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Abby read the note over and over, trying to glean anything out of it that she hadn't already. It didn't surprise her that Dick was the one Jake had turned to. But, it bothered her that from the few lines he had written, one entire sentence was devoted to asking her to stay away. At least, that's the way Abby had interpreted his words. After all, if Jake had wanted her around, he wouldn't have left. To her dismay, "I love you," was nowhere mentioned. Abby knew Jake loved her. She didn't need a piece of paper to prove it. Still, those three words would have gone a long way in assuring her that his absence was only a temporary one.

Abby dried her eyes. At least she knew where he was. This wasn't the same as when Jake was in prison. He was safe. He wasn't home with her, but he was safe. Safety was no small issue to Abby, and she was grateful that at least that part of their lives was over. Now all they had to do was move forward. But, how? How do you love a man when you have to keep a distance of a few feet between you at all times? How do you live like that on a daily basis, when all you want to do is put your arms around him? Abby wasn't sure. She abhorred the thought of living without Jake, but was unsure how to live WITH him. Abby sighed. Things were so much easier before love entered the picture!

Just then, Abby heard a knock on the front door. Before she could answer it, Terry stepped inside, all smiles and hugs.

"Well?" he asked, excitedly, "how's he doing this morning?" Before she could say a single word, her adopted uncle continued. "After church today, some of us want to come over and surprise Jake with a small welcome home party! Do you think he'd mind? We'll bring the food..." here Terry paused. He noticed Abby's sad eyes and tear streaked face. "What's the matter-- did he have a hard night?" inquired Terry. "More flashbacks?"

"Jake's gone," explained Abby, detesting the sound of the words as they left her mouth.

"What do you mean?" asked Terry, looking about the room, and then back to Abby. "Are you trying to tell me Jake left?!"

"He wrote a note," said Abby, handing Terry the small piece of paper, and waiting as he sped through its contents.

"Okay," he sighed patiently, "what happened?"

"I said something really terrible to Jake last night," she answered, completely ashamed of herself.

"What did you say?" asked Terry. "What could you have possibly said to make that poor man leave?"

"That's the thing he asked me not to tell," explained Abby, glad for a good excuse not to divulge such personal information-- even to someone as close as Terry.

"Are you going after him?" he asked, tossing the note onto the table and looking at her disappointedly.

"He asked me not to," said Abby.

"That doesn't mean you shouldn't," he retorted.

"You don't understand," cried Abby, "I can't go after him!"

"Why not?" insisted Terry. "You love him, don't you?"

"That's why I can't go," she answered, her eyes beginning to brim with tears all over again.

Terry looked at her thoughtfully.

"This is about sex," he guessed.

"How did you know?" she gasped in surprise.

"It's the only thing I can think of that would drive him from you," sighed Terry. "Tell me you didn't pressure him."
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