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Jake blinked his eyes several times and looked about the room. It was true. He was on the floor.

"I remember now," he yawned, "I was dreaming... it was about you, actually..." his voice trailed off in a sleepy daze. As he gradually came to, Jake realized he was propped up against Abby, and made a motion to stand up. However, his efforts were quickly cut short when his chest throbbed with more pain. Not accepting her offer of help, Jake slowly managed to get to his feet, wincing and gasping as he went.

When the man was finally upright, he was embarrassed to find a soiled spot on a sensitive area of his nightshirt.

Puzzled by his sudden awkwardness, Abby's inquisitive eyes searched his face for an explanation.

"What's the matter?" she asked. "Did you wet yourself?"

"Not exactly," mumbled Jake, in a barely audible voice. "Do I have another nightshirt?"

Abby looked at the garment he was wearing, and for the first time, noticed the soiled spot. Suddenly, she realized what it meant. Not trying to embarrass him any more than she already had, the young wife went to his dresser and pulled out a clean nightshirt.

"Oh, Abby," sighed Jake, accepting the garment from her outstretched hand, "I wish I could be with you, in more than just my dreams."

"Do you think you were remembering that night?" she wondered out loud, trying to hide her hopefulness.

"No," replied Jake, shaking his head wearily. "It was no memory, Abby-- only wishful thinking. What did you give me before bed, anyway? I swear, one of those pills is messing with me. I've never had such a flood of vivid dreams in my life-- good ones, anyway. Ouch!" he winced, "I'm talking too much... my ribs are hurting again. Could you turn around for a minute so I can change?"

Abby did as he requested, and waited for the "all clear." When he discovered that he couldn't put his arms through the sleeves without some difficulty, he called on Abby, and she discreetly finished the job for him. This was much easier than getting him out of his shirt and jeans earlier that day, for the oversized nightshirts made it relatively easy to change into without causing a great deal of added discomfort.

"Do you want me to leave so you can go back to sleep, now?" offered Abby, even though Jake didn't seem tired. As a matter of fact, he looked well rested from sleeping so much the previous day, and since the mild sedative had completely wore off by now, he was alert and fully awake. It was the most normal she had seen him since his recent time in prison.

"Don't go," the young man pleaded in a gentle voice. "I'm not ready for you to leave yet."

Upon hearing this, Abby smiled sadly. She hadn't quite known what to expect with Jake's return, but she was finding it surprisingly difficult in unexpected ways. Abby's yearning for him was stronger than she had anticipated, and it tugged at her heart, until she could feel a restless impatience welling up within her. Reluctantly, Abby struggled to push these feelings aside, and willed herself to move forward.

"Does it still hurt very much?" she asked, trying hard to change the subject.

"There's degrees of pain," Jake explained, softly breathing as he went. "When I talk too loudly, or move around too much, it's extremely painful. But, if I hold still for awhile, it gets a little better. I haven't really been brave enough to find this out, until now."

"If you're going to be up," wondered Abby, "do you want another painkiller?"

"No," he carefully explained, "it may hurt more, but I'm too hungry to swallow another appetite-killer. Do we have anything to eat?"

As Abby fixed him a light meal in the kitchen, Jake slowly made his way to the living room and gently sat down on the couch. Waiting for the pain in his chest to subside, he patiently leaned his head back and tried to relax.

"I'm heating up some chicken broth," announced Abby, coming into the somewhat dark room, and rubbing her arms to warm herself. "It's chilly in here!" she exclaimed.

Remembering what her father had told her, Abby picked up a small remote from the coffee table. Suddenly, the new fireplace came to life with tall, vivid flames, casting a cozy atmosphere to the room.
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