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Constance Riley was Ruth's answer to prayer. Constance and Adam had known each other a little over eight years. She was beautiful and intelligent, (save for the fact that her hair was a little too bleached and her eye makeup a little too heavy for Ruth's taste), she was the ideal wife for Adam. Indeed, by all accounts it was a perfect match. Constance was five years younger than Adam, a real estate agent, and was rumored to be his undeclared fiancée. Ruth hoped and prayed for the day Adam and Constance would be married.

"Waiting for Jerome, Adam?" asked a friendly voice, pausing by the table where Adam had set up the chessboard in the Recreation Room. It was Chandra Powell, an attractive, black nursing assistant who had the evening shift at Mullen-Overholt Nursing Home.

"Have you seen Jerome?" asked Adam, checking his watch.

"I saw him with Arnold, just a minute ago," replied Chandra. Just then, someone called for her in a loud voice. "Gotta run," said Chandra. Five minutes after Chandra left, Jerome appeared in the doorway, his face tired and grave. Adam covered his mouth with his hand and stared at the chessboard. Without a word, Jerome sat down at the small table opposite Adam.

"Your move or mine?" asked Jerome, examining the chessboard carefully.

"Yours," replied Adam.

"This board doesn't look right," announced Jerome, pointing to Adam's queen. "I distinctly remember taking that queen last night."

"No, you're thinking about the game before, when I lost my queen to your bishop," disagreed Adam. "I set up the board exactly the way it was yesterday." Jerome shrugged.

"You're the one with the photographic memory," he replied. The next few minutes were spent in silent contemplation as Jerome calculated his move.

"Your move," said Jerome, advancing a pawn by one square. Adam looked at the board thoughtfully.

"How's your father?" asked Adam, his eyes fastened on the chessboard.

"Chandra must have told you," Jerome deduced.

"Either that, or I can hear through walls," smiled Adam.

"Dad's doing as well as can be expected," answered Jerome stiffly. He leaned back and folded his hands across his chest, patiently waiting for Adam to make his move.

Arnold Overholt, Jerome's father, had been a resident of Mullen-Overholt almost as soon it opened in 1998. Arnold was now in the sixth stage of Alzheimer's, and depended almost entirely on assistance from others to do the most basic things as get dressed or comb his hair. Vera Overholt, Arnold's self-sacrificing wife, traveled to Twin Yucca to be near her husband. She moved into Jerome's largely unused house, and walked the short distance to the nursing home everyday, to spend her time by Arnold's side.

Jerome minded little that his Mom had, practically speaking, taken over his house. The house was a present from Todd Mullen, Jerome's partner. It was a kind gesture, but Jerome insisted on living at the nursing home instead. Jerome's "living space" consisted of three small rooms located at the back of his office. If Vera was importunate enough, Jerome would spend the weekend at home with his mother.

"Your move," said Adam, moving his castle forward two squares. Jerome rubbed his chin, and after a few minutes of thought, moved his knight, capturing Adam's last bishop.

"Your move," Jerome smiled slyly. Adam raised his eyebrows and stared at the chessboard.
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One of my longtime readers, Myra Valcourt, has created a Facebook group just for you! "The Works of Judith Bronte" offers a forum to discuss the stories and characters, and a way to get to know other readers. I hope to see you there!