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Debbie babbled some gibberish and grinned as Ricky met her gaze. The two babies exchanged some coos, and this attracted Lizzie and Ruthie's attention. Crawling to Abby's lap, the newcomers tried to touch Ricky, but Debbie stopped them, and even grabbed her sister Ruthie's sleeper, toppling the girl over.

"Would you look at that," mused John, as Izumi picked up a crying Ruthie. "Looks as though Debbie's a little protective of Ricky."

"Sometimes, the Murphy men need a little protecting," Abby muttered under her breath.

John looked at his eldest daughter and knew she was thinking about Jake and the meeting going on at Dick's house.

Abby hadn't intended to speak her thoughts out loud, and when everyone was suddenly quiet, (with the exception of the babies), she apologized for ruining their good time.

"That's not necessary," replied John, dismissing her apology. "We've all been praying for him, today."

"I appreciate that," said Abby, thankfully. "I wanted to ask Jake if I could go with him, but I already knew what he would say. He tries to protect me from knowing too much about his life in prison, and he never would've let me come."

"Maybe, it's for the best," agreed John, who really didn't want his little girl listening to what went on behind the backs of prison guards while they weren't looking. Jake was familiar with that horror, but Abby was not-- no matter how many flashbacks she had helped Jake through in the past. John had heard his son-in-law's testimony at the commission, and was grateful for his sensitivity to Abby's innocence.

Just then, Lizzie rolled over and tugged Ricky's leg, frightening the infant into tears. Abby quickly gathered Ricky into her arms, and soothed him.

"Where were you, Debbie?" laughed Terry, as Ricky's protector looked on with drool running down her chin.

"There, there," Abby hugged her son, gently rocking him back and forth, "it's all right, Sweetheart." While she comforted Ricky, her thoughts were with Jake. "Please, God," she silently prayed, "let it turn out all right."

Ricky quieted down quickly, and was soon back in Abby's lap, drifting to sleep.

After everyone ate lunch, the day faded, and early evening descended on Three Mile Bay. Since Jake hadn't come home yet, the family ate dinner without him. Abby had unsuccessfully tried to ignore the empty chair at the table where Jake usually sat, making her wish even harder for his soon return.

There was still plenty of light outside, but the heat of the day was over, and many residents and tourists could be found outdoors, enjoying the pleasant weather.

The Johanneses and their extended clan were no exception, for they took the babies with them to the picnic table on the beach, and watched the boats out on the bay. As Abby pointed out a seagull to Ricky, Dick's car drove up and parked outside the little yellow house. Jake was finally home! Not waiting for him to come to her, Abby found an open space in someone's arms and deposited Ricky.

Quickly walking toward the car, Abby tried to see the expression on Jake's face as he climbed out and said something to Dick. Then the young man turned and she could see him clearly. To her relief, Jake was smiling. Beginning to cry, Abby broke into a run and rapidly filled his arms.

"Abby, I'm okay," Jake soothed her.
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