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"Abby, I put more towels in the linen closet," said Izumi, "and gave you enough dishes and utensils that you could invite us over to dinner once in a while. I know you're not a very good cook, but I gave you some pots and pans, anyway. Remember to eat a balanced diet. I don't want you eating junk food every day, just because I'm not here to tell you what to do!"

"Mom!" laughed Abby, with a patient sigh, "I think I can manage!"

"I'll make you some new curtains for your room, so don't go and buy any," advised Izumi. "I put food in the refrigerator, so you won't have to be concerned about dinner. And remember to lock up at night, and keep the porch light on, because it discourages burglars."

"Dad," pleaded Abby, "would you take Mom home, before she starts telling me how to brush my teeth?!"

"Up and down," said Terry, playfully, "not side to side!"

"If you need anything-- anything at all," finished Izumi, "you just come home."

At the mention of the word "home," Izumi burst into tears.

"That's right," she cried, "this is your home, now!"

"Come on, Little Dove," said John, tenderly leading his wife back to their empty nest. "Let's give the kids some time to settle in."

Terry gave Abby a parting farewell hug, and then left the yellow house with John and Izumi.

Suddenly, it was quiet. Jake and Abby were alone together for the first time in their new home.

"Well," sighed Abby, "I'd better get back to work."

She went to her closet and began to hang up her clothes.

"Do you need any help?" offered Jake, unsure what to do with himself.

"No," she replied, "I can do the rest, myself."

"Okay," said Jake, turning to leave. "You know," he paused, "any guy in prison would trade places with me in a heartbeat. You're really blessed to have such a nice family."

"They're your family, too," she reminded him.

With a smile, Jake left Abby to organize her closet. It took her the rest of the afternoon to finish getting the bedroom in order. By the time she was ready to announce completion, Jake was preparing dinner.

"Is that mushroom soup I smell?" asked Abby, appearing from her room, and going to the kitchen where Jake was stirring soup in a small pan. "I thought Mom said she left dinner in the refrigerator?"

"She did," answered Jake. "When you're ready to eat, I'll heat it up for you."

"Aren't you going to have any?" she questioned him.

"It was meant for you," he declined. "I'm doing all right on soup."

"When Mom said to eat a balanced diet," informed Abby, "she just wasn't talking to me. She meant you, too."

"No," debated Jake, "she was talking to you."

"Why are you fighting me on this?" wondered Abby, curiously. "Do you really like mushroom soup that much?"

"Couldn't you just let it drop?" asked Jake, beginning to feel a little trapped.

"I'll let it drop, for now," sighed the young woman. "But, this conversation isn't over. I'm responsible for the way you eat, now."

She went to the refrigerator and got out the roast chicken Izumi had prepared. Jake sat down to the table with his soup, while Abby sat down to a savory chicken dinner.

"There's plenty here for both of us," she offered.
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