Author: Wendy Rich Stetson
Genre: Sweet Romance
When Tessa's big-city plans take the A Train to disaster, she lands in her sleepy hometown, smack in the middle of the most unlikely love triangle ever to hit Pennsylvania's Amish Country.
Hot-shot Dr. Richard Bruce is bound to Green Ridge by loyalty that runs deep. Deeper still is Jonas Rishel's tie to the land and his family's Amish community. Behind the wheel of a 1979 camper van, Tessa idles at a fork in the road. Will she cruise the superhighway to the future? Or take a slow trot to the past and a mysterious society she never dreamed she'd glimpse from the inside?
Whirling, she spotted Jonas striding from the barn.
He broke into a broad smile.
Her quads reverted to a gelatinous state. “Hello.” She slid a hand to the porch railing for support. “I’m looking for your wife.”
He stopped short. “Who?”
The warmth seeped from his smile. She swallowed. “Ah…Your wife? I’m here to pick up some pies.”
“Three dozen pies, if I’m not mistaken.” He mounted the steps in a single leap, tossed his hat onto a spindled bench, and turned. “And she’s not my wife.”
Her face flamed. “I’m sorry, I thought—”
“She’s my sister.”
“And Rebecca?” She caught herself. “Sorry. It’s none of my—”
“My niece.” He ran a tanned hand through his hair.
Tiny beads of sweat dotted his upper lip, and his indigo shirt clung to his shoulders. No doubt he’d worked hours already.
“Nora told me someone was coming. I figured it was you.”
He skimmed past and tromped down the porch steps, leaving the sweet scent of hay in his wake.
“Come on around,” he called over one shoulder. “The pies are in the pantry.”
Certain the color would never fade from her cheeks, she followed him around the house to where a neat kitchen garden lay, surrounded by fruit trees. She lingered at the gate, an intricate, arched, wooden trellis around which morning glories twined. Within the fence, raised beds teemed with herbs and vegetables. Ducking under a low-hanging bough, she hustled to catch up with him. “Your garden is lovely.”
He gestured her toward the back door. “Nora keeps it up. I don’t do much.”
“She should be proud.” She paused at the doorstep and pivoted. “I’m Tessa, by the way. Tessa Meadows.” Lifting her chin, she thrust out a hand.
With a tilt of the head, he regarded her, and his eyes crinkled at the corners.
She willed down the blood that throbbed toward her still-burning cheeks but seemed to be making a pit stop at her neck.
He enveloped her hand in a firm handshake. Her racing blood made a detour to her collarbone and set it on fire.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said.
A rough patch at the base of one finger chafed tender skin on her palm. Even her scalp tingled at his touch.
He nodded once and released her hand.
The back door opened to a sizeable pantry. “Your home is beautiful.”
His face darkened. “It’s too quiet.”
The simple white curtains hung still. A rainbow of jams, jellies, and preserved vegetables didn’t make a peep. Nine crates of pie sat soundlessly on the wide, wooden counter. But somehow, she didn’t think that’s what he meant.
She leaned over the crates, inhaling the buttery scent. “They’re gorgeous.”
He stacked the trays and turned. “How did you find us last week?”
“I came looking.”
One tawny brow rose.
Great. Now she was a stalker. “Well, that sounded crazy—I just mean—I came looking for your farm. Esther King gave me directions.”
“So, we have Esther to thank.”
“Or to blame.” She shrugged. Maybe she should stop talking.
He settled back against the counter. “You’ve got yourself a lot of pies.”
“They’re for a celebrity auction.”
“Ah, you fatten them before you sell them. Very clever.”
“Oh no! We don’t sell the celebrities.” She swallowed a giggle, unsure if he was teasing. He smiled that half smile again, cheek creasing in a delicious wrinkle just to the side of his raised lip. “We sell things that were autographed or owned by famous people—you know—to raise money for the hospital.”
“No, I didn’t know entirely.” The other side of his mouth completed the smile. “But it sounds interesting.”
“Well, I’ve never been to one so…I guess.” She grabbed a stack of crates. It was heavier than she expected and teetered in her arms. Stumbling backward, she sucked a hissing breath.
In an instant, he reached from behind and steadied the pile.
His inhalation was a warm whisper just above her ear, and his chest grazed her shoulder blades. She straightened. “Thank you, I can manage.”
“I don’t doubt that.”
Just as quickly, he was gone. Unmoving, she clutched the stack. Hard plastic dug into her palms as the phantom touch of his pecs tingled on her back.
He was outside, propping the door with one arm and hefting a towering pile of pie in the other.
Balancing the crates on one knee, she trundled open the van’s side door, and lowered the pies to the floor. After one more trip, the van was full.
Jonas stepped inside and wedged the crates in place. Pies secure, he sat on the back seat, propped his elbows on his knees, and surveyed the interior.
Ergonomically designed with cabinets and drawers tucked into every nook and cranny, the vintage van was something of a design masterpiece. At least she thought so. “Neat, huh?”
He nodded. “Very neat.”
An invitation to pop the top and offer the grand tour quivered on the tip of her tongue. However, for the first time that morning, she thought before speaking. The tour could wait.
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