Random Inspirations

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It’s Here: Amish Bakery Challenge is Out!

on August 28, 2014

I’m excited to announce that Book 2 of the Amish Couples series, Amish Bakery Challenge: Mercy and Samuel’s Book, has launched! To celebrate, I’ll be offering the book at an introductory price of $0.99 today through Sunday August 31st! After that, the price will go up to $2.99, so be sure to get it while it’s hot. 😉

Cover Reveal: Here's the new cover of Amish Bakery Challenge, designed by Antonio! What do you think?

Cover Reveal: Here’s the new cover of Amish Bakery Challenge, designed by Antonio! What do you think?

Amish Bakery Challenge was one of my favorite Amish novellas to write, not only because I adore Mercy and Samuel, but because there’s so much at stake for the young couple. They’ve worked hard to build the general store and bakery of their dreams, but Mercy’s old boss, Mrs. Stoltzfus of Stoltzfus Bakery, accuses Mercy of stealing her recipes and her business. Soon, Mercy must deal with a boycott of her beloved bakery, and Samuel, ever the problem-solver, must devise an innovative way to appease Mrs. Stoltzfus while still keeping the business intact. The book is full of high drama, and even a shunning. It’s also my longest Amish novella ever, so I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s an excerpt from the book. Chapter One is found at the end of Amish Baby: Hannah and Jakob’s Book (Book 1 of the Amish Couples series), and Chapter Two is found in this recent blog post. Happy reading!

Chapter Three: Mercy

 I flounce upstairs, and Samuel trails wordlessly after me. I can’t believe that he’s even considering studying on a Saturday night, when we’ve both worked so hard all week. And I can’t believe that he’d want to “stay in” this noisy house. I know I’ve only been home for a little over an hour, but I already feel the need to get out. It’s as though the walls are closing in on me.

I fling open the door of our bedroom, which I used to share with my twin sister, Rebekah. One small bed sits in each corner of the room; Samuel and I can’t even sleep together—not that we haven’t tried. Once, we pushed the beds together, which ended horribly. They’re not exactly the same height, and I rolled into the crack between them in my sleep, and woke up the next morning with my hand numb from being wedged in there for hours. We also tried cramming ourselves into one tiny bed, which seemed like a fine option until Samuel rolled off one night and crashed onto the floor. Then, of course, my entire family came barging into the room, demanding to know if everything was okay.

There’s no privacy here, and even the beds are conspiring to ruin our love life.  Hannah always tells me how beautiful it is to fall asleep in her mann Jakob’s arms; I can’t even imagine feeling that romantic about bland, serious Jakob, so I’ll have to take her word for it. However, I’m sure that sleeping in Samuel’s arms would be amazing—if I ever had the chance to do it.

I launch myself onto my childhood bed, and Samuel flops down next to me. His big brown eyes study my face. “Okay, Mercy. What’s wrong?”

“What’s not wrong? We work all week, and then have to put up with being ambushed by my brothers and sisters in this little house where everyone knows our business. And then you don’t even want to get out to escape it for a while.”

Samuel rubs his callused, work-roughened fingers over the back of my hands. “You’re wrong about that, liebchen. I would love to get out tonight, and I know it’s perfect weather for a buggy ride. The problem is, though, that I have to study all this material by next week.” He holds up a stack of notebooks. “There are business notes, and agriculture ones, too. How am I ever supposed to get through all this material?”

“You shouldn’t have to study a lot,” I protest, making a face. “You’re practicing business and farming every day. You probably know it better than the professors. Can’t you just take one night off?”

I flutter my eyelashes and try my best to add a sugary, wheedling lilt to my voice, like icing on a cupcake. “Come on, Samuel. I really want to spend some time with you, and only you.”

Samuel’s face softens, and for a split second, I think I just might be getting somewhere. A moment later, however, he rubs his left temple—a dead giveaway that he’s coming down with one of his stress headaches—and says, “So do I, but not tonight. Can we just stop talking about this, please?”

I study my mann’s tight, drawn face, and wonder what to say. I know that he has a demanding school schedule, and balancing that with chores, farming, and working in the general store is nearly impossible. But I also know that I need time with him. Between work and my noisy, nosy family, I feel as though I never see my mann alone.

I don’t want to fight with him, but I do want to get my way. So, I purse my lips into what I hope is a luscious pout. “Okay, then, I’m going to sleep. There’s no need to stay awake if my mann doesn’t even want to take a short ride with me.” I collapse backwards on the bed, closing my eyes, but a moment later I open one eye ever-so-slightly to gauge Samuel’s reaction.

Samuel is glancing out the window. “You’re sleeping now? It’s barely even dark outside.”

“Yah, I might as well. There’s nothing better to do, anyway.”

“Mercy,” Samuel says in a warning tone.

I simply lie there, squeezing my eyes shut.

“Come on, stop it,” Samuel says, his voice heavy with irritation. My eyes pop open, and I can see that his face has turned the same deep red as the beets that I canned for the general store last fall.

“You’re being selfish and immature, like a spoiled little bobbel,” he continues. “Do you have any idea how much I’ve been doing lately? I have classes at Slippery Rock three days a week, and finals are coming up. I’ve been doing chores here and helping out on the farm before school. And I work at the store after school and the other three days of the week. I’ve barely had any time to study. Can’t you just leave me alone for one night?”

What? Suddenly, I can almost feel my blood bubbling through my veins, hot with fury. I squint at my mann and hop off the bed, slipping on my shoes and fastening my bonnet on top of my head.

Samuel frowns at me. “Where are you going?”

I stomp toward the bedroom door. “To leave you alone, of course. I thought that was what you wanted.”

Samuel springs up from the bed, grabbing both my wrists. “Mercy. Don’t run off and do anything foolish. You’re not going to the city again, are you?”

I stare at Samuel with narrowed eyes. The truth is, I hadn’t really thought much about where I’d go to leave him alone. I wouldn’t mind a change of scene, but I know I couldn’t possibly go to the city. When I snuck off to visit Rebekah, I’d been single and on Rumspringa. Now, I’m baptized and married, and would be shunned for leaving the community without the approval of my mann and the elders.

“Of course not,” I tell him finally. “I’m just going for a walk. I need some air. Maybe I need to be alone, too.”

Samuel sighs, glancing from me to his notes, and then back again. His shoulders sag, and at that moment, he just looks tired. “This isn’t how I want things to go between us. I love you. I just feel like you don’t appreciate the load I’m under sometimes.”

That’s not true. I’m well aware of the load he’s under, because it causes us to have next to no time together. But I just can’t fight with him when he looks so dejected. So I say, “Okay, maybe I forget sometimes. I’m sorry. But I don’t think you realize how hurtful it is when you shove me aside for work.”

Samuel takes both my hands in his, swinging them back and forth. “I’m sorry liebchen. Look, why don’t you give me about an hour with these notes, and then we can take a short, late ride? It can be like a reward.”

I grin at Samuel, squeezing his hands. “Sounds wunderbar. You see, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

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