Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for the wounds of the past?
After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.
Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl's Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.
As Hannah is thrown together with former fianc� Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah's mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah's absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life-and perhaps to her first love?
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September 14, 2008
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Excerpt from When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall
Hannah's car faded into the distance of the paved horizon. The cold concrete chilling Martin's bare feet and the lukewarm cup of coffee in his hand confirmed that this was no way to begin a Saturday morning. Watching the place where Hannah's vehicle had disappeared, Kevin and Lissa slowly stopped waving. For the first time since Hannah had landed in Ohio-two and a half years ago and not yet eighteen-she was on her way back to her Pennsylvania home and the Old Order Amish family she'd left behind. Maybe he should have insisted on going with her.
Lissa tugged at the hem of his T-shirt. "She packed a lot of stuff." His niece's big brown eyes reflected fears she didn't know how to voice at five years old. Martin tried to catch Kevin's eye to see how he was doing, but he stared at the ground. Hannah really hadn't packed very much, but this had to feel like a replay of when their mother ran off months ago. When Faye had packed a lot of things into her car, she dropped Kevin and Lissa off with Hannah while Martin was at work, and never returned.
Martin suppressed a sigh, tossed the brown liquid from his cup onto the green grass, and held out his hand to Lissa. "She'll be back, guys."
Lissa slid her hand into his. "Promise?"
"Yes. Absolutely." Martin gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "Her sister called to say that a good friend of Hannah's had an accident and is in the hospital. She'll probably be back in time for her classes on Monday. Wednesday at the latest."
Kevin shoved his hands deep into his pockets. "I didn't know she had a sister."
Martin shrugged, unwilling to say too much about Hannah's past. "She hasn't been to see her family or friends in Pennsylvania for years." With the coffee cup dangling from his fingers, he put his hand on Kevin's shoulder. "Now they need her for a bit." He headed for the house, leading the children. Earlier this morning, while Hannah called possible hospitals her friend might have been taken to, Martin found an Ohio-Pennsylvania map. Once she knew the name and address of the hospital, they studied the map together while he highlighted the route she'd need to take.
He didn't know which caused her the most nervousness: her injured friend, having to see her family again, or driving in unfamiliar territory, but right now he wished he'd pushed a little harder to go with her.
He thought about the gifts he and Hannah had exchanged last night. He'd given her an honorary mother's ring and had slid it onto the ring finger of her left hand. She hadn't agreed yet to marry him, saying his proposal a few weeks back had been brazen and romance-free, which it had. But when he took her to Hawaii over Christmas, he'd find the most romantic way possible to propose.
A smile he couldn't stop seemed to spread across the morning. Martin opened the front door. "How about some Cracklin' Pops cereal and cartoons?"
The muscles across Hannah's shoulders ached. With the toll roads and service plazas of the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes behind her, she pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and found a space for her car. Her frazzled nerves complained, but she was here now-whatever here held in store. Trying desperately to remember who she'd become over the last couple of years, not who she'd once been, she stopped at the information desk and waited for the woman to end her phone conversation.
Her sister Sarah had managed to get hold of her phone number and had called last night to tell her about Matthew being hurt in a fire. Hannah promised to come-a pledge she now regretted. In some ways it'd been a lifetime since she'd last faced her Amish community, yet the quaking of her insides said it'd been only yesterday.
The gray-haired woman hung up the phone. "Can I help you?" "Yes, I need the room numbers for Matthew and David Esh."
The woman typed on the keyboard and studied the screen. She frowned and typed in more info. "We have a Matthew Esh, but there's not a David Esh listed." She jotted down the room number on a small piece of paper. "It's possible he's already been released or perhaps was taken to a different hospital."
"Maybe so. I'll ask Matthew." Hannah took the paper from her. "Thank you."
She went to the elevator, trying to mentally prepare to face Matthew's visitors-people she knew, people she was related to, those who'd accused her of wrongdoing before they washed their hands of her.
Nonetheless, she'd come home.
Here. Not home. She corrected herself and felt a morsel of comfort in the thought. These people didn't own her and had no power to control her, not anymore. She stepped off the elevator and headed toward Matthew's room. Odd, but the place appeared empty of any Amish. She gave a sideways glance into the waiting room as she passed it. There were no Plain folk in there either.
Stopping outside the room, Hannah said a silent prayer. Ready or not, she pressed the palms of her hands against the door and eased it open.