Authors: Nancy Mehl
Tags: #Romance, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Christian, #Kansas, #Fiction, #Christian Fiction, #Suspense, #General, #Religious, #Mennonites
© 2010 by Nancy Mehl
Print ISBN 978-1-60260-781-1
Adobe Digital Edition (.ePub) 978-1-60742-213-6
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-60742-214-3
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.
Scripture taken from the H
ERSION® . NIV®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Some scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
For more information about Nancy Mehl, please access the author’s Web site at the following Internet address:
Cover image: © Chris Reeve/Trevillion Images
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683.
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.
Printed in the United States of America.
Sometimes in life, God sends us friends who are so special they can never be replaced. When they leave us, they leave a hole in our lives that stays empty. My friend, Judy Roberts, was such a person. I miss you so much, Judy. But I can still hear your sweet voice saying, “Can you feel my love?” And the answer is, “Yes. Now and forever.”
My thanks to the following people who helped me to create
. First of all, my thanks to Judith Unruh, Alexanderwohl Church historian in Goessel, Kansas. You are the voice that whispers in my ear while I write.
To Sarah Beck, owner of Beck’s Farm in Wichita, who has been so much help to me. The only bump in our road happened when I asked her how someone would go about destroying a fruit orchard. She admits that my question made her a little nervous—LOL!
To Gordon Bassham who answered all my real estate questions.
Thanks again to my friends Penny and Gus Dorado for being willing to help me with my Mennonite research.
Thank-you to Alene Ward for her constant encouragement, for editing under extreme pressure, and for creating Sweetie’s Christmas quilt. I can hardly wait to see it finished!
I want to acknowledge a few other writers of Amish/Mennonite fiction for their support and encouragement: Cindy Woodsmall, Kim Vogel Sawyer, and Wanda Brunstetter. Thank you for being more than just great authors. You are also wonderful, gracious people.
As always, my thanks to the folks at Barbour. You guys are the best!
To the readers who are willing to take a chance on me. I appreciate you all so much.
As always, to the Mennonite people who have given our country such a rich heritage of faith and taught us to respect the things in life that are really important.
Lastly, and most importantly, to the One who never gives up on me. I will always believe.
here are five words guaranteed to strike terror into the heart of any human being. No, it’s not “Step up on the scale,” although this phrase is certainly a contender. And it’s not “Can we just be friends?” which might actually run a close second. Of course, I’m ruling out all scary medical conditions that elicit remarks like “Let’s run that test again.” I’m talking about day-in, day-out, non-life-threatening situations that we all face but hope every day when we roll out of bed that today won’t be
Unfortunately, today was
“License and registration please, ma’am.”
I fumbled through my purse, looking for my driver’s license. The setting sun pierced through the windshield like some kind of spotlight on steroids, almost blinding me. My hands shook as I flipped open my Garfield wallet. I flashed a smile at the basset hound–faced man who watched me through narrowed eyes. He was obviously not amused.
“I—I know it’s here,” I said a little too loudly. A quick thumb through all the cards jammed into the dividers revealed my debit card, an old library card, several business cards belonging to
people I couldn’t remember, and my only credit card. The credit card had never been used because my father had convinced me that the first time I pulled it out of my wallet, I would end up on the street, overcome by high interest rates and personal degradation. I found a reminder card for a dental appointment I’d completely forgotten, an expired coupon for Starbucks, an expired coupon for a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and a card from a video store that had gone out of business two years earlier. No license.
The officer’s breathing became heavier and created steam in the frigid November air. I was reminded of one of those English horror movies where the thicker the fog, the sooner the intended victim bites the dust. The cold seeping into my car through my open window did nothing to dispel the beads of sweat forming along my hairline. Where was that stupid license? Could it have fallen out inside my purse? But why would I have taken it out of my wallet? Another quick look revealed a bank envelope with the cash I’d withdrawn before I left Wichita. I tore it open like an addict looking for drugs. Sure enough, my fingers closed around the small piece of plastic that would surely save me from being hauled to jail.
“Here it is!” I declared with gusto. “I had to show it to the bank when I withdrew cash from my account. I forgot it was still in the—”
“And the registration, ma’am?” The officer’s cold expression and stern tone made it clear that finding my license hadn’t ignited elation in the man’s obviously stony heart. However, this time I was prepared. My father actually checked my glove compartment every time I went home to Fairbury, Nebraska. He was almost paranoid about making sure my registration was where it was supposed to be. Between that and the “credit cards are straight from hell” lectures, I knew where my car registration was at all times.
This balanced out the fact that I had almost no credit. Even my car was a gift from my parents. At least the rent on my old apartment had been in my name. My one accomplishment as an adult.
I pulled the registration out of the blue plastic folder in my glove compartment and handed it to the waiting officer. If I’d expected him to congratulate me on this show of responsibility, I would have been disappointed.
Like I was going to take off and let him chase me? I was pretty sure his patrol car had more power than my Volkswagen Bug, even if it
cute and perky.
While he ran my license, no doubt hoping I’d pop up on some Most Wanted list, I tried to figure out what crime I’d just committed. I always drove under the speed limit, even if it meant everyone raced around me, many times blaring their horns like I was breaking the law instead of abiding by it. I hadn’t passed anyone in a no passing lane. In fact, I hadn’t passed anyone at all for quite some time. I’d stopped at every stop sign and slowed down to a crawl in every small town I’d driven through. Why in heaven’s name had he pulled me over?
In my mind I quickly ran over my exit from Wichita. I’d spent the last two and a half months there, working with my boss at Grantham Design to set up a way to freelance for him while training his newest in-house designer. I’d cleaned my apartment and finished out my lease so I wouldn’t lose my deposit. All my utilities had been turned off, but I was pretty sure utility companies don’t contact the police if you fail to end your business with them correctly.
I glanced at my watch. Almost six o’clock. I’d told Sam I’d be back to Harmony by sunset, but there was no way I’d make it. Being gone so long had been necessary, but I’d missed him and Harmony more than I’d anticipated.
I glanced in my rearview mirror. The officer was heading my way with a flashlight in his hand. What now? Was he going to go through my car? If he thought he’d find drugs or alcohol, he’d be disappointed. About the only exciting substance in my car belonged to my cat, Snicklefritz, who was sleeping peacefully in his carrier. If the officer wanted a real fight on his hands, all he had to do was try to wrestle Snickle’s catnip toys away from him.
I know the smile I gave the officer was goofy, but I couldn’t help it. I felt goofy even though I had no idea why.
He leaned in and handed me back my license. “Ma’am, do you know your right taillight is out?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “No. No, I didn’t, Officer. It was working when I left Wichita.”
His frown deepened. “And how do you know that, ma’am?”
His deep, throaty voice and slow drawl didn’t help to dispel my nervousness.
“Well…I mean, I guess I don’t. It’s just that I took my car to Jiffy Jump before I left town, and they checked everything out. N–not that you’re mistaken or anything. I mean, I guess it went out after I left. I–I’ll get it fixed right away.”
His raised eyebrows confirmed what I already knew. I sounded guilty. And slightly insane.
“Just where are you headed, ma’am?”
“I’m going to Harmony. I recently moved there. You see, my family used to live in Harmony, and—”
“You have anything to do with that body they dug up a few months ago?”
“Why, yes. In fact, the body was found on my property. Well, it was my family’s property when it was buried there. Then, of course, it went to my uncle, who—”
He snapped his notepad shut so forcefully the sound made me jump. “Ridiculous goings on,” he growled, giving me a look
obviously designed to frighten me. It worked. “You should have called me the minute you knew someone had been killed. People like you, thinking you can handle things outside the law. You’re lucky you weren’t charged with aiding and abetting. If I’d had anything to do with it…”
Okay. That did it. Maybe it was being stuck in Wichita for so long, or maybe it was simply my desire to get home to Harmony, but this man had jangled my last nerve.
“Excuse me, Officer,” I said, sarcasm dripping from my words like warm honey. “We weren’t sure the man had actually been murdered until someone admitted to it. And then we called the authorities immediately. If you’ll check with your superiors…”
His rough laugh silenced the rest of my sentence. He leaned over and put his face up close to mine. Too close for my liking. “The pastor of that crazy Mennonite church called the sheriff in this county once you all had finished playing detective. Do you know who the sheriff is, little lady?”