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Authors: Jolina Petersheim

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The Alliance

BOOK: The Alliance
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PRAISE FOR
THE ALLIANCE
and other novels by Jolina Petersheim
The Alliance

“I found myself gripping the last page, unable to put down
The Alliance
even after I’d read the closing lines. Finally, an apocalyptic novel ablaze with hope—just the kind of story I champion. A must-read.”

SARAH MCCOY,
NEW YORK TIMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN
AND
THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER


The Alliance
is a gripping story that shows how cultural differences drop away in the face of life-altering circumstance and only the most deeply held truths survive. I raced to the end and wanted more. Can’t wait for the conclusion of this series!”

FRANCINE RIVERS,
NEW YORK TIMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
REDEEMING LOVE
AND
A VOICE IN THE WIND

“Through her authentic, sympathetic characters, Jolina Petersheim conveys hope and redemption in impossible situations. Readers will not want to leave the world portrayed in
The Alliance
, even as it falls apart around them.”

ERIKA ROBUCK, AUTHOR OF
THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE

“An absorbing and thought-provoking ‘what if?’ drama that takes a compassionate look at what divides and ultimately unites us.”

MARYANNE O’HARA, AUTHOR OF
CASCADE

“I’ve just discovered rising star Jolina Petersheim, and I’m hooked!
The Alliance
was a mesmerizing peek at what might happen if everything we thought we believed was suddenly tested. I can’t wait for the next installment!”

COLLEEN COBLE, AUTHOR OF
MERMAID MOON
AND THE HOPE BEACH SERIES

“Beautifully written and unique,
The Alliance
examines the conflict between our humanity and our need to protect that which we hold dear. A book that begs to be savored on many levels.”

LISA WINGATE, NATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
THE SEA KEEPE
R

S DAUGHTERS

“Captivating. Intriguing. A story that takes us beyond what we believe. This well-written tale marks Jolina Petersheim as a poignant storyteller.”

RACHEL HAUCK,
USA TODAY
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
THE WEDDING CHAPEL


The Alliance
is a cut above. Lovely prose and a fascinating concept make this unique novel a sure winner. Petersheim just gets better and better.”

J. T. ELLISON,
NEW YORK TIMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
NO ONE KNOWS


The Alliance
is gripping because it
could
be true and riveting because of the author’s fine way with words, turning paragraphs into scenes you won’t easily forget.”

EVA MARIE EVERSON, AUTHOR OF
FIVE BRIDES

“With each stroke of her exquisite literary pen, Jolina Petersheim explores the unexpected world of who we are when the worst happens.”

LYNNE GENTRY, AUTHOR OF THE CARTHAGE CHRONICLES SERIES

“Ah, the simple life—that’s what you might think when you pick up a book about an Old Order Mennonite community. And there is a simple beauty to the faith and hope Petersheim weaves through her apocalyptic tale. But the story itself is complex, multi-layered, and all too believable for comfort’s sake. Check your expectations at the door and dive into this parable about what really matters when the dross of the world is burned away.”

SARAH LOUDIN THOMAS, AUTHOR OF
MIRACLE IN A DRY SEASON

The Midwife

“This powerful story of redemption, forgiveness and the power of Christ over sin challenges readers to consider modern attitudes in light of eternal truths.”

LIFE: BEAUTIFUL
MAGAZINE

“Petersheim is an amazing new author. . . . [
The Midwife
is] a tale that explores what happens when you have a second chance at making things right, even if it opens old wounds.”

ROMANTIC TIMES

“Petersheim explores learning to trust God and what it means to be a mother in this well-written story. . . . It is
filled with well-developed characters, love, intrigue, and mystery . . . [and] will be hard to put down.”

CBA RETAILERS + RESOURCES

“An emotional work that is sure to draw in parents and non-parents alike with an extraordinary story full of troubled characters.”

JOSH OLDS, LIFEISSTORY.COM

The Outcast

“Petersheim makes an outstanding debut with this fresh and inspirational retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
The Scarlet Letter
. Well-drawn characters and good, old-fashioned storytelling combine in an excellent choice for Nancy Mehl’s readers.”

LIBRARY JOURNAL
, STARRED REVIEW

“From its opening lines,
The Outcast
wowed me in every way. Quickly paced, beautifully written, flawlessly executed—I could not put this book down.”

SHE READS

“A powerful and poignant story that transcends genre stereotypes and is not easily forgotten. The caliber of Jolina’s prose defies her debut author status, and I’m eager to read more.”

RELZ REVIEWZ

Visit Tyndale online at
www.tyndale.com
.

Visit Jolina Petersheim online at
jolinapetersheim.com
.

TYNDALE
and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

The Alliance

Copyright © 2016 by Jolina Petersheim. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of clouds copyright © juliakaye59/Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Cover and interior photograph of sky copyright © ChiccoDodiFC/Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Cover and interior photograph of plane copyright © ASP Inc/Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of laundry copyright © Jason Lindsey/Alamy. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of buggy copyright © Juanmonino/iStockphoto. All rights reserved.

Designed by Ron Kaufmann

Edited by Kathryn S. Olson

Published in association with Ambassador Literary Agency, Nashville, TN

Some Scripture quotations are taken from the
Holy Bible
, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Some Scripture quotations are taken from the
Holy Bible
, King James Version.

The Alliance
is a work of fiction. Where real people, events, establishments, organizations, or locales appear, they are used fictitiously. All other elements of the novel are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Petersheim, Jolina, author.

Title: The alliance / Jolina Petersheim.

Description: Carol Stream, Illinois : Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., [2016]

Identifiers: LCCN 2015045428| ISBN 9781496413994 (hardcover) | ISBN

  9781496402219 (softcover)

Subjects: LCSH: Mennonites—Fiction. | Interpersonal relations—Fiction. |

  GSAFD: Christian fiction.

Classification: LCC PS3616.E84264 A79 2016 | DDC 813/.6—dc23 LC record available at
http://lccn.loc.gov/2015045428

ISBN 978-1-4964-1450-2 (ePub); ISBN 978-1-4964-0230-1 (Kindle); ISBN 978-1-4964-1451-9 (Apple)

Build: 2016-03-01 13:14:49

To my husband, Randy, without whom this story—and my life—would be impossible. No hero I write can compare to you.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

One of the things I love most about writing is the way it takes me on a journey of discovery, particularly discovering God and who I am through him.
The Alliance
has been my most challenging writing “journey” so far, but through its creation, I’ve learned that without Christ’s anointing, I am a wordless vessel. I’ve also learned that the body of Christ can work together as the perfect community, if we allow ourselves to be of one mind and accord through him.

Our family went through a challenging season in the winter of 2015, and Tyndale House somehow knew exactly what I needed and when, offering me both support and space to heal. I am grateful for each member of my team: Karen Watson, who offered to come to
Wisconsin to rock my babies, Stephanie Broene, Kathy Olson, Shaina Turner, and Maggie Rowe. You all have become so dear to me. Thank you for your patience and kindness and—Kathy—for allowing me to do an extra round of edits, even though it added more work to your plate.

I am also thankful for Wes Yoder, my agent, who shares my love for homegrown carrots, family history, and working in the dirt. Your quiet steadfastness has been crucial for me during this publishing journey. Thank you.

To my readers: thank you,
thank you
, for your support. You cannot know how much comfort it brought me to receive your care packages, to read your messages, and to feel your fervent prayers surrounding us. You have become more than my readers; you have become my friends.

I want to thank my parents, Merle and Beverly Miller, for loving me even after I moved their granddaughters twelve hours away. Your care packages, Mom, are the materialization of children’s dreams. I love you and Dad very much. I love you, too, Josh and Caleb. Sometimes a girl needs brothers to help counter all her sparkle and pink; God knew I sure needed mine.

Thank you, Mom Betty and Dad Rich Petersheim, for all the work and love you poured into us—the winter of 2015, especially. Thank you, also, for the unconditional acceptance of our dreams. We couldn’t have made this move if not for you both.

Joanne Petersheim, sis-in-love, thank you for speeding through the night to reach the hospital, watching my babies, cleaning my house, making me tea, crying and laughing with me during that dry-bones winter. So glad God gave me you.

Misty, my beloved best friend: thank you for traveling twelve hours to bring me two Bantam chickens, birthday cake, and books for my girls; and for sharing late night walks, talks, tea, and period dramas on
BBC
. Despite the distance between my farm and yours, I know we’ll always be close. I love you so much.

To my daughters, Adelaide and Madeleine. Right now, you’re sitting on the couch with your wonderful “da-da,” and I can’t help but stop typing to watch your smiles and listen to the soundtrack of your mischievous joy. You two make my world. My chest aches with love for you.

To my husband, Randy: thank you for encouraging me to dream, to live without fear, to hold fast to the
promises of God. This past year, more than any other, has made me feel like we are truly one. I cannot imagine this simple, beautiful life without you. I am relieved and overjoyed that I do not have to try. I loved you; I love you; I will love you. Always.

To my heavenly Father: Thank you for this faith-filled journey, which helped me face one of my greatest fears and discover that—even while I was in it—you were always by my side. I know that I can trust you with every aspect of my life and with the lives of my family. I love you. Thank you for loving me even when I was unworthy and still calling me your child.

Leora

B
UFFERED BY GRASSLAND,
the collision is strangely quiet. Dirt sprays as the small plane scrapes away the top layer of Montana soil, coming to an abrupt halt in the middle of our field. Black smoke billows as fire leaps to life on the front end of the mangled plane. Standing for a moment in shock, I leave my sister, Anna, eating cold peach
supp
at the table and run out the open back door. The corners of my mouth stretch as I scream for Jabil, who is down the lane, working beneath the pavilion. I cannot see him, and I doubt he will be able to hear me. But over the din of the devouring flames, I do not hear anything. Not the whine of the saw blades that sometimes soothes my sister’s tantrums. Not the fierce roar as Jabil and his crew power-wash bark from the once-standing dead trees that will soon become the walls of another log house.

On the back porch, I grab a piece of firewood left over from winter and leap down the steps. I cross through the gate and wade into the meadow and see that, around the plane, a diameter of grass is seared by the heat of the fire. I scream for Jabil again, and then I scream for my younger brother, Seth, who is working down at Field to Table at the end of the lane.

I run up to the plane and stare into the cockpit. The windshield is shattered. The pilot is slumped over the control panel. Blood trails down half his face like a port-wine stain. For a moment, I think he is already dead. Then I see his fingers twitch near the throttle.

“Can you hear me?” I yell. The man groans and tries to look at me without turning his head. I use the butt of the log to hit the door handle, because the handle itself is too far off the ground for me to reach. When it won’t budge, I try to break the side window, thinking it’d be better for the pilot to be cut by the glass than burned to death. But the glass is too thick and the window, same as the handle, is too far off the ground for me to put any leverage behind my swing. “You have to help! I don’t know how to get you out!”

The pilot says nothing. His deep-set eyes close as he loses consciousness, his jaw slackening beneath a tangled beard. I hear a sound over the crackling flames and turn to see Jabil and his logging crew charging down the lane. Some of the men are still wearing hard hats or protective goggles, and the sawdust from their work sifts from their bodies like reddish sand. Their uniform steel-toe boots stamp the meadow as they surge toward us—about ten of them—and create a circle around the wreckage. Jabil is carrying a crowbar; his brother Malachi carries a shovel; Christian, a fire extinguisher; and the
Englischer
, Sean, a bolt cutter.

They did not need me to scream for help because, of course, they would have seen the plane crash on their own. The entire community must have seen it. I keep holding my worthless piece of firewood to my chest and watch the crew extinguish the fire and pry open the cockpit door; then Jabil tries to lift the pilot out by his arms. The man falls toward him, but his feet remain lodged under the crumpled floorboard. Jabil uses the crowbar to work the pilot’s feet free. Christian tugs on the pilot’s shoulders, and he slides out into the waiting loggers’ arms. The plane’s metal ticks and acrid smoke from the charred engine burns my throat and eyes. I back up from the plane in case it catches on fire again.

Jabil turns to me. “We take him to your house?”

“Jah.”
I gouge the wood with my nails. “Of course.”

Jabil Snyder has been foreman of the logging crew since his father’s sudden passing last year, when, literally overnight, Jabil became the wealthiest man in the community. At twenty-one, he is only two years older than I, but next to his uncle, the bishop, he is also the most revered. Therefore, when Jabil calls out commands, the men respond in unity. They move across the meadow as one, the pilot’s broken body borne by their work-hardened arms. Running in front of them, I open the gate and prop it with an overturned wheelbarrow. I dart up the steps into the house, and Anna looks up from her bowl.

“We need the table,” I say in Pennsylvania Dutch. “You’ll have to move.”

My sixteen-year-old sister continues watching me with the eyes of a child, her smile serene despite the bedlam outside. “I mean it,” I continue, because sometimes she understands more than she lets on. I take her bowl of
supp
over to the countertop. Anna frowns and stands to retrieve it, as I expected she would. I drag the chairs away from the table and remove the tablecloth and quart jar full of weeds Anna picked and arranged like flowers.

Knowing the pilot’s appearance will upset my sensitive sister, and the small crowd in our home will upset her even more, I carry the
supp
bowl, cloth napkin, and spoon into the back bedroom we share.

“Read to you?” Anna asks, glancing up at me with an impish smile. What she really wants is for me to read the book to
her
.

“Later,” I promise.

I tug my sister’s dress down over her legs and kiss the white center part of her twin braids. Closing our bedroom door, I hurry down the hall and see Jabil is supporting the pilot’s head and shoulders and Malachi the legs as, together, they maneuver his body onto the table. His clothes are singed, and blood from his head wound stains the grooves of the beautiful pine table that—like most of the furniture in this house—was crafted by my
vadder
’s skillful hands.

“You have scissors?” Jabil asks. I withdraw a pair from the sewing drawer and pass it to him. Touching my hand, he meets my eyes. “Sure you want to be here for this?”

At my affirming nod, he turns and cuts off the pilot’s
Englischer
clothes by starting at the breastbone and working his way down. His thick, calloused fingers are so confident and swift, it seems he’s been performing this action all his life. My face grows warm as the T-shirt falls away, exposing the pilot’s chest. Besides my younger brother, I have never seen a shirtless man, as such immodesty is prohibited in the community.

The pilot is smaller-boned than Jabil, who, along with his brothers, I once watched lever a main barn beam from horizontal to vertical without breaking a sweat. But the pilot is still muscular and lean. A thick silver band hangs from a chain around his neck, engraved with the words
Semper Fi
. A cross, ends elongated like spears, is tattooed from the pilot’s left clavicle down to his pectoral—biology terms I recall from the science book I borrowed from the Liberty Public Library, back when I had time to spend studying, simply to absorb knowledge, and not to prepare for the tedious classes I did not want to teach.

I turn and see that Jabil is extracting a pistol from the holster on the belt threaded through the pilot’s jeans. I pivot from the sight—and the fear it evokes—and wrap my arms around my waist. “Has somebody tried calling 911?”

Sean, the
Englischer
, says, “Tried ten times. My cell wouldn’t work.”

I dare a glance over my shoulder, being careful not to look at the table where the pilot lies. “Did you try the phone in the shop?”

Malachi says, “We tried that, before we came here to help. It didn’t work either. Electricity’s all messed up. Our equipment shut down too.”

There’s the clunk of soft-soled shoes dropping to the hardwood floor.

“That doesn’t look good,” Jabil says.

Willing myself to maintain a clinical eye, I turn yet again and walk to the end of the table. The ball of the pilot’s right ankle is distended. I cradle the pilot’s foot in my hand and gently rotate it to see if the ankle is broken or just strained from the men wrenching him from the plane. The pilot’s eyes fly open, and he yells, the force of it whiplashing throughout his body. The cords of his neck stand out as he bites down. Concerned that—in his panicked state—he is going to hurt himself, I do not let go, but keep the ankle braced between my hands.

“It’s all right,” I soothe. “You’re safe.”

The pilot’s eyes meet mine. They are the color of Flathead Lake in summer, the clarity only slightly muddied by the haze of his pain. Then he closes them again and the foot in my hand relaxes. I hear the back door open. My
thirteen-year-old brother, Seth, strides across the kitchen. He takes off his straw hat and wipes the sweat from his hairline with his forearm.

Leaning over the table, he peers down at the pilot’s head wound. “Was he trying to land?” Seth turns toward Jabil. “Did you see anything?”

“No, just the crash.”

I look down at the pilot’s right foot, feel the knot of his stockinged heel cupped in my palm, and for some unknown reason it brings me comfort. “We need to get him to the hospital,” I say. “We have no idea what injuries he has.”

“I don’t know how we can get him to the hospital.” Seth straightens and looks at me. “The electricity at Field to Table shut down and none of the customers’ cars will start. And with him being in this shape, it’s too far to take him to Liberty by buggy.”

The logging crew stops speaking among themselves. The silence draws attention to the dripping faucet and rhythmic snoring of
Grossmammi
Eunice, napping in the living room.

I ask Seth, “Why won’t the cars start?”

“No clue. The
Englischers
are trying to figure out how to get home, but they can’t get ahold of anyone because their cell phones won’t work. Bishop Lowell and the deacons are asking everyone to meet at the schoolhouse so we can come up with a plan.”

I glance down at the table, where the bleeding stranger lies. The pilot’s in no condition to be moved, because we don’t know what is broken. But neither can he just stay here in our house unsupervised. “You all go ahead,” I say. “Take Anna. I’ll stay here with him and
Grossmammi
.” I look over and see that Jabil’s eyes are trained on the gun, glinting on the table. The smooth, polished weapon appears so out of place—almost vulgar—among our rustic, handcrafted things. “And take that with you.”

“You’re sure?” Jabil asks me again, motioning toward the pilot. And I cannot tell if he’s asking if I’m sure that I want to remain behind, or if I’m sure that I want him to take the gun.

“I’ll be fine,” I say. “Just leave me here.”

The strident tone of my request rings in the uneasy quiet. Without a word, Jabil turns and leaves through the back door.

Hearing the tapping cane behind me, I turn from the sink and see
Grossmammi
Eunice. She must be having a good day. She has taken time to put her dentures in, which she keeps in a jelly jar beside her recliner, and to tidy her hair beneath her
kapp
. Her sparse eyebrows are also jauntily cocked behind her pince-nez glasses, which serve as little purpose as mine, since she’s legally blind but still too stubborn to admit it.

“Have a good nap?” I ask, drying my hands. “You look rested.”

Grossmammi
harrumphs and moves into the kitchen, using her cane like an extension of her arm. Her eyesight is so poor, she doesn’t notice the shirtless male lying on the table beneath a sheet. She pulls out the chair and sits across from him, waiting to be served her tea. I stand frozen in the kitchen—bucket and rag in hand—not sure how to tell her about all that’s happened during her nap without causing my grandmother to drop dead from fright.

“Ginger and rose-hip blend?” I ask, buying myself some time.

Grossmammi
nods. “
Jah
, and some
brot
, if you have it.”

Setting the bucket down, I splash hot water from the cast-iron kettle into a mug and fill the strainer with a scoop of
Grossmammi
Eunice’s favorite tea blend, which I set in the liquid to steep. I pray she keeps her doll-sized hands in her lap rather than on the table, where she would inadvertently touch warm flesh.

“Would you like your tea in the living room?” I ask. “You might be more comfortable there.” She harrumphs again. “It’s just that—” I rack my brain for a valid-sounding excuse—“I’m about to mop the floor, and I know you don’t care for the Pine-Sol fumes.”

She pushes up from the chair. “Why didn’t you do it while I napped?”

“I should’ve; you’re right.” I would agree with about anything, just to get her out of here before she discovers the pilot, or—worse—he pops up from beneath the sheet like a jack-in-the-box. I hurriedly slice off a heel of bread and slide it on a tray, along with a knife and two small pots containing butter and jam. I stride across the floor with the tray, trying to herd my cantankerous, eighty-pound grandmother back into the living room.

BOOK: The Alliance
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