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Chapter Twenty-two
A Time to Love

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... A time to weep, and a time to laugh... a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing... A time to love..."
~ Ecclesiastes 1: 4, 5, 8 ~

Mrs. Doyle apprehensively watched as her husband showed Jake to their guest room. Sara hadn't been overly happy with the prospect of inviting someone into her house who was possibly a carrier of HIV, but Dick had insisted. Her husband loved this young man almost like a son, and had eagerly jumped at the chance to help him in any way he could.

In his desperation, Jake had turned to the one man who had saved him before, when in the depths of hopelessness. Dick had been the one to bring Jake to the Lord, and it was to him that Jake had turned to once again.

As the former warden carefully helped Jake settle into the large guest room, he did his best to press for any information that could explain why he and Abby were suddenly having problems. Dick had been shocked to receive Jake's call that night, and wondered what could have possibly happened to make him leave the only real home he had ever known. Dick concluded that it had to be Abby's fault.

"Thanks for letting me stay," said Jake, climbing into the oversized bed, still wearing his nightshirt and clutching a bag of medications that contained the dosing regimen that Abby had created. "I'll be out of here as soon as I can."

"You're welcome as long as you want," replied Dick, with a sad shake of his head. "Don't worry, Son. It's common for young couples to have disagreements. She'll apologize-- you'll see."

"We didn't have a fight," whispered Jake, as Dick soberly stood beside the bed with his arms folded. "This isn't Abby's fault. Please, don't blame her."

"Won't you tell me what happened between you two?" implored Dick. "I might be able to help. I'm sure this is just one big misunderstanding. She loves you, I know she does!"

Heartbroken, Jake closed his eyes and tried to keep from breaking down in front of his old friend. With a heavy sigh, Dick left, shutting the bedroom door behind him so Jake could rest in quiet. Unfamiliar with Abby's custom of leaving the bedroom door half open, Dick had closed it completely. It reminded the ex-convict of how truly alone he was without his Abby. In the darkness of the Doyles' guest room, Jake wept.

Early that same Sunday morning, Abby woke up to a cold bedroom. Overnight, the temperatures had dropped below freezing, making the entire house unusually frigid. After quickly dressing into warm clothes, Abby walked down the hall to look in on Jake. To her surprise, his bed was empty. Thinking that he must have fallen asleep on the couch, she went to the living room. When Abby saw the empty sofa, she burst into tears.

"Jake!" she wept, covering her mouth in horror. Her long-standing fear had finally come true. Jake was gone, and it was because of her. Unwilling to accept the fact, Abby searched the rest of the house in vain. Just as she was about to check her parents' home, Abby noticed a small note on the kitchen table addressed to her. The young wife snatched up the small piece of paper and read each word carefully.

"Abby," wrote Jake's uneven scrawl, for a broken finger on his right hand was in a splint, "I am going to Dick's house. I'll be fine there, so you don't need to help. Please, don't tell anyone what we said." The note was simply signed, "Jake."

continued on next page...
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