Authors: Marta Perry
Tags: #Romance - Suspense
Lost in Plain Sight
Leah Miller’s peaceful life as a member of the Spring Township Amish church shatters when she’s accused of theft from an Englisch home in which she works. Even if she is not charged, if the crime is never solved, she will live under the taint of the theft and may never be able to participate fully in her Amish community. Josiah King, friend of Leah’s brother, is drawn into helping Leah—and discovers the ‘little sister’ he’d always tolerated has grown into a strong, appealing woman.
But what future can they have together if suspicion makes Leah an outcast? As they attempt to learn the facts behind the accusation, danger grows around them. It’s only through their trust in each other and the support of a faithful Englisch friend that Leah and Josiah can find their way through a tangled, dangerous maze to the truth.
An ebook exclusive novella from Marta Perry’s The Brotherhood of the Raven series.
Discover more riveting suspense with an Amish backdrop
from author Marta Perry and HQN Books:
The Brotherhood of the Raven series
Murder in Plain Sight
Vanish in Plain Sight
Look for them wherever books and ebooks are sold.
A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania, where she still lives, and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta Perry to write her current novels about the Plain People and their rich heritage. The author of more than forty novels, with over four million copies of her books in print, Marta is active in her church and community. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers and Pennwriters. When she’s not writing, she and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and visiting their six beautiful grandchildren. You can find her on the web at www.martaperry.com
Leah Miller’s brother had dropped her off at the home of Geneva Morgan to work that morning just in time to keep the older woman from scaling one of the apple trees in her orchard. Unlike the other Englisch women for whom Leah worked, who expected their Amish helper to get quietly on with the cleaning, Mrs. Morgan never ceased to surprise her.
Leah looked with satisfaction at the canning jars filled with applesauce that now lined the kitchen counter.
“That looks fine, doesn’t it?” Geneva shed the white apron that enveloped her small form, revealing a pair of denim jeans and a flowered top that fluttered when she moved. Her face was lit with the same satisfaction Leah felt.
“Ja, it does.” Leah wiped her hands on the kitchen towel. “A gut day’s work.”
“We deserve a glass of iced tea and a jumble cookie.” Geneva ran a hand over her short gray curls, setting her earrings jingling. She had to be older than Leah’s mother, but she was as slight and lively as a teenager, and despite her age and position, she often dressed like one, too. “Do you have time before your brother comes for you?”
Leah gave the stove a final wipe. Applesauce did stick so when it splattered. “Abe might be late today. He has a lot to do with a new baby in the house.” She smiled at the thought of her first nephew, not even a month old.
“It’s hard to believe Abe is married and a daadi already,” Geneva said.
She nodded. “It seems only yesterday we were playing hide-and-seek in the cornfield.”
“And what about you?” Geneva set a pitcher of iced tea and two glasses on the pine kitchen table. “Do you have a come-calling friend?”
Leah shook her head, not meeting Geneva’s gaze. “Not yet.”
Geneva’s eyes were too sharp, and sometimes it seemed everyone in the township, Amish and Englisch, confided in her. She didn’t want Geneva guessing at her secret hopes.
“I hear Josiah King is coming home after all this time out west.” Geneva’s voice was perfectly innocent. “I’m sure your brother will be glad to see his best friend again.”
“Ja, he will.” Leah could feel the warmth in her cheeks. Foolish, to cherish hopes that one day Josiah might look at her and see a woman grown instead of his friend’s pesky kid sister.
Geneva was taking hand-size jumble cookies from the cookie jar on the counter when Leah heard the clop of hooves and the jingle of harness, followed by footsteps on the two stairs up to the back door. They both glanced out the window.
But it wasn’t Leah’s brother. It was Josiah King.
“Why don’t you open the door, Leah?” Geneva’s eyes twinkled. “I’ll get out another glass.”
Leah smoothed her apron down over the skirt of her dress, thankful that she’d happened to put on the green dress and apron that matched her eyes this morning and hoping her hair hadn’t strayed from under the white organdy kapp on the back of her head.
She swung open the door. “Ach, Josiah, it
you. I didn’t think to see you here at Mrs. Morgan’s house.”
She had to look up farther than she used to in order to see Josiah’s frank, open face and his deep blue eyes. Broader and taller than when he’d gone as an apprentice carpenter with his uncle’s construction business in Indiana, he seemed to fill the doorway.
“Little Leah. But you are not so little anymore, ain’t so?” He saw Geneva behind her and snatched off his summer straw hat, revealing sun-streaked brown hair. “Mrs. Morgan, it’s wonderful gut to see you.”
“Come in, come in.” Geneva’s voice was warm with welcome. “Have you come to pick up Leah?”
Josiah stepped inside, his arm brushing Leah’s as he moved past her. “Ja, I have. I stopped to see Abe first thing when I got here today, and he was having such a struggle with that reaper of his that I said I’d pick up Leah for him.”
“You have time for a glass of tea, don’t you?” Geneva was already pouring the iced beverage into tall glasses. “We’ve had a warm afternoon for late September.”
“Denke.” Josiah accepted the glass she held out. “How are you—“
His question cut off when the front doorbell shrilled loudly over and over, as if someone had planted a finger on the button and kept it there. A flicker of annoyance crossed Geneva’s face.
“Help yourselves.” She waved at the plate of cookies. “I’ll just see who that is.” She hurried out the wide-planked hallway toward the front door.
Josiah grinned at Leah, his familiar smile making her heart seem to flip over. “Abe tells me you have quite a business working in different Englisch houses. Are you liking that?”
“It’s always a pleasure to komm here to help Geneva.” Some of the others weren’t so pleasant. Like Mrs. Grayson, where she’d been yesterday. “But some people act as if I can’t be trusted to clean the house.”
“Humility, little sister,” Josiah chided, laughter in his eyes.
Humility, that most Amish of virtues. She had need of it with some folks. “I’m not so little, remember?”
And I’m not your sister, Josiah. Will you ever see that?
For a moment the silence stretched between them. There was something a little startled in Josiah’s expression, and she seemed to be holding her breath.
A clatter of footsteps in the hallway had them both swinging in that direction. Geneva stood back, staring in amazement at the woman who surged past her, heading straight for Leah. It was Mrs. Grayson, with her husband lagging behind her.
“Mrs. Grayson?” Leah found her voice. “Is something wrong?”
“Wrong?” The woman’s voice rose on the word. “You know very well what’s wrong, Leah Miller. You’re a thief, that’s what!”
Josiah glanced from the Englisch woman’s mottled, angry face to Leah’s. Poor little Leah looked as if she was too stunned to speak. The desire to protect her surged through him.
, he warned himself.
This is a different Leah
from the child you knew.
True, but people didn’t alter their basic nature. He surely knew Leah well enough to know she wasn’t a thief, no matter what this Mrs. Grayson said.
The woman had plenty to say, that was certain sure.
“I showed you that ring the last time you were at the house to clean. I told you how valuable it was. And now it’s gone. Who else could have taken it?” she demanded.
“But I didn’t. I wouldn’t.” Leah was so pale her freckles stood out on her fair skin, and her green eyes had gone dark with the shock. She glanced at the man, who stood several feet behind his wife as if he wanted to separate himself from her anger. “Mr. Grayson, Mrs. Grayson, you must believe me.”
“Perhaps the ring is lost,” Geneva said, coming to stand next to Leah. “It’s easy to mislay something small like that. Goodness knows I’ve done it many times.”
“I don’t lose things.” Mrs. Grayson’s tone was firm. “Besides, we searched the whole house. It’s not there.”
“How can you be sure?” Geneva’s voice was persuasive. “It would be a terrible thing to accuse someone of theft unjustly.”
“We did search, but it’s so small…” Mr. Grayson spread his hands. “It could be there somewhere. I’m sure you’ve just mislaid it, Angela. Besides, it’s insured.”
His wife dismissed that with a wave of her hand. “I don’t want the insurance. I want my ring back. A center emerald surrounded by diamonds…it was my anniversary gift, and I want it.”
“Perhaps if we all searched—“ Geneva began.
“If you think I’ll have that woman in my house again, you’re crazy,” Mrs. Grayson snapped.
Geneva clasped Leah’s hand reassuringly, and Josiah regretted he hadn’t done that. Leah deserved support from those who knew her.
“I’ve known Leah since she was a child,” Geneva said quietly. “I trust her implicitly.”
“That’s all very well, but it’s not your ring that’s gone.”
Grayson took his wife’s arm. “Come on, Angela. We’re intruding on Mrs. Morgan, and we don’t want to do anything hasty.”
“Hasty?” She shook his hand off, glaring at him. “There’s nothing hasty about it. If you won’t help, maybe the police can get to the bottom of this.”
Josiah had thought Leah pale before, but at the mention of the police she lost even more color. “Mrs. Grayson, I did not do this thing.” Her voice trembled.
“We don’t want to involve the police,” Mr. Grayson said, and Josiah thought there was sympathy in his face when he looked at Leah. “We’ll just tell the insurance company the ring is lost, and that’ll be an end to it.”
“Absolutely not.” The woman was not moved. “I’ll wait until Monday. If the ring hasn’t shown up by then, I’m calling the police.” She spun and headed for the door. “Come along, Phillip.”
“In a minute, dear.” Grayson turned to Leah, shaking his head, waiting until his wife was out the door before he spoke. “I’m sorry about this, Leah. Maybe I can get her to change her mind.” He pulled a wad of bills out of his pocket. “Let me pay what we owe you…”
“Thank you, no.” Leah stood very straight, clasping her hands behind her back.
The man hesitated for a moment. Then he shoved the bills back in his pocket and went after his wife.
The door slammed behind them, and Leah seemed to sag, as if her legs wouldn’t hold her up any longer. Geneva grasped Leah’s waist.
“Now, Leah, don’t be so upset. Everyone will know this accusation is ridiculous. You wouldn’t touch anything that doesn’t belong to you.”
Josiah clasped Leah’s hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “Mrs. Morgan is right, Leah. Everyone who knows you will understand that you didn’t do this thing.”
She shook her head, green eyes huge and lost-looking. “What about the other Englisch I work for? They will not want me in their homes anymore. What if the ministers and the bishop hear about it? My family will be so hurt and ashamed. And the police—will they put me in jail? I can’t give back something I never had.”
“No one is going to put you in jail,” Geneva said soothingly. “I promise you that. We’ll get a lawyer for you if we have to.”
Leah shook her head. “My daad would never agree to get involved with the law.”
Josiah’s gaze met Geneva’s, and he felt that she was thinking the same thing he was—that Harvey Miller was a gut man, but awful strict, always interpreting the Ordnung in the most stringent way possible.