Read Chapters 6-9 of Amish Secrets & Lies for FREE!

Amish Secrets and Lies Covers

Amish Secrets & Lies - Chapter 6

“Hmmm. With the other kids on rumspringa?” Mary wasn’t about to give Katie this much freedom. Pulling cans of vegetables out of the bags, she paused in her work.

“Ja, please? I promise I’ll behave.”

“Maybe next time. I’m still getting comfortable allowing you to run our errands by yourself.”

Katie let out a gusty sigh of disappointment. “I’ll be in my quilting room. I have an order to finish.”

“Do that. I’ll call when dinner is ready.”

“Do you…?”

“Nee. It’s almost done. Go.”

Katie had gone glumly into her quilting room. Fingering the fabric, she sat and thought. Remembering her activities on her shopping trip, she forgot her disappointment for a few minutes. She had bumped into Libby, and the two had caught up.

“Katie, you aren’t going to believe it! I heard tell that some English person is going around and telling the Amish to leave here!”

Katie’s jaw had dropped, with no need to fake her reaction. She was stunned that her words had begun making the rounds so fast! A tickle of joy blossomed in her chest. Just a small cut.

Katie exclaimed. “What? I haven’t heard anything like that!”

“Nee? Oh, that’s right. You don’t come here very often. Where are your parents?”

“Mam actually allowed me to come by myself!”

Libby had been puzzled. “Katie, I don’t understand it. You are eighteen, and you know how to handle a team. You know how to shop and manage your parents’ money. So, why aren’t you allowed to come into town by yourself more often?”

Katie had shuffled her feet, unwilling to reveal the big lie she’d told about a member of their old Goshen community. So she compounded it with a small one. What was one more lie? Katie said, “I wish I knew. All’s I know how to tell you is that Mam has been really reluctant to allow me to go. At this rate, I will never know how to do what I need for when I get married! Now, tell more about that person. The one telling us to leave here.”

Libby had shrugged. “I don’t know very much. Becky told her sister, Emma. Emma told a few other people, then I found out yesterday from Emma.”

“Oh…so, this person, whoever they are, just doesn’t want us living here? I wonder why?”

“I don’t know. It just makes me nervous.”

Katie had remembered the time. “Oh! I had better go. Mam gave me only an hour and a half. It’s the first of the month, so it’ll take longer.” She had waved and hugged Libby.

It was working! She wouldn’t need to tell any more lies for a while. This would be enough, and ultimately, it was harmless. Katie kept telling herself that. In her own mind, the two English women had become a caricature of themselves. If asked at this moment if the women had shouted at Katie to ‘get out,’ Katie would have said ‘ja’ without reservation.

Grabbing the quilt squares, Katie began quickly assembling and pinning them together so she could begin stitching them that afternoon. Hearing her mother calling from the kitchen, she set everything down and washed her hands before going into the living room.

“Mam, is it okay with you if I invite Libby here this Saturday? It isn’t a meeting weekend so she could spend some time with me after I finish chores and some quilting.”

“Let me think about that. Before your dat comes in, did you say anything that wasn’t true?”

Katie sighed. Any answer she gave would get her in trouble. She reframed her mam’s question in her own mind. Did you say anything untrue that would harm us? Having reframed the question, the answer fell easily from Katie’s lips.  “Nee, Mam. Libby and I talked about this weekend’s rumspringa activities. Which I’ll need to let her know that I can’t go.”

At that moment, David walked into the kitchen. “Can’t go where?”

“To this weekend’s rumspringa happenings. I really want to go!”

“Nee. You heard your mam. You’re still working on proving you can be trusted. It may seem harsh because you remember we let your brothers and sisters run around freely. But they…and then Esther–”

“Dat, I know. They didn’t lie like I did, and Esther ran off.” Katie set the vegetables and other foods onto the table for their dinner.

***

On Saturday afternoon, Katie was sitting on the porch swing when Amos drove by. Seeing him, she sat up, not wanting him to know she was in the doldrums. “Amos! How are you?”

“Hoping you can go to the activities tonight!”

“Nee, I can’t. I’m sorry.”

“But why? All we’re going to do is drink sodas and listen to English music.” Amos whispered the last few words.

Katie whispered back. “Let me work on my parents. I’ll see.”

“Gut. You only have a few hours!”

“Okay!” At that moment, she came up with a lie she could get away with. “I’d better get inside before Mam sees you here. She’s been pretty strict.”

“Why? What did you do to get that?”

Katie tipped her head to one side and shrugged elaborately. “I wish I knew!”

“Your parents are too strict! I’ll look for you in the Zook’s barn tonight, about six!”

“Maybe!” Several minutes later, Katie went inside quickly. “Mam? Mam!”

Mary came out of the pantry, where she’d been taking stock of their food on hand. “What is it? No need to yell, daughter!”

“I’m sorry. I just wanted to let you know I got a call from someone who could be a new client. They want to meet with me today.”

“On a Saturday afternoon? Why not wait until Monday?”

“I asked that question myself, and the woman said that it’s kind of urgent. Apparently, she and her mother found out that her sister is expecting her first baby…” She drew in another breath to continue speaking.

“Well, what’s the rush? They have, what, seven, eight months to prepare?”

“Actually, not. The woman, she’s English. And she told me that her sister has always had trouble getting pregnant and staying pregnant. So, now, they waited until she got past her sixth month. So I need to get busy right away. She wants me to go to meet with her at her house, tonight after she finishes working.” Katie gazed steadily at Mary, congratulating herself with thinking so quickly.

“Ja? What time tonight?” Mary was suspicious.

“About six. I would meet with her and her mam to talk about what they want and their ideas. They want to surprise her at what they called a ‘baby shower,’ with my quilt.”

“And she can’t meet with you earlier?”

“Nee, she doesn’t get off her job until something like five-thirty. So, that’s why she can’t meet with me until six. And I could be there for a while.”

Mary sighed, feeling uneasy. Rather than listening to her instincts about Katie’s lies, she chalked it up to getting used to giving her wayward daughter a little more freedom. “Let me talk to your dat. I’ll be back—you stay here!”

“Mam, I’m going nowhere!” Katie smiled to take the sting out of her words.

In the barn, Mary presented Katie’s request to David. “What do you think?”

David sighed. “It’s so last-minute. This woman works until this evening? And her sister is in her sixth month of pregnancy? Well, it sounds valid. Let her go. But she has to be back not one minute later than nine tonight. Or she will be grounded once again.”

“Gut idea.” Mary smiled at David and went back to the house, where she gave Katie her limitations.

Katie wilted into a chair. “Denki, Mam! I promise, I’ll be back by nine. Straight to her house, straight home when I get finished discussing what they want.”

I pray she’s telling the truth. That niggle of uneasiness wouldn’t leave Mary alone. “Will you have supper here?”

“Nee. I’ll stop at the burger place and get something there, then go to her house. If I want to be done in time to be home by nine.”

“Ja. Okay.”

Shortly after five, Katie jumped into the buggy, setting a small bag with a pen, notepad and a few samples of fabric next to her. “I’ll be back by nine!” She waved and took off.

Driving into town, she stopped at the burger place as she had told Mary she would. Katie enjoyed a rare treat: a burger, fries, and soda. Looking at the digital clock on the high counter, she finished quickly. Trotting out to the buggy, she went back into the Amish section of Big Valley, taking back roads that were at a distance from the road she and her parents usually used. It was just after six when she arrived at the Zook farm. Setting the handbrake on the buggy, she jumped out and hurried to the barn, from which English rock was coming out. Looking around, she spotted Amos standing with several of his friends.

Amos looked up. Seeing Katie, his face broke into a wide grin, and he hurried over to her. “I didn’t think you’d be able to make it! This is gut! Did your parents let you come?”

“I was shocked!” Katie accepted a can of soda from one of her friends.

“Let’s listen to the music.” Taking her hand, Amos led Katie to the center of the group of Amish teens.

Katie tried to keep track of the passing time. “Amos? Do you know what time it is? Mam told me to be home by nine.”

“That early? Well, it’s about eight now. Should I let you know when it’s about eight-forty five or so?”

“Ja, if you would. I don’t want to get in trouble. I’m trying to get her to loosen up on me.”

“Ja, I know what you mean. Where are you going?”

“Catch up with Libby and the other girls. I’ll be back before long.”

“Don’t leave the barn. That Englisher, remember. In fact, I wish you had called me so I could pick you up.”

“I know. I’m sorry—it was last-minute when Mam and Dat allowed me to come here.”

“I’m following you home.” Amos’s look was somber.

Katie smiled, hiding her irritation at herself. Why did I choose a topic that would make Amos so anxious about me? “That’s fine…I’ll be inside the barn, visiting with my girlfriends.” She took off, wanting to know how much further the rumor had spread. “Libby, I got permission!” Spreading her arms wide, she hugged Libby hard.

“You’re here! Gut! We’re talking about that awful English person.”

“You mean the one who wants us gone?”

“Ja, who else? They have scared all of us. Our boyfriends are following all of us home. Or taking us home.”

Katie looked puzzled. “But wouldn’t the guys be in danger, driving home alone?”

Rachel spoke up. “They thought of that. They’re going to team up, and all of us will be in a caravan. The ones who live the farthest out will be at the back of the line, so we’re all protected.”

“Gut idea…do you think it’s that serious?”

“That’s just it. We don’t know. And you don’t get out very much, so you’re even less in the know than we are.”

Katie’s expression was serious, and she appeared to be thinking. “Well, I hope someone learns or even hears something before long. I would like to see this end soon so we can feel free to go around as we choose or as we need.”

“Exactly.”

“I have to be home by nine tonight, so Amos is going to follow me home. How late are all of you staying?”

“Well, our parents are finding out about what’s being said, so they don’t want us away from home too late. I have to be home by nine as well. What about the rest of you?” Rachel looked around the group of girls.

“Same.”

“Ja, my parents almost didn’t let me come here.”

“I had to promise I wouldn’t leave the barn at all. Just in case the person is outside.”

“Mei Gott! I wish I could get out more! So, I don’t need to worry about Amos being exposed after he follows me home?”

“Nee. Why can’t you get out more? I’ve always wondered that.” Rachel’s look was just a little too sharp for Katie’s comfort.

“Mam and Dat have always been like that with me. I think it’s because I’m their last child, and they have a hard time letting me go—especially after what happened with my sister Esther. She ran off to live with the English.”

“Mei Gott!”

It felt odd, telling the truth and having someone care.

“She’s your sister, right? Where is she now?”

“I don’t know.” Dead, maybe. Katie feared the worst.

“Ja, that explains why they’re so strict. They’re scared for you.”

Katie wished it was true, but she knew her parents were more scared of her than for her. She was the bad child. The one who had betrayed their family, even though she’d kept the biggest secret to save them.

If you tell, they’ll lock me up, your dat will lose his job, and you’ll be taken away to an English orphanage. You’ll never see your sister again. Your parents will die.

The music went up temporarily, and then shut off. Mr. Zook stood at the entrance to the barn. “Okay, kids. It’s already eight forty-five. You’d better get home. I don’t want any of you in any danger. Closest ones to our house, you are the first in the line. Those who live the farthest out, you’re at the back of the caravan.” He supervised carefully. As his eyes landed on Katie driving alone, his eyes widened. “Miss Miller, why aren’t you with your boyfriend?”

“I came on my own. I had a hard time convincing Mam and Dat, so it was too late for Amos to come for me. I’m going to have to talk to them about giving me more freedom so I can keep up with everything, including this threat!”

“Nee. You’re probably the safest since your parents are so strict. We could all stand to take a page out of their book.”

Katie winced. She didn’t want to be the reason her boyfriend and friends couldn’t be free to get together or ride around freely as they ran errands. This was supposed to be a little lie. A small cut. But it just kept bleeding, and the relief she was supposed to feel was fast fading away. If they found out the truth, they’d all hate her. Maybe it would be better if she just ran off. Maybe it would be better if she cut herself so deeply she kept bleeding until she bled out.

As she rode in the long caravan, the symphony of horse’s hooves and metal wheels accompanying her thoughts, she nearly missed her parents’ yard. Turning suddenly, she made it in, turning around to wave at Amos. As she pulled into the barn, she hoped her parents wouldn’t ask about the long buggy caravan. In the house, she saw her mam, yawning and waiting for her.

“What were all the buggies for? Were you in the middle of that bunch?”

“Ja, actually, I was. When I came in, they were passing, so Amos waved me into the line. Everyone stopped for a few minutes, and they told me that they had decided to go home in a big caravan.”

“Why? To extend the evening’s fun?” Mary was unaware of Katie’s rumor.

“For some, maybe. I found out that someone has been saying they want us—the Amish—to leave here and settle elsewhere.” Katie’s mouth was set in distaste.

“What? Who? And why?” Mary’s voice was sharp, and she was now wide-awake.

After being cast out of their strict Amish community in Goshen, Indiana, Katie and her family have found a new home in Big Valley, Pennsylvania. She’s doing well. She has a boyfriend she loves, friends, and her parents are even beginning to trust her again.

Everything will be okay as long as Katie can stop making up stories.

But she can’t. There’s a pressure inside of her, building up from a secret from her past, and eventually, no matter how hard she tries to stop herself, the lies spill out. So she tells one little story about an Englisher. And then, as before, everything starts to fall apart.

Will a new community offer Katie a second chance at a life and love? Or is she too broken to save?

Find out in Amish Secrets & Lies, Book 1 of the Big Valley Amish series  by Rachel Stoltzfus. 

If you love Christian Amish stories about love, healing and the power of community, grab this series collection today!

use coupon SWEETROMANCE to save 15%

Formats include Mobi for Kindle, ePub for Nook, Kobo, Android and most eReaders and PDF for print & reading on your computer. 

Or Grab the Books on your Favorite Online Booksellers:

Amish Secrets & Lies - Chapter 7

“Someone—an Englisher—has been going around saying that they want us to move away from here. I found out about it from Amos and the kids tonight when I got into the caravan.”

“Mei Gott! David, get down here! Katie, is that why everyone was going home earlier than usual?”

“Ja. They said that Mr. Zook would only allow them to meet in his barn as long as they promised to stay in there and not go elsewhere. Also, he told them he wanted them home early. I guess he was worried. And he didn’t want to be up late, worrying about us getting home.”

David hurried down, and as he heard the news, his bearded face grew grim.

After they went to bed, neither one of Katie’s parents thought to wonder if Katie was responsible for this rumor. The alleged desire of the unidentified English person worried them much more, making them fear that an entire community would be forced to move.

***

The next day, Libby dropped in for a visit with Katie. Sitting on the front porch swing, enjoying chilled glasses of tea, the two girls discussed the words of the English person. “Do you have any idea who it might be?” Katie pushed off with her toes, making the swing go into motion.

“Nee, I don’t. I don’t know very many of them so it would be hard for me to pick any one of them out. I just bake and sell goods to them. You might have a better idea of who it is, Katie. You’ve sold so many quilts to them!”

Katie pretended to consider, peering into the clear depths of her tea. Running her thumb over the ice-cold condensation on the side of her glass, she sighed pensively. “Hmmm. Well, it could be…nee. She hasn’t said or done anything bad to Mam or me. Maybe…hmmm. Could it be them?”

“Who? Who is it? Tell me!”

Katie felt her heart pounding hard in her chest. She was so close to naming one of her customers, but she knew that if she did, the situation would become a repeat of what happened in Goshen. “No, it can’t be them.” She looked up. “I can’t accuse someone without having proof that they said something. I’m just thinking of the people it could be. But my feelings are telling me it’s not that other customer.”

“But even if you suspect, shouldn’t you speak?” Libby was eager.

“Nee, Libby. I would hate to be the reason that someone’s reputation was harmed. Or that they lost their job or…”

Libby sat back. “Ja, you’re right. Will your mam let you go to my house tonight if I promise to have you home early?”

“I can ask. Hold on.” Katie hurried into the pantry. “Mam? Libby’s here, and she wants to know if I can go to her house tonight. She says she would have me home—”

“Nee! Absolutely not!”

“But Mam, why? She would bring—.”

“Until we know who wants the Amish gone from here, you are not going on any late-night activities away from here. And she should be staying at home, too.” Mary set the iron down with a thump. She hurried outside. “Libby, I’m sorry, but until the community has found out who wants us to move away, she’s not going out at night. I’m very sorry, but that has to be our position until this person is identified.” Mary wheeled back around, nearly running into Katie, who had been standing right in back of her.

Katie released a sharp sigh of frustration as she closed the back door. “I’m sorry.”

“Nee, Katie, I’m sorry. I didn’t even think of that when I asked. I’d better go, anyway. Mam has the same concerns. So, now, I can’t go anywhere around Big Valley without her or one of my brothers.”

Katie grimaced. “I know how you feel. Mam is going to start making me go everywhere with her or Dat again when I need to go buy anything for quilting. And fun activities? I think we can forget about those!”

Katie berated herself. Why couldn’t I have kept my mouth shut? Why do I have to tell such stupid lies?

***

Sitting in the buggy and waiting for her mam to come out of the shop, Katie looked around her at the English and Amish people mingling with each other. They all seemed so happy. Were they really happy though? Was the English woman with the bright yellow flower barrette resting jauntily over her ponytail have a secret lover? Did the young English girl asking Mr. Yoder for permission to pet his horse have an uncle that brought her candied apples? Were lies simmering in her chest, ready at any moment to burst out like poison flies? Katie was so pulled into the scene that she didn’t see Amos standing next to the buggy.

“Katie. Katie? Katie!” Amos’s voice grew progressively louder.

Katie jumped, finally coming back into the present. “Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to be so far away.”

“I saw you just staring at everyone over there. Do you think any one of them could be…?”

For a moment, Katie was confused. Then she remembered her lie. She cocked her head. “The one who wants us gone from here?”

“Ja.”

Katie allowed her gaze to wander again over the clumps of English and Amish as she pretended to consider the question. “Nee, but I don’t know. Look at them, Amos. They look so relaxed, not as if they don’t like having us around! So, no. It’s not these people.”

Katie’s mam Mary walked towards them with a heavy bag of groceries in each hand.

Katie and Amos jumped out of the buggy.

“Katie, what are you and Amos discussing?” Mary asked.

“Let me, Mrs. Miller.” Amos accepted the heavy bags and carefully set them into the buggy. “We were talking about who this English person might be. Katie doesn’t think it’s any of them.”

“Really? How would she know?” Mary’s voice was taut.

“None of us except for the person who heard the English person speaking knows who it is. Katie said that the English over there all look like they don’t mind having us in their midst.”

“I also wonder…whoever heard the English person…maybe they didn’t see who said it? Or maybe they only heard part of a conversation? Maybe it’s really not so bad. Or maybe it wasn’t an Englisher at all?” Now she was getting too close to the truth. Katie shut her mouth.

Amos’s brows furrowed as he thought. “Maybe. You mean, like they just heard the words?”

“Ja, without seeing whoever spoke.” Adrenaline rushed through her as she theorized.

“That’s a gut thought. I don’t know. I just know that we never had any problems getting along before…maybe that English person is new here.” Amos shook his head, amazed at how hard it was to single out someone speaking against their community. “I’d better go. I told Dat I’d only be in town for a while. See you around Katie!”

Katie waved at Amos as he began to jog back to his dat’s wagon. “Mam, have you thought about who it might be?”

“Nee. I don’t come to town but once a week, during the daytime hours. And so it should be with all of you.”

Katie stared in horror. “Mam, what are you talking about?”

“I don’t think any of you young people should be going outside of our community after dark. At all, not until this person is caught. And I’m talking to the bishop about this.”

Katie gasped. “But Mam! We’re careful! We can spend time with each other. Just…as you said, inside our own community after dark. Are you talking about singings and frolics?”

Mary nodded. “Not frolics. Those are the entire community, adults and younger kinder as well. And those usually take place in daytime hours.”

“What about Singings?” Katie didn’t want to be the cause of her friends not being able to get together in one of their traditional ways.

“Well, those are held within our community, ja? As long as you kinder form a long line of buggies, you should be all right. In the barn with chaperones, you’re fine and supervised.”

“Mam? Are you thinking of letting me go to Singings?”

“I don’t know. But if I am thinking of letting you go to singings, it will be under the rule that you won’t be alone with anyone, even the girls.”

Katie could only gaze at Mary, stunned. “Ja, I promise! I won’t!”

Maybe things would be okay after all. If only she could stop telling horrible lies.

After being cast out of their strict Amish community in Goshen, Indiana, Katie and her family have found a new home in Big Valley, Pennsylvania. She’s doing well. She has a boyfriend she loves, friends, and her parents are even beginning to trust her again.

Everything will be okay as long as Katie can stop making up stories.

But she can’t. There’s a pressure inside of her, building up from a secret from her past, and eventually, no matter how hard she tries to stop herself, the lies spill out. So she tells one little story about an Englisher. And then, as before, everything starts to fall apart.

Will a new community offer Katie a second chance at a life and love? Or is she too broken to save?

Find out in Amish Secrets & Lies, Book 1 of the Big Valley Amish series  by Rachel Stoltzfus. 

If you love Christian Amish stories about love, healing and the power of community, grab this series collection today!

use coupon SWEETROMANCE to save 15%

Formats include Mobi for Kindle, ePub for Nook, Kobo, Android and most eReaders and PDF for print & reading on your computer. 

Or Grab the Books on your Favorite Online Booksellers:

Amish Secrets & Lies - Chapter 8

On Sunday, the entire community gathered for its meeting. After the service had ended, the elders held their hands up. “We need to talk about something.” Bishop John Lapp had decided it was important to confront the rumor head-on. “I was told early this week that some mysterious English person has been making statements to the effect of wanting our community to leave here. I have to say that this just doesn’t sound like something our English neighbors would even think of saying. We are looking around and trying to determine who said it, if it was indeed said. If this is a baseless rumor, I don’t have to remind anyone what the consequences are for violating our Ordnung. Spreading rumors is a violation of our rules.” The bishop let his gaze rest on various community members.

Katie, seeing the bishop’s eyes on her, crinkled her forehead and tried to look confused. She must have succeeded because Bishop Lapp’s eyes moved on to another person.

***

Over the next few weeks, Katie held in her lies. She didn’t want to hurt anyone, and the fear of discovery in combination with her newly allowed small freedoms were enough to keep Katie from needing to lie. She still fantasized about increasingly strange scenarios. What if she pretended to be kidnapped? What if she left a ransom note like she’d read in a book from the library a couple of years back? Would anyone even look for her? Or would they be glad she was gone?

What if Esther came back and asked Katie to come away with her to a beautiful castle? What if Amos asked Katie to be his wife?

Without Katie’s assistance, the rumor died down. But community members were still watchful and nervous, even so. Katie listened to her parents and did everything they told her to do. She tried hard to be a young, model Amish woman. When she was with Libby or doing shopping for her mam, she didn’t bring the rumors up at all.

Gradually, she was able to start going to singings with Amos. At these youth gatherings, she had fun, singing and talking with her friends. Katie was glad she had decided to let the rumor die down. She had spotted Deacon Eppie Yoder at the events and had a feeling he was there watching all of the community. Her topics of conversation were specific to Amish life, talking about dating, work, small businesses, selling quilts or baking, or even taking carpentry orders. Eventually, the deacon stopped coming to the singings, restricting himself to showing up at socials and Sunday services. She wasn’t aware that the deacon had, indeed, been watching the youth. He wasn’t sure if he bought the rumor at all.

***

One evening, as he was bringing Katie home, Amos brought up the topic of marriage. “Katie, are you taking your baptism instruction?”

“Nee, not yet. I’ll be starting next spring. How come?”

Amos inhaled, and then let the breath out in a long whoosh. “Because I want to have a talk with you. We’ve been dating now for going on two years. Shortly after you moved here. I am in love with you, and I want to be your husband. If you would marry me.”

Katie gasped. Was it a dream? Or was it something true? Katie pinched herself and winced.

“Katie!”

“I just had to know! Ja, of course! I want to marry you!” Letting out a nervous giggle, she looked at Amos, seeing his clear gray eyes resting on her.

“You are so beautiful. Inside as well as out. You’re giving, supportive and always fun to be with. I hope we will have a gut life with each other!” Reaching around her shoulders, Amos held her to him.

They kissed. He cupped the back of her head, and his thumb brushed the nape of her neck.

A rush of nausea overcame her. She tensed.

“Katie?”

Not now. Why now?

“I’m sorry,” Katie said. “It’s just, can you not hold my head that way?”

“Ja! Ja! Of course!” Amos snatched his hand away as if he’d been burned on a hot stove.

“I…uhh—just a weird cramp.” This lie didn’t make her feel better. She just felt sick. Wrong. “I love you,” Katie said. “Should we say anything to anyone?”

“Nee, not yet. I want to make sure you’re closer to baptism instruction first. We’ll keep it between ourselves for now.”

“Okay.”

“Are you disappointed?”

“Nee! I’m just glad that we’re keeping our own little secret from the rest of the community for now. It feels…I feel special. Can I…umm…kiss you again?”

“Ja.” Amos was careful not to touch her neck again. This time, she melted into his embrace. He’d never heard of a girl getting a neck cramp while kissing, but what did he know?

He loved her. She was so honest and good. He couldn’t wait for them both to take their Kneelings Vows and start their lives together.

***

Over the next few months, life was quiet in Big Valley. Katie kept the secret of her engagement to Amos to herself. At times, she was tempted to bring the rumor back to life, but she wanted a good future together with Amos. She hoped she could get past her reactions to his touch and be comfortable with him, even when he caught her by surprise. But as long as she kept trying, she’d get there. Also, Katie could tell Eppie Yoder doubted her. He watched her more during meetings and socials than any of the other young people.

Still, Katie couldn’t stop herself completely from telling stories. It wasn’t gossip, just harmless fun. And even if she wanted to stop, she couldn’t help herself.

Libby came to wonder about Katie and her love of storytelling as fall approached. She began to think about this as she heard Katie embark on yet another “what if” story.

“Ja, I’m serious! What if, oh, say, someone new came into Big Valley? Doesn’t matter if it’s someone Amish or English. They shake up life in a big way.”

“How do you mean?” Libby shifted on the swing, wrapping her shawl more closely around her.

“Well, for instance, let’s say it’s a new English person, visiting family here. They come driving into our area. They’re drunk, and they run into a buggy. But because they have a car, they get away…” Katie kept building her “what if” story until finally, Libby interjected.

“Wait! You have me confused!” In actuality, Libby was more concerned than confused. “Let’s stop the ‘what if’ game. Actually, I have to go home. I’m getting a headache, and Mam wanted me home early.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Katie bounded out of the rocker and helped Libby up. “Do you want aspirin and water?”

“Ja.” Accepting the glass and two pills from Katie, she swallowed them and left. On her way home, she was able to think in peace and quiet. This story featured an English person. That rumor had an English person wanting us gone. And Katie sure does like her stories! Getting home, she put the horses away and took her bags from the buggy. In the house, she greeted her mam quietly.

“Is everything okay? Are you okay?” Mrs. King was worried—Libby was usually never this subdued.

“Ja, I’m fine. I just got a bit of a headache at Katie’s. She gave me some aspirin, and I’ll be okay soon. Call me when you’re ready to start supper. I’m going to rest for a little while.” Upstairs, Libby continued to puzzle over the mystery that was Katie. Shaking her head and sighing, she decided not to say anything…yet. She wanted to see if she could figure Katie’s motives out first. For a few days, she didn’t spend very much time with her friend.

After being cast out of their strict Amish community in Goshen, Indiana, Katie and her family have found a new home in Big Valley, Pennsylvania. She’s doing well. She has a boyfriend she loves, friends, and her parents are even beginning to trust her again.

Everything will be okay as long as Katie can stop making up stories.

But she can’t. There’s a pressure inside of her, building up from a secret from her past, and eventually, no matter how hard she tries to stop herself, the lies spill out. So she tells one little story about an Englisher. And then, as before, everything starts to fall apart.

Will a new community offer Katie a second chance at a life and love? Or is she too broken to save?

Find out in Amish Secrets & Lies, Book 1 of the Big Valley Amish series  by Rachel Stoltzfus. 

If you love Christian Amish stories about love, healing and the power of community, grab this series collection today!

use coupon SWEETROMANCE to save 15%

Formats include Mobi for Kindle, ePub for Nook, Kobo, Android and most eReaders and PDF for print & reading on your computer. 

Or Grab the Books on your Favorite Online Booksellers:

Amish Secrets & Lies - Chapter 9

The next time the rumor started, Katie had been to town to do some shopping for her mam, who had come down with the flu. “Get everything on this list, especially the flu medication. The doctor prescribed it, and I really need to start taking it today. I wish I could go with you, but…” A coughing fit took Mary over, as she bent over trying to get control over the paroxysms.

“I’ll get everything. You go upstairs, and I’ll get you some water and aspirin.” Katie followed her up with the promised items. Tucking her mother in, handed her the two pills and a glass of water. “I’ll hurry. I promise.”

“Denki. The doctor is including medications for you and your dat. If you take them before you get sick, you may not get as sick as I am. Go!”

In town, Katie found all of the items on the list and purchased them. Seeing one of her quilting friends, she waved at her. “Sorry, Clare, but I need to get home. Mam has the flu and needs the medications I just picked up.” She indicated the bag of prescription flu medication in her cart.

“Before you go, have you heard anything about that rumor that said we had to leave here?” Clare was worried, especially since she’d heard nothing for so long.

“Nee, not really. I mean, nothing, I’ve heard nothing. Have you?”

“Nee. Nothing. I was wondering if that English person…”

Katie waited impatiently for Clare to finish her sentence. When she realized Clare wouldn’t finish her question, she nodded once. “Well, I have to go. I really haven’t heard anything. I hope it’s gone for gut!” She wheeled around, hurrying out of the store with her cart.

Clare looked around, hoping nobody had heard them. She didn’t want to be the reason that scary rumor started making the rounds.

Katie drove the horses faster, hoping to beat the threatening snow. Libby didn’t want to hear her “what if” stories anymore, and the other teens were beginning to get tired of her stories as well. As happy as she was imagining her future with Amos, her responsibilities, her pretending to be a good Amish girl in spite of her own failings, were all pressing in on her again.

As she drove, she thought about the rumor. Could it come back to life? Ja, I think it could. It should, but with a twist.

No. Don’t.

But if I did…

A razor over the skin blossoming red.

Pulling into her parents’ yard, she hurried into the barn, aware that the snow was beginning to fall. Inside the house, she tiptoed to her parents’ bedroom. Seeing her mam tossing and turning, she knocked softly on the door. “Mam? I have the medicine here.” She pulled it out of the bag and read the dosing instructions on her mother’s vial of medication. “Okay, you have to take two pills.” Making sure her mam still had water, she shook the pills on her hand and gave them to Mary. “I’ll make sure Dat takes his medication as well. Get some sleep, and I’ll make supper.”

“Denki, daughter.”

“I’ll bring some chicken broth and crackers for you when I make supper.”

Mary definitely didn’t have any appetite but knew she would only get stronger if she ate something. “Okay.”

Downstairs, Katie put everything away and started supper. Filling a mug with chicken broth, pieces of chicken and potatoes, she took them with fresh water up to her mam. “Are you awake?”

“Ja. That smells gut! What did you make for supper?”

“Baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Here.” Katie sat on a chair, watching her mother struggle with the soup and her absent appetite.

“Okay, I’ve eaten everything I can. Denki. I’m going to go to the bathroom, then go to sleep.”

“Goodnight.” Katie hurried down, wanting supper to be over so she could think of how to bring her rumor back to life while at the same time hoping someone, anyone would stop her. She didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want to lie and start trouble, but it was as her mam had said. There was something wrong with her character. It brought her trouble, and the trouble spilled out of her in the most harmful, painful ways.

She didn’t deserve Amos. She didn’t deserve a simple life or happiness. She was broken and wrong, and while she could hold herself together for short spurts, eventually, it all fell apart.

“Dat, Mam had me get medication for the both of us. We need to take it before we start eating.” She read the instructions on the little box.

“How is she? Did she eat?”

“Some broth and water. She just took her first dose.”

After the two of them ate, Katie washed and cleaned up the kitchen. Looking into the living room, she saw her dat reading. “Dat, did you want to study with me?”

“Ja, for a time.”

Her dat put the well-worn, leather-bound Bible on his lap and Katie sat down beside him. Together, they read the passages out loud until Dat began to yawn.

“I should go to bed,” he said.

“Wait!” Katie wasn’t tired enough yet. If she had a chance, she’d do something horrible.

“Is everything okay?”

“Do you remember when Uncle Levi would bring us candied apples?”

Her dat smiled, and his featured softened. “Ja. My brother was always doing kindnesses for us. He’s the reason I learned enough of carpentry to start a business here. And he never said a harsh word, even when you told that foolish story about him having a body in his cornfield. I miss him.”

Looking at her dat’s face, the happiness in her eyes, Katie couldn’t speak. The truth caught painfully in her throat like a chicken bone. She coughed.

“Katie, you’d best go upstairs and get some sleep. I’d hate for you to succumb to the same terrible flu your mam has. Rest is good for the soul, heart, and body.”

Katie nodded.

Her dat kissed her on the cheek. “Go,” he said, giving her a light push from the sofa. “Into your night clothes, and make sure to put on the extra quilt.”

“Ja.”

But even as Katie went to her bedroom, lit the lamp, and shut the door, she couldn’t lay down. “Get out!” “We don’t want you here!” “You are sick and horrible, go away!” the faces of the two English women from so long ago swirled in her mind. She embraced them. Lies were safe. Comforting.

She would restart the rumor, but for it to work, she had to make it seem like it came from someone else entirely. It should happen while Mam is sick.

Having decided that, Katie blew out the lamp and went to sleep.

Not tomorrow. She was seeing Amos tomorrow night. But soon.

***

As Katie was coming home from her client, she searched ahead of her, looking for friends who had little experience with the English. Seeing Barbara, she waved, looking solemn. “Barbara. How are you?”

“I’m fine, but you look like something bad has happened.”

Katie sighed and looked around. “Nee, I can’t say anything.”

I shouldn’t say anything. This is wrong. But lies were so much easier than the truth.

Barbara asked, “What? Is it bad news? It has to be!”

“I’d better not say anything.” Katie signaled for the horses to begin walking again.

Just let it go. Please.

But Barbara had taken the bait. “Wait! I won’t say anything. Please.”

Katie sighed and pulled closer to Barbara as the lies began to flow, “I just heard tell that that English person has started again.”

“Nee! Did you hear the person, or…”

“Oh, no, no! Thank Gott! I would have run away, screaming!” Katie hesitated, just long enough for Barbara to lean closer. Katie whispered, “Nee, someone else told me they heard. Only now, the person is making threats against us.”

“Who? What kind of threats?”

“I promised I wouldn’t say. I don’t know what kind of threats. The person I spoke to was really scared and just wanted to leave. I’m sorry. I really need to go. My mam is still getting over the flu, and I think Dat is sick now.”

 “Okay. Just be careful from now on! Especially when you make deliveries outside the community!”

“Ja, I will. Mam is going to want to go with me all over again.”

Even as the feeling of excitement and relief flowed over Katie, it was tinged with guilt. She really was broken inside. Maybe it would be better for all of them if she left the buggy, wandered off into the snow and was never seen again.

Was that how Esther had felt?

Katie blinked as her vision blurred. Thankfully, the horses knew the route home well because Katie could hardly see through her tears.

***

Over the next few days, the rumor roared back to life, seeming to grow day by day. Katie didn’t hear the new iterations it took on—she was now busy taking care of her recuperating mam and ailing dat. She didn’t want to hear the rumors. The relief she’d found in telling them couldn’t compare to her guilt. When she could, she escaped to her quilting room and worked on her current orders.

The next Sunday was a Meeting Sunday. David and Mary, still weak but recovering, decided to go to services with Katie. After the meeting had ended, the supposed threat was the topic of the entire community. Katie had to listen, and it was worse than she could have imagined.

“What? What are you saying?” Katie covered her mouth, not wanting to draw too much attention to herself. “Sorry…” She was so sorry.

“Nee, you’re shocked. We all are! You’ve been stuck at home, nursing your parents. Anyway, everyone has heard that the English person is saying they want us gone…but now, they are making threats!”

Katie swallowed her hot coffee as fast as she could without burning her throat. “What kind of threats?”

“Nothing specific. But we are all worried. Parents aren’t letting their teenagers go out for their running around. Families walk with their kinder to school. Everyone is home before dark, and everything is locked up tight.”

Libby set her plate down across from Katie and her friend, Clare. “Katie, Clare, are you talking about the new things being said?”

“Ja, I just heard!” Katie placed her sandwich back on her plate. It tasted like ashes. “I’ve lost my appetite. After hearing that, I just can’t eat.”

Libby looked closely at her friend. She’s upset, but something still doesn’t feel right.

One of the younger girls, a chubby blonde named Anna, said, “I heard they’re calling us a cult. Just because of our Plain dress, modesty, and refusal to rely on things of the world.”

Katie paled. “A cult? Who told you that?”

Libby cut in. “That sounds like gossip, Anna.”

“It’s not gossip. I heard it from Sarah, but please, do not ask her anything! Her parents overheard her saying what she was told and they got angry with her. So now, she’s grounded and can’t even go to the quilting frolic next weekend.”

“Oh…I’d better stay away from that topic with her, then. Is she allowed to spend time with us here?”

“Ja, but only under the supervision of her mam.”

Katie grimaced. She knew what that was like. Except, of course, Katie deserved her parents’ censure. Even now, a part of her wanted to fan the flames of the rumor she had started.

Amos approached the girl’s table. “Katie?”

“Huh?”

“You look like you’re on another planet. What’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing, unless you count this horrible rumor coming back.” Why had she brought it up again? “Forget it. I’m sorry.” Katie put her chin on her hand. It was all getting away from her.

“Ach, ja. I didn’t want to say anything, because you were so busy taking care of your parents. How are they feeling?”

Reminded of her mother’s continuing fragility, Katie twisted around on the bench and caught sight of Mary. “She’s tired, but not too bad. Let me go see what she wants to do.”

Her mam agreed to allow Katie to stay with the youth until the sing started. “I’m staying here. Dat is still feeling okay, but Mam is starting to feel tired again. She says he’s going to take her home and she’ll nap. It’s a gut thing I saved some leftovers from last night for them. All they’ll have to do is reheat them in the oven when it’s time to eat supper.”

Katie stayed carefully away from the topic of English threats to the Amish. After her parents went home, she wandered among her friends, joining groups of teen girls and listening to all the gossip about what was happening. First on the list for everyone seemed to be the demand that the Amish leave Big Valley and settle elsewhere. As she mingled, Katie was able to get caught up on all the theories. “Mei Gott, Barbara, this is scary! Saying we’re a cult? I understand from Libby that Sarah’s parents have grounded her for taking part in the rumor.”

Barbara grimaced, her pretty face wrinkling in fear. “Ja, so we are all careful not to talk about this around our parents. You’d best take the same precautions.”

While Katie was involved in talking with the other girls, Libby took the opportunity to get Amos’s attention. “Amos, I’m getting a very funny feeling about Katie. I know she’s been preoccupied, taking care of her parents. But I heard from Barbara that Katie – she’s the one who mentioned hearing of this rumor even while her parents were ill. And she’s the one who told me in town about someone overhearing something.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“Maybe it doesn’t, but I can’t help feeling that Katie is more involved with this rumor than she’s letting on.”

“Are you saying Katie started the rumor?” Amos was disoriented and more than a little upset. He felt his heart pounding as though he’d just run a marathon. Why would Katie lie like that? “She knows better!”

“Shhh! I don’t want her to hear me! I just get a funny feeling about this. She looks innocent…who knows, maybe she is. But I can’t get rid of that feeling.”

Amos waved her concerns off. “I wouldn’t worry about it. She’s getting ready to begin baptism instruction. Why would she endanger her position here in Big Valley?” He turned to return to his friends.

“Amos, wait! I have more. I went to her house last week. You know she likes to create all these ‘what if’ stories, right? I noticed that her stories all have some English person who causes problems, like a car accident that hurts one of us.”

Amos turned, caught by Libby’s words. “What? Ja, I know about her ‘what if’ stories. She has a vivid imagination. . .”

“Ja, but what if it’s more than just being vivid in her stories? Amos, I realized that, in every one of her stories, our community winds up being harmed by the actions of someone outside. I’m going to go now, but please, think about this.”

Amos nodded shortly. He didn’t want to admit it, but Libby’s words had disturbed him. He, too, had noticed that quality in Katie’s stories. Could she? Is Katie the one who started this rumor? But that’s more than just a story. It’s hurting our whole community. Everyone is scared.

 He didn’t get the chance to return to his friends. Instead, his older brother, Eli, waylaid him this time. “Ach, what is it, Eli? I want to talk to my friends!”

In answer, Eli clasped his strong fingers around Amos’s upper arm, practically dragging him toward the back porch. “We have to talk.” Outside, he pushed Amos into the swing on the porch. “Ever since you started seeing Katie, I’ve gotten a distinct feeling there’s something going on with her. Oh, ja, she obeys her parents and she earns money with her quilting. But she says things that don’t make sense, and she’s always watching everyone.”

“Eli!” Amos, completely out of sorts by now, threw his hands in the air. “What is it with you? I’ve been dating Katie for two years now. And you’re just now beginning to tell me you don’t like her because you think she’s…what…trouble?”

“I didn’t say anything before because you were just getting to know her. And I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure about her, but I had to let you know how I felt since I see you’re getting a lot more serious about her.”

“There you are, Eli. Are you talking to him?” Annie Yoder, Eli’s girlfriend, dropped down next to Amos.

“What? You, too? What is this, ‘gang up on Katie’ day?” Amos was getting angry now—his normally mellow voice was low and rough now with anger.

“Amos, I’ve also gotten the same sense that Eli has. She’s trouble. She has problems with being truthful.”

“Well, I can tell that you just love her, Annie. Excuse me if I don’t buy what you’re selling. I’m going to go talk to Michael.” Before his brother could grab him again, Amos had bounded off the swing and jumped over the fence surrounding the porch. He landed in a snowdrift, slipped a little before righting himself, and jogged off.

But even though Amos didn’t want to doubt Katie, he knew something was wrong. She was sweet, but she also told disturbing stories. And she got tense when he sat too close to her. Also, he had watched her eyes light up, and her lips twitch, almost smiling, when the rumor had first started. Now, she seemed genuinely afraid, but was it of the Englisher or for herself?

What if he was wrong about her? Feeling distinctly moody, he was silent as he joined his friends.

“Hey, Amos! What’s wrong? You look like you ate a bad pickle or something.” Andy chuckled at his bad joke. But as he saw Amos’s face grow even moodier, his laughter died away.

“Nothing. It’s nothing. What’s going on with your carpentry work?” Amos wanted to talk about anything but Katie.

“Uh…gut. I guess. Why talk about work on a Sunday? How are things going with Katie? I’ve seen you taking her here and there.”

To give himself time, Amos took a long sip from his can of soda. Only, his impulsive jump from the porch had jostled the beverage in the can, and he took in more carbonation than liquid. Eyes watering, he choked and coughed, trying to push the liquid down. “Can we please not talk about her?”

Andy’s round, slightly dull face bore an expression of surprise. “Oh, guys, I think he had an argument with her!”

“Never mind. I’m leaving.” Amos wheeled around, angry that he couldn’t get relief from his doubts about his fiancée. Heading toward the barn, he ran to the ladder and upstairs. Hopefully here, he could get some peace and quiet so he could think. Sitting on the loose hay, he processed everything that Libby, Annie, and Eli had told him. Nee. There’s just no way. She has no reason to lie. She’s said she loves me, and I have to believe that. For nearly an hour, Amos sat in the hayloft, trying to convince himself. After all, I can’t tell Katie that people are starting to connect her to the rumor!

Amos had to get out of the barn. He needed some distance, just to get himself back under control. With the rumor, and now all of these accusations, he didn’t know what to believe. Amos hurried down the ladder. Coming around the side of the barn, he saw Katie. She looked worried.

Amos’s heart went out to her. “Katie! What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, now. I just couldn’t find you. I saw your buggy still parked over there, but when I couldn’t find you, I got scared. Is everything okay?”

Amos sighed. Seeing Katie at this moment wasn’t what he needed or wanted. Still, he didn’t want her knowing what he was feeling and thinking. Forcing his face into a weak smile, he shrugged. “Sorry. I got into a heated discussion with one of the guys.”

“Nee! I hope it’ll all be okay!”

“I don’t know. I just need to be on my own for a little, okay? I’ll come to find you soon.”

What if he knows?

But how could he know?

Katie asked, “Amos? Who did you argue with?”

“Never mind, Katie. It’s between me and…that person. I’ll join you soon. I just need to get back into a gut state of mind.”

“Well…okay.” Katie was hurt and queasy. If only she’d been able to stop herself from bringing back this stupid rumor! Head hanging, she walked away. Who was Amos arguing with? She’d seen him talking with his brother. Was Annie was with them? Annie had been acting strangely towards Katie lately.

What if Annie suspected?

Katie had to do something to deflect that suspicion away from herself. Desperate, she let her imagination run free. She had to find a solution to save her future with Amos.

After being cast out of their strict Amish community in Goshen, Indiana, Katie and her family have found a new home in Big Valley, Pennsylvania. She’s doing well. She has a boyfriend she loves, friends, and her parents are even beginning to trust her again.

Everything will be okay as long as Katie can stop making up stories.

But she can’t. There’s a pressure inside of her, building up from a secret from her past, and eventually, no matter how hard she tries to stop herself, the lies spill out. So she tells one little story about an Englisher. And then, as before, everything starts to fall apart.

Will a new community offer Katie a second chance at a life and love? Or is she too broken to save?

Find out in Amish Secrets & Lies, Book 1 of the Big Valley Amish series  by Rachel Stoltzfus. 

If you love Christian Amish stories about love, healing and the power of community, grab this series collection today!

use coupon SWEETROMANCE to save 15%

Formats include Mobi for Kindle, ePub for Nook, Kobo, Android and most eReaders and PDF for print & reading on your computer. 

Or Grab the Books on your Favorite Online Booksellers:

Thank you for reading! Read More of Amish Secrets & Lies for FREE online below: 

Amish Secrets and Lies Covers

Amish Secrets and Lies – Free Chapters 1-5

Katie Miller sighed, her bright green eyes dulled with boredom. Even though she was eighteen and technically on her rumspringa, her mam and dat still took her with them everywhere they went. They were scared of what she’d say and the trouble it might get them into. How can I get into trouble by myself at home? I could get things done for Mam. Maybe sweep out the carpentry shop for Dat. Anything but go along on their everlasting shopping trips! Today, they were shopping in one of the English stores in the area.

Read More »
Amish Secrets and Lies Covers

Amish Secrets and Lies – Free Chapters 10-12

Over the next few weeks, as Katie went around Big Valley, she kept getting the unsettling feeling that someone was watching her. She would stop driving her buggy or walking and gaze around, but she was never able to spot the watcher. Maybe it was just another story, bubbling to get out of her mind?

Read More »