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"I was thinking the fireplace could go there," proposed John, pointing to a bare wall with a sofa against it. "Of course," he added, "you both couldn't leave the fire going after you're asleep, but it could at least make the house cozy before bedtime. What do you think, kids?"

"It sounds great, Dad," smiled Abby, kissing her father's cheek.

"You're a good girl," he said, giving his daughter a hug. "What time does the hearing begin?"

"It starts at nine and lasts until about four in the afternoon," she answered. "But, Jake's testimony should only last a half hour."

"The sooner this is over with, the better," sighed Terry.

When the two men returned home, Jake helped Abby wheel the baby crib to her room.

"Where do you want it?" he asked.

"At the foot of my bed, I guess," shrugged Abby.

The young woman found it difficult to find room for all the baby things, so Jake put the highchair, stroller, and car seat in the corner of his own room.

"When I was a kid," remembered Abby, as Jake leaned the stroller against the wall, "I had a hamster named Gumdrop. I saved all my allowance and bought her a cage, an exercise wheel, and all kinds of toys for her to play with. Preparing for this baby somehow makes me feel as though I'm getting a really big pet."

"Whatever happened to Gumdrop?" asked Jake, picking up the shoes Abby had kicked off on her way back to her bedroom.

"Oh," came the reply, "I forgot to clean her cage, and she escaped."

Late that night, when Abby got up to use the bathroom, she saw the light on in Jake's room. Through the open door, she could see Jake sitting cross-legged on his bed with a notepad in front of him.

"What are you doing?" she yawned. "It's in the middle of the night."

"I'm writing down what I want to say at the hearing," he explained. "Did I wake you up?"

It was then that Abby noticed several wadded sheets of paper strewn on the floor around his bed.

"No," she replied, "I was just on my way to the bathroom."

Abby disappeared for a few minutes and checked in on him again, before going back to bed.

"Do you need any help?" she offered.

"No, these have to be my words," declined Jake.

"All right," yawned Abby. "Good night."

She shuffled sleepily to her bedroom and had no difficulty falling back to sleep.

By morning, Jake had finished preparing the testimony he would read at the hearing. One of Izumi's girlfriends came over to keep her company, while John and Terry would attend the commission that was being held in a vacant courtroom at the county courthouse. The men rode with Abby and Jake in her jeep, while the young man did his best to remain calm. As they pulled up to the courthouse, everyone noticed a news van from Watertown parked out front.

"Is this going to be televised?" asked Terry, in surprise.
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