Hidden (Amish Romance Mystery) (Amish Secret Widows' Society Book 2)

BOOK: Hidden (Amish Romance Mystery) (Amish Secret Widows' Society Book 2)
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Hidden (Amish Romance Mystery)

(Amish Secret Widows’ Society Book 2)

Samantha Price

 

 

Copyright 2014 Samantha Price

All Rights Reserved.

 

License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only,

then you should return to the place of purchase and purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the author's work.

 

*****************

 

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The personal names have been invented by the author, and any likeness to the name of any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Chapter 1.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

 

Emma sniffed the air; it smelled as though the chocolate chip cookies she was baking were ready. She had burned the first batch that morning by talking too much, so she hurried to the oven to save this batch. Even though a wave of heat enveloped her when she opened the oven, she still managed to listen to what Silvie had to say.

“My
mudder
sat me down when I first started being interested in boys. I could have been fifteen or sixteen. I’ll never forget what she said to me.” Silvie swallowed hard and her fragile complexion turned another shade of pale. “She said that there is no such thing as ‘hearts and flowers’ love between a man and a woman. I said, ‘
What about true love?’
And do you know what she said?”

Emma nibbled on the end of her fingernail, hoping that this batch hadn’t been in for too long as well. “What did she say?”

“She said ‘love shmuv’ and then said, ‘humpf.’ What do you think of that?”

Emma shook her head. She was pleased that she and Silvie were growing closer as friends. “Some people do find true love; I found it twice.”


Jah
, but John and I were never in love, because I never expected to find true love like you had with Levi, and now you have with Wil. John might have been in love with me, in his own way. My
mudder
insisted that things would go better for me if I weren’t
deerich
, foolish, about love from the start and didn’t expect too much.” John, Silvie’s husband, had died many years before.

“I guess some people don’t find that special love, but a lot of people do. My
mamm
and
daed
are still very much in love; I’m sure of that,” Emma said.

“I hope I find someone to love. It must feel good. Well, I mean I did love John in the end; I grew to love him as I would love any member of my
familye.”

“You’re still young, Silvie. Why don’t you ask
Gott
for a special
mann
to come into your life?” Emma studied Silvie’s pretty face. She had the loveliest, pale creamy skin, which enhanced her pure blue eyes. She was truly an attractive woman.

“Do you think I should do that? It has always seemed selfish to me, to pray for something for myself instead of pray for someone else.”

“I’m sure that
Gott
wants to hear about everything we care deeply about; He loves us so much.”

Emma glanced at Silvie to see a smile float across her face.

“Are you two still talking?”

The girls looked up to see Wil standing in the doorway of the kitchen. Since Wil and Emma had started courting, Wil forgot about the need to knock and waltzed into the
haus
as he pleased.

Surely he could knock before he entered,
Emma thought.

Wil took a seat at the kitchen table, reached out and took a sugar cookie. “Why did the conversation stop when I came in?”

The two girls smirked at each other.

Emma said, “We were talking about you.”

Wil laughed and turned to Silvie. “Was Emma telling you how she can’t wait to marry me?”

“Hush, Wil,” Emma said quickly.

A look of delight crossed Silvie’s delicate features. “Are you two getting married soon?”

“Eventually, but not right away.” Emma was annoyed with Wil for saying such a thing to Silvie. Everyone they knew most likely suspected that they were courting, but it was only six months on from Levi’s death, which was far too soon for a wedding. It was most likely far too soon to court and Emma struggled daily with the guilt of having feelings for another
mann
so soon. Emma often wondered why she loved Wil so much when she spent half her time being annoyed with him.

Wil laughed. “You know how I like to tease. Emma, do you have a cup of tea for me, or is this a ladies’ only meeting?” Without drawing a breath, he added, “Are those chocolate chip cookies I smell?”


Jah
and I’ll get you a cup of tea as soon as I put these cookies on a cooling rack.”

While Emma tended to the cookies and got the tea, Wil bit into another sugar cookie and continued to speak to Silvie. “So, how have you been?”

“I’ve been fine. Busy at work that’s all.”

“I see.”

Emma placed the tea in front of Wil, a little irritated that he had interrupted her girl-talk with Silvie.

Wil looked around to talk to Emma. “Since you won’t marry me straight away, I’ve decided to take the bishop up on his offer.”  

“What offer?” Emma frowned. If they had private and important decisions to make, she would rather do that in private.

“There’s a young man who wants to become Amish and the bishop has asked if he can stay with me for a time. His name is Bailey Abler.”

“That’s odd,” Emma said. “Don’t they usually place people with a
familye
before they join?”

Wil shrugged his shoulders. “They normally do. He’s been staying with the bishop for the past few days.”

Given their conversation before Wil walked in, the girls shot each other a look of amazement. Was this new man
Gott’s
answer so quickly, before Silvie had even had a chance to ask Him?

“How old is he?” Silvie asked, trying to keep the smile from her face.

“I haven’t met him yet, but from what the bishop said, I’d guess him to be around thirty.”

Emma put some of the warm chocolate chip cookies on a plate and placed it in the middle of the table before she sat down again. “What do you know about him?”

Wil wasted no time in taking one of the warm cookies. “Not much at all; the bishop hardly told me anything about him. He’s alone in the world and used to work in the restaurant business. That’s all I know.”

“Well, I’m on the late shift at the bakery. I’d better get going.” Silvie said.

“Late shift? I thought bakeries started around 3 a.m. in the mornings,” Wil said before he took another bite of cookie.

“We’ve got a café attached now. We do light meals until 8 p.m. and I stay back and clean up afterwards too.”

Wil wiped some crumbs from his mouth. “I see.”

“You and Emma should come in and have dinner there one time,” Silvie said.

Wil smiled at Emma. “Maybe we will.”

After Silvie left, Wil said, “I’ve invited Frank to dinner on Saturday night.”

Frank was an elderly man who lived on his own in one of the Amish housing settlements. Wil was one of the many Amish people who cared after him.

“So, does that include me?” Emma asked.

“Of course it does.”

Emma giggled. “So, I do the cooking?”

Wil chuckled. “
Jah
. You cook much better than me.”

Emma guessed that he wanted her to cook. She mostly cooked when he had guests for dinner, but he never asked her straight out, she always offered. “Who else is coming then?”

“That’s all. Just you me, and Bailey will be here by then. I thought it would be
gut
for Bailey to get to know a couple of people to ease him into the community slowly.”

“Why don’t we have dinner here at my place instead of yours? I know my way around this kitchen so much better.”


Jah
, okay. I’ll call over and tell Frank that I’ve changed the dinner to your place. I can’t do it today I’ve got too much to do. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“I’ve got to go into town later. I’ll call in and tell him if you like. I also think it wouldn’t hurt to have Silvie over to meet Bailey. What do you think?”


Jah,
that will be fine, but don’t you think you should meet Bailey first before you start planning to marry him off to someone?”

“I’ve just got a feeling about the two of them. Besides if he’s made the decision to become Amish, he must have a
gut
heart toward
Gott
.”

“And what is your feeling about you and me?” Wil moved next to Emma and pushed his shoulder against hers.

Emma giggled. “You know how I feel about you, Wil.”

“Just checking, wouldn’t want you to change your mind or anything.” Wil stood up. “Well, I’ve got work to do.

Emma admired his strong, tanned arms as he reached for more cookies. “Another invention?”

Wil smiled. “I’ll see you later on.” He took two cookies off the plate, gave Emma a quick kiss on the forehead and walked out the door.

Emma wondered if she would have as much time with Wil when his
haus
guest arrived. She walked outside to bring the washing in off the line.

While she unpinned the washing, Emma’s mind was drawn to the time when, as a young girl, she used to unpin the
familye
washing. She would pretend that her
bruders’
shirts were her sons’ shirts. Emma had expected to marry and have many
kinner.
Emma knew that death was a part of life, and her grieving was eased by knowing where Levi was. But what of her plans of
kinner?
For so long she had dreamed of having children with Levi and now she had to switch her thinking to having children with Wil one day. Why did she struggle so much with that?

Chapter 2.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;

but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mark 16:16

 

Emma pulled up her buggy in front of Frank’s old wooden
haus
. The front garden had become a little overgrown, and Emma made up her mind then and there to get some of the ladies over to give his garden a
gut
weeding. Surely Frank wouldn’t mind the company of a few ladies. Frank had lived alone since his wife, Sally, died years earlier.

As she knocked on the door, she noticed that the door could do with a repaint and remembered Wil had mentioned he would soon do some minor repairs on Frank’s
haus
. She knocked again and waited a while, but still there was no answer. She figured that he could be out somewhere since many people in the community called on him. Maybe he had taken a walk. “Frank,” she called out, but there was no answer.

She stepped out onto the street, and seeing no sign of him up or down the narrow road, she walked back up to the front door and turned the door handle. Frank was old and lived on his own; what if he had taken a fall?

The door was unlocked and Emma stepped through. “Frank,” she called out once more. “You home?”

Emma immediately sensed that something was wrong. A step later she saw that the floor was covered with paperwork; the stuffing was pulled out of the couches, and drawers were pulled from cabinets. Emma knew that this was more than someone being untidy; it appeared as though Frank had been robbed. She called out his name again as she raced into one of the two bedrooms.

The mattress was shredded completely as if someone had ripped it with a knife; she ran to the other bedroom to see the same thing. She heard a clanging noise behind her and turned around. As she couldn’t see anything, she slowly approached the kitchen. She ignored her fast pumping heart and before she looked around the corner into the kitchen, she glanced over her shoulder for an escape route. Seeing the front door open, she took a deep breath.
One, two, three, now
, she told herself as she stuck her head into the kitchen.

Emma heaved a sigh of relief; the noise she heard was just a cat. The large, gray tabby was busy lapping something from a saucepan on the stove. Emma moved toward the cat and it did not acknowledge her presence. “Shoosh, cat,” Emma yelled. She flailed her arms to get it off the stove.

The cat remained as he was. Emma heaved up the cat into her arms and as she did so, she saw Frank spread out on the floor behind the kitchen table. Emma jumped and screamed, which caused the cat to yowl and jump from her arms. “Frank!”

Emma crouched over him. He was facing to the floor with one of his arms underneath him. Emma turned him over and felt for a pulse. It appeared that there was none. She guessed he had not been dead for long. Emma knew she would have to drive her buggy to the telephone shanty at the end of the road. Being in the midst of an Amish settlement, no one would have had a phone in their home.

After she made the phone call, Emma hung up the telephone. She looked down at her hands and could not stop them from shaking. She wanted nothing more but to tell Wil about Frank. Wil had a telephone in his barn, but was hardly ever in his barn and only used the telephone for outgoing calls. She called him anyway on the chance that he might be close to it, but as she suspected, there was no answer. She went back to Frank’s
haus
to wait for the ambulance and the police, daunted that she would have to handle this all by herself.

When Emma got back to the
haus,
she peeped around the kitchen corner, a little scared to go back in. She saw that the cat was sitting on the kitchen table. She called to the cat, “Rude cat
.
Ge
t
off.”

The cat looked at her, yowled and stayed put.

Emma tried a different approach. “Poor thing. Are you hungry?” Trying not to look at poor old Frank on the floor, Emma enticed the cat off the table with some cold meat she found in the cold box.

An ambulance and two police cars arrived within seconds of each other. Emma took the paramedics through to the kitchen; the uniformed police officers followed closely behind.

“Are you his next of kin?” one of the officers asked as the paramedics examined Frank.

“No, I’m just a friend. I know he has two sons, but I don’t know how to contact them. A friend of mine would have their phone numbers; I’m sure of it.”

Emma heard the paramedics murmuring between themselves about taking the body to the hospital.

“I guess you need to take him to a funeral home?” Emma asked.

“We’ll take him to the hospital first, but we have to wait for the police.”

“Ah, Mrs. Kurtzler, we meet again.”

Emma looked around with a fright. “Oh, Detective Crowley. I didn’t think I would see you again, so soon.”

Crowley took out a notepad from his pocket. “Were you the one to find the body?”

Emma did not like to hear Detective Crowley refer to Frank as
‘the body.’
“Yes, I came and found Frank on the floor. He wasn’t moving and I turned him over to feel for a pulse and couldn’t find one.” Emma heard people coming through the front door and looked up to see three people in white suits.

“Forensics,” is all Crowley said then guided her into the living room.

Detective Crowley continued to stare at Emma, so she said, “I took the buggy up the road to find a public phone to call the police and the ambulance.” Emma watched him scratch some things onto his notepad. She looked around for somewhere to sit, but the two couches were shredded.

“What brings you here, Detective? Do you come to every death in the area?”

“Death or murder?” He looked down into her eyes and then down to his notepad. “Why were you visiting him?”

“My… well, my friend and I were going to have Frank to dinner on Saturday night, but instead of having it at Wil’s
haus
we were going to change it to have it at my
haus
. I was just coming here to tell Frank of the changed arrangements.”

Detective Crowley scratched in his notebook. “Ah, yes, William Jacobson.”

She raised her eyebrows at the detective’s memory. It would have been a
gut
six months ago when they met the detective. Emma recalled that Wil and the detective did not get along well.

“Did Frank have transportation?”


Nee
, he walks or someone in the community drives him where he needs to go.”

“So Mr. Jacobson or yourself would have picked him up to take him to your house for dinner then drive him home again?”

Emma nodded. “That’s correct.”

After Crowley had penned some more things in his notepad, he looked up. “Why did he need to know of the changed arrangements? Couldn’t you have picked him up and driven him to your place? If he wasn’t driving himself, surely there was no need for the special trip to tell him of the change of the dinner location, was there?”

Emma chewed on a fingernail as she thought through what the detective had just said. He was right; there was no need to tell Frank at all since Wil would have driven him there and back. If only Wil didn’t have his head in the clouds all the time. But, then again, she was also to blame. “I see. I guess I didn’t think about it too much. Anyway he’s an old man on his own; it doesn’t hurt for people to call in on him every now and again.”

“Hmm.”

Emma wondered what
‘hmm’
meant.

“Do you, or did you – I should say, know the deceased very well?”


Nee
, not that well. Wil knows him well and did a lot of things for him; like repairs and anything he needed done around the
haus.
He used to take him places, but so did others in the community. We look after our own, you know.”

“Hmm, I know.”

Emma studied the detective’s sharp, angular facial features and figured that they matched the sharpness of his tongue and his blunt personality.

The detective walked around the living room and Emma followed him. As he circled one of the couches, he said, “It looks as though someone was looking for something, wouldn’t you think? Someone’s done a thorough search for something.”

“Can I go now, detective? I’ll have Wil call one of Frank’s sons and I’m sure they’ll take care of things.”

As she walked toward the door, the detective said, “Mrs. Kurtzler, have you forgotten something?”

Emma spun around to face the detective. “No, I don’t think I have.”

Detective Crowley looked down at the cat that was purring around his legs.

“Oh dear, the cat.”

“Looks like it was the old man’s cat. Why don’t you take it home, Mrs. Kurtzler?”

“I can’t have a cat. I’ve got enough animals to look after.” She stared at the large tabby; he had stopped purring around the detective’s legs and was staring at her, as was the detective. “I’ve never liked cats. Besides he’ll likely chase all the birds that come into my garden.”

“Don’t trouble yourself. I’ll call animal welfare and have it put down.”

“No, you can’t do that.” The cat looked at her as if it knew exactly what the detective had said. Emma felt guilty and sighed. “All right. I’ll take the cat.” Emma crouched down. “Come on, kitty.” The cat slowly walked toward her and did not object when Emma picked him up and tucked him under her arm. “Oh, he’s such a heavy cat.”

“Yes. It doesn’t look like he’s gone without too many meals.”

“Well, goodbye, Detective.”

“As usual, Mrs. Kurtzler, I will need to ask you some questions; don’t leave town.”

Emma headed to her buggy, glad to get away from the detective. She put the cat in the seat next to her, half hoping that he would jump out and run away. She’d had dogs before, but never a cat. Despite her hopes, the gray cat curled into a ball and immediately fell asleep. He looked so peaceful and cuddly that Emma felt bad for hoping he’d run away.

When she pulled up in front of Wil’s
haus,
he came out to meet her.

“Wil, it’s Frank.”

“What’s happened, Emma? You look as white as a sheet.” Wil put his hands on Emma’s shoulders to steady her.

“Frank has died. The police think that he’s been killed. I found him on the kitchen floor and then waited for the ambulance to come. He had no pulse.”

Wil’s face was blank. “Is he dead?”

“Murdered, killed,
jah
, dead.” Emma collapsed into his arms.

Wil held Emma tightly for a moment, before he said, “I should have gone. I never should have sent you.”

“I offered to go. There shouldn’t have been any harm in going. You weren’t to know.” Emma gave a couple of sniffs. “That horrible detective was there too.”

“Crowley?”

Emma pulled her head back from Wil’s shoulder. “That’s the one. He said that from the look of the place that someone was searching for something.”

Wil shook his entire body. “I’m having trouble taking it all in. Come and sit inside and tell me everything from the start.”

Wil led Emma into his
haus.
She sat down and told him exactly what had happened, from start to finish.

“I’ll have to find the phone numbers of his sons,” Wil said.

“I thought you’d have their numbers.”

“I think I do.
Jah
, I’m sure that I do.”

Emma’s hand flew to her forehead. “Oh, I forgot I’ve got Frank’s cat.”


Ach, gut
; Frank loved Growler. Where is he?”

“Asleep in the buggy. He was asleep when I left the buggy anyway.” Emma looked out the window at the buggy and could not see a cat walking around anywhere.

“He’s not a barn cat, Emma. You’ll have to keep the cat in the
haus.
His name is Growler.”

Emma pulled a face. “Growler? I suppose I can keep him in the
haus
just until one of Frank’s sons come and get him.”


Jah
, I’m sure one of them would love to take him.”

Emma knew nothing of Frank’s two sons, except that neither of them had stayed in the community. Both boys decided on the
Englisch
lifestyle many years ago. With Frank in his early eighties the boys would be in their fifties, Emma guessed.

As she usually did when she got home, Emma unhitched the buggy and tended to the horse. All the while Growler stayed in the buggy until Emma picked him up and carried him into the
haus
. Once inside, Growler jumped out of her arms, walked around the living room then sprung onto the couch, curled up and went back to sleep.

“You know how to look after yourself,” Emma murmured to Growler. Emma put a couple of old saucers at the back door for his food and filled up a bowl with water.

Later that night Wil called in to Emma’s
haus
to check on her. “You feeling better now?”

BOOK: Hidden (Amish Romance Mystery) (Amish Secret Widows' Society Book 2)
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