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"Shirley and Chad are also coming," Vera smiled happily, "and so are Mike and Sandra!"

Charlie noticed Jerome's name conspicuously missing from the guest list, and decided to keep quiet. By the way Vera kept trying to avoid the subject, Charlie guessed that her uncle had turned down his invitation.

Then Vera looked about the mobile home, and swooned with dread. Dirt was everywhere, the couch was stained with small amounts of blood, and Adam and Charlie were a sight to behold. "Adam," Vera addressed him soberly, "you'd better clean up before your sister sees you like that!"

"Oh, no!" gasped Charlie, as a new thought suddenly troubled her. "When Shirley finds out you've been fighting another man because of me..." Charlie shivered with dread. "She already thinks I'm bad for you!"

"If my little sister gives you a hard time," chuckled Adam, "tell her I said to leave you alone!" When this failed to make Charlie smile, Adam retreated to the master bedroom to shower and change.

While Charlie picked out something to wear for the party, Adam went to the dresser and found some clean socks and underwear. "I told Kevin I want a bodyguard of my own," he informed Charlie, as he was about to sit on the bed to take off his work boots.

"No, not there!" she cried in dismay. "Not on the clean bedspread!"

"Sorry," muttered Adam, looking about for someplace to sit where shedding dirt wouldn't matter. Deciding that the floor was his only option, Adam sat down on the carpet and began untying his laces. "As I was saying, it was a good thing I didn't have to involve anyone else in that fight today, but God really had mercy on me. I'm not so sure I can handle another Lyle on my own, especially if there's more than one."

"We may be short on space right now," Charlie readily agreed, "but your bodyguard could double with Kevin, in his room." She wasn't looking forward to another armed guard in the house, but she didn't want a repeat of today. Once was more than enough.

"I'd rather wait until Villa Rosa is finished," proposed Adam, pulling off his socks and dropping them onto the floor. "In fact, I'd like enough bodyguards to have a rotation schedule so no one person has to stay with us for any great stretch of time. Kevin hasn't had a day off in months, and I know it's partly because he feels responsible for us-- even when he isn't here. Kevin shouldn't have to make a choice between us, and whatever family and friends he has outside of Villa Rosa."

"That sounds like a good idea," replied Charlie, starting the water in the shower before taking off her clothing. "Do you mind if I go first?" she asked. "I need to do the housework, so Grandma can be in the kitchen and prepare the food for Daddy's party."

"Go ahead," answered Adam. "You know, Bill has been trying to talk me into another bodyguard for some time now. Until today, I didn't see the need." Adam raised his eyes just in time to see Charlie step behind the thickly frosted glass of the shower doors. His mouth parted in a pleased smile, and his thoughts suddenly went in another direction than that of bodyguards and schedules.

"I didn't know that," Charlie called to him, her attention still on the discussion she was having with Adam. When he didn't respond, the young woman peeked around the shower wall to see him standing in the bathroom doorway, his eyes fixed on her. "Are you feeling all right?" she wondered suspiciously. "Maybe you should see a doctor. Lyle might've hurt you, and you didn't know it."

Adam grinned. "When Lyle hurt me, I knew it." As Charlie disappeared back into her shower, Adam checked the clock on the bedroom nightstand. No, there wasn't enough time. With a disappointed sigh, Adam hoped his wife would hurry. He needed a cold bath.
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