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"I hate it when you give in to that man every time he wants you to do something dangerous!" she retorted.

"I'll be outside if you need me," mumbled Jake, quickly ducking out the front door.

For several minutes, Abby was so angry that she pounded her keyboard, as if Dick's face were imprinted on every key she typed. As her anger cooled, her fingers slowed to a stop. Resting her elbow on the armrest of her chair, Abby covered her eyes with her hand and prayed. She was sorely in need of wisdom, and she knew it.

When Abby finally stirred from her reverie, the sun was setting on the horizon, casting the last of its warm rays on Three Mile Bay, as if bidding everyone a final farewell before retiring for a cold night. Jake still hadn't come home, but he had never stayed out all night before, so she didn't have any anxiety that he wouldn't eventually turn up. Still, Abby disliked the thought of him wandering the streets or hanging around some public place just because he felt he couldn't come home.

With a heavy heart, Abby put on her winter coat and stepped outside. Pulling up its warm collar around her throat, she tried to peer into the moonless night for any sign of Jake's form against the empty beach.

"Abby?" came a masculine voice from behind her.

Surprised, Abby cried out in fright.

"Don't be afraid," said Jake, getting up from the porch swing and coming to her side. The light from the living room window shone softly on his face, revealing the strain he was presently under.

"You scared me," she tried to catch her breath. "Have you been sitting on the porch swing, all evening?"

"More or less," shrugged Jake, plunging his hands deep into his coat pockets. He gazed out into the darkness and then back at Abby, careful to avoid looking directly into her eyes. "Mom said she wanted to fix dinner, and since it was the first time she's done it since coming home from the hospital, I decided to humor her." Abby could see a brief flash of white as Jake nervously grinned. "I wasn't hungry, though..." his voice trailed off. Then he noticed her huddling in her warm coat against the cold. "Maybe you should go back inside," he observed.

"Are you coming in?" she asked.

"Do you want me to?"

"If you have to ask," said Abby, reproachfully, "then you deserve to stay out here all night!" As she turned to leave, Jake caught her from behind and wrapped his arms tightly around her.

"Say it, Abby," he pleaded in a low whisper. "Tell me. Tell me you want me to come inside."

"I want you to come in," she said, trying not to melt under his touch.

"Tell me you love me," asked Jake, burying his cold numb face in the soft warmth of her long dark hair.

"I love you," murmured Abby, as he kissed her neck in loving response. His lips were ice cold on her skin, and she shuddered. "Jake, you're freezing," she said, pulling herself free from his grasp. "Let's go inside before you catch a cold out here."

Jake followed his wife into the cozy house and locked the door behind them. When he reached for her once more, Abby resisted his advances and stood beside her computer table by the couch. Her face was troubled, and he knew exactly the reason why.

"Abby," pleaded Jake, "couldn't we talk it over in the morning?"
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