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Chapter Sixteen
A Matter of Conscience

"This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief... if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
~ 1 Peter 2:19, 20 ~

September began, and Terry was all smiles and secrets about the baby shower he was going to throw for Abby. The next few days promised to be happy ones, but clouds were looming on the horizon for the new family. It started a few days before the baby shower, when Abby returned home from work one day. As she climbed out of the jeep, she could see Warden Doyle talking to Jake on the beach in the distance, both engrossed in discussion.

"What's he doing here?" Abby wondered to her father.

"I don't know," replied John soberly. "Something's going on, that's for sure. He asked to see Jake, and they've been out there for over an hour now."

Abby watched the two men for a few minutes, and then went inside with John. She had been keeping her end of the deal she had made with Jake about not working overtime, and was home in time to eat dinner with the rest of the family.

"How was your day, Mom?" smiled Abby, coming into her parents' bedroom where Izumi was confined to bed rest.

"Don't ask," smiled Izumi, glumly. "I'm so tired of this bed! I keep reminding myself that it's for the girls, so I try to have more patience. Sometimes, it's hard, though. Did you know that Dick is here?"

"I saw him talking to Jake when I got back," replied Abby, glancing at the window to see if he was still there.

"They're not going to send him back to prison, are they?" wondered Izumi.

"As Jake's parole officer, Sheriff Peterson would be the one to make that decision-- not Warden Doyle," answered the young woman, knowingly. "Do you want anything before I leave? I'm going home to shower before dinner."

"No, I'm fine," replied Izumi, her face still betraying concern.

"It'll be all right, Mom," Abby smiled nonchalantly. "They're probably just catching up on prison news, or something."

As Abby left her parents' home and headed across the way to the yellow house, she put a hand to her eyes and looked off into the distance where the two men were still talking. Jake looked up and stared in her direction for a moment, their eyes briefly meeting. Then the ex-convict looked away and listened while Warden Doyle continued to talk.

Abby went into the small house and started her shower. Even through the sound of falling water and the closed bathroom door, she could hear Jake's voice in the living room, as he spoke to someone else. Wanting to know what was being said, Abby quickly shut off the water. Very soon after, the voices stopped; she heard the front door open and close, and then silence. With a shrug, the young woman turned on the water and finished her shower. After putting on her bathrobe, she opened the door and was surprised to find Jake sitting on the floor in the hall across from the bathroom door, smoking a cigarette. When he looked up at her, he quickly averted his eyes.

"What did Warden Doyle want?" she asked.

"I can't talk to you while you're dressed like that," muttered Jake, getting up and going to the living room.

In less than five minutes, Abby was ready and in the living room.

"What did he want?" she repeated, as Jake stared out the window onto the beach.

"Dick wants me to testify at a commission on prisoner abuse," replied Jake, exhaling another puff of tobacco.

continued on next page...
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