Today we have an excerpt from The Promise of Easter (An Amish Holiday Novel Book 2) by Marta Perry. Enjoy!
As Promise Glen prepares for the Easter season, one woman discovers that forgiveness is freedom—and maybe forever after.
The sound of a horse and buggy approaching the barn made Simon glance toward the door.
“That’ll be Anna, coming home from school. You know she’s the teacher at Orchard Hill now?”
“Yah, Aunt Ella told me.” He shook his head. “Seems like little Anna can’t be old enough to be the teacher.”
“Don’t let her hear you say that,” Simon said. “She’s a fine teacher, though I do say it myself, and she certain sure loves it.”
Grossdaadi nodded in agreement. “How could the scholars help but learn when she gives them that sweet smile of hers? Like her grossmammi, she is.”
The clink of harness told Matt that Anna was unharnessing her horse. He lifted the full bucket, and Simon grasped it. “I’ll do this. Go and greet Anna. It’s been a long time.”
Nodding, Matt stepped out of the barn and moved toward the buggy and the slim figure who was walking a bay mare from between the shafts.
He watched her stiffen, spin, and fix an incredulous gaze on his face. She clearly couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
And then she realized he was real, and he saw her heart-shaped face become rigid, as if carved out of ice. Only her deep blue eyes were alive.
Alive? They were on fire with fury at the sight of him. Now he’d found the reaction he’d expected all along. Anna didn’t know how long she’d been standing there, staring, until Daisy nudged her with that heavy head of hers, impatient to get into the pasture. Anna fought with the evidence of her own senses. Matthew King, here, in the place she’d thought he’d never have the nerve to come.
How could he show up here, of all the places in the world?
The mare shoved her again, harder, pushing her forward a step. Once started, Anna kept on moving, aware only that the movement was taking her away from Matt.
As she fumbled with the gate into the pasture, he spoke, close behind her. “Sorry if I shocked you, Anna.”
His familiar voice made the past rush in, flooding her mind with images. She could hear him and James laughing, teasing, sometimes fighting, but always together. Always together until that last night, when Matt wasn’t where James needed him.
Why? the cry demanded. Why didn’t you save him?
Her anger and grief welled, and she fought to contain her feelings, knowing what Daad’s reaction would be if she burst out with all the anger and blame that filled her.
Daad didn’t preach. He just lived his faith and expected his children to do the same. She struggled to say something that wouldn’t offend.
“I didn’t expect you to come back.” She muttered the words, feeling as if pain crushed her chest. She stared at him, hardly seeing him for the haze of anger in front of her eyes. “Why? Why did you? Why are you here?”
Matt’s face twisted. It was different from the face she remembered . . . leaner, with hollows under the cheekbones and a harsher look to the lines of his mouth and jaw.
“I had to.” He seemed to force the words between firm lips.
Before she could repeat the question, Grossdaadi came out of the barn, gripping the door for a moment as he looked at them. His face broke into a wide smile.
“See, Anna. Isn’t it wonderful gut that Matthew is back with his own people at last?”
She shouldn’t say anything to upset her grandfather, but before Anna knew it, the words spilled out. “He doesn’t have any people here anymore.”
Her grandfather’s expression showed disappointment as he moved toward them. “His parents may have moved away, but there’s still his aunt Ella, don’t forget. And more than a few cousins scattered around the county, I expect.” He put one hand on her shoulder, and the other on Matt’s, as if connecting them. “Besides, he’s always been part of our family, ain’t so?”
Anna stiffened. She glanced away with a gesture that might have meant anything. Grossdaadi’s attitude didn’t really surprise her. A devout man, he’d always put a high value on forgiveness, just as Daadi did.
They had never blamed Matt for what happened to James, but she did. Probably a lot of other people in the community felt the same way. Matt had better enjoy this welcome. He wouldn’t get much from anyone else.
Daadi came out, wiping his feet as he always did when he left the animals, and smiled at them.
“You must be surprised at our Anna, yah, Matt? She’s all grown up. How she makes boys bigger than her behave is more than I can say, but she does.”
Relieved at the change of subject, Anna answered at random, trying to think of something that would make Matthew go away. “Ach, I don’t have any problem kids at Orchard Hill School. That would be silly. I know their parents too well.” She took a step back, determined to end this conversation with Matt, even if she had to run for the house.
“Aunt Ella says there’s a new family that bought the farm where we used to live,” Matthew said, acting as if he had no plans except to stand here talking. “I guess you have their young ones, ain’t so?”
She hadn’t thought about the fact that the Burkhardt family lived next door to Ella. “Yah, two of them.” Grudging the words, she added, “The boy is in eighth grade, and the little girl is our Micah’s age.” She hesitated. They were such recent arrivals that she hadn’t gotten to know them yet. “They’re just settling down,” she said at last.
She turned toward the house. “I’d best help Mammi with supper. Goodbye, Matt.” Go away and stay away.
Daadi spoke before she’d gotten more than three steps away. “Komm along in, Matthew. Miriam will be eager to see you, and supper will be ready in a few minutes.”
Anna’s throat tightened. So Matthew was going to be welcomed right into the house, despite the fact that just knowing he was breathing the same air made her feel sick. She bit her lip to keep from speaking and hurried inside.
Excerpted from The Promise of Easter by Marta Perry Copyright © 2023 by Marta Perry. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Anna Stoltzfus lives a quiet but fulfilling life in Promise Glen. Though she lost her beloved brother in a tragic accident, her family is supportive and close-knit, and her job as a cherished teacher at the Orchard Hill Amish School fills her heart with joy each day. Anna knows one day she’ll find someone she can love and marry, but she’s perfectly happy with the life she created. Anna’s comfort is quickly dashed, however, when the man Anna deemed responsible for James’s death returns to the Amish community—Matthew King.
Forgiveness is at the heart of being Amish, and no one else blames Matthew; his grief and pain over losing his dear friend are obvious. Still, no matter how she tries, Anna can’t let go of the reckless night that ended her brother’s life so soon. The ache had been more tolerable after Matthew left Promise Glen, but now, not only has he returned, Anna’s father accepts his offer to work on their farm.
As the preparation for Easter begins, Anna’s regular contact with Matthew introduces her to a man far different than the boy she knew before. Perhaps the season of solemn reflection and joyous remembrance might be exactly what they both need to find forgiveness for the past for a hopeful future…
Marta Perry is the author of more than seventy inspirational romance novels, including the Promise Glen series, the Pleasant Valley series, and the Keepers of the Promise trilogy. Learn more online at martaperry.com.