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Amish Bachelor's Christmas (LARGE PRINT PAPERBACK)

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Amish woman Delia Kauffman was happy to start a new life in Stinterton as the new schoolteacher. When she arrived, she was devastated to see the man who broke her heart. 

Joe was stunned to bump into the woman he thought he'd left in the past, but since he was the stand-in bishop there was nowhere to hide. 

When the Christmas play forces them to colaborate, Joe starts second-guessing his decision of long ago.

Can the joy of Christmas break down barriers and soften hearts?

In the midst of the season's festivities, will they discover the best gift is a new beginning together?

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Chapter 1.

Joe sat alone, isolated in his uncle’s cottage not sure he’d made the right move. He’d put himself into this situation when his parents nearly begged him to be the stand-in bishop at Stinterton, a town in the middle of nowhere. Granted, it had been his decision in the end, but what could he say when they told him his uncle said he was the only man who could do it? Just before he said yes, he spoke to Uncle Luke, who mentioned he could always ask Samson. Joe told him there was no need to do that, he’d go.
There had always been some kind of unhealthy competitiveness between him and Samson, his cousin on his father’s side. He was the only one in the family who could see through Samson—knew his true nature. Whenever Samson had visited his community when they were young, Samson had tried his best to put Joe in a bad light and it had worked to a certain degree. Back then Samson was seen as bright and clever, whereas Joe was known as a troublemaker, a borderline delinquent, and someone who didn’t quite follow the rules. He couldn’t help feeling that as adults nothing had changed.
Joe shrugged the images of Samson from his mind. It was bad enough he was in this tiny, isolated town with nothing to do and nowhere to go, he didn’t want to make it worse by thinking about his cousin. If all went to plan, he’d never have to lay eyes on Samson again.
The thought of the small town was far better than the reality. The town, if you could call it that, wasn’t much. Just one general store that doubled as the post office and town business administration center, that sold everything from food and household supplies to generators and hardware. The one other business was next door to the store, a house that had been converted into a café and takeout food outlet.
When Joe arrived yesterday, he’d wanted to turn around and leave, but he couldn’t because that would reinforce everyone’s perception of him as unreliable. He wasn’t. He needed to change their perception, so he had to stay put.
He was here until his uncle recovered in an Ohio hospital after being injured in a buggy accident. The breaks had been bad and required metal rods to be inserted in both legs. He’d be out of action for a while.
Joe looked around the gloomy living room. The only good thing about being in Stinterton was that Samson was far, far away.

* * *

Boredom caused Delia Kauffman to wriggle and fidget in her train seat. Looking out the window again, everything was the same as ten minutes before—a barren landscape of nothingness. Sparse trees reached up bare branches among the grass that was parched from months of scarce rainfall.
If Delia had still believed in signs, the scenery alone would’ve been a foreboding one, saying, 'Go home, girl, go home.'
Maybe she’d get a surprise and Stinterton would be a beautiful and picturesque town and nothing like the arid land the train was powering through.
She had to hope the town she aimed to make her long-term home was a nice place. Sometimes, all she had was hope.
All she knew about the town where her Uncle Thomas and Aunt Sylvia lived was that they were trying to attract more Amish families and that was why they were looking for a schoolteacher. The more established a town was, the more likely people—families—would come to stay.
Bishop Luke had told her there were now five families in the community. A woman was temporarily standing in as schoolteacher but with four children and soon expecting her fifth, she wouldn’t be able to manage the job for long.
Trying to avoid the smiles from a man across the carriage, Delia looked out the window again, regretting not bringing a book or some knitting to while away the time. Then she closed her eyes and put her head back pretending to be asleep so the man wouldn’t bother her. She couldn’t work out if he was smiling at her because she was attractive or because he wanted to strike up a conversation about her Amish lifestyle. She never got much attention from men, so she guessed it was the latter. It so often happened when she went somewhere alone.
When Bishop Luke had contacted her father to see if he knew of a young woman willing to move to his small community to teach, Delia knew it was her answer to prayer. The call had come after two weeks of praying for Gott to send her a man. That was why she knew she’d meet someone special in Stinterton.
She had a perfect picture in her mind of the kind of man she wanted. Two years ago, she’d written a list describing her future husband’s traits. To make sure she wasn’t tempted by some lesser man, she’d carried that list everywhere. So far, no man matched her list, but she summoned all her faith to believe this train was bringing her to him.
Now, reality sank in and her faith was tested. How would she find a man in an isolated community which consisted of five families with young children? Even though she only needed one man, it was unlikely she’d find a single one in Stinterton. Her heart craved to be loved, and she had plenty of love to give in return.
Delia reached down and pulled her water bottle out of her knapsack and took a mouthful. Her fussing mother had made sure she had plenty to eat and drink on the train. As much as she’d miss her folks, she had to get away from them if she was ever going to feel grown up. Sometimes they treated her like a five-year-old.
Her thoughts returned to the reason she had taken the job so far from home. She had to make a change in the hopes of finding her man.
Perhaps there would be a relative of one of these families, a single cousin or brother, who would come for a visit.
Yes, a visitor. That wasn’t out of the question. They’d meet and fall in love.
She pushed her water bottle back into her knapsack and then was sure the man was still staring at her. She glanced at him and he gave her a beaming smile and she looked away. The last thing she needed was attention, any kind, from an Englisher—an outsider. She was too tired to make small talk or worse, talk about her community and her beliefs and get into an inevitable argument.
She looked out the window again, hoping the man wouldn’t move to the unoccupied seat beside her and start talking.
“Now arriving at Stinterton Station,” the voice over the loudspeaker boomed. "Passengers for Stinterton, prepare to disembark."
At last!
She grabbed her knapsack and then reached up for her suitcase that was perched at the back of the overhead shelf. The man across the way flew to his feet and retrieved the heavy suitcase for her.
“Thank you.” Now she felt mean for her unkind thoughts. She smiled at him and hoped that would make up for it.
“It was no trouble.” When he sank back into his seat, she was pleased he wasn’t getting off at the same station.
She waited at the doors and when the train stopped, they opened automatically. Carefully hugging her knapsack and clutching the suitcase containing all her possessions, she stepped down onto the platform.
Looking left and right, all she saw was a middle-aged couple. They were Englishers, so they hadn’t come for her. Where was the person meant to pick her up?
The engineer blew the whistle and the train doors closed. She stood back and watched the train move away from the station.
Now she was alone.
No one had come for her.
Her heart beat hard against her ribcage as she wondered what to do, and who to call.
Was there a public phone anywhere about?
Bishop Luke would’ve met her, but now he was in a hospital somewhere in Ohio.
What if they’d forgotten she was coming?
She pulled her heavy suitcase over to a bench and sat down holding back tears. It had been a long and tiresome journey and all the way she’d been wrestling with a mix of dark and doubtful thoughts versus bright and faith-filled ones about the move she was making.
Minutes later, she saw a horse and buggy approaching.
When a man and a woman got out, she recognized Amy, her cousin, and she’d never been more relieved. And, who was the tall and broad-shouldered man with her?
Delia stood up, blinked hard and squinted to get a better view. It definitely wasn’t Uncle Thomas. Could this man be the one?
Please don’t be married, she thought. The closer the man got, the more his hazy form merged into a familiar figure.
“It can’t be,” she said under her breath.
When they got even closer, she saw that it was indeed Joe Bontrager, a man she had once known quite well. Part of coming to Stinterton was to have a fresh start. Joe was not part of her new life. He belonged in her past.
This was awful. She’d rather talk to that man on the train than Joe, but she’d have to speak to him. There was no way around it.
She adjusted her prayer kapp, tying the strings underneath her chin so the breeze wouldn’t blow it away.
Delia licked her lips, wishing she had checked her appearance in the reflection of one of the train’s windows. It was too late now to do anything about it.
At least she was wearing her Sunday best, a dark-cherry-colored dress with white apron and kapp. But would she have dark circles under her eyes from tiredness and from general dehydration from the train’s air conditioning? She prayed he wouldn’t notice all of her physical faults and only see the good points, so he’d see she’d grown into a pleasant-looking woman.
She fixed a smile on her face and lifted her chin high, determined for Joe to see a happy and confident Delia.
One thing she couldn’t work out was, what was Joe doing here, in Stinterton. And, the next question was, what was he doing with her cousin?

* * *

Joe walked toward the lone woman on the station. She was the only woman there and she was staring at them, so she had to be Dee. As they drew closer, he couldn’t help noticing she was a young woman, not too fat and not too thin.
“There’s Dee. She’s not brought much with her it seems,” Amy said as they walked toward her.
“Just the one suitcase. Unless she’s got more somewhere that we can’t see.” Then the woman’s face came into sharper focus. “I think I know her.”
“That’s right—I didn’t think of it before. Dee grew up in the same community as you. It was silly of me not to realize it.”
“Dee… Delia.” Somewhere in the back of his mind it clicked that Dee was short for Delia.
“That’s right, her proper name is Delia. Everyone in the family calls her Dee.” Amy left him and hurried to Delia and threw her arms around her.
Delia hugged her back. They hadn’t seen each other for three years. When the cousins parted their embrace, Delia looked up into the eyes of Joe Bontrager.
“Hello, Delia.”
This was awkward. “Hello, Joe. I didn't know you'd be here. I had no idea. Probably because no one bothered to mention you live here now.” She grabbed his hand and gave it a firm shake, and then released it just as quickly.
“I don’t—”
She didn’t give him a chance to finish what he was going to say. “You’re late. It would’ve been nice if I'd had someone waiting for me when I stepped off the train, but no, there was no one. I didn’t time how long I’ve been waiting. It’s been some time and I didn’t know if anyone would show up at all.”
“I’m sorry, Dee,” Amy began. “It was totally my fault. I asked Joe if I could come too and then I couldn’t find my coat anywhere. In the end, I found it in the buggy where I’d left it. Mamm refused to let me go without it, she said I’d catch my death of cold.”
Nervousness caused Delia’s mouth to open and she couldn't believe what came out next. “Are you two dating?”
Amy laughed and then Joe said, “No, we just met yesterday. I’ve only just arrived here myself. I’ll get your bag.” He grabbed her suitcase while she threw the knapsack over her shoulder. Joe continued, “Buggy’s this way.”
“I just thought with the two of you coming to get me like this I assumed you were. You say you’ve just met?”
Amy looped her arm through Delia’s as they walked to the horse and buggy. “Joe arrived yesterday. He’s here looking after things for his uncle, who’s Bishop Luke. He went somewhere for a wedding and managed to get into an accident and break both his legs.”
“I heard about the bishop’s accident. You don’t live here, Joe?”
“No. I—”
Delia interrupted him once again. “That’s awful, about Bishop Luke. I heard of his injuries, but my father made contact with him and he insisted I still come here. He said someone would be here to meet me. I won’t tell him you were late, Joe.”
“Err, please don’t.”
“No, don't, because that wouldn’t be fair seeing it was my fault,” Amy said.
“I know, you said it was your fault, but it doesn’t change the fact that I got off the train and no one was here. How do you think I felt after traveling all this way? I thought I’d been forgotten and no one was coming. I was thinking about looking for a phone, but who would I have called?”
“We knew you were coming though, Dee.”
Delia fixed her hands on her hips and glared at her cousin.
Amy hung her head. “I’m sorry, Dee.”
“It’s fine. I’ve already forgiven both of you. And by both, I mean you too, Joe, even though you haven’t apologized.”
“That’s good of you,” Joe said, in a tone that was disturbingly unemotional.
“The bishop also said the children shouldn’t be disadvantaged because of his accident. Bishop Luke is your uncle, Joe, is that right?”
“That’s correct. Uncle Luke and my Aunt Mary are staying in Ohio until he’s better. I said I’d look after things here. They hope to only be a few more days, just as soon as he can travel.”
Delia shook her head. “It might be a while with two broken legs. Even if he went in a wheel chair, wouldn’t it be hard for your aunt to push him in and out of the train and everywhere else?”
Joe shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just saying what they said. I’m willing to stay however long it takes.”
“Okay, good to know.” Delia offered him a smile and he looked away, just the same as she’d looked away from the man in the train just a short time ago. She knew Joe had no interest in her. Had God brought her all this way for Joe to break her heart all over again?
“I haven’t seen you for so long, Dee,” Amy said.
“I know. I’ve been trying to count up the years. Would it be three?”
“About that.”
“You’ve been here before, Delia?” Joe asked.
“No, never. Amy and her family came to visit us. The last time they came for a wedding, I think.”
“That’s right. I can’t remember whose wedding it was. It was some years ago now.”
“I just thought of something. Your uncle was in Ohio for a wedding and got into that accident.” Delia laughed. “Joe, do you think weddings are dangerous? Is that why you’ve never married?” As soon as she said it, she realized how ridiculous it sounded. It wasn’t even funny. She looked at Amy, who gave a weak laugh in support.
Joe shook his head. “No, I’ve never married for an entirely different reason and that’s a subject for another day.”
“How long do you plan to be here for, Joe?” Delia asked before she realized they’d just discussed that.
“I’m not too sure at the moment.” He put her case in the back of the buggy.
Delia put her hand out. “Careful with that. There are breakables in there.”
“I’m sorry.”
She laughed to lighten the mood. “Sorry. I’m sure nothing’s broken. I wrapped them well.”
Amy touched Dee lightly on her arm. “Why don’t you sit in the front, Dee?”
“Thank you, I will.” Delia took a deep breath, hitched up her long dress and climbed into the front of the buggy. A minute later, Joe got into the buggy beside her.
She’d always imagined how wonderful it would be to sit next to Joe in a buggy. In her mind, though, it had been a different scenario than the current reality. In some of her daydreams, they’d been courting and in other daydreams, the back of their buggy was full of their children while she carried a young babe in her arms.
When they went over a bump, she bounced back to reality.
Joe’d had plenty of time to change his mind about her and he clearly hadn’t. She had to forget him and look for the man God had for her—the man who matched everything on her list.
If God was faithful, He would hear her prayers and this man would be waiting for her somewhere in Stinterton. She believed it with all her heart.

FAQs Series Reading Order

AMISH CHRISTMAS BOOKS (All Stand-alone novels)

Book 1 In Time For An Amish Christmas

Book 2 Amish Christmas Bride

Book 3 Amish Bachelor's Christmas

Book 4 A Blessed Amish Christmas

Book 5 An Amish Christmas Caper

Book 6 Her Amish Christmas Baby

Book 7 Amish Christmas Rescue