Marti looked at Chuck and asked with a twinkle in her eye, "Here we are in our little Garden of Eden. What did God say after creating Adam?"
"I give up. What did God say?"
"I must be able to do better than that! So, he created woman to be man's partner."
"That's you, you're my partner," Chuck said kissing her lightly. He stayed connected to her as long as he could then rolled onto his back to look up at the trees giving them shade. "Don’t you love the peace and quiet back here?"
"Yes, and I'm glad Shirley is at Tom's house. I'm sure I screamed again."
"It was a joy scream. People love to hear those." He ran his hand through her hair. What do we want to take to dinner tonight?"
"Um-m, do you have more strawberries? Shirley loves them. Especially chocolate dipped."
"That's a great idea. I have some dark chocolate we can melt and dip strawberries for dessert."
"Can we be lazy just a little while longer?" she asked. "I'm feeling pretty content right here."
"Me, too, This is exactly why I wanted a backyard. He pulled her into his arms and closed his eyes. "I like sharing it with you."
Right at six o'clock Chuck and Marti walked into Shirley's home with a plate of strawberries.
Hearing voices in the kitchen, they walked in to see Tom and Shirley basting a poached salmon with baby red potatoes and green beans surrounding it.
"Aunt Shirley, it looks beautiful." Kissing her cheek, Marti sat down the strawberries. "We'll stay out of your way while you two cook. She squeezed Tom's elbow as a greeting before taking a bar stool at the counter with Chuck.
"We'll be right with you," said Tom, "This just needs to broil for a few minutes." Shirley let him place the pan back in the oven while she finished the salad.
"Oh, that reminds me, Shirley. I have a box of vegetables for you from Mom's garden. She sends her love," said Marti.
"Why don't you run get it now? We might see something to add to this salad."
Marti slid off the stool heading for her car. She was back in a flash with a produce box. Setting it on the counter, everyone peeked inside out of curiosity.
"Let's try one of those tomatoes," Shirley said picking out one of the best Romas. She sliced it into the salad then moved the bowl to the table. Grabbing a bread dish, she pulled the French loaf out of the toaster cutting it into slices.
"What would you lovely people like to drink? I have a nice Chardonnay open, Marti."
"I'll try some too, with the fish," Chuck responded. He took Marti's hand holding it on his lap.
Tom checked the fish and pulled it to the stove's edge. "Perfect!" he announced. "Let's eat."
After the meal everyone strolled into the backyard to enjoy dessert.
"I was a good girl and did not talk business during dinner. Can I ask a question now?" asked Shirley politely. Tom patted her hand. "Do we have enough dirt on Serino to stop him?"
"We could slow him down right now. I need more hard evidence to stop him," said Marti. "His biggest mistake seems to be hiding money from the IRS. But they haven't caught him red-handed yet. I'm sure he has tax attorneys who protect him."
"Charlene has agreed to let me represent Whispering Palms at the county. I suspect when he meets me, he will back off again."
"But our goal is to make him go away forever," suggested Shirley as she nibbled on her chocolate strawberry.
"I may have the evidence for that within thirty days. He has a speaking engagement on June 30th in Raleigh. When he comes home from that, I will have a photographer planted at the airport observation deck. We plan to photograph the unloading of the plane and follow the van that takes the boxes of money."
"That sounds dangerous, dear," said Shirley.
"No, we will stay a safe distance behind. He will never know we're there."
"Who is going to follow Serino?" asked Chuck. "Remember Dave told us some of the boxes go into the trunk of his car. Wouldn't that be the more incriminating photo?"
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