The Redemption of Sarah Cainby Beverly Lewis
A thoroughly modern woman, Sarah Cain has long disdained her sister's Plain lifestyle. But when news comes of her sister's death, Sarah is stunned to learn she has been named guardian of her children. How can Sarah sacrifice her successful career and a life she enjoys to raise five Amish orphans she barely knows? Besides, Sarah is harboring a secret grief of her own...Will the sorrow that divides them ultimately unite the new family?
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The Redemption of Sarah Cain
By Beverly Lewis
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2007 Beverly Lewis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSarah perched on the edge of her king-sized canopy bed, thinking ahead to her day as she did each morning, before she ever skimmed her pedicured feet into lush slippers and plodded across the bedroom suite of her urban town home.
Still drowsy, she turned up the volume on her clock radio, preset to Portland's premier classical station. She reveled in the music of Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor, never tiring of the piece-especially the Intermezzo with its colorful, refined harmonic language. She allowed the fantasia-like work to sweep over her. As she did, she focused on a brass picture frame on the round bedside table. A doll-faced child with wide blue eyes and an eternal smile gazed back at her.
Sighing, she ran her fingers through her shoulder-length hair, staring hard at the youngster's angelic face. No matter the pain the picture evoked, she must keep the memory of this child alive. Because, at twenty-eight, Sarah fairly flew from one appointment to the next-morning, noon, and night-never sitting still after this one brief retrospective moment each day.
* * *
Bright and unseasonably warm, the day was marred only by occasional clouds dotting the western horizon. The local meteorologist declared the noon hour "shirt-sleeve weather." Unusual for Oregon in winter.
Sarah was glad she'd worn a rather subdued, yet regal, gold blouse under her tailored brown vest, because by midafternoon she'd had to shed her suit jacket. Thumbing through a file marked "Hughes," she placed it neatly into her leather over-the-shoulder briefcase. Eager to be punctual for her next appointment-an important visit with a wealthy client-she waved a fleeting good-bye to Heidi Norton, the desk receptionist.
The doors of Alexander's Realty would remain open a few more hours, but she-the star real estate broker-would be absent. Last year's top-selling businesswoman was heading toward the area of Washington Park to meet with a new client, Willard Hughes. She held within her professional grasp the potential sale of luxury town homes on the city's prestigious west side, making the prospect of meeting Hughes all the sweeter. If she nailed the deal today, Sarah could literally beat out the realty owner for monthly sales. All competition aside, Bill Alexander would be more than elated. He would be amazed at the strength of her numbers. Late January, to boot.
The drive across town was a relatively short one, and the meager flow of traffic was in her favor. Catching her reflection in the rearview mirror, she scrutinized her naturally blond hair before turning the ignition key. She had purposely made the decision to book the upcoming appointment prior to rush hour.
The sun had moved across the sky, unyielding yet invigorating. As she drove, she relaxed in the driver's seat, enjoying the leather comfort. Having suffered through her youthful years of lower-middle-class living, she was still surprised to be able to afford such luxury.
She gazed at the intricate dashboard and stroked the leather-covered steering wheel of her new BMW. Pricey, though she'd negotiated a good deal for herself as always.
Scanning the radio, she stopped at the easy-listening jazz station. The gentle lament of a saxophone soothed her, and she settled into a mellow and relaxed awareness. While she'd never thought it possible, her emotions had actually resumed a fairly even keel in the past year.
Just as she turned off Route 26 at Capitol Highway, her cell phone rang. "Sarah speaking," she answered.
"There's a long-distance call for you." She recognized the bright, melodious voice of Heidi, the receptionist. "Can you take it?"
She glanced at the digital clock on the dash. "I'm running late. Who's on the line?"
"A young woman ... she says her name's Lydia Cottrell-your niece."
Sarah felt the crease of her brow. Hesitantly, she said, "Go ahead, put her through."
While she waited, Sarah recalled a recent letter from Ivy, Lydia's mother. Older than herself by six years, Ivy-and her outlandish husband-had chosen a completely foreign life-style, against the better judgment of their family and friends. Even Sarah, at the young age of seventeen, had been mystified when her sister joined the Amish. But that was a long time ago and "plenty of water under the bridge," as Ivy liked to say. Yet, to Sarah's constant frustration, Ivy seemed to seize every opportunity to justify the impulsive move, perhaps in hopes of making a convert of Sarah. Ivy's most recent letter, however, had a strangely different tone. Not so moralizing as tender, even compassionate.
"Hullo?" A fragile female voice came on the line. "Is this Aunt Sarah?"
Having not seen Ivy's daughter in twelve years, Sarah scarcely knew what to say. "Lydia, what can I do for you?"
"I'm awful sorry. Honestly, I don't know how to break this news to you." The girl paused, saying no more.
"What is it, dear?"
Nearly breathless, Lydia continued. "Mamma's gone ... passed away this morning. Her heart gave out."
She winced. Ivy, my sister-dead?
Sarah's hand steadied the steering wheel as she grappled with the reality. At last, she managed to speak. "I ... I'm terribly sorry." Struggling to gather her thoughts, Sarah said no more as the shocking news pierced her soul.
"Mamma's funeral will be at Noah and Susie Lapp's house, three days from now ... Friday morning," Lydia went on. "The burial's to be on Glendorn Hill, next to our father's grave."
Her niece's words struck a dissonant chord. Sarah had no idea where Glendorn Hill was located, having not made the effort to attend her brother-in-law's funeral. And now, as her thoughts were in a turmoil, she was uncertain as to whether she would attend Ivy's services, as well.
"Mamma's lawyer will be callin' you real soon," Lydia said gently, her voice quavering.
She wondered what the attorney wanted but would not question her niece about legal matters. It was obvious Ivy's daughter was suffering deep grief. "Is someone there able to help with the funeral arrangements?" she asked.
"Oh my, yes," Lydia replied. "No worry 'bout that."
They said hurried good-byes, but only after Sarah offered obligatory inquiries about the other children. Then, clicking off the cell phone, she drove several miles before steering the sedan toward a parking lot. She stopped the car and leaned her head against the neck rest, forcing the air past her lips.
"Mamma's gone ... passed away this morning."
Lydia's dismal words persisted in Sarah's mind, echoing again and again. Yet she shouldn't have been too surprised, aware of the fact that heart disease ran in her family on both sides. With that knowledge came a new realization. As far as her immediate family was concerned, she was now alone in the world.
Lowering the visor, she shielded her eyes, pondering Lydia's indication that Ivy's lawyer would be calling. What could the Lancaster attorney-any legal counsel, for that matter-possibly wish to convey to her?
The remaining hours of the day passed as if in slow motion. Sarah managed to close the coveted deal with Hughes, but the details of the transaction seemed nearly surreal. In fact, every movement, every thought, every word was colored by the recent news.
Ivy was dead.
* * *
Much to Sarah's chagrin, Ivy's attorney phoned her at home that evening just as she was updating paper work for the future closing of today's sale. He introduced himself as Charles Eberley of Lancaster County. "I don't believe we've met, but your sister certainly spoke highly of you."
Ivy spoke highly of me? His comment surprised her.
"Perhaps we'll have an opportunity to get better acquainted at the funeral."
"Oh, well, I'm sorry to say ... I don't know if I can see my way clear to make it." Her words seemed flat, even to her ears.
"It's imperative that you come to Pennsylvania, Ms. Cain, and as soon as possible. It's important for you to be on hand for the official reading of Ivy's last will and testament."
"When is the reading?" she asked.
"Next Thursday, two o'clock in the afternoon."
Sarah could not imagine making the long trip. Not for the mere sake of hearing that she was to be the recipient of one or more of Ivy's handmade Amish quilts or doilies. "Please, Mr. Eberley," she spoke up. "Anything belonging to Ivy should-must-be passed along to her children."
"Are you saying you won't be coming?"
"That is correct."
He was silent briefly. "It seems you've made up your mind." "Anything my sister wished for me to have ought to go to her children," she insisted again, hoping to conclude the conversation. "My sister would not have wanted it any other way."
Eberley paused again. Then-"Listen, Ms. Cain, Ivy specifically requested that I not reveal the contents of the will unless you were physically present. Which is precisely why you must come to Lancaster." He continued. "Besides Ivy Cottrell's children, are you not her only living blood relation?"
"Then you will come, won't you?"
Sarah was surprised by his persistence, but she refused to commit to anything. She truly intended to put him off. For how long, she didn't know.
An absurd possibility crossed her mind. What if Ivy had named Sarah the legal guardian of her five children?
"I'll have to get back with you, Mr. Eberley," she said tersely. "Good-bye." She did not wait for his reply. She hung up, feeling the heat in her neck rise to her cheeks. What an unlikely and ridiculous notion-the acquiring of her sister's ready-made family. Sarah chuckled at her own rampant imagination. Surely that was not the reasoning behind Charles Eberley's urgency.
Regardless, she had no intention of returning his call.
Excerpted from The Redemption of Sarah Cain by Beverly Lewis Copyright © 2007 by Beverly Lewis. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in eleven languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family. Learn more at www.beverlylewis.com.
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