Authors: Jerry S. Eicher
Aunt Fannie whispered to Wayne, “I’m so thankful you’re taking such good care of Miriam.”
“I’m more than glad to,” Wayne whispered back with a smile.
Miriam allowed the joy of their conversation to fill her heart. Moments later her
’s face drifted through her thoughts. A chill ran up her back.
would have to be told soon about the money she’d inherited. He wouldn’t be happy, that was for sure. She wasn’t sure which he’d be unhappiest about—that she had money or that she’d kept it a secret. Uncle William had advised her to write to her parents, but she hadn’t yet. Maybe Wayne could give her further advice. Or maybe they could tell her parents when Wayne visited Possum Valley? Although not quite as courageous, that seemed like the easiest way to handle it.
“How is this marriage stuff going to work out?” Uncle William
asked. “Miriam’s teaching school, which doesn’t let out until the first of May. And she’s from Possum Valley.”
“William!” Aunt Fannie scolded. “Miriam lives here now.”
Uncle William gave his
a fake glare. “You know what I mean. Tradition says Miriam has to marry in Possum Valley.”
Wayne didn’t miss a beat. “We’ve talked about that, and the details have to be worked out, of course—with the Lord’s help. And if the October time doesn’t work with Miriam’s parents, then we can wait until it will work.”
“That’s well spoken.” Uncle William nodded his approval. “I like that attitude.”
And so did she, Miriam decided. Should she say so? Miriam gathered her courage but her voice still squeaked when she said, “I like that in a man—in
Uncle William hooted with laughter. “Now that’s doubly well spoken. I would say you’re getting what you’re looking for in a
Now Wayne turned bright red.
Miriam was glad Uncle William said what he did. Already she felt like Wayne’s
“Stop teasing them,” Aunt Fannie said. “They’re a sweet couple.”
Uncle William looked ready to say something else, but he must have thought better of it.
The silence that followed was broken only by Wayne’s fork scraping his plate.
Aunt Fannie broke the quiet by leaping to her feet. “The pies! I almost forgot them!”
“Can’t forget the pies!” Uncle William declared with a grin.
Aunt Fannie waved the hot pies over the table so the delightful smell wafted through the air before she set them down. “There! Everyone fall to. I’m sure they’re delicious, if I do say so myself.”
“Did Miriam bake them?” Wayne eyed the offered delicacies.
Aunt Fannie smiled. “Well, she certainly could have. But I made these. Miriam’s too busy with school—and taking off for parts unknown with her man.”
Miriam turned red again, but Wayne laughed.
The two men both took large pieces and drove their forks into the flaky crust and abundant filling. Miriam cut a smaller portion out of a piece and gave the other half to Aunt Fannie. They leaned toward each other to whisper like coconspirators, “Gotta watch the weight.”
The men seemed not to notice their giggles as Wayne asked William about the weather forecast for the next week.
Uncle William pronounced with great certainty, “I expect business at the greenhouse to take off if the rains don’t hinder things. People are beginning to move about.”
Miriam hadn’t noticed the weather because she was preoccupied with school and Wayne. Uncle William usually knew how to call things right when it came to his business though.
Uncle William turned to Miriam. “Maybe you can help out a few hours after school? That is, if I can keep you away from young Wayne here and get some work out of you. We can’t have idle chitchat going on, you know.”
Miriam didn’t hesitate. “For you the answer is always yes—even if I’m busy with school activities.”
“Are you sure?” Aunt Fannie sounded concerned. “You mustn’t overdo yourself, Miriam.”
“I’ll be more than glad to help,” Miriam assured them both.
Uncle William grinned.
Miriam stood and began to clear the table, but Aunt Fannie waved her off. “Go out and spend a few minutes with Wayne before he has to leave. I know he’s wanting to get home and rest, what with the slave labor that’s needed next week.”
Wayne chuckled as he stood up. “I don’t know about the slave labor, but I should be going.”
Wayne and Miriam stopped to put on coats before they stepped out the front door into the cool of the night.
Wayne took Miriam’s hands in his. “It’s been a nice evening and a wonderful afternoon. Thanks.”
“I’m the one who should say thanks.” Miriam stepped closer to look up into his face.
They stayed that way for a long moment before Wayne’s hands found her shoulders and pulled her close.
Miriam’s thoughts raced. She would get her kiss tonight after all! Her thoughts ceased as Wayne’s face came closer and she lost herself in the moment.
hirley Yoder hung on to the bag of fast-food with one hand and the door grip with the other.
Jonas Beachy glanced over at her with a grin as he crested the hill and then brought his fancy convertible to a stop with a squeal of tires.
The young woman drew in a long breath and took in the view of Possum Valley. She could make out the well-ordered Amish farms by the lights from gas lanterns hanging in windows even though the bright twinkle of stars shone overhead. Behind them lay the small town of Berlin, Ohio.
“I guess we could have eaten somewhere much nicer than Burger King.” Jonas chuckled. He opened his car door so the interior light turned on and then reached over to dig a Whopper and fries from the bag Shirley held.
That they’d gone to Burger King was a surprise to Shirley. Jonas usually took her to nice, sit-down restaurants. Why was tonight different? What was he up to?
“You’re awfully quiet,” Jonas teased. “Burger King not up to your standards?”
Shirley took out a chicken sandwich. “No, I like Burger King fine. It’s just not where we usually go.”
“For fast food, I usually like Subway. Tonight I just wanted something different.”
A stab of pain ran through Shirley. Was that how Jonas looked at her? As something different? The poor Amish girl who was a nobody? With his money, he probably had his choice of women. Why had he picked her tonight?
Since returning from Oklahoma several months ago, Shirley had gone out with Jonas a few times. She never knew if or when he’d call again. Did he like her for real or was she just some kind of Amish amusement for him? And was she okay with that? Yes, she was. Dating Jonas was an opportunity she just couldn’t pass up. She decided she’d not feel guilty about seeing him like she had last fall. She was, after all, into
, and Jonas fit into that scenario well. She didn’t want to let him go.
Jonas gazed down at the valley. He pointed toward the light illuminating an Amish farmhouse. “I wonder who lives there?”
Shirley looked quickly and then unwrapped her sandwich. “I don’t know,” she replied. “It could be the Stolls, but Possum Valley is a big place. It could be someone else.”
Jonas’s voice was low. “I’ve often wondered how life would have turned out if my parents had stayed Amish.”
Shirley looked over at him. “You’re not thinking of going back to being Amish? Is that why you keep seeing me?”
Jonas laughed. “I don’t think so…I mean the going Amish part. I see you because I like you.”
A soft sigh escaped Shirley’s lips. “I like you too. But I’m only on my
. I’m not committed to your world.”
His grin filled his face again. “Not yet anyway. But maybe someday?”
“You mean leave the Amish and join your church?” She gasped. “I could never do that.”
Jonas shrugged. “You also told me we weren’t made for each other last fall. Remember? It was on a night like this. We were out near Apple Creek…and we kissed.”
Shirley tried to take a deep breath. That evening had been so special. And that kiss had been their first and only kiss—so far. Was that why Jonas had brought her here tonight? Did he want their relationship to return to where it was headed last fall, before she’d left him for Oklahoma?
“It doesn’t bother me that you’re Amish,” Jonas said.
“I’m glad,” Shirley said. “But we both know…” She let the words go unsaid, knowing he’d understand what she wouldn’t say. We are worlds apart. One of us would have to give up a lot. Do we love each other enough for that?
“I understand.” Jonas nodded. “But I still like being with you.”
Jonas played her well, Shirley thought. That was why she was drawn to him despite her continual resolutions to never see him again. Her mind told her this relationship could never work, but her heart told her she could love Jonas…for now. And there was the fact that Jonas’s
was one of the richest men in the county. She was ashamed to admit that part of her attraction had to do with their money. Jonas deserved a
who loved him for himself, not for what he possessed and might someday inherit.
Jonas reached for her hand. “You’ve never really told me what happened out in Oklahoma.”
Shirley held her untouched sandwich and didn’t move. Jonas had accepted her return without explanation so far. Why bring it up now? Was he really interested?
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” His voice was kind.
Tears sprang to Shirley’s eyes. “Oh, it was lots of things, I guess. Mostly turmoil with myself. Trying to figure out where I belonged. It didn’t seem to be in Oklahoma.”
“You’re not eating.” He motioned toward her sandwich.
Shirley looked down at her food. “I’m…I’m just thinking about things, that’s all.”
He said nothing more as she took a bite and chewed slowly. The sandwich was delicious. She didn’t often get a chance to eat in
restaurants, even places like Burger King. For one thing, there simply wasn’t abundant money in the Yoder household. And
had said nothing about Shirley getting an outside job since she’d returned from Oklahoma.
clearly wanted to keep her around the house. And now they didn’t desperately need the extra money with the income from Miriam’s farm. Plus neither
wanted her to have money to spend on her own…too much independence, Shirley figured.
“This is a nice place to think.” Jonas finished his sandwich. “And to talk…once you’ve finished your sandwich. If you want to.”
So Jonas was intent on conversation. Could that mean he was serious about their relationship? Maybe that would explain the quick trip to Burger King and their drive to this quiet, romantic spot. A shiver ran through Shirley. Could she become Jonas’s
someday? Could they say the sacred wedding vows together?
and the others wouldn’t come to the wedding. That much she knew.
“I can talk and eat.” Shirley gave him a warm smile. “My voice is a little dry, that’s all.”
In the dim light, Jonas motioned toward the cup holder that held their Pepsis. “Drink then.”
“I will.” Shirley took a long sip through the straw.
Already Jonas ordered her around, and she wasn’t sure she liked that. But she’d obeyed, which showed how deeply ingrained her response to a command was. Did Jonas’s church share the Amish view about women and their relationships with men, especially after marriage?
“What do you want to talk about?” Shirley ventured, her curiosity eager for satisfaction.
Jonas took another sip from his Pepsi. “It’s been a long time since you came back from Oklahoma, but you’ve never really told me why you came back.”
Shirley hesitated. Why not just be upfront about it? “The truth is, I don’t think they liked me much out in Oklahoma.”
“Didn’t like you?” Jonas looked like he didn’t believe her.
“Well…” Shirley searched for the right words. “Not like I’m used to being liked. They ignored me, and Miriam received all the attention.”
“That’s strange. Did you do something to set them against you?”