Authors: Karen Ann Hopkins
Your heart misleads you.
That’s what my friends and family say.
But I love Noah.
And he loves me.
We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other’s arms.
It should be
ROSE & NOAH
But it won’t be.
Because he’s Amish.
And I’m not.
He smiled at me triumphantly, making my heart melt into a puddle, and his thumb swirling in place on my hand sent goose bumps up my arm. Not trusting the feel of his hand over mine, I had to look down and see it with my eyes to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating the whole thing.
I couldn’t deny the way Noah made my body feel, that was for sure, but my mind was still struggling with the whole Amish thing. Where on earth could this relationship go?
But then, I didn’t care what the answer was. I just wanted to enjoy it while it lasted.
In the back of my mind, I had hoped spending more time with Rose might dampen my interest in her. After all, it would be much easier if I fell for a pretty Amish girl. Only, it had the opposite effect on me. It would take all my strength to resist Rose now—if I even could.
I realized I couldn’t say goodbye to her or make plans for a next meeting, with Jacob hovering around and Father marching toward us through the yard. But rebelliousness gripped my soul, and I stole a glance at Rose anyway. My heart raced when her eyes met mine.
In that instant, I knew she belonged with me.
But what is forbidden is not so easily forgotten.
Karen Ann Hopkins
To my five amazing children;
Luke, Cole, Lily, Owen and Cora,
for walking beside me on this fantastic journey and encouraging me to follow my dreams.
Also, to my mom, Marilyn, for believing in me from day one.
Rose - Preface
PRESSING MY HEAD
to his heart, I listened hard, straining to hear any gurgle or murmur of life. Hearing nothing, I felt the shock settle into my mind, slowing it down and then turning it off.
“Don’t leave me, Noah. Please, don’t go,” I whispered into the darkness as the light spray of rain touched my face.
If only I could turn back time.
I would tell him yes.
HOLY CRAP. I
watched the churning water rush over the driveway and back into the swollen creek bed. I’d never seen anything like it before, and from the look of incredulity on Dad’s face, neither had he.
Sam and Justin, on the other hand, were enjoying the bizarre scene, wading knee-deep into the current with their street clothes on, splashing each other like maniac dolphins. Actually, now that the storm had passed and the sun was peeking its way out from behind the fluffy clouds, it was beginning to feel like a sauna, and I was seriously thinking about joining my brothers.
“We shouldn’t try to cross this with the truck yet. It’s still pretty high,” Dad said, almost to himself, his fingers playing with his mouth. He continued to survey the obstacle placed directly in the middle of the long, winding driveway leading to our new house.
was definitely not the right word for the house. I guess “recently acquired historic relic” would be more appropriate for the three-story brick monstrosity on the other side of the raging creek that until a few days ago when we closed on the deal was no more than a lazy trickle.
My dad, who’d decided he wanted to raise his kids in the country, uprooting us from our comfortable suburban house in Cincinnati to move to middle-of-nowhere Ohio, was getting a good dose of country reality. I wondered if he was regretting it. Seeing the distressed look on his face right then, I think he was.
I sighed, wishing Mom were here with us. Then it would all be okay. But she was six feet under, buried in the cold, dark ground of Mount Hope Cemetery. If she were still alive, Dad would never have taken the stupid job as head of the E.R. in this forgotten place, and we wouldn’t be standing here, trying to figure out a way to cross what looked like a small river to get to our house.
My life had been so blissfully ordinary before Mom had died. It was all gone now, just like the churning water rampaging over the driveway, disappearing into the abyss of overgrown grass and weeds on the other side. And there was nothing at all I could do about any of it, except watch it disappear—and maybe cry, which I’d been doing a lot of lately. Fortunately, I was getting used to that feeling of helplessness. I had no control over my life, and it seemed as if no one else did either. It was just an illusion, thinking that we could master our pathetic little worlds. The forces of nature, whether they were Mom’s cancer or the flood rushing by my feet, were beyond my command, and they could steal all the happiness away in a heartbeat.
Up until now, I’d put on a pretty good poker face about everything, from this insane move to the boondocks, to Mom’s five-month-long battle with the illness that changed and distorted her body before my very eyes. When the end came, there wasn’t much left of her, except the brittle and weak shell of her former vibrant self.
It was strange how in that moment of tragedy, it had seemed so unreal, like an old-fashioned movie reel playing on a screen for my eyes only. The pain and broken heart were blocked off for a little while, leaving me numb with disbelief.
is what Dad called it. But after a while, the cruel reality started to seep into my tissues, and my body became a sponge, just sucking it all up until, finally, there was so much grief inside, I couldn’t help feeling it.
That’s how it happened for me. First, the numbness right after she died, next the agonizing pain and then the place I was at now—the land of perpetual depression. And to top it all off, I had to pee very badly.
Staring at the rushing water wasn’t helping the situation either. Crossing my legs over, I ground my teeth together in discomfort.
“I’m glad Jerry wasn’t planning to bring your horse today. I just hope by tomorrow he can get the trailer through here,” Dad said as he walked by me to the moving truck.
“You’ve got to be kidding—surely the water will be down by then?” I half questioned and half demanded of my father. About the only thing that made this stupid move bearable was that I was looking forward to having Lady, whom I’d boarded at the J & R Stables for the past two years, finally home with me. Even if home was in the flooded sticks. Geez, this is just unbelievable, I thought, watching Sam and Justin slapping the murky water back and forth at each other.
Dad appeared from the cab of the truck and held out a water bottle for me. I vigorously shook my head and said, “I need to go to the bathroom, Dad. I’m going to walk through the water and go to the house. Are you with me?”
“Yeah, here, let me hold your hand. Your brothers haven’t been swept away, but they’re bigger than you.”
Dad grasped my hand and together we waded out into the ice-cold water. It was pretty yucky, too, completely brown and thick with mud and debris. By midway across, it was past my knees, and the water was pushing on us. Not enough to drag us down or anything like that, but I still grasped Dad’s hand tighter. Within a minute we dragged out of the water on the other side, soaking wet but one step closer to the bathroom. I hurriedly made my way up the driveway, leaving Dad behind.
I glanced back over my shoulder to see the barbarians, Sam and Justin, splash through the water like a pair of moose and hit the dry ground running. Of course, they passed by me with ease. How could they run in wet jeans like that? I gave it a quick try, and after two strides, and nearly falling on my face, decided to walk at a normal speed. I knew my limitations.
When I finally reached the rickety old front porch, I smiled smugly at the dorks who were both standing there without a way to open the door. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the key, dangling it in front of them. In an instant I was tackled to the ground by Sam, whom, being a year and half older than me and a football player, I was no match for. He jumped up, flicking his wrist with the keys inches above me. A smile of righteous triumph looked down at me from his face. A face that the arrogant jerk thought was good-looking, with his wide-set sky-blue eyes and Hollywood nose, topped off with a bushy head of unruly golden hair. At six foot two and well muscled, he was way too big for a seventeen-year-old. Sam never lacked for female attention.
It wasn’t fair. Even my cute twelve-year-old brother, Justin, who could have been my masculine twin in coloring and facial features, was bigger than me now. I had no chance at all to win any physical matches with either of them anymore—just reinforcing my theory that the world sucked.
“Hurry up, Sam. I’ve got to go to the bathroom.” I bounced around in place while he fumbled with the key, finally getting the door unlocked. Instead of being able to just open the door like any normal house, it took all three of us to push the stubborn, solid piece of aged wood loose of its frame. When it finally swung open, scraping across the wooden-plank floor, I was through it in a flash, running to the back of the house where I remembered the only bathroom to be. I could just hear my dad complaining that he hadn’t noticed a problem with the door before, when I turned in to the bathroom.
I felt much better when I stepped out into the foyer a few moments later. Until I saw Justin pulling the decades-old spinach-green wallpaper off the plaster as if he was unwrapping a Christmas present.
“What the heck are you doing?” I nearly shouted.
“Hey, look, it’s just coming off. You hardly have to pull the stuff. Isn’t it cool?” Justin said in an excited voice while he continued to strip a section of the wall off in spastic motions.
“Stop it, Justin! It looks even worse now,” I yelled, grabbing his arm, which immediately turned into another wrestling match I would undoubtedly lose in the end.
“Quit it, both of you—now!” Dad appeared out of nowhere, attempting to push his body between us. I was more than willing to stop, but the little jerk had a clump of my long hair in his fist, and until he let go, I wasn’t going to release his ear.
“I mean it…really, you’re behaving like little brats.” Dad had reached his boiling point. I could tell by the way he said
as if he was describing two small children who’d just knocked over his favorite vase.
Just as I was getting ready to free Justin’s ear, I heard a loud clearing of a throat from the screen door. We all stopped moving, and simultaneously Justin and I both let go. The three of us turned to the doorway to see an Amish man, with a long, funky chestnut beard, standing there with a look of what could only be called wide-eyed bewilderment. He was wearing a dark blue button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled to the beginning of his well-defined muscles. The black suspenders were odd, as were the old-fashioned-looking pants he was wearing. Something about the man commanded attention, though, and I straightened up further as his eyes passed over me quickly.
“I am your neighbor, Amos Miller. I thought I would come by with my sons to offer you assistance getting settled in…if you need it.” He said it in a relaxed and placid way, directing all his attention to my father, who briskly crossed the floor and opened the door for the visitors.
“Oh, how nice of you, Amos. Ah…I’m David Cameron and this is my daughter, Rose, and one of my sons, Justin.” Dad stopped to look around and then went on, “My other son is Sam, and he’s here somewhere. I’m not sure where at the moment.”
Poor Dad—how embarrassing to be caught breaking up a fight between his kids the first time he meets his new neighbors, and Amish ones at that. Dad had already informed me that we would have interesting and eccentric neighbors here in Meadow View, but this was the first time I’d been so close to any Amish people. My heart started to drum faster when my eyes met and locked on the gaze of the boy standing a little behind and to the side of Amos.
Well, he wasn’t a boy; more like a young man. Amazingly, he was as tall as Sam and as well built—probably the same age, too. His hair was wavy and dark, poised on his head like on one of those European statues of the men with hardly any clothes on. You know, a little on the wild side, but still looking totally perfect. A bit of bronze streaks gave the locks a brindle effect that shone in the soft spray of late-afternoon sunlight coming through the screen door. The hair matched his warm, almond-colored eyes perfectly.
And for the first moment in a very long time, the world didn’t appear entirely in the muted, hazy color of doom. As a matter of fact, it seemed to have brightened considerably in the foyer when it sunk into my hardened brain that he was really cute—like Abercrombie & Fitch poster-guy cute—with his full, curving lips and sculpted nose and cheekbones.
I suddenly became conscious of the fact that I was standing in front of him soaking wet, muddy, with my hair in wild disarray. I could even feel a large portion of the strands sticking out from my head where Justin had pulled them. Figures, I finally meet a guy who makes my heart skip a beat, and I look like the Bride of Frankenstein.
He was appraising me from head to toe with interest in his eyes, subtle, but interested. I wasn’t surprised by his examination of me. I was used to guys checking me out. I discovered three years ago, when I turned thirteen and started to develop little bumps on my chest, that the opposite sex found me attractive. I had been blessed with a slender, athletic body and curves in all the right places. I’d let my thick, acorn-brown hair grow long enough to reach the top of my butt, which guys seemed to appreciate. And on more than one occasion, some member of the male species would tell me how pretty my light blue eyes were. I found it all pretty embarrassing, especially since every time I looked in a mirror, I still saw the same skinny girl with a mouthful of braces that I used to be.
The thing I wasn’t used to, though, was the way this Amish guy looking at me was affecting
body. As if it had just come out of a deep hibernation—all the fluttering and tingling vibrations that were now popping up in the center of my belly were spreading out, letting me know that I really was alive, after all the troubles of the past year.
Hmm…maybe this place wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, David.” Amos extended his hand and Dad grasped it in a friendly way, which was usual for my dad. “These are my sons Jacob and Noah.” He nodded in turn toward the two young men with him. I hadn’t even noticed the other one, probably because he stood directly behind his father with his eyes lowered, not looking at me at all. Almost rudely, I thought at first, but then it occurred to me that maybe his brother Noah was the rude one. He was still staring at me as if he’d never seen a girl before, only now a slight smirk touched his mouth. I liked his eyes, but I didn’t like the tilt of his lips, and I averted my gaze from his as Sam came bounding into the foyer covered in cobwebs.