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"'Family emergency'?" repeated Abby. "Oh, that emergency. No, it's not over yet. How did you know?"

"It's a small town," reminded Tyler, in a concerned voice. "Is it your Mom? Is the baby all right?"

"It's not that kind of an emergency," assured Abby.

"Oh," said Tyler, looking over at Jake.

When the waitress came and served their food, Tyler excused himself.

"I've got to get back," he said. "I hope everything works out for you."

As Tyler left, Jake looked at Abby and shook his head, sadly.

"You're making a poor trade-- me for him," he remarked.

"But, I don't love him," said Abby.

"You don't love me, either," repeated Jake.

Abby looked up at him from over her drink.

"Are we going to have this conversation every day?" she asked, wearily.

They finished their lunch in relative silence, while the world around them bustled with the sounds of commerce. When they stepped outside, Abby and Jake walked home, taking the scenic route. It was a mild summer day, and the breeze coming in off the bay was cool. As they walked, Abby and Jake fell into easy conversation.

"Do you always want to live in Three Mile Bay?" asked Jake.

"I don't know," shrugged Abby. "I'm not chomping at the bit to leave, if that's what you mean. What made you choose this place, when you got out of prison?"

"I wasn't the one who chose," replied Jake. "Warden Doyle wanted to give me the best chance to make it on the outside that he could, and since he was good friends with Sheriff Peterson, he sent me here."

"If you had any place in the world to choose from," wondered Abby, "where would you live?"

"Here's pretty nice," said Jake, smiling.

"Don't you have any family?" she asked.

"I have a grandma," replied Jake. "She's in a nursing home."

Jake stopped walking. He looked at Abby, and then at the ground. His eyes traveled to the horizon, where the blue waves touched the sky.

"I hope they'll let us be together," he whispered softly.

"Jake," consoled Abby, "no matter what happens, I'll always be your friend."

Minutes later, when they reached home, Abby sighed when she saw the reception party.

"Looks like they've been waiting for us," she observed, as she and Jake made their way down the beach to where Terry and Dick [the warden] were enjoying the scenery.

"So," announced Terry, seeing the two approaching, "there you are! We've been looking for you guys! John!" shouted Terry up the beach, "I found them!"

"Where were you?" demanded John, when they reached the Johanneses' house.

"We went out to eat," explained Abby. "Sorry, I guess the time slipped away from us."

John looked at Jake and then back at his daughter.

"It's time," said John.

The group walked back to the house and Izumi invited everyone to sit in the living room for their meeting.
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