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"What's wrong?" he asked, immediately recognizing the distress in her face, the second he stepped inside the house.

"It's getting worse for Jake," she explained through a thick curtain of tears. "Oh, Uncle Terry! I wish it were over! Why can't they leave him alone!"

Terry hugged Abby, and did his best to comfort her as John entered the yellow house, having heard what his daughter had just said.

"Tonight, I want you to sleep at our place," John told her. "I know this is your home, Sweetheart, but you need to be with family right now. I'll run the telephone line over, so you can still take his calls."

After Abby nodded her willingness, Terry and John started work on the telephone while she stood nearby until the move was over, in case Jake should call while she wasn't present.

When Abby's telephone had been rerouted across the way to her parents' house, she went to the master bedroom where Izumi was waiting for her, for John had told her what was going on.

"Come here, Sweetheart," said her mother, as Abby crawled onto the bed and entered the safe embrace that was offered her. For a long time, neither woman said a single word. With a sad sigh, John entered the room and tenderly looked at mother and daughter.

"Abby, the extra bed is still set up in the nursery from when you stayed with us the last time," he told her. "Terry is putting some fresh sheets and blankets on it, right now."

That night, Abby lay awake in bed, staring at the unfinished dove mural that Jake had started before he was taken back to prison. After several minutes of tracing her eyes over the delicate brushstrokes, Abby got out of bed. Dressed in her nightgown and armed with one of Jake's paintbrushes, Abby mixed some paint on his artist palette, and began where her husband had left off on one of the dove's wings. Abby hadn't painted in a long time, but she could feel the love that had moved Jake's brush, somehow moving hers, as well. She could almost feel his presence behind her, as she worked. It was a strange sensation that she couldn't explain.

On Abby worked, until the telephone from the little yellow house rang in her parents' living room, at about three in the morning. Immediately, she dropped the palette and rushed to the living room. The lights quickly came on in the other two bedrooms, as John and Terry sleepily walked down the hall in their pajamas.

"Mrs. Jake Murphy?" said a woman's voice over the telephone.

"Yes, that's me," said Abby, nervously.

"This is Mercy Memorial Hospital," said the woman. "I'm sorry, but your husband was airlifted here from the Watertown Prison Hospital an hour ago."

Then Abby asked a question that made the hair on John's neck stand on end.

"Is he still alive?" she asked in a trembling voice.

"Mrs. Murphy, your husband is in critical condition," answered the woman. "The doctors have been working on him for the last hour, but it's too soon to know if he'll pull through, or not."

"I'm on my way!" cried Abby, grief choking in her throat. When she hung up, John and Terry looked at her expectantly. "Jake's in the hospital," she explained, covering her mouth to stifle a cry of horror. "Daddy, he's in critical condition!"

John walked across the room and embraced his little girl. Unable to conceal his grief, Terry started sobbing like a baby.

Then John went to Izumi and related to her what little they knew of Jake's condition. As his wife wept, Abby dressed and hurried to put on her coat.

"Dad, I have to go to him," she announced, searching her coat-pocket for the keys to her jeep.
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