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"Is the FBI sure that was all of them?" asked Adam. "There weren't any others involved in this... this scheme?"

"They don't think so," Bill shook his head. "It was just the woman and her boyfriend."

"Bill," Adam sighed numbly, "it's moments like this that make me wish I had stayed a plumber. Dear God! How am I supposed to tell this to Charlie?!"

Just then, a well-dressed man knocked on their hotel door. He was sent by Norman Jones to confirm the time set for the interview, and to be sure that Adam was still going through with the arrangement. As much as Adam wanted to call the whole thing off, he realized that he couldn't. They had to go through with the interview, or risk an even bigger fiasco with the media.

When the man left, Adam waited for another chance to speak with Charlie. After her hair was set in large curlers, they politely left while Adam had another private conference with his wife.

"You heard from Melvin again, didn't you," guessed Charlie, as Adam sat her down in a nearby chair with a shaken face. "Just tell me the news straight out."

"Charlie," he began, his voice cracking as he spoke, "they weren't going to let you go after the ransom was paid."

"What do you mean?" she whimpered with startled brown eyes.

"The woman's boyfriend is being charged with conspiracy to murder," explained Adam. "He had a grave site all picked out for you."

Reeling with shock, Charlie searched Adam's face, waiting for him to say that this was only a bad dream, and that it wasn't really happening.

"I see," she finally gulped. Charlie looked about the room and located her nylons. "When are you and Bill going to go over my talking points with me?" she asked, preparing to put on her hosiery.

"Charlie," hesitated Adam, "did you understand what I just told you?"

"I understood." Charlie's hand reached up and lightly touched the rollers in her hair. "I hope Dee takes these things out pretty soon. They're beginning to give me a headache." Hearing the hollow sound of her own words, Charlie gazed numbly at Adam. "Promise you won't leave me alone during the interview?"

"I promise," he answered with an unhesitating voice. "You won't be able to get rid of me."

With a grateful smile, Charlie cuddled into those protective words, and pulled them up around her heart. God was with her, and so was Adam. Suddenly, she remembered that her grandma had probably been watching the news, and hurried to her satellite phone to assure the old woman that everything was all right.

Oblivious to what the rest of the country was currently talking about, Dee and her assistants returned to their job of getting Charlie ready for her television debut. The curlers came out, the robe was exchanged for a dress suit, and Dee touched up Charlie's makeup one last time before declaring her work finished.

Then, it was Bill's turn to do his best and take Melvin's place by reviewing Charlie on her talking points. There were things that she wasn't supposed to say, answers to questions they knew she would probably be asked, and the usual reminders that Charlie always received from Melvin before facing the media. Charlie smiled to herself as Bill ran down the checklist Melvin had relayed over the telephone. Except for the reassuring confidence that Melvin's presence always gave her, it almost felt as though he were right there in the hotel room.
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