Abigail's Journey: Chapter 17: Page 16

...continued from previous page
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"No, no," replied Abby, "Jake would never knowingly hurt me. It's not as bad as it looks, guys-- really, it isn't. All he did was hold my hand."

"That poor man," mused Mr. Winkler, sympathetically. "The first time I shook hands with him, he struggled to hold on long enough to return a simple greeting. He's not a great deal better than that, now. I can only imagine what it took for him to hold on to you like that, Abby."

At five in the late afternoon, Abby drove home, having put in a full day at the marina. Even while her eager student, Mr. York, had talked about what usually interested her most, Jake had never been very far from her mind. Abby had found it hard to engross herself in fishing reels and bait, when her hair still smelled of tent mildew.

As her jeep pulled off the main road and approached the little house, she noticed the Sheriff's squad car and a police cruiser sitting in front of the tulip bed. Blue and red lights flashed against the late afternoon sky, immediately sending a warning to Abby's soul. This was no social call!

Quickly parking, Abby jumped from her jeep and raced to Deputy Casey, who was standing outside the yellow house, his hands on his hips.

"Casey," she exclaimed in alarm, "what's going on?!"

"Do you know where Jake is?" asked the Deputy in a sober voice. Even though he was a few years older then Abby, he had known her all his life, and had even attended the same high school with her. For years, he had been one of Abby's fishing buddies, and it cut him deeply that he should be at her house, looking for Jake. "This is serious, Abby. You'd better tell me if you know where he is, before anyone else gets hurt."

"What are you talking about?!" cried Abby, frightened by Casey's choice of words. "Where's Jake?" Not waiting another second, Abby ran into her parents' home. She found John and Terry talking to Sheriff Peterson, who was nodding and pointing to the little yellow house. To Abby's shock, her mother was sitting on the living room couch, her cheeks stained with tears.

"Someone, tell me what happened!" shouted Abby, her face blanched white with dread.

"Abby," began Sheriff Peterson, his face serious and drawn with concern, "do you know where Jake is?"

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" she cried. "Isn't he here?"

"No, he isn't," replied the Sheriff.

"I told them Jake went to the grocery store," piped up Terry, "but they won't believe me!"

"We already checked the store, Terry, but he wasn't there," replied the Sheriff. "Abby, it's important that we find him. Do you know where he might have gone?"

"Why are you looking for Jake?" she asked. "What did he do?"

John groaned inwardly and went to his wife on the couch, while Terry nervously stood nearby.

"Today, at about four o' clock," related Sheriff Peterson, "the body of Eric Murphy was found on the northwest shore of Oneida Lake. Looks as though he was stabbed to death with a long knife."

The news stunned Abby. For a minute, she could neither speak nor think. It was as if the wind had been knocked out of her!

"And you think Jake did it?" she gasped in shock. "He couldn't! He wouldn't hurt anyone!"

"Abigail," said the Sheriff in a firm voice, "he was tried and convicted of killing his father with a kitchen knife. Eric was his father's brother. We don't have the murder weapon yet-- I have some divers on their way to search the bottom of the lake-- but I must find Jake. Do you know where he was, last night?"
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