She could never love an Amish rebel…Or could she?
Susannah Beiler is determined to protect the other young marriageable Amish women from falling for the new bad boy in town…by pretending to date Micah Fisher herself! Their deal is simple: she’ll keep him company if he stays away from her friends. But she doesn’t count on finding out there’s more to Micah than his reputation…
Indiana Amish Brides
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Susannah Beiler was carrying a to-go bag holding half of a cinnamon roll in one hand and her coffee in the other when she stepped out of Cabin Coffee and started across the street. At that exact moment, a large Ford pickup truck careened to the curb. Her friend Deborah pulled her back with a laugh and a smile. "Wouldn't do to have you flattened on the streets of Goshen on this beautiful spring day."
After all she'd been through the last two years, it would be ironic. Susannah shook off that thought and would have walked across the street that was now clear, but Deborah stepped back under the canopy of the coffee shop and nodded toward the truck. "Do you ever wonder why people act like that?"
The music was blaring at such a high level that the vehicle was practically rocking. The truck sported a bright blue paint job with streaks of lightning painted down the side, a large chrome bumper and spinning tire rims.
"Why would you jack it up so high?" Susannah crossed her arms, tapping her right index finger against her left arm. Sometimes she felt like she didn't understand other people at all.
"And who would want to purchase such big tires? They look as if they'd fit a tractor."
"Ya, I'm not sure what the point is."
They glanced at one another when a young man jumped out of the truck, empty fast-food bags and soda cans trailing after him. He noticed the girls, smiled in a cocky Englisch way and then realized they were staring at the litter that had escaped from the truck.
"Oops." He snatched up the trash and tossed it into an adjacent trash can before once again flashing them both a smile.
He was a bit taller than Susannah, but then, most men were. He was also built like the mule her dat kept to watch over the goats — stocky and muscular. Blue jeans, a T-shirt that sported the logo of some rock and roll band, and sandy-colored hair flopping into his eyes and curling at his neck completed the picture.
Deborah laughed, but Susannah shook her head.
She couldn't abide rude people, and this guy seemed oblivious that the truck was obnoxious and the music was too loud.
The driver of the truck had put the vehicle into Park and jumped out. He had bright red hair sticking out from his ball cap, but other than that he could have been a twin to the first guy. As Susannah and Deborah watched, he walked up to his buddy, and they performed some complicated handshake.
"Take care, man."
"You know it." The first guy reached into the truck and snatched out a ball cap and a faded backpack.
The driver hopped back into the truck and sped away. The sandy-haired guy winked at Susannah and Deborah, pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and proceeded to stare at it as he walked in the opposite direction.
"Clueless," Susannah said, rubbing at the brow over her right eye. "He'll be lucky if he doesn't fall off the sidewalk the way he's staring down at that phone."
"Are you kidding me?"
"I'm only saying that just because he's different doesn't mean that he's bad."
"I didn't say he was bad."
"Uh-huh, but the look you gave the both of them would have frightened a small child."
"Definitely. You've always been able to do that — stop someone in their tracks." Deborah linked their arms together and turned them toward her buggy. "Are you sure you don't want to be a teacher?"
"I'm not sure of much, but I am sure of that."
"Which is just as well, because you're a fabulous quilter."
"Off we go to the fabric store, then."
Which cheered up Susannah immensely. Even if she didn't purchase anything, being around bolts of fabric had a way of encouraging her on the darkest of days. During the worst of her chemotherapy treatments, she'd often stopped into the local fabric store simply to enjoy the smell and touch of new fabric. When she was too sick to piece or quilt, she'd sometimes sit with a basketful of different-colored cotton swatches, dreaming of what she would sew as soon as she was better.
There was something about brushing her fingertips over the cotton, envisioning the pattern she would use and the quilts she would make and picturing the smiles on tourists who purchased them. Quilting was her way of spreading joy, and wasn't that what a person of faith was supposed to do?
Deborah was describing her dat having to battle his way through a thicket of thorny brush to free a goat that had managed to become ensnared. The goat had taken one look at Deborah's dat and scampered off in the opposite direction, leaving him wondering why he'd thought he needed to save the animal in the first place. "'Goats are resourceful animals, Deborah. Never forget it,'" Deborah finished with a spot-on imitation of her dat. She always could tell a good story, and they were both laughing by the time they reached the fabric store.
Susannah enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.
She forgot all about the Englischer.
And she arrived home humming a tune and feeling immeasurably better than she had when she had awakened that morning. Some days she still woke terrified that the cancer had returned, certain that she was about to be plunged back into the cycle of doctor's visits and tests and treatments. Some days were still harder than others.
But her day had improved, and her mood had lightened with it.
"Mind fetching the mail for me?" Her mamm had been up since before sunrise — they both had. While Susannah did her best to help with household chores, her mamm often shooed her away, telling her to go rest or step outside for a while or spend an hour in her quilting room. At the moment, her mamm's apron was a mess, her hair was escaping from her kapp and her hands were covered in bread dough. Two loaves were already baking in the oven and two she'd finished kneading sat on the counter.
Sometimes Susannah wondered why they still made the bread from scratch, since loaves were certainly cheaper to purchase at the grocery store. She did love the smell of fresh-baked bread, though.
"And please take your schweschdern. They're full of energy today."
Sharon and Shiloh dropped the dolls they were playing with and ran toward the front door.
"Sweaters first," Susannah said. Though it was the last week of April, the afternoons cooled quickly. The twins reversed directions and ran for their cubbies. When the girls were born, her dat had placed cubbies in the mudroom with their names marked at a level they could now easily read.
"They sound more like puppies on the loose than children," Susannah said.
She adored her little schweschdern. Her mamm had been twenty when Susannah was born and forty when the twins came along. They were the siblings she never thought she'd have, and she prayed every day that they hadn't inherited the gene that had caused her ovarian cancer. She didn't want anyone else to have to endure such a thing, especially not her schweschdern.
"Like I said — full of energy. I wouldn't mind if you stayed out with them a half hour or so, give them time to run some of it off."
Susannah thought her mother was one of the most hardworking women she knew, but twin five-year-olds could wear anyone down.
"Finish that bread and then sit down with a cup of tea. I have a feeling you've earned it today."
The twins catapulted back into the kitchen.
"I'm ready." Shiloh reached for her hand.
"Me, too. I wonder if we have a letter from Mammi." Sharon dashed to the front door.
"Don't run too far ahead," Susannah called out.
The girls looked identical — white-blond hair, blue eyes and a thin build. The only physical difference that was easy to spot was that Sharon had freckles and Shiloh didn't. Their personalities were quite opposite. Sharon was always running ahead — energetic, enthusiastic and fearless. Shiloh preferred to hang back and carefully watch. She also liked holding hands, while Sharon proclaimed that was for babies.
By the time Susannah and Shiloh descended the front porch steps, Sharon was already waiting at the lane — hands on her hips, a scowl on her face and a whine in her voice. "Why are you so slow? Come on already."
The day was one of those glorious spring days that Susannah often daydreamed about in the winter. The leaves were a green so bright they caused you to blink, and the flowers planted earlier that month had burst into a rainbow of color. The sky was blue, the sun shone brightly and the weather was cool enough to require a sweater but without a cold north breeze.
They picked wildflowers as they rambled down the lane.
Both girls stooped to watch ants carrying tiny pieces of grass.
And they fed carrots to Percy, their buggy horse, who was grazing in the field that ran alongside the lane.
Susannah's mind called up all the things she had to be thankful for — her family, her health, a community that had supported her through a difficult time and now a perfect spring afternoon.
Ten minutes later, they reached the mailbox. Susannah had her hand inside, trying to reach to the back, where it seemed at least one piece of mail always managed to land, when Shiloh stepped closer and Sharon began to bounce from foot to foot.
"Someone's coming," Sharon said.
Susannah shielded her eyes against the afternoon sun, at first curious and then disbelieving and finally completely confused. What was he doing here?
Micah Fisher had taken his time finding his way out to the farm. He'd figured that as long as he was in town, he might as well check things out. Then he'd realized he was hungry again, so he'd stopped by the coffee shop where the two Amish ladies had been standing. He ate a leisurely lunch and used the time to charge his phone since he wouldn't be able to do so at his grandparents' farm.
The sun was low in the western sky by the time he hitched a ride to the edge of town. The driver let him out at a dirt road that led to several Amish farms. He'd never been to visit his grandparents before. They always came to Maine. But he had no trouble finding their place. His mamm's instructions had been very clear.
As he drew close to the lane that led to the farmhouse, he noticed a young woman standing by the mailbox. A little girl was holding her hand and another was hopping from foot to foot. They were all three staring at him.
"Howdy," he said.
The woman only nodded, but the two girls responded with "Hello" — one whispered and the other shouted.
"Can we help you?" the woman asked. "Are you ... lost?"
"Nein. At least I don't think I am."
"You must be if you're here. This is the end of the road."
Micah pointed to the farm next door. "Abigail and John Fisher live there?"
"Then I'm not lost." He snatched off his baseball cap, rubbed his hand over the top of his head and then yanked the cap back on and down to shield his eyes. "Say, don't I know you?"
"But I've seen you before ... in town, when I first arrived. You were standing outside the bakery with a plain-looking girl."
"If you mean Amish, we all are."
"No, I meant plain." He smiled to suggest he was teasing, though honestly the other girl had been so pale as to be translucent and had worn the traditional white kapp and a gray dress. She could have been a cloud or a puff of fog or a figment of his imagination.
But the girl in front of him?
She wasn't someone you'd quickly forget — daring brown eyes, a kapp pulled so tightly that not a hair escaped, which only served to accentuate the exquisite shape of her eyes, bright color in her cheeks and a sweet curve to her lips. Her dress was a pretty dark green with a matching apron.
And she was his neighbor?
Perhaps Gotte had provided him an ally through this trying time of his life.
Micah stepped forward and held out his hand. "I'm Micah — Micah Fisher. Pleased to meet you."
"You're not Englisch?" Instead of shaking his hand, she reached for her other sister. They had to be siblings from the way they looked up at her and waited to see what she'd do next.
"Of course I'm not."
"So you're Amish?" She stared pointedly at his clothing — tennis shoes, blue jeans, T-shirt and ball cap. Pretty much what he wore every day.
"I'm as Plain and simple as they come."
"I somehow doubt that."
"Since we're going to be neighbors, I suppose I should know your name."
"Ya. I've come to live with my daddi and mammi — at least for a few months. My parents think it will straighten me out." He tugged his ball cap lower and peered down the lane. "I thought the bishop lived next door."
"Oh. You're the bishop's dochder?"
"We all are," the little girl with freckles cried. "I'm Sharon and that's Shiloh and that is Susannah."
"Nice to meet you, Sharon and Shiloh and Susannah."
Sharon lost interest and squatted to pick up some of the rocks lining the caliche lane. Shiloh hid behind her schweschder's skirt, and Susannah scowled at him.
So, not an ally.
"I knew the bishop lived next door, but no one told me he had such pretty doschdern."
Susannah's eyes widened even more, but it was Shiloh who peeked out from behind her skirt and said, "He just called you pretty."
"Actually, I called you all pretty."
Shiloh ducked back behind Susannah.
Susannah narrowed her eyes as if she was squinting into the sun, only she wasn't. "Do you talk to every girl you meet that way?"
"Not all of them — no."
"And do you always dress like that?"
"What's wrong with how I'm dressed?"
"And why did you arrive in a pickup truck?"
"Because a friend offered to bring me."
"An Englisch friend?"
"Say, what is this — the third degree? It feels like it, and as far as I know, I've done nothing to land me in trouble."
"Yet." Susannah snatched up Sharon's hand and turned back toward the bishop's house.
"It was gut to meet you," he called out, knowing it would fluster her. Just his luck that the girl next door would be a killjoy. He'd met enough Amish girls like her to fill the back of a pickup truck twice over.
They were so disapproving.
It rankled him.
It also made him want to do something reckless, like throw a party or take off for points unknown or walk back to town and see a movie. But he didn't do any of those things. He didn't know anyone to invite to a party — yet. All of Goshen was unknown, and he wasn't even sure they had a movie house. Plus, he had no money to pay for a movie.
He sighed heavily, considering what lay before him. He'd promised his parents that he would come to Goshen and stay for at least six months. He realized he might as well walk up to the farmhouse. There was no point in avoiding it, but first he pulled out his phone, tapped the Snapchat button and held the phone up in front of him.
"I've arrived at the far reaches of northern Indiana. Let's hope I can survive life on the farm." He made what he hoped was a hilarious face, added a filter and frame, and then clicked the post button. Sticking the phone into his back pocket, he trudged down the lane toward his grandparents' house and what was probably going to be the longest six months of his life.
Susannah wasn't going to bring up the subject of their new neighbor to her parents. She actually was trying to forget him. She liked her life exactly as it was. The last thing she needed was trouble living next door, and Micah Fisher definitely looked like trouble.
They'd paused to bless the food and had just begun passing around the dishes of ham casserole, fresh bread, carrots and salad when Sharon starting chatting away about their encounter with Micah.
"He's tall and he talks funny."
"He wears a crazy hat," Shiloh added.
"And he wanted to shake Susannah's hand, but she didn't want to."
"And he said we were pretty — he said we were all pretty." Shiloh pulled in her bottom lip as she concentrated on cutting up her ham into small bites.
Her dat helped Sharon to scoop a spoonful of carrots onto her plate. "John mentioned to me that the boy was coming to stay with them for a while."
"He hardly seems like a boy." Susannah felt a slow blush creep up her neck when both her parents turned to stare at her. "What I mean is that he seemed to act like a youngie, though plainly he was older — I'd guess around twenty."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "An Unlikely Amish Match"
Copyright © 2019 Vannetta Chapman.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
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.