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Chapter Fifteen
The Night that Changed Everything

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
~ Amos 3:3 ~

The days passed, and Abby remained silent. Whenever she faced Jake to tell him what had happened, courage would quickly fail her, and she found herself talking about something else, instead. Abby was so diligent in showing a normal front, that few had little opportunity to suspect that anything was troubling her.

The one person Abby struggled to act the most unaffected around, however, was the one person who sensed something was wrong. Jake was now working at the Johanneses' house, keeping the home in running order, and preparing meals on a daily basis. Everyone agreed that he was doing a good job, and that things were going smoothly. One would think that his being around the Johanneses' meant that Jake saw Abby more often, but that was not the case. Abby had taken Mr. Winkler's offer to be a fly casting instructor at the tackle shop, even though she would be second fiddle to Dennis. The young woman was so intent on keeping busy, that she put in long hours at the marina, so that Jake only saw her when she arrived home late in the evening to eat dinner.

One evening, late in August, approximately two weeks after that fateful night, Abby came home from work later than usual, only to find Jake waiting up for her in the living room.

"How was work?" he asked, as Abby tossed her keys onto the coffee table and kicked off her shoes.

"All right, I guess," she shrugged, checking the answering machine. "How did things go with my parents? Did Uncle Terry give you a hard time?"

"He likes my cooking," responded Jake, once again sensing that Abby was trying to avoid something else. "Your dinner's in the fridge," he sighed, getting up to pick up her shoes.

As she ate her dinner, Jake stood in the doorway and watched. His arms were folded and his face was sober. After a few minutes of staring silence, Abby put down her fork and looked up at him.

"Are you just going to stand there?" she tried to smile lightheartedly. Slowly, Jake sat down at the table. "You know," she continued, "this chicken is really good. Sometime, I'll go fishing and see what you can do with bass."

"Are you feeling all right?" asked Jake. "Is Mr. Winkler overworking you?"

"No, he's a great boss," replied Abby, resuming her meal. "I know this wonderful recipe with lemon sauce. Uncle Terry once fixed it, and it was the best bass I've ever had."

"Is it something I did?" wondered Jake. "Are you angry with me?"

"What in the world makes you ask that?" she asked in surprise.

"I don't know," he shrugged, "I just thought I'd ask."

"I've never been able to get the recipe to work, myself," she continued, "but you probably wouldn't have any trouble. Really, Jake, this is pretty good."

"Thanks," he muttered, getting up. "Just leave the dishes in the sink. I'll take care of them later."

The next morning, before Abby had left the house for work, Jake disappeared without explanation. A little relieved that she wouldn't have to face him at breakfast, Abby ate the meal he had left for her.

A few minutes later, as Dennis Beckman was preparing to climb out of bed, he heard a knock at the door of the boarding house where he was staying.

"Just a minute!" Dennis called out, quickly jumping into a pair of jeans. He went to the door and was surprised to find Jake.

"May I come in?" asked Jake, more than a little nervous.

"Sure," replied Dennis, standing aside so his guest could enter. "Something must be terribly wrong, for you to be willing to step inside my room," he mused, only half joking. "What can I do for you?"

continued on next page...
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