A man in army fatigues stepped off a bus just down the street at the Pleasant Valley bus stop.
Hannah Conroy clutched the stroller handle as an onslaught of dizziness hit her. She fought the irrational surge of joy that turned in an instant to ashes.
It wasn’t Travis. It was a stranger, a young soldier, moving into the welcoming arms of his family—mother holding him, fighting back tears; father standing stiffly as if to deny his emotions; a girl of about ten waving a welcome sign.
Not Travis. Travis had lain beneath a marker in Arlington National Cemetery for well over a year. He wasn’t here on a warm September day in Pleasant Valley.
Two women in Plain dress stopped next to her on the sidewalk, their faces blurred by the tears she wouldn’t let fall. One reached out a tentative hand.
“Are you all right? You are Hannah, ain’t so? Paula Schatz’s niece?” She nodded. She couldn’t cry. Jamie would be frightened if he saw his mother in tears. But he was almost asleep in the stroller, one chubby hand still grasping his toy dog.
“I’m fine.” Hannah almost managed a smile. “Thank you.”
“You’re going into the bakery, ja? Let us help you get the stroller inside.”
The woman motioned to the other . . . a girl in her early teens, Hannah saw now . . . who pulled the door open, setting the bell jangling. Together they maneuvered the stroller into Aunt Paula’s bakery, where the aroma of fresh-baked bread surrounded her, easing the hurt.
“Thank you,” she said again. The grief and pain ebbed, leaving her as lost as a leaf in the wind. “It’s nothing.” The woman patted her arm with a feather-light touch, the girl nodded, and they were gone.
Aunt Paula, as round and comforting as one of her own dumplings, glanced up from the customer she was serving, her eyes clouding when she saw Hannah’s face. By the time Hannah reached the kitchen door, Aunt Paula was there, wiping her hands on the white apron she wore over her traditional Old Order Mennonite dress, its tiny print faded from many washings.
“Hannah? Was ist letz?” Aunt Paula spoke English most of the time, but in moments of stress she was apt to slip into Pennsylvania Dutch. “What’s wrong? I saw Leah Glick and her daughter helping you.”
“Nothing.” Hannah bent, the action hiding her face for a moment, and lifted Jamie from the stroller. He was relaxed and drowsy, a precious, heavy armload now at twenty months. “I’m fine.” She didn’t want Aunt Paula worrying about her. It was enough that her aunt had made a home here for her and Jamie.
But Hannah couldn’t stop herself from glancing at the window. The family, their faces animated with love, moved toward a car.
Aunt Paula followed her gaze. “Ach, I see.” Her voice was soft. “I know. After your uncle passed, I’d see a man with wavy hair like his, or his way of walking, and my heart would stop, as if it reacted faster than my brain did.”
“It’s been almost a year and a half.” Hannah cradled Jamie close, and he snuggled his face into her shoulder, his soft breath against her neck. “I’m better. But sometimes—”
“Ja. Sometimes.” Aunt Paula patted her. “I know.”
The bell jingled on the bakery door, and Aunt Paula turned to greet the man in Amish garb. In all the years since she’d lived here as a child, Hannah had nearly forgotten the peculiar mix of Amish, horse-and-buggy Mennonite, black bumper Mennonite, and English that made Pleasant Valley so unique.
(Copyright (c) 2012 by Martha Johnson).
After the death of her soldier husband, Hannah Conroy, whose parents left the Mennonite faith when she was a child, suddenly finds herself back in Pleasant Valley with her toddler son. Hannah’s aunt owns a bakery and invited her to move in and help run the business, an offer she eagerly accepted although she feels like an outsider in the Amish enclave. William Brand, who works in the furniture shop next door, has his own reasons for feeling isolated from his Amish brethren and the two are drawn to each other. But as this timid relationship blossoms into a deep affection, Hannah fears that learning the Amish ways could put her at odds with her late husband’s wishes.
Hannah’s Joy is another Pleasant Valley gem from Marta Perry.
Hardcover Book : 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Pub Gp./Mbr of Penquin Putnam ( May 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-560447
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.84inches
Product Weight: 14.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Can't read fast enough! Waiting for the next one,hope she keeps the series going. Read all of her books.
This book will defiantly get, and hold your attention.
Reviewer: Lawrence W
I read in 2 days...I had been waiting for a story on William and this was it. Wonderful story just like all the other books in the series.
Reviewer: Patricia G