The Amish School Teacher (PAPERBACK)
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Amish Women of Pleasant Valley Book 6
Deborah, a devoted Amish teacher, finds herself unexpectedly drawn to a widower, the father of two of her students. Facing his apparent indifference, she's encouraged to ignite his interest through a bit of harmless competition. As Deborah ventures out of her comfort zone, she must confront the risks: Could this strategy win his heart, or will it lead to unforeseen consequences?
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During the Sunday meeting, William Bronstein sat one row in front of Deborah Morris. He, of course, was on the men’s side of the Yoders’ living room. Deborah tried to stop her eyes from wandering toward him because she didn’t want anyone to notice she was looking. The last thing she wanted was for somebody to discover her love for William especially when she taught his two girls. Not only would that be embarrassing, it might also upset the school board. The school board was a group made up of church oversight and older community members. Deborah had been the schoolteacher for over ten years and took the role seriously.
At thirty-three, she was unmarried and, with most girls in the community being married before the age of twenty, she was an anomaly. She knew it was her plain appearance and shyness with men that held her back. With mousy brown hair, a somewhat sallow complexion, and non-descript gray eyes, she knew she was no beauty. And the chances of finding a husband lessened with every passing day.
Still, she had hopes that the widower, William Bronstein, would notice her one day. Sure, they talked, but only as teacher to parent and she was working on that escalating to friendship. After becoming friends, he might fall in love with her.
Deborah remembered William’s late wife quite well. She could scarcely think of William without the image of the pretty woman whose spirals of golden hair always escaped from the confines of the kapp framing her perfect oval face. Nita’s skin had been flawless and her eyes the bluest of blues. With that image, one that Deborah could not shake, it was hard to continue her hopes of one day becoming his wife. Praying was what she did to keep her flame of hope ignited.
William’s daughters had to be a constant reminder to him of his dear wife especially since they looked so much like their mother.
“What's wrong?” May whispered.
She smiled at May, realizing she’d been looking in William’s direction for far too long. “Nothing at all. I'm just a little tired.” Her head turned to the front of the room where Bishop Elmer was delivering the word. He disliked it when people whispered instead of listening and he often stopped talking and waited until those whispering amongst themselves stopped. Of course, that was most embarrassing for the people involved and she didn't want that happening to her since she had a certain reputation to uphold. Being the schoolteacher, people expected her to behave in a certain manner. Perfectly. Even though she fixed her eyes on Bishop Elmer, out of the corner of her eye she still managed to watch William.
As usual, at the Amish church meetings held in the members’ homes, men sat on one side and the women on the other. Even the children were separated boys from girls. Sons would sit with their fathers, daughters with their mothers. Sometimes children sat with other relatives or close family friends. Today, William’s daughters sat with his sisters, Elizabeth and Nancy, in the very front row. Elizabeth was visiting from Walnut Creek now that her husband was better and nearing the end of his recovery from a sudden stroke. It was because of Elizabeth’s visit that Deborah hadn’t seen William in days. Elizabeth had taken on the task of collecting the children from school.
When the meeting was over, May and Deborah slid along to the end of the bench while Abigail, who had been sitting on the other side of May was busy talking to someone else. May touched Deborah’s arm lightly. “Are you sure you're all right?”
“Jah. Why do you keep asking?”
“You seem a little distracted and not yourself.”
Deborah smiled at her young friend. They’d become close since May had started helping at the school. Now, Deborah didn’t know how long May would continue in that role since she was marrying Jeff in a week and a half. “I’m fine. You should stop thinking about me and start concentrating on your wedding.”
May giggled. “I’m excited. And April is coming back—there's enough time before she has the boppli, did I tell you that?”
“Only about fifty times last week, and this makes fifty-one.”
As they walked out of the house laughing together, May said, “I wonder what it's like to be pregnant. I mean, be carrying a child, not the birth part.” She shrugged. “Having something growing inside you must feel very strange.”
That was something Deborah hoped to learn firsthand one day. “What does April say about it?”
“Not much. She said, in her letters I mean, it’s a bit strange. When she gets back here, she’ll be so much bigger. It’ll be strange to see her like that. She was always so skinny.”
“I guess so.” While May had been talking, Deborah’s eyes had wandered again to William. He was talking to his sisters as he walked out of the house, and his girls were with them. She pulled her attention away from William to share in the excitement of May’s upcoming wedding. “Are the wedding dresses finished yet?”
“Jah, they were finished on Friday. The last stitch was sewn. I told you that on Friday.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, May. I suppose I am distracted lately.”
“What's going on? I'm sure something is. You can tell me.”
“It's nothing much.”
May raised her eyebrows. “I’m not so sure about that. Anyway, I've decided to have dinner on Wednesday night for all my friends. Will you be able to make it?”
“What is it?”
“It's a kind of pre-wedding dinner. Only girls are invited.”
Deborah smiled. “That sounds like fun. When did you decide this?”
“Just then.” May giggled. “I’ve been thinking about whether to have one or not and just then I decided it’d be a good idea. I think you need cheering up.”
“Ah, you’re doing this for me?”
“For both of us. It’s my wedding and I’ll only get married once, so I can do anything I like.”
“I suppose you're right.”
They walked to the food table together. There was always a meal served after the Sunday meetings. As Deborah took a plate to help herself, William’s girls ran up to her.
“Hello, Miss Deborah.”
“Hello, girls. How are you enjoying your aunt's visit?”
“Very much. Dat even lets us stay up longer at night,” Grace said.
“Jah, an extra half hour,” Ivy added.
They both nodded enthusiastically.
Then Ivy frowned. “I don't know why I have to go to sleep at the same time as Grace. I'm older, so I should be able to stay up later.”
“Don’t you both share a room?”
The girls nodded.
“It makes sense you go to bed at the same time if you’re sharing the same room, don't you think?”
Ivy’s eyes opened wide. “Do you mean if I had my own room I would be able to stay up later?”
Deborah giggled, realizing she was digging herself a hole, and William might not be too happy with her. “I don't know, Ivy. That would be up to your vadder.”
Ivy didn’t even say goodbye as she raced away followed closely by Grace. Deborah glanced over and saw them heading to their father.
May had heard the whole thing and laughed. “See what you’ve done?”
Deborah giggled. “Oh nee. I hope they don't tell him I suggested it.”
“Well, you didn't really suggest it.”
“I know, but that's how it’ll sound.”
“Deborah, this is something I haven't asked you, but …”
Deborah frowned at her. “This seems serious. Are you leaving me and die schul?” It had taken Deborah and the school board a long time to find someone who wanted to help out for a few hours a week, and May was good at what she did. Deborah didn’t want to lose her.
May shook her head. “Nee, that's just it. I was going to ask you if I could stay on.”
Deborah put her hand to her head. “Of course I want you to stay. You gave me a fright. I thought you were going to say you wanted to leave.”
“Nee. I never want to leave. I’m enjoying the children so much. Maybe one day there'll be so many children in the community that they’ll need two teachers.”
Deborah nodded, trying to be encouraging, but she knew it would be a long time before that happened. “Maybe. I hope so. Although, the board seems set on unmarried women as the teachers. I'm glad they haven't said anything about you still helping me after your wedding.”
“Who are you going to sit with?” May asked Deborah.
Deborah knew May wanted to sit with Jeff. “You go, I’ll find someone to sit with.”
“Are you sure?”
Just as she sat down, William walked over to her and sat down in front of her. She looked up at him wondering why he was by himself and had no food. He spoke first. “Ivy tells me you suggested she have her own room.”
Deborah put a hand over her mouth and giggled. “I’m sorry. I didn’t handle that one very well.”
He shook his head and by his deadpan expression she could see he wasn’t happy. She told him what she said to his daughter, and then added, “She’s a bright girl and came up with the idea that in separate rooms she might be allowed to stay up later. I didn’t actually suggest it. Do you see?”
Now his face softened. “I do see. That’s not quite the way I heard it.”
Deborah shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m sorry. I hope you don’t think I was accusing you of anything. You see, I like to have our spare room kept as a guest room. And then there is her sewing room that I like to keep just how she left it.”
Deborah didn’t need to hear about ‘her’ at this point. It seemed odd he didn’t say Nita’s name as though the act of doing so would bring him sorrow. “There’s no need to explain.” Now she could see how much William was still in love with his late wife. The situation seemed hopeless if he wanted to keep his house just how it used to be. How could she compete with William’s late wife if she was still alive in his heart?