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"Slow down, will you?" pleaded Abby, as she jumped out of the vehicle and tried to keep up with his fast strides while on foot. "For pity's sake, I'm on your side, Jake!"

At this, the young man slowed down to a stop and took a deep breath.

"It's only Dad and Uncle Terry," Abby reasoned with him. "They're not going to hurt you. You do fine around Mr. Winkler. Are Dad and Uncle Terry so different?"

"Mr. Winkler is an old man," replied Jake, in a voice that betrayed just how uncomfortable he was feeling. "Mr. Johannes and Mr. Davis [Terry] are closer in age to..." Jake seemed too pained to say anything further.

"You know," reminded Abby, "Dr. Jacoby said that you must work at overcoming your aversion to men, whenever possible. Try to look at this as one of those opportunities."

"Are you going to do it?" he asked her, curiously.

"Do what?"

"Become an instructor," explained Jake, "like Mr. Winkler wants you to."

"I don't think so."

"But," said Jake, "he went to all the trouble to get Dennis Beckman for you."

"Mr. Winkler hired Dennis Beckman because he knows it will be good for business," concluded Abby. "Besides, you're changing the subject. My family doesn't mind you hanging around the house all the time, but they're getting a little uncomfortable about the fact that you always keep to my bedroom."

Jake kicked at the sidewalk with his foot.

"Jesus said he won't forsake you," reminded Abby. "You must be brave."

"I have been brave," he muttered.

"I remember a verse in Proverbs," encouraged Abby, "that goes something like this: 'The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.'"

"Will you be there?" asked Jake. "You've told me a hundred times that I can get along without you, but things are always easier when you're there, Abby."

The sincerity of this statement made Abby smile, in spite of herself. In many ways, Jake reminded her of a stray puppy, thirstily soaking in any drops of kindness, no matter how small.

"I'll be there," replied Abby, as they retraced their steps back to the jeep. "Just take one step at a time, Jake. I know you've been brave, but it can't stop there. Life requires a lot of courage-- even for us 'normal' ones."

When they reached the Johanneses' home, Jake followed Abby inside. He then made a move toward her room under the pretext of working on the mural, for he had begun to put the first brush strokes on the wall, after weeks of sketching and preparation.

"You can do that after dinner," said Abby motioning him into the kitchen where Terry was standing over a simmering pan on the stove.

"Glad you could come, Jake," Terry grinned broadly, for this was his first real opportunity to converse with the young man since his arrival in Three Mile Bay. "Would you set the table Abby? That's a good girl."

Jake stood awkwardly by the kitchen entrance, unsure what to do with himself.

"How was work?" asked Terry, pleasantly.

The question was directed at anyone who would answer, but Abby was the only one willing to talk.

"Mr. Winkler is bringing in a new guy to replace Gary," related Abby, putting the dinner plates on the table.

"What's his name?" asked Terry.

"I forget," answered Abby, now putting out the napkins.

"Dennis Beckman," answered someone in a low voice.
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