Free Excerpt from Phoebe’s Gift!


In this exciting excerpt from the second book in Jerry Eicher’s Peace in the Valley series, Phoebe’s Gift, Ruth, the community schoolteacher, has been secretly developing a relationship with a man from the Englisha world. As this is highly forbidden, her reputation and job would be lost in an instant if her Amish community were to find out. One night, her boyfriend, Ethan, is supposed to pick her up under the cover of darkness. When he doesn’t show up, Ruth’s mind starts running wild—until she accidentally learns a secret that distracts her from her own pounding heart…

Ruth paced and waited. She walked down to the junction and back again. She dialed once more with the same result. How could he know she called from the phone shack? He wouldn’t know the number, so he would pick up. Unless…Ruth took a breath. The pain was too much. There must be some explanation. Ethan had never done this to her. His word was his word. They trusted each other. They were friends. They would work through this. Yet he wasn’t here. She must give him the benefit of the doubt. The dawn would arrive, and he would have an excuse that made sense.

The barn door across from the road burst open, and the lantern light spilled across the yard. Ruth gasped and threw herself behind the phone shack. Thankfully, the thin plywood sides kept out the light and could hide her securely. Unless she already had been seen? In which case, there was no ready explanation for why the community’s schoolteacher would hide behind the phone shack at ten thirty on a Friday evening. The Yoders would have a field of gossip about that, and Deacon Matthew would become involved.

There was no way she could talk herself out of this situation. Perhaps the hour for the truth had arrived. The moment would be a relief in a way. No more sneaking around. She would be out of a schoolteaching job on Monday morning, but she could join Ethan in his world without a backward glance.

Ruth held her breath as footsteps approached and entered the phone shack. Numbers were punched, and the faint ring of a phone reached her ears.

“Hi, sweetheart,” the youngest of the Yoder boys, John, said plainly enough.

Ruth stilled a gasp. Now she was listening to a private conversation. Could things get worse?

“Yah, I’m missing you too,” John cooed, “but I can’t get away tonight. Tomorrow night maybe.”

John wasn’t of rumspringa age yet. The boy couldn’t be more than fifteen. Maybe fourteen. Hadn’t he been in school last year in the eighth grade?

“What are you doing tonight?” John continued sweetly. “Thinking about me?”

There was soft laughter. Apparently John was having endearments whispered into his ear.

Did Emil Yoder approve of his youngest son’s early foray into rumspringa? Did Emil even know? Ruth’s mind swirled, and her anger stirred.

“You’ll be picking me up down at the junction then,” John was saying. “The usual time, yah? Dim your lights. Don’t forget.” There was silence for a few moments, then, “You’re sweet, dearest. The sweetest and the best.”

Young John had a sugar tongue for sure. He’d be able to talk milk out of a bull cow.
Ruth dug her fingers into the ground. She had to keep her anger in check. Nothing would be gained by an explosion, and no explanation would save her reputation—unjust though this all was.

John was wrapping up his conversation. “You sleep tight now, dear heart. Love you. Remember that. Always and forever.”

Ruth heard deep chuckles and a kissing sound coming through the receiver. She stilled a bitter protest as the phone clicked and young John laughed. “Isn’t she the sweetest? They don’t make Amish girls like that.”

Ruth’s fingers twitched. She wasn’t going to move. She couldn’t.

His footsteps faded away along with the glare of the lantern he’d brought with him. Ruth peeked around the edge of the phone shack, and when the light went behind a clump of trees, she fled down the road. Here she was, running away when John was at fault. But if he ever learned that she had listened in to his conversation, her reputation wouldn’t survive even though she was the community’s schoolteacher.

Ruth paused to catch her breath at the junction. There was still no sign of Ethan. He wasn’t coming. She might as well face the facts. She knew he answered his phone even when he was on emergency calls. He didn’t want to speak with her tonight. She might as well bear the pain. Right now there was only numbness from this rejection, this dashing of high hopes and dreams. Not once in her life had she known a man who truly loved her. Tears stung again as Ruth pushed her feet southward toward home. Only, Leroy Fisher’s place wasn’t home to her. Nowhere was home. Not really. The north, the south, the east, the west—what difference did it make?
Will Ruth find that her Amish community really is home—or will she give it up for a chance with Ethan in the Englisha world? Pick up your copy of Phoebe’s Gift today!

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