Laura V. Hilton – Romantic Excerpt – Part 2 of 3

Shannon here: Amish Romance author shares an excerpt of her characters’ meeting from Promised to Another. Every time you comment on any post dated April 9th – 13th, your name goes in the drawing for a copy. Deadline: April 21st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Laura:

Chapter 1

“May I take you home from Singing?”

Annie Beiler’s breath hitched and her gaze shot from the dusty tips of her powder blue tennis shoes to the drop-dead gorgeous man standing not three feet in front of her. Unfortunately, his tentative smile wasn’t aimed in her direction.

Nein, Joshua Esh’s hazel eyes were locked on Rachel Lapp. Though Annie had to admit Rachel was cute with her strawberry blond hair and the green dress that perfectly matched her green eyes.       

He was what her Englisch friends called a player, for sure. Everyone talked about how he never took the same girl home from Singing twice. But maybe that meant he would eventually make his way to Annie.

Rachel’s face lit up. “Danki, Joshua. I’d love a ride.”

Annie scowled. And when he did get around to asking her, she’d reject him. Seems someone should have the willpower to. Even though Rachel had talked about him and his ways earlier that evening, it appeared that she had only been suffering from jealousy since Joshua hadn’t asked her first.

Okay, to be honest, Annie did feel a bit envious too. Make that more than a bit. Not mainly because of Joshua, although he played a huge part of it. But partially because none of the men swapped from Pennsylvania had ever offered to give her a ride. Not a single one.

She didn’t think she was that unfortunate looking.

Annie brushed past Joshua and Rachel and left the barn. Maybe she shouldn’t have gone outside, because she did need a way home unless she planned to ride with another couple. But she didn’t think she could stand there alone by the barn doors, hopeful, when all the buwe she noticed didn’t seem to know she was alive.

Like Joshua Esh.

Especially Joshua Esh.

Annie kicked at a rock and winced when it didn’t budge.

“Annie? Is that you?” A male voice came from the darkness in front of her.

She jumped. She recognized that voice. Just hadn’t expected to hear it. Not in a month of Singings. She frowned. “Luke?”

“Jah.” He moved enough to come into the circle of light from the lanterns hanging around the barn.

Annie planted her fists on her hips. She wouldn’t make the mistake of falling for Luke Schwartz twice. Not that she’d fallen for him the first time. It was just—he’d asked. And a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Right? Okay, he wasn’t what she wanted, wouldn’t make her top ten list of dreamy Amish men, but he was better than nothing. She pulled in a deep breath, steeling herself. “What are you doing here?”

“Ach, that’s a wonderful way to welcome me. I’m home.”

She stilled, hope building, despite her internal warnings. “For how long?” She didn’t want to spend her life alone. Didn’t want to rely on the kindness of other couples for rides. Didn’t want to be the only girl left unattached, unaccepted, unwanted.

Unloved.

But then again, she didn’t want to settle for just anyone either.

Luke didn’t quite meet her eyes. “You wound me.”

Ach. Not for gut, then. The pencil fell from behind her ear and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to glance at him as she rose.

“Never without that ever present pencil, I see.”

She winced, hating that he mocked her. Okay, she probably shouldn’t take a pencil to Singing, but what if she wanted to write something down? The name of a book she’d like to read, or something she wanted to mention to the scholars. Maybe even the initials of her number one dream guy. One who stood somewhere nearby, but didn’t pay any attention to her. One who didn’t know she was alive. She didn’t dare glance away from Luke. “Sarcasm doesn’t suit you.”

He sighed. “May I give you a ride home? Looks like things are breaking up.”

“I’m sorry, but I already have a ride. Maybe another time?”

Luke laughed. “Right. I heard how popular you are. Having to beat the buwe off with a stick, ain’t so?”

Annie stiffened. “So, you couldn’t pay rent on that run down trailer and ran home to your parents, jah?”

Someone moved up beside her, and she glanced that way. Whoever it was didn’t register. What she did notice was that everyone had gathered around her and Luke, watching their exchange.

She was in enough trouble, only allowed to continue teaching on probation. All she needed was for one of these eavesdroppers to go home and tell their folks. She’d be out of a job so fast a racing horse and buggy wouldn’t be able to keep pace. She searched for something to say, something to diffuse the situation.

Luke’s glance slid from her to whoever offered wordless support. He sneered, then backed up a space. “Well, since you have a ride, I’ll just see you later then. Good to see ya, Annie.”

She forced a smile. “Glad you’re back, Luke.”

He turned and disappeared into the darkness.

***

 Joshua stood beside Annie for a moment. Silent. Wishing he could say something that would be a salve to her hurt. He felt the pain radiating from her as she watched the red-headed man walk away.

That whole situation confused him. He’d been attracted to Annie since the moment he met her, but when he fished for more information about her, he’d been told she was taken. Off limits. All but engaged to Luke Schwartz. And that Luke had vowed to return for her again someday. Apparently that day was now.

Annie hadn’t been waiting with baited breath.

Joshua didn’t know exactly what that meant.

He only knew what he wanted it to mean.

About Laura: Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college.  Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. 

Her publishing credits include Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past from Treble Heart Books; a devotional in a compilation from Zondervan; and the first book “Patchwork Dreams” in her Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House released in April 2011, the second book, “A Harvest of Hearts” in September 2011, and Promised to Another in April 2012. Laura has her business degree from Ozarka and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.

About the book: Promised to Another Book 3 

Annie Beiler is an Amish school teacher. She was in love with an Amish man, Luke Stultz, but Luke left the Amish community during his rumspringa, but not without begging Annie to go with him. Now Luke is back, trying to win back Annie’s love. Joshua Esh may be Amish, but he has been bitten by the travel bug. He sees the opportunity to relocate from Pennsylvania to Missouri as a way to satisfy his longing to see another place yet remain with people of his faith. Josh quickly notices the beautiful Annie, but Annie is slow to respond. With Luke in the picture, and Josh’s admission that he willingly left his district, will either man be steady and dependable enough to win the gift of Annie’s heart?

Come back April 13th for Laura’s romantic excerpt between Joshua and Annie.

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