The First Hello © 2015 (Rough Draft Version) By: J.L. Jacobs *Sequel to: "The Final Goodbye"*

Fate has given Sophia Lancaster a second chance. As she wakes up from what seems to be an overly vivid dream, Sophia soon realizes that it was no dream at all, rather, she had been brought back from death's embrace to the very day she is set to marry Dr. Jeremy Thompson.

From the knowledge and perspective she had gained in her former life, she decides to make better decisions and choices that could potentially alter her life, the lives of her loved ones, and history as she once knew it. In this exciting sequel to: "The Final Goodbye," follow Sophia's new journey as she takes the chance in which Fate has bestowed upon her to find out who her soulmate really is and what the consequences of her actions will be.

*Please be sure to read The Final Goodbye first! This is a only a rough draft and may contain grammatical errors. It is formatted just as a hard-copy full-length book should be. I love to hear your feedback, and your votes and shares are greatly appreciated!

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24. Chapter Twenty-Four: The Moment of Truth

 

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Moment of Truth

 

 

July 4, 1891

It has been one emotionally exhausting day! Travis has come back for me and to be honest, I was thrilled to see him even if I was caught completely off guard by his unexpected visit. I didn't see him again at the town festival after he and I spoke in the church earlier. He seemed to have disappeared but I know in my gut that he has not gone back to Texas no matter what I have said to him. I am not sure what he is up to but he did say he came down here "prepared to take back what he felt was his," and that means me and my baby regardless of whom Joshua's actual father might be. Mother did come to seek me out just before Jeremy, the baby, and I headed home after the festivities in the town square were winding down, and she warned me against running away with Travis after letting me aware that he was here. I did not let on to her that I had already seen her speaking with him, nor did I tell her that I have seen and spoken to him myself. It was hard trying to pretend I was not aware he was in town as my mother has known me my entire life and can spot a lie from a mile away. However, I think Travis's presence had caught her so much off guard that she didn't even seem to be paying much attention to my feigned act of surprise. She likes Travis, I mean, genuinely likes him. So her concern over his safety was evident to me. Of course, when she told me of this news, I was not with Jeremy. She waited until he was saying goodbye to his sister, Josephine, before alerting me to Travis's presence here in town. Now I have to go to bed with Jeremy, the man I have grown to become more attached to again over the last few months, and it will be quite difficult for me having to sleep in the same bed with him knowing the love of my life is somewhere nearby at this very moment. I feel so discombobulated. Why did Travis have to show back up like this? Why could he not let go of what he and I once shared so that we could both move on with our lives? I am filled with all sorts of emotions now that I have long tried to keep hidden deep inside as I resolved myself to the fate of a life without Travis in it. Part of me is so angry with him, and the other part was overjoyed to see him! This is all so unfair! Then I think of Jeremy. Once upon a time he was the man I wanted to be married to. He was the one I had imagined having children with. He was the one I could not imagine a life without. My, how much has changed both in my previous life before my reawakening, and the one I am living now after it. I have done nothing but think of what could happen if I choose to go back to Texas with Travis. Jeremy has worked so hard over the last several months to prove his love and devotion to me. I know that he genuinely loves me and our life together even if I have been forced into it. I have seen how he cherishes me and Joshua. I was so sure that Joshua was his child but now Travis actually has me second guessing that fact. Either way, would I be able to break Jeremy's heart all over again? Part of me likes to think not. It would not be fair to him and it would lead him down a dark road once again, that much I do know. I don't think it would be fair for me to leave him for Travis, again, knowing of the darkness that lies inside of Jeremy and what he is capable of. In my past life, he had been so miserable that he took his own life. I could never live with myself if that were to happen again, and I am sure my reawakening has something to do with that previous situation. I have this nagging feeling that I am to remain here no matter what my heart wants. Perhaps that is a sign of maturity on my part that I am now thinking of someone else besides myself for a change. Either way, someone's heart will be broken now that Travis is here. I have some serious contemplation to do and will pray that my Father doesn't do anything drastic in the meantime. Hopefully he never even learns that Travis was here!

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     Sophia's nerves were on edge the following morning from a combination of minimal sleep due to Joshua's feedings every two to three hours, combined with the knowledge that Travis was in town and her Father and Jeremy would most likely soon learn of it. For the umpteenth time, Sophia wondered if her father would stoop to his threats against Travis and his children once he learned the man was in town with the intentions of taking Sophia and Joshua back to the ranch with him. She longed to discuss this matter with Rachel and her Mother, so she would pay a call on them just as soon as Jeremy left for the clinic. She was lost in her own little world while thinking of the situation at hand when Jeremy came into the kitchen. She didn't even hear his approach when he came up from behind her to plant a kiss on her cheek as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. She jumped out of fright and almost burned her arm on the wrought iron frying pan she was cooking the sliced bacon in. "Oh my goodness Jeremy, you scared me half to death! I didn't even hear you walk in the room." she cried out in alarm. He gave her a curious look, then proceeded to pour himself a mug of coffee. Joshua was asleep in his cradle near the kitchen table. "You look as if you didn't sleep very well my darling. Did J.D. keep you up last night?" Jeremy asked her with a concerned look that furrowed his dark brows. For some reason, Jeremy recently started to refer to the baby as J.D. and Sophia wasn't quite found of his endearment but never once commented on it. "Yes, it was the same as any other since he was born I suppose." she responded back with a yawn, not even bothering to turn around as she pretended to be busy cooking their breakfast meal. "That phase won't last much longer Soph. Soon he will start sleeping longer and you can finally get some sleep at night." Jeremy said casually as he sat down at the table and opened up the newspaper to read. She sighed. Jeremy was right of course, but it still didn't help the situation now. She was dragging this morning and longed to climb back into bed and sleep for days. They remained quiet while Sophia finished up the meal and plated it for them. She carried their plates over to the table, then set one down in front of Jeremy who looked up at her with a distracted look on his face as he muttered, "Thank you my dear." Then he went back to reading his paper as she sat down to eat her own food. She found that her appetite was currently lacking but forced herself to eat anyway. If she didn't, then her energy would be even worse and she knew that from recent experience she would drag all day long being even more tired than if she didn't consume a breakfast meal. As she chewed her food, she looked over at Jeremy who seemed quite oblivious of her attention. She felt guilt eating her up on the inside as she pondered whether or not to confess to Jeremy about Travis being in town. As her husband, he deserved to know the truth. If she was going to do things the right way during this new life of hers, then perhaps admitting what she knew would be the correct thing to do. Yes, she should probably tell him.

"Jeremy," she said in a tentative voice. Her stomach clenched tightly as he looked up from the paper to peer into her eyes. "Yes?" he said with one eye brow raised in question. Sophia set down her half-eaten slice of bacon onto her plate, then looked back up to look him square in the eyes. "I have something to tell you." she said fretfully. Jeremy could tell by the look on her face that the matter wasn't something trivial. He set down the paper and gave her his undivided attention while still eating. "Yesterday, right after the parade, Rachel and I went to feed the babies inside the church as you are already aware of. What I was remiss in admitting to you was that Travis showed up while we were in there. Apparently he's in town." she said in a wavering voice. A look of shock took over his features as what she said seeped into his brain. "What?" he roared out, much louder than he had intended, "What in the hell is he doing here and what did he want with you?" Now his face looked downright angry as it took on a reddish hue. "I- I, well, he said he planned on taking me and the baby back to Texas with him." she responded honestly. This was no time for lies or half-truths. Jeremy was her husband even if he hadn't been her choice, and she had a duty as his wife to be straightforward with him even if he didn't like what he was being told. He abruptly stood up from his chair and began pacing the length of the kitchen. His actions reminded her of the caged lions she had seen in the zoo many years ago as a younger girl. Sophia looked over at the window and noticed there were storm clouds darkening the sky and for some reason it seemed so appropriate given the current situation. "Over my dead body will he come down here thinking he's taking you away from me. What of our son? There is no way I will ever allow you to take him from me! Once your Father finds out about this, and he will, Travis will be a dead man!" Jeremy said heatedly. "Jeremy, I didn't tell you this to upset you, but I understand why you are upset. You have every right to be. I am just trying to be honest with you here by telling you of this. You are assuming that I even want to go back with Travis! I understand what my role is here. I also understand what my father is capable of. You need to trust me for once! Think about it, I didn't even need to tell you that Travis was here to begin with!" Sophia cried out, feeling some hurt and anger herself. Her eyes began to water as her emotions got the best of her. It figures that she decided to be honest with Jeremy only to have him seemingly upset with her! Jeremy stopped pacing to look over at her in shock. "You mean to tell me that you want to stay here? With me?" he asked her point blank. She sighed heavily. She hadn't been given any choices of her own to make since her Father had her abducted from her home with Travis in Texas. The lives of Travis and his children meant more to her than she would ever openly admit to. She knew what she needed to do even if it mean that she had to sacrifice her own happiness in the process. Jeremy was a good husband to her, and he provided a nice lifestyle for her and Joshua. It was her duty to remain a loyal and faithful wife. "What I want has been irrelevant for a long time now. What I do know is that you've made a wonderful husband to me and an even better father to Joshua. We are married you and I. I will not be going anywhere with Travis, of that I can assure you of. However, I do ask that you trust me on this. Do not allow any harm to come to him or his children is what I ask in return. Please, promise me that much! I have sacrificed my own happiness and you know that! I have also been a dutiful and faithful wife to you since I have been back here, even if it took some time for me to deal with my Father's betrayal at your expense. My Father has played us both. Never forget that! There is no future between Travis and myself, and I swear that to you here and now! I also did tell Travis that exact same thing yesterday when he and I spoke. I do not know if he will choose to stay here and fight the cause but I am hoping to very soon speak with him privately so I can expeditiously explain to him under no uncertain terms will I ever go back there with him. He needs to hear that from me and understand one hundred percent that I choose to remain here. As your wife!" Sophia said passionately as she stood up from her chair to stand in front of Jeremy. She took his hands in her own and looked up at him as tears streamed down her face. She raised his hands towards her mouth to place a gentle kiss upon it. 

He recognized the sadness in her eyes, and at once, he realized that she truly did love Travis Ewing. He suddenly realized that he would never have her whole heart. He was only the man that she was forced into being married to. If she were given the choice, she would be with Travis and not himself. He felt so defeated. This wasn't what he wanted for her! He wanted to be her first choice. Her only choice! "Sophia, I hear what you are saying to me, and while I appreciate the sentiments, I also know that I am not the choice you would have made if your Father had not intervened. I don't know what to think right now. I need some time to myself to think over this matter. I am going to head out for a while so I can think about all of this. I'm not mad at you, just so you know. I will be back in a few hours time." With that, he tugged his hands free of her hold and walked briskly out of the kitchen feeling such a wide range of stormy emotions. Her assurances on the matter did not ease his doubts one bit. He so badly wanted to drown himself in a bottle of whiskey. A few moments later, Sophia heard the front door slam shut as Jeremy stormed out of the house. The sound jolted Joshua from his slumber and he began crying. Sophia sighed as tears once again rolled down her face. Well, at least she had been honest with Jeremy. Now the rest would be up to him. 

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     Sophia had just finished explaining to her Mother and Rachel about what had happened in the church yesterday, describing to them the conversation that took place with Travis, then the one she had with Jeremy earlier this morning. "Oh dear." Lucinda said quietly, "What a fine mess this is indeed! Are you sure you do not want to go back with Travis?" Sophia shook her head no. "If I did, you know what would happen. Father would learn of it and Travis and his children would be the ones he would take his anger out on. Then me. Hells fire, perhaps all of us. He's become unhinged over the last year or so and I cannot make sense of why Father's personality has changed so drastically. I never thought him capable of such malicious behavior. No, I need to remain here and continue to make a life with Jeremy. It's the right thing to do." Sophia replied quickly. Rachel pursed her lips together. She hated what her Father had done to Sophia! Speaking up she said quite sagely, "What of your happiness sister? Does that not matter one bit to you?" Sophia shook her head which caused a lock of her dark chestnut colored hair to come loose from it's pin which fell over hear forehead. Sophia took a hand and brushed it aside. "What of my happiness? I have resigned myself to my fate. It's much easier in the long run and less people would get hurt in the process. No Rachel, my own happiness is the furthest thing from my mind. Besides, I can learn to be happy with Jeremy again. I am happy with him to a certain extent. We are already on the right track and making a nice life for ourselves and Joshua. I am not completely unhappy now with the situation being as it is like I was many months ago. I have grown rather fond of Jeremy as of late. He does try so hard and that doesn't go unnoticed by me. I just need to get Travis away from here and out of my life. For good this time! I need to meet with him privately though in order to do so. I've already explained that to Jeremy. I am scared that the longer Travis is here in town, the more of a chance that Father will find out he's here."  "What's to say that Louis doesn't already know he's here? Your father has many men working for him. I am sure the second Travis got off that train, he was more than likely spotted. Although, if your father knew he was here, I am sure his temperament would have been pretty awful. He's been rather agreeable these days as he keeps busy running the bank and campaigning for the mayoral position here in Wellington." Lucinda said thoughtfully. Sophia nodded her head as she took a long swallow of her sweet tea. It wasn't as good as the stuff Mrs. Cox made, but it was still pretty tasty. "I am taking a guess that Travis is staying at The American Hotel here in town. If so, perhaps we can pretend to go there for luncheon in a little bit and you can see if he's registered there and in his room. If he is, then you can have that discussion with him and no one would even be the wiser." Rachel suggested. "That plan might actually work. Are you both up for a trip there now since it's almost luncheon time?" Sophia inquired. Both Lucinda and Rachel nodded their heads. Less than ten minutes later, they loaded themselves and the babies into Lucinda's carriage and were on their way.

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     A short while later, the ladies had been shown to a table and they settled themselves and the babies at it. "Okay," Sophia said as she took a deep breath, "I am going to head over to the hotel's reception desk. Order me a bowl of the minestrone soup and a cup of lemonade please. I will be back as quickly as possible." "Good luck." Rachel called out to her sister. Sophia turned around and waved, then headed through the archway that divided the hotel's restaurant and the front lobby. Once she reached the reception desk, the portly clerk looked up at her with a ready smile, "How may I assist you Ma'am?" she was asked by him with a professional degree of politeness. Sophia returned the smile and replied, "Can you tell me if a Mister Travis Ewing is registered here? If so, what is his room number please? I am to meet with him." The clerk looked down at the heavy leather book of registered guests. "He is in room two thirteen Ma'am." came the clerk's reply. Thinking her "meeting" was actually a dalliance, the clerk gave her a subtle wink. "Thank you so much for your kindness." Sophia smiled as she headed over to the wide mahogany staircase. When she found the correct room, she knocked on it three times. After waiting for a couple of minutes, she knocked again but the door never did open. He must not be in there after all. Crud. That blew her plan to speak with him without anyone finding out! Where could he possibly be? 

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     Later that evening Sophia was back at home, and after eating her supper alone, she retired upstairs with the baby and placed him carefully into the cradle near the bed that she and Jeremy now shared full time in the master bedroom which had always been his. After Joshua had been born, Jeremy insisted upon that sleeping arrangement and Sophia had begrudgingly complied with his request and had moved all of her personal belongings into that room from the guest bedroom she had been previously been in. It wasn't out of the ordinary for married couples to occupy separate bedrooms, but Jeremy had wanted her in his room and she gave in to that menial request. It took a little bit of time to get herself acclimated to the knew arrangement, but he did make her feel safe and protected. There could be much worse things for him to ask of her, that was for sure! She had already witnessed the dark side of him that his previous alcohol consumption had brought out of him. Now that he had stopped drinking, that dark side remained thankfully hidden. Jeremy had yet to return home which did worry her a bit. Earlier that morning he had told her he'd be back in a few hours and it was now well past supper time. She kept a supper plate warm for him in the oven in case he hadn't yet eaten. Even though she had already extinguished the oven, the heat would keep his food warm for quite a little while. Once he did eat, she would go back downstairs and wash up the rest of the supper dishes. While the baby was still asleep, she decided to draw herself a warm bath and placed some rose scented essence oil into the water as the tub filled up, then she took off all of her clothing until she was completely nude. She looked down at her abdomen and gave a small pout as she looked at the flab that was there. She missed her beautiful flat stomach, that was for sure! Hopefully it would become flat again real soon, as it had in her previous life only a few months after she had Madeline. Of course, at the time she had also been sick with cancer so that could have contributed to her rapid loss of weight. Jeremy told her all the time how beautiful she was, even with a flabby stomach, but she just felt so gross looking. It was so vain of her to think like that but she was just being honest. Once the water in the tub was at the desired level, she turned off the faucets and climbed inside the deliciously steamy water with a sigh of contentment that audibly escaped her mouth. She reclined backwards and closed her eyes to enjoy this blissfully quiet moment of peace and solitude. It didn't take long for Travis to begin plaguing her thoughts as it had been doing ever since she had found out he was here in Wellington. She really needed to speak with him as soon as possible to let him know that his visit here was in vain and he needed to leave posthaste! Perhaps it would be easier on her, mentally speaking, if she were to just pen him a missive and have it sent over to his hotel room. Then she wouldn't have to face him which would be so much easier on her emotional state of mind. Regardless of what Travis thought, Joshua was Jeremy's baby and that was that! She would not allow Travis to make her believe otherwise. 

She relaxed for a short while as the water inevitably cooled down. As she began shampooing her long hair, the bathroom door opened and Jeremy walked in which slightly startled her. She hadn't even heard his footsteps in the hallway, that's how relaxed she was. "You look so beautiful Sophia, even more so now." Jeremy whispered as he sat down next to the porcelain bathing tub. He took in the glorious sight of her curvier body and full, plump breasts. He felt himself grow hard with desire. Sophia looked over at her husband with a small chuckle and replied, "Thank you Jeremy but I must disagree with you on that. I look nothing short of a wet dog right now." He laughed softly at her reply to his more than honest appraisal of her. "Oh, by the way, I have a supper plate kept warm for you in the oven. Please go eat. I am sure that you must be hungry unless you have already partaken in a meal elsewhere. Once I am done here very shortly, I will head down to wash up the rest of the dishes." she said as she lathered and scrubbed her hair. "I am pretty hungry." he admitted, "So I shall head on down. Try not to fall asleep in there." Sophia couldn't help but giggle; there had been a few times when she had been known to fall asleep in the bathing tub. It relaxed her. She gave him a flirty smile and a playful wink, then nodded her head as he walked back out of the room without another word. She then gave a quick thanks to God that he had come back home in a good mood and seemingly sober. She had been somewhat apprehensive that he would have gone to one of the taverns in town to drink. Sophia made quick work of rinsing the suds from her hair and took out the stopper from the drain of the tub to let the water go down. Then she got out of the tub and stepped off onto the soft rug just as the cries of baby Joshua could be heard in the other room. Sophia quickly dried herself off with a large towel and put a robe on, not bothering with putting on the matching cotton nightgown. She walked into the bedroom and picked up her wailing son from his cradle, then sat down in the rocking chair and opened up her robe to expose her breast in order for Joshua to latch on. After twenty minutes of feeding him on each of her breasts, she had just placed a square cotton cloth over her shoulder and began burping the baby when Jeremy walked into the room. "I thought I heard him crying. Supper was very good. Thank you very much my dear for saving me a plate." he said as he began to undress himself while Sophia watched. He was completely nude within a minute and Sophia couldn't help but to admire his physique. He had a nice body considering he never did very much manual labor like Travis did. Jeremy climbed into the big bed on his side and said, "I can burp him for you so that you can brush out your hair and wash up those dishes. Then when you come back up, I'd like to have a talk with you." Sophia stood up and walked over to his side of the bed, then handed Joshua over to Jeremy's waiting arms, along with the cotton cloth to use for burping. "Can you change his nappy when you're finished burping him please?" Sophia asked politely. Jeremy nodded his head yes and she continued on to brush out her hair and wash up the few remaining supper dishes.

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     Joshua was sleeping peacefully in his cradle by the time she returned less than thirty minutes later. Part of her felt bummed out because she had wanted to spend a little more time with the baby before he went back to sleep, but the tired part of her was also grateful because she now had some much needed quiet time. Since it was so warm outside, the three bedroom windows were opened to let in a refreshingly gentle breeze. When it was pleasantly warm out like this, she and Jeremy slept in the nude most of the time. The only time she didn't do that was when she had her menses. Sophia took off her robe, set it over the rocking chair, and climbed into their bed. Within seconds, Jeremy began to ravish her body. He had been so filled with desire for her ever since he'd seen her in the bathing tub  so he didn't wait another moment to bury himself deeply inside of her. Once he had come to completion and spilled his seed, he rolled over onto his sweaty back and propped himself into a seated position. Sophia, even though she wanted nothing more than to go to sleep right then and there, followed suit. She knew that Jeremy wanted to have a discussion with her so she waited patiently for him to begin it which only took a couple of minutes as he waited for his breathing to slow down after their very arduous lovemaking. "I went to see Travis Ewing and your Father today." he stated softly which made Sophia's eyebrows raise up in surprise. Uh oh. That couldn't be good! He continued on without giving her the chance to speak up. "I talked to Travis about you which I am sure you already guessed. I told him what you said to me this morning about wanting to be with me and not him. He said you had mentioned that to him yesterday when he talked with you in the church. However, he mentioned something else. All these months since you've been back here in Wellington, he's had his attorney looking into the legitimacy of both marriage claims. The one of you with me and the one with you and him. According to what his attorney found out, he claims that you are actually legally married to him. He said that your father had no right to sign a marriage license as your proxy because you were more than of a legal age and of sound mind and body. Due to that fact, he says you and I are not legally wed unless you go before a judge and sign an affidavit that states you were in agreement with our marital union. He came down here with all the legal documents and his lawyer and told me that he's requested a hearing before a judge to settle this matter once and for all. At this point, you are faced with having to make a decision on who you want to be married to Sophia. I love you with all of my heart and soul. So much so that I only want your happiness. If you decide you want to be with him, then all's you have to do is tell the judge that you did not give your consent to our marriage." 

Sophia's look of shock quickly turned to one of pure disgust. She took in several deep breaths to calm herself before finally speaking up, "Travis has gone too far now! I shall not be signing any sort of an affidavit to disclaim our marriage Jeremy! I told you that I would be a good and faithful wife to you and I will be keeping my promise! Travis had no right to take such matters upon himself. I made it very clear whom I chose to be with and it was not him! Ugh, the nerve of that man! I feel like smacking him across the face right now!"Sophia's mood turned to one filled with anger but she didn't miss Jeremy's sigh of relief and the small look of happy sort of surprise that took over his facial features. "You really mean that Soph? You want to stay married to me? You have the chance to have a life with Travis if that's what you truly desire. I don't want to be second in your life. I'd rather you be with the person you truly love." Jeremy said cautiously. "Damn it all to hells fire Jeremy Michael Thompson! I've done made up my mind and I would think you would be more excited!" Sophia spat out. Jeremy pulled her closer to him so that he could hug her and hold her against his chest, "You've done made me the happiest man in the world Sophia Ann Thompson! There is nothing further we need to discuss on the matter. I gave you a choice and I cannot be any more thrilled that you chose me. I love you. Let's get some sleep now my love. We can deal with Travis on the morrow. He will be having you go in front of a judge at some point soon though, just so you know." He gave her a kiss on her lips and laid down so that his head rested on the down filled pillow. Sophia did the same but sleep eluded her. Yes, Jeremy had given her a choice; the chance to be with Travis. But her gut instinct told her that she needed to stay here in Wellington no matter how she truly felt. She leaned over to turn off the small lamp on her nightstand and laid back down on the bed so that her back was turned away from Jeremy. What she truly wanted was a life with Travis. She felt horrible lying to Jeremy like that. He unselfishly gave her a choice. But for the sake of Travis and his children's safety against any actions her father might do to them, she would remain here and continue to do her utmost best to live a happy life with Jeremy. She loved Travis way too much to see any harm befall him or Mikey and Hope. This was all for the best. Surely this was why she had been brought back to this second life of hers? After a long while and many silent tears later, she fell into a deep sleep where she dreamed about a voice telling her that the book was the answer. What damned book could that be and how would there ever be an answer in it?

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(This concludes chapter twenty-four. Please vote and comment. Thank you!)

 

 

 

 

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