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Dick took off his sunglasses and waved to the people at the picnic table in the distance.

"Jake did well," he grinned, rubbing the bald spot on his head with one hand. "You should be proud of him, Abby!" Then Dick heard Abby's sobs, and shook his head a little sadly. "Jake told me you were taking this kind of hard."

Abby wanted to speak, but was too busy hugging Jake to think of anything to say.

"Well," smiled Dick, putting back on his sunglasses, "I'll just leave you two alone for awhile." Dick walked out to the beach and sat down at the picnic table, accepting a squirming Lizzie to relieve Terry from his double duty of baby-sitting Lizzie and Ricky at the same time.

"I'm sorry for embarrassing you like this," wept Abby, pulling out Jake's handkerchief and blowing her nose. "I'm just so glad you're home!"

"I'm glad to be home," admitted Jake, smiling at her once more. "Go ahead and cry if you want to, Abby. You don't have to be brave for my sake."

Hearing this permission, tears freely spilled from Abby's eyes. Her emotions were running high, and Abby wasn't sure if it was because Jake had arrived home safely, or because of their impending move to California. Whatever the reason, it felt comforting to have a good cry.

Jake didn't laugh at Abby's weakness or tease her for needing his arms. He seemed to understand, and was content to just stand there and hold her for as long as she needed him. When Abby's sobs came less frequently, Jake looked into her face and smoothed back her hair.

"Are they watching us?" she whimpered, too embarrassed to look in the direction of the picnic table.

Jake looked over her shoulder and smiled.

"Yeah," he softly chuckled, "they are."

With a shudder, Abby buried herself even deeper in his embrace.

"Come on," said Jake, gathering her hands in his, "let's go show them we're all right."

Jake dried her eyes with his handkerchief, and led her to the picnic table where they sat down with the others. Terry turned Ricky over to Jake, and the boy quickly settled into his father's arms.

"Dick tells me everything went well," smiled John, who had been hearing Dick's rendition of the events.

"Well enough," replied Jake, as Abby propped her head against his shoulder. "Some of them said that I shouldn't have been appointed to the board, but in the end, I think they accepted the fact that I was going to be there, whether they liked it or not."

"Jake hung in there!" laughed Dick. "They didn't make it easy for the guy, but Jake showed them he wasn't afraid!"

At this, Abby shut her eyes and squeezed Jake. The young man leaned his head against hers while Ricky began to fall asleep.

"Today was a good beginning," encouraged Dick, with a satisfied nod of his head.
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