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Abby could see the longing in his face, but knew that he wasn't prepared for intimacy right now. The young man apologetically hung his head and looked up at her through a floppy fringe of brown hair. Abby tenderly combed it aside with her fingers and smiled understandingly.

"It's not because I don't love you," he whispered.

"I know," replied Abby.

"You see," he smiled softly, "you can read my heart, without me having to say a thing."

After dinner that night, Abby absconded with all the Christmas wrapping paper and scotch tape in the house, and barricaded herself in her room. By the time Jake came back from her parents' home, he was unable to wrap the special present he had bought for her.

"Abby?" he asked, knocking on her closed bedroom door.

"Don't come in!" she cried.

"I need some wrapping paper," requested Jake.

"Hold on," she called back. With the sounds of rustling paper, Abby appeared in the door and cracked it open a few inches, just wide enough to pass him a roll of wrapping paper. When Jake saw the candy cane stripes, he frowned.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Don't you have anything softer than this?" he asked. "Something with flowers?"

"Flowers?!" exclaimed Abby.

"Or something feminine."

"Let me see what I can find," she sighed, disappearing back into her room to rummage through the stash of wrapping paper. "Here," said Abby, presenting another roll to him through the open crack of her door. "It's the only one with flowers I have."

"They're poinsettia," observed Jake, unenthusiastically.

"Poinsettia are flowers," she insisted. Then Abby shut the door and returned to her gift wrapping.

Jake glumly looked at the roll of paper and sighed disappointedly. It wasn't anything like what he had wanted. Suddenly getting an idea, Jake went to his room and put on a warm winter coat.

"I'm going out for a minute, Abby," he called to her. Before she could respond, Jake was already through the front door.

A half hour later, Abby heard Jake's return.

"Where have you been?" she cried, bursting into the living room as Jake tried to warm himself before the fireplace. On the floor at his feet lay a roll of floral wrapping paper printed with hearts and doves. Abby sighed heavily as Jake rubbed his cold, numb hands together for warmth.

"I only went to the drug store," he explained, his teeth chattering slightly.

"That far on foot?" she gasped. "In this weather? Oh, Jake."

"I'll be all right as soon as I get warm," he assured her, standing as close to the hot iron doors as he could without scorching himself.
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