The Christmas Cradle
by Charlotte Hubbard
GENRE: Amish/Inspirational RomanceBLURB:
For the peaceful town of Willow Ridge, November presents an early holiday surprise. Stranded in the snow, 18-year-old Lena Esh and her boyfriend Josiah Witmer need more than a place to stay for the night. Lena defied her strict family and their judgmental beliefs to run away with Josiah and have his baby. But she’s starting to wonder if he can prove as responsible as he is passionate. And she isn’t sure how—or if—they can ever find a place to truly call home.
Expecting their own miracle baby, Miriam and Ben Hooley rally the town to help the young couple, and Lena draws strength from their unexpected support. Though trouble may come calling, in this season of joyous rebirth, a little child will lead them. And two couples will see their dreams of forever family come true…
Lena’s loud cry of alarm startled Ben enough that his cocoa sloshed onto the table. He and Miriam both hurried down the back hall toward the dawdi haus just as Lena came rushing out of her room, clutching her son.
“What happened?” Miriam asked as she wrapped her arm around Lena. “You’re shakin’ like a scared rabbit.”
“I am scared!” she rasped. “I saw a face at the window and it was—it was that Hiram guy, I just know it!”
Ben’s insides tightened as his gaze met Miriam’s, but he wanted to be sure Lena’s impression was accurate. “Are ya sure? You’ve only seen him once, at Nora’s wedding.”
“Nobody else has a black pointy beard,” Lena replied in a shaky voice. “I’d been feeding Isaiah in the rocking chair, and—and—”
Miriam was frowning but trying to remain calm. “Were ya havin’ a dream, maybe? When I get startled out of a nap, my mind’s not always workin’ real logical.”
“I can’t think why Hiram would be trompin’ around behind the house, either,” Ben murmured.
“But I saw him!” Lena declared. “He was looking in the window, staring at Isaiah and me—like maybe he was going to come in the back door.”
Ben left the two women in the hallway and entered the dawdi haus. This apartment, built for when he and Miriam became unable to climb stairs, was on the ground level, so it was possible that a person outside could peer in—although nobody ever worried about that sort of thing in Willow Ridge. As Ben thought about the scene Lena had described, he realized that Hiram, a fairly tall fellow, would be able to peer in through the open bedroom curtains—and the rocking chair wasn’t far from the window, so Lena would certainly have been startled if a face had appeared on the other side of the glass.
IF is the operative word, Ben reminded himself. Lena was young and vulnerable, and if she’d been dozing her imagination might’ve raced like a spooked horse. There was an easy way to find out.
Ben went into the sitting room and opened the door. If the fresh snow was smooth and undisturbed—
His mouth clapped shut. Both of the back windows had several footprints under them, big enough to be made by a man’s boot. The footprints were right outside the door, too, so if their intruder had wanted to, he could’ve let himself in. Ben knew he and Miriam wouldn’t have heard the door from the kitchen, and a napping Lena wouldn’t have known about an uninvited guest until he’d entered her bedroom.
Goose bumps rushed up Ben’s spine. What if this had happened while he’d been working in his shop and Miriam and Lena were here by themselves? He shut the door hard and twisted the knob lock. It might be time to install deadbolts, the way Nora had at her place. Ben inhaled deeply, trying to corral his runaway thoughts before he reported to Miriam.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community in Missouri, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.
Charlotte will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Use the link below to enter.