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"We all want what's best for him," explained Terry. "It frightens us to think what could happen to him."

"I know," replied Abby. "It frightens me, too."

"I can understand why you people thought I may have pressured Jake into testifying," admitted Dick, his voice much calmer now. "I must confess, I wanted him to do it, but I did my level best to explain the risks involved. I don't know if it makes any difference now, but the commission on prisoner abuse is one of the first really promising steps taking place that could actually impact the correctional system in a positive way."

"Jake looks up to you, Dick," warned Dr. Jacoby. "I hope you realize how much influence you have over him."

The women got up and went to the kitchen to start serving dessert. Grateful for an excuse to leave the men to finish their discussion, Abby went to Izumi, who had been silently witnessing the unfolding scene at the door of her bedroom. Izumi patted the bed and Abby climbed up to get a hug from her mother.

"You're a brave girl," said Izumi, clasping her daughter in her arms. "Safety comes from God. [Proverbs 21:31] Remember that."

"I will, Mom," promised Abby.

Just then, Mrs. Peterson walked up with two small dishes of ice cream and cake.

"This one is for you, Abby," smiled the Sheriff's wife, "and this is for that sweet man of yours."

"Wasn't he a sweetheart?" agreed Izumi.

"An absolute angel," replied the woman. "When you finished speaking on his behalf, Abby, I thought I would cry."

"Some of us, did," confessed Izumi, grabbing another tissue. "Did you see the way he smiled at our Abby? He was that proud of her. I don't know why I'm so happy. My son-in-law is going to make enemies, and my baby girl could pay the consequences for it-- God forbid!"

"We'll be all right, Mom," Abby assured her.

After receiving another hug from her mother, Abby passed through the living room where the men were still talking about the hearing, and ducked out the front door before they tried to involve her in their conversation. Outside, Abby found Jake standing near the shoreline, smoking a cigarette, his eyes fixed on a gull floating overhead.

"Here's your dessert," she offered.

Jake stamped out his cigarette, and took the plate from her hand.

"Are they still going at it?" he asked.

"Yes," smiled Abby, "but I think everyone's pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that you're testifying tomorrow."

Jake took a small bite of cake and then looked back at his friend.

"Thanks for standing up for me back there," he said gratefully. "I'm glad you understand why I have to do this."

Dr. Jacoby excused himself from the party, and joined AJ on the beach.

"Am I interrupting anything?" he asked, walking towards them.

"No," replied Abby.

"Too bad," smiled the therapist.
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