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"Abby, what's wrong?" asked Dennis. "Jake visited me this morning, and he said that he thought something was troubling you."

"Did he?" she asked, in a surprised voice.

"Abby, you don't look very well," observed Mr. Winkler over his spectacles. "Dennis, drive her home," he directed. "You get some rest, young lady."

"Thanks," she smiled, "but I can drive myself."

As Abby made her way home, a flood of thoughts surged through her head. For every thought she had, it always ended with, "What am I going to tell Jake?"

Terry was just going inside with the mail when he saw Abby pull up in front of the little yellow house across the way.

"Hey! Abby!" he shouted, coming to her vehicle. "What are you doing home so early? Did they get sick of you down there, and decide to throw you back for awhile?" he laughed good-naturedly. Then, he noticed her red eyes. "Have you been crying?"

"I just needed to take some time off," she shrugged, trying to play down the situation. "Is Jake home?" she asked, getting out of the jeep.

"He's starting lunch," Terry answered soberly. "Come inside and sit down," ordered her adopted uncle, guiding the young woman into her parents' house. "Jake, you'd better get in here!" shouted Terry, as he helped Abby sit down on the couch.

Jake and John came running, while Izumi called from her bed to ask what was going on. The young man's heart fell when he saw Abby's shaken appearance. Numbly, he stood by while John and Terry did their best to ascertain what the problem was.

"I'm all right," she kept insisting.

"Abigail," commanded John in his parenting voice, "I want to know what's going on."

"You can tell us anything," coaxed Terry.

"What's happening?" cried Izumi from the bedroom.

"We don't know, yet!" John called back to his wife.

"I'll tell you," assured Abby, "but I can't now. I have to talk to Jake first. Could I borrow him for awhile?"

The young man jumped at the sound of his name.

"Very well," sighed her father, "I suppose I can't treat you like a child anymore, but, Abby... the look on your face right now... I'm only glad your mother can't see it."

"See what?!" cried Izumi from the bedroom.

"You're giving everyone a bad scare, Abby," agreed Terry, as the young woman got up from the couch and went to the front door with Jake in tow.

Outside, AJ walked down the beach to the small dock at the end of their property. Even in the midst of this, Jake couldn't help but notice how the afternoon sun reflected in her eyes with such brilliance that he could hardly believe she was real.

"I have to tell you something," she began.

"I'm ready," said Jake, bracing himself for the worst.

"Not for this," replied Abby, brushing a wisp of long hair from her face, "I guarantee it."
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