The Christmas Courtship

By: Emma Miller

An unexpected perfect match...

An Amish single mother with a secret past...

Searching for a fresh start at Christmastime.

Caught up in a scandal in her Amish community, Phoebe Miller moves to her cousin’s farm in Delaware hoping for forgiveness and a second chance. The last thing Phoebe expects is to slowly fall for bachelor Joshua Miller. But Joshua doesn’t know the secret that made her leave her old life behind. Can their blossoming love survive the truth?

“What was Ginger saying?” Joshua asked.

“She said not to let you monopolize all my time.”

He sighed. “And what did you say to that? Because I was...I was kind of hoping you’d let me walk around and introduce you.”

Phoebe pressed her lips together, not sure how to respond.

She met his gaze. “Do you have a girl?”

He shook his head.

She felt her heart give a little trip. “Sweet on someone?”

He tilted his head. “You could say that.”

Against her will, Phoebe felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment. She looked down at the grass at her feet. “Then you should go be with her.”

He was quiet so long that at last she looked up at him and found him studying her.

“I can’t,” he said very quietly.

She held his gaze, feeling a little light-headed. She remembered this feeling. She’d felt it in those early days and months when she and John had courted. She nibbled on her lower lip. “Why not?” she dared.

He hesitated, then shrugged. “Because I’m already with her.”

Chapter One

Dover, Delaware

At the convenience store that served as the Greyhound bus station, Joshua held open the door for an Englisher. Dressed in a puffy white coat, the elderly woman stared up at him, her mouth agape, as she walked through the doorway. Maybe she wasn’t used to seeing an Amish man in a 7-Eleven, or maybe it was his Ray-Ban sunglasses that surprised her. He offered a half smile and removed them as he walked into the store.

He was looking for his stepmother’s cousin.

He’d seen the bus pull out as he’d secured his horse and buggy to a lighting pole in the parking lot. She had to be here. He scanned the aisles. He spotted a woman and a little boy getting milk from one of the cold cases, and a tall, slender man considering his candy selection. Just Englishers.

He exhaled impatiently. A trip to the bus station hadn’t been on his list of things to do that day. He’d had previous plans. He and his stepsister were supposed to get together this afternoon to talk about their idea of opening a greenhouse and garden shop the following spring. He’d been eager to finally sit down with Bay Laurel and get their ideas on paper. Instead, he was running errands for his stepmother, Rosemary.

Rosemary had married his widower father two years ago, and Joshua couldn’t have been happier. Joshua adored Rosemary and he’d do anything for her. Which was why he was at the bus station on a cold, blustery November day looking for a cousin who was supposed to be here. He didn’t even know what Phoebe looked like. He’d never met her. But how hard could it be to find an Amish woman in a 7-Eleven?

“Need something?” asked an enormous man from behind the checkout counter. He had a beard as long and bushy as any Amish elder’s.

Joshua glanced at the Englisher. “Looking for a girl.”

The man laughed from deep in his belly. “Aren’t we all.”

Joshua didn’t laugh. He didn’t even smile. He wasn’t offended; he just didn’t get Englisher humor sometimes. “An Amish girl. She should have gotten off the bus.” He pointed in the direction of the parking lot.

“Haven’t seen her.”

Joshua hooked his thumbs into his denim pants pockets and sighed with exasperation. He wasn’t sure what to do. He had no idea how to find out if Rosemary’s cousin had actually been on the bus or not. For all he knew, she could have changed her mind and never boarded in Pennsylvania. Apparently, her parents were sending Phoebe to Kent County because she’d been involved in some sort of scandal. Word was she’d have a better chance of finding a husband outside her hometown. Of course, among the Old Order Amish, asking for someone’s secret apple streusel recipe could be considered a scandal, so the idea that the poor girl was coming to them in disgrace didn’t hold much water with him.

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