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"Dad," reasoned Abby, "do you and Uncle Terry really want to sleep on Jake's couch, while I sit up with him at night? And what if you and Uncle Terry and Mom aren't around? Do I stay out of the little yellow house just because there's no one else around to say nothing happened? And then there's our art. Am I only supposed to be with him, if I can get one of my friends to hang out with us? If Jake and I only saw each other a few times a week, it probably wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm over at his house at all hours of the day and night, as you and Uncle Terry are well aware."

"But," resisted John, "I just think this is too extreme a measure. Sweetheart, you'd be tying yourself down to a man you don't love, who has nothing to give you except snippets of horror from his past."

"Jake does have a lot to offer," contradicted Abby with a smile. "He's a brilliant artist, Dad. He can teach me so much. You should have seen his sketches. It was as though I were looking into his very soul. There's so much more to Jake than the pain of his past."

"I'm happy that there's more to him than the flashbacks," said John, "but it's not enough, Abigail! You've got to love your husband, and he you, otherwise, it's just a-- "

"A marriage in name only," finished Abby.

"Izumi," said John, "talk to your daughter!"

"My daughter?" smiled the mother, her eyebrows raised.

"When she pulls something like this, she's your daughter!" replied John, lamely attempting a joke.

"Sweetheart," pressed Izumi, "the thing that bothers me the most about your announcement, is that you're telling us that you and Jake don't love each other."

"I know," sighed Abby, "but, I'm not you, Mom. I'm not a romantic. I don't get all melty inside at the idea of cuddling up with my husband, or necking on the front porch with the lights out. Mom, we're perfect for each other!"

Even though Izumi could recall that Abby was never big on hugs or demonstrations of affection, she resisted Abby's prejudice of what love looked like.

"Even though I don't love Jake," said Abby, "I do like him. He came from a hopeless place and yet he has hope. The fact that Jake is, is a miracle in and of itself. God gave him help, and he is holding onto it with all his might."

"Look," said John, "I'm not trying to make this guy's life hard or anything, but you can't marry an ex-convict! Everywhere you go, you would suffer the same shunning and the same social stigma that I'm sure he endures every day. I don't want to see that happen to you."

"I'm not afraid of what the world is going to say about me," Abby replied bravely.

"And another thing," continued John, "even though it's hard to see you with Jake when he's having a flashback, I've allowed it because there didn't seem to be any alternatives! I don't see how Jake found the nerve to ask you to do this for the rest of your life! Abby, think about it! You'd be enduring all these hardships for someone you don't even love!"

"Jake is my friend, Dad," answered Abby.

"But," rationalized Izumi, "you have a lot of male friends. Aside from the obvious, what makes Jake different than the others?"

"Well," hesitated Abby, searching for an example, "there's one thing that makes him different, and I've noticed this for awhile now. The other guys near my age will do stupid things to get your attention, and try to impress you with how masculine they are. Jake doesn't do that. When he looks at you, all you see is him. He doesn't presume to think that he's anything special, even though he is."

"Then why did he ask you to marry him?" insisted John.

"Because he had to," replied the young woman. "It wasn't presumption that made Jake ask me-- it was need. When he thought I might need him too, he proposed. He said we could help each other."
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