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"I didn't," denied Abby, "at least, I don't think I did... maybe I did-- I don't know. But, it isn't just me. I know he's been having the same thoughts as I have. Last night, Jake had a dream..." Abby stopped, suddenly remembering his plea not to repeat what had happened between them. "Anyway," she sighed, "I know he wants me."

Groaning within himself, Terry sat down at the kitchen table across from Abby.

"I don't know why all this is surprising me," he sighed. "I guess I was just hoping that after everything you two had come through, things would somehow mend themselves on their own."

"I wish it were that simple," she replied, staring out the window at the softly falling snow.

"Abby, have you ever wondered why I've never married?" asked Terry.

"You never wanted to leave us," answered Abby with a smile. When Terry remained quiet, she looked at her uncle with curious eyes.

"In the past, I've considered the idea of getting married and starting my own family," he confessed, "but aside from the fact that I've never found the right woman, there was always a small fear in the back of my mind, that maybe I wouldn't be able to be intimate." Terry paused. He rarely talked about his childhood in front of Abby, for he hadn't wanted to burden a little girl with such things. That was no way for a child to grow up-- let alone his dear little fishing buddy.

"Go on," she encouraged him.

"Even after all these years," he finally continued, "I still remember what it feels like to be violated. The very idea that you could relive those feelings at such a private moment as when you're sharing yourself with the person you love-- it's a scary thought. I've never been tortured the way Jake has, or endured the scope of things he's had to survive, and this is how I feel. I can only imagine..." Terry's voice drifted off with a heavy sigh.

Abby was silent. Now, she was feeling miserable for Jake AND her uncle!

"Before you go feeling sorry for me," mused Terry, looking at her with a knowing smile, "I want you to understand, that I don't regret a single year I've spent in Three Mile Bay. John, Izzy, you-- you three are my family. Even Jake is a part of that now. Abby, I haven't missed out on life. I've watched you grow up into the beautiful, confident young woman you are today. I had a small hand in that."

"If you knew what I said to Jake," she sighed, "you wouldn't want to take any credit for raising me."

"I know my little fishing buddy," smiled Terry. "You'll do what's right."

"What if I don't know what that is?" she asked, in a doomed voice.

"Then ask God for wisdom," advised Terry. "As a survivor of abuse myself, I'd recommend huge doses of love and patience, with a generous helping of understanding on the side. Abby," he said tenderly, "as long as you and Jake don't give up on God or each other, then there's always room for hope. Many survivors are happily married, and have kids of their own. It happens all the time. Just try to keep in mind that people as severely traumatized as Jake, have a lot to overcome. Well," he sighed with a sad smile, "I don't know about you, but I need a hug."

At once, Abby gave her uncle a big hug. In many ways, he was like a second father to her-- always there when she needed a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, and ever encouraging her to follow after God. Now was no exception.

Then Abby remembered to tell Terry the good news about the baby. Suddenly, Terry's eyes grew as wide as saucers, and he smacked the table with the flat of his hand.
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