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It took Abby every ounce of strength she had to get him into the shower, but she did it. Abby was hoping that the warm water would help relax his muscles, and ward off the flashbacks that were intermittently hounding him. Jake propped himself under the refreshing torrent and looked as though he were going to pass out from fatigue.

Then the young wife unfolded a large, thick towel, and discreetly wrapped it around her husband's waist. Grateful, Jake smiled at her weakly.

The effects of the flashbacks were wearing off now, but Jake's pain had only just begun. His chest was livid with agony.

"Can you still breathe?" she asked, remembering what the doctor had said about broken ribs and collapsed lungs.

Unable to speak, Jake signaled to her that he was breathing fine. It was the pain that was causing him so much trouble.

"Come," she said, leading him from the shower, soaking wet towel and all. "You need to lay down." Abby was about to take him to his bedroom, when Jake headed for hers, instead.

"Would you close your eyes?" he panted, for he needed to take off the wet towel.

Abby turned her back for a few moments, while Jake slowly climbed under the covers.

"Okay," he breathed.

After Abby had tucked the warm blankets around Jake, she helplessly stood by.

"You can take more Xantol in three hours," she tried to say in a hopeful voice. Three hours were an eternity to Jake. It might as well be ten or twenty-- it made no matter to him. He was hurting NOW.

"I'm going to be all right, Abby," he tried to comfort her between painful breaths. "I just have to wait for it to back off."

"Is there anything I can do besides pray?" she whimpered.

Jake opened the covers on his good side, where his ribs had never been broken, and motioned for her to join him.

"Are you sure?" she hesitated.

"Just stay with me," he asked. "My night isn't over, yet."

At this fresh reminder of her promise, Abby carefully took her place beside Jake, robe and all. If he wanted more, he would have to ask her for it. But he didn't. Jake only grasped her hand and drew her close, so she could rest against him.

"You're tired, Abby," he whispered gently. "You can sleep now. I'll still be here in the morning."

In spite of everything that he was enduring, Jake was comforting her. He cradled Abby in his arms, letting his senses drown in her closeness. When he felt her body at last drift asleep, Jake silently rejoiced.

"Poor girl," he whispered softly. "I've put you through a lot."

When Abby awoke the next morning, she was delighted to find herself still in Jake's arms. He had fallen asleep, and his tired body was finally relaxed and composed. Abby snuggled against her husband and closed her eyes, relishing the hard-fought fruits of their victory. Jake had been so brave. Abby's heart swelled with gratitude and love. God had been faithful. Yes, it hadn't been easy, but then, life rarely ever is. God had blessed their trials, and it had only made them stronger.

Just then, Jake stirred and let out a small groan before opening his eyes. Suddenly, he realized someone was with him! The young man quickly looked down and saw Abby's form cuddled against his. With a sigh of relief, Jake softly kissed the top of her head, so that she turned to meet his gaze. He felt himself drown in those two blue pools that were staring back at him so lovingly.

"I can hardly believe I'm actually with you," sighed Jake. "I've wanted to hold you so many times."

Abby put her head back down on the uninjured side of his chest, and could feel it rise and fall with each breath.

"You took such an awful chance, last night," shuddered Abby.
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