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"What time is it?" yawned Abby, as Jake pulled out the sturdy baby carrier and strapped Ricky inside.

"It's just after two," replied Jake, shouldering their son's diaper bag. "Come on, get up," he coaxed.

"I'm hungry," declared Abby, climbing off the bed and putting on the sandals her husband was handing her. "Are we going somewhere?" she suddenly realized.

"Just put on your shoes," grinned Jake, picking up the baby carrier and leading the way down the hall.

"The house smells good," Abby noticed, hungrily.

"I know lunch is late," he apologized, "but I hope you'll think it was worth waiting for."

"Where are we going?" asked Abby, as they stepped out onto the front porch.

Without saying a single word, Jake guided his family down the beach, to the far end of the Johanneses' private property. Overhead, a brilliantly blue June sky seemed to welcome them, while waves gently lapped at the shore, and wet Abby's feet through her open-toed sandals.

Jake's brown eyes twinkled at Abby, and she looked ahead to see what he was so excited about. On the most secluded area of the beach, someone had set up John's small white canopy, which offered shade to a comfortable blanket spread on the ground beneath it. Nearby, was an ice cooler and a covered picnic basket.

"Jake," Abby sighed happily, "what a wonderful idea!"

"Do you really like it?" he asked in a pleased voice, his face brightening even more at her approval.

"Isn't this where we camped out that one night, last year?" she thoughtfully observed, looking about, and noting the familiar private feel that had once unnerved her so much.

"You remember!" he delightedly exclaimed.

"I could never forget it," smiled Abby, as Jake carefully placed Ricky's baby carrier on the blanket in the shade.

Abby sat down, relishing the picturesque scenery while Jake set out their lunch on the picnic blanket. Enjoying the fresh clean air, Ricky was one perpetual smile, for he grinned at everyone and everything.

When Jake kept pulling things out of his large basket, Abby watched in fascination.

"This is only lunch, Jake," she laughed, as the young man arranged two plates and some silverware, as though he were setting a formal table.

"Did you make this meal?" he asked her, playfully.


"Then please, no comments from the peanut gallery."

As Jake continued his work, a small gust of wind blew up one corner of the blanket, nearly getting the cloth into one of the dishes of food he had just set out. Jake quickly located a stone and weighted down the corner before returning to his basket.

It was quite an elaborate meal that he laid out before Abby. A casserole dish of delicious stuffed cannelloni immediately caught her attention, followed by Italian bruschetta bread, a tossed salad with mozzarella cheese, and a large plate of something Abby had never seen before.

"What's that?" she wondered, curiously.

"You've never had gnocchi before?" asked Jake. "It's a kind of potato dumpling," he explained. "They're made from herbs, ricotta cheese, and drizzled with my secret sauce."
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