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"Maybe just a little," he admitted.

"What's going on?" she asked. "You and Bill have been as sober as generals, all afternoon."

Adam looked at his wife and took her hands in his.

"What I'm about to tell you is not necessarily bad news," he began. "I don't want to frighten you, but you need to know what's going on."

Charlie swallowed hard and listened as Adam explained the little he knew about the news conference going on at that same moment in California.

"The threat was really that serious?" she gasped in shock.

"The media is going to be all over this story," cautioned Adam, "and so will Norman Jones. Sooner or later, we're going to have to talk about this publicly, so we might as well get it over with today. Not too long from now, Melvin will be calling us with all the details of the news conference. You aren't frightened, are you?" he asked, feeling a slight tremor in her hands.

Charlie looked at him with a wry smile.

"I'm all right," she softly laughed. "I'm looking forward to all this being over with, but I'm all right."

"You deserve a reward for being so brave," he smiled, using this opportunity as a good excuse for bringing up something that he had wanted to suggest, anyway. "After Norman Jones, I'm going to take you somewhere fancy for dinner. Did you bring an evening dress? Never mind, I'll get Miss Dee to buy you one."

"But Adam, we're flying home after the interview," Charlie reminded him.

"It'll only make us a little later than we originally planned," he assured her. "We'll still make it home tonight. Charlie, I feel like stepping out with my wife, and since we're already in Atlanta, why not make the most of it?"

Charlie couldn't help but smile as Adam's eyes twinkled with anticipation.

"Is it a date?" he grinned.

She was about to say that it was, when her satellite phone rang. Just then, someone knocked on their hotel door and Adam had to go answer it.

"Melvin called," Bill informed Adam, while Charlie talked on her phone with Beppe.

"No," Charlie was saying, "the wrought iron gates we selected should match the windows and the hardware on the front door."

Seeing the open door, Dee and her entourage flooded back into the room.

"They've arrested the woman's boyfriend as the mastermind behind the plot to kidnap Charlie," resumed Bill, just below an audible whisper. "Apparently, the two planned to hold Charlie for ransom, but one of them never intended to let her go."

For a moment, Adam stared at Bill, not believing what his ears had just heard.

"I don't care what the order invoice says," Charlie continued, as Dee examined her client. "I never ordered brass knobs. The accessories should be black wrought iron."

"Oh dear," Dee murmured, "we'd better get this facial off, before it starts irritating your skin."

To Adam's stunned mind, the voices in the hotel room sounded like the indecipherable chatter of a world turned upside down. He looked to Bill, and the grim face blinking back at him only served to reinforce that what he had heard, was true.
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