A Simple Winter: A Seasons of Lancaster Novel

A Simple Winter
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Rosalind Lauer Excerpt from
A Simple Spring
by Rosalind Lauer copyright © 2011 by Rosalind Lauer

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

This book contains an excerpt of the forthcoming title
A Simple Spring
by Rosalind Lauer. The excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect final content of the forthcoming book.

All scripture taken from
The Zondervan KJV Study Bible
.
Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lauer, Rosalind.
A simple winter: a seasons of Lancaster novel / Rosalind Lauer. —
p. cm. — (Seasons of Lancaster; 1)
eISBN: 978-0-345-52672-4
1. Amish—Fiction. 2. Women journalists—Fiction. 3. Lancaster County
(Pa.)—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3612.A94276S56 2011
813’.6—dc23
2011028875

www.ballantinebooks.com

Title page photo by Karin Batten

Cover design and art: Melody Cassen

v3.1

Contents

Prologue

PROLOGUE

February

ll the seats were taken.

Remy McCallister held on to the straps of her backpack and inched through the train, wobbling around boots and elbows protruding in the aisle. Her father had told her to hop on a plane, but she preferred to keep her feet on the ground and maintain a low profile.

Slithering home after four and a half years of failure.

Weighed down by her heavy backpack, she did a monster walk to the end of the aisle and paused to hold on as the train gathered speed. In all her dreams and plans for the future, Remy had never considered returning to Philadelphia to live with her father. College had seemed so promising when she’d checked in to her dorm for freshman year, and for a while she had succeeded in school, juggling exams and papers and jogs through Washington Square Park.
Granted, she wasn’t one of the university’s top scholars, but she was on a steady track toward graduation. Until the seizures.

Disappointment was a sour taste in her throat as she thought of how her body had betrayed her. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t her fault.

It just was.

Clamping her lips together, she popped the connecting door open and marched into the next car, another full house. Halfway through the car she noticed an empty window seat, a spot beside a guy around her age who seemed to be hiding beneath a beanie and a flannel shirt.

“That seat taken?” She nodded toward the window seat.

He’d been zoning out, but her question snapped him back to reality. He stood up and stepped into the aisle. “It’s yours.” He didn’t smile, but his body language was friendly enough. “Let me help you with that.”

“Thanks,” Remy said as she eased off her overstuffed backpack, grateful for his help hoisting it into the overhead bin.

“You carry this around?” he asked. “Is it loaded with bricks?”

“That’s what happens when you have to pack your life into one backpack.” She’d spent the last few days stuffing the rest of her stuff in boxes that would be shipped home. Well … shipped back to Philadelphia. It was Herb’s home, not hers.

She slid into the seat with her newspaper and iPod, figuring that between the two, she could create a look of preoccupation that would give off the signal that she wanted to be left alone. A chance to mull over her failure to launch.

He sat down beside her with liquid grace and an aura heavy with thought.

She suspected he had an interesting story. Fumbling with the earbuds of her iPod, Remy had second thoughts about trying to ward off conversation.

“Mind if I have a look at your paper?” he asked.

“It’s the
Post
.” She had frequented a newsstand in the Village that carried the Philadelphia newspaper, one jewel in the crown of her father’s media holdings.

“Good. I’m looking for news from the Philadelphia area.”

“Knock yourself out.” She caught a look at him as she handed it over. Strong jaw, a little scruffy on the shave issue, and bold brown eyes so intense they could burn a hole in your heart. Rock star handsome.

With her tunes plugged in, Remy settled back against the window and slid her gaze back to him. He was staring at the front page of her newspaper, just staring. On closer inspection, he looked a little sick, his lips dry, his eyes tinged red. Remy patted the pockets of her ski jacket, then reached in the left one for two snack bars.

“Want one?” she offered.

Weariness shadowed his face as he began to shake his head in refusal, then paused. “Nancy’s Nutty Muesli Bars?”

“They’re really delicious.” She handed him one.

“They are. Nancy is a friend. An old family friend.” He tore open the wrapper and bit into the bar. “So why are you headed to Philadelphia? If you don’t mind my asking.”

“My father is there. I went to college in New York, and I’d stay there if I could.” She didn’t want to go into detail about how she had watched her friends graduate and move on, while she was left to struggle with classes that she had considered cake courses two years ago. Herb’s voice blared in her head:
I’m not paying for the six-year plan. If you can’t make the grade, you’re done
. Trying to shut down the noise in her head, she said, “I’m finished with school. Until I can make other plans, I’m stuck in Philly.”

“Is it that bad?”

“The city is fine. My father is the problem. Herb is a control freak. If he has his way, he’ll turn me into an automated doll that does his bidding twenty-four/seven.”

“You call your father Herb …?”

“Everyone does. He’s not very paternal.” She stopped herself, not wanting to reveal too much about her father. Over the years, she’d seen the way people’s expressions had changed when they learned she was Herb McCallister’s daughter: the hollow smiles, the hungry glaze in the eyes, looking as if Remy could lead them to a pot of gold.

“So it’s independence you want,” he said, tucking the snack bar wrapper into the pocket of the seat back in front of him. Remy did the same.

“Well, yeah,” Remy said, though that wasn’t entirely true.

What did she want?

She thought of her college roommates, who were off pursuing careers and relationships. These days she got only a few rushed emails from Dakota Ferris, who was attending grad school in Boston. At least once a week she talked with Kiara, who had moved to Chicago to be near her boyfriend, Jayson. Remy knew they’d be announcing a wedding soon. Although Remy had never articulated it before, the relationship thing seemed like the answer to everything else. To fall in love, to connect with a person she could laugh with and talk with and work with … someone to build a home with …

Her heart ached at the realization that love was really what she wanted out of life. A boyfriend. A soul mate. And love was not in sight right now. She hadn’t even dated in months.

“And you don’t want to be dependent on your father,” he said, bringing her back to the conversation. “Is that why you don’t want to return to Philadelphia?”

“Pretty much. But Herb is offering one thing I can’t afford to turn down right now: a job.” The position at the
Post
was a great opportunity, even if it did put her under Herb’s thumb for a while.

“Where I come from, family is the thing that holds us up. Our foundation,” he said.

He made it sound so much better than the reality. “I’ve never seen it work that way.”

“No?” He cocked his head, his dark eyes penetrating. “Wasn’t your father your greatest teacher?”

She winced. “Not really.” She glanced away, breaking the spell of his dark eyes. “But I’ve had some great teachers. My mom taught me the most, but she died when I was little. I’ve met some awesome teachers in school. Maybe that’s why it’s so upsetting to leave college. I felt like I was getting somewhere. In the process of metamorphosis. You know, a squishy caterpillar about to transform to a butterfly? Some good things were happening, but then … I just started getting these seizures.” It wasn’t something she normally told people about, but he seemed genuinely interested. “The first one was during finals week, last winter. My friends were a big help, but they graduated in the spring. I thought, with the medication I’m on, I’d be able to finish this spring, but … that’s not going to happen now.”

“Because of your father?”

She pressed her palms to her cheeks, admitting defeat. “Yeah, Herb pulled the plug. He doesn’t think I can manage my life.” And maybe she couldn’t. She’d had a seizure two weeks ago … thank God she’d made it to the couch before she went out. “And now I’m headed to Philly. Going backwards.”

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