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"My husband has only Jake's best interests at heart," defended Sara. "You must believe that!"

"Have you told Jake what a big risk he's taking?" inquired Dr. Jacoby, who up until now, had remained silent.

"I laid it out for the boy," answered Dick. "You can ask him-- I sugarcoated nothing."

"Please," begged Jake, "leave Dick alone! This was my decision!"

"Jake, I understand your loyalty to your former warden," John interposed, "but you must think about what's best for Abby."

"Dick, how could you put Jake into a situation like this?!" cried Terry. "You know how vulnerable he is!"

"My husband has done nothing wrong!" insisted Sara, getting out a handkerchief.

Emotions were running high, and Jake didn't know what to do. All of his friends were fighting with each other, and his hands began to tremble.

"Jake, you can't seriously go through with this," reasoned Sheriff Peterson. "You have to consider your wife and baby!"

"He has," spoke up Abby, in a steady but strained voice. "Before anyone says another word, everyone here should know that Jake and I have discussed this at length, and I support his decision."

"Abby," protested John, "you don't know what you're saying!"

"Yes, Dad, I do," she replied sadly. "I know all too well what could happen to Jake if he's sent back to prison. I've helped him through the nightmares, the flashbacks, and the pain. I'm here to tell you that it's not going to stop Jake from doing what he feels is the right thing to do. The rest of us may question if the risk involved is worth the amount of good it would actually do, but we weren't the ones abused-- Jake was. He's doing this as a matter of conscience. Jake is trying to do the best he can, and I won't sit here and let anyone speak against him!"

The young man in question remained silent, but looked up at Abby with a big smile that made any lingering doubts in her heart quickly fly away.

"But, you and the baby..." resisted John.

"This baby we're all celebrating today, wasn't Jake's decision," she explained. "The rest of you may talk about unexpected pregnancies, but it's not because you can't go near your wife. That night was not Jake's choice. If I had to do it over again, I would have done things differently. It wasn't fair to Jake, and it wasn't fair to the baby."

"Jake is the father, and Jake has the responsibility to consider the good of his own family," insisted John.

"Don't you understand?" cried Abby. "He has endured so much of the guilt those animals have heaped upon him over the years, that he feels obligated to do this-- even if it's only to prove that he's not like them! Everyone here may say Jake isn't thinking about me and the baby, but he IS. He's doing the best he can for us," she repeated, her face flushed with color. "Change is never going to happen, unless someone has the courage to speak out against what's wrong."

The room was silent. Dr. Jacoby leaned forward and nodded to Abby in Jake's direction. The ex-convict's frame was visibly trembling.

"Are you all right?" whispered Abby.

"I need a smoke," he replied, getting up from the couch and stepping outside.

Abby looked pleadingly to her father.

"I think I understand now," sighed John, not exactly happy with the realization.
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