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"Actually, it's only one in the morning," informed Adam with an ironic smile. "We gained three hours by flying into the western horizon."

Charlie smiled numbly, for one o' clock still sounded very late to her.

Kevin climbed behind the wheel, and they began the last leg of their trip back to Villa Rosa.

Even though Adam had told Charlie the time, she was surprised to find herself not as sleepy as before. She had gotten a lot of rest on the jet, and now that they were nearing home, she found herself suddenly wide awake. Adam, on the other hand, was looking more tired than ever. Charlie guessed that he had been unable to get any sleep during the flight.

An hour and a half later, the bright beams of their headlights illuminated Villa Rosa's main gate. After Adam got out to unlock it and let them inside, Kevin pulled the SUV in front of the mobile homes and shut off the engine.

Thankfully, Vera had left the porch light on, making it easier to pick their way through the darkness and find their way to the front door. With a yawn, Adam unloaded their luggage and the three quietly made their way inside, not trying to awaken Vera or Chuck with their arrival.

To Charlie's surprise, they found Vera sound asleep in her favorite easy chair, while the television droned in the background. Going to check on her father, Charlie left Adam to turn off the television and wake Vera.

"You're back," the old woman awoke with a bleary-eyed smile.

"You didn't have to wait up for us," apologized Adam. "I told you we'd be home rather late."

"I know, I know," she sighed, gratefully accepting Adam's helping hand as she struggled to get to her feet. "I wanted to, that's all." Vera straightened her stiff limbs with a smarting groan. Then she remembered something pleasant, and her dim eyes glowed tenderly. "I saw the interview with Norman Jones. Charlie was absolutely sweet!"

"Yes, she was," Adam smiled fondly.

Then Vera noticed Adam's tuxedo and the coat jacket draped over his arm.

"So you had your night out," she nodded in approval. "I'm glad. After all that kidnapping business, Charlie probably needed to get her mind onto something happier."

"I think I needed it, too," confessed Adam. "Do you want any help getting to bed, Vera? You're looking pretty stiff."

"I shouldn't have stayed in that chair for so long," she groaned, taking a few hobbling steps forward and wincing in pain as she went.

Dropping his tuxedo jacket on the couch, Adam assisted Vera as she carefully made her way to her bedroom. His help wasn't essential, but Adam was still grateful they hadn't stayed overnight in Atlanta. When Vera finally made it to her room, Adam remained nearby to see if she needed any help getting into bed.

"Daddy's sound asleep," Charlie quietly announced, coming to her grandma's open bedroom door. She watched as Vera managed to sit down on the edge of her bed, and remove her house slippers. "Tomorrow, you don't have to get up early to fix breakfast," offered Charlie. "I'll take care of it."

Vera looked up to respond, and saw Charlie's new evening dress for the first time. The old woman's lips parted in a warm smile. "That dress is very becoming on you, Pumpkin."
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