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"Could I ask a favor of you?" he asked, his voice laced with vulnerability. As Jake turned to look at her, Abby was stunned to see terror in his eyes. "Give me this one night," he requested. "Don't ask any questions, just say 'yes.'"

"I don't understand."

"You don't have to."

"What do you want from me?"

"Whatever I ask."

As Abby stared at him with those questioning blue eyes, Jake had to turn his back to her. He couldn't withstand them. Not now. Quietly, Jake served the hot soup and carefully placed the bowls on their small table. Then he sat down and waited for her response.

"All right, Jake," she whispered. "Whatever you ask."

Jake looked up at her with huge brown eyes, and Abby saw him tremble with fright. Abby knew she had just made a big mistake. Jake wasn't ready. She didn't know what he had in mind, but whatever it was-- he wasn't ready for it.

With a great deal of determination, Jake planted his hands on the table and stood up. He went to the cupboard and pulled out his bottle of Xantol.

"Jake, what are you going to do?"

"No questions, remember?" he pleaded. Abby stared at him, uncertainty etched in her beautiful face. Jake took two pills and swallowed them down. Instead of putting the bottle back into the cupboard, however, he tucked it into his pocket and returned to the table.

"Jake..." she began.

"Please," he implored her, "I'm asking you to keep your promise, Abby-- no matter what."

Unwittingly, Abby had bit her bottom lip until it drew blood. A single drop splattered into her bowl and mingled with the mushroom soup. Suddenly feeling a twinge of pain, Abby touched her lip and licked the small cut with her tongue. She couldn't believe Jake was doing this.

"Eat your dinner before it gets cold," he coaxed, unsuccessfully attempting a smile.

Abby prayed over her meal in silence, and petitioned God to somehow help them. With a deep resigned sigh, she picked up her spoon and ate the mushroom soup.

Jake kept silent, but Abby had an idea of what was going through his mind. More than once, his spoon shook so violently, that it spilled onto the table. It happened so frequently, that he finally stopped cleaning each mess as it occurred.

"Let me help," volunteered Abby, filling her spoon and guiding it to Jake's mouth. He could see by the somber look on her face that she thought this was all a grave mistake. "Don't look at me like that," she sighed. "I didn't say anything."

"You didn't have to," he replied. "Please, don't fight me."

"I'll keep my promise," Abby affirmed tersely, "even if it kills you. Come on, open your mouth, so you can vomit this up, later."

When Jake stared at her, Abby dropped the spoon and buried her face in her hands. The tears came and she was powerless to stop them. Jake might be brave, but she wasn't! She knew first hand what a bad flashback did to him, and the thought of being the cause of it was more than Abby could take.

While she wept, Abby felt Jake's tender, trembling hand softly touch her shoulder.

"Don't cry," he begged her.

"If I stop," she asked, raising her head to look into his face, "will you call the whole thing off?"
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