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Authors: Amy Lillard

Just Plain Sadie

BOOK: Just Plain Sadie
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Sadie headed across the street to the park. A small patch of sunlight still shone, though most of the sky had turned a shade somewhere between dark purple and dark blue. She sat down in a swing, fully expecting Ezra to sit in the one next to her. Instead he walked around behind her and started to push. How long had it been since someone had actually pushed Sadie in a swing?
“That's too much, Ezra!” She felt like she could reach out her toes and touch the setting sun. “Slow me down now, please.”
“Baby,” Ezra teased. But still he moved around in front of her and caught her swing, easing it back slowly again and again until she was barely moving. He moved his hands up the chains as Sadie stood, trapped somewhere between his arms and the swing.
A heartbeat passed between them and then another. And another, until Sadie wasn't sure how long they had stood there, just staring at each other.
“Ezra,” she said, her voice shaking and unsure. What was happening between them? Was this the beginning of true love? Whatever it was, she never wanted it to end. . . .
Books by Amy Lillard
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
Chapter One
“I have something I need to talk to you about.”
At Chris's words, Sadie's heart pounded in her chest. Was this it? She had been waiting on this moment for a long, long time. Now it was about to happen on this cold but bright January day on his father's farm. She had known something was up when he'd asked her to take a walk, but she hadn't dreamed that today could be the day. Yet from the sound of his voice, Chris had something very important to say. As important as a marriage proposal? She could only hope.
Sure, she and Chris were nothing more than best friends who had been paired off in their buddy bunch like a true couple instead of just good pals. But what better person to marry than a best friend? She knew all his little habits, all his quirks and shortcomings. So she didn't love him with that breathless wonder that the
novelists talked about. There was more to a marriage—more to life—than that.

” The one word was a mere whisper upon her lips. She had wanted to come across as strong and true, yet all she sounded was anxious and fretful. But she
anxious and fretful.
More than anything in the world, she wanted to get married. That wasn't so much to ask, was it? Especially when everyone around them thought they were just being secretive when they claimed to be only friends.
A couple of years ago Sadie gave up defending their friendship and let people believe what they wanted. They were doing that anyway. But somewhere along the road, she had started to think about marriage. Not in a silly romantic way, but in a strong, steady kind of way. And she knew that one day Chris would be her husband. She just knew it.
Was today that day?
He took her hand into his, turning it over and tracing the creases on her palm. “This is kinda hard to say.” He glanced up at the sky, across the field where they sat next to a half-frozen pond. He looked at his lap, then back at their hands once again. “It's no secret that you're my best friend, right?”
“Of course.” She did her best to sound confident, but she feared she had failed miserably.
“Best friends should be able to say anything to each other, right?” He seemed to be asking himself rather than her, so Sadie kept quiet and waited for him to continue. “It's just that . . .”
Her heart pounded even harder in her chest, so hard that she thought it might fly away on its own.
“What I'm about to tell you is between the two of us, okay?”
She nodded, breathless as she waited for him to continue.
“I'm going to Europe.”
Suddenly the world was swept out from underneath her. She took her hand from Chris's, using it to steady herself though she was still sitting in the same place she had been before. Everything seemed tilted now, a little askew, not quite right. He was going to Europe?
“Sadie? Are you okay?”
She cleared her throat and managed to nod. “
, of course.” Her voice didn't sound like her own, and a sudden chill ran through her bones. She pulled her coat a little tighter around her. “I think my ears are playing tricks on me. I thought you said you were going to Europe. That can't be right.” He was supposed to be proposing, stating his intentions of joining the church and making her his wife. Wasn't that what everyone thought would happen?
“That's what I said.” His voice seemed small, as if it was coming to her from down a long tunnel.
“Europe?” Thousands of thoughts flew through her head at once. Europe was so far away; was he asking her to go too? No, wait. He hadn't said anything about getting married, about joining the church, about the future they would have. Just Europe.
Sadie pushed to her feet, though the world still seemed to be spinning, her emotions a strange mixture of disappointment and relief.
“I told you how I wanted to travel.” From behind her, Chris's voice held a damaged edge, as if somehow her reaction had wounded him.

, you did.” She stifled a laugh and whirled back to face him. “A lot of us talk about the things that we want to do. But they're not things that we are really
to do.”
“You thought I was just talking?”
He had talked for hours and hours about seeing the world and what it would be like and traveling and how it would feel to be on a boat, to be on a plane, to be in a car in the remote places he'd read about on the computer at the library. But that was all she thought it was—talk. Reluctantly, she nodded and wondered how the day had turned so wrong.
Chris stood and came to stand by her side. He reached out as if he were going to touch her, then he seemed to change his mind and dropped his hands back to his sides once again. “I thought you would understand.”
“I do.” She wanted to. But how did she explain to him that searching for his dreams was killing hers? Was it so much to ask to want to be married? It was all she wanted from life. To work her job at the restaurant, get married to a nice man, have children, and live out her days in Wells Landing. They seemed like attainable dreams, but now they were as far away as the moon.
He expelled a heavy breath. “I'm not going yet,” he said. “This summer. I talked to a travel agent, and he can get me a good deal for June. Flights and all that.”
Travel agent? “You're going to get on an airplane?” Of all the questions she had to ask, that one was perhaps the least important, but the one that jumped from her lips first. She turned to him then, searching his features for some sort of explanation as to what made him want to fly half the world away when as far as she could see, everything she needed was right there in Wells Landing.
“That part makes me a little nervous.” He chuckled. “But I'm looking forward to it. It's an adventure out there, Sadie. Don't you see?”
All she could see were her dreams slipping away, her best friend not joining the church, not staying in Wells Landing, and not being a part of her life for much longer.
“You're not coming back.”
“Oh, Sadie, don't be like that. Of course I'm coming back. Airplanes are safe now. It's not like what you think.”
Sadie shook her head. “I'm not worried about the plane,
it's you
.” Chris wasn't the only Amish man who wanted to see the world, who wanted to taste the pleasures that lay beyond the boundaries of their district. And all too often the people who left never came back. Luke Lambright, her sister Lorie, to name a few. But Sadie had never understood the call of the
world. She was happy being Amish. She was happy right where she was. That might be simplistic or naïve, but that's just the way she was.
Chris was leaving; she was staying. It was as simple as that.
“I haven't told anyone else,” he said.
“You told me.”
“That's different. I knew you would understand.”
Do I?
“You can't tell anyone,” Chris continued. “No one. Not even Ruthie, Hannah, or Melanie. Not until I tell my parents.”
“Okay,” she agreed, albeit reluctantly. The one person she would want to talk to was gone. Her sister Lorie had left Wells Landing three months ago to move to Tulsa. That had been a hard time for Sadie. Their father had just passed away, and Lorie had discovered he had a tattoo that no one else knew about. That made her search for more things. She uncovered a grandmother living in a nursing home in Tulsa and a whole secret life that her father had lived without anyone in Wells Landing knowing about it. Even worse, Henry Kauffman hadn't been Amish, nor had his last name been Kauffman. Sadie had managed to keep all that to herself. What was one more secret?
Though she missed Lorie terribly, she knew her sister was happy now. She wasn't having to hide her paintings or wonder about what her life would have been like had her father not made the choice to hide her out in the Amish community, pretending to be Amish himself as he raised her Plain.
It had been three months since Lorie had left. Three long months of waiting for her visits, waiting for phone calls at the restaurant, and envying the happiness that she had found. For not only was she living out her dream getting to know her grandmother and teaching painting to the senior citizens at the Sundale Assisted Living Center, she had met the handsome
, Zach Calhoun. They were planning their wedding for some time this June. And now this.
June was going to be a very busy month.
“Chris, you should tell them.” She had been walking around with so many secrets inside, but this was different. It was one thing to hold her own secret from the community in order to not damage her father's memory within the district and quite another to keep someone else's secret from the people who loved him.
He nodded. “I know, I know. But I'm not ready to tell them yet. I don't think they'll handle it well.”
“What would give you such an idea?”
“Sadie, really?”
“I'm merely saying that their youngest son decides to travel off to Europe and not join the church. Why would they find any fault in that?” She wasn't about to apologize for her sarcasm. Maybe it would shake some sense into Chris, make him see how his choices were going to affect everyone around him.
“I never said anything about not joining the church. I can go to Europe. I'm still in my
. I can travel, come back, and take baptism classes next year. Bishop Treger let Lorie take his classes.”
Sadie didn't point out that hadn't gone over very well, and she didn't think the bishop would allow that to happen again considering the fact that Lorie had dropped out of the classes and moved away. Besides, if Chris really wanted to join the church, he would only have to wait one more year. Bishop Ebersol might not be thrilled with him waiting until he was twenty-four, but she doubted Chris would be the oldest Amish man ever to join. If he joined.
“And my parents have Johnny,” Chris continued. “He's taken over the farm. He's going to run everything. They don't need me for that. Why should I not live my life? Do the things I want to do?”
“Can you hear yourself? How selfish you sound? Does that not bother you?”
Chris shoved his fingers through his hair, knocking his hat to the cold ground. “This isn't about being selfish or not. It's about an opportunity. I've saved my money. I've worked hard. I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to spend that money as I want. I can't get this out of my system any other way, Sadie—” He growled in frustration. “I thought you would understand.”
Sadie blinked back tears. This was not how this conversation was supposed to turn out. Even if it hadn't been a marriage proposal, the last thing she wanted to do was fight with Chris.
“I'm trying to. Really I am. But with
and Lorie . . .” She shook her head. “I'm sorry, Chris. I know you have to do what's right for you.” Even if it meant giving up her dreams. He hadn't tagged her for marriage, which was common for men who hadn't joined the church to do for young ladies who had. It was like a promise, so to speak, that when he joined the church they would be officially engaged.
Even though Chris hadn't made that promise to her, everyone assumed that Sadie was Chris's girl, and no one came around courtin'. And so with Chris, all her dreams of marriage were flying off to Europe.
“Will you be happy for me?”
She nodded, her throat clogged with emotion. “I am.”
“Will you wait for me?”
Of course she would. He might not love her like
, but if they were to marry, they would make a fine couple. Even though crazy love would never be a big part of it, they would make a fine pair.
“You really are coming back?” She didn't want him to promise to return, to promise to marry her, or to promise not to turn
. If something happened and he couldn't keep that promise . . . she would be even more heartbroken than she was right now.
“Of course I am.” He took her hands into his.
Despite his arguments otherwise, she knew that once he left, he'd never return.
She could only enjoy him for the time he would remain in Wells Landing, and after that . . . ? Well, she was glad that she had her job at the restaurant and her family. If nothing else, those two things gave meaning to her life.
And that was more than some people had.
* * *
“I think it's over this way.” Chris pointed down the long aisle of booths set up for the weekly farmers' market in Pryor.
Sadie looked down the walkway of vendors, shading her eyes against the noonday sun. “Are you sure?” Rows and rows of booths were set up, all looking so much alike that Sadie was quickly turned around. They had passed the stand a bit ago, but Sadie wanted to wait until it was time for them to leave before she made her purchase.
“Why do you need buffalo meat again?” Will asked.
They had all come out together, her little group of coupled-off friends: she and Chris, Will and Hannah, Mark and Ruthie.
“It's bison meat,” Sadie corrected. “And it's for Cora Ann.” She shook her head. “
said she could pick out some new recipes for the restaurant, and she chose something with bison meat.”
Chris laughed. “What is she doing? Reading
Food and Wine
magazine again?”
Sadie returned his chuckle with one of her own. “What do you mean again? She never stopped.”
Of all her siblings, Cora Ann was the most like their father. She had a love of food and restaurant work that made Sadie a little envious. Oh, to know what you wanted out of life and to be able to get it.
BOOK: Just Plain Sadie
10.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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