About the Author
Coleen Marlo is an accomplished actor who has appeared on stage, in film, and on television, and is a member of the prestigious Actors Studio. She also taught acting for ten years at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, Coleen has been awarded three Listen-Up Awards from Publishers Weekly, including for Third World America by Arianna Huffington and The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum. She has also earned three Audie Award nominations, winning for Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga. Publishers Weekly has named Coleen Audiobook Reader of the Year for 2010. Listeners honored Coleen with a Best Audiobook of 2012 on Audible.
Read an Excerpt
One True Path
Book 3 of the Amish Roads Series
By Barbara Cameron
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2015 Barbara Cameron
All rights reserved.
Rachel Ann Miller watched her bruder Sam dig his hands into his oatmeal and lick it off his fingers.
"Sam! Use your spoon or I'm going to feed you like a boppli," she said sternly. "You're four years old now. You need to behave and eat like a big boy."
"You want some oatmeal, Rachel Ann?" her mamm asked as she put the teakettle on the stove.
She watched Sam grin at her, exposing a mouthful of gooey cereal. Rachel Ann should have been used to it, but her stomach rolled.
"Nee, danki," she said. "The toast was enough."
She used a wet washcloth to wipe Sam's mouth then reached for his chubby little hands. Before she could grasp them Sam clapped them, sending little globs of cereal and fruit flying.
Rachel Ann ducked, but she felt something wet hit her cheek and after she wiped it off she found several other globs of oatmeal on her skirt.
"I'm going to get you for this," she threatened Sam as she wiped his hands carefully.
He just laughed and rubbed his gloppy hands on the table, then reached for Rachel Ann.
"Nee, Sam, don't do that, you'll get Rachel Ann all messy!" their mamm chided.
But Rachel Ann saw her mother trying to hide her smile. No one could be upset with the adorable Sam for any length of time. He was so loved and so loving.
"Don't worry about getting him cleaned up," her mother said with a sigh. "I'll dunk him in the tub after everyone's finished with breakfast."
Rachel Ann handed Sam a piece of toast and, with an eye on the time, opened the refrigerator and pulled out the makings for lunch.
"Do you need some money for your driver?"
She shook her head as she wrapped her egg salad sandwich. "He said he could wait for payday." She waited, and when her mother turned her attention back to Sam, she quickly made a second sandwich.
She put the sandwiches, two whoopie pies, and an apple in her insulated lunch bag and added a plastic bottle of iced tea she'd made up the night before. The lunch bag bulged with the extra food, but her mother hadn't noticed before, and hopefully she wouldn't this time.
"I'm glad you're happy working at Leah's," her mother said as she sat at the table with a cup of tea.
"It was that or take the job Mrs. Weatherby offered." She shuddered at the narrow escape she'd had. Elizabeth, one of her closest friends, had heard about an opening at Stitches in Time, and Rachel Ann had been lucky to get the job.
"You'd have been a great mother's helper for her," her mother told her. She poured a glass of juice for Sam and put it in front of him. "I don't know what I'd do without you."
She found herself thinking about Elizabeth who was married to Rachel Ann's cousin Saul. Elizabeth had shared with her that she'd been the oldest kind in a large family and felt stifled.
Somehow, it helped to know someone else experienced the same feelings of wanting to do more than care for kinner. Elizabeth's family had been bigger and her mamm sounded like she wasn't as good managing her job as a mother as Rachel Ann's, but still, they had found they had much in common since they had gotten to know each other better.
Elizabeth had suggested she talk to Leah about working at Stitches in Time after saying Saul didn't need anyone at their store. Since Anna, one of Leah's granddaughters had had her boppli, she had moved from full-time to part-time for a while. Thanksgiving was over now, and with the Christmas season looming, the timing was perfect for Rachel Ann to step in to help.
She wanted full-time, of course, not part-time. But Elizabeth told her it's how she'd started at Saul's store, and now, not only did she work full-time, she and Saul had fallen in love and gotten married. So Rachel Ann held out the hope maybe part-time would turn to full-time in the future at the shop.
Rachel Ann glanced up as Sam banged his spoon on the table and she frowned. It was so sad Elizabeth had suffered a miscarriage. Sometimes, when she thought no one noticed, Elizabeth looked so ... lost and Rachel Ann suspected she'd thought of the boppli she miscarried. Try as she might, she never felt she offered the comfort her friend needed—even though Elizabeth said people didn't need words, they needed someone to listen, and Rachel Ann had listened when she needed it.
She slung the strap of her lunch tote over her shoulder, grabbed her purse and jacket, and walked over to the table to kiss everyone good-bye.
"I won't be home for supper," she reminded her mother as she bent to give her a hug. "Mmm, you smell like apples."
"Not from rubbing applesauce in my hair," her mother said with a laugh. "Look at this. I may still be getting it out of Sam's hair when you do get home."
Sam heard his name and giggled. His hair—golden blond and straight—stood up in stiff little peaks full of oatmeal and applesauce.
"I hear some Englisch women pay a lot of money for facials with oatmeal," Rachel Ann told her. "Have a gut day. Tell Dat I'm sorry I missed him."
"He'll be home from the auction when you get in this evening."
"I might be late."
"Not too late." Her mother gave her the look mothers seemed so good at. It spoke volumes.
"Mamm, I'm twenty-one—"
"I know how old you are. I was there, remember?" her mother said dryly. "And you know it's not safe to be out too late. Drivers aren't always looking out for someone walking or even riding in a buggy."
"I know, I know." She bent and hugged her mother and then her bruder before she walked out the door.
Even though she knew her dat wasn't in the barn, she couldn't help glancing that way as she walked down the drive.
A movement caught her eye. Abram Lapp stood watching her from the porch next door. He lifted a hand in greeting, and she waved back. She liked him—they'd been friends since they were toddlers. They'd sat near each other in schul and even attended a singing together once.
But now they were in their twenties, and their friendship hadn't turned into something romantic the way some had in her community. She felt Abram was too serious for her. Too ... settled. Rachel Ann liked rumschpringe and didn't want to settle down yet. And she didn't think she wanted to date an Amish man.
As a matter of fact, she knew she didn't.
She stood at the bottom of the drive for only a few minutes when a car pulled up and the driver leaned over to grin at her. "Hey, babe, been waiting long?"
Rachel Ann opened the passenger door and got in quickly. She glanced back at the house as she pulled on her seat belt. "Please hurry up and get going. I don't want Mamm to see."
Michael leaned over to kiss her cheek, and then he straightened, checked the road, and pulled out, tires screeching.
"Don't do that!" She slumped down in her seat and prayed her mother didn't hear the tires—or look out the window. When she glanced over her shoulder she saw Abram still standing on his porch looking in her direction. She frowned. Why was he watching her? She hoped he wouldn't tell her mamm what he'd seen.
"Make up your mind, babe. I make a quick getaway, it's gonna be noisy."
Rachel Ann bit her lip and frowned when she looked over and saw how fast the car was going. Maybe instead of praying her mother didn't see her, she should pray God would slow down the car.
She pulled the visor down and checked her reflection in the mirror. Her starched white kapp looked slightly askew. It must have been bumped when she got into the car. She straightened it, fastened it more securely with covering pins, then smoothed her blonde hair worn center parted and tucked back in a bun. Her blue eyes sparkled, and color bloomed on her cheeks even though she didn't wear makeup.
She folded back the visor, leaned back in her seat, and watched Michael as he drove. The fall breeze coming in the window tossed his black hair away from his lean face, the bright morning light giving it a bluish gleam like a raven's wing. He must have felt her staring at him because he turned and winked at her.
Life had become exciting lately. New job. New boyfriend. She felt like she was going down a new path for her, one she hadn't ever dared to dream.
"Got something good to eat in there?" he asked, gesturing at the lunch tote.
She nodded, got out one of the sandwiches she'd packed, and unwrapped it for him.
He took it and bit into it. "Mmm," he said as he took a bite. "Way to a man's heart."
"So what are we doing later?"
"How about pizza and a movie?"
"Sounds gut—er, good. I get off at 5:30."
Michael finished the sandwich in a few bites. "Anything else in the bag?"
"A whoopie pie."
He took his eyes off the road for a moment. "I love those."
"I know." He loved her baking. She unwrapped the big cream-filled cookie and handed it to him.
"Fabulous things," he said, licking his lips after biting into it. "They're the best I've ever had, and I've been eating them for years."
She glowed at his praise but shrugged. Her whoopie pies were good, but so were those made by many of her friends and women in the Amish community.
He dropped her off at the shop, promising to pick her up at closing time. She drifted inside on a happy haze.
"Guder mariye," Leah said, looking up from paperwork spread on the front counter.
"Ya, it is," Rachel Ann said. "A gut morning!"
* * *
Abram stood on his porch and watched Rachel Ann hurry down her drive and stand there waiting at the bottom of it.
She seemed awfully eager for her ride to her new job. He'd managed to get it out of her—she had found a job—when he talked to her the night before.
As usual he'd found an excuse to take something over to her house and get himself invited to supper. Yesterday he'd visited a friend who had produced a bumper crop of pumpkins so he'd carried a few over to Rachel Ann's mamm. He and his mamm had decided they had more than enough for the two of them.
Now, finished with morning chores, he stood drinking his coffee on the front porch and watched Rachel Ann impatiently tapping her foot; he knew he had to figure out some way to get himself invited to supper again tonight. He wanted to find out how her day had gone ... how she'd liked working in a shop when she'd been so afraid she'd have to take the job offer from an Englisch woman to work as a mother's helper. He just plain wanted to be near her, even when she had never looked at him as more than the boy next door who'd been her friend at schul.
A car came into view—one he judged to be traveling faster than the speed limit. He stiffened when it pulled up in front of Rachel Ann, worried it might hit her. But it stopped, and he realized she knew the driver for she opened the door and jumped inside. She glanced back at her house and then must have sensed him staring at her, for her eyes met his for just a moment.
And then the car took off at a greater speed than it had approached, peeling away from the curb with a squeal of tires. It zoomed down the road. Abram felt his heart leap into his throat as he realized he waited to hear a crash as it sped down the road and vanished from sight.
The door opened at Rachel Ann's house, and her mother stuck her head out. She looked down the drive, then just as she turned back she glanced in his direction. "Guder mariye, Abram."
"What was that racket I heard?"
He hesitated for only a moment. "Just a car. Someone wanting to leave rubber on the road instead of their tires."
She shook her head. "Makes no sense."
Then her hand flew to her throat. "It wasn't Rachel Ann's van driver, was it?"
"Nee." It wasn't a lie, he told himself. It hadn't been the van driver ...
Her hand fell to her side. "Of course it wasn't." She brightened. "Come for supper, Abram. While Sam naps this afternoon, I'm making pumpkin pie from those pumpkins you brought me."
"Danki, I'll do that."
She walked back inside and shut the door. Abram stood there for a moment wondering if he should have told her what he'd seen. He took a sip of coffee and found it had grown cold and bitter. Grimacing, he tossed the contents over the porch railing and went inside.
His mother glanced up and smiled at him as she stood at the stove. "Ready for some breakfast?"
He nodded and walked over to the percolator to pour himself another cup of coffee. "Why don't you let me cook?"
"I like to cook for you."
Abram leaned down and kissed her cheek. "And I don't mind admitting I like you cooking for me. But you don't look like you slept well. Why didn't you stay in bed?"
She made a tsking noise and shook her head at him. "If you're wanting me to be lazy, you've got the wrong woman."
"Not wanting you to be lazy. Just don't want you to overdo."
"The physical therapist said I'm doing so well I can cut down to one visit a week for the next few weeks."
"Well, that's terrific. I guess pretty soon you'll be turning somersaults." He snatched a piece of bacon and with the ease of years of such behavior escaped a rap on the knuckles with her spatula.
"Very funny. Sit down and get those big feet out of my way."
He did as she ordered and watched her flip a pancake onto a plate piled with them. She brought it to the table along with the plate of bacon, and while she probably thought his attention was on the food, he was noticing her limp had become barely noticeable.
One of the worst moments of his life had been when he got the call she'd fallen and been taken to the hospital. His father had died the year before from a heart attack, so he'd been terrified he'd lose another parent. The doctor had come into the waiting room and told him she'd broken her leg in three places. A broken leg. He'd sighed in relief. He could handle a broken leg. The doctor operated, and his mother had emerged from the hospital with a leg she joked had more metal in it than one of those Englisch robots.
The reality was the fall had cost her so much. Abram knew how independent she'd always been, but he'd convinced her to move into the dawdi haus here so he could make sure she was taken care of. She'd only agreed because it made it easier for him during the harvest.
Abram constructed a pile of pancakes on his plate, layering four of them with several strips of bacon between. He spread a layer of butter on the pancakes, a puddle of syrup, then cut into the stack. The first bite tasted like heaven after hours of chores. He chewed and watched his mother put one pancake on her plate and pour just a trickle of syrup on it.
His mother shook her head as she watched him eat. "You've been doing that since you were a boy."
"My best invention." He took another bite.
"I love you, but you're in a rut," she told him.
"Why change something that works?" he asked her as he swallowed another bite.
"I'm worried about you."
He paused, his fork halfway to his mouth. "Worried about me? Why?"
"I looked out the window before you came in. I saw you standing there watching Rachel Ann again. When are you going to say something to her?"
"Gotta go," he said, picking up his plate and carrying it to the sink. "See you later."
"We'll talk later!"
He grinned as he grabbed his hat and left the house.CHAPTER 2
Rachel Ann plucked the clothespins from the sheets hanging on the clothesline and dropped them into the pin basket. The brisk wind flapped the sheets at her face, and she breathed in the fresh scent of sun-warmed cotton. Laundry day was long and hard, but there was nothing better than sleeping in sheets dried outdoors. Sheets dried with a scented paper sheet of fabric softener she heard Englischers used just couldn't be as good.
Sam ran through piles of leaves, shrieking and scooping up handfuls of them and throwing them over his head. When he ran toward her she stepped in front of her laundry basket. "Stop right there! You're not getting my clean laundry dirty."
He just laughed at her and grabbed at the little crib quilt she'd folded and laid on top of the basket. "Mine."
"That's not to play with in the yard, Sam! Give it back!" He ran from her, leading her on a merry chase around the yard.
"You come back, you little monster! I have to get supper started!" She wanted to make something special for dessert. Her daed always loved it when she baked.
Excerpted from One True Path by Barbara Cameron. Copyright © 2015 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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