Seth always thought of Ellie as his friend’s little sister. But now he sees her as much more.
While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Sold by:||HarperCollins Publishing|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, Amish Homestead, and Amish Marketplace series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and five spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at AmyClipston.com; Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks; Twitter: @AmyClipston; Instagram: @amy_clipston.
Read an Excerpt
Under the Harvest Moon
An Amish Harvest Novella
By Beth Wiseman
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Elizabeth Wiseman Mackey
All rights reserved.
Four months later
Naomi stood beside Stephen's headstone; wooden and plain like the rest of the unmarked graves in the Amish cemetery. Her husband was laid to rest next to Adam, the baby Naomi had lost in her second trimester the year before. She and her children would make their final resting place here also, their souls journeying on to heaven where they'd all reunite someday. Stephen would be a different man by the time they got there. God would see to that. For now, Naomi would continue to bring her girls to the cemetery as often as she could.
"Do you think Daed can see us?" seven-year-old Abigail said. "Do you think he is with baby Adam? Do kids have toys in heaven?" Naomi's father had once remarked jokingly, "That one's going to keep you on your toes. She's wise beyond her years and would question a grape if it could talk back to her."
"I don't know. What do you think?" Naomi pulled her black sweater snug atop her black dress and apron. She'd be glad to shed her mourning clothes for brighter colors, although she wasn't sure when it would be appropriate to do so. Her mother had said the choice was hers, but if that had truly been the case, Naomi would have chosen to wear a maroon dress, symbolic of the fall harvest that would soon be upon them. Even though she had no idea how she would bring in the crops Stephen had planted months ago.
"I think Daed and baby Adam can see us and hear us from heaven, and that they are together. And I just know there will be toys in heaven!" Abby smiled brightly, unbothered by the fact that there was a black hole where her two front teeth had been until recently. Her oldest daughter had dimples that made her always look happy, even if she wasn't smiling. Abby was the only person in the family with curly, blond hair and blue eyes. Everyone else had dark hair, on both sides of their families, except for one of Naomi's cousins whose hair was red and her eyes green.
Naomi wasn't sure if Stephen and Adam could hear and see them, she only hoped her husband couldn't read her thoughts. She folded her arms across her stomach. It saddened her that Abby, Esther Rose, and the child she now carried would grow up without a father — but it was hard not to feel a sense of relief.
Esther Rose sat down in the overgrown grass by Stephen's headstone. As she'd done a dozen times before, Esther Rose put her hand on the earth where her father was buried and said, "I miss you, Daed." Then she did the same thing where Adam was laid to rest.
Naomi's five-year-old hung her head, and she suspected that tears were forming in the corners of her daughter's eyes.
"But remember, Daed and Adam are with Jesus now." Naomi wondered how much Esther Rose would remember about the brother she'd lost and the father they'd buried four months ago. Naomi's earliest memories ran back to when she was five, and she hoped her younger daughter would remember her father for the good man the child believed him to be.
"We must go now. Mammi is coming by later this morning." Naomi looked forward to her mother's visits, which had become more frequent since Stephen's passing. No one said it aloud, but it was obvious that people were waiting for Naomi to either get remarried or have a nervous breakdown following the loss of her husband at such a young age. If they only knew. Some days, Naomi could picture God looking down on her and shaking His head at the wicked thoughts that trolled through her mind. But for the past four months, Naomi had felt more at peace than she had in years. It was awful to think that way, but she was getting reacquainted with a life she barely remembered. She no longer had to worry if the meat was undercooked, the pasta oversalted, or a host of other things that might set off her husband. She could stretch to the ceiling if she felt like it and hang clothes on the line without a pinching pain in her side. She could skip certain chores and opt to play with her children instead.
She placed a hand on her stomach again, knowing that with each pregnancy, Stephen had kept away from her for fear of hurting each unborn child. He could control his temper, she'd come to learn. He just didn't want to or need to unless she was with child. When she'd been pregnant with Esther Rose, her husband had put a hole through the wall with his fist and also thrown a trinket box that had belonged to Naomi's grandmother across the room, smashing it into tiny slivers of wood.
But Stephen had nothing to do with Adam being called home before his life had a chance to begin. Not even the doctor had a good explanation, saying only that a small percentage of miscarriages happen in the second trimester. But amid the whirlwind of emotions she'd felt about Stephen's passing, fear had reared its ugly head in a different way. She didn't think she could bear losing another baby.
Naomi and her girls returned home from the cemetery later that morning, but it wasn't her mother waiting on the front porch, it was her father. A rare visit for a Tuesday morning. As Naomi walked across the yard toward him, Esther Rose and Abby almost knocked her over, blowing past her and into their grandfather's arms. Her parents would be excited to hear she was having another child, but she hadn't shared the news with anyone yet. Even at five months, her pregnancy was easy enough to hide beneath her baggy dresses. At first, she'd wanted to wait until she felt more certain she would carry her baby to term, or at least longer than she'd carried Adam. Then Stephen died, and it just didn't seem like the right time to celebrate this new life. Sadness still fell over her when she recalled miscarrying her son. It was the only time she'd seen Stephen cry. She would tell her parents about this baby soon.
"What are you doing here on this brisk September morning?" she asked her father, waiting for him to quit smothering the girls with hugs and kisses. Most Amish men weren't affectionate, but she loved that her father wasn't afraid to show his love.
"We need to talk about the harvest," he said, giving each girl a final hug before he sent them inside. "Girls, I need to talk to your mamm. You both go find something sweet for Daadi to eat when I'm done here."
Naomi smiled. There wasn't a person on God's beautiful earth who liked sweets more than her father. She suspected that was the reason he'd had to get false teeth a few years ago. But it hadn't curbed his love of sugar.
She sat on the porch step beside her father. "Where's Mamm? She said she was coming by this morning."
Daed ran his hand the length of his dark beard, now salted with white specks that seemed to have appeared overnight. Or maybe Naomi just hadn't noticed her father getting up in age until Stephen's life was cut short so suddenly. Despite the horrible thoughts she'd been having, she was reminded that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. In addition to praying that she'd carry this baby to full term, she found herself praying for good health for both of her parents, sometimes begging God not to take either of them for at least a couple more decades, until her children were raised and on their own.
"Your mudder had to take Barbara Byler to town." Her father rolled his eyes. "Your mamm is a gut woman because I couldn't do it. That old widow never closes her mouth." He tapped his fingers together against his thumb. "Yap, yap, yap. That's all she does." Her father scowled as Naomi stifled a smile. "And Barbara doesn't even talk about nothing important. She just rambles on about the weather, a sale she found at the market, or whatever floats her boat that day."
"Floats her boat?" Naomi couldn't hold back her grin any longer. She'd never heard her father use the Englisch expression.
"Don't you turn into her, you hear me? You might have lost your husband ..." He paused, glancing at her with sad eyes before he went on. "But if you get so lonely that you have to ramble on like Barbara, I won't be coming around much." He pointed a finger at her. "Another reason we need to find you a husband."
It was their way to remarry quickly, but it was the last thing Naomi wanted. Never again. Although, lots of folks in town were already trying to match her up with someone, and she hadn't even shed her mourning clothes yet. But no one knew what had gone on in Naomi's house. She'd been much too proud, even if pride was frowned upon, to let anyone know that she'd failed miserably as a wife. "It's too soon for another husband," she finally said.
"Ach, well ... that's a conversation for another day. Right now, we need to figure out how we're going to pull in this harvest. We're at a bit of a disadvantage since your bruder has a broken ankle, and he'll be struggling to get his own crops harvested. And I must have been ab im kopp when I decided to plant double the alfalfa that I usually do, so I'm going to be struggling as well."
Naomi hung her head. This wasn't the first time she'd felt like a burden since Stephen died. "I'm sorry, Daed. I don't want to cause extra work for anyone."
Her father chuckled. "Well, ya gotta eat, don't cha?" He waved a hand in the air. "Don't worry, mei maedel." He put an arm around her and pulled her close, kissing her on the forehead. "By this time next year, I'm sure you will be married. And we will all get by until then. I've decided to hire someone to harvest your alfalfa for you. And he'll help dry and bale it too. He's an Englisch fellow whom I trust to be around my daughter and granddaughters. The man is a good worker, comes from a farming background, and I know he'll do right by us."
"Daed, I have a little money left if —"
Her father shook his head. "Nee, nee. I will bear the expense, but I do ask that you prepare his meals — breakfast, dinner, and supper. He'll be working alone, so he'll start at sunup and work until he's out of daylight."
"What about his own family? Those are long hours, especially for an Englisch man."
"He doesn't have a family. Well, not nearby anyway. I think he has a bruder in Oklahoma, but otherwise he's alone. His wife died a couple of years ago, and he quit farming after that. He sold their place and lives in Paradise now, in a smaller home. He told me once that he missed farming, so that's why I thought about him. He's a strong man of faith, and when I say strong, I don't mean just in his faith." Her father laughed. "He is a big, strong man. He's not as old as I am, maybe seven or eight years younger than me, but he's as fit as someone your age. Brock is a gut man that will pull in the harvest at a fair price."
"Brock? That's an odd name."
Her father moaned as he lifted himself to his feet. He'd had trouble with his knees for as long as Naomi could remember. "Ya, that's his name, Brock Mulligan. So, when you see a big fellow show up early next Monday morning, don't be alarmed."
Naomi nodded and stood up too.
"Now, let's go see what those maed have found to feed my sweet tooth." He pointed a playful finger at Naomi. "Ya, ya, I know. I don't have any real teeth."
Naomi giggled. She recalled the guilt that she'd felt the days following Stephen's burial. When a few church members had gathered at her house, her father had whispered something in Naomi's ear that had tickled her. She couldn't recall what it was, but she'd burst out laughing. She'd felt some glares from some of the women in the room and realized how inappropriate she'd acted.
She couldn't imagine life without her parents, and yet ... she'd settled into a life without Stephen quite easily.CHAPTER 2
Brock parked his truck in Naomi Dienner's driveway just as the sun started to spread orange hues across the fields of alfalfa surrounding him. The dew on the grass dampened his boots as he walked, and he was glad to see that the equipment he'd rented had been delivered and parked by the barn. He was anxious to get to work, but Gideon had insisted he take all his meals with Naomi and her children. Brock wasn't much of a breakfast eater, not since Patty died, but an early-morning feast would give him the energy to put in a hard day's work. He'd always respected Gideon, so he didn't want to disappoint his Amish friend.
There were two doors leading into the house from the front porch. He chose the door that was open since he could see through the screen and into the kitchen. Two young girls were seated at the table, and a woman — presumably Naomi — was stirring something on the stove. One of the girls scurried to the door and pulled the screen wide.
"Are you the farmer man who will harvest our crop?" She was a cute kid, missing her two front teeth and with a smudge of something purple on her chin, maybe jelly.
"Yes, I am. I'm Brock Mulligan." He stepped over the threshold just as Naomi turned to face him. He'd known Gideon for years, but he'd never met the man's family. Breathing in the welcoming aroma of bacon cooking, he extended his hand to the woman. She was a tiny thing, and she didn't look like she could be even thirty. Brock remembered how he'd felt after Patty died, and some days he still reached for her in the bed beside him, even two years later. Naomi must still be wracked with grief since she'd lost her husband only a few months ago. And she was mighty young to have gone through something like that. It seemed there were more and more buggy accidents in Lancaster County each year.
Naomi motioned to a place already set at the head of the table. Brock figured her husband had probably sat there for meals, and the thought caused him to shift his weight uncomfortably in the chair.
"We're having bacon, scrambled eggs, and biscuits, Mr. Mulligan." Naomi set a plate of bacon in the middle of the table. "What can I get you to drink? Milk, orange juice, or I have fresh coffee ready?"
"Coffee, please. And it's just Brock. No need to call me Mr. Mulligan. That makes me sound older than I feel." He smiled and reached for a biscuit when one of the girls pushed a basket toward him. The bread was still steaming, and he was happy to see a bowl of gravy nearby.
Naomi placed a cup of coffee in front of him, wiped her hands on her apron, and sat down in a chair at the other end of the table. Brock bowed his head with them. He knew the Amish folks prayed silently. He thanked God for the food, especially since people were starving all over the world, and he was truly grateful for a good meal. He didn't do much cooking these days. But he hadn't prayed with heartfelt vigor since Patty died. He raised his head at the same time as Naomi.
"We're glad you were able to accept my father's job offer." She passed him a bowl of scrambled eggs, then she nodded toward the little girl with the missing front teeth. "This is Abby, my older daughter." She tipped her chin to the left. "And this is Esther Rose."
After introductions, they ate in silence, but Brock could feel the younger of the girls, Esther Rose, staring at him. He glanced in her direction. She was nibbling on half a biscuit, but her eyes weren't roaming, they were locked on him.
"So, how old are you girls?" he asked when the silence grew a bit awkward. Brock was wondering if he had something on his chin since Esther Rose couldn't seem to take her eyes off him. He picked up his napkin and ran it once across his chin just to be safe. But the little girl kept staring at him. The Amish folks did their best to keep their children away from outsiders as much as they could. Maybe the child was just curious about him.
"I'm seven," Abby said as she sat taller in her chair. She pointed across the table at her sister. "And Esther Rose is five."
"So, you'll both be leaving for school soon, right?"
Both girls nodded, Esther Rose's eyes still on Brock even as she took a sip of her orange juice.
Brock cleared his throat, scratched his chin, and shifted his weight in the chair again. "This is a fine breakfast, Naomi." He would be enjoying it more if the little one could focus on her food and not him, but he continued to try to ignore her. He wasn't particularly comfortable around children, maybe since he'd never had any of his own.
"You are a big Englisch person." Esther Rose's eyes widened as if Brock were a superhero, but he knew how to field this comment. He'd hit six foot five by the time he was seventeen, a tall and lanky lad for a while. But after his weight caught up with his height, he filled out. He was used to being the biggest guy in a room. "You have big arms like mei daed had," the girl added.
Excerpted from Under the Harvest Moon by Beth Wiseman. Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Wiseman Mackey. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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