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"Dad's right," she calmly began, "this is serious, but it's good news-- at least, I think so. Jake asked me to marry him, tonight."

Abby stopped and waited for their response. An odd silence pervaded the room. John half expected someone to jump out and say that it was only a joke, but when Abby's face remained steady, the reality of the announcement began to take hold.

"And what did you say?" asked John, becoming alarmed that she hadn't quickly added, "and I turned him down."

"I said 'yes,'" replied Abby.

Terry's mouth hung open in astonishment, while John put his head between his hands and groaned repeatedly. Izumi, however, was strangely quiet.

"That man has no right to come into our house," protested John, "and drag our little Abby into his personal hell! Who does he think he is?!"

"Abby, tell me you aren't really serious!" cried Terry, his speechlessness dissipating.

"Abby, Sweetheart," said John, trying to gently reason with her, "he has no future, except most probably to be sent back to prison. He's not going to make it on the outside!"

"You said he wouldn't last out the month," reminded Abby.

"Sweetheart," countered John, "it hasn't BEEN a month! I can't believe this is happening! Terry, we were only gone for one evening!"

"I know this happened on my watch," replied Terry, "but I thought Jake was safe! I mean, he won't even let Abby touch him! How could I have possibly seen this coming!"

"That's right," said John, his brows suddenly furrowing. "What about that Abby? Did Jake suddenly change his spots, or is there more you want to tell us?"

"I was waiting for things to die down a little, first," replied Abby, dreading the next bit of news.

"What else is there to tell us?" demanded John.

"Jake and I," explained Abby, "would be married in name only."

"'Name only'?" repeated Izumi.

"Physical contact is abhorrent to him," reasoned the young woman. "It's because of all the abuse."

"But," sighed Terry, "what kind of life is that for two people who love each other?"

"That's the third thing I wanted to tell you," sighed Abby, saving the biggest bombshell for last.

"What now?" groaned John. "A wedding ceremony in prison?!"

"Jake and I don't love each other," she blurted.

Terry looked to John, and John looked to Izumi, who closed her eyes in disbelief.

"Tell me I'm dreaming," John pleaded with his wife. "Tell me that our daughter is just having a practical, albeit not very funny, joke!"

Izumi took John's hands and squeezed them, in an attempt to calm her husband.

"I thought you wouldn't marry Tyler," argued Terry, "because you said you didn't love him. I'm trying to understand your logic. It's inconceivable to me how you could turn down Tyler, but accept Jake!"

"I realize," began Abby, "that this is hard to understand. Tyler was expecting something from me that I could not give, and that was love. Jake, on the other hand, has no use for intimate love-- it's just something that is never going to happen. Tyler was in love with the idea of having a wife, and someone to be the mother of his future children. Tyler didn't need me, but Jake does. You know, when Jake is having a tough time, I'm the one who takes care of him. Dad, you said he isn't going to make it on the outside. Maybe you're right. Maybe, that's the reason why God sent him to Three Mile Bay. You've always said that God works by Providential leading. Like that verse says, 'I being in the way, the LORD led me.' I almost married Tyler, I almost went to college, but, I didn't. God was holding me back, and now I think I understand why. This is what I'm supposed to do."

"Can't you go on helping him, and keep things the way they are?" asked John. "Do you have to marry the guy?"
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