In The Promise Box, the second book of best-selling author Tricia Goyer’s Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai to give comfort to her father after her mother’s death. She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother’s most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture. What her publisher sees, though, is an opportunity for a sensational “tell-all” book about the Amish.
Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley. She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride. But will the pain of her childhoodand her potential betrayal of her communitykeep her from committing her whole heart?
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The Promise Box
By Tricia Goyer
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013Tricia Goyer
All rights reserved.
Lydia Wyse shook rain from her red curls, wishing she could as easily shake memories of the last time she'd seen Mem's lowered kapp and bowed head, praying for her daughter's return. Return not only to West Kootenai, Montana, but to the Amish. Lydia was returning all right, but not in the way Mem had wished. Tomorrow was Mem's funeral, and during the nine hours of driving—from Seattle to Montana—each minute had brought her closer to home. To heartache.
Lydia had stopped for gas in Eureka, about an hour from her parents' house, and rain now drenched her long curls. Soaked, standing in line to pay, she spotted a few Amish women climbing from a white van and hurrying into the grocery store attached to the gas station. Seeing them, a twinge of familiarity—of longing—filled her heart, but she stuffed the emotions down.
"Are those Amish from West Kootenai?" she asked the gas station attendant who took her cash.
He shrugged. "Don't know. Just Amish. Not really sure where they're from."
She walked out of the gas station and got back on the road, thinking about the phrase. All her life she'd wanted to be anything but "just Amish." Even when she wore the same type of dress, the same type of kapp as the other girls, she'd felt different. When she was sixteen, she'd discovered why.
The rain stopped its patter on the windshield. Lydia cracked the window, letting the cool, pine-scented breeze filter in, spreading a spray of curls across her cheek. She pressed harder against the gas pedal, wishing she could leave the memories behind. But she could never outrun the dark clouds of her past, no matter how hard she tried.
Picking up speed, her yellow Volkswagen Beetle snaked along the narrow country road. As she grew closer to West Kootenai, tall mountain peaks pierced the thinning clouds, rays of sunlight splitting the firmament.
Her mother's death hadn't come as a surprise. What had surprised her was the faint excitement at seeing those women in their kapps and Plain dress. How could being raised Amish seem so familiar, yet foreign? Painful.
She'd never be "just Amish." Mem, her adoptive mother, had finally disclosed that when she'd turned sixteen. Lydia should never have been born. How horrible that her birthmother had been traumatized twice—first by her conception and second from her birth. Since knowing the truth, Lydia had been running, searching for who she was apart from the Amish community. After all, her birth father was anything but Amish.
Running until now. Her mother's funeral had forced her to return. Return to her parents' home. Return to the quiet Amish community where her parents had found healing after Lydia walked away from their lifestyle and beliefs.
Alongside the road, black-and-white cows dotted a field, bright green from summer sun and rain. A few lifted their heads when she passed, as if surprised by the sight of her red hair through the window.
Rain always gave her a fuzzy silhouette. With one hand Lydia held a death grip on the steering wheel and with the other she pushed the mass of curls back from her face for the hundredth time that day, wishing she'd had enough foresight to grab a hair band. That had been the only good thing about wearing a kapp during her growing-up years. She could pin her hair up with a dozen pins, tuck it under the starched white head covering, and forget about it.
A kapp. One thing that wasn't so bad about being Amish. That and the fact she'd had plenty of time to daydream stories as she mucked stalls, hung clothes on the line, and stitched perfect designs on dishcloths.
If only life was so simple. She'd told herself she wouldn't look back—and she rarely did. But now she had no choice. Like a hook caught into her heart, the truth of who she was, how she'd been raised, reeled her in.
Truth. She could only run from it for so long.
* * *
Gideon Hooley approached the gelding with easy steps. The horse didn't cast one look, but from his perked ears Blue knew he was not alone in the pasture. The horse's brown coat shimmered in the sunlight, muscles rippling as he took one step forward. Tense. At any moment he could turn, chase Gideon down, and trample him. Gideon had seen it before. But something deep down in his gut told him Blue was different, no matter what others said.
"Untamable" was how Dave Carash described him. The Englisch man blamed it on the fact he'd had to pull the foal after the mother died in labor. "Poor thing was without oxygen and as blue as the Montana sky," Dave had said, and the name had stuck. The problem was the Englisch man worked hard to provide for his family and hadn't given enough time to the temperamental creature.
Gideon had seen it before. Horse owners often had better intentions than time and skill, and sometimes Gideon felt that instead of helping people with horse problems he was actually helping horses with people problems.
He took another step forward. "Beautiful day, isn't it, Blue?" He walked a wide circle to approach Blue straight on. Many horses were nearsighted. Things far off scared them. They needed to see them up close to trust them. But letting anyone come close was hard. Gideon understood.
The horse tossed his head.
Gideon removed his brimmed hat and turned it over in his hands, letting the sun warm the top of his head. Mr. Carash had hired him to train Blue, but today was an introduction of sorts. Gideon hadn't come with a rope or bridle. He'd come with a soft voice and an even softer hand.
"I heard some guys tried to chase you down." Gideon chuckled. "Would have liked to see that." He smiled, eyeing the bay with its long neck; fine, clean throatlatch; and deep, sloping shoulders. The gelding watched him, curious.
Intelligent eyes. With the right training he'll be a fine horse.
"Must be hard when you feel threatened." Gideon's throat tightened even as he said those words, and he glanced to his right and looked at the distant hills. "When yer scared fer your life, I understand. There were things I went through as a kid that scared me too."
His gut cinched, and his mother's words came back to him.
"Out of all the places to visit ... why'd ja want to return to Montana? It's a schrecklich place."
"Scary for a little boy, ja, but I'm a grown man now," he had told her.
"Still ... do you not mind what happened?"
"Getting lost, being scared, ja. How could I forget?" Even as an adult he still dreamed about that night in the woods alone. And his parents had never let him forget it was his disobedience that had gotten him into so much trouble.
"That's not the only matter." Mem's voice had lowered, and she'd settled into the kitchen chair, preparing to launch into a story.
His dat strode in with quickened steps, startling them both. "Leave it no mind, Lovina. It wonders me why you need to bring it up."
"Gideon needs to know the truth at some time," she mumbled under her breath.
"Not that truth." The words fell from Dat's lips like horseshoes from a hook. Flat. Hard.
From the look in Dat's eyes that day, Gideon had known he wouldn't get his father to speak a word of it. Mem either. Fine. He didn't need to hear their story. Something had happened in West Kootenai, Montana—more than just getting lost on the mountain when he was four. No one spoke of it, but the hidden truth had haunted his growing-up years.
Gideon glanced at the skittish horse again. Sympathy caused
Excerpted from The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer. Copyright © 2013 by Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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