Authors: Olivia Newport
In Plain View
Taken for English
© 2014 by Olivia Newport
Print ISBN 978-1-61626-714-8
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62836-383-8
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62836-384-5
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Müllerhaus Publishing Arts, Inc.,
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
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Printed in the United States of America.
For my siblings, because of the host of characters they are and the ones they inspire.
Writing is often solitary, but I do not find it lonely. I bump into too many people on the road between idea and book to feel lonely.
The largest portion of this story came into being on Saturday mornings at a local coffee shop, with my friend Erin sitting across the table crafting her own story.
Rachelle shares her favorite books with me. Since she has terrific taste, reading these books propels me toward writing more, writing better, writing swiftly.
My family grounds me in reality while also understanding my need to withdraw to another world.
I was working on this manuscript when
, the first in this series, released and I began to hear from readers. If I started to lag, their enthusiasm thrust me back into the game. I admit I was not quite prepared for this particular experience, but I am thankful for the cause and effect.
siren screamed down the highway. Ruth Beiler turned her head half an inch toward the sound, catching the reflex before curiosity about events outside her family’s home could distract her from the solemn occasion before her eyes. In a minute, the congregation would sing another hymn from the
and Ruth would savor every note. No matter how many times she went to an
church in Colorado Springs, her heart yearned for the plaintive rhythm of the Amish hymns she had grown up with. Music should have space to think, to reflect, to absorb.
And after the hymn and a prayer would come the moment that had Ruth’s heart beating fast today.
Annalise Friesen was presenting herself for baptism. Joining the Amish church. This should be all Rufus needed to formally ask Annalise to marry him. If he did not, Ruth intended to have a firm conversation with her older brother.
Ruth glanced at Rufus seated across the aisle with the men. He was twenty-nine and still clean shaven—unmarried. Anyone outside the community might have thought that the small boy next to Rufus was his son, but Jacob was their littlest brother.
Next to Ruth, her mother shifted slightly in her chair, leaning forward. Normally the Beiler women chose to sit toward the back of the congregation of about sixty people, especially when the faithful gathered in their own home. But this day was different. Eli Beiler sat with bearded men at the front of the assembly on the men’s side of the aisle. Rufus sat farther back, with the unmarried men, but he had taken a seat on the aisle where he could see well, with Jacob and Joel next to him. Ruth sat with her mother, Franey, and her sisters Lydia and Sophie toward the front, where they could see well but not seem ostentatious.
Because Annalise was being baptized.
Heaviness pressed against Ruth’s efforts to breathe. They would not speak of it, but she was sure her mother would be remembering the same event, the fall baptism service, almost three years ago.
Ruth had knelt before the bishop as Annalise was doing today. And during the prayer preceding the baptism, with all heads bowed and eyes closed, she slipped out.
Just left. Ran. Hid. Rode with an
man to a bus stop and moved to Colorado Springs, where she was now a student in the university’s school of nursing.
Ruth had briefly considered not being present for Annalise’s baptism, but her mother would remember Ruth’s baptism day whether Ruth was there or not. This was a day of joy for her dearest friend! Ruth did not want to miss a moment.
Another siren shrieked on the main highway that ran past the Beiler property outside Westcliffe, Colorado. In Colorado Springs, two sirens could mean anything. Emergency medical technicians answering a 911 call. A police car chasing a speeder. Fire trucks on the way to a kitchen grease fire. When she was driving, Ruth got out of the way of the emergency vehicles but otherwise went about her own business.
Among Custer County’s thin population, sirens were rare.
Ruth heard the slight rustles behind her. Others had noticed the sirens and looked at each other, wondering.
The bishop began his prayer for the baptismal candidates. Ruth bowed her head but kept her eyes open and watched Annalise.
Annie’s heart pounded.
Not out of doubt. Not out of fear. Not with regret.
Until now she had only imagined what it might be like to truly belong to the community of the Amish. She had lived in Westcliffe for more than a year, worshiping with these families every other Sunday. Nothing in her home off Main Street ran on electricity. She had given her car to Ruth Beiler months ago. Her quilt was almost finished. Jeans and T-shirts had gone to a thrift shop in favor of the Amish dresses she had learned to sew for herself.
But this moment. This would make it all real and true and lasting. Anyone who thought she was just playing house the Amish way might drop their jaws, but Annie was going through with this.
Pressing her lips together, Annie tried to focus on the bishop’s prayer. Her German still had a way to go, but she picked out the main themes. Faith. Commitment. Vows.
Annie’s scalp itched under her prayer
. She ignored the sensation. The prayer ended, and she let her eyes rise enough to see what was happening. The bishop moved to the first of the baptismal candidates. Annie was one of four and the only one well out of her teen years. The deacon followed the bishop closely, carrying a wooden bucket of water. Behind him was the bishop’s wife.
One by one the candidates answered the baptismal questions and made their vows.
“Do you believe and confess that Jesus Christ is God’s Son?
“Do you believe and trust that you are united with a Christian church of the Lord, and do you promise obedience to God and the church?
“Do you renounce the devil, the world, and the lustfulness of your flesh and commit yourself to Christ and His church?
“Do you promise to live by the
of the church and to help administer them according to Christ’s Word and teaching, and to abide by the truth you have accepted, thereby to live and thereby to die with help of the Lord?”
When Annie gave her final vow, the bishop’s wife removed her head covering. The bishop dipped a cup into the water bucket and poured the water into his hand then poured it on Annie’s head three times, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
“Rise,” the bishop said, “and be a faithful member of the church.”
Annie accepted the hand of the bishop’s wife, stood, turned, and grinned at the Beiler family.
A siren blared. The third one.
Rufus Beiler could not take his violet-blue eyes off Annalise.
She was a resolute woman. Whatever she decided to do, she did with her whole self. When she spoke her vows, he believed her. Even her posture had taken on a new demeanor in the weeks of her baptismal instruction. In Amish garments, she no longer looked uncertain about how to move around efficiently and gracefully. Her gray eyes and keen mind absorbed detail after detail about Amish life, and her actions moved from awkward imitation of the patterns she observed to fluid heartfelt expression of inward conviction.
Though she had come to them from the
world, Annalise Friesen was one of the truest people Rufus had ever known.
And the only woman he had ever loved.
The final hymn began, its tempo slightly faster as an expression of joy. The words emerged from Rufus’s mind without the assistance of the hymnal, and he sang with robust belief.
In the few seconds of silence between the final note of the hymn and the bishop’s first words of benediction, Rufus heard the footsteps on the front porch. A form crossed the curtainless wide window and paused.
form. Rufus did not catch enough of the movement to recognize the visitor. It was someone with the good sense not to burst into an Amish worship service, yet a messenger of urgent news. For no other reason would one of the
of Westcliffe approach an Amish worship service in progress.
The bishop’s voice faded. The service was over. Rufus’s glance bounced between Annalise and the front door.
Annalise. Of course Annalise. He moved toward her even as the congregation pressed around her with their congratulations. Many in the community harbored doubt. Rufus knew that much from overhearing tidbits of conversation not meant for his ears. “You have to be born Amish,” they said.