At nineteen, Rachel Kay Lapp accepted the responsibility of rearing her eleven younger siblings. Jonas Yoder, her betrothed, deserted her and married another woman.
He returns after his wife’s death and asks to call on Rachel when she is thirty-three and alone. She enjoys his company but ponders over his interest in her. Would learning to care for this man again bring ecstacy or another heartache?
Her faith gives her strength and courage through many adversities; but is her trust in the Lord strong enough to sustain her when a disfiguring accident threatens her newfound love?
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DAWN OF EDEN (256 pages)
Amish Eden Series Book 3
by Barbara Michel
Holmes County, Ohio
Gusts of November wind seized snow from the pine boughs, whipped it into frosty swirls, and hurled it onto Rachel Kay Lapp’s porch. Sitting in a wooden rocker by the kitchen window, she watched the white fluff pile up on the sill. She adjusted the blue smocked pillow behind her back and rocked slowly as she pondered. Her fingers tightened on a letter from Liz Ann Lapp, her favorite cousin from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Again, she peered at the neat handwriting and her heart cramped. Liz was helping two friends prepare for their weddings. Closing her eyes, Rachel sighed. Weddings were a time of joy, but they always made her feel more alone. At thirty-three she’d had but one caller and he had married someone else. “I might not have lost him–if it hadn’t been for the accident.”
“Es het nix mache sette (It shouldn’t have mattered).” It had to Jonas, though.
Howling wind slapped the windows as though intent on breaking in, and long icy fingers forced themselves between the cracks to investigate the kitchen. Touching her fingertips against the frigid glass, Rachel peered across the meadow through the dancing cloud of flakes to the farmhouse where she had been born. The pipes of the well the gas company had drilled on the family property a few years back were barely visible. She thanked the Lord for the conveniences the fuel made possible. Amish didn’t believe in being connected to the world, but if the gas well was on their property, they were permitted to use the fuel.
Wayne, her younger brother, had taken over the farm when he had married. He and Rosy still looked after her. They sometimes treated her like a maiden aunt.
“Vell . . . sell is was ich bin (Well . . . that’s what I am).” The words created painful reverberations deep in her heart. She peered to her left at the house on the neighboring farm. How many times a day had she looked at that house and pictured Jonas? How often since his wife’s death had she wondered what it would be like to be married to him? She frowned. What would she say if he asked her to marry, now?
He turned his back on me when I most needed him. She harbored no resentment. Why did her memories of him lie like dead leaves? If he showed renewed interest, would her feelings for him revive?
Her mind scrolled back sixteen years to the July she had been seventeen. She had donned a new deep-rose dress, brushed her black curly hair, rolled it neatly and put on her prayer cap. She knew that going to town had always put a shimmer in her gray eyes. Donning her black bonnet, she pinched her dimpled cheeks to make them pink and climbed into the black family buggy with her mother.
Gripping the braided reins, Fannie flipped them against Muddy Foot’s flank to signal to the frisky three-year-old carriage horse that they were ready to go. Turning to Rachel, she smiled. “Let’s stop in and see Mary Kate?” she said in the German dialect of the Amish.
“Ja. Sie gricki net viel Besuch (She doesn’t get many visitors).”
Mary Kate wasn’t home. Back in the buggy, Rachel noticed a strange brown dog racing from behind the barn. “Dummel Dich, Mem (Hurry, Mama).”
Growling deep in his throat, the dog bared his teeth.
Muddy Foot snorted and shook his mane. Fannie’s foot rested precariously on the small metal step. The dog snarled and bit one of Muddy Foot’s hind legs. The horse whinnied wildly, reared and kicked at the offending canine. The carriage jolted, then jerked forward, throwing Fannie off balance. She cried out as she tumbled and struck her spine on the carriage frame.
Rachel Kay screamed. Heedless of the barking dog, she leaped to the ground. “Mem!”
Fannie sprawled on her back in the dirt, her black bonnet askew and her fingers clutching the gatepost. “Ich kann net muhfe (I can’t move)! Her blue-gray eyes were wide from fear and pain. “My back! Rachel Kay, Ich kann net muhfe!”
“Oh, Mem.” Rachel Kay knelt in the rutty lane in the scorching July sun. “Wass (what) can I do?”
Anguish twisted her mother’s features. “Go for help.”
Fright bubbled into Rachel’s throat. “I can’t leave you here alone!”
Rachel continued to ponder the chaos that followed the accident. She’d felt swept away in a whirlwind of confusion and anxiety. Fanny’s back had been fractured, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Rachel, being the oldest of the Kinder, had taken over the household duties as well as the raising of her eleven young siblings. The traumatic change had altered her plans for Rachel’s marriage and a home of her own. The entire responsibility for the family was on Rachel’s nineteen-year-old shoulders.
A shrill whistle shocked Rachel from her reverie. “Ach!” She jumped to he feet. Her long gray skirt swished around her legs as she hurried across her flowered kitchen vinyl to her stove. The kettle she had put on to heat and forgotten vibrated with wildly boiling water. Turning off the gas burner, she sighed. The deluge of memories had stolen her desire for a cup of peppermint tea. Instead of pouring the brew, she sauntered to her maple table, slumped to a chair, and propped her elbows on the blue-plaid cloth. The table had several boards, but now it was without any, making it look small and lonely.
“Like me,” she murmured, not in a habit of permitting herself to wallow in thoughts of what might have been. She loved the Lord and wished to serve Him, and being pessimistic was against all she believed in. Had I planned my life and lived it the way I wanted to, things would be different now. She looked at the spray of dried flowers on her wall and felt similar.
Proverbs 3:5, one of her favorite passages, came to her mind and she recited the familiar words. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” The verse reminded her that the Lord knew what was best.
A sigh escaped from deep within her. Was she destined to spend the rest of her life alone? Is that what der gut Man wants?
As though challenging her, a sudden gust of wind howled through the pine beside the gate and flung snow against the window.
Someone stomped on the porch. She jumped, then crossed the kitchen to open the door. Her eyes widened as Jonas Yoder’s six-foot-two frame filled the opening.
Stepping into the room, he closed the portal. “Sis am Kaelter warre (It’s getting colder).” He shucked out of his jacket and tossed it to the wooden bench. Removing his black felt hat, he faced her, his expression enigmatic. “i want to speak to you, Rachel.”
Her hands fluttered. “Nem doch an Sitz (Take a seat).” She motioned to the table, not bold enough to invite him into the living room. After all, he was a widower and they were not courting. Should they be alone in the house? On the verge of asking him, she bit her tongue. Lack of experience sometimes made her seem prudish, although she was far from it. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“Ja. Gross Dank (Many thanks).”
Even though he had practically jilted her years ago, having him here made her nervous. But then, maybe his past rejection was what made her jittery. Going to the counter, she heaped a plate with still-warm raisin-filled cookies and placed them in front of Jonas. She took a seat across from him, but instead of meeting his gaze, she stared at the bowl of red apples between them. “What do you want to talk about?
“Vell . . . ” He took a bite of cookie, chewed methodically, then swallowed. “You make the best cookies in the county.”
“Gross Dank.” She laughed softly. “I’ve had a lot of experience.”
“Ja.” Sipping his coffee, he looked at her over the rim of his cup. “I’ve been alone for two years.”
She had felt alone for a lot longer than that, due to his changing his mind about marrying her, but she had no intention of dredging up that bucket of slime. After all, with her mother’s Kinder under foot, she would not have been able to put enough emphasis on being a wife. She sat silently stirring her coffee. To cover for her shyness, she smiled.
“Your dimples are still the sweetest ever.”
“Oh.” The single syllable hung between them as heat cruised across her cheeks.
He clearedd his throat. “Ich deet gleiche mit dir gehe (I would like to go with you).”
She smothered a gasp. Was it being near Jonas that made her heart pound–or was it the fear of making a mistake? Would dating him mean ecstasy or another disaster?
“Was is letz (What’s wrong)?”
“I . . . need time to think.”
His indigo eyes widened, “Think about . . . wass?”
Confused, she picked up her cup. Maybe a drink of hot coffee would thaw out her tongue. But was her tongue the problem? Was it her heart that questioned this man’s intentions?
“Vell?” He retrieved his black hat from a nearby chair and shoved it onto his head, but his eyes searched her face. Shrugging, he rammed his arms into his jacket and turned to the door.
Panic seized her. Was she letting her last chance vanish? She leaped to her feet. “Jonas, wait.”
He turned, his expression expectant. “Ja?”
She felt foolish and didn’t want to stutter. “I would welcome your company.”
He smiled, showing even white teeth. “I thought you would.”
She closed her lips on a retort that would wipe the grin from his face. Did he look so smug–or was pride baring sharp fangs within her? Had she made a mistake–or was she questioning her blessings? Well, she hadn’t promised this man anything. She didn’t love Jonas, but maybe her feelings would deepen. The thought nearly froze her fingers to the back of the kitchen chair. Do I want to love Jonas?