Whispers from the Dead (Serenity's Plain Secrets Book 2)

BOOK: Whispers from the Dead (Serenity's Plain Secrets Book 2)
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PRAISE FOR WHISPERS FROM THE DEAD

 

“Whispers from the Dead is my favorite book so far this year!” Unabridged Bookshelf

 

“I give Whispers from the Dead 5 out of 5! This installment explores how big city problems don’t necessarily stay in the big city…it makes for a steamy and seductive read.” Bewitched Bookworms

 

“LOVED this book! This book gives you everything…” kids buying illegal narcotics, revenge burnings, overdoses, secrets, lies, kidnapping and several shootings,” and all in one northern touristy Amish community.” Curling Up With a Good Book

 

“Whispers from the Dead is a success!” Her Book Thoughts

 

“Karen Ann Hopkins provides a realistic perceptive and her mysteries are unique and thrilling.” Lose Time Reading

Books by Karen Ann Hopkins

 

Serenity’s Plain Secrets

in reading order

LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER

WHISPERS FROM THE DEAD

Wings of War

in reading order

EMBERS

GAIA

The Temptation Novels

in reading order

TEMPTATION

BELONGING

FOREVER

RACHEL’S DEPCEPTION (Crossroads)

 

Copyright © 2015 Karen Ann Hopkins

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN: 150774823X

ISBN 13: 9781507748237

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015901647

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

North Charleston, South Carolina

 

This one’s for you, Opal! You’ve brought your enthusiasm and the unique perspective of a woman who’s lived in both the Amish and English worlds to my writing. I’m ever grateful to have you as a critique partner.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many thanks go out to G. K. Bradford for once again putting her heart and soul into the edits, and Jenny Zemanek of Seedlings Design, for creating another amazing cover!

 

As always, much appreciation and love to my five children, Luke, Cole, Lily, Owen and Cora for all the everyday little things.

 

A huge shout of thanks goes out to my husband, Jay Detzel. If it wasn’t for your support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be able to follow my imagination…and my dreams. I love you always and forever!

PROLOGUE

November 11, 2010

H
edy walked slowly toward the door. The intensity of the banging on the wood grew with each step she took, grating on her nerves. She blew out a deep breath and shook her head to collect herself as her fingers clenched the old metal door knob.

“Who is it?” Hedy spoke the words calmly. She already knew who it was on the other side of the door. The day of reckoning had finally arrived.

There was a long, quiet pause, and Hedy took the opportunity to readjust her baby daughter, Cacey, on her hip. The pressure of Cacey’s little hands twisting into her apron was the solid reality that Hedy needed to give her strength.

“Jotham, why are you banging on my door in the middle of the night?” Hedy scolded loudly. She pressed the side of her face to the narrow gap between the door and its frame, listening for a response.

“I’m sorry, Hedy. I didn’t mean to startle you. But we need to talk.”

Hedy considered Jotham’s contrite tone and suddenly felt sorry for him. She had been waiting for this visit for eleven years and now that the time had finally arrived, she certainly wasn’t going to turn the man away. Hedy believed that God had forgiven her sins from all those years ago, and maybe that was enough, but she doubted it. She had to tell Jotham the truth once and for all. The guilt had been chipping away at her soul for far too long. She only prayed that it didn’t ruin her beautiful life with Rowan and their five children.

Hedy turned the knob and opened the door just wide enough to say, “Where’s your horse?”

“He’s tied in the barn. Don’t worry, no one saw me. I rode through the back fields all the way here.”

Hedy nodded with relief and opened the door wide enough for Jotham to pass through. She took a quick peek out into the darkness to appease her worries. The quarter moon cast just enough light to illuminate the gravel driveway down to the mailbox at the bottom of the hill. The night was especially silent and the puff of her breath on the cold, still air told her that the temperature had dropped considerably since she had waved goodbye to her husband and her four older children some six hours earlier.

Relaxing a little bit further, Hedy eased the door shut and turned to face Jotham. With her chin raised high, she said, “I had an inkling that you would come.”

Jotham could only hold Hedy’s gaze for a few seconds before he swallowed hard and looked away.

Clearing his throat and taking a whiff of air into his nostrils, he commented, “There’s an awful strong smell of gas in here. Are your lines leaking?”

The drastic change of subject from where her thoughts had been startled her and Hedy couldn’t help scrunching up her face and replying with irritation, “No more than usual. I don’t think it’s serious.”

“Rowan needs to have the pipes and the furnace looked at straight away. You don’t want to mess around with the gas, you know.”

Hedy nodded impatiently. “Sure. I’ll talk to him about it when he gets back from his trip.”

Jotham began fidgeting with the black hat in his hands and said, “So your family got on their way all right today?”

Hedy had just about run out of patience and her raised voice caused Jotham to inadvertently take a step back.

“Why of course they did, and you already know it, or you wouldn’t be standing here in my kitchen at this hour.” Seeing his wide eyes and flushed skin, Hedy’s voice softened a notch as she tried to smooth over her outburst. “I reckon they’re all fast asleep at Rowan’s sister’s place by now. They’ll be getting up early tomorrow for that horse sale.”

Jotham took the nearest seat at the large oak dining room table. When he was settled, he admitted, “I overheard John and Rowan talking about the change of plans this morning at the mill. Is Cacey feeling any better?”

Instead of the small talk calming Hedy’s nerves, it only rattled them even more. She had waited forever to have this conversation and now Jotham was beating around the bush as if he were a schoolboy again. Oh, how Hedy wished that she could be truly angry with the man seated before her. But it was no use. Whether it was her strong faith in the Lord or the fact that Jotham had only just buried his own wife a month earlier, she couldn’t bring herself to have any real ill will toward him.

 

Realizing that this was the first time in many years that she and Jotham were pretty much alone—a suckling babe certainly didn’t count—Hedy suddenly became bold. She finally looked at Jotham, really looked at the man who had been her very first beau.

He hadn’t changed much from when they had courted as teenagers. Sure, his honey blond hair had darkened over the years and his beard was thick and long now, but he was still tall and proud. And his blue eyes still had the ability to mesmerize her.

Hedy cut short the shiver that began to spread through her belly by abruptly walking over to the cradle that was positioned beside the old potbelly stove in the corner of the room. She carefully lowered Cacey onto the quilt and handed her a felt doll.

Sighing, Hedy turned back to Jotham and asked, “Can we just talk straight, the same as we used to when we were young’uns?”

“We aren’t kids any more, Hedy. We’re grown people; you with a husband and five children, and me…well, me with a business and alone.”

A tear slipped from Hedy’s eye and she brought her apron up quickly to wipe it away before Jotham saw. She sniffed and said, “I am very sorry for your loss. Marybeth was a kind hearted woman. I really liked her. It’s so unfair that she was taken away from you so young.”

Jotham swallowed hard. “I wake up every morning thinking that when I roll over, she’ll be there beside me. I must admit, I’m having a difficult time dealing with her passing. I’m filled with bitterness that all of my praying hasn’t been able to heal me yet.”

“Oh, please don’t talk that way. The Lord has reasons for everything. You know that.”

Jotham smoothed his hair away from his forehead and muttered, “Maybe if Marybeth had left me with a child, I wouldn’t feel this empty pain right now.”

Hedy stiffened as she braced for his next words. Here it comes, she thought, just what I’ve been waiting forever to hear.

When Jotham’s gaze settled onto Hedy’s wide-eyed stare, he looked more resolute than she had ever seen him. In that instant she was convinced that he had known all along.

“My love for Marybeth was different than what I felt for you. It was a quiet, peaceful sort of romance that never upset me once in ten years of marriage. It was a drop of sweet honey on my tongue, whereas you were the burning of hot cinnamon to all of my senses.”

Hedy held up her hand and interrupted, “Please, please don’t go down this road. I know we need to talk, but I’m married to another man and it just isn’t right for us to let in old feelings.”

Cacey’s gurgle and crying squawk brought Hedy’s and Jotham’s attention back to her. Jotham stood and crossed the room to the cradle quickly. Hedy remained where she was and quietly watched Jotham reach into the cradle. He brushed a hand across Cacey’s soft, wispy brown hair before he picked the baby up and held her close. He gazed at Hedy with a calm assurance.

“All these years, I never asked you about it. I was afraid of what your answer would be. I didn’t want to ruin the life I’d made with Marybeth or the one you’d found with Rowan. Our love wasn’t...” Jotham swallowed, “wasn’t what the Lord intended, and even though it nearly killed me at the time, I moved on and found a different sort of happiness.”

Hedy was holding her breath, unable to move a muscle as she listened to Jotham open up his heart to her. Hearing his simple testimony was painful. She had wronged him so badly and here he was speaking to her with the soft tone of a forgiving man. Deep down, she had always thought that Jotham had been too good for her, and now she was sure of it.

Jotham’s expression suddenly changed into the fierce desperation of a man with nothing else to lose. He leaned in and whispered, “I have to know, Hedy. Is Gabe my son?”

Hedy had played this encounter over and over in her head with so many possible outcomes that she could hardly believe that it was really happening this time. The kitchen was almost too warm from the heat emitting from the stove and the scent of the leftover chicken casserole she had eaten for dinner was still lingering in the air. The soft light from the gas lamp over the sink left the kitchen in partial shadows and sudden foreboding flooded over her as she watched a strange tentacle of darkness dance across the wall.

Hedy shook the feeling away. Her mind was playing tricks on her, she convinced herself as she found the courage to stare back into Jotham’s pleading gaze.

How would the truth affect all of their lives, Hedy wondered? While her grandmother had lain dying of cancer and old age a few years back, she had whispered to Hedy that the sins of the past always catch up on a person, and right now Hedy knew it to be true. She was only a teenager when she had fallen for Jotham’s beautiful eyes and shy manner. She certainly never meant to hurt him, but when Rowan had favored her with a smile one day, her heart had melted and she knew that he was to be her husband, not Jotham.

The breakup had not only been difficult for the families, but for the entire community. And just when Hedy believed that she was free to follow her heart with Rowan, she had discovered that she was pregnant. Of course there had been whispers among Church members, and there was that one day shortly after her wedding ceremony to Rowan when Jotham had approached her at the stockyards. He had stumbled over his words, not able to build up the nerve to ask her about the baby that day.

Hedy couldn’t lie any longer. She felt the presence of her granny beside her and the arms of God around her. She hoped the truth would finally set her free. Hedy had never stopped caring for Jotham and if knowing that he was a father to an eleven year old boy brought him some semblance of happiness once again, she had to do it.

Her mind made up, she said, “I should have told you this a long time ago. But here, let me light another lamp and heat some water for coffee. I believe we’ll both be in need of a cup after you hear what I have to say.”

Hedy walked swiftly to the counter, only sparing a quick glance at Jotham to see that he was content to wait a little longer for the truth. While she pulled the match from the box, Jotham carried her baby daughter to the window and looked out into the night. An odd, peaceful feeling spread through Hedy as she peeked over to watch Jotham holding Cacey’s little hand between his thumb and forefinger.

The picture of Jotham and Cacey at the window was that last thing Hedy ever saw. She heard the
whissssp
of the flame rising from the match just as the world exploded into a million red and gold pieces around her.

At that final moment, Hedy wasn’t afraid of dying. She worried about Rowan and her other children, and she was sad that Cacey wouldn’t grow up and have a family of her own. But her very last thought as she passed into the light was that she very much regretted not having told Jotham the truth.

BOOK: Whispers from the Dead (Serenity's Plain Secrets Book 2)
9.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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