The Heart's Journey: Stitches in Time Series - Book 2by Barbara Cameron
Naomi knows she should be excited about her upcoming wedding but she remains unmoved. Not only are her feelings for her fiance lackluster but she believes he may see her more as a servant than a partner. And he's so controlling. Is it too late to back out of the marriage? While praying for God's guidance, Naomi takes a break from her duties as a quilter and travels… See more details below
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Naomi knows she should be excited about her upcoming wedding but she remains unmoved. Not only are her feelings for her fiance lackluster but she believes he may see her more as a servant than a partner. And he's so controlling. Is it too late to back out of the marriage? While praying for God's guidance, Naomi takes a break from her duties as a quilter and travels with her grandmother to Pinecraft, Florida. Along the way Naomi finds herself becoming attracted to Nick, their Englisch driver and friend, and the two begin to fall in love. The journey soon becomes one in which Naomi explores her most secret dream for love. But can she veer off the "safe" path she'd envisioned for her life to marry Nick?
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The Heart's Journey
Stitches in Time Series
By Barbara Cameron
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2012 Barbara Cameron
All rights reserved.
She should be the happiest young woman in Paradise.
But Naomi dreaded being asked about her upcoming wedding. She feared she'd scream if one more person asked her about it.
Marriage in her Amish community was more traditional than an Englisch marriage, to be sure. But she'd never thought she'd have to change so much to please the man she would soon marry.
Sighing, she set her quilting aside, got up, and walked over to look out the front window. Business had been brisk that morning at Stitches in Time, the shop where she worked with her grandmother and two cousins.
Stitches in time ... and place: she and her two cousins were working together as they had played and studied together all their lives. Their wise grandmother had bought this place and they'd all fixed it up, and now they created items for sale. Naomi quilted, Mary Katherine was a master weaver, Anna knitted, and their grandmother, Leah, created little Amish dolls and other crafts. They were two generations of Amish women who were bound by strong threads to each other as well as to their creativity and their community.
Here in this shop crowded with colorful quilts and hand-knitted items, with fabrics galore and every single thing you could ever need to quilt or knit or sew ... well, she should feel like she was in heaven—working on a quilt and helping customers at this very successful shop, with family members who loved her.
Instead, she felt more and more false, covering up how she felt, wearing a mask each day.
"Looking for someone?" her grandmother asked, smiling as she looked up from tallying the day's receipts. "Is John coming to pick you up after work?"
Everyone thought it was a sign of his attachment, his devotion to her, that he came for her nearly every day after work. In fact, it was a way of keeping track of her, of making certain that she didn't make other plans.
She'd become so cynical. It was enough to make her sigh but she noticed her grandmother was still watching her.
"Ya," she said, pasting a smile on her face.
She walked back to sit and stitch on her quilt. Its bright, cheerful pattern of watermelon slices with little black ants marching across it should have propped up her sagging mood. Anna had already said it would be perfect for the summer window display with some props to make it look like it could be used for a picnic.
Off she'd gone to plan what she'd knit for the display, then badgered Mary Katherine and her grandmother for what they'd make.
Naomi glanced over at Mary Katherine when she heard quiet humming. "What are you making?"
"Some fabric for big floor pillows," she said, looking up. "You don't think this looks or feels too ... rough or nubby, do you?"
"I think it looks really sturdy for a kid's room or for outdoor use. The pillows'll fly out of the shop."
Nodding, Mary Katherine went back to weaving and humming, weaving and humming.
That was what a woman who was happily married and had recently celebrated her first anniversary looked like, Naomi thought. Happy, content. Dreamy. She and Jacob were a good match. They'd been friends since they were scholars in the same school, and when he'd thought he'd lose her to Daniel, a charming Amish Mennonite man from exotic-sounding Florida, well, Jacob had woken up and shown her he was the mann for her.
And soon, Naomi would be marrying John. Two cousins married in two years.
Anna was still looking for the right man and enjoying flirting with several young men. The three of them were cousins who looked much alike with their oval faces and brown eyes. Well, Mary Katherine was taller and her hair was more auburn but they looked more like sisters than cousins.
However, Naomi mused, their personalities were so different. She'd often wished she was as outgoing and assertive as Anna or as creative as Mary Katherine, who'd even been invited to speak about her weaving skill at the local college of arts and design.
A shadow fell over her as her grandmother carried some bolts of fabric to the storage room. She heard her talking with Anna and then her cousin emerged, following Leah as she walked back to the cash register. Leah handed her a slip of paper and then opened the cash register and withdrew some money. Anna slipped out the shop door.
Then Leah went to stand at the shop window and she stood there for so long, staring out with an unreadable expression, that Naomi got up and walked over to her.
"Is anything wrong?"
"No, I just sent Anna for pizza for lunch. My treat."
"And you're watching to make sure she gets there?" Naomi asked, smiling indulgently.
"No," Leah said, shaking her head and laughing. "Although Anna has been known to dilly-dally."
Turning, Leah sighed. "I'm just feeling a little restless, maybe a little moody, that's all. I have to confess, I'm not usually pessimistic, but I'm not looking forward to another winter here in Lancaster."
"That's a ways off, Grandmother."
"I know. Just ignore me. Like I said, I'm a little restless and moody. This probably started it." She held up a postcard of a scene in Florida. "Daniel's mother is trying to get me to come down to Pinecraft for a visit."
"Well, maybe you should this time. It'd do you some good. All you do is work here and at home."
For the first time she noticed that her grandmother—just in her fifties—looked tired. Older.
Anna bustled in, carrying a pizza box that smelled of pepperoni. "Come on, everybody, let's eat it before it gets cold."
"Or before you eat it all," Mary Katherine teased as she got up from her loom. "I'm starved. I'm so hungry all the time lately." She stopped as she realized the three women were staring at her. "What?"
"All the time?" Leah asked, a hopeful note in her voice.
"I've been working a lot lately. It's not easy juggling a job here and being a farm wife, you know. Sometimes I forget to eat."
Anna shoved the pizza box at Naomi, who fumbled to catch it and winced as one of her wrists complained.
Walking over to Mary Katherine, Anna counted on the fingers of one hand. "You could be ..." she trailed off meaningfully.
"Could be what?"
Anna patted her cheek. "Think about it," she said. "You're a bright girl."
Mary Katherine followed her into the back room. "Oh, honestly, you all want me to have a boppli so badly that you started making comments a month after I was married."
"It can happen that fast," Naomi told her.
"Yes, and we know it can happen even before marriage, no matter what community people live in."
Mary Katherine goggled at Anna's words. "You're not suggesting Jacob and I anticipated our vows, are you?"
"No, dear, although some of those looks the two of you exchanged when you thought no one was looking were quite sizzling." Anna waved her hand as if she were overheated. "I wondered if flames would erupt."
She took the pizza from Naomi and sailed toward the kitchen.
"Well, she's certainly not moping around today," Naomi remarked.
"She never is, especially this particular month," Leah noted, jerking her head toward the calendar. "I don't want to see her depressed but there's such a thing as covering up your feelings that can be harmful. I'm hoping she's not doing that."
Frowning, she walked toward the back room. Naomi followed and helped get out plates and soft drinks.
She and Anna knew all about covering up their feelings, Naomi thought as she nibbled on her own piece of pizza and found it tasteless.
"Is something wrong with your pizza?" Mary Katherine asked.
"I'm just not very hungry today." She pushed the box closer to her cousin, who took a third piece.
They chatted about the weather—it was the time of year between the too-brief Pennsylvania spring and the always-long summer that drew customers. They'd be returning after they enjoyed a big Amish lunch.
Mercifully, her wedding plans weren't a topic of conversation today. She managed to force down a few bites of pizza, then covered what was left on her plate with her crumpled paper napkin. She rose and walked to the sink to wash her plate and place it in the drying rack.
"Done already?" Leah asked.
"I'm full. I'm going to get back to the quilt. I promised it to a customer by next week."
She sat by herself and sewed on the wedding ring quilt and tried not to think of how one day she and other women would gather around the big quilting frame and stitch hers.
Someone knocked on the window and she jumped. She looked up and saw John staring at her through the glass. But instead of gesturing for her to open the door, which they'd locked so they could eat lunch, he waved carelessly and walked on.
"Who was that?" Leah asked as she walked over to sit in a chair next to Naomi.
Surprised, Leah stared at her. "He didn't want to come in?"
Naomi shook her head. "He was just making sure I was here."
"Where else would you be this time of day?" Leah pulled her chair up to the quilting frame and threaded a needle.
"He likes to make sure I'm where I said I'd be." Her voice sounded flat.
Leah's hands, which had been busily threading her needle, stilled. Her eyes searched Naomi's face. "There's something wrong, isn't there? It's not my imagination."
Naomi started to say it was nothing, but her grandmother placed her hand over hers.
"Tell me," she said quietly. "Tell me."
That's all it took. The floodgates opened.
"John's turned into—into someone I don't know," she said, reaching into her pocket for a tissue. "He tells me what to do and where to be and checks on me all the time. Just like now."
She dabbed at her cheeks. "I want to be obedient and learn to be a good fraa," she said. "But he—he scared me the other night."
"How?" Leah asked, her voice almost a whisper. "How did he scare you?"
Naomi couldn't look her in the eye.
"Tell me, how did he scare you?"
"I went to walk away from him and he grabbed my wrist and hurt me."
Leah reached over and unerringly chose the very wrist John had grabbed. Naomi winced. Her grandmother didn't release it but pushed the sleeve of Naomi's dress back, exposing a bruise.
"I thought you were favoring it," she said, frowning. She looked up at Naomi.
"It only hurts a little," she said, wiping at her cheeks again with her tissue.
"It only hurts a little there, but a lot in your heart." Leah's eyes were damp and filled with sympathy.
"He said he was sorry."
Leah pulled down the sleeve. "And how many other times has he said he's sorry?"
Sobs rose up in her chest. "Too—too many," she admitted.
There was a knock on the door. Naomi jumped.
"You go wash your face," Leah said. "Then let's go in the back room and talk."
"We don't have time. We have to work."
Leah stood. "We'll make time."
True to her word, after Leah opened the door and took care of the customer, she got Anna and Mary Katherine to run the shop while she and Naomi talked.
"You have to break it off with him."
"Counseling is a good idea. For you."
"Me? I'm not the problem."
"But how you responded to John's treatment of you worries me. I want you to think about it. Really think about it." She hesitated, then forged ahead. "I know that some people who act like John can be helped, but I wouldn't count on it. And it's a terrible way to start out in a marriage. I don't want to be harsh or seem unforgiving. But it's too big a risk to take."
Naomi nodded. "I know."
"Next time it could be a bigger injury."
"I know. Don't you think I know?" she burst out. "That's why I kept it to myself."
"Which is what he counted on, so he could exert more control."
Leah got up and paced. "It's so important to make a good match. There's no divorce. You'd be with him until one of you dies."
Naomi shuddered and got up to take some aspirin for the headache that was pounding behind her eyes. She turned to her grandmother. "I don't think I love him anymore."
"Yes, you do," Leah disagreed gently. "Otherwise, you would have spoken up by now."
The door opened and Anna poked her head inside. "Everything okay? We heard Naomi raise her voice."
She glanced at her cousin and saw the tears. "What's wrong?"
Naomi started to say it was nothing but then realized that holding everything in was how all of it had started. "I'm breaking up with John."
She watched one emotion after another chase across Anna's face. "I thought something was wrong, but I could never get you to talk."
"I didn't want to burden anyone."
"You thought I wouldn't understand, didn't you?" Anna asked her. "Happy, carefree Anna hasn't got the depth to understand, right?"
Shocked, Naomi stared at her. "No, I didn't think that at all. But you've had enough sadness."
"You have no idea what I've experienced," Anna said. "Maybe I haven't wanted to face it myself."
With that, she spun on her heel and went out, shutting the door firmly behind her.
"I need to go after her."
Naomi stood but Leah put her hand on her arm, stopping her.
"Let me. I think I know what's wrong. And I've let her get away with it for too long."
Leah hurried after her and Naomi followed, watching helplessly as her grandmother opened the front door of the shop, stepped out, and slipped and fell.CHAPTER 2
Naomi rushed out the door and found her grandmother sitting on the concrete in front of the shop.
Mary Katherine was right behind her. "What happened?"
"Are you all right?" Naomi asked her grandmother as she knelt before her.
"Ya," Leah said quickly. "It was just a little fall. Stupid of me. I wasn't watching where I stepped."
But her face looked pasty white and perspiration dotted her forehead. She reached out her hands. "Help me up. Please."
Naomi and Mary Katherine looked at each other. "Maybe we shouldn't move you."
"I'm fine. The only thing that hurts is my ankle. I probably twisted it a little."
They each took one of her arms and lifted her, but when Leah stood she winced and cried out. "Oh, my ankle! I must have sprained it."
"You could have broken it," Mary Katherine told her.
Slipping their arms around her waist, they guided her slowly back into the shop and set her carefully into a chair. Mary Katherine pulled another chair over and gently lifted Leah's foot and placed it on the seat cushion.
Naomi hurried to the shop telephone.
"Who are you calling?" Leah wanted to know.
"Don't you dare!" she said. "You put that phone down now!"
Shocked at the vehemence in her voice, Naomi did so and nearly said, "Yes, ma'am!"
"You call Nick. Ask him to come take me to the doctor."
Naomi looked at Mary Katherine, who nodded. Resigned, she made the call.
A few minutes later, he was striding into the shop. He was a handsome Englisch man, tall and dark-haired, with piercing green eyes. Although those eyes lit often with laughter as he drove them around, Naomi felt uncomfortable with the way he always seemed to be observing her—studying her.
He was a favorite of Leah's and she often found him visiting her grandmother, clearly enjoying her company as well as the baked goods and coffee she'd fix for him in her kitchen. Naomi often heard him asking questions about the Amish faith in a way that didn't seem like prying or idle curiosity. The two of them seemed to enjoy discussing a passage or a person from the Bible.
Leah looked up from supervising the application of ice on her ankle. "Well, that was quick."
"I happened to be in town. Aren't you the one who's often said there's no such thing as coincidence?"
She nodded, looking serious. "Ya. Well, shall we go? Naomi's already called the doctor and he insisted we go to the hospital and get an X-ray."
"Could have just let me call for an ambulance," Naomi muttered.
"No need to pay for something like that when our Nick is around."
He winked at Naomi. "Let's get you in the car, Leah."
Before she could say anything, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the shop door. Naomi hurried to open it.
"Now there's no need—" Leah began.
"For you to fuss," Nick finished for her. "Gets you up and out faster than helping you and hurting your ankle more."
He gave her one of his intense looks. "Did you hit your head when you fell? Truth, now!"
"I'd say if I did," she said with some tartness. Then her face softened. "Just like you to ask such a thing."
Naomi felt a stab of guilt. She and Mary Katherine had asked their grandmother if she was hurt anywhere besides her ankle, but neither of them had thought to ask that particular question.
He paused at the door. "You coming?"
Excerpted from The Heart's Journey by Barbara Cameron. Copyright © 2012 Barbara Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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
Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the best-selling author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Her books have been nominated for Carol Awards and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award from RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. Barbara resides in Jacksonville, Florida.
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