Family Gatherings at Promise Lodge
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In the year since he lost his wife in a tragic accident, Lester Lehman has found healing and purpose—helping construct Dale Kraybill’s new bulk store, enjoying the Kuhn sisters’ hearty meals, and settling in a tiny, built-for-one lakeside house. Falling in love again is surely not on Lester’s mind. Yet despite his firm “no,” two available ladies have set their kapps on the handsome widower—in a boisterous rivalry that weaves mayhem among Gloria’s wedding festivities.
A welcome escape comes from a fresh-faced newcomer. Marlene Fisher disarms Lester with her witty quips on his romantic predicament, while her sparkling eyes inspire surprising thoughts of a shared future. But the heartbreak that brought Marlene to Promise Lodge runs deep, and the pretty maidel believes she’s not meant to marry. In a season of vows to love and honor, scripture holds the key to building their happiness together: love is kind, and above all patient.
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Fully awake now, Lester swung his feet to the dock. When he could get a word in edgewise, he needed to deflate Agnes’s high-flying hopes in a hurry, because in her vivid imagination, she was already standing before the bishop with him, repeating her wedding vows. As he opened his mouth to speak, however, another urgent female voice hailed him.
“Lester! Lester Lehman, it’s me—your Elverta! I read about Gloria’s wedding in the paper, so it seemed like the perfect reason to come and see you!”
Lester moaned. His sense of freedom, peace, and unencumbered living had just hit another serious snag.
As the national newspaper for Plain communities, the Budget was a wonderful way to keep track of far-flung friends and kin, but he suddenly wished that Gloria—and Rosetta Wickey, their community’s original scribe—hadn’t been quite so descriptive in detailing the Lehman family’s relocation. The tiny town of Promise, Missouri was out in the middle of nowhere, yet Agnes and Elverta had apparently followed every line of the newspaper’s weekly reports right to his doorstep.
As Elverta Horst, dressed in deep green, strode toward his dock, her tall, skinny, ramrod-straight body reminded Lester of a string bean. He knew better than to express that opinion, of course, because the woman he’d broken up with to begin courting his Delores had never been known for her sense of humor.
“Wh-who’s this?” Agnes asked him under her breath.
Never one to beat around the bush, Elverta stopped a few yards from the dock. She glanced at Lester before focusing on the flustered woman beside him. “And who might you be?” she demanded with a raised eyebrow.
Lester answered as indirectly as possible, because he knew these women would soon find out every little thing about one another. “Elverta, this is Delores’s best friend, Agnes Plank. She lives down the road from our former home in Sugarcreek,” he explained hastily. “And Agnes, this is Elverta Horst—”
“And I was engaged to Lester before he took up with Delores,” Elverta put in purposefully. “First loves are often the strongest, ain’t so? The flame may flicker through the years, but it never really goes out.”
About the Author: In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 50 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in Omaha, NE with her husband and their Border collie, Vera.
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