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Chapter Seventeen
To Be Close to You

"They asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent."
~ Exodus 18:7 ~

The days following Jake's testimony at the commission were filled with a collective sigh of relief for Abby and her family. Jake had faced the board and walked away with a clean conscience that he had done his best to help the others still in prison. Life seemed to settle down a little as everyone's attention began to turn from the commission to the four babies that were due early next year.

Just as he and Abby had planned earlier, Jake began work on the mural in the triplets' room. Between meals and other household chores, the young man spent his spare time creating the dove's nest he had envisioned in his mind's eye. Day after day, a tender tribute to motherhood gradually unfolded on the nursery wall, skillfully portrayed by the artist's paintbrush. Whenever John or Terry happened to pass the open door, they would poke in their heads and admire Jake's handiwork.

One evening a few days before mid-September, Abby got home from work hours later than usual.

"There you are," said Terry, looking up from reading his book on the couch when she walked through her parents' front door. "I was beginning to think that you were going to stay at the marina all night," he joked.

"Sorry I'm late," Abby sighed wearily.

"You were missed at dinner," said John, momentarily muting the evening news on the television. "I think you know who I'm referring to."

"Did he have a flashback?" came Abby's immediate response.

"No," replied John, a little dismayed at his daughter's lack of perception, "that's not what I'm talking about. When someone you care about doesn't get home when they said they would, and doesn't bother to call, then certain people who are close to that individual tend to get a little concerned."

"Is that all?" she sighed in relief. "Really, Dad, you gave me a scare!"

"What do you think it did to Jake?" asked John. "Do you know what time it is, Abby?"

"Yeah, I know," she stammered, checking the living room clock. "It's nine o' clock. Ouch!" she exclaimed, "I didn't realize it was that late. That's a new record, even for me."

"Did you know he went down to the marina, on foot, to see if you were all right?" asked her father.

"Jake did that?" she smiled sheepishly. "I suppose I'd better go talk to him. Where is he?"

"In the nursery," replied John.

Abby made her way down the hall to her old bedroom. She found Jake standing on a ladder, intently working on the mural. Sensing someone's presence, he looked down to find Abby standing in the doorway.

"I heard you were looking for me," she said, attempting a smile.

"You promised to not work overtime," Jake said quietly.

"It wasn't overtime," explained Abby, examining the partially finished nest on the wall. "I got into a conversation with one of the guys down at the marina and we stopped by the restaurant to have some coffee and talk shop. I guess I lost track of the time."

With a sigh, Jake returned to his work.

continued on next page...
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