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Chapter Twenty-three
Something Called Hope

"Thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: Thou art my trust from my youth."
~ Psalms 71:5 ~

Jake's newfound ability to kiss his wife had taken its effect on the young man. After taking a painkiller, he finally had to retreat to his room until the pain backed off. Not wanting to leave him alone in the house, Abby went to her fly tying table, instead of returning to help Terry with the rest of the Thanksgiving preparations for the next day.

Tying flies usually captivated Abby's interest for hours on end, but today, she found it difficult to concentrate on her work. As Abby thought about Jake, she heard a small, indistinguishable sound coming over the baby monitor. Concerned that this could be the beginnings of a flashback, Abby ran to Jake's room, only to find him wide awake, and staring up at the ceiling with a strange smile on his lips.

"How are you feeling?" she asked, realizing that the question was an unnecessary one. The look on his face told her that he was more than fine.

"The Xantol's working," he smiled.

"That's good," replied Abby, with a grateful sigh of relief. "I'm sorry I did that to you," she apologized.

"I can take that kind of pain, anytime," grinned Jake.

"I don't want you to," resisted Abby, going to the corner of the room and moving a chair beside his bed. "I've been thinking..." she began.

"I'm glad one of us is," he smiled playfully.

"I don't think it's a good idea to push things too quickly," she continued.

"Abby..." sighed Jake, not liking the direction that the conversation was making.

"I know you want to make me happy," Abby went on, "but, you don't have to push yourself into Xantol and flashbacks to do it. Just the fact that you're home, makes me happier than I deserve."

Jake reached out and softly stroked the back of her hand with his fingertips.

"Please," she implored him, "don't hurt yourself because of me."

"Abby," he answered in a tender whisper, "you're going to have to trust me."

"I'm scared," she confessed. "There's so much that could overwhelm you..." Abby paused, as she felt Jake's fingers softly caressing her hand.

"Don't be afraid for me," he smiled, encouragingly.

Abby looked into his dark brown eyes, and silently prayed for a fraction of his strength.

As Jake leaned forward to kiss her, he let out an involuntary gasp of pain and fell back to his pillow with a dull groan.

"You'd better get some more rest," she observed, getting up from her chair and moving it back to its place in the corner of his room. "We haven't eaten lunch yet. Do you want something to eat?"

"I couldn't hold anything down," said Jake, sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. "Not after that Xantol I just took."

continued on next page...
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