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"Take it easy!" she said, in surprise. "I was only trying to help."

"Don't touch me!" he warned, carefully standing up.

Abby took her jacket and draped it across Jake's left arm, so people couldn't as readily see that his pants were completely wet.

"Okay, let's go," she sighed, leading Jake out of the men's room.

"Well, it's about time," swore Nick when they appeared outside. "That's the last time I hire an ex-con!"

Still clutching her jacket, Jake followed Abby to the jeep. As the young man climbed into the vehicle, he noticed an overturned canoe perched on the roof bars. Abby got behind the wheel, and began the drive home.

"What happened back there?" she asked.

"A man approached me in the men's room while I was mopping the floor," related Jake.

"And?" continued Abby.

"And, nothing," he shrugged.

"Something happened," said Abby, thoughtfully. "Come on, Jake. After he approached you, then what?"

"NOTHING!" cried Jake, gripping Abby's jacket tightly in his hand.

"Okay, okay, don't fall apart," she sighed.

"Pull over," asked Jake.


"Just do it!" he pleaded.

Before the jeep had come to a complete stop on the side of the road, Jake quickly jumped out and crouched near some bushes to expel the last of the contents in his stomach. When he was finished, Jake sank weakly to the ground.

"You're getting your pants muddy," pointed out Abby from behind the wheel.

Jake remained motionless, until he looked up at her and asked a question.

"Why are you being nice to me?" he wondered out loud.

"Well," replied Abby, good-naturedly, "you don't have many others standing in line to help you."

Jake was taken aback by the directness of Abby's answer, but since she had no pretense or ulterior motive, he began to feel at ease around her. Not that he would let her touch him, for no one could do that, but Jake began to feel as though he could accept Abby's presence without feeling as though his body was under attack.

"Come on, get back in the jeep," said Abby. "I have to get home and start dinner."

Jake did as he was told.

"Maybe I can get you a job down at the marina where I work," suggested Abby.

Jake's face immediately looked hopeful.

"I can't promise you anything," warned Abby, "but I'll do my best."

"I'll take anything," replied Jake. "This doesn't mean I trust you, though."

The caution in his voice brought a smile to Abby's lips.

"Okay, I've been warned," she answered.

As she pulled up to the Johanneses' house, Terry came out to meet Abby; he was extremely surprised to see that Jake was in the jeep with her.

"Hello!" greeted Terry to his new neighbor.
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