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"I won't lie to you," Jake finally replied. "Sexual assault could be the least of my problems. The reason I'm telling you all this, is that if something happens to me, then you..." he paused, searching carefully for the right words. "I won't go through with it, if you don't want me to. You'd have to raise the baby alone, or at least, without me, so it's only fair that you should have the final say."

"Surely," she breathed, "you can't still be thinking of going through with this!"

"Abby, it's rare for a commission to come together about prisoner abuse," explained Jake. "There's a lot of influential people on this committee. They could have the power to influence others that are in a position to really make some big changes!"

"But," argued Abby in amazement, "you'd be risking your life for a bunch of criminals!"

"I was one of those criminals," he reminded her. "In many ways, I still am. No matter where I go, there are invisible bars around me all the time. I'm only free as long as I don't break parole. Abby, I know I'm asking an awful lot of you, but if I can save someone else from enduring the hell I've been through, then I have to at least try."

"How can you be so brave?" she gasped in dumbfounded wonderment.

"I'm not brave," denied Jake, shaking his head slowly. "I'm only trying to do the right thing. Please, tell me you understand."

"I'm trying," struggled Abby, half waiting for someone to awaken her from this bad dream. "Why should you take such a big risk for a bunch of felons, when they probably wouldn't do it for you?"

"That's beside the point," dismissed Jake. "I'm a felon, too. 'As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise,'" he added, quoting the Golden Rule in Luke chapter six, verse thirty-one.

"You're asking me for permission to go and get yourself raped or killed!" cried the young woman in dismay.

"Just think about it for awhile," he urged, getting up to leave.

"That's NOT going to help," retorted Abby, sliding back under her covers. "When is this commission thing, anyway?"

"Tuesday," he answered.

"The day after the baby shower," Abby observed under her breath.

The next day, the former warden was the talk of Upstate New York. The fact that he was to testify at the commission on prisoner abuse just days away, only made the publicity greater. As the weekend approached, Jake waited nervously for Abby's answer. By now, most everyone who knew AJ, was aware of the situation and had a general idea of the consequences of his testimony.

On the evening before Sunday, Abby went out to the shoreline to fly fish and to think. She had to have an answer by tomorrow morning, and Abby was having difficulty coming up with the one Jake wanted.

Swish, swish, Abby's fly line played back and forth against the evening sky, before landing gently on the surface of the water. A cool lake breeze played with her hair as the sun slowly sank in the west. Jake soon joined her, and stood quietly nearby. The young man stooped down and picked up a small flat stone, rolling it thoughtfully in his hand.

"Do you really believe this is the right thing to do?" she asked.

"I do," replied Jake, looking up at her and then out at the bay.

"I don't want you to go through with it, but I won't stop you," sighed Abby with a deep groan. "I don't believe God would ask you to do something like this, if no real good will be accomplished by it."
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