Old Order Amish wife and mother Jemima has put her marriage and family ahead of herself for years. She's set herself aside. Raising four children, she's followed all the rules and has been patient in looking forward to her time to chase a dream of her own.
But when she finds out that her life savings for pursuing that dream is gone—and her husband, Roy, has been hiding a child with another woman—her entire world is shattered. Will she be able to listen to God and love Roy's child? With so much at stake, how can she and Roy fix their relationship before their lives come crashing down?
|The Crown Publishing Group
|5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
About the Author
Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of four. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. More recently she and Cindy have co-authored several books.
Read an Excerpt
Snuggled under her great-grandmother’s quilt, Jemima woke to the sound of slow, easy movement in the room. She opened her eyes and saw silhouettes of the furniture despite the darkness of a winter night. Her husband was up. Without shifting her position to confirm that, she knew it was true.
Familiar warring emotions tugged at her. She wanted to get up with him, fix a pot of coffee, and talk the way they used to. At the same time, she wanted to hide from him, so she lay still as if she were asleep.
Shouldn’t today be a great celebration for them? Exactly a year ago her husband and their oldest daughter, Laura, had been headed toward town in a horse and buggy when a car topped the hill behind them and hit them. They were grateful that God had spared Roy’s and Laura’s lives, but navigating that time and coming back together as a family had been difficult. In those early months of healing, she constantly gave thanks to the Almighty that Roy had survived, and when Roy and she were able to be in the same home at night, she’d held him close, whispering her gratefulness aloud. But with each passing day, he seemed to become more distant. What happened to him while she was staying with her family?
The news of the accident had reached Jemima within the hour, but her husband and daughter had already been airlifted to a hospital. By the time she arrived—thanks to the help of an Englisch neighbor—both were in surgery. When she finally saw her husband and daughter, they were unconscious and connected to tubes and monitors. Roy woke within forty-eight hours and Laura a day later.
His steps were quiet as he approached the bed, and she closed her eyes. The aroma of her husband, freshly showered for the day, filled her senses, and she longed to reach through the darkness for his hand. He seemed to wait at the side of the bed. Was he thinking of waking her? Was he praying for her?
It wasn’t likely. Not these days.
Why was he up this early? It had to be at least two hours before sunup, although she couldn’t see the clock to know for sure. He owned a horse farm but also had horses boarded elsewhere, and tending to those horses required long hours and often pulled him from home.
“What?” His whisper sounded angry. She hadn’t heard his cell phone ring, but apparently he’d taken a call.
When she opened her eyes, he was going toward the bedroom door, holding the cell phone to his ear. She missed the days when Amish men had cell phones only for business and were required to turn them off before entering the house.
He paused in the doorway and turned, seeming to look straight at her. He was bathed in moonlight, but her face was hidden by a shadow, and she knew he couldn’t see that her eyes were open. What was on his mind as he paused, looking into the bedroom? A moment later he closed the door behind him.
She moved her hand to his side of the bed, hoping to feel the warmth from where he’d been. It was as cold as it was empty, and her heart thudded with loneliness. What had happened to them?
The baby cried out from his crib behind her, and Jemima rose. She pulled a blanket over eight-month-old Simeon and patted his back until he fell asleep again. Her white nightgown was no match for winter in an old farmhouse, so she grabbed the knit shawl from the rocker, put it around her shoulders, and went to the window. Roy held a lit barn lantern by the metal handle as he walked toward the stables.
What were they doing? He was right there, just outside the home they’d shared for ten years, yet they seemed isolated in separate worlds.
A desire to be who they’d once been washed over her, and she knocked on the window. He continued onward. She knocked harder and then jolted back, fearing she’d woken Simeon. The baby didn’t stir, but Roy stopped walking and turned around. As she hurried toward the bedroom door, the moonlight reflected off something on her pillow. He’d written her a note.
Most of their communication of late was through notes. Nothing of marital value was ever said. They were only memos of where they were going and when they’d return. Is this who they were now? She flew down the creaking wooden steps and opened the back door. A blast of cold air rushed inside, and her husband was there, so close she gasped.
“Jem, is something wrong?” The light from the lantern revealed his green eyes and the compassion she used to see in them.
She wanted to cry out the words everything and nothing and then fall into his embrace. But his phone buzzed. He pulled it from his coat pocket, texted a quick response, and slid it back into his pocket. He needed to go, and here she stood, wordless. And thankless and spoiled as well, she supposed.
He walked back into the house, shutting the door behind him, and she retreated a few steps. His lantern was the only source of light, but it was plenty. She wanted an honest conversation. She longed for him to love her as he once had, but she couldn’t voice those feelings. Following the accident, he’d given his all, and maybe he had nothing left to give. Maybe he was like a field that needed to rest before it could yield another harvest.
A small smile tugged at his lips. Did he feel obligated to respond with kindness to the delay she was causing? That’s how he treated her these days—as if she were another duty on his long to-do list. But in her presence, he never stepped outside of being respectful. However, he seemed to go out of his way to be sure he was rarely in her presence.
“Did you get my note?” His voice was as quiet as the house itself.
She hadn’t read it, but it was in her hands, so she nodded. “Ya. Can I fix you some breakfast?”
“Denki, but I need to go.”
Did he even remember? “Today is the anniversary.”
His brows knit, and he barely shook his head before she saw realization come to him. Then they both seemed lost in the memory of it.
Even after he and Laura had regained consciousness in the hospital, Jemima’s hands had trembled constantly for days. She was five months pregnant with Simeon at the time, and she began having horrible headaches, blurry vision, and shortness of breath. Roy had insisted she be seen by a doctor. Her blood pressure had gone from normal to high. Her doctor said the new condition put her in the high-risk category, and he’d ordered eighteen to twenty hours of bed rest daily. How was she, a pregnant mom with an injured husband and a child in the hospital, even supposed to go home for a good night’s rest, let alone take care of her other two healthy children while resting that much?
The man standing in front of her, the one she hardly recognized these days, had come up with the answer. He had ignored his doctor’s orders and his own pain and stayed with Laura every night so Jemima could go home and sleep. When Jemima arrived at the hospital the next day, he returned to the farm and worked. He asked their families to set aside their usual work schedules and responsibilities to take shifts at the hospital each afternoon until he arrived for the night shift.
He made no move to hug her or sit at the table with her for even a few minutes. She wanted to hit him…or embrace him. Above all else, she wanted to demand that he return to her. But she refused to ask one more thing of him.
His eyes held her. “It’ll get better, Jem. I promise,” he whispered.
She bit back tears and forced a smile and a nod. His statement meant he felt the barrier between them too, didn’t it? Yet despite her asking him what was wrong several times, he’d offered no insight and no explanation. If she asked again, he’d tell her the same as always: Nothing. Just work.