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Excerpt of Love Comes To Paradise by Mary Ellis

Purchase


New Beginnings #2
Harvest House Publishers
February 2013
On Sale: February 1, 2013
Featuring: Lewis Miller; Elam Detweiler; Nora King
347 pages
ISBN: 0736938672
EAN: 9780736938679
Kindle: B00B03M54U
Paperback / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Inspirational Amish

Also by Mary Ellis:

100 Proof Murder, August 2021
Hardcover / e-Book
One For the Road, January 2021
Hardcover / e-Book
Island of Last Resorts, November 2019
Hardcover / e-Book
Sweet Taste of Revenge, February 2019
Hardcover / e-Book
The Amish Sweet Shop, December 2018
Trade Size / e-Book
Hiding in Plain Sight, August 2018
Hardcover / e-Book
Sunset in Old Savannah, April 2017
Trade Size / e-Book
Magnolia Moonlight, August 2016
Paperback / e-Book
What Happened on Beale Street, April 2016
Paperback / e-Book
Amish Christmas Memories, September 2015
e-Book
Midnight on the Mississippi, August 2015
Paperback / e-Book
The Last Heiress, February 2015
Paperback / e-Book
The Lady and the Officer, August 2014
Paperback / e-Book
A Plain Man, April 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Romance on the River, April 2014
e-Book
Always in My Heart, February 2014
e-Book
The Quaker and the Rebel, January 2014
Paperback / e-Book
An Amish Miracle, December 2013
Paperback / e-Book
A Little Bit of Charm, September 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Love Comes To Paradise, February 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Living In Harmony, August 2012
Paperback / e-Book
An Amish Family Reunion, February 2012
Paperback / e-Book
A Marriage For Meghan, October 2011
Paperback / e-Book
Abigail's New Hope, April 2011
Paperback
Sarah's Christmas Miracle, August 2010
Paperback
The Way To A Man's Heart, July 2010
Paperback
Never Far From Home, January 2010
Paperback
A Widow's Hope, March 2009
Paperback

Excerpt of Love Comes To Paradise by Mary Ellis

Chapter One

"Are you lost, miss? This is the bus to Columbia."

Nora King almost levitated out of her high–top shoes. She turned to find a kind ebony face inches from her own. "I don't think I am. Do you mean Columbia, Missouri?" She shifted the heavy suitcase to her other hand.

The bus driver chuckled, revealing several gold teeth. "It's the only one we've got. You're a long way from South Carolina. Want me to stow that in the underbelly or do you want to put it in the overhead?" He pointed at her bag.

The question dumbfounded Nora as people jostled past on both sides. "I'm not sure," she murmured. In fact, there wasn't much she was sure of since leaving Harmony. Who would have thought it would be so hard to get to Missouri? It certainly hadn't been such an ordeal to travel from Pennsylvania to Maine.

The bus driver straightened after stowing several suitcases into a large compartment above the wheels. "It's a little over two hours to Columbia from here, St. Louis." He pointed at the ground, in case she truly was lost. "Is there anything you need from the bag during the drive—snacks, reading matter, personal items?"

"Jah, I mean, yes." Nora flushed as she lapsed into her Deutsch dialect. "Sorry, I'm Amish."

He offered another magnificent smile. "That much I figured out on my own. Since the bag isn't too large and you'll need things, stow in in the rack above your head. But climb up and find a seat. It's time to go." The driver pointed at the steps and then resumed packing luggage into the underbelly.

Nora had no idea why she was acting like this. She'd ridden plenty of buses in her lifetime, just not on any this side of the Mississippi River. She was in the West and in the new home state of Elam Detweiler. That thought left her weak in the knees. Nevertheless, she joined the queue boarding the bus in the St. Louis terminal and started the second last leg of her journey.

"Nora? Nora King?" An unfamiliar female voice sang out.

Nora gazed over a sea of English faces, yet none seemed particularly interested in her.

"Back here, Nora." A small hand waved in the air, midway down the aisle.

Nora inched her way back, careful not to bump anyone with her overstuffed duffle bag. Her sister, Amy, sewed her several dresses, along with kapps, and then bought her brand new underwear. Nora should have bought a bigger suitcase. After hefting her bag and jamming it between two others, she peered into the blue eyes of the person calling her name—a pretty girl around her own age. "You're Amish," she stammered.

"I am. Did you think you would be the only one?" The girl became even prettier when she smiled. "Sit here with me and stop blocking the aisle." She patted the vinyl seat beside her.

Acutely aware people were growing impatient behind her, Nora did as she was told. "Danki, I will."

"I'm Violet, and I'm your official welcome–to–Missouri committee. My mother and me, that is." She hooked a thumb toward the rear of the bus. "My mamm moved to another seat so you and I could get acquainted during the ride." Violet straightened her apron over a sage green dress with an expression of pure joy with her idea.

Nora peeked over the seat. Two rows back a middle–aged woman lifted her hand in a wave. She appeared old enough to be the girl's grossmammi, not her mother. "Danki for saving a seat and for the welcome, but how did you know I would take this bus?"

"It was arranged by Emily Gingerich, sister of Sally Detweiler, sister–in–law to your sister, Amy Detweiler. Hmmm, does that make Sally your sister–in–law, too? I don't know how that works, but it doesn't really matter since you're here now and soon we'll be in Columbia. My father arranged for a hired van to take us the rest of the way to Paradise. He'll be waiting at the terminal." Violet sputtered out of air.

Nora blinked like an owl, bewildered despite Violet's long–winded explanation. "I see," she said unconvincingly.

"Forgive me for chattering like a magpie. My daed says I run off at the mouth to make up for the fact I can't run around." She laughed without restraint.

"I don't mind, talk all you want. But are running or jogging frowned upon in your local Ordnung?" Nora was eager to learn the rules and regulations after her experience in the ultra–conservative district of Harmony, Maine.

It was Violet's turn to stare with confusion. "Goodness no, Nora King. What an odd question. You could run until you drop over with a side–stitch if you like. But I can't due to bum legs." She patted her dress where her kneecaps would be. "I fell from the barn loft when I was four years old. I'd sneaked up the ladder when my sisters weren't looking, even though my parents had warned me a hundred times."

"Good grief. You're lucky you weren't killed." Nora noticed Violet's dress was a soft shade of sea–blue with pleasure. Harmony had allowed only navy, black or dull brown.

"That's the truth. But I don't have to stay in a wheelchair all the time. I can hobble around on crutches but tire out quickly." Violet cocked her head as though waiting for a reaction.

Nora shrugged her shoulders. "At least a wheelchair is more comfortable than those hard, back–less benches during preaching services. And you'll always a place to sit at social events." She drank deeply from her water bottle.

Violet threw her head back and laughed. "You have a great attitude!" Her freckles seemed to dance across her nose. "You're not uncomfortable with me being crippled?"

Nora stared at her as the bus pulled out of the depot. "Of course not. Don't be a goose. What difference does it make whether or not you can run? I can always push your wheelchair fast if you need to get some place in a hurry."

Without warning, Violet threw both arms around Nora and squeezed. "You and I might end up being good friends."

A perfect stranger until ten minutes ago.

An expression of affection from a human being other than her sister, Amy.

"That would be nice," she said. "Since I don't have any friends in Missouri. I only had two in Maine and didn't have many in Lancaster either." Nora smoothed the wrinkles in her mud–brown dress, wishing she'd worn one of the new ones.

Violet's eyes rounded. "You once lived in Lancaster? I heard stories how crowded that county has become. Plenty of Old Order folks have resettled here since they couldn't find affordable farmland to buy in Pennsylvania."

Nora's stomach lurched and it had nothing to do with the bus gaining speed on the freeway entrance ramp. "Please don't tell me where I'm headed has only a dozen families and a town the size of a postage stamp. There were just a couple hundred Amish people in three communities in the entire state of Maine."

"You're moving to a place you know nothing about?" Violet drew back, clucking her tongue. "There are nine thousand Amish in Missouri, in thirty–eight settlements and at least ninety districts. Does that brighten your day a bit? The city of Columbia is only an hour away with beautiful parks and nature areas and a super–duper mall." She leaned over conspiratorially. "But don't tell my daed that mamm I went there twice after doctor's appointments. We didn't buy anything except for a giant pretzel. We just looked around at the stuff Englischers spend their hard–earned money on. My father thinks malls are the devil's playground, but everyone looked rather harmless to me."

Grinning, Nora relaxed against the headrest. She liked Violet already. "Harmony would be nice if you're ready to marry and raise a family, like my sister, Amy. But for a single woman, not ready to settle down, it was deader than an anthill in January."

"In that case, you'll like Paradise. We have almost forty Amish businesses in town and spread throughout the county. Lots of bakeries, mercantiles, doll shops, quilts, crafts, antiques, baskets, beside manly businesses like lumberyards, feed–and–seeds, leather tanners and carriage shops. You'll have no trouble finding a job." Violet dug cheese crackers from her purse and tore open the pack.

Nora took one to calm her queasy stomach. "Do you mean your Ordnung permits women to work?"

"Of course, women are allowed to work. Where did you say you came from—Maine or Mars?"

Nora choked on the bite of cracker. "The two were pretty much the same thing," she said after another sip of water. "Women were forbidden to take jobs outside their homes."

Violet devoured another Nab. "Usually women here quit work once they marry and the bopplin start arriving. But until then, people will scratch their heads or shake a stick if you sit around the house twiddling your thumbs." She leaned to whisper into Nora's ear. "Don't you love that quaint expression—as though babies take the Greyhound to the Columbia depot, call for the hired van, and show up with a fully packed diaper bag." She unleashed such uproarious laughter the people in front of them peeked over their seats.

Nora snickered. "It does paint a different picture than a mother in hours of painful labor." She pulled another cracker from Violet's pack. "I'm glad Paradise isn't as stodgy as Harmony had been. There was little to do, especially during the winter, with few social events other than singings. And the church singings were for everybody, not just young single people. Plus, did I mention no rumschpringe?"

Violet's hand, holding the last cracker, halted midway to her mouth. "You're pulling my pinned–together leg, right? No rumschpringe?"

Nora produced a second water bottle from her purse and passed it to Violet. "I assure you, I don't joke about the district I used to live in. They were very conservative and tolerated no running–around time."

"How on earth did folks start courting, marry and then add to the rapidly–growing Amish population? Or are you saying most Harmonians lived and died lonesome, celibate lives?"

It was Nora's turn to draw the attention of nearby travelers with her outburst. "No, people did manage to meet and fall in love, in spite of the incredible obstacles placed in their path." She gazed out the opposite window as memories of tall, handsome Lewis Miller flitted through her mind. She could easily have fallen in love with him if not for the monotony of central Maine...and if the irresistible, black–eyed, wild–as–an–eagle Elam Detweiler hadn't changed everything for her. She shook off thoughts of both men and turned back to her companion. "So you know Emily Gingerich—Sally Detweiler's sister? I will be staying with her, at least for a while, but we have never met."

"Of course, I know her. Paradise might be larger than Harmony, but we have plenty of social occasions to meet each other. Besides, Emily owns Grain of Life bakery." Violet lowered her voice. "They are the best bakery in town, but don't tell my mamm I said that. One of her schwestern owns another of the shops."

Nora choked on her gulp of water. "So far you've shared with me one secret to keep from your father and another from your mother. We just met today. I could be the world's biggest blabbermouth."

"You don't appear to be and I'm a good judge of character." Violet studied Nora with narrowed eyes, not the least bit nervous. "Tell me, are you up to the challenge, Nora King, to not divulge the confidences you've heard today?"

"You bet I am. It's been a long time since anybody trusted me." Nora sighed, remembering Elam and his secrets.

Violet reached down to rub her leg, generating a metal–against–metal sound. "My leg braces itch like the devil sometimes."

"My brother–in–law, Thomas, said we're never to invoke the evil one's name."

"Jah, daed says the same thing. But I'm not worried about any fallen angel, since I never forget to say my prayers." She winced, as though her scratching had touched a sore spot. "Now that you're privy to several of my dark secrets, you must confess one of yours." Violet settled her hands in her lap.

Nora's head snapped around. "What do you mean? What makes you think I have any?"

"Come on. My legs might malfunction, but there's nothing wrong with my mind. You just moved halfway across the country, to a town that's a complete mystery, to stay with a couple you've never laid eyes on. I smell a secret as strong as cheese left out in the sun." Her stare practically bored holes through Nora. "Don't you trust me?"

Typical of her impetuous personality, it took Nora no time to decide. Something about Violet appealed to her enormously. She wanted nothing to nip their friendship in the bud. "I fell in love in Harmony," she whispered, "with the wrong sort of man. I don't know if he plans to stay Amish, and he doesn't know I'm coming. But when he left Maine, he headed to Paradise. So I pointed myself in this direction; then put one foot in front of the other until I got on his bus an hour ago." Nora leaned back in her seat. "Now you know my secret."

Violet stared at her, speechless and wide–eyed. "That is the most romantic thing I've ever heard in my life. I will take your secret to my grave if need be."

And if the expression of awe could be trusted as an indicator, Nora had just made a new best friend.

* * * * *

"Coming," called Emily from the hallway. She pulled off her apron, tossed it on the counter and swept open the kitchen door. Before her stood a small woman, not more than a girl, in a dusty cape and wrinkled brown dress. Her clothes looked too big for her as though cut from a pattern meant for someone else. But she had the prettiest green eyes Emily had ever seen.

"Mrs. Gingerich?" the girl asked, peering up through thick dark eyelashes. "I'm Nora King, Amy Detweiler's sister. I've come from Maine."

"Thank goodness. For a moment, I feared you were here to sell me a new set of pots and pans or some of those English cosmetics." Emily grabbed her sleeve and pulled her into the kitchen.

Nora waved at the hired van idling in the driveway as she passed through the doorway. "No, ma'am, I hope my arrival hasn't come at an inopportune time." She clutched her duffle bag with both hands, gazing out from inside a huge outer bonnet.

"I was joking, Nora. Please sit and get comfortable. I expected you today and hoped you would enjoy the company of Violet and Rosanna on the ride from St. Louis. Isn't that Violet a hoot? She never fails to make me smile within five minutes of being in the same room."

Nora removed her cloak and hideous bonnet; then hung them both on a peg. "She seems nice and is really quite funny. Danki for arranging them to meet me. I was a bit discombobulated in St. Louis." She stood behind the chair as though waiting for a certain sign or signal.

"Sit. Take a load off. They travel to Columbia once a month for physical therapy and twice a year for a specialist's re–evaluation of her legs. The doctors want to keep them as strong as possible since Violet insists on using crutches whenever possible." Emily filled the kettle and placed it on the stove. "We'll have tea and maybe a few cookies. Dinner will be in an hour or so."

Nora sat and folded her hands like a schoolgirl awaiting an assignment or admonishment.

"Unless you're starving now, in which case, I'll make you a sandwich."

"No, ma'am, tea will be fine. I can wait until supper." Nora remained very still as though too frightened to move.

"Please, no more ma'ams. My name is Emily." Without the bonnet, the girl had delicate, small–boned features. Wisps of strawberry blond hair escaped her prayer kapp and framed her face. "Are you sure you're the Nora King my sister wrote to me about? Or have I admitted an imposter into my house?"

Nora paled significantly. "I am she, although I have no identification. Shall I describe Sally's home or her two sons, Aden and Jeremiah?"

Emily placed a dozen oatmeal pecan cookies on a plate and sat down across from the scared rabbit. "Since I have never met my nephews yet, nor have I ever been to Sally's home in Maine, I'll take your word for it. And I'll stop teasing until we get to know each other better." She filled two mugs with hot water and teabags. "Welcome to our home, Nora. We're happy to have you and hope you'll soon like our humble part of the world."

"Everyone does have better senses of humor here." Nora took a cookie from the plate to nibble. "I'm afraid I lost mine when I left Pennsylvania."

Her earnestness tugged on Emily's heartstrings. "Sally told me what happened to your parents in a letter. You have my deepest sympathy. A woman is never prepared to lose her mamm even if she's seventy years old. At your tender age, the loss is especially painful."

Nora met Emily's gaze over the rim of her cup. "I try to focus on the future instead of the past. I did too much staring out the window and crying in Harmony. I'm eager to make a new beginning in Paradise."

"Then you've come to the right place. The Amish population of Missouri had tripled in the last twenty years. Folks move here from all over—Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Still plenty of cheap land and farming is what ninety–nine percent of us still do."

Nora gasped. "That's not like Pennsylvania at all. Most folks have had to learn a trade or start a business."

Emily stirred sugar into her tea. "My ehemann is part of the one percent. His brothers work their family's land. But Jonas started a lumberyard. It does fairly well, selling to Amish and English, if you'll forgive me for some prideful bragging."

"I will forgive just about anything if I can have another cookie. They're delicious." A dimple formed in Nora's cheek, the first sign her shyness might be ebbing.

Emily pushed the plate across the table. "Eat to your heart's content. You can stand a few pounds, whereas I cannot." She slapped one rounded hip. "Didn't my sister feed you while you lived there?"

"Sally certainly tried to, but I get migraines from time–to–time. They take my appetite away for days." She pressed her fingertips to a spot between her eyebrows.

"Migraines can be triggered by stress. I aim to see you relaxed and not worrying so much."

Nora reached for another cookie and consumed it in three bites. "Was your Old Order district formed by people moving from Pennsylvania?"

"No, we were settled sixty years ago by a group who came from Iowa."

"Iowa?" she asked. "Where is that?"

Emily smiled. "And to think you travelled all the way from practically the Atlantic Ocean. The Lord be praised! He pities those with a poor knowledge of geography."

"I prayed plenty on the way here. I took the Downeaster train from Portland, Maine, to Boston; the Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago; then caught the Texas Eagle to St. Louis. I tried to learn the layout of my country along the way. What are the states near Missouri?" Nora possessed the innocent, curious expression of a child.

"Kansas is to the west; Arkansas is due south; Illinois lies to the east; plus a corner of us touches both Kentucky and Tennessee. A long time ago, I pronounced it Ar–kansas, so it rhymed with our western neighbor. Finally, an Englischer in my shop corrected me. She whispered the right pronunciation softly so I wouldn't be embarrassed. But what's to be ashamed of? I had never heard anybody say the word before." Both of them laughed.

"Those Iowa Amish—do you think they're similar to the Maine districts?" asked Nora, taking another cookie.

Emily realized where Nora's queries were headed. "Sally wrote to me about Harmony's no–rumschpringe policy. And about the fact you haven't been baptized or joined the church yet. I assured her that no one would pressure you to commit to the Amish church until you're ready."

Nora released an audible breath of air, relaxing for the first time since her arrival. "I'm happy to hear that. It wasn't so much they pressured me, but every time I turned around I was breaking another rule. Truly, Harmony was simply too small to be my cup–of–tea." She lifted her cup and drained the contents. "Violet mentioned that your bishop allows social events for young people, regular–type courting, and jobs for unmarried women. Sounds more like what I'm used to after being raised in Lancaster County."

Emily considered her reply as she boiled a pot of water for noodles and reheated yesterday's stew. Should she mention their district will soon become far less liberal if one of their ministers gets his way? She glanced back at Nora and decided to hold off with full disclosure. The woman had just arrived in a strange land where she knew no one...and the bus back to St. Louis doesn't even run tomorrow. "We're more liberal than the districts near Seymour, Missouri," she said. "But why don't you wait to learn all the details? Let me show you your new room. You can bring up your bag and start to unpack."

Nora rose to her feet gracefully. "Will I share the room with your daughter? Sally didn't mention whether or not you had kinner."

"We haven't been blessed...yet." Emily hoped her greatest sorrow wasn't obvious as she walked toward the doorway.

"Danki for opening your home to me." Nora followed on her heels. "I so wanted to move here after Sally described her childhood and rumschpringe while courting Thomas."

"Jah, but I wish he hadn't taken my sister so far away. At least she's happy in Maine, so that's what counts." Emily led the way up to the bedrooms and chose her words for the second delicate topic in almost the same number of minutes. "Sally mentioned her brother–in–law's relocation had something to do with your coming to Missouri." Emily opened the door to the guest room, which would be Nora's for as long as she wanted it.

She walked straight to the blanket chest and deposited her bag. "Partially, I suppose. Elam and I became friends when I lived in Harmony. But it was Sally's description of Paradise that fascinated me." Nora smiled with genuine warmth. "The fact Sally's kin still lived here helped me decide, since I didn't want to return to Pennsylvania. I hope to run into Elam if he's around. He mentioned taking a grand tour in his new car. He even planned to see the Ozark Mountains, wherever they are."

"He brought a car?" asked Emily, shaking her head. She pulled down the window shade against the night. "The Ozarks are in Arkansas, to the south. My cousin said Elam lives somewhere in the county. But he hasn't shown his face here or at a preaching service yet, I might add." She fluffed both of the pillows. "You'll find him, I suppose, if it's meant to be." Emily walked to the door. "You've got time to unpack and take a nap before dinner. Come down about five o'clock. I wound the clock on your bedside table."

Nora hurried toward her and embraced shyly. "I am so grateful to you."

"There's nothing wrong with making a fresh start." Emily hugged the thin woman, patting her back.

Who had made her afraid of her own shadow? And what had gone on her sister's home? Thomas Detweiler seemed like a good man when he'd met, married, and taken away her sister five years ago.

* * * * *

"Giddy–up there, Nell. I can walk faster than you're pulling this buggy." Solomon Trask shook the reins above the mare's back, but did not slap them down. No sense in startling the old girl. She probably enjoyed the warm April sunshine on her flanks, the sweet smell of apple blossoms tickling her nose, and the absence of traffic on the county road—increasingly rare for Saturdays.

The horse dutifully picked up the pace to a tad quicker than he could walk.

Solomon tilted his head back, letting sunshine reach his face beneath the hat brim. How he loved spring! When men plowed their fields and planted seed corn or soybeans that would provide sustenance and a cash crop for the year, as Old Order Amish have done for centuries. Overhead, songbirds filled the crystalline blue sky, red–tailed hawks kited on wind currents, and water fowl crossed the Great Plains back to Canada. Life was good. The Lord had richly blessed him with a fraa and six fine kinner, including four boys that had built their homes nearby. His sons had taken over farm duties so he could minister to the district, keeping them on the straight–and–narrow path. If he failed in his responsibilities, the Lord might not continue to bless their growing community.

Since drawing which made him one of two district ministers for life, he had endeavored to adhere to the Bible. God hadn't provided His holy book as mere suggestions or helpful advice. His word was law, and only through strict adherence can a man find direction in this life and salvation for the next.

A hollow, uncomfortable rumble in his belly reminded Solomon it had been hours since lunch and at this pace, it would be hours before supper. Should he stop to buy a dozen cookies at the next farm—one of the district's three bakeries? After all, his wife would appreciate an extra pie or two in case she hadn't found time to bake. Pricking up her ears, Nell trotted up the drive as though oats and a good rub–down waited up ahead.

However, Nell hadn't heard the whinny of another horse, but the sound of a car radio. Loud, discordant music blared from a pickup truck parked in the side yard of the Morganstein farm. Solomon tied the reins to a hitching post and climbed from the buggy slowly. As usual, his back spasmed from sitting too long.

"Guder nachmittag," greeted one of the Morganstein sons.

"Good afternoon to you," said the minister. "Could you bring my mare a bucket of water and maybe a little grain?"

The boy nodded and scampered off while Solomon trudged past the truck. He headed toward Levi's leather shop, an outbuilding that had become popular on Fridays and Saturdays with English tourists. Solomon hadn't gone twenty paces when a sight stopped him in his tracks. Two of Levi's sons, both in their late teens, were talking with two English girls of around the same age. Doubtlessly, the girls belonged to the red truck. One stood hip–shot, swigging from a soda bottle, while the other moved her body suggestively to the beat of the infernal music. Solomon's gut twisted into a knot. Both girls wore shorts far above their knees and blouses that didn't come close to covering their stomachs. He approached the foursome with building ire.

Luke Morganstein spotted him and spoke first. "Hullo, Minister Trask. My dad's in his shop and my mother is the house."

Solomon noticed the boy spoke in English, not their dialect of German. He addressed the Englischers. "Where are your parents?"

The taller of the two girls smiled brightly. "My dad's buying a new jacket. You guys make the best leather stuff in the state. And my mom's over there checking out your free–range chickens. She loves the idea of no–cages and will buy every last egg you've got."

Solomon followed the girl's long purple fingernail in the direction it pointed. The sight made his jaw drop agape. A middle–aged woman in sweatshirt and tight blue jeans focused her camera, snapping pictures of the youngest Morganstein child, a girl of around three years old. The woman was actually posing the child by the henhouse and by the low fence. Bile inched up his throat, souring his mouth. Sol turned to the teenagers. "Go back to your truck, turn off that loud music, and stay there if you don't have additional clothes to put on."

The pair stared, blinked, and then bolted down the drive. The Morganstein sons vanished into the barn before Solomon could take two steps toward the chicken coop. "Stop that," he said. He hadn't raised his voice but the woman froze and then turned like a corned animal.

"Stop what?" she asked, glancing around nervously.

"Do not take pictures of our people. They are graven images and are forbidden."

She blushed to deep crimson. "Sorry, I didn't know that. What about chickens and goats. Can I photograph them?" She sounded utterly sincere.

Solomon sighed. "Yes, animals and buildings are fine. Good day to you." He picked up the little girl who had started to cry and strode toward the house. Dealing with Englischers wasn't his calling—dealing with members of his congregation was. He opened the back door without knocking, a common practice among Amish, and stepped into an overly–warm kitchen.

"Guder nachmittag, Sol." greeted Sarah Morganstein. "You look hot. How about a cool drink of water?" She wiped her palms down her apron.

When he set the child down, she scampered for her mother's skirt. "Jah, that would be gut." He breathed in and out, trying to control his temper.

Sarah poured and handed him a drink. "I suppose you heard from the deacon that Levi worked on the Sabbath. He hadn't intended to, and it was only one time, but he had to fill a large order of leather chaps on a tight deadline. Of course, the deacon stopped by that particular Sunday and found Levi in his shop." She tugged on her dangling kapp ribbons. "He's mighty sorry and told Jonas he would never do it again."

The water glass almost slipped from Sol's sweaty fingers as he sorted out the new information, although he had no idea what "chaps" were. "No, I hadn't heard. I wanted to say your sons are cavorting with half–dressed English girls and a woman was taking photographs of your little one." He spoke in a raspy whisper.

Sarah blanched very pale and drew her daughter to her side. "I didn't know about the pictures. The tourists buy much from Levi and the bakery, helping pay the medical bills from my last female surgery. But I'll keep a better eye on little Josie and my boys."

"See that you do." Solomon drained the glass in several swallows. "Tell your ehemann he broke the Fourth Commandment and must confess on his knees on Sunday." Then he marched from the house to his buggy without either buying pies or speaking to Levi.

This wasn't the first time he suspected members were doing things they shouldn't on the Lord's Day. He would take the matter up with the entire congregation—and the sooner the better—before things spiraled out of control.

Excerpt from Love Comes To Paradise by Mary Ellis
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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