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Jake followed her example, and he soon had his feet in the water as well.

"Abby," he confided to her, "you're the best friend that I've ever had."

The sincerity of his voice left no room to doubt that he was speaking the truth.

"You're a better friend than I deserve," she replied.

Jake had hoped she would say, "And you're my best friend," but she hadn't. Instead, her face had changed from open frankness to one of gentle caution. Silently reproaching himself for such a juvenile remark as the one he had just voiced out loud, Jake prayed that she would soon forget it.

"What time is it?" asked Abby, swishing the water with her feet.

Jake checked his watch.

"It's almost eight," he replied.

"Oh, no!" cried Abby, jumping to her feet and grabbing her sandals. "You're late for work, Jake!"

After Abby drove the young man to the marina, she returned home and found her mother in the living room, studying a book about what to expect with a multiples pregnancy. Izumi set it aside when Abby joined her on the sofa, for the mother could easily see that there was a lot on her daughter's mind.

"Is everything all right between you and Jake?" asked Izumi.

"He forgave me," replied Abby. "I didn't deserve it, but he forgave me. You know, I could have called Dad or Uncle Terry a baby, and whether I meant it or not, they would've shrugged it off-- but not Jake."

"Patience, Abby."

"When Jake started fighting me on the baby monitor idea," continued Abby, "I know I lost my patience and became frustrated. It's no excuse for sin, but, I mean, really, what's a lamb wearing a baby bib compared to those horrible flashbacks?!"

"Maybe," suggested Izumi, "we could make some kind of cover for the monitor. Or, you could take it back and get a different one."

"That's a good idea," answered Abby, "but that's not my point. Why did he take it so personally, Mom?"

"Abby," sighed Izumi, "surely, even you can see why. Jake is a grown man, and he has to sleep with the light on; he sometimes wets himself, he can't easily talk to other people, and he felt desperate enough to ask you to marry him in spite of all these problems. Jake is very aware of his shortcomings, and your making light of them only made him feel worse. I believe you already understand this."

"I suppose I do," sighed Abby. "I was just afraid that something else might be going on with him."

"Such as?" asked Izumi.

"I'm not sure, Mom," she answered. "I only know that I don't want him to get hurt."

"Then walk softly, Abby," warned the mother. "There's a saying, 'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.'"

Soon after, Abby was called to the marina to translate for a group of Japanese tourists. After a long day of work, she and Jake drove home.

Before dinner, Abby walked Jake out to the picnic table, and handed him a large sketchpad.

"I want to try something," she explained. "Do you see that old boat over there? Draw it, and I'll do the same on my sketchpad. I want to see how much we differ in style."

Jake immediately set to work, while Abby carefully did the same. After ten minutes, she heard his fingers patiently drumming on the picnic table as he waited for her to complete her assignment.
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