A Sister’s Secret
- Wednesday, December 05, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Wanda E. Brunstetter’s A Sister’s Secret (Barbour Publishing).
A chill shot through Grace Hostettler. Stepping outside the restaurant where she worked, she had spotted a redheaded English man standing near an Amish buggy in the parking lot. He wore blue jeans and a matching jacket and held a camera in his hands. Something about the way he stood with his head cocked to one side reminded her of Gary Walker, the rowdy Englisher she had dated for a while during her rumschpringe, her running around years. But it couldn’t be Gary. She hadn’t seen him since—Grace pressed her palms to her forehead. Her imagination was playing tricks on her; it had to be. She forced her gaze away from the man and scanned the parking lot, searching for her sister. She saw no sign of Ruth or of her horse and buggy. Maybe I should head for the bakeshop and see what’s keeping her.
Grace kept walking, but when she drew closer to the man, her breath caught in her throat. It was Gary! She would have recognized that crooked grin, those blazing blue eyes, and his spicy-smelling cologne anywhere.
He smiled and pointed the camera at her. A look of recognition registered on his face, and his mouth dropped open. “Gracie?”
She gave one quick nod as the aroma of grilled onions coming from the fast-food restaurant down the street threatened to make her sneeze.
“Well, what do you know?” He leaned forward and squinted.
“Yep, same pretty blue eyes and ash blond hair, but I barely recognized you in those Amish clothes.”
Grace opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off. “What happened? Couldn’t make it in the English world?”
“Don’t tell me you talked Wade into joining the Amish faith.” He slowly shook his head. “I can just see the two of you traipsing out to the barn to milk cows together and shovel manure.”
Grace swallowed against the bitter taste of bile rising in her throat. “D–don’t do this, Gary.”
He snickered, but the sound held no humor. “Do what? Dredge up old bones?”
Grace wasn’t proud that she’d gone English during her rumschpringe or that she’d never told her folks any of the details about the time she’d spent away from home. All they knew was that she had run off with some of her Amish friends, also going through rumschpringe, so they could try out the modern, English world. Grace had been gone two years and had never contacted her family during that time except for sending one note saying she was okay and for them not to worry. They hadn’t even known she was living in Cincinnati, or that—
“So, where is Wade?” Gary asked, halting Grace’s runaway thoughts.
She shivered despite the warm fall afternoon and glanced around, hoping no one she knew was within hearing distance. The only people she saw were a group of Englishers heading down the sidewalk toward one of the many tourist shops. “Wade’s gone, and … and my family doesn’t know anything about the time I spent living away from home, so please don’t say anything to anyone, okay?”
He gave a noncommittal grunt. “Still keeping secrets, huh, Gracie?”
His question stung. When she’d first met Gary while waiting tables at a restaurant in Cincinnati, she hadn’t told him she was Amish. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of her heritage; she’d just decided if she was going to try out the English world, she should leave her Amish way of life behind.
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