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"Why not?" she urged.

"I just can't," shrugged Jake, his eyes fixing on the bottom of the doorjamb.

"Look," said Abby, "I'm only trying to help you."

"I can't go to church!" he exclaimed, disappearing inside.

Since Jake had left the front door open, Abby took this as a sign that he wasn't necessarily turning her away.

"Why not?" repeated Abby, stepping inside.

Jake was standing in front of the couch in the living room, his hands shoved into his pockets, and his eyes steadily looking out the window at the bay.

"Because," Jake answered, in a barely audible voice, "I don't belong there."

"Nonsense!" she exclaimed.

Jake gave her a disbelieving glance, and shook his head in disagreement.

"You don't know me," he warned. "You don't know what I've had to do to stay alive. And if you did, you'd know that I don't belong with normal people."

For once, Abby was speechless. She brushed the hair back from her face, and was thoughtfully silent.

"No one is blaming you for surviving," responded Abby. "You did what you had to do."

"That's easy for you to say," replied Jake, turning his back to her. "You weren't there."

"Nothing about this is easy," sighed Abby. "Are you familiar with Deuteronomy twenty-two?"

Jake shook his head "no."

"Do you have a Bible handy?" she asked. "I can't quote the whole thing from memory."

Jake went to his bedroom for a moment and retrieved his Bible.

"Here," he said, handing the precious volume to her.

Then Jake returned to the window. As Abby opened the Bible, a few sheets of note paper fluttered to the floor, so she bent down and picked them up. But before she had a chance to look them over, Jake quickly plucked the paper from her hand.

"As I was saying," resumed Abby, paging through the Bible to the right passage, "in Deuteronomy, there's a chapter that talks about someone like you."

Jake looked at her skeptically. He didn't remember anything about rape being in the Bible.

"'If a man find a betrothed damsel in the field,'" read Abby out loud, "'and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.'"

"What does that have to do with me?" questioned Jake. "I'm not a woman."

"That's not the point," replied Abby. "Notice, God didn't say, 'Why didn't you kill yourself, before letting that man rape you?' No, she cried for help, but there wasn't anyone to save her, so she had to survive it. And for this, God didn't blame her."

By the look on Jake's face, Abby could see he was listening. Whatever he was feeling or thinking, Jake kept it to himself. Abby set the Bible onto the coffee table that John had removed from the Johannes house, because she had needed the room for her art studio. The memory of it caused Abby to smile. When she looked back to Jake, she caught him staring at her. He quickly looked back out the window.

"Well? Are you coming next Sunday, or not?" she pressed.
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