She's newly widowed, pregnant, and alone. She decides a fresh start is what she needs, but she's not prepared for what comes next ...
Anita is not looking for a replacement husband. Another man is the last thing on her mind, but it seems everyone in her new Amish community has decided her baby needs a father. And that leads to one embarrassing situation after another.
She soon forms a friendship with Simon and wonders why he's been overlooked in everyone's matchmaking schemes.
Can Anita convince everyone that she and her baby are fine on their own?
Will Anita find the courage to take a second chance at love?
Could the man no one sees her with be the very man who captures her heart?
About the Author
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For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
Anita turned around from her front-row window seat position, and looked to confirm that she was the only Amish person traveling on the Greyhound bus. This wasn't the first time she'd traveled by Greyhound; the last time she was on one of their buses was when she and her late husband, Joshua, were traveling to his home in Ohio to start their married life together.
Anita had first met Joshua when he'd visited her community in Lancaster County for a few months to help his uncle. She'd had no idea that eight years later, she'd be traveling back without him along on that very same route.
Her eyes fell to the bump underneath her dress. Their child would arrive in four months and he or she would be a comfort to her.
After Joshua died, she'd lived alone for three months before her younger brother insisted she move back to Lancaster to live with him and his family.
Anita rested her hands on her swollen belly and wondered why Joshua had been taken from her; it didn't seem right. It had taken them eight years to conceive a baby and the day after they'd found out they were going to be parents, he was taken from her. He wouldn't be around to see his baby come into theworld.
She closed her eyes and relived the day when the police knocked on her door to tell her that a pickup truck had collided with Joshua's buggy. The shock of that moment would be burned into her memory forever. As soon as she'd been told what had happened, everything around her spun and she fell to the floor. It seemed as though she had been in a dream. When she came to, the two police officers standing over her provided unwelcome confirmation that it had been no dream. The policemen had been kind. They had explained that Joshua had been rushed to the hospital, and despite the emergency medical technicians doing all they could he'd died on the way.
She was nineteen-years old when she first laid eyes on Joshua Graber; it was when he'd come to a youth singing with his cousins. As soon as their eyes locked on to one another, there was an instant attraction. He was tall and looked strong; he had a sense of maturity about him which the boys in her community lacked.
"True love is what it was," Anita mumbled to herself before she realized the man sitting next to her probably overheard her. She looked over at the elderly man, and he gave her a quick smile.
Talking to herself was a habit she'd acquired after she'd been living on her own. She didn't see anything wrong with talking to herself. It's just like thinking thoughts, but said aloud, she'd tell herself.
Oh, Joshua, I wish you were here with me now. I miss you so much. Anita fought back tears; she'd have to be strong for her baby. She wondered what it would be like for her baby to grow up without a father. When she and Joshua had been hoping and praying for a baby, they never considered for one minute that Joshua might not be around.
Anita was distracted from her thoughts when the man next to her folded his newspaper into his lap and looked at her. "Are you heading home?" he asked.
She smiled at him. She'd rather not talk to anyone, but the man did look kind. "Yes. I'm heading home."
The man smiled at her and gave a slight nod.
The truth was she didn't know where her home was anymore. Was her home with her family, or was her home back in the house that Joshua and she had shared? Anita had to will herself to stop the tears welling in her eyes. If Joshua were still alive, her home would be anywhere he was. With him gone, nowhere seemed like home.
She could see the man wasn't going to stop talking when he said, "Been visiting people, have you?"
"I've been living in Ohio, and now I'm moving back to Lancaster County. My husband died and now I'm going back to live with my brother and his family."
"Ah, I'm very sorry to hear that. Not about living with your brother, I'm sure that's a comfort to you. I'm sorry about you losing your husband." The man looked genuinely sad, which somehow made Anita feel a little better. "I lost my wife a few years ago, so I know what it's like." The man inhaled deeply.
Tears fell down her cheeks. Now she was sad for the man next to her as well as sad for herself. She wiped her wet cheeks with the back of her hand . The man handed her a handkerchief from his pocket.
"Thank you." Anita wiped her eyes and took a deep breath.
"It gets easier over time."
He nodded. After a moment, he said, "You having ababy?"
She was taken aback by his question; she wasn't used to discussing her condition with strangers. He'd been the only person who'd guessed she was expecting because her large dresses hid the bump well.
Anita looked down at her belly to see that it was more prominent the way she was sitting. She looked across at him. "Yes. I am."
"Congratulations," he said. "I suppose it's a mixed blessing in a way."
"I guess that's what it is."
Although the man was trying to be kind, his comment made Anita feel even more sorry for herself. Joshua would never play with his baby. They'll meet in heaven, in Gott's haus, Anita comforted herself with that thought. "Do you have any children yourself?" The man's face lit up. "I certainly do. I have three boys. The youngest just turned thirty."
"That's nice." Considering that the man looked to be in his seventies, she asked. "And grandchildren?"
"None yet." The man chuckled. "I'm hoping they'll settle down soon and have families."
Anita nodded, and then looked straight ahead. She could not think of one man in her community over twenty who was unmarried, except for a couple of older widowers.
"Things will get better for you."
"That's kind of you to say."
He reached out his hand. "I'm Harry Cummings."
Anita shook his hand. "I'm Anita Graber."
"Nice to meet you. Someone once told me something that helped. They told me not to expect things in life to be fair." He wagged a finger. "We expect life to be fair for some unknown reason, but it's not. Sometimes things just don't work out."
"Yes. That does help."
Anita was pleased to have the distraction when the man went on to talk about all the life lessons he'd learned. She must have fallen asleep because the next thing she knew the bus was making a food stop.
"Anita, do you want to stretch your legs?" Harry asked.
Anita heard that they had a twenty-minute stop. She freshened up and then got something to eat before she got back onto the bus. As she sat munching on a bag of crisps, she wondered what Amos, her brother, would look like now. Would he still be the same gangly boy she'd said goodbye to eight long years ago? She'd met Hannah, the girl Amos had eventually married; the three of them had been in the same group of young people. She had two nephews she'd never met, a two, and a three-year-old.
They were only halfway through their journey and Anita wondered whether she'd ever return to the home she'd just leased out. Anita glanced at Harry to see that he was glued to a book, and Anita guessed he was all talked out. She folded her black shawl and put it against the window as a pillow. She pressed her head into the soft fabric of the shawl, and then closed her eyes.
I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
2 Timothy 1:12
She'd had to change buses for one that would take her closer to home. She'd managed to sleep for a long stretch during the trip and was looking forward to seeing her brother's family.
As soon as the bus stopped, she got off and looked around. Then she saw a large man heading toward her and smiling at her. Gone was the skinny clean-shaven boy she'd left behind.
He hurried to her and took her bag from her. Without hugging her, he asked, "Is this all you have?"
She looked down at the plain brown suitcase. All her furniture and household items had been included with her house when she had leased it out to a young couple. Everything that she could call her own was in that small bag. She looked up at Amos, and nodded. "Doesn't your big schweschder deserve a hug after all these years?" She put her arms out toward him.
He smiled, stepped in toward her, and in an awkward manner, put his arm around her to give her a squeeze. "I've got Hannah and the boys waiting in thebuggy."
"I'm looking forward to meeting them. Well, meeting the boys, and seeing Hannah again."
Hannah jumped out of the buggy when she saw them approach. Unlike Amos, Hannah threw her arms around Anita. "I'm so pleased you've come, Anita."
"Denke for having me into your home."
Anita was pleased with that friendly response feeling a little of the tension finally melt from her body.
"Where are the boys?" Anita said, peeping into the buggy.
"They both fell asleep," Hannah said.
Anita climbed into the back with the boys.
When Hannah had climbed into the front with Amos, she turned around and said, "The bigger one is Ben, and the smaller one is Sam."
"Jah, I remember that from the letters. And they've just had their birthdays. Ben is three and Sam is two."
"Jah, that's right."
"They're so beautiful," Anita said staring at them.
"They're beautiful when they're asleep," Amos grunted loudly.
Hannah poked her husband. "Hush, Amos. You'll wake them. Don't mind Amos, Anita, they're good boys. They're no trouble at all."
Anita giggled, while Amos took the reins and the buggy rolled forward.
"We've cleaned out the grossdaddi haus for you. In exchange for your keep you'll help Hannah with the chores."
"Of course. Naturally I'll help with the chores, but I can pay towards the running of the household. I'm getting money from leasing out my haus. I didn't come here to be a burden."
Hannah turned around, and said, "Nee. No need to do that. You keep that money for you and the boppli."
"That's a point I'll talk to you about later, Anita," said Amos.
Anita noticed that Hannah shrank low in her seat when Amos glared at her.
"Jah. We can talk later, Amos," Anita said.
Hannah said, "I hope you don't mind staying in the grossdaddi haus. No one's been in it for years. Or you could stay in the main haus with us if you prefer there are plenty of spare rooms."
Amos seemed to be annoyed by his wife. "Anita knows the haus, she grew up in it."
"Of course, I'm sorry, Anita."
"No reason to be sorry. The grossdaddi haus will be fine. It'll be more than fine."
"See?" Amos said smugly to his wife.
Anita thought it best to keep quiet. She looked at the sleeping boys and was tempted to poke them so they'd wake up and she could play with them. She'd always wanted to be a mother and Joshua had always wanted to be a father. Anita had often tried to push Joshua out of her mind to stop her hurt, but her swelling belly was a constant reminder of the love that they once shared.
"I'm so glad you've come, Anita. It'll be nice to have a woman around the house; I'm surrounded by boys," Hannah giggled.
"You have friends to the house all the time," Amos said.
Hannah glanced over at Amos and said nothing more.
As soon as the buggy pulled up at the house that Anita had grown up in, she felt a sense of comfort. The boys woke as soon as the buggy stopped. When they opened their eyes, Anita saw that they had the same blue-green eyes as Amos, whereas Hannah's eyes were brown. "They've got the same eyes as their vadder."
"Jah, I tell Amos all the time that when we have girls, they'll have the same eyes as mine." Hannahgiggled.
Hannah reached in and picked up the bigger of the two boys, and Anita went to pick up the smaller boy.
"Nee, Anita, he's too heavy for you."
"I'll get Amos to carry him into the house."
When both ladies looked around, they saw that Amos was already at the front door of the house. "They're old enough to walk."
"But it's late, and they're so tired."
"You can't spoil them, Hannah. They have to learn to be men."
Anita was not going to interfere in how her brother wanted to raise his children. She was a little worried that her brother seemed to be in a bad mood and she didn't want to cause him any further irritation.
"Amos, will you come and help me in with the boys?" Hannah was evidently growing impatient.
Amos threw down Anita's bag, and stomped back to the buggy.
"I can get Sam, it's okay," Anita said trying to help.
Amos stopped in his tracks. "Anita said she can help you."
"I don't want Anita to lift anything in her condition. Sam's quite heavy."
"Can't you carry him and let Ben walk?" Amos said.
Anita continued, more agitated than before, "Amos, please come here and help! I don't want the boys walking through the mud."
Anita raised her eyebrows and remained silent. Why couldn't her brother do as he was asked.
He continued toward the buggy. "You're right. I'm sorry Anita. I should've thought about that."
"That's all right. No need to be sorry."
Anita continued to the haus and overheard Amos say to Hannah, "Well what's she going to do if she can't help you with the boys?"
Hannah answered, "Shh. She'll hear you."
When Amos set Sam down, Hannah walked with Anita through to the grossdaddi haus. "You should be quite comfortable in here."
"I will be. Denke for having me here. I hope I'm not going to be too much trouble."
"You need to be with familye when the boppli comes. And after that too."
Anita sat on the bed.
"Dinner should be ready in an hour or so. Why don't you stay here and have a rest?" Hannah said.
"Denke, that would be nice. I am rather tired even though I slept a great deal on the bus."
When Hannah walked out, Anita lay down on the bed, sank her head into the pillow, and then closed her eyes. This was the place her grandparents had lived when she and her brothers were growing up. Anita's parents had died before she and Joshua were married. Since Anita already had a house in Ohio, she let her brother take over the family home. Anita was the oldest, and only girl, and had four brothers younger than she. Amos was the youngest, and the only boy to stay in the Amish community.
Although Anita tried to have a sleep, she couldn't. There were so many memories connected to the house. There was still a faint smell of the tobacco her grandfather had smoked. Her grandmother never liked the smell and that was the only thing her grandmother and grandfather had ever argued about. Anita had to side with her grandmother especially now, with her unborn baby sharpening her sense of smell. Maybe with a new quilt, new curtains, and a fresh coat of paint, the smell would be gone.
"Are you hungry, Anita?"
Anita woke suddenly to see Hannah peering at her.
She realized she was at her brother's place and finally off the bus. She sat up. "Jah, I'm quite hungry." She was always hungry ever since the morning sickness had left her.
"I'm five minutes away from serving it."
"Denke, I'll get up and help."
"Nee, you stay and rest and I'll call you when it's ready."
When Hannah left her room, Anita stood up and stretched. Tomorrow she would open the doors and the windows to give the place a good airing out. She stepped into the bathroom and washed her face. When she looked into the mirror, she saw she had deep circles under her eyes. Anita wondered whether this was still the only mirror in the haus. It had been the only mirror many years ago. She'd had a mirror in her haus back in Ohio, but her parents had never liked mirrors in their haus. Her grandfather had put this one in, joking that it was so he and his wife could see how old they were getting.
She reached out for a towel, wiped her face, and then straightened her prayer kapp.
When Anita walked into the kitchen, she saw a young man sitting at the table with Amos.
Putting the last of the food on the table, Hannah said, "Anita, do you remember my bruder Simon?
"I think so. Hello, Simon."
"Nice to see you again, Anita."
Anita looked around for the boys, thinking how eager she was to play with them. Ben was sitting at a small table with an empty plate in front of him. Sam was nowhere to be seen. "Where's Sam?"
"Sam was cranky. He was overtired so we've put him to bed."
"Hannah, do you want me to put some food on Ben's plate?
"Denke, that would be good."
After she dished out some food for Ben, she sat at the table and waited for Hannah to sit down. When all the food was in the center of the table, everyone closed their eyes and gave a silent prayer of thanks for the food.
Excerpted from "Amish Widow's Hope"
Copyright © 2016 Samantha Price.
Excerpted by permission of Samantha Price.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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