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"I didn't want you to think that I had given in," he explained, his voice strained with fatigue.

Abby knew Jake was making progress, but she had hoped that he was getting beyond the flashbacks-- at least, in such a public way. She hadn't enjoyed the looks people had given her as they left the store. But, even Christ had despised the shame on the cross, and yet He still endured it that we might have salvation.

"Looking unto Jesus... Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame."
~ Hebrews 12:2 ~

As this thought sounded in the depths of her heart, Abby could hear Jake's breathing as he waited for her to give him some kind of assurance that she hadn't thought the less of him for what had happened that day.

"It's all right," she assured him. "If anyone can see what you're going through, I can. Now go home and rest, because you know how flashbacks always wear you out. I'll be along as soon as I'm done here."

"Thank you for understanding, Abby," he replied gratefully.

After handing back the cell phone to Terry, Abby sighed and stared at her untouched lunch.

"You should eat," remarked Dennis, seeing her lack of appetite. "I realize you've been through a lot today, but you must focus on the job ahead of you. You still have one more event to pass. Forget setting the record. Just concentrate on doing your best."

"Coach, you're tough," she smiled wearily.

"All that training is going to pay off today," said Dennis, confidently. "Only remember to keep that fly nice and gentle on the last forward cast, or else it will sink like that poor woman who went after you."

"The next event is bass bug, remember?" Abby laughed. "At least cork floats easier than feathers! Speaking of flies, I have something for you," she said, pulling a small wooden box from her pocket and handing it to Dennis. He opened the box to find an expertly tied fly, in a unique pattern he had never seen before. "You once asked what lures worked best on the smallmouth in Three Mile Bay," she said. "That's my secret weapon."

Dennis looked the fly over and shook his head in admiration.

"You're an amazing woman, Abby," he said, carefully closing the box. "Whatever the outcome of the last event is, it's been an honor to train you."

Abby didn't know how to answer him. It was a compliment she didn't feel she deserved.

After Terry had finished eating, the three returned to the tournament in time for Abby to warm up before the bass bug event.

People had crowded around the lake, curious to see if the pretty young woman could make history by scoring her third perfect score in the last of the fly accuracy events. Abby tried to ignore them, for it only served to add more pressure. As she prepared her rod, Dennis went over a few things with her.

"There'll be six targets," he began, "and the farthest one out will be approximately seventy feet. You'll have five minutes to complete two rounds. Don't let the time rattle you. If you make a mistake, accept it and move on."

Just then, the loudspeakers crackled, and Dennis looked at her nervously.

"I'm up," she said, taking a deep breath.

"One last thing," he added, as she made her way to the casting platform, "you are only allowed two false casts after the first target."

"You've already told me," smiled Abby, as the judge waited for him to leave so they could begin.

"Right," said Dennis. "I'll go now."

"Your time will start after your first cast," said the judge, when all was prepared. "You may begin."
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