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Abby could see he was trying very hard to act nonchalantly, even though he was slightly trembling. Very slowly, Jake reached out and took hold of her hand. His tremors were becoming more violent and noticeable now, and Abby was beginning to wonder if she should say something. Suddenly, he had to let go, and Abby could hear him breathing in agonizing gasps.

"Do you want me to get you a painkiller?" she asked, realizing that all this was aggravating his chest.

"No, don't leave," he pleaded, waiting for the pain to back off on its own accord.

"Maybe, this is too soon," she suggested, trying to give him an easy way out.

"All I want to do is hold your hand," groaned Jake, leaning his head back on the sofa to catch his breath. "Is that too much to ask of myself?"

The minutes ticked by, and the pain in his chest settled down. By now, Abby was trying to think of a way to excuse herself so that he could stop putting himself through this agony. As she watched the calculus program deep in thought, Abby felt him take hold of her hand. Wincing from her own discomfort, Abby tried to endure the vice-like grip he was subjecting her poor hand to. When Jake started to gasp, he had to release her once more.

"Why don't you try to lighten your grip?" suggested Abby, attempting to be helpful.

"I can't," he whispered, waiting for the pain to again subside. "I have to hold on as hard as I can, but when I do, my ribs hurt. It's because I'm using my chest muscles," he explained.

"Maybe, we should just forget about 'the process' for awhile," she proposed.

"Please, let me handle this," begged Jake, fighting back the frustration that was beginning to well up inside him.

"You have two broken ribs," Abby pointed out. "You can try again, after you're better."

Too sore and too embarrassed to debate with her, Jake got up and left the room. With a groan, Abby quickly realized her fault. When she went to apologize, she found him sitting on the edge of her bed, staring at the lighted aquarium.

"Jake, I'm sorry," she sighed. "I'll try hard to not be so insistent with my opinions. This is your recovery, and not mine. Do things however you want."

In silence, Jake watched the brightly colored fish, darting about in the large saltwater aquarium.

"Could I try again?" he asked suddenly.

Abby was about to remind of him his last attempts, but quickly shut up.

"Whatever you decide," she replied.

The couple returned to their living room, only to find that the calculus program was over, and the channel had signed off for the night. Abby turned it to the news, and Jake once again took his place beside her on the couch. Just then, a commercial aired on the television that greatly interested Jake.

"I'll be right back," he announced, quickly getting to his feet.
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