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"I promised I wouldn't run out on you, and I won't," he repeated. "I'll help you raise the baby."

"I know you will," said Abby. "That is not what concerns me. Jake, I don't want you to go-- not just for the baby, but for me. The truth is, you're the dearest friend I've ever had. Sometimes, you know what I'm thinking, even before I do myself. Please, don't leave. I'll tape my mouth shut and never say another word, if you only won't go!"

"The house would be pretty quiet if you did that," replied Jake, cracking a smile. "If that's the way you really felt, then why didn't you tell me?"

"Because," replied Abby, "I was afraid you were going to think that I was falling in love, or some stupid thing like that, and I didn't want to scare you."

"Just the way you didn't want to scare me by letting on what happened that night?" asked Jake. "If you hadn't gotten pregnant, when were you going to tell me, Abby?"

"'Tomorrow' was the best answer I could come up with," she reasoned, weakly. "I'm not going to fall to pieces if you sit on my bed, Jake."

"I didn't want to make it any harder on you than it already was," he explained. "And, I have to admit, I was feeling a little threatened. I can't be there for you like other men. You made a poor deal when you married me."

"If I remember correctly," she smiled, "you were the one who proposed."

"I know," he sighed, "but you accepted, so which of us is the bigger fool?"

"At this point, it's a tossup," she conceded. "I don't want you to go."

"I don't want to leave," he answered.

"Then, what are we going to do?" wondered Abby.

"I'll make you a trade," proposed Jake. "I'll come into your room again, just as always, if you'll come home at five o' clock, and not work overtime."

"My bedroom won't make you too uneasy?" she asked.

"It has to be better than standing out here, arguing," he replied, dryly.

"We're not arguing," she insisted, "we're... discussing. What about locking your bedroom door? You need me too much, to do that. The longer it takes me to get in, the harder it will be for you to come out of your flashback. I promise not to let that night we slept together, ever repeat itself, without your full, unintoxicated consent. Please, trust me again."

"I won't lock the door," answered Jake.

"Then, I accept the trade," she replied.

"I hope I'm not doing wrong by you," he sighed. "Are you sure you don't want me to move out and find an apartment here in Three Mile Bay? We could still see each other-- sort of."

"Let's not start that again," she sighed. "I'm too hungry."

"Dinner was hot," laughed Jake, "but it isn't, anymore!"

"As long as it's still edible, I'm game," she replied. "Hey, did you hear we're going to have three girls?"

"I hope you don't mean us, personally," answered Jake. "Abby! Don't you ever wipe your feet before going inside? Just look at my floor!"

"God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains."
~ Psalms 68:6 ~

end of chapter
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