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"Could I stop by later today?" he asked, as the rest of the congregation took their seats for the service to begin.

"We'd appreciate that," answered Terry.

Jake heard a sigh escape Abby's lips as the Sheriff returned to his family.

With so little sleep the night before, Abby struggled to keep her eyes open during the service. Jake was awake, but just barely. As the preacher went on, the sound of his voice became a sleepy drone in Jake's ears. Before long, the room grew strangely dark, even though it was still morning. The next thing Jake knew, he felt a jab in his side from Abby's elbow.

"If I have to stay awake," she whispered in his ear, "then so do you!"

Jake opened his eyes wide, and tried to follow the sermon. After what seemed to him to be an extraordinarily long service, everyone got up, and began to file down the aisle. People stopped AJ and told them that they were praying for them both. It seemed a miracle to Jake that so many people were genuinely concerned for his welfare. Everyone knew that the young man had had a hard childhood, and that he had suffered much at the hands of other inmates, but the recent publicity over the Watertown State Penitentiary had made people realize just how real it was. Abby, however, needed no such reminders, for she lived with the reality of it on a daily basis.

Wishes of "we're praying for you," and "God help you both," sprang from more than one person, as AJ made their way outside. Jake rubbed his forehead with the back of his hand, and climbed into the passenger side of the jeep as Terry lingered with the pastor for a minute or two before coming. Abby could see the strain on Jake's face as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

When Terry arrived, Abby started the vehicle and began the drive home. After they pulled up to the little yellow house, Jake got out and was about to go to the Johanneses' home to start lunch, when Abby stopped him.

"Uncle Terry," asked Abby, "could you and Dad handle lunch without Jake, this time?"

"No problem," replied Terry, as Jake yawned.

"Come on," said Abby, leading her friend into their house and to his room. "Lay down and get some rest. We'll eat lunch later. I'm too tired to eat right now, anyway."

"But Sheriff Peterson..." Jake resisted, wearily.

"He can visit with my parents," replied Abby, kicking off her shoes and heading to her own room. She climbed onto her bed and rapidly fell asleep.

In peaceful silence, the light on the floor traveled across the room, as the sun began to set in the western horizon. With a soft sigh, Abby awoke from her much needed rest. As she entered the hall and looked though Jake's open door, the young woman could see him curled up on his bed with Daisy, still fast asleep.

Abby made her way to the kitchen, and noticed through an open window, that Sheriff Peterson's pickup was parked beside the tulip bed in front of their house. Seeing no one in the vehicle, Abby correctly guessed that the Sheriff was at her parents' home across the way. Not having eaten in several hours, Abby started to prepare dinner. As the smell of a hot meal started to fill the house, Jake soon joined her in the kitchen.

"I was about to wake you up," said Abby, turning off the fire under a skillet. "Dinner's ready."

"Sheriff Peterson's pickup is out front," remarked Jake, sitting down to the table.

"I noticed," she sighed. "I'll give you one guess what they're talking about right now."

Not needing that one guess, AJ prayed over their food and ate dinner in silence, each occupied with their own thoughts. When dinner was over, Abby caught up on her email in the living room, while Jake sat on the couch and sketched. It wasn't until late that night, that Abby heard the pickup out front drive away.
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