3 Short Stories of Love in a Unique Amish Community--Now a #1 Publishers Weekly Bestseller! In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.
|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written more than 100 books translated in four languages. With over 11 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nation's most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards. Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs. When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.
Jean Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish when she first went to Pennsylvania to visit her father-in-law’s family. Since that time, Jean has become friends with several Amish families and enjoys writing about their way of life. She also likes to put some of the simple practices followed by the Amish into her daily routine. Jean lives in Washington State with her husband, Richard Jr. and their three children, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish communities in several states. In addition to writing, Jean enjoys boating, gardening, and spending time on the beach. Visit Jean's website at www.jeanbrunstetter.com.
Richelle Brunstetter lives in the Pacific Northwest and developed a desire to write when she took creative writing in high school. After enrolling in college classes, her overall experience enticed her to become a writer, and she wants to implement what she’s learned into her stories. Just starting her writing career, her first published story appears in The Beloved Christmas Quilt beside her grandmother, Wanda E. Brunstetter, and her mother, Jean. Richelle enjoys traveling to different places, her favorite being Kauai, Hawaii.
Read an Excerpt
Deanna Speicher hurried to set up her table at the flea market, all the while trying to keep her five-year-old son in tow. The place bustled with activity as other vendors did the same, unpacking boxes and putting prices on the articles they hoped to sell. Serious shoppers usually came before the initial crowds arrived, looking for the best bargains, freshest baked goods, and newly harvested produce — all part of the flea market appeal.
"Mammi. Mammi." Abner tugged on Deanna's dress with one hand while pointing in the opposite direction. "En sack voll eppel!"
"Jah, there are many sacks of apples. We will get some later." Deanna spoke in Pennsylvania Dutch so Abner would understand. He knew only a few words of English but would learn more when he started school next August. One of the teachers would teach him, along with three other special-needs children. The other teacher in their Amish schoolhouse would give lessons to the remainder of the students.
Deanna removed several colorful quilted table runners and pot holders from the box she'd set on one of her tables; at the same time, she tried to keep an eye on her rambunctious son. Abner had been born with Down syndrome. He was full of affection to those whom he recognized, but sometimes the child acted overly friendly with strangers. The latter gave her reason for concern. Here at the flea market, where Deanna came nearly every Wednesday to sell her quilted items, many strangers came and went, as well as people she and Abner knew. One person in particular always caught her son's attention whenever he visited the market or came by their house.
Deanna smiled. Elmer Yoder had been a good friend even before the tragic death of her husband a little over a year ago. Simon died after falling from their roof, attempting to replace missing shingles.
She had spent three months trying to manage on her own while dealing with the shock of losing him. Elmer had stepped in and given of his time during those painful days, coming over often to help with chores and entertain Abner while Deanna got other tasks and some quilting done.
One month later, Deanna's world fell apart again when her mother died from a brain aneurism. Her father was devastated by the loss of his wife of forty years. A few weeks after her mother's funeral, Deanna sold her house, and she and Abner moved in with her dad. It turned out to be a good arrangement. Dad helped them financially, and Deanna cooked his meals and took care of the house, since his pallet-making job kept him busy most of the day.
Deanna's stomach gurgled as the tempting aroma of fresh herbs, apple cider, and smoky cured meats reached her nostrils.
A good many people milled around, talking with friends, while others introduced themselves to sellers, but she saw no sign of Elmer.
Deanna sighed. If he's here, I hope he drops by — at least to say hello. If he isn't too busy shoeing horses today, I'd like to invite him over for supper tonight.
She turned her head abruptly when Abner shouted, "Hundli!"
Deanna looked in the direction he pointed. An elderly English woman moving past her tables had not a puppy but a full-grown dog walking in front of her on a leash. The woman wore a pair of dark glasses, which to some might seem strange on this overcast day in October. It didn't take Deanna long to realize the woman was blind; her dog was a service animal. Deanna wondered how it felt to live in a world of darkness. It would certainly be a challenge. She closed her eyes and opened them quickly, unable to imagine going through life with no vision.
As a man joined the woman and took hold of her arm, Abner hollered: "Die hundli is gross."
"Yes, it is big," Deanna responded in Pennsylvania Dutch. "Only it's a dog, not a puppy."
Abner's pale eyebrows furrowed, but he didn't argue with her. She guessed to him all dogs were puppies.
What a shame your daadi isn't here to see how you're growing. An image of Deanna's tall, blond-haired husband invaded her thoughts as she placed the rest of her quilted items neatly on the tables. Abner took after his dad with sandy blond hair and pale blue eyes. Simon had been a hard worker and always provided well for them through his carpentry work. Now the responsibility of raising their son fell mostly on her.
If she made enough money today, Deanna hoped to use some of it toward a gift to give Abner for his birthday next week. Of course, her option was to make something for him, the way her father had been doing out in the barn the past several weeks after Abner went to bed. Dad loved his grandson, and Abner couldn't get enough of him either. Deanna's father didn't have many free hours at home, but he always made time to spend a few minutes each day with her son.
Deanna's musings evaporated once more when a middleaged English woman stopped at her table. "How much are your pot holders? I'm doing a little early Christmas shopping, and these will make nice gifts for some of my family and friends." She gestured to a stack of the more colorful ones.
"I am asking five dollars apiece."
The woman's eyebrows raised a notch. "Seriously?"
Deanna gave a nod. "Is it too much?" She'd never had anyone question the price of her quilted items before.
"No, not at all. I've seen pot holders like this go for ten dollars down in Lancaster County. Yours are quite reasonable." The customer picked up twenty pot holders and handed them to Deanna. "I'll take these as well as ten of your table runners."
"Those are fifteen dollars each," Deanna explained.
"Not a problem."
Deanna accepted the woman's money and put the items in a plastic sack. She'd no more than handed over the purchase, when Abner whipped around the front of the table. "Daadi! Daadi!"
A lump formed in Deanna's throat, watching Elmer approach, pick up Abner, and lift the boy onto his shoulders. In his enthusiasm, Abner knocked Elmer's straw hat off his head, revealing the lanky man's full crop of auburn hair. When it landed on the floor, she picked it up. In the time her son had known Elmer, he'd never called him "Daddy" before. Could it be because Elmer came around so much and spent a good deal of time with Abner that the child now thought of him as his father?
* * *
Elmer grinned when Deanna picked up his hat and placed it on one of her tables. She looked so perky this morning, like everything was right with her world — a far cry from the sadness he'd seen in her brown eyes after Simon died. Elmer shared in Deanna's grief, for he and Simon Speicher had been close since boyhood.
Elmer stood silently, holding Abner's legs securely as he watched Deanna wait on a young English couple who had stepped up to her table. He'd never admitted it to anyone, but Elmer fell hard for Deanna way back when they were teenagers. But she and Simon began courting before Elmer had a chance to voice his feelings for her. Even if he had, she may have rejected him.
When Deanna married Simon, Elmer found it difficult to watch his best friend in the position he'd dreamed of holding. Because he cared about them both, Elmer wrestled with his unwanted feelings for his friend's wife. His heart ached whenever he'd seen them at church or any social event. Most times when he saw Deanna and Simon together, Elmer felt conflicted. It pleased him to see his best friend so happy, but at the same time he envied their contentment with each other. So as not to jeopardize his friendship with Simon, Elmer kept his emotions in check. As far as he knew, no one suspected how he felt about Deanna.
As time went on, Elmer accepted the strong bond of friendship with both Deanna and Simon. Inside, his conscience won out, for it was wrong to long for someone not meant for him. With God's help, Elmer had managed to let go of his feelings for the woman who could never be his. Instead, he focused on his job and leisure activities, always praying that someday he would find the same kind of happiness his best friend had with a very special wife.
When Deanna became pregnant with her and Simon's child, Elmer faced another hurdle. Since he had never met a woman he cared about as much as Deanna, Elmer resigned himself to the likelihood that he might remain a bachelor, never knowing the joy of married life or experiencing the rewards of fatherhood.
Unaware of Elmer's original desire to make Deanna his wife, Simon had invited him over for supper many times for special occasions or simply to get together. Then after Abner came into the world, Elmer became like an uncle to the precious little boy. He loved Deanna's son as if he were his own. The little guy illuminated happiness right from the start, willing to give pure, innocent affection to everyone. When Abner learned how to walk, he never hesitated to go to Elmer, holding his arms out to be picked up.
Now his best friend was gone, and without planning it, Elmer's feelings resurfaced for Deanna. Until recently, he'd fought his emotions, guilt eating away at him for how he felt. But as time went on and Elmer offered his support and help to Deanna, he sensed her healing process had begun. Only then did he slowly reveal how he felt about her.
A few months ago, he'd begun courting her. Although Deanna had never spoken words of love to Elmer, the evidence showed by the way she reacted to him whenever he came around — like now, as their gazes met and a warm smile spread across her pretty face. Elmer had to hold himself back not to shout to the world that he was in love with this special woman.
"Gaul reide!" Abner gave Elmer's hair a tug.
Deanna shook her finger at the boy. "Not now, Son. Elmer didn't come to the flea market to give horse rides, and you need to let go of his hair."
"Aw, it's okay." Chuckling, Elmer bounced his shoulders up and down. "How's this, little man? Does that feel like a bucking horse?"
Abner giggled. "Gaul reide! Gaul reide!"
"Okay," Elmer relented. "I'll give you a short ride, but then we're gonna come back here and help your mamm." He looked at Deanna to gain her approval and felt relief when she nodded.
"We'll be back soon." Holding tightly to Deanna's precious boy, Elmer trotted off at a fairly good clip. As he made his way around the exterior of the market, passing cars and plenty of white-top, yellow-top, and black-top buggies in the parking lot, Elmer's smile grew wider. Several people looked his way and waved. Elmer gave a nod in their direction, and Abner kept laughing. Elmer wished the game of horsey ride could last forever, but unfortunately, he had a real horse to shoe on the other side of town. Later this evening though, he planned to stop by Rufus Kanagy's place to see Deanna. If things went well, by the end of the day, he'd be counting the weeks till his and Deanna's wedding.CHAPTER 2
Elmer stood at the pump outside his house, washing the grime from his face, hands, and arms. An evening breeze swept across the yard, rustling the colorful leaves remaining on the trees and stirring those on the ground. The cool air made him shiver.
At moments like this, Elmer wished he had indoor plumbing. If he wasn't in a hurry to get over to Deanna's, he'd fill the washtub with warm water heated on the stove and soak awhile.
Before Elmer had left the flea market that morning, Deanna had invited him to join them for supper this evening. So if he wanted to be there on time, taking a hot bath was out of the question.
As Elmer finished washing and drying off, he rehearsed in his mind the exact words he hoped to say to Deanna. Saying them to himself was simple, but looking into Deanna's eyes could easily make him forget the perfect speech he wanted to memorize. It was important to word his proposal just right. If Elmer didn't say it properly, she might turn him down. "Deanna, will you marry me?" or "Deanna, will you be my wife?" Should I just blurt it out or say something else to lead up to it?
One thing was for sure. Elmer had no intentions of admitting how his love for her reached all the way back to their teen years.
Elmer looked across the yard and saw his dog, Freckles, heading his way. The German shorthaired pointer, with a white body and liver spots, always seemed eager to see his master — especially during bird-hunting season. In Mifflin County, small game–hunting season started in ten days. Elmer wasn't a serious hunter; he simply enjoyed the time in the fields, hunting with his dog and watching Freckles go into a point when a rabbit or pheasant crouched nearby. When he gave the command, Freckles flushed out the animal. It was gratifying when he and Freckles worked together to bring a pheasant home for supper or to share with his parents.
Freckles brushed against Elmer's leg and let out a few more barks.
"Not now, faithful hund. I don't have time for play, but soon you and I will have some time to hunt the fields together." Elmer leaned down and gave the dog's head a few pats. "I'm going to see my girl and need to get changed in a hurry."
Freckles cocked his head to one side and stared up at Elmer with pathetic brown eyes. Too bad the dog didn't talk. Elmer felt certain he'd ask to come along. Under different circumstances, Freckles might be going. Abner always got a kick out of tossing a stick and watching Freckles bring it back. But tonight, Elmer didn't need the hassle of being responsible for the dog's every move.
With one more quick pat, Elmer left Freckles and went into the house. Hopefully, he had a clean white shirt and pair of brown trousers to wear. He chuckled, remembering the time an English boy he'd met asked why he and the other Nebraska Amish who lived in the Big Valley didn't wear suspenders, while Amish from the other districts wore one suspender across their right shoulder. Elmer had replied: "Don't rightly know. That's how it's always been."
* * *
When Elmer arrived at Rufus's home, it surprised him to see Deanna outside taking laundry off the line. It was almost six o'clock. He figured she'd be inside fixing supper by now. With it being flea market day, Elmer wondered if Deanna had gotten home later than normal.
Should have considered how busy she'd be and declined her supper invitation, Elmer berated himself. I could have come by after the meal. Well, I'm here now, so I may as well offer to help her.
Before he went over to join Deanna, Elmer sat quietly in his buggy a few minutes, watching her. Was it any wonder he felt the way he did? Even as she took clothes off the line and folded them neatly where she stood, one could see how she did this task with care. Deanna had been a good wife to Elmer's friend. Simon had mentioned numerous times how blessed he felt to have a woman like Deanna. Without a doubt, she was a loving mother to Abner too. Elmer would never be able to fill Simon's shoes, but if Deanna accepted his proposal, he'd work night and day to make her happy and be a good role model for Abner.
After Elmer climbed down from the buggy and secured his horse to the hitching rail, he gave his shirt a tug. It felt awfully tight around his throat. Walking toward Deanna, Elmer's sweaty hands trembled, but his eyes never drifted from her lovely face.
* * *
Deanna smiled when Elmer approached. "Am I here too early?" he asked.
She shook her head. "You're right on time. Chicken's in the oven, and mixed vegetables are on the stove. My daed's keeping an eye on Abner while I get the clothes off the line."
"Here, let me help you." Elmer removed two towels and put them in the wicker basket by Deanna's feet.
She flapped her hand in his direction. "Oh, no need. Why don't you go in the house and visit with Dad and Abner? I'll be in shortly, and then we'll eat."
"If it's okay, I'd rather help you." Elmer pulled another towel down and shuffled his feet a few times.
Is he nervous about something? Deanna wondered. If so, what could it be?
When everything was off the line and the basket filled with clothes, Deanna bent to pick it up, but Elmer beat her to it. He stood staring at her with the oddest expression. Elmer wasn't acting like himself this evening.
"Is something wrong?" She looked up at him, tilting her head to one side.
Blinking rapidly, beads of sweat erupted on his forehead. "I uh ... Th–there's a q–question I want to ask you."
"What is it, Elmer?" Deanna had never heard him stutter before.
He took a step forward then two back. "The thing is ..." Elmer paused, dropping his gaze to the ground. "I wondered if you ..."
His words were cut off when Abner came out the door, waving his hands and shouting, "Sis zeit fer's nachtesse!"
"Jah, we know it's time for supper," Deanna called to him. "Go back inside now, Son. We'll be there in a few minutes."
Abner's chin jutted out, and he pouted. Deanna hoped the boy obeyed and didn't embarrass her in front of Elmer.
A few seconds went by, and then Abner turned and went back in the house.
Deanna faced Elmer. "Now what was the question you were about to ask?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Brides of the Big Valley"
Copyright © 2019 Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter & Richelle Brunstetter.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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.
Table of Contents
Rose Mary's Resolve,