A Seat by the Hearth

A Seat by the Hearth

by Amy Clipston
A Seat by the Hearth

A Seat by the Hearth

by Amy Clipston

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Overview

Priscilla Allgyer, a young single mother, knows she cannot leave the past behind. But can love lead her toward the promise of healing?

Priscilla Allgyer left her community to escape the expectations of Amish life. Now, years later, she is forced to return—along with her six-year-old son—to the place she thought she’d left behind forever. Though once estranged from her family, Priscilla is welcomed by her mother, but her father is cold and strict. He allows Priscilla to stay with them provided she dresses plainly, confesses her sins, and agrees to marry within the community. Once again, she feels suffocated, trapped, and alone.

As Priscilla reluctantly completes her shunning, she catches the eye of Mark Riehl, a farmer with a playboy reputation. Wary of Mark, Priscilla barely gives him the time of day—while Mark, unused to being ignored by the women of Bird-in-Hand, won’t give up the pursuit of her friendship. Priscilla desperately needs a friend in Mark, even if she doesn’t realize it—and after Priscilla’s father and the bishop catch her and Mark in a compromising situation, their relationship becomes more complicated than ever.

As affection quietly grows between them, Priscilla struggles to open her heart and reveal the painful secrets of her past. As Mark works to earn her good faith, can they both learn the hard lessons of love and trust? And can two friends discover a happiness that only God himself could have designed? The third book in the Amish Homestead series, A Seat by the Hearth invites us back to the Lancaster community where friendships are forged and love overcomes all.

  • Sweet, inspirational read
  • Full-length novel (92 K words)
  • Third book in Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead series
  • Can also be enjoyed as a standalone
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310349082
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 11/13/2018
Series: An Amish Homestead Novel , #3
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 436,680
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Amy Clipston is an award-winning bestselling author and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She's sold more than one million books, and her fiction writing "career" began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan University and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at Amy Clipston.com; Facebook: @Amy Clipston Books; Twitter: @Amy Clipston; Instagram: @amy_clipston; Book Bub: @Amy Clipston.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Priscilla Allgyer's hands trembled as her taxi sped down the two-lane road. When the Allgyer's Belgian and Dutch Harness Horses sign came into view, her stomach seemed to twist.

She turned to her son, who'd nodded off in the booster seat beside her.

"Ethan." She nudged him. "Ethan, wake up. We're here."

"Already?" His honey-brown eyes fluttered open as he yawned. "But I just fell asleep." He peered out the window as the Prius steered up the winding rock driveway.

When they reached the top, she could see her father's line of red barns and stables. She'd been away for eight years, but all the buildings looked as pristine as if they'd just been painted. Perhaps they had. The white split-rail fence lining the enormous, lush, rolling green pasture where his beautiful horses frolicked looked the same. The large, two-story whitewashed house where she was born and raised seemed just as immaculate. Every building, every blade of grass on her father's horse farm was as impeccable as she remembered.

If only her childhood had been as perfect.

"This is where you grew up, Mom?"

"Yes." Her chest constricted as the taxi bumped over the rocks. She cleared her throat and tried to shake off the apprehension coiling through her. When she left all those years ago, she promised she'd never return.

But here she was with nothing but a few dollars to her name and a child she'd had out of wedlock.

"It's nice." Ethan pointed to the row of barns after unbuckling himself. "It's a horse farm?" She nodded. Ethan lowered his window, and the humid July air mixed with the familiar aroma of moist earth and horses permeated the taxi and overpowered her senses.

"I can touch the horses?"

She shrugged. "I imagine so." If my father even allows us to stay. She shoved that thought away. Aside from a few nights in a motel and then a homeless shelter, her parents were her only hope.

Priscilla would do anything to give her son a safe home.

When she noticed movement in the corner of her vision, she turned toward her father's largest barn. The door had swung open, and a man stood with his back to the driveway. He looked taller than Robert Yoder, the farmhand who had worked for her father since she was a teenager. His shoulders seemed broader too. The taxi came to a halt in front of the house, and Priscilla's attention was drawn to her childhood home. Her palms began to sweat as she studied the wraparound porch. Her father's harsh voice and biting criticisms echoed in her mind, and when she closed her eyes and rubbed her temples against a coming headache, she could still see his disappointed face.

This was a mistake. Her father would never forgive her. Maybe they should have stayed in Baltimore with Trent. Her left hand moved to her right bicep, hidden by the three-quarter sleeve of her purple shirt. The situation there might have improved if she'd tried harder to keep Trent happy.

But it wasn't safe to keep Ethan in that environment! It was her duty to protect her son.

"Miss?" The taxi driver turned to face her. "I think we're here." Priscilla had just opened her mouth to respond when a tap near Ethan's open window startled her. She spun toward it and was surprised to find Mark Riehl peering in.

"Can I help —" He stopped, recognition sparkling in his bright-blue eyes. "Priscilla?"

"Mark. Hi." She tried to force a smile, but it felt more like a grimace.

"Your dat didn't mention you were coming home today." He glanced toward the house and then back at her.

"I didn't tell either of my parents I was coming." Her throat suddenly felt bone-dry.

"Oh." He smiled. "They're going to be surprised." That was an understatement. "Yes, they sure are."

Mark turned his attention to Ethan and smiled. "Hi. I'm Mark." He extended his arm through the open window, and Ethan shook his hand.

"Hi. I'm Ethan. I'm six and a half. We're here to visit my grandparents."

"It's nice to meet you." Mark grinned as his eyes flickered back to Priscilla.

She swallowed a groan. Why did Mark Riehl, one of her schoolmates and an acquaintance from her youth group, have to be at her father's farm when she arrived? Coming home was difficult enough. Facing a peer from her past made it even more painful. News of her arrival would rage through the community like wildfire, and she was certain that judgment would follow.

"Miss?" The driver faced her again. "Are you going to get out of the car? Or do you want me to take you somewhere else?"

Priscilla hesitated as anxiety gushed through her. If she told the driver to take her to the nearest motel, she and Ethan could try this again tomorrow. But Mark had already seen her and —

"Let's go, Mom!" Ethan's insistence broke through her thoughts.

Mark stepped back from the door as Ethan wrenched it open, climbed out of the taxi, and started for the front porch. Mark bent down and leaned inside. "Do you have any luggage?"

"Yes, I do." She pointed toward the trunk. "We have two big suitcases."

"I'll get them for you." Mark tapped the roof to signal the driver to open the trunk, pushed the door closed, and then disappeared around the back of the car.

Priscilla paid the fare and thanked the driver before getting out. The stifling heat slammed into her like a brick wall as she turned to where Mark had both suitcases already sitting on the driveway.

"Ethan," Mark called as he closed the trunk, "why don't you come pull one of these suitcases to the bottom of those steps for me?"

"Okay!" Ethan jogged back down the porch steps and grabbed the handle of one of the suitcases before bumping it along the rock path.

Priscilla fingered the strap of her purse as the yellow taxi steered back down the driveway. She should have asked the driver to take them to a motel. Her mother might welcome her, but her father would most likely slam the door in her face.

"Priscilla?"

She looked up and found Mark studying her. He seemed taller than she remembered. While he'd always been taller than she was, as were most of her peers, he looked as if he towered over her five-foot-two stature by at least eight inches. Not only were his shoulders broader than she recalled, but his striking blue eyes seemed even more intelligent. He was more handsome than she remembered, too, with his light-brown hair, strong jaw, and electric smile.

He had an easy demeanor as well, and she bit back a frown. Mark Riehl had always been aware of just how attractive he was, and he enjoyed the attention of all the young women who followed him around, waiting for him to choose one of them to be his girlfriend.

Mark's twin sister, Laura, had been one of her best friends, but Mark had never seemed to notice Priscilla. No one did. She'd always felt as if she faded into the background with all the young men in their youth group. They noticed Laura and the other, prettier young women instead.

A smile turned up the corners of Mark's lips. "Are you ready to go into the haus?" He nodded toward the front porch. "Your dat walked inside a few minutes ago. I think your mamm is making supper."

"Mom!" Ethan's voice held a thread of whining as he called from the porch steps. "I'm hungry, and I need to use the bathroom."

"I'm coming." She started up the path with Mark at her side, and an awkward silence fell between them.

"What's that house for?" Ethan pointed toward the small cottage behind her parents' large farmhouse.

"That's called the daadihaus."

Ethan snickered. "The what house?"

"It's where my grandparents lived when I was little." Her heart felt heavy at the memory of her father's mother, who was widowed when Priscilla was still just a toddler. If only Mammi were still alive. She would've welcomed her and her son home. "My father's farmhand, Robert Yoder, lives there."

"He doesn't live there anymore." Mark lifted the suitcase he'd been pulling and carried it up the porch steps. "He quit a little over a year ago and moved to Ohio with his new fraa."

"What's a fraw?" Ethan scrunched his nose.

"Fraa means wife." Priscilla turned back to Mark. "Robert moved to Ohio?"

"Ya." He set down the suitcase. "He met a woman who was here visiting relatives, and they fell in love. They married, and he moved to Ohio, where she was from." He went back down the steps for the second suitcase.

"Who's working for my father, then?"

"I am." When Mark reached the porch again, he opened the screen door and set each suitcase inside the family room. Then he held the door open for her and Ethan.

Questions swirled through her mind. Why would Mark work for her father when his own father owned a dairy farm? Wouldn't he be expected to help run the family business?

As she followed Ethan into the house, memories mixed with the smell of fried chicken wafted over her. She scanned the family room. It was just as she remembered. The two brown sofas her parents purchased before she was born still sat in the middle of the room, flanked by their favorite tan wing chairs. The two propane lamps and the matching oak end tables and coffee table were the same too.

The doorway at the far side of the room led to a hallway that led to her parents' bedroom and a bathroom. The staircase to the four upstairs bedrooms and another bathroom sat to her left. The stairs seemed to beckon her to venture to the second floor to see if her old room was still decorated the way it was when she'd snuck out of the house that night, leaving a note promising to never return.

Ethan took her hand in his and tugged. "Where are my grandparents?"

"Your grandmother is probably through there." Priscilla pointed to the doorway to her right.

Taking a deep breath, she steered Ethan into the large kitchen. Her mother stood at the stove, her back to the doorway, turning over pieces of chicken with a pair of metal tongs.

"Yonnie, I told you I would call you when supper was ready." She lowered the f lame and half turned around. When her eyes focused on Priscilla and Ethan, she gasped and whirled. The tongs dropped to the floor with a clatter. "Priscilla?"

"Hi, Mamm." Tears stung Priscilla's eyes.

Mamm's mouth worked, but no words escaped.

"Hi." Ethan skipped over to her. "I'm Ethan, your grandson." He looked back at Priscilla over his shoulder. "How do you say grandson in Dutch?"

"Gross-sohn," Priscilla responded, her voice thick with raging emotion.

Mamm made a strangled noise and pulled Ethan into her arms. "My prayers have been answered!"

Priscilla wiped her eyes as guilt, hot and biting, nearly overcame her.

Mark leaned against the doorframe and folded his arms over his chest. "You haven't taught him Dutch." It was a statement, not a question.

"No." She shook her head. "His father didn't like me to speak it."

"Huh." Mark rubbed his clean-shaven chin.

"Priscilla." Mamm closed the distance between them and pulled her into a crushing hug, forcing the air from Priscilla's lungs. Then she stepped back and touched Priscilla's face. "You look tired."

"It's been a long day." Priscilla looked up at her mother, taking in her affectionate, dark-brown eyes and pretty face. Lines reflected the eight years that had passed.

"I can't believe you're here." A sheen of tears glistened in her eyes as she caressed the thick ponytail that cascaded past Priscilla's shoulders to the middle of her back. "Why didn't you call or write so I could prepare? I would have had your favorite meal ready for you."

"This wasn't planned. I mean, I had been hoping to come visit, but I ... Well, I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to ..." Her hand fluttered to her right bicep again.

There was so much she wanted to share with her mother, but she couldn't hurt her that way. Besides, they had an audience. Not only was Ethan there, but Mark Riehl, a man she'd never trust with her deepest secrets, was still watching them.

"I wanted to surprise you." Priscilla tried to smile, but her mother's eyes were assessing her. Mamm could probably sense she wasn't telling the truth.

"Are you back for gut?" Mamm touched Priscilla's cheek again.

"Possibly. Would that be okay?" Priscilla could hear the humiliating thread of supplication in her voice. She cleared her throat and glanced at Ethan, who had taken a seat at the long kitchen table where Priscilla had eaten all her meals while growing up.

"Of course it will be okay." Mamm nodded with emphasis. "This is still your home."

WillD at agree with that? Priscilla felt her lips press together with apprehension.

"Would you like me to carry the suitcases upstairs for you?" Mark asked.

Priscilla spun toward the doorway. Mark shifted his weight on his feet as if he were eager to leave.

"No, I think I can handle them, but thanks for offering."

Mark lifted an eyebrow. "They're pretty heavy. I don't mind carrying them up for you before I go." He gestured toward the suitcases. "Just let me know where you want them."

"It's fine. Really," Priscilla said, insisting.

Mark nodded. "All right. It was nice seeing you. I'll head home now." He nodded at her mother. "I'll see you tomorrow, Edna. Gut nacht." He turned to go.

"No, wait," Mamm called after him. "Stay for supper." Priscilla studied her mother. Why would her mother invite Mark to stay? Did she think his presence might keep her father from lashing out?

"Danki, but I need to get home." He jammed his thumb toward the front door. "Mei schweschder and her family are coming over for supper tonight."

"Laura?" Priscilla asked, her heart swelling with affection for her best friend. How she'd missed both Laura and their mutual best friend, Savilla Lapp, over the years. Leaving them behind had been almost as difficult as leaving her mother.

"Ya." Mark smiled. "She'll be froh to hear you're back."

"Oh. Tell her I said hello." Would Laura accept her back into the community after learning she'd had a child out of wedlock?

"I will."

A door clicked shut somewhere in the house, and then Mark looked toward the far end of the family room. "Hi, Yonnie. I was just getting ready to leave."

"Where did these suitcases come from? Is someone here visiting? Why didn't I know about this?"

Priscilla trembled at the sound of Dat's voice. The moment had arrived. Her father might tell her and Ethan to leave. She held her breath and sent a silent prayer to God.

Please let him take pity on Ethan and me. I need to stay until I can earn enough money to rent a safe place for us. Please help me be the mother Ethan deserves.

"Yonnie!" Mamm called. "You have to see who's here! It's a miracle."

"Ethan." Priscilla held out her hand. "Come here and meet your grandfather."

Ethan crossed the kitchen to stand next to her, a smile spreading across his face. Surely her father wouldn't break her son's heart. Dat appeared in the kitchen doorway, and although his dark-brown hair was now threaded with gray, he was the same tall, wide, overbearing man she remembered.

"Priscilla?" He seemed surprised, but then the look in his dark eyes turned fierce. "What are you wearing?" His eyes moved up and down her attire.

Her cheeks heated as she brushed her sweaty palms over her worn jeans.

Dat's face transformed into a deep scowl as his eyes trained on hers again. "Why isn't your head covered?" His words seemed to punch her in the stomach.

"I'll get you a headscarf." Mamm hurried into the utility room off the kitchen.

"Yonnie," Mark called from behind her father. "I'm going to leave."

Priscilla had forgotten Mark was standing there until he spoke, and she longed to run and hide under the table. Why did he have to witness this painful and embarrassing conversation? When her father didn't respond, Mark stayed put. Why didn't he just leave? He'd already said good-bye.

"Who is this?" Dat pointed to Ethan.

"My son." Priscilla's voice was soft and shaky. Why did she allow her father to steal her confidence? She forced herself to stand a little taller as she addressed him. Then she turned to Ethan. She had to shield him from her father's festering anger and disapproval.

"Why don't you go use the bathroom in the hallway?" She pointed toward the family room. "Just walk through there. You'll see the door to the bathroom down on the right."

Ethan hesitated, dividing a look between Priscilla and her father. Then he nodded and hurried off.

"Didn't Mamm tell you about him? We exchanged letters."

Dat looked toward the utility room. "Your mamm didn't tell me she wrote to you. I told her any contact with you is forbidden because you're shunned." His icy voice seemed to bounce off the cabinets before seeping through her skin.

"Here you go." Mamm appeared beside her with a light-blue scarf. "Put this over your hair. I kept your dresses, so you can put one on tomorrow." She gave Priscilla a smile that seemed more forced than genuine.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "A Seat by the Hearth"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Amy Clipston.
Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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