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"What will be different tomorrow morning?" she challenged him. "Nothing will be different, and we'll be right back where we started."

Sensing an impending argument, Jake went to the kitchen and Abby could hear him getting a drink of water. He was probably taking a Xantol, and the sound of it distressed her. When he reappeared, Abby thought he looked more tired than she had seen him in a long time.

"All right," he breathed heavily, "if you want to do this now, let's get it over with." Trying to steady his trembling hands, Jake took out a cigarette. As he pulled out his lighter, he paused, contemplating the object in his hand, and then taking the unlit cigarette from his lips. "You don't approve of me smoking, do you," he smiled grimly. "I can see it on your face every time I light up."

"This is hardly the time to talk about it," she sighed.

"I never knew being married could be so difficult," reflected Jake, staring at the cigarette in his hand. He rolled it between his fingers, knowing how good it would feel right about now. "Why don't you like me to smoke?" he suddenly wondered. "Is it just because I do it when I have a lot on my mind?"

"Jake..." she hesitated.

"No," he resisted, "I want to know, Abby. If I smoked more often, you'd have told me by now. I think the only reason you haven't made an issue of it yet, is because you didn't want me to fall apart-- and I only smoke when I'm falling apart, right?"

"I never said that," denied Abby.

"Maybe not," he sighed, "but you're thinking it." Jake looked into her deep blue eyes and smiled sadly. "See? It's right there. I wish I had a mirror, so I could show you." As he gazed at her, the young man clenched his jaw. "I'm stronger than you think I am, Abby."

"Then, I'll tell you," she answered, accepting his challenge. "Our bodies are God's temple, because His Spirit abides in us. Since nicotine is bad for your health, it's bad for God's temple. [1 Corinthians 3:16]" Abby blinked at him, arms folded, and showing little sympathy, though the look on his face just now made her wish that she had been a little gentler with him.

Jake looked temptingly at the cigarette and then at Abby. Without a word of protest, he walked to the wastebasket and dropped his pack of cigarettes and lighter into the trash. Then he stared at his trembling hands and balled them into tight fists.

"Dick isn't forcing me into anything," he said, looking directly at her with a great deal of determination in his eyes. "I need to do this."

"Why?" she cried. "Why does it have to be you? Why can't someone else do it? Haven't you given enough? How much pain does one man have to endure before it's enough, Jake?"

"Abby," he sighed, "I have to. Don't you see? If I don't, then everything I've done will be for nothing. I need to see this through."

When Jake began to tremble more visibly, he gripped the back of her office chair.

"Do you need a cigarette so badly?" she asked.

"It's not the cigarette," Jake shuddered. "Abby," he confessed, "I'm scared. Please, could I hold you just for a few minutes?"
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