The Amish Candy Maker
A letter brings him to
. Can one woman
make him stay? Mackinac
Agnes Zook has found herself on her own after in small Amish community in Mackinac County after a tragedy took the life of her parents and siblings. Most of the Amish call her “off in den Kopf” (strange) since she’s starting her own business and forging her own way in the community instead of relying on the bishop to take care of her. Since she’s viewed as non-submissive and too-forward for an Amish woman she’s not courted by other young men in the area.
Isaac Mast is on the verge of leaving the Amish church. He’s become a sought-after Auctioneer and has a thriving business, but he feels confined by the strict rules. When his brother is severely injured in a wild fire, Isaac receives a letter from his sister-in-law, begging him to come to Mackinac County to help out while his brother is hospitalized for skin grafts and his wife is with him. They have young children that can’t be left alone. Isaac agrees but is unsure how to manage the children when he has weekend auctions he’s expected to attend. Agnes may be an answer to prayer.
When Isaac and Agnes meet, sparks fly, but everything changes. While neither of them fit within the structures of the Amish faith, could their differences be the one thing that helps them form a deeper connection to their faith . . . and each other?
The Amish Candy Maker
By Laura V. Hilton
Mackinac County, Michigan
“So then I got all confused.” Agnes Zook’s hands waved through the air as she tried to describe what happened to her captive, very green audience. After all, why talk with just her mouth when she could use her whole body? “He said ‘television interview’ and my mind went blank. Like stressed blank, not regular blank. I’m sure you’ve never had that happen.”
The lush row of plants she nursed on the southern windowsill of her new candy shop never got flustered. Even now, they sat there quietly, listening to her. Except for the odd “hmmm” that followed.
“Do you think it’d work if I asked someone to tell him I was abducted by aliens?”
“Are you on drugs?” The answer-in-a-question came from a very male voice. Deep, rumbly, sexy. Except, her plants had never answered her before.
The liquid in the small watering can sloshed onto one of the tables she’d provided for customers as she swung around to survey her empty shop. Except it wasn’t empty.
A stranger—a very handsome, very male, Amish stranger—stood inside the doorway, a frown on his clean-shaven face. Wisps of sandy blond hair peeked from beneath his hat.
“I didn’t hear the door chimes.” She glanced behind him to the door—and the marked-down sleigh bells hanging from the knob. The treasure she’d bought at a steep discount from the thrift store were still there, but obviously were wowed into silence by the man’s unexpected appearance, too. Otherwise she would’ve known.
She should’ve seen him approach from her position by the window. But she hadn’t. He’d just appeared. From nowhere.
Maybe she was losing her ever-loving mind. No one would blame her if she had, with all she’d been through. But she wasn’t ready to give up. She would survive. Even a handsome Amish man who appeared without warning.
The man set a suitcase on the floor by the door, but stayed where he stood as if he doubted her sanity and his safety from a half-crazed Amish woman.
A valid assumption, especially after she mentioned aliens. She groaned.
Way to make a gut impression. Agnes blew out a breath then took her watering can behind the counter and into the kitchen. Of course, if he wasn’t real he’d vanish the same way he appeared. She set the can on the counter, washed and dried her hands in the too-big, evil sink that hurt her back. Her muscles twinged just thinking about it. After a moment, she peeked back in the other room.
He was still there. He’d dared to move closer to the glass case where she had selections of fudge and some other candies displayed on paper doily lined trays. So he was a customer? One of only a hundred since she opened her store at the beginning of the month.
She took a deep breath, wiped her suddenly sweaty palms on her apron, and went behind the counter. “May I help you?” Hopefully, she sounded professional this time and not like a raving lunatic.
He leaned closer to the glass case—close enough for her to see the vibrant blue of his eyes framed by the thickest lashes she’d ever seen, let alone on a man. “Sure. I—”
“Oh my word. Your eyes are gorgeous.” Agnes’s heart beat triple-time. Her face heated. So much for sounding professional. Hopefully, she disguised the more-than-a-touch of envy that worked through her.
His blue eyes narrowed, a flicker of something in their depths. “I, uh, danki.” He shook his head. “I need to pick up some treats for my nieces and nephew. Something to ease the transition my appearance will cause. They don’t know me, you see. But my brother and sister-in-law need my help.”
She didn’t ‘see’. “How could your own family not know you?” She leaned forward on the counter.
His face darkened, the blue eyes turning stormy gray. She stared, fascinated.
“Sam and Jenny Mast,” he mumbled.
Ach. That was all the explanation needed. He must be Sam’s long-lost brother, the one who traveled the United States to work in various communities as an auctioneer in high demand, but never visited. She looked for the family resemblance but Sam’s face had been covered with a beard—this man’s wasn’t—and she didn’t see any. What was this man’s name? Agnes shook her head. Nothing came to mind. Sam and Jenny did need him, though. Sam had been badly burned in a wildfire earlier this year and had been sent to some big hospital in Minnesota for skin grafts.