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While Shirley prepared breakfast, a strangely quiet Chad sat at the kitchen table with his glass of orange juice.

"You're awfully still this morning," she observed, for her youngest son was usually a bundle of energy.

Before he had a chance to shrug, as he was going to, he heard the sounds of his uncle and aunt coming down the stairs. With a gulp, Chad nervously dug his thumbnail into a seam on the highly polished wooden table and ran it back and forth until he remembered that his mom had repeatedly scolded him for defacing the furniture.

"Good morning, Sis," Adam greeted pleasantly, his arm slipped about Charlie's waist. He gave the boy a sideways glance, and released Charlie when she moved toward the table.

Chad's eyes were mysteriously fixed on his glass of orange juice when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He looked up, only to see his aunt staring down at him.

"Still friends?" she smiled, extending a hand out to the boy.

With a smile of his own, Chad accepted her handshake.

Adam was pleased, but kept the fact from his nephew.

"Breakfast is just about ready," said Shirley, pulling a jar of marmalade out of the refrigerator and setting it on the table with a spoon.

"So we've been told." Adam cleared his throat and looked directly in Chad's direction.

Chad quickly lowered his eyes.

"Oh?" asked Shirley, following Adam's gaze to her son. "Don't tell me," she sighed. "Chad, how many times must I remind you to knock before entering?"

"I'm sorry," the boy mumbled. "I forgot."

"After this morning," said Adam, seriously, "I expect you never to forget, again. If you suddenly have another lapse in memory, I'm going to assume that it was on purpose. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Sir," answered Chad, solemnly. "It was an accident, though. Honest, Uncle Adam."

"Okay then," replied his uncle, "that's that."

Chad breathed a sigh of relief, and hungrily looked at the plate of buttered toast his mother placed on the table. His appetite suddenly returning, Chad helped himself to several slices and loaded them with more marmalade than Charlie thought was reasonable.

After a prayer over the food, everyone started in on breakfast. The atmosphere in the kitchen lightened somewhat when Chad told his mother about Alaska, and the things that they had done and seen. Shirley was grateful that Chad had had a good time, and even more, that neither Adam nor Charlie had let him get into any trouble by wandering off.

After breakfast, Shirley and Chad prepared to get ready for their drive into town to visit Thomas in the hospital. Kevin cleaned his handgun on the kitchen table, while Adam helped Charlie with the dirty dishes. Even though the couple spoke in hushed tones to each other, Kevin could still overhear them. With a smile, he went about his work, pretending that they were alone.

"I told Shirley that we were leaving today," Adam informed Charlie.

"You did?" asked Charlie in surprise. "Why?"
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