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When Adam opened the front door, he expected to be mobbed by Charlie and Mike. However, as he entered the house, he was met by a different sight, altogether. A very distraught Mike was struggling to hold the master bedroom door shut, while someone on the other side tugged with all their might to be let out.

"Uncle Adam!" Mike looked at him with a relieved face, "am I glad to see you!" At the sound of Adam's name, the door suddenly opened a crack, and Mike quickly pulled it shut.

"I'm afraid to ask," hesitated Adam, rubbing his brow wearily, "but who's in the bedroom?"

When Mike smiled sheepishly, Adam motioned for him to open the door. As its weeping prisoner emerged, Adam reproachfully shook his head at Mike.

Unable to put her relief into words, Charlie rapidly filled Adam's arms until he was in danger of tipping over. Adam put out a hand to brace himself against the wall, and endured the onslaught of hugs and kisses she subjected him to.

"Easy there," he pleaded with a wince of pain.

"Uncle Adam," apologized Mike, "I'm sorry-- I should've done something to help you!"

"You did exactly as I asked," assured Adam, limping to the next room and collapsing onto the couch in a weary heap. "Why did you lock your aunt in the bedroom?"

"You told me to get her out of there," Mike stammered helplessly. "She wouldn't stay put! She even bit me!"

"Charlie." Her husband's reproving voice sounded above the young woman, as she knelt on the carpet to tend a scrape on his leg.

"Mike wasn't doing a single thing to help you," she retorted, opening a first aid kit and pulling out some antiseptic. "Adam, look at you! Your hand is bleeding!"

"He was acting under my instructions," explained Adam. "Next time, I expect you to obey. Do you understand?"

Charlie's back went rigid and her tear streaked face became tight. Sensing that her stubbornness was getting the best of her, Adam repeated his question more forcefully.

"I think I'll go help Hiram," Mike quickly excused himself.

As the front door slammed shut with Mike's departure, Adam sank against the sofa while Charlie continued to clean his scrapes and bruises.

"Did you hear me, Charlie-girl?" His voice was gentler now, but as insistent as ever for an answer.

Charlie slowly nodded her head in compliance.

"I can't worry about you, while I'm fighting off trouble. And that man was trouble." Angrily, Adam pounded the couch and winced in pain as his bruised knuckles marked the cushion with blood.

Getting up from the carpet, Charlie took a seat beside him on the sofa and began to clean his hand.

"Are you all right?" he asked. "Did Lyle hurt you?" Adam felt her hands tremble slightly, and then noticed the resolute look on her face as she shook her head "no." "What happened?" Adam wanted to know.

"We were putting out the oleander bushes along the perimeter of the fence," related Charlie. "He asked the others to go do something, and when we were alone, he tried to..." Charlie hesitated. She didn't want to say the words out loud, but whispered them into Adam's ear, instead. When Adam growled, Charlie unclenched his fist and applied antiseptic to the cuts on his knuckles.
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