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By:Shelley Shepard Gray

“I doubt she ignores you on purpose. This is all new for her.”

“Everything is new, even after being here seven months. She is helpless.”

“She’s accomplished in other ways.”

“But that hardly matters now. Amish women need to know how to can.”

“And she will learn,” her mother soothed. “We all learn what we need to learn in our own time, don’tcha think?”

Now that her temper had calmed, Katie felt embarrassed for her behavior and cross words. Her mother was exactly right. Anna was doing the best that she could. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m not sorry that you’re sharing your thoughts with me. Come now, what is really bothering you?”

Katie knew she couldn’t keep all her mixed up feelings inside any longer. And, because she trusted her mother’s advice more than anyone else’s, she whispered, “Anna is getting everything I’ve wanted.”

Her mother’s lips twitched. “You’ve wanted to burn yourself canning?”

“No, of course not.” Reluctantly, she mumbled, “Soon Anna will have a husband.”

“Ah. You are still thinking of Jonathan Lundy and his offer.”

She couldn’t help herself. For the last few days, it was all she ever thought about. “I want to go to Jonathan’s house, Mamm.”

“Staying in his home and watching over his girls does not seem like a terribly wise decision, especially if you have a fondness for Jonathan.”

“You knew I cared for him?”

“I would have had to be blind and dumb not to know that, Katie.” Leading the way out of the goats’ pen, she turned to her. “I’m sorry to say this, but the fact is that he does not feel the same way. He might never feel that way. Everyone knows he misses Sarah. You’ll be setting yourself up for heartache.”

“Then let me have heartache while I’m at least trying. My heart already hurts now and I’ve done nothing.” All she’d been doing for months was helping her friend learn the Amish ways.

“I see.” After looking at Katie once again, her mother picked up her skirts and shook them. “I’ll do some more thinking about this. In the meantime, go see to Anna.” With a bit of a smile she said, “I do believe Henry left her, so she’s all alone in the kitchen once again.”

Katie could only imagine what Anna was doing if she still wasn’t nursing a hurt finger. “No telling what mess she’s made now.”

“Thank goodness she has you to show her the best way to clean things up, yes?”

Katie couldn’t think of a suitable reply.

Chapter 2

Some days, Jonathan missed Sarah so much he thought his insides would break. Sometimes, he longed for his wife so much, he’d be willing to do just about anything to see her again.

It was one of those days.

Outside the kitchen, the air was crisp and the sky a beautiful robin’s-egg blue. The maple near the house was intent to fill the area with its glory…the leaves seemed to change to burnt red right before his eyes. Yes, the Lord had blessed them with a perfect late fall day. Within days, the air would become colder and the fields would be covered with a pristine white blanket of snow.

But not quite yet.

When Sarah was alive, she would have been singing a happy tune and would have had every window in their house open to greet the day, regardless of how sharp the wind was. Now he only opened one.

Oh, how he used to grumble about the frostiness of the kitchen. Now, a far different chill permeated the room. One of silence and emptiness. No matter how many people might take up the space, things weren’t changing. His wife was gone and in her place was a giant gap of a hole that couldn’t seem to be filled.

And he’d tried.

But it was no use. Like a doughnut, there was no center to their lives. The imagery almost made him smile. When Sarah had been alive, he’d taken it for granted that he was the center of the family.

He’d been much mistaken.

Winnie’s presence was helping, though lately he’d seen a shadow in her expression. Jonathan knew what the shadow was for. At twenty-two, his sister was yearning for a future of her own. A family and home of her own.

Being his lifeline wasn’t giving her the satisfaction he’d hoped it would. If he were honest with himself, he knew he should be happy for his sister. The Lord asked everyone to find a life partner and raise a family. It would be a terrible shame if Winnie did not yearn for those things, too. But oh, he wished she would have chosen to wait a bit longer for his sake.

Outside the window, a pair of cardinals flew by, the male so proud and bright, his mate’s colors far more subdued. Yet together they made a mighty fine pair. Could he fault his sister for wanting what all creatures had?