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"I wanted to watch another sunrise with my wife," he finally explained. "Is that so strange?"

"For you, I suppose it isn't," she dryly replied.

Silently, Adam slipped a gentle arm around Charlie, and looked out over the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert. Except for the faint glimmer of a single light outside the restaurant in Drywell, it was an uninterrupted panorama of desert and moonlight. Overhead, an endless blanket of stars spread before them, each one shining brightly against the dark sky.

"God's really outdone Himself, tonight," Adam breathed in admiration.

Charlie huddled against Adam, too busy enjoying the warmth of his body, to really notice the view; the sleeping bag was still cold, and so was she.

Then Adam asked her a question that took Charlie by surprise. "Are you happy?"

Her response was automatic. "Of course I am."

"Don't give me an 'of course I am, because you're with me,' answer," sighed Adam, unsatisfied by Charlie's easy reply. "Don't just say it because you think that's what your answer should be. I want to know if Charlotte Clark is happy with her life."

"I'm happy," she insisted with a frown.

"Are you sure?"


"Am I driving you too hard?"

"If you are," she smiled, "I know why you're doing it. I'm happy, Adam."

Adam contemplated her for a moment, before returning his eyes to the distant horizon. "Vera told me you don't want to celebrate your birthday, tomorrow."

"Then, you remembered after all," breathed Charlie in surprise.

"Of course, I did!" Adam looked at her reproachfully. "She also told me you're embarrassed that you're only just now turning eighteen. What's that about, Charlie? Don't I treat you as a grown-up?"

"Yes," she sighed, "you do. Why do you think I don't want to remind you of my age?"

"You're being ridiculous," Adam tenderly scolded her. "When I married you, I knew exactly how old you were. There's nothing wrong with my addition, and I know very well you turn eighteen in a few hours."

"I suppose it was silly," she confessed. "But when I'm with you and Dave, and we're busy with the music, I want so much to fit in! You guys are musicians, and I'm just a dumb kid who can't do her finger exercises in time with the metronome!"

"Charlie, you're not a kid," Adam assured her.

"Then why do I feel like one?" she lamented. "I don't want people to look at me and say, 'There goes Wallace Shipley's wife. Too bad he didn't marry someone his own age! Now he's stuck with that knuckle-head!'"

"And she can't even play her scales properly," he added.

"No, she can't."
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