Saturday, October 15, 2016


Congratulations to the winners of AMISH CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS! They are: Patricia Bond, Jasmine Augustine, Elaine Rieder, Metta Diaz, Marsha Karr Cole, Karen Riley, Paula Pallante, Courtney Bogunia, Sue MacIvor, and Nancy Farley. Please e-mail me at or with your mailing address as soon as possible. Thanks for playing!

Marta Perry

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Time to give away copies of AMISH CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS! Just leave a comment or e-mail me at with your name and e-mail address. I'll post the winners on Saturday, October 15th. Good luck!

Monday, October 3, 2016


AMISH CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS will be in stores on October 18th, and we're hoping it's a blessing to you during the Christmas season. A double volume, Amish Christmas Blessings contains two holiday stories: my "The Midwife's Christmas Surprise," and Jo Ann Brown's "A Christmas to Remember." Here's a little about our stories:

Holiday Greetings From Amish Country 
The Midwife's Christmas Surprise by Marta Perry 
Three years ago, the man Anna Zook hoped to marry left her and their Amish community for the English world. Now devoted to proving her abilities as a midwife, Anna has given up on marriage and children for herself. But when Benjamin Miller returns, now a changed man, can delivering a Christmas baby reunite these two hurting hearts? 
A Christmas to Remember by Jo Ann Brown 
When a little girl leads shop owner Amos Stoltzfus to an Amish woman in distress, he rushes them to his family's farm. "Linda" has no memory and doesn't know if the sweet child is her daughter or even her kin. As Christmas arrives and Linda's identity is revealed, will Amos be able to claim his holiday guests as his own?

And read on for an excerpt from "The Midwife's Christmas Surprise":

A Novella by
Marta Perry

Chapter One
     If the door to the exam room at the birthing center hadn’t been ajar, Anna Zook would never have heard the hurtful comment.
     “…so long as you’re the one to catch the baby, and not the Zook girl. She’d too young and inexperienced to be birthing my first grandchild.”
     The door closed abruptly, cutting off anything else that might be said, but Anna recognized the speaker—Etta Stoltzfus, mother-in-law of one of her partner Elizabeth’s clients. Despite the fact that Anna had been a full partner in the midwife practice for over a year, many in Lost Creek’s Amish community still saw her as the quiet, shy girl she’d been when she began her apprenticeship with Elizabeth.
     The December chill outside seemed to seep into her heart. Would the people of Lost Creek ever accept her as midwife, or would she always be walking in Elizabeth’s shadow?
     Anna tried to concentrate on the patient record she was reviewing, but the doubts kept slipping between her and the page. It was natural enough that folks turned to Elizabeth, she told herself firmly. Elizabeth Miller had been the only midwife in the isolated northern Pennsylvania Amish settlement for over twenty years. It would just take time and patience for them to accept her, wouldn’t it?
     The door opened, and a little parade came out—Etta Stoltzfus, looking as if she’d just bit into a sour pickle, her daughter-in-law, Dora, who looked barely old enough for marriage, let alone motherhood, and Elizabeth, whose round, cheerful face was as serene as always.
     Small wonder folks trusted Elizabeth—she radiated a sense of calm and assurance that was instantly soothing. Much as Anna tried to model herself on Elizabeth, she never quite succeeded in doing that.
     A blast of cold air came into the outer office as the front door opened, and Anna spotted young James leap down from the buggy seat, clutching a blanket to wrap around his wife.
     Elizabeth closed the door behind them and turned to Anna, rubbing her arms briskly. “Brr. It’s cold enough to snow, but Asa says not yet.”
     Anna nodded, knowing Elizabeth, so confident in her own field, trusted her husband implicitly when it came to anything involving the farm. Maybe that was the secret of their strong marriage—the confidence each had in the other.
     “You heard what Etta said, ain’t so?” Elizabeth’s keen gaze probed for any sign that Anna was upset.
     “Ach, it’s nothing I haven’t heard before.” Anna managed to smile. “Naturally Etta feels that way. She’s known you all her life.”
     “Then she ought to trust my judgement in training you.” Elizabeth sounded as tart as she ever did. “I think Dora might be happier with you, being closer to her age and all, but she’s too shy to venture an opinion different from Etta’s.”
     “It will all be forgotten when they see the baby. When are you thinking it will be?”
     “Most likely not until well after Christmas.” As if the words had unleased something, Elizabeth’s blue eyes seemed to darken with pain. She glanced out the side window toward the farmhouse, making Anna wonder what she saw there other than the comfortable old farmhouse that had sheltered generations of the Miller family.
     “Elizabeth?” Anna stood, moving quickly to put her arm around her friend’s waist. “What is it?”
     “Ach, nothing. Just foolishness.” Elizabeth shook her head, but she couldn’t disguise the tears in her eyes.
     “Tell me,” Anna said gently, longing to help.
     The older woman brushed a tear away impatiently. “Nothing.” She bit her lip. “It’s just…this will be the third Christmas without Benjamin.”
     The name struck Anna like a blow to the heart. She forced herself to concentrate on Elizabeth’s pain, not allowing herself to recognize her own. “I know,” she murmured. “Perhaps…” Anna tried to think of something reassuring to say, but what was there?
     Benjamin, Elizabeth and Asa’s third son, had walked away from the Amish faith and his family three years ago. And her. He’d walked away from her, as well.
     “I’m sorry,” she said finally, knowing how inadequate it was. Elizabeth didn’t know there’d ever been anything between her son and her young apprentice, and that was probably for the best, given how things had turned out.
     Elizabeth sucked in a breath and straightened. “Asa doesn’t want to talk about Ben’s leaving. I try not to burden him with my sorrow. But oh, if only our boy would come home to us.”
     “Maybe he will.” Did she wish that? For Elizabeth’s happiness, for sure. But for herself—how would she manage if Benjamin did come back?
     “I keep praying. That’s all I can do.” Elizabeth pressed her cheek against Anna’s for a moment. “Ach, I must get back to the house and start some supper. Are you coming now?”
     Anna shook her head. “I’ll finish cleaning up here first.”
She’d lived with the Miller family since she’d come from Lancaster County as apprentice to Elizabeth. Each time she’d suggested she might find a place of her own, it had led to such an outcry that she’d given up, knowing Asa and Elizabeth meant it. They treated her as the daughter they’d given up on having after their four boys. How could she walk away from that?
Once Elizabeth had gone, Anna moved slowly around the four-room center, built by Asa and his sons so that Elizabeth would have a place close to home for meeting patients. Still, many of their mothers preferred having babies at home, so the two of them spent hours each week traveling from one Amish home to another.
When she found herself rearranging the stack of towels in the cabinet for the third time, Anna forced herself to recognize the truth. She was avoiding the thing she didn’t want to think about—the beautiful, painful truth of her relationship with Benjamin.
Anna stood at the window, but she wasn’t seeing the frigid winter landscape. Instead she looked up into the branches of the apple tree in the side yard, feeling the soft breeze of a summer evening brush her skin.
She and Benjamin had come home from a family picnic at the home of Ben’s grandparents, and they’d loitered outside for a few minutes, watching the fireflies rise from the hay field and dance along the stream.
Ben had been telling her a story of climbing to the very top of the apple tree in response to a dare from one of his brothers. He’d fallen when a branch broke and broken his arm, but he didn’t seem to regret it, laughing at the memory. That was Ben, always up for a dare.
She’d shifted her gaze from the branches to his laughing face, meaning to chide him for such foolishness, but her gaze became entangled with his, and her breath caught, the words dying.
Ben’s eyes, blue as a summer sky, seemed to darken as he studied her face. His gaze had lingered on her lips. And then his lips had found hers, and a totally unexpected joy exploded inside her.
She’d never known how long they’d stood there, exchanging kisses, laughing that it had taken them so long to recognize the feelings between them. When she’d finally slipped into the house and up to her room, she’d held the warm assurance of his love close against her.
And the next day he’d been gone, leaving only a note for his parents saying he was going to see something of the world.
Anna tried to shake off the memories. She seldom let herself relive them, because the aftermath had seen so painful. No one knew about her and Ben, so she’d had to pretend that her pain was only for Ben’s family, not for herself.
After three years, it should have become easier. One night—that was all she had to block from her memories.
A final check around the center, and she was ready to go. She was just slipping on her coat when she heard a car pull up by the front door.
Anna frowned. One of their Englisch clients? No one was scheduled to come in today. She could only hope it wasn’t an emergency.
Footsteps sounded on the porch, and she hurried to the door. She flung it open almost as soon as the knock sounded and stumbled back a step, the familiar room spinning around her.
The man standing on the porch wore boots, jeans, and a black leather jacket zipped up against the cold, but he wasn’t an Englischer. He was Benjamin Miller.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


HOW SECRETS DIE, book three in the House of Secrets series of Amish romantic suspense, will go on sale next week! To whet your appetite, here's an except: 

By Marta Perry
Chapter One

A cemetery should be a place where people were buried—not where they died. Kate Beaumont, confronted so unexpectedly with the place Jason had chosen to end his life, stopped the car in mid-traffic, earning an irritated honk from the driver behind her as he was forced to come to a halt as well.
The driver circled her, looking annoyed but refraining from the rude gesture she anticipated. Apparently drivers were a bit more polite in a small town like Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, than they were in the city. Her hands were shaking, and not from the sudden stop. She pulled off the road near the stone wall that encircled the cemetery.
Ridiculous, to let just the sight of the place send her into a tailspin. She was tougher than that, wasn’t she? But while she could face down a recalcitrant politician or an irate citizen while in search of a story, she couldn’t maintain that level of detachment where her younger brother’s death was concerned.
Kate took a long breath, fighting to still the tremors that shook her. She focused on the scene facing her, assessing it as she would when thinking of the word picture she’d create for a newspaper article. Laurel Ridge’s cemetery covered the top of a rounded hill at the eastern end of town. Spreading maples, their leaves already turning color, shielded gray tombstones. Some of the stones were worn and tilted, their lettering eroded, but the whole place had a well-tended air, the grass mown, beds of gold and burgundy chrysanthemums blossoming here and there.
Which was the stone Jason had leaned against when he’d taken that fatal dose? She could find it, she supposed, since the name had shown clearly in the newspaper photo she’d scanned online. But looking at the spot wouldn’t lead her to any answers.
Movement reflected in the rearview mirror startled her, and her stomach tightened as she realized a police car had pulled up behind her. Great. All she needed was to draw official attention to herself before she’d even begun her task.
An officer slid from the vehicle and started toward her. Taking a firm grip on her nerves, Kate planted a smile on her face and hit the button to roll down her window.
She was about to speak when a closer look at the man’s uniform gave her another shock. M. Whiting, the lettering on his pocket read. McKinley Whiting, then. Chief of Police in this backwater town, and the man who’d dismissed her little brother’s death as just another druggie overdosing himself.
Kate gritted her teeth, fighting to keep her feelings from showing in her face as she looked up at the man. Tall and lean, he had dark hair in a military-style cut and a jaw that spoke determination. He didn’t affect the dark sunglasses so many cops did, and his brown eyes studied her, missing nothing, she felt sure.
“Are you having car trouble, ma’am?” His voice was a bass rumble.
“No, not at all. Is there a problem?”
“You can’t park here.” He nodded to the No Parking sign directly in front of her fender. “If you’re interested in the cemetery, you can turn in at the gate just ahead. You’ll find a gravel pull-off where you can park if you want.”
“I don’t.” Kate’s tone was sharper than she intended, but she couldn’t seem to control the spurt of temper. “Can’t a visitor to your town stop to get her bearings without being harassed?”
Reading the surprise in his face, she clamped her lips shut before she could make matters worse. She’d overdone it—lost her cool and let her feelings show. The last thing she wanted was to raise the suspicions of the local cop before she’d been in town for five minutes.
“Sorry,” she muttered before he could speak. “I didn’t mean…”
“No problem.” He said the words easily, but his brown eyes were watchful. “I wasn’t trying to harass you. If you’re lost, I’ll be glad to help you find your way, Ms.…”
He left it hanging there, obviously intent on learning her name. Well, at least it wouldn’t connect her with Jason Reilley.
“Kate Beaumont.”
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Beaumont. I’m Mac Whiting.” She could see him stowing her name away in the filing cabinet of his mind. “Coming to visit someone here in Laurel Ridge?”
“No.” Guilt and grief was a powerful combination. She should have. If she’d come to visit Jason the summer he’d spent here, maybe he’d still be alive.
That was the danger of loving someone. It hurt too much when you let them down.
Whiting’s eyes were probing again. If she’d worn a sign, she probably couldn’t have been more obviously hiding something.
She swallowed hard and tried for a normal tone. “I’ve been driving for several hours. I just thought I’d find a place for lunch.”
He nodded, again with that watchful look. Protective, that was what it was. As if his town might need protecting against her.
“Turn left just ahead, and you’ll be on Main Street. There’s a café a few blocks down on your left, across from the Bed and Breakfast.” He pointed, leaning against the car as he did so, and she had a sudden sense of masculine power in his nearness. “I can vouch for the food, and the prices are reasonable.”
She hadn’t expected that casual reference to the Bed and Breakfast, and it shook her. Would it be the same one where Jason had stayed when he came to Laurel Ridge? If so, it was going to be one of her first stops.
“Okay, thanks.” She managed a cool, dismissive smile. “I appreciate the recommendation.” She turned the key, her fingers brushing the silver dragon charm Jason had given her, and put her finger on the window button.
Whiting looked at her for a moment longer, and then slowly stepped back so she could close the window. She put the car in gear, glanced behind her, and pulled out. Whiting was easy to see in her rearview mirror. He’d pulled out a notebook and was jotting down her license number.
She doused a flicker of anger. A search of her license wouldn’t tell him anything except her address in Baltimore. She’d never been arrested, so a query to the police there wouldn’t help him, even if he went that far.
But this encounter had clearly shown her that she’d have to do better. True, she hadn’t expected the first person she’d meet in Laurel Ridge to be the policeman who’d been quoted in that article about Jason’s death. She might be excused for losing her grip just a bit, but it was unfortunate. She’d raised his suspicions before she’d had a chance to do a thing.
But what difference did it make in the long run? Sooner or later she’d have to divulge the relationship between her and Jason. If she didn’t, she’d have no reason for asking questions about him. She’d toyed with the thought of claiming to be writing a newspaper story about Jason’s death, but that didn’t sound credible even to herself, not after over a year had passed.
Kate made the turn onto Main Street and drove down it at a sedate speed, reading signs as she went. There, ahead of her on the left, was the café Whiting had mentioned, and on her right the Bed and Breakfast. She slowed, peering toward the rear of the white clapboard building, and caught a glimpse of a small building nearly hidden by the trees. That had to be it—the cottage where Jason had lived during his three months in Laurel Ridge.
And next to the Bed and Breakfast rose the imposing Italianate building that was Blackwood House, where Jason had worked. The place where he’d lived; the place where he’d worked. That was where she had to begin.

She hadn’t been here when Jason had needed her, but she was now. She’d find the answer to the question that haunted her, because if she didn’t, she’d never be satisfied. What had happened in this seemingly quiet, peaceful town that had led to her brother’s death?

Friday, June 17, 2016


THE WINNERS OF HOW SECRETS DIE are: Lorri Jones Graves, Ann Elmore, Alice English Boor, Linda Critcher, and Alberta Kliem. Congratulations! I'll email you today to ask for your address. Be sure to respond, so I'll know where to send your book.

Monday, June 13, 2016


Book giveaway time! I'll be giving away five copies of my new release HOW SECRETS DIE this week. To enter, leave a message with you name and e-mail address or e-mail me at I'll announce the winners on Friday, June 17th at noon. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016



Here are the overall winners in the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt: First: Crystal Balzer; Second: Jackie Wisherd; and Third: Becky Mickels.

And the winner of a set of any three of my books is: JENNIFER GREEN!

It was a terrific hunt, with lots of participation and many prizes. We hope we'll see all of you again next time!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop # 26

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop # 26

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all 33 stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 3 grand prizes!
·         The hunt BEGINS with Stop #1 at Lisa Bergren’s site.
·         The hunt is BEST VIEWED using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer)
·         It is open to INTERNATIONAL entrants.
·         PRIZES include 3 sets of all 32 books, $500 in Amazon gift cards and many authors are offering additional prizes!
·         There is NO RUSH to complete this hunt—you have ALL WEEKEND. So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books you might want to learn more about!
·         Submit your ENTRY for the GRAND PRIZE at Stop #33 (back on Lisa’s site) by Monday night (4/25) at midnight mountain.

I'm delighted to host my good friend Carolyne Aarsen for the Scavenger Hunt. Carolyne is an accomplished, widely-published author, and she'd like to share some the strange twists that memory takes when sisters look back at their childhoods.

The Evolution of a Story Idea
by Carolyne Aarsen

When my sisters and I share stories of home, I am always surprised how differently we see the same event. We each have our unique filter through which the stories are told. I thought this might be an interesting dynamic to delve into: three sisters who share memories of home but see them all through their personalities.

Because most of my stories deal with people coming home to family and faith, I needed a reason for each of these three sisters to return to their childhood home, Saddlebank, a community I had already established in a previous series.

After their parents’ acrimonious divorce, Jodie, Laura and Erin and their mother moved from their father’s Saddlebank ranch to Tennessee to live with their maternal grandmother. After their mother’s death their grandmother sent the girls to stay at the ranch with their father over the summer. The sisters' two-month stay with their taciturn father, still embittered by the divorce, created mixed feelings  and memories for each of them. When they turned eighteen they stopped going to the ranch.

I wanted the sisters to come unwillingly back to the ranch, a place that holds varying memories for each of them. I also needed them to stay long enough to meet their hero and fall in love. Because….romance…..

But how could I make that happen?

I decided to give their poor estranged father incurable cancer. Faced with imminent death he wanted  to make peace with his daughters. So he willed his estate to them stipulating that two of the three sisters stay at the ranch for two months each. He guessed the girls would sell the ranch on inheriting it and he wanted them to give their old home another chance before doing so. Trouble was a truck accident killed him before he had a chance to talk to them about his plans and find a way to make peace with them.

I now had the backstory set up all I needed was to get the girls home.

Wrangling the Cowboy’s Heart is the first in this series and is Jodie McCauley’s story. She’s the freewheeling younger sister, part-time musician, part-time waitress. In her youth she and the hero had dated but had a falling out that had much to do with her father. My hero, a horse trainer and deputy is a by-the-books kind of guy who is still hurt by Jodie's flight in the past.

As the story develops secrets come out and healing takes place across past and present. Jodie's perceptions of her life at the ranch are challenged.

And Jodie is the first of the sisters to discover that the best journey takes you home.

The other sister’s stories will come in following books, but I hope you have a chance to read this first one.

Carolyne Aarsen has written over 50 books with three different publishers. Find out more at or check out her Facebook page

Here’s the Stop # 26 Skinny:

Clue to Write Down: to experience

Link to Stop #27, the Next Stop on the Loop: Carolyne Aarsen’s own site!


But wait! Before you go, I’m offering a three-book set of any of my series to one entrant—your choice. All you have to do is send me an e-mail with the words "Scavenger Hunt Prize" to Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of the hunt!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


My novella, FALLEN IN PLAIN SIGHT, is available starting today as an e-book. Look for it here:

Here's a bit about the story:
Danger comes to Amish country in this reader-favorite novella from Marta Perry…
When Sarah Weaver finds her employer dead, and strange things begin to occur around the deceased man's house, Sarah is suspicious that a murder has happened in their peaceful community. Her questions lead her to confide in her childhood friend Jacob Mast, but when Sarah becomes the target of frightening stalkers, Jacob promises to protect the woman he has always loved. Now a series of menacing incidents put their faith—and newfound love—to the ultimate test…
Originally published in 2012 Dark Crossings anthology

I hope you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Today is release day for THE REBEL, Book Three in the Keepers of the Promise series. Don't forget to pick up your copy!

And please, share the news!


Monday, March 28, 2016


WINNERS! The five winners of THE REBEL are: Gail Nickels, Rebecca Followell, Ernestine Haggard, Marsha Iffft, and Rachael Smith. I'll be emailing the winners this afternoon for mailing addresses. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks for playing, everyone!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016



I'm giving away five copies of THE REBEL, my new book coming soon from Berkley Books. To enter, reply below or leave a message at or email me at and be sure to give me your e-mail address so I can contact you if you're a winner. Winners will be announced on Monday, March 28th at noon.

THE REBEL is Book Three of the Keepers of the Promise Series. It will be released on April 5, so don't miss this chance to get an early copy.

And if you don't win, you can always pre-order it here:

Monday, March 21, 2016


Tomorrow I'll be announcing a giveaway of my new release, THE REBEL, Keepers of the Promise, Book 3. Be sure to check back for the details!
And to whet your appetite, here's an excerpt:

 The Rebel
Keepers of the Promise, Book 3
By Marta Perry

Chapter One

Barbie Lapp came to a sudden halt as her Englisch friend Ashlee reached out to open the door to the bar. Ashlee turned with a flip of her shoulder-length auburn hair and sent a mocking glance in Barbie’s direction. “Not going to chicken out now, are you?”
It was all very well for Ashlee to casually drop into a bar on a Friday night, but she couldn’t possibly understand how huge such a thing was for Barbie. An eighteen-year-old Amish boy with a touch of rumspringa wildness might be understood, if not condoned, but attitudes were different toward a twenty-four-year-old unmarried Amish woman.
Still, she was the one who’d wanted to see what a night out would be like if she were English, this was her chance. “Of course not. Just nudge me if I say anything stupid, okay?”
“It’ll be so loud nobody will hear you anyway.” Ashlee grabbed the door and yanked it open. Loud talk, loud laughter, and even louder music seemed to hit them in the face. “Let’s go.”
Right. Her fingers brushing the unfamiliar denim jeans on her legs, Barbie followed Ashlee inside.
The noise was even worse when the door closed behind them. Barbie tried not to gawk while Ashlee threaded her way between tables as easily as if she were in the café where they both worked.
Following her, Barbie realized the truth of what Ashlee had said. How could any of these people possibly hear what anyone else was saying? This was certain sure no place for good Amish girl.
Maybe that was the point. Maybe she wasn’t a good Amish girl any longer. Maybe she was a rebel, a fence-jumper, like her brother James. She felt the familiar constriction in her heart at the thought of James. He’d vanished from her life completely when she was eight, but she still missed him. Still wondered why—why he’d left, why he’d cut all ties to the Amish world so completely, why he’d deserted her.
James must have had the restlessness, too—that sense she had too often that life was passing her by. That there was something waiting for her out there, somewhere, beyond everything she’d experienced.
“Hey, here you are!” Ashlee motioned Barbie to slide into an already-crowded booth and squeezed in next to her, shoving her against the guy on the other side. “Everybody, this is Barbie.”
People nodded and went on with their conversations, apparently not feeling the need to do more. But they were friendly enough, easily including her in their talk.
They didn’t seem to care who she was. If she’d been introduced to a group of Amish she didn’t know, the first thing they’d have done would have been to play what some Amish called “the name game” of trying to place her in the complicated genealogy of the Lapp family tree.
The man next to her gave her a friendly grin. “Loud, isn’t it? How do you know Ashlee?”
She thawed under his casual friendliness. “We work together.”
“Yeah? I can see I’ll have to start going to the café for lunch. I’m Terry Gilliam. No point waiting for Ashlee to introduce anyone.”
“Nice to meet you, Terry.”
If he did come by the café, he’d have a shock when he saw her in her usual Amish garb instead of the jeans and cotton sweater she’d borrowed from Ashlee. Still, he was likely just being polite. The only reason she’d agreed to come to this place was because it was well away from Brook Hill, with its large Amish population.
You won’t see anyone you know, Ashlee had said. What are you worrying about? You’re a grown woman, aren’t you?
True enough. Everyone around her was having a good time. So could she.
Someone plopped a glass of beer in front of her. She picked it up gingerly and sipped it, trying not to make a face.
Terry chuckled, his blue eyes crinkling with amusement. “Not a beer drinker, are you? Listen, you don’t have to drink it. How about a glass of wine? Or a soft drink?”
She wavered, not wanting to look different from anyone else. But then, that was why she was here—because she was tired of looking just like everyone else. “A cola would be great, thanks.”
He waved to a server and ordered it. “No problem. So what do you do when you’re not serving coffee at the café?”
She shrugged. “Nothing very exciting. My cousin takes guests on her farm during the summer, and I help run it.”
“Two jobs. I’m impressed. One is enough for me.” He was bending toward her, his laughing, open face attentive. “I work for the power company, keeping the lines clear. You owe your electric light to me.”
She could hardly say she didn’t rely on the power company for electricity. But he didn’t expect a real answer, anyway. This was just flirting, and she’d always been able to flirt.
“Think of that—climbing all those poles just for me.” She gave him the wide-eyed glance that usually had the boys stumbling over themselves.
He grinned. “Mostly I go up in the bucket. It’s more fun.”
Someone interrupted to tell a joke, followed by an incomprehensible, to her, discussion of the baseball season. Meanwhile, the women started talking about spring clothes. She was reminded of the early years of her rumspringa, when her gang of girls had clustered together, swapping secrets and talking about anything and everything, including which of their exactly-alike dresses looked best on them.
All those girls were long since married and mothers. When they got together, they seemed separated from her by an unimaginable gap. They’d compare remedies for teething pain and colic, while she sat feeling left out.
What would they think if they saw her now? She could just imagine the sidelong glances and disapproving murmurs. Fortunately, as Ashlee kept assuring her, she wouldn’t see anyone she knew here.
Except that Ashlee had been wrong. Barbie’s heart thumped when she spotted the group coming through the door. Several young Englisch men, and one girl, trying to look Englisch, just like Barbie.
She wasn’t succeeding. Surely anyone who looked at her would know she was Amish, and underage as well.
Mary Kauffmann wore what were undoubtedly borrowed Englisch clothes, too—tight jeans and a shirt snug enough to show off her curvy young figure. The three boys were older, but surely not old enough to drink.
And they undoubtedly had been drinking. They’d reached the stage of being boisterous, swaggering their way to a table as if they owned the place. As for Mary…
Barbie’s heart sank. Mary was glassy-eyed, stumbling a little as one of the boys shoved her into a chair. How on earth had she managed to get into such a state? And what was Barbie going to do about it?
     Nothing—that was the quick and easy answer. Mary was, after all, just doing what she was, sampling the Englisch life. But Mary was sixteen, not twenty-four. And she didn’t have a buddy with her. She was alone with a group of guys too old for her, and too drunk for any girl to be safe.
She tried not to stare, looking down at her drink while her mind whirled. It wasn’t her business. Mary wouldn’t thank her for intervening. But at least she could keep an eye on the girl as long as she was here.
One of the boys swaggered to the bar. Barbie held her breath. The bartender wouldn’t serve them, would he?
He didn’t. Barbie watched as he shook his head and the kid flushed angrily. The boy shouted something, thankfully drowned out by the music but turning a few heads. Then he returned to his table and grabbed Mary’s hand. In a moment they were all headed out the door.
It was no use. She couldn’t sit here while Mary Kauffmann headed straight for disaster. She doubted anyone heard her murmured excuse, but when she nudged her, Ashlee moved to let her out.
The group had already reached the door, and Barbie wiggled her way through the mass of humanity that blocked her way. Urgency pushed her forward, and she went the last few yards at a run and burst through the door, praying Mary wouldn’t be in a car before she could reach her.
At first Barbie thought she’d missed them. Then she saw movement by the rank of parked cars. One of the boys had Mary pressed up against the vehicle, kissing her, his hands tugging at her jeans. Mary struggled feebly, swatting at him without any effect. The kid was too drunk to notice or care.
Barbie flew across the parking lot. Grabbing the boy by the shoulders, she yanked him away. Taken by surprise, he let go of Mary.
“Leave her alone.” She tightened her grip, murmuring a silent prayer for help.
The boy jerked free of Barbie, glaring at her. Boy? Man? Whatever he was, he exuded an air of danger that chilled her.
“What’s it to you?” He added a few words she’d never heard applied to herself before. “Get out.”
One of the others—tall, skinny, with a tattoo that ran clear down his arm--nudged him. “Maybe she wants to party with us, too.”
“That’s right.” The third pressed in, too close. “Come on, sweetie. We’ll show you a good time.”
Barbie put her arm around Mary, and the girl sagged against her. Did she even realize what was happening? One thing was certain—Barbie couldn’t expect any help from her, and the three boys were drunk enough to have shed any inhibitions they might normally have.
“She’s underage.” She kept her voice firm despite the quaking inside her. “You’ve already broken the law by getting her drunk. You want to be in worse trouble?”
“We can handle a little trouble,” one said, and the others snickered.
“Really?” She tried to sound as cool as Ashlee might in this situation. “All I have to do is let out one loud scream, and my friends will come running. The bartender is already calling the police.”
That was probably wishful thinking, but if that bartender had a conscience at all, he wouldn’t ignore what was right in front of his face.
The guys exchanged glances, a little less certain of themselves.
Instinctively she pressed her advantage. “If you’re still here when they arrive, you’ll be arrested. I’m a witness. You tried to molest an underage girl. Do you want to end this night in jail?”
A car pulled into the parking lot, its headlights sweeping over them, radio blaring. That seemed to be the deciding factor. Uttering a few more profanities, the three jumped into the car.
Barbie pulled Mary away as they backed up and then spun out of the parking lot, spraying gravel behind them.
Relief swept over her, but she couldn’t relax yet. “Mary, are you all right?”
The girl roused enough to glare at her. “Leave me alone.”
Barbie gritted her teeth, trying to hold onto her temper. “If I leave you alone, what will you do? Walk home? It’s a good twenty miles.”
Mary looked away, elaborately ignoring her. Barbie suppressed an urge to shake her. That wouldn’t help, no matter how satisfying it might be. Clearly she had to find a way to get Mary home, where she belonged. They were on foot and alone in the dark. She’d have to ask Ashlee to drive them.
Tugging the sulky teenager along, Barbie headed back inside. It was louder and smokier than before, and just getting Ashlee’s attention was a challenge.
“Leave? What do you mean, leave? The party’s just starting. Terry wondered where you went. He wants to get to know you.”
Barbie clutched Ashlee’s arm. She wouldn’t mind shaking her, as well. “Look at this kid. She’s drunk, she’s only sixteen, and she doesn’t have a way home. Come on, Ashlee. We can’t just ignore her.”
Ashlee sighed, but she was too good-hearted not to respond to a need that was right in front of her.
“Okay, you’re right, you’re right. Let’s go. I just hope we’re not going to end up in more trouble when we get her home.”

That was exactly what Barbie was thinking, except that she knew there was no hope at all. Mary lived with her father and her brother, Benuel, both widowers, and Benuel’s children. And Benuel Kauffmann just happened to be one of the ministers of Barbie’s congregation.