better," said Adam, as Chad turned in his seat to face his uncle. "Maybe you and Thomas need to cool off a little. Just give it some time, Sis. I'm sure he'll turn up."

When the call was over, Chad looked to Adam for any news.

"Your father needed some time to himself," explained the musician, "that's all."

Chad sighed heavily and returned to his seat. He pulled out the road map Kevin had put him in charge of and tried to locate their position.

"I think we're almost in Fort Nelson," announced the boy, tracking the highway on the map with his index finger. Suddenly, Chad looked up. "I think I just saw a bear!" he cried, turning back in his seat to see if he could see it once more. "I can't see it, but I'm almost certain it was a bear!"

"Looks like you get to pick the restaurant," congratulated Kevin with a smile. "It'll have to be takeout, though. After we find a hotel, I need you to look after your aunt and uncle while I go get dinner. From now on, if we can't do it from a car or hotel room, we cross it off our itinerary."

"Right," affirmed Chad, folding the map up and putting it away.

"I'm really sorry, Chad," apologized Charlie, putting on her denim jacket, for the evening was turning cool. "I'm ruining your vacation. Because of me, you can't go camping, hiking, or fishing."

"It's all right," shrugged Chad. "All this sneaking around is kinda fun!"

The young woman smiled grimly.

Adam put an arm around Charlie and let her rest against him as the landrover pulled into Fort Nelson. The Alaska Highway was its main street, forcing anyone who was making the historic drive to sit up and take notice of this thriving modern town.

After Chad had picked the restaurant, Kevin located a hotel and checked everyone into two adjoining rooms. When he left to go get their dinner, Chad over exaggerated the situation by wedging a chair under each door handle, to stop anyone from kicking them in. Adam was about to protest that this was going too far, when Charlie stopped him.

"He's having a good time," she pointed out in a lowered voice. "Let him feel like he's doing something important."

Charlie flopped down onto a bed and turned on the television set while Adam pulled up a comfortable chair and put his feet up on the bed to also watch. A few minutes into the program, Shirley called. Adam took the phone into the next room so he could hear her without having to talk above the sound of the television, while Chad looked expectantly at his uncle, trying to glean any news from just his half of the conversation.

"Thomas showed up," related Shirley, "without a word of explanation of where he had been. We still can't agree about Chad, but at least we're both calmer now. How's my baby doing?"

"Chad's doing good," answered Adam, smiling at the boy. "Has Bill talked to you yet?"

"Yes, he has," replied Shirley, her voice sounding with an audible sigh. "Bill says you're taking every possible precaution. Have you heard if this woman is for real or not? Bill says the police are looking into a possible kidnapping plot."
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