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Chad shrugged. "If Aunt Charlie gets sick, won't she give it to the baby?"

Adam looked at Mike, and Mike made an admission. "We know about Aunt Charlie."

"Who told you?"

"No one," shrugged Mike, "Chad overheard Mom talking to you on the telephone, and I picked up on it when you flew to Germany for Chuck's operation. You were busy, and made a remark I don't think you intended for me to hear."

Adam groaned. "I didn't mean to keep it from you boys for so long," he apologized, "but I didn't know how you'd handle the news. Your Aunt might get sick with the same thing Chuck has, and then again, with some treatment, she might not be as bad off as him. We just won't know until it happens."

"What about the baby?" inquired Chad in a concerned voice.

"It'll have a fifty percent chance of inheriting the disease," explained Adam. "That doesn't mean it will, but it could."

With a sigh, Chad tossed his paper plate into a nearby outdoor trash can. "I'll pray it won't get it," he declared soberly. "It'll be my cousin, won't it?"

"The baby will be your cousin," affirmed Adam with a kind smile. "Thanks for your prayers, Chad. It means a lot to me."

Chad smiled and went inside for some more soda pop.

Adam turned to Mike. "Why didn't you tell me that you and Chad already knew?"

"I thought you were trying to keep it a secret from us," shrugged Mike. "Now that you know that we know, there's one thing I've been wanting to ask, ever since I found out."

"What's that?"

"Did you know about Aunt Charlie's condition before you married her?"

"Yes," replied Adam, "and she called off our wedding because she didn't want me to endure what the rest of her family went through with Arnold and Chuck."

"And you married her anyway?"

"If it had been Sandra," proposed Adam, "would you have left her because she was sick?"

"No, I wouldn't."

"That was the same conclusion I came to," smiled Adam.

"If Aunt Charlie ever gets as sick as Chuck," offered Mike, "then you can count on me to help out."

Adam wanted to thank his nephew, but the words choked back, and he had to give Mike a hug instead.

Just then, Shirley appeared in the kitchen doorway. "Mike, Sandra wants you to open your presents now. What are you two doing? Adam, are you crying?"

"I'm just happy, Sis," he dried his eyes. "We're coming."
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