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"When you used Charlie to dry your hands," accused Shirley, "everyone was laughing at her, and so were you."

"Oh, that," he groaned.

"I couldn't say a word in front of Horace Weston," continued Shirley. "Knowing him, he would've only made things worse. That man sometimes doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut, and tonight was a classic example! It was just plain thoughtlessness, that's what it was! Charlie was near to tears, and you men were laughing at your paw marks on her blouse!"

Adam recalled the humiliated look on Charlie's face while they were busy guffawing, and silently rebuked himself.

"I hadn't thought about it like that," he reflected.

"I thought that's why you were sleeping on the couch," reasoned Shirley, her eyebrows arched in curious surprise.

"Actually, it was over something else," he murmured, not eager to tell his sister what it was.

"The men in this family haven't been doing too well, lately," mused Shirley, taking a spoon and filling a small bowl with pudding. "Do you want some? Heaven knows, you don't deserve any."

"No, thanks," declined Adam.

"Would it be an imposition if I asked what the fight was about?" inquired Shirley.

"I'd rather not say," he hesitated.

"Let me take a wild guess," smiled Shirley. "She didn't want to come live in my guest room."

"You were listening in at the door," Adam jokingly scolded.

"I have no need to eavesdrop, to know that," replied Shirley. "Actually, I was surprised when you accepted my invitation to stay. I didn't think she'd let you do it."

"I didn't consult her," he explained.

"That's rather obvious right now, isn't it," Shirley ironically smiled. She took a bite of pudding and pushed back the bowl with a weary sigh. "What's happening to this family, Adam? When did we stop taking care of our spouses?" Shirley put her hand to her forehead and went to the cupboard for some aspirin.

"I don't think Thomas is going to repent any time soon," Adam sadly remarked. "If a heart attack couldn't do it, then I'm afraid it's going to take something bigger to get his attention."

"I'd like to think you're better than Thomas," replied Shirley, with a directed glance upstairs.

Adam nodded and was about to walk away, when he paused.

"We're going to leave tomorrow," he informed her.

"I know," she smiled. "Go to your Charlie-girl, Adam. She needs you."

"Thanks for understanding, Sis." With that, Adam headed back up the stairs.

Adam found Charlie where he had left her, looking very much as if she had cried herself to sleep. Disappointed that she wasn't awake so he could talk to her, he quietly closed the door and got into bed. When Adam's head fell straight back onto the mattress, he recalled that he had left his pillow on the sofa, downstairs. Folding his hands beneath his head for support, Adam wondered if he should wake Charlie so he could apologize. He hated to disrupt her sleep, but this was more important.
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