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"Don't tell me you want to play the duet right now!" teased Charlie.

Adam smiled and cradled her closer. "May I ask a favor?"

Charlie's playful voice turned to one of alarm, for she had only been joking. "I'm not going to the music room, Adam!"

"Practice time is over for today," he quickly assured her.

"Then what's this about?"

"Let me say my piece first, and then you can respond," he requested. "Just hear me out before you say 'no.'"

The terrible sinking feeling Charlie had had when he first told her of their joint interview with Norman Jones, suddenly returned. Prepared for the bad news, Charlie braced herself.

"There's a benefit concert to raise funds for an organization that runs homeless shelters across America," he explained. "It'll be a big event, and a lot of musicians from the industry are going to be there. Bill was contacted about my coming to perform some of my music, and I was thinking that I'd accept. Of course, I wouldn't be paid since this would be for charity."

So far, Charlie didn't have any problems accepting this news. However, the mere fact Adam waited until after they had made love to tell her this, caused Charlie some anxiety. There was more. She just knew there was.

"I was hoping," he cautiously pressed on, "that we could perform our duet together onstage."

Charlie groaned. "Tell me you're joking," she begged.

"It'll only be a few thousand people, Charlie. I'll be right there, and we'll have a good time!"

With a disbelieving laugh, Charlie shook her head. "You won't say that after I embarrass you in front of everyone!"

"This is a good thing," argued Adam. "Charlotte Clark can raise money to give homeless people shelter and a hot meal-- simply by showing up and playing one song in front of an audience. It's a wonderful opportunity, and I know you can do this!"

"You're using the homeless to make me feel guilty?" she lamented.

"This isn't about you, Charlie, it's about them."

There was silence, and then Adam felt Charlie heave a great sigh. "All right," she resigned herself, "if you think it'll help, I'll do it."

Hugging her even closer, Adam kissed his wife. He wondered if he should tell her about the television cameras, but decided that could wait until later.

Wally whimpered and pawed at her master's leg for attention. When that didn't work, she let out a small yap. A hand came down and hurriedly petted her head, and then it was gone. The puppy whimpered in protest and began to howl. This prompted a large, strong hand to pick her up and move her to the next room. Delighted with this new game, the puppy quickly scampered back, and returned to her master's feet.

"Can't you get Vera to take Wally for awhile?" asked Adam, looking under the piano at the small dog stationed beside Charlie's feet.
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