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Chapter Fifty-three
A Love Worth the Effort

"Who is this that cometh... [to] the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?"
~ Song of Solomon 8:5 ~

Staring at the bleak sight before him, Adam switched off the engine to their SUV. Villa Rosa had little improved since the last time they had been here, and their trip to Alaska hadn't improved his opinion of the rundown dump. Struggling to bite his tongue, Adam tried to keep these grim observations to himself. He didn't want to extinguish Charlie's youthful enthusiasm about turning this desolate set of ramshackle buildings into a livable home. Sometimes, it was hard not to discourage her. But whenever Adam was tempted to betray his feelings, all he had to do was look into Charlie's eager face, and his reluctance would vanish. She was so excited, that even with the recent setback of Thomas, it wasn't enough to dim her hopes of turning Villa Rosa into their house of dreams. To Adam, that dream seemed even more impossible now that his experienced brother-in-law was no longer on the job, but Charlie was remaining optimistic through it all.

While Kevin helped Adam carry their luggage into the mobile home, Charlie walked about the estate, looking at the little progress that Thomas had made while they were in Alaska. Most of the weeds had been hauled away from the main building, and several sections of the broken sandstone floor had been removed from the kitchen. But aside from the temporary living accommodations that Thomas had set up, and the high perimeter fence that surrounded their twenty acres of weeds and gopher holes, Villa Rosa was still untouched from renovation. Even the row of bungalows behind the mansion, had yet to see any attention or improvement. Gulping back a feeling of trepidation, Charlie wondered if she had spent Adam's money for nothing. What if Villa Rosa would never be more than what it was right now-- a dump?

Charlie had left Vera and Chuck in Twin Yucca, but only for a handful of days until she could have another mobile home set up to accommodate them. Mrs. Jacobs had graciously volunteered to check in on Vera and make sure that everything was all right, and while Charlie had hated to presume on their neighbor, she had gratefully accepted the offer.

The seventeen year old shaded her eyes from the blazing sun, and gazed at the barren landscape that surrounded them. Scorched ground and miles of sagebrush seemed to engulf them in what was beginning to feel like one big do-it-yourself disaster.

Charlie's eyes turned back to the air conditioned mobile home, where Adam was taking the last of their belongings inside. At least, they had somewhere to escape from this oppressive heat! With a discouraged heart, Charlie headed to their makeshift home to collect her thoughts.

Sensing that Adam was struggling with similar doubts of his own, Charlie prepared herself to hear his disappointing remarks as she stepped through the front door. However, instead of a disapproving frown, she was greeted by Adam's wide grin. Sitting in the middle of their living room, was the cause of his sudden transformation.

"It's here!" he exclaimed, quickly moving aside their luggage so he could sit down at his piano. Adam happily ran his fingers over the black and white keys, and a familiar melody filled the air. With a laugh, Adam looked up at Charlie. "It's so good to be home!" he sighed contentedly.

Charlie couldn't help but smile at this sudden reversal in Adam's demeanor. His reference to this place as "home," was a kindness that she felt it didn't deserve-- at least, not yet. Feeling her resolve return, Charlie thankfully kissed Adam and left him to his beloved music while she picked up a telephone book and her satellite phone. It was time to find a general contractor to take Thomas' place. Her family needed a home, and she was determined to make one for them.

continued on next page...
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