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"I don't want to find ways to be useless!" exclaimed Vera, adamantly. "I have two strong hands--"

Before Vera could finish her thought, Charlie had to go to Chuck's side and get his fork started again. Though Chuck was able to do repetitive tasks, he would sometimes stop, until someone got him started again. The problem corrected, Charlie returned to the stove.

Adam stared at Chuck's blank face and then looked at his beloved Charlie. The thoughts that followed came unbidden, and Adam struggled to push them aside.

"Charlie, if you want to cook all day," Adam forced a laugh, "you won't get any complaints from me! This is good!"

Pleased, Charlie gave him a warm smile.

Adam longingly watched Charlie move about the kitchen, happy, beautiful, and content. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, but a strand had escaped and tumbled down the side of her face in a long wisp of brown. Charlie would tuck the unruly lock behind her ear, only to have it later escape while she worked. Would she still do that when... Adam turned his eyes toward Chuck and swallowed hard.

"Adam, are you okay?" The sound of Charlie's voice came as a welcome interruption to his thoughts. "You looked like you were a hundred miles away," she observed.

"I'm fine," he tried to smile, his voice betraying a hint of unshed tears. "It's good to be home."

"Amen to that!" seconded Vera.

With a loving sigh, Charlie leaned down and pressed her lips to Adam's ear while he sat at the table.

"Thank you for understanding," she whispered. "Grandma and Daddy really needed me."

The wisp of hair that had been bothering Charlie, now spilled down Adam's shoulder. Adam stroked the soft lock with his fingers until Charlie took a seat beside him.

"While you were asleep," she informed him teasingly, "Grandma and I made a few decisions. I hope you don't mind."

Adam couldn't help but grin. How could his gray clouds withstand her sunlight? They couldn't, and he soon found himself laughing.

"So, you've been making decisions without me?" he chuckled. "I hope this means I don't have to start putting the toilet seat down!"

"I expect you to do that, anyway," replied Charlie, with a toss of her head. "Since there's only three bedrooms, you and I are taking my old room, Grandma is keeping hers, and Kevin will be doubling with Daddy."

"I'm okay with that, if Kevin is," shrugged Adam.

"I have a fallback position if its necessary," said Kevin. "There's always the couch. I'll need Mrs. Overholt to put my handgun in her safe before bedtime, though. It's not wise to leave it out unguarded." Kevin could have added, "especially with Chuck around," but he had tactfully left the last part unsaid. The others, however, understood what he had meant.

"That's a good idea," Charlie quickly agreed.
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