Sunday, December 8, 2013
Awakened Love 1st Chapter Reveal
“Today I met the man I’m going to marry.” Patsy Swartz’s singsongy voice was too chipper.
Katie Detweiler climbed out of Daed’s buggy and turned to lift the cooler from the back as her not-exactly-a-friend bounced up to her side. Katie braced herself to spend time with bubbly Patsy.
Her heart ached with a stab of envy.
Would she ever marry?
Daed snorted, in apparent disbelief. “Bye, Katie-girl. Have fun at the frolic.” He clicked at the horse, and pulled around the circle drive.
“The new bu in town,” Patsy squealed as if Katie had actually asked who. “He is sooooo cute! And I’m going to marry him. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Will you stand up with me? I’m asking Mandy, too.”
Marriage? The new bu in town? Why was she the last to know these things? Katie didn’t even know Patsy was part of a couple. Wait, she wasn’t. Just yesterday she moaned over the lack of interesting men in her life.
Katie shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “Ach, stand up with you? Valentine’s Day? Jah, I can do that. What new bu in town?”
Patsy huffed. “Where have you been, Katie? There is a world outside that bed and breakfast, ain’t so?”
“When did you meet him? You didn’t mention him yesterday.” She adjusted her grip on the handles and started toward the haus.
“He’s visiting Micah Graber, a cousin or something. He’s here, right over… Ach, I see Mandy. I’ll tell you about him later.” She turned away and glanced over her shoulder. “You’re still standing up with me. Valentine’s Day. Write that down, Katie.”
Patsy ran across the driveway to where Mandy Hershberger stood by the open barn doors.
A Valentine’s Day wedding? Was Patsy serious? Most brides married between November to January, not February, when fields need to be prepared for planting. And wouldn’t the bishop have something to say about Patsy marrying a man she only knew for, what, half an hour?
Valentine’s Day was still a long ways off. It was only August. And Patsy probably would’ve moved on three times by then.
But he was here? This mystery man Patsy planned to wed? Katie turned around and scanned the buwe playing volleyball, looking for someone she didn’t know. She didn’t see anyone new. Or, maybe he just didn’t stand out. Patsy, getting married? If Katie knew her at all, she’d be promised to this new bu in a short time. What Patsy wanted, she usually got. Even if they did call a break several weeks into the relationship.
Katie sighed. It’d be nice if someone noticed her. And recognized her as a permanent part of his future.
She turned toward the haus to deliver the food. A long row of tables was set up inside the kitchen, already piled full. Katie set the cooler down next to the door and took out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She walked over and put them on the table, at one end with the other desserts, then stepped back and surveyed the array of cookies and fried pies. Maybe she should’ve made something else besides cookies. But Daed wouldn’t mind if she brought the entire plateful back home.
“Hi, Katie.” Micah’s mamm came into the room. “Glad you made it. Micah’s playing volleyball, if you want to join in. His cousin Abram is visiting from Indiana.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll want an introduction.”
Katie wasn’t so sure, except maybe to see what was so special about this mystery man. It probably was nothing other than he hadn’t already courted Patsy, since she had gone with almost every other Amish bu in the district.
Ach, that was unkind. Katie found a smile. “Danki. I’ll find Micah.” Later. They’d probably see each other sometime. He usually made a point to say hi to her.
Katie took a step toward her cooler to get the rest of her food when the outside door burst open. She gazed into knock-‘em dead blue eyes belonging to the most handsome someone she’d never seen. She stared at the stranger, her mouth open. He shoved his fingers through his brown hair, dislodging his straw hat, and backed up.
“Micah sent me to get the coolers and the big picnic jugs.”
Lizzie Graber laughed. “Ach, they’re out on the porch. You walked right past them.”
His eyes met Katie’s again and he nodded in greeting. Her heart pounded loud enough she worried he’d hear it. “Sorry, Aenti Lizzie. Don’t know what I was thinking.” He shook his head and backed out of the room, his gaze still locked on Katie, then turned and shut the door.
Lizzie laughed again. “Those buwe are all the same. A pretty girl and they have to go check her out.”
Pretty? Lizzie believed he’d come in because he thought she was pretty? But he didn’t stay long enough to say hi. Or to ask her name. Not that it mattered. She probably would’ve been tongue-tied anyway. Katie straightened, willing her heart rate back to normal. A gut-looking bu she didn’t know. Micah’s cousin. That must be Patsy’s… whatever she’d call him. Her intended, since she said she was marrying him on Valentine’s Day. So why did it matter what he thought?
Her insides deflated like a popped balloon.
Katie studied the dessert selection again. Other than the chips in her cookies, there wasn’t any chocolate in sight—unless some of the fried pies were filled with the delicious comfort.
Abram Hilty shut the door behind him, and took a deep breath. His heart raced. He hadn’t even talked to her, didn’t know the sound of her voice, but something—his heart, maybe—seemed to recognize her. Strange. Especially since…
Micah hoisted a cooler in his arms, while Abram lifted one of the big yellow picnic jugs. “She’s pretty, jah?” Micah glanced sideways at him and walked down the steps.
“Very.” Abram nodded as he fell in beside him. “And you can’t get her to pay attention to you?”
Micah shook his head. “Nein. Not at all. But her best friend, Janna Kauffman, told me Katie’s really shy. Maybe I’ll ask to give her a buggy ride home tonight. Her daed dropped her off.”
Abram chuckled. “You do that. I’ll ask her out, too, and tell her how wonderbaar you are. Perhaps between the two of us we’ll get her talking.” Besides, that’d give him the opportunity to spend time with her.
“You’d do that for me?” Micah’s eyes widened.
“That, and I’m currently between girls.” Abram winked. “I told Marianna I want a break.” Sort of. He did owe her some sort of an explanation for his silence. After all, they were practically engaged, and he’d essentially stood her up.
Of course, he hadn’t revealed where he’d gone. Instead, he’d left a note. Need some time off. Sorry.
In hindsight, ouch. But she’d been hounding him to make a commitment, leaving hints he couldn’t help but get. He supposed he could do worse… Instead, he’d fled. He needed to think. And with her bringing him lunch every day, staying to eat, and getting into his buggy after every singing and frolic without him even asking as she tried to get back on his gut side after he caught her with…
He shook his head. Really, what other choice did he have?
“What if she falls in liebe with you, not me?” Micah’s brow creased as his eyebrows drew together. “I mean, talking me up is kind of cliché…” He snickered. “And usually works in reverse.”
Abram shrugged. He wouldn’t complain if it did. “How can she possibly not fall in liebe with you? With me singing your praises.” Of course, he’d try hard not to sing his own. Not that he had much to sing about. He frowned. How long before he was found out?
Abram set the picnic jug down on a table where some paper cups were set. Micah put the cooler on the ground next to it and straightened. “I’ll go say hi to her then, while you get the other picnic jug.”
“Works for me.” Abram reached for a cup and pressed the spigot to get a bit of tea from the jug.
“Hi, Abram,” a female cooed.
Abram cringed. Not another pushy female. He looked up at a girl with bright red hair. He had seen her earlier that day, but they hadn’t spoken. She beamed at him. The girl standing next to her had reddish-brown hair. He preferred Katie’s dark blond hair.
“Welkum to Missouri. I’m Patsy Swartz and this is my best friend, Mandy Hershberger.”
He found a smile. “Hi. Nice to meet you. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get the other—”
Micah punched his arm. “I’ll get it, after I say hi to Katie. You stay here and talk.”
“Jah. Danki, cousin.” He hoped the girls didn’t pick up on the sarcasm. “But I’ll get the cooler myself.”
Lizzie slid a pan of brownies into the oven and opened the refrigerator. She took out a can of 7-Up, popped it open and poured some into a glass.
“I need to mix up the taco salad I brought.” Katie headed for the other end of the table, and moved some things aside to make room for her salad bowl.
“That’s fine. When the brownies are done, take them out, please. My dochter, Emily, is sick.” Lizzie left the room.
Katie looked around. Maybe she could find some other way to assist. Helping would keep her from socializing. Or from standing next to the barn, ignored.
At this point of her life, she was part of the scenery, the part no one looked at. Patsy said it was because Katie was too quiet, that she wouldn’t cross the room to talk to anyone; she made them come talk to her. And buwe didn’t. They had enough girls willing to chase them that they didn’t need to pursue the quiet ones.
If that was the case, she’d be alone forever. The thought hurt.
But Janna said that if a bu really liked her, she’d know. Because he’d be hanging around. She should know, because ‘Troy’ Troyer hung around with Janna, and even started baptism classes.
The handsome face of Abram flashed in her mind. His heart-stopping grin. His easy confidence.
Nein. She wouldn’t think of this. Of him. It meant nothing. He was promised to Patsy.
Katie lifted the salad bowl out of her cooler, then a big bag of Fritos. She hadn’t mixed the chips in with the rest of the ingredients because she didn’t want them to get soggy by the time she arrived.
Katie set the bowl down on the table and tugged on the top of the Frito bag to open it. A warm breath tickled her ear. Abram? Her heart jumped, and her hands jerked in opposite directions, ripping the bag and sending Fritos high in the air. A few landed where they were supposed to—in the taco salad—but most decorated the floor, the egg salad sandwiches Patsy always brought, and the other food around her.
The latch clicked on the door and the hinges squeaked. A chatter of voices neared and feet tromped on the porch. Katie’s face burned. She turned around, the almost empty bag clasped in her hands.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Micah said. He stood too close. Why couldn’t it have been Abram breathing in her ear? Though, the end result would’ve been the same.
Katie struggled to not run from the room. It seemed everyone had come in to see this humiliation. Abram stood next to Mandy and a dozen or so other people, his gaze on her. Everyone looked at her.
“I was hoping you’d be here,” Micah continued.
Someone wanted her to come? Someone of the male species? Katie’s eyes widened.
Patsy came over to the table and picked Fritos off her sandwiches. She kicked Katie hard on the ankle and she found her voice. “Ouch! Ach, I scare easy. It’s okay, really.” She had spoken to a bu. Would miracles never cease?
Patsy shook her head, as though not impressed at this conversation thing. If only Patsy would step in and answer the questions for her and maybe ask a few of him, but with another head shake, she walked off, dumped the Fritos in the trash, and joined the group of females around Abram. His harem.
Katie frowned. She didn’t want to compete with so many for a small possibility of a relationship with a man. Maybe it’d be better to find someone steady who paid attention to only her. She glanced at Micah. He stared at her as if she’d sprouted antlers. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted.
“Janna told me you’re shy. She told me not to give up on you. I’d like to get to know you better. Are you seeing someone?” He lowered his voice. “Maybe I could give you a ride home. We could stop for a milkshake.”
Katie glanced at the table laden with the usual lovely assortment of cookies and fried pies. Brownies baked in the oven. A milkshake? Was he kidding? Who in their right mind would offer a milkshake as incentive with all these treats?
He hadn’t given her a chance to answer the courting question before he asked her out. Maybe he figured that as tongue-tied as she was, someone actually courting her would be impossible.
Still, Katie didn’t know how to answer his questions. Would one-on-one be easier? Daed would say “jah” and encourage her to accept Micah’s offer of a ride home. She swallowed. “A milkshake sounds gut.”
He grinned. “Then I’ll look for you afterwards. Sorry about your chips. I hope I didn’t ruin your—” He glanced at the bowl. “Salad.” He turned away to talk to Natalie Wagler. At least she could carry on her side of the conversation.
Katie frowned. Were there books available for this disorder? She needed to check at the library. Basic Communication with the Opposite Sex?
A buggy ride with a man who wasn’t Daed. She sighed and glanced toward Abram. His attention seemed focused on Patsy. Her hand rested on his upper arm. Katie swallowed and turned away. Micah wasn’t the Mr. Right of her imagination. But maybe he was the Mr. Right of her reality.
Excitement washed over her.
Her very first date.
She smiled. Maybe her life was about to change.