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Chapter Fifty-five
The Struggles of a Good Man

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers [various] temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
~ James 1:2-4 ~

Now that their trip to Atlanta was over, Adam expected things at Villa Rosa to settle into the same routine as before. But instead of quieting down, the activity at Villa Rosa only increased. It was nearing late September, and the rainy season would officially begin sometime next month. Wanting to finish the rooftops and other renovations that would be open and exposed to the elements, Beppe hired more workers to hasten its progress. Every day, a large parking lot of cars and trucks would form inside the gates of Villa Rosa, making the renovation efforts look as impressive as it truly was. If Adam and Charlie had neighbors, they would have been curious to watch as the army of workers descended on the estate each day. As it was, their closest neighbor was a small, run down restaurant in Drywell. The forlorn diner was currently enjoying a surge of prosperity, for the hungry crew would often go there for a meal and some air conditioning at lunch time.

While Beppe and Charlie kept track of the calendar and their ambitious work schedules, Adam busied himself with his music. Then, early one September morning, Charlie made an unexpected request that could change Adam's plans.

"I know you're really busy with your piano," she ventured, as she tied the laces on her hiking boots for another day's work, "but Beppe and I were hoping you might help the new guys that are arriving, today."

"You're bringing in more crew?" Adam asked in surprise, while he watched Charlie dress from his vantage in bed. He was still in pajamas, and since his day didn't depend on getting up early, he intended to sleep in this morning.

"I thought you might want to take care of these particular guys," explained Charlie, her face betraying a hint of merriment that immediately caught Adam's curiosity. "They have a lot of work ahead of them."

"Oh?" he raised his eyebrows. "Who's coming?"

"Just some men from a plumbing outfit in Twin Yucca," Charlie furrowed her brow in feigned concentration. "I can't remember their name, but I think it was Clark-something-or-other."

"Mike's coming?" Adam grinned broadly. He sat up in bed and quickly searched the room for his pants. "Is Hiram going to be here, too? Of course he is," Adam answered himself, as Charlie handed him his jeans. "I didn't put Hiram in charge of the family business, for nothing. Mike's too inexperienced for a job like this, so I expect Hiram will be running the show." Sitting on the edge of the bed, Adam leaned forward to put on his shoes. Then he felt Charlie apply sunscreen to the back of his neck. "Say," it suddenly occurred him to ask, "you're taking a lot for granted, aren't you? I never said I would help."

"Wild horses couldn't keep you away," she smiled, "and you know it!"

"Think you know me that well, do you?" Adam pulled Charlie into his lap. Laughing, Charlie playfully fought his arms as they encircled her in a loving embrace. Her laughter quieted, however, as his eyes tenderly searched hers. "What have you done to me, Charlie?" he whispered in amazement. "I've never been so happy."

"Do you really mean it, Adam?" Her eyes brightened with pleasure. "You're not just saying that because I keep you company at night?"

continued on next page...
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