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After visiting a little longer, Dick handed Lizzie off to an empty lap and headed back to his car. As he drove away, Abby thanked God that the day was over, and that Jake had weathered it as well as he had. Abby could only imagine what would've happened if Jake had gone into a flashback at Dick's house during their unofficial meeting. She seriously doubted the rest of the advisory board would have stayed after that-- let alone be willing to listen to anything Jake had to say. But, as Dick had said just before leaving, Jake was important to the group, for he was the only member who had experienced prison rape, and just his mere presence reminded the others that it was an all-to-real problem that needed attention.

Not long after Dick left, the triplets began to grow impatient for their next feeding, so Izumi and her helpers took the girls inside. Jake and Abby wanted to stay outside for a little longer, but when Ricky also began to fuss for his meal, Abby realized she was fighting a losing battle.

"We've got to finish our packing," said Jake, as they returned home. "August begins next week, and we need enough time in San Diego to set up house before I start classes."

"I know," she sighed, as Jake followed her to their bedroom. "I still have boxes to go through and things that I want to throw away. Do you mind if I finish that, tonight, Jake?"

"You plan to stay up late, then?" he asked, as she sat down on the bed and adjusted her blouse for Ricky's feeding.

"If I work hard tonight," planned Abby, "I think we'll be ready for the trailer, when I rent it the day after tomorrow."

"I'll stay up with you and help," said Jake, in a tone that told her he was making a statement, and not asking her opinion.

"You don't have to," she replied. "It's my fault for being so late, and not throwing away more like you wanted me to in the first place."

"I said, I'm helping," he insisted. Jake anticipated Ricky's need to be changed after feeding time, and readied the baby powder and a clean diaper.

"It really isn't necessary," she debated with him. "I can finish the boxes by myself."

"Abby, just let me help," Jake sighed wearily, his face looking tired for the first time that evening. "If you're going to stay up, then so am I."

"Do you want to sit with us for awhile?" she offered, still cradling Ricky in her arms.

Gratefully, Jake climbed onto the bed and stretched out beside Abby while she leaned against the headboard and nursed Ricky. Since she didn't have a free hand to hold, Jake held on to a corner of Abby's blouse and closed his eyes.

"I'm sorry I wasn't with you at Dick's house," she apologized. "You shouldn't have had to face those people by yourself."

"I wasn't alone," he breathed with a tired smile, "Dick was there. But what those people on the advisory board didn't know, was that the Creator of everyone and everything was also with me." Jake nestled his head into the fluffy pillow and felt the soft material of Abby's blouse between his fingers. "You and Ricky were also there, and so was Dad and Mom, and even Terry and the triplets," he continued. "Everyone I loved was with me in Dick's living room, today. And when the Deputy Warden of the prison tried to discourage me from speaking when it was my turn, I just reminded myself that I wasn't alone. How could I be, when so many people lived in my heart?"

"I'm so proud of you, Jake."

"Are you, Abby?" he smiled in surprise. "I was hoping you were."
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