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An Unexpected Joy: An Amish Christmas Gift Novella
An Unexpected Joy: An Amish Christmas Gift Novella
An Unexpected Joy: An Amish Christmas Gift Novella
Электронная книга170 страниц2 часа

An Unexpected Joy: An Amish Christmas Gift Novella

Автор Ruth Reid

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Abigail has driven other suitors away, but can Micah find a way to show her he cares?

Being a caregiver for Micah Zook’s grandmother is the answer to Abigail’s prayers. In fact, the elderly lady keeps finding ways to set Abigail up with her grandson. Despite Abigail’s constant chatter, Micah realizes he’s beginning to care for her—until he makes a decision that leaves her feeling betrayed. With Christmas in their midst, can Micah find a way to reconcile with Abigail and to reveal the true feelings of his heart?

ИздательThomas Nelson
Дата выпуска6 окт. 2015 г.
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Ruth Reid

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth, the Amish Wonders, and the Amish Mercies series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life. Visit Ruth online at RuthReid.com; Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid; Twitter: @AuthorRuthReid.

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    An Unexpected Joy - Ruth Reid


    Abigail Kemp emptied her savings from the Mason jar onto her bed and began sorting the coins into piles. She counted her money each time she added to the jar and kept a detailed journal recording of each deposit—every cent—since last December. Once she realized she may never marry, she began selling baked goods and quilted potholders to save for a horse. In St. Joseph County, Michigan, an unmarried woman at twenty-two was more likely to get run over by a buggy than find a good man to marry—at least that was the joke at the youth singings. She met that milestone over a year ago, and now any offers to drive her home after the Sunday singings had dried up.

    Footsteps clomped outside the bedroom. Her sister Elizabeth stormed into the room. The next chicken that marks its territory on my dress sleeve is going in the fryer. She pulled the pins from her dress and slipped if off, letting the garment drop to the floor. Do you want to trade chores this week?

    Picking eggs for sweeping and mopping? Absolutely. Now that the weather had turned colder, the chickens weren’t laying as many eggs. Besides, doing chores first thing in the morning offered more time to prepare and deliver her baked goods without interruptions. Orders for her fruitcakes were already coming in, and with Christmas only a few weeks away, she would be busy just trying to stay ahead.

    Elizabeth scanned her side of the closet, pulled out a blue dress, looked it over, then exchanged it for the dark-green one.

    Are you going somewhere special? Abigail had only seen her sister fuss over what dress to wear for Sunday singings.

    James is giving me a ride to work.

    Elizabeth was two years younger and fell in love with James the first time he offered to drive her home from a singing. He was kindhearted and Father liked him. Elizabeth would get married first. Abigail pushed the thought aside. Jealousy would not rob her joy.

    Abigail counted a stack of quarters and jotted the dollar amount on a piece of paper. If you talked with the chickens more, they’d be less likely to perceive you as a threat.

    Change your mind about swapping chores? Elizabeth fastened the front of her dress with pins.

    "Nett at all. I talk to them all the time and they don’t soil mei clothing."

    You’re the only person I know who can carry a one-sided conversation. And with chickens, of all creatures. Elizabeth shook her head.

    Abigail chuckled. They’re a trapped audience. They have to listen.

    Elizabeth plopped down on the bed and motioned to the jar. You’re always counting your money. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were worried Sadie or I were going to steal it.

    I’d never think that. She clutched her chest, pretending to be appalled by the suggestion, but a giggle erupted. I would accuse one of the boys first.

    "You should rethink leaving it in plain sight and tempting our bruders. Elizabeth smiled. Unless you want to give someone an early Christmas gift, and if that’s the case, let it be me."

    Elizabeth had worked at the quilt store in town since last summer, and she spent all of her paychecks on fabric. She probably owned every shade of dress color acceptable in their district and was likely the only woman to own a half-dozen pairs of black shoes—unlike Abigail who owned one well-worn pair of everyday shoes and five dresses. Her two nicer dresses she saved for Sunday services and youth singings; the other three she wore the remainder of the week, saving the brown one for messy chores.

    Abigail finished tallying her cash, then leaned against the pillow and smiled. I almost have enough.

    You said that last month too.

    Eight-year-old Sadie pushed open the bedroom door. "Mamm said it’s time for breakfast." She continued down the hall, her shoes clacking against the wood floor. Her voice rang with the same announcement to the twins, Peter and Daniel.

    Abigail scooped the money into her hand and deposited it in the jar. "I should have mei driver by the first of the year if mei baked goods keep selling the way they have."

    I don’t know why a horse is so important, Elizabeth said. "If you concentrated on finding a bu, your transportation problems would be solved."

    Abigail laughed, although even to her own ears, it sounded insincere. She had been dreadfully focused on securing a husband ever since she started attending the youth singings at seventeen. But for whatever reason, every bachelor who had driven her home never found the courage to ask to drive her again. Don’t dwell on it. She prided herself on finding solutions rather than bemoaning her unfortunate situation. Buying the gelding from Mr. Troyer would allow more freedom, not to mention the time she would save walking to Centreville to sell her cookies. She wasn’t sure her boots could handle another Michigan winter.

    Abigail set the Mason jar on the chest of drawers and followed Elizabeth out of the room and down the stairs. The scent of bacon grew stronger as they neared the kitchen, and Abigail’s stomach rumbled. Mamm and Sadie were busy at the stove, Sadie spooning oatmeal into the bowls and Mamm flipping eggs in the frying pan.

    Abigail grabbed a stack of plates from the cabinet and placed them on the table while Elizabeth came behind her with the utensils.

    The boys clamored down the stairs, cleaned up and ready for school. They took their places at the table as the back door opened. Daed and her older brother, David, entered the house.

    Daed set the milk pail on the counter, then went to the sink and washed his hands. "Something smells gut." He smiled at Mamm.

    You say that every morning, Emery. She winked at him and brought the platter of eggs and bacon to the table.

    Breakfast was Abigail’s favorite time of the day. She enjoyed the playful banter between her parents and the lively chatter during the meal. The day wouldn’t be the same if the boys didn’t complain about having to go to school, or Sadie didn’t prod them along to eat faster so they wouldn’t be late. Her younger sister loved school while Peter and Daniel couldn’t wait to finish their last year.

    Daed took a sip of coffee and cringed.

    I should have warned you. We’re out of sugar. Mamm turned her attention to Abigail and lifted her brows.

    I’m sorry. I made extra batches of oatmeal and more peanut-butter cookies to sell at the market.

    Her mother’s brows remained arched.

    And four apple pies, but I’ll pick up more sugar when I’m in town today.

    Mamm nodded. "Okay, but next time at least leave enough for your father’s morning kaffi."

    I will. She glanced at her father’s scowling face. I promise. She waited a moment for the deep lines between his eyes to soften. "Can I borrow your horse and buggy to take mei cookies and pies into town? I won’t be gone long, and I’ll feed and brush Molly when I—" She glimpsed at her mother’s stern expression. The one she made when Abigail started rambling. According to her mother, Abigail’s mouth buzzed like bees. Lately Mamm had begun making buzzing noises whenever she thought Abigail was talking zealously. Abigail sucked in a breath and took a half-second to let her mother believe she was organizing her thoughts better, then opened her mouth to continue.

    I already asked to use it. David shoved a forkful of fried potatoes into his mouth.

    Her father nodded toward her older brother.

    Abigail sank lower in her chair. Ever since her brother’s horse became pregnant, David had dominated her father’s horse when it wasn’t in use. Knowing David, he wasn’t heading into town either. The entire family expected him to announce his engagement to Sally by Christmas.

    James is picking me up, Elizabeth said. You can ride into town with us.

    Normally she avoided being the third wheel, but carrying the extra pies would make the five-mile hike to town unbearable. "Danki," she said softly, demonstrating enough reserve to make her mother’s lips stretch into a tight smile.

    Abigail stood and collected the dirty dishes from the table. She wanted to clean the kitchen before James arrived.

    A short time later, the washed dishes were drying on a dish towel, and Abigail was busy sweeping the floor when Elizabeth announced James’s arrival. Abigail emptied the dirt from the dustpan into the trash can. "Can I mop later, Mamm?"

    "Jah, geh on." Mamm made a shooing motion with her hand, dismissing her and Elizabeth.

    Abigail put on her cloak and scarf, then grabbed the basket of baked goods. "Guder mariye, James." Abigail climbed into the backseat.

    He flicked his brows at Elizabeth seated beside him, then offered a polite but tight smile to Abigail. Where are you off to today?

    Gingerich’s Market, please. Abigail hugged her basket. Perhaps if she increased the price of the fruitcakes, she would reach her goal faster and wouldn’t have to tag along on rides. Are you getting ready for Christmas?

    Oh, I think so. This time when he glanced at Elizabeth, his face was flushed.

    The trip into Centreville would have been silent had Abigail not kept the conversation going. She talked about the weather, the frozen pond where the youth gathered to skate, and how their town came to life during Christmastime with its lampposts decorated with wreaths and bows.

    Well, here you go. James stopped the buggy next to Gingerich’s.

    "Danki for the ride. Abigail climbed out. I’ll walk home. Mei basket will be empty." She also didn’t want to wait in town until Elizabeth’s shift was over at The Quilter’s Square. She waved at her sister as the buggy jerked forward. If she read James’s expression right, her younger sister would be engaged by Christmas. Abigail sighed. Next year would be a busy wedding season if her brother and sister both became engaged. Where had she gone wrong? She tapped her basket and proceeded into the building. At least she would have her own horse soon.

    The bell above the door jingled as she entered the small country store. The woodsy scent of evergreen made her inhale appreciatively. Fran, the owner’s daughter, loved changing the scented candles to match the season. The pumpkin spice during the fall was nice, but Abigail much preferred the evergreen. She approached the register, stood a moment, then proceeded toward the supply room at the back of the store, the wooden plank floor creaking under her feet. Abigail stopped midstep when she overheard Fran’s voice coming from behind the row of dry goods.

    Maybe you should ask Elizabeth Kemp, Micah, Fran said. I know she doesn’t get too many hours at The Quilter’s Square. She might be able to help you out.

    Abigail’s ears perked at the mention of her sister’s name. She hurried around the corner and, not paying attention, ran into a wooden barrel of kidney beans. The nearly empty barrel wobbled, and Micah Zook grabbed it before it tipped.

    You okay? He steadied the bin.

    "Jah—I, ah . . ." Heat rushed to her face. I overheard you talking about mei sister. She pivoted and faced Fran. I brought more cookies and four pies. They’re all apple. Do you think they will sell? I figured everyone had their fill of pumpkin with Thanksgiving only a week ago.

    Micah cleared his throat. "Danki for the suggestion, Fran. He took a few sideways steps toward the door. I’ll stop back later

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