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Back in Abby's bedroom, Jake was grieving as well. When she had chosen to be alone, instead of turning to him for comfort, Jake loathed himself for what he had done. He had to talk to her and somehow make it right.

With a great deal of deserved agony, Jake very slowly got out of bed and made his way down the hallway. He saw Abby curled on the couch, shivering with cold, and tears spilling down her beautiful face.

"What have I done?" he scolded himself out loud. Jake walked to her as fast as he could and sat down on the carpet, leaning his back against the couch beside her head. "I don't know what to say," he began.

"You already said you were sorry," replied Abby, unsuccessfully trying to staunch the oncoming flood of tears.

Jake lowered his head in shame.

"I didn't want it to end," he said, "and I didn't care if I hurt myself or you, to get what I wanted. It's no excuse, Abby. I know better." Jake groaned inwardly, and his chest punished him bitterly for it.

"You wouldn't have hurt me," Abby tried to console him. "You couldn't."

Jake didn't look so sure. His confidence was shaken, and he was feeling more guilt than Abby felt he deserved.

"How can you ever trust me again?" he cried.

Abby got up and went to her room. She found the Xantol, and took it to the living room.

"I trust you to do the right thing," she said, placing the bottle into his hand.

Jake looked at Abby. The temptation to take more painkillers and be with her was great. The desires that had been awakened in him as a small boy, were always resisted by him, and looked upon as disgusting and filthy. But with Abby, there was no guilt or shame attached with intimacy. God had created her for him. Jake knew it every time he held her in his arms. Even so, he realized that he couldn't abandon self-control, simply because he didn't have to feel ashamed of that desire now. He had to act responsibly with this newfound freedom. It was a new lesson for him, and Jake prayed that he would learn it well.

"Would you throw it away?" he asked, handing the Xantol back to her. "Please, have patience with me, Abby. I'm learning."

Abby smiled gratefully, and kissed his cheek.

"You'd better hold off on that," he sighed. "At least, until my ribs get better."

"You can still take your painkiller, Jake," she advised him. "Only, you can't abuse it. This drug isn't candy. It could really hurt you."

"I know," he replied, hanging his head in embarrassment.

"You can come to me," she tenderly whispered in his ear, "but not if you have to overdose to do it. Please, promise me."

"I promise," said Jake, accepting her hand and pressing it to his lips. "I love you, Abby."

That night, Jake slept in his own room, for he couldn't take any additional Xantol, until the remaining drugs in his system had been flushed out. Even when he could take more, he had to wait and see what he was capable of, using only the correct dosage. It was a test in patience and self-control that Jake was determined to pass. He never, ever, wanted to see that same look of fear in Abby's eyes, again. As he lay awake in bed, Jake thanked God for not letting him do anything worse to Abby, than he had.

The next morning, Jake didn't go to work, but stayed in his room and let his body recover. Abby had offered to keep him company with a game of checkers, but Jake refused. Reluctantly, she spent the morning in front of her computer, while Jake remained in bed, staring at the ceiling.

Noon came, and with it, the promise of a second chance. Jake went to the kitchen and took out the bottle of Xantol. He swallowed the prescribed dosage given by his doctor, and sat down on the living room sofa while Abby continued to work.

"I hate to interrupt you," he smiled, "but you're missing lunch, again."

"Just a few more minutes," said Abby, her fingers tapping away at the keyboard. "If it's lunchtime, why aren't you eating?" she suddenly wondered out loud.

"I can't," announced Jake. "I just took my painkiller."

Abby glanced at the time and suddenly realized that he could start taking the drug again.

"Couldn't you wait until after you had eaten something?" she asked, with arched eyebrows. Jake's face fell. His stomach was very empty, but even in his hunger, he hadn't thought of that. Abby grinned and turned back to her computer. "I'll eat later, as well," she told him. "From now on, though, I'll break from work whenever you want."

Smiling tenderly, Jake got up and took Abby's hands from the keyboard. She was learning, too.

"There is difference also between a wife and a virgin... she that is married careth... how she may please her husband."
~ 1 Corinthians 7:34 ~

"Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her [Abby] be as the loving hind [female deer] and pleasant roe [female mountain goat]; let her breasts satisfy thee [Jake] at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love."
~ Proverbs 5:18, 19 ~

end of chapter
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