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Their Amish Stepfather (PAPERBACK)

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There is a new boss in the house.
The Amish Baker sisters have a new stepfather and a new stepsister.
What will the girls do when they learn of their new rules?
When the sisters show their displeasure in their new living arrangements, is the pressure too much for their mother?
In the midst of the upheavals, what becomes of the apple orchard?
Is the orchard lost to Florence forever?

Book 8 The Amish Bonnet Sisters.

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Chapter 1.
From the warmth of the cozy cottage Florence shared with her husband Carter, she stood staring out the window as the chilly day faded into night. Ever since Christmas, just over a week ago, she’d spent many hours standing in that spot thinking, planning, and looking. She regretted not asking her father more questions about how he started his orchard, but it never occurred to her that she would ever need to know. Never in a million years would she have guessed she would’ve left the family orchard and now be an outsider looking in. So near, but yet so far. 
For the past weeks, pangs of bitterness had struck her heart. As  much as she’d tried to ignore them, she couldn’t. It was devastating to watch her father's beloved orchard being so badly mismanaged. She’d spent as many hours praying, begging God to remove the bitterness that had settled into her heart as easily as dirt settled onto the sole of a shoe. The locals all knew the orchard as the Baker Apple Orchard because of her father. 
God, let me get it back, she thought, mentally uttering the prayer she prayed many times a day. Show me a way.
It should’ve been hers. She had single-handedly managed it in the years after Dat died, and she would’ve felt perfectly fine if they’d allowed her to manage it for them, but to turn their backs and not even listen to her advice, was devastatingly hurtful. 
In her heart, she knew she’d get her father’s orchard back. She just had to. Then she’d combine the two orchards along with the one they’d bought from Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins and they’d have one huge orchard. They’d open the orchard to the local schoolchildren again, like they used to, and teach them all about the apples—everything from growing them, classifying them, and cooking the apples.
“How about a game of chess?”
She spun around to see Carter walking out from the kitchen. They’d already finished their early dinner. “You’ll only win again.”
“Yes, I will, but the fun’s in the playing.”
“Fun for you, but it’s no fun for me knowing I’m going to lose. I’ll never remember all those moves you taught me.” The best she could do was remember how each piece was allowed to move, but as for strategies it was beyond her.
He chuckled and sat on the couch next to Spot. “You’re worried about the orchard, aren’t you?”
“I can’t help it.” She sank into the couch opposite.
“What would make Wilma and Levi sell to you?”
“Nothing. They don’t need the money and I’m their least favorite person.”
“It might be a waiting game. Waiting until they run it into the ground so to speak.”
Florence tucked her legs up beside her. “I don’t want it to come to that.”
“From what you’ve said it’s inevitable.”
Slowly, Florence nodded. “Okay, set up the chess board and I’ll try my best.” Florence wasn’t too keen on chess, but it made Carter so happy when he taught her. 
While watching him place the pieces on the black and white squares, her thoughts drifted to her half-sisters. What would it be like living in her old family home now Wilma was married to Levi? Then there was Bliss who was also a new addition as the girls’ new stepsister. How were Joy and Isaac faring as newlyweds in the household with a newly blended family? Even though the home was extra-large with many bedrooms, all those large personalities would make it seem so small.
Carter held his fists out toward her, each containing a black or a white chess piece. “Which one?”
“That one.” She chose one, not bothered by the outcome. 
He turned his hand over and opened it to show the piece on his palm. “White. You go first.”
“You’d better watch out, one day I’ll beat you.”
“You could. If you put many hours into learning the game, but working to win a pointless game, as you see it, would be madness.”
She laughed at him. “True. I’d rather crochet or knit. That way I have something to show for the time and effort spent.”
“Well, it’s not wasted hours for everyone. It paid off for me.”
“It certainly did. Your chess app has given you a living, and all the people you employ.”
He carried the board closer and sat on the same couch with the board between them. “Your move, Mrs. Braithwaite.”
She placed one finger on the king’s pawn and slid it forward two spaces.
* * *
Newly married, Isaac and Joy headed up the stairs of Wilma’s home for an early night. 
“The Bible reading starts in fifteen minutes,” Levi called after them. 
Joy stopped, and then walked back down two stairs so she could see her new stepfather. “We had one last night.”
“My family has always had one every night.”
Joy bit her tongue. “So, is this going to become a nightly thing? Isaac and I like to do our own reading in our room.”
“That’s right. That it will be nightly, I mean. I don’t know why you all haven’t done this in the past, but we’re doing it starting now.”
“That’s because we were left to read the Bible ourselves and not be forced to do so,” Cherish said.
A hush fell over the room and Joy was certain her youngest sister would get into trouble.
“It’s not something you should feel forced to do. You should read the Bible because you want to.”
In typical Cherish fashion she kept pushing the point. “Joy reads it more than anyone. Can’t we just do it when we feel like it?”
Levi’s face hardened and he looked at Wilma, who looked away. Then he rubbed his graying beard. “This is what I have set down. Every haus needs rules, Cherish. It seems there haven’t been enough rules here before today.”
“It’ll be fun, Cherish. Sit next to me,” said Bliss, their new stepsister.
Joy knew her stepfather disliked her. Now she was stuck there until she and Isaac had enough money for a place of their own. Having Levi taking charge made living at home nearly impossible. Since Isaac wasn’t saying a thing, she had no choice but to sit down with the rest of them. Isaac stayed silent and sat next to her. 
“Gather the others, Cherish,” Levi ordered. 
She obeyed and a minute later everyone was seated for the nightly reading. Among them was Matthew, who was staying with the family through to the end of January. Matthew was the younger brother of the two men who had married two of the older Baker sisters.
The girls had done Bible reading when their father had been alive, but it was something that just happened when someone asked a question, or something came up in conversation. They’d all gather around the fire while their father told them bedtime stories based on people in the Bible. 
Joy was willing to give Levi a chance. She wanted to like him, but without talking about anything or asking anyone if they had something on their mind, he just opened the Bible and started reading at the beginning of the book of Psalms. He made no effort to make it interesting and he read in a monotone drawl. He got to the end of Psalm Five before he stopped. 
“It was very interesting,” Wilma said once he’d closed the book.
“Jah, Mr. Brunner, it was very good,” Matthew said.
Levi smiled, gave Matthew a nod and then looked at the others in turn.
“I’ve always liked the Psalms.” Isaac smiled. 
“Why have you always liked them, Isaac?” Levi asked as though Isaac was telling a fib.
“They’re full of wisdom and good messages.”
“But what does it teach us?”
“To trust Gott to protect us,” Cherish said, helping Isaac out.
“That’s right.”
Everyone then sat in silence for several seconds, with all eyes on Levi. 
Was it okay to get up and leave now?
Joy looked up at the clock on the mantle as though willing the time to pass.
Cherish was the one who said what she figured everyone else was probably thinking, “Is that it? Can we go now?” 
“You would be the one to say such a thing, Cherish.” Levi then glared at Wilma. “You raised them. 'Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.'”
Mamm stared at him open-mouthed.
“Cherish always was willful,” Joy said. “It’s not Mamm’s fault.”
“Go if you wish, Joy. I saw you weren’t even listening to The Word.” 
Joy made to leave, and then Levi held up his hand, so she sat down again. “Have you younger girls been baptized?” he asked.
Cherish looked around nervously. She, Hope, and Favor hadn’t been. “We’re waiting until just before we marry, like Joy did.”
“And, like Florence did?” he asked, his eyes bulging. 
“Nee. Florence never got baptized.” 
“I know that. Your mudder told me.” He shook his head. “You see what happened? She never made her commitment.”
“No, she didn’t.” Mamm pressed her lips together. “It’s true.”
“It has to be our own decision, doesn’t it?” Favor asked. 
“Well, what is your personal decision, Favor?” Levi asked. “Do you want to leave the community like your older schweschder?”
Mamm leaned forward. “Excuse me. Half-schweschder.”
Favor didn't acknowledge her mother's comment. “I don’t know. I haven’t even been on rumspringa. I’ll decide what I want to do after I come back.”
Joy stared at Favor. She never expected her to speak out like that and they’d never talked about rumspringa.
All eyes were on Levi to see what he’d say. Finally, he said, “When will you go on your rumspringa, Favor?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. When I’m old enough, I guess.”
“Where will you live?”
“I haven’t planned anything, but maybe Bliss and I could go together.”
Bliss giggled but stopped when her father glared at her. She gulped and then placed her hands together on her lap. “That will be next year or the year after.”
“That sounds good, doesn’t it, Levi?” Mamm said, as though she was trying to smooth things over. 
“It’s the new year now. When are you planning this, Bliss?” 
“Jah, Bliss," said Wilma, "you must have a plan and somewhere to stay and a job to support yourself.”
Joy frowned at her mother. “Why all this pressure? I’m sure they’ll figure it all out when the time comes.”
“You shouldn’t talk like that to your mudder.” Levi frowned at Joy.
Isaac had been quiet up until now. “Levi, Joy wasn’t meaning any disrespect. But it’s always been the case that no one is put under pressure for the baptism. It’s their own choice.”
Mamm butted in, “What you’re saying is right, Isaac, but I was telling Levi only last night that I thought if Florence had only got baptized earlier, she might not have been tempted to leave us. It was too easy for her.”
Joy was quiet and didn’t say any more. There was really no point, but she was pleased that Isaac had finally said something. 
Favor said, “She fell in love. Do you really think Florence wouldn’t have married Carter if she’d been baptized?”
“We’ll never know,” Mamm said quietly.
There was another uncomfortable silence in the room. Joy looked across at Bliss to see if she’d had to put up with these conversations regularly. Bliss looked down at the floor. 
“Excuse me,” Cherish said. “Can we go now? I still have cleaning up to do in the kitchen.”
“Jah, that’s fine.” 
When Cherish was halfway to the kitchen, she heard Levi say, “Are you going to stay seated, Wilma, when there’s work to be done? 'The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.'”
Cherish was shocked; she turned around to see what her mother would say. 
“I am feeling a little weary. One of the girls can do it.”
He added, “So are we all at the end of a long day, but there is still work that needs to be done. You must show the girls a good example, so they don’t grow up lazy.”
“It’s all right, Mamm. We can all help out in the kitchen while you sit here.” Favor bounded to her feet.
“Help them, Wilma, and then when all the work is done, we can all sit down here again.”
Wilma pushed herself to her feet and walked to the kitchen with the girls. She knew from the girls’ faces that they all felt the same about what Levi had said. He’d belittled their Mamm in front of them all. 
Then Levi called out, “Wilma, make me and Isaac and Matthew some coffee. And make it extra hot. You never make it hot enough.”
Nearly at the kitchen, Joy looked back to Isaac sitting next to Matthew. They were both looking very uncomfortable. She knew at that moment she and Isaac couldn’t stay there. They had to move out, but to where?
Once Joy walked into the kitchen, she whispered, “You sit down, Mamm. We’ll make the coffee.”
“I’ll do it and I’ll make sure it’s burning HOT!” Cherish whispered loud enough for those in the kitchen to hear. Even Bliss heard and didn’t say anything. “So hot it burns his mouth off.”
“Don’t say that, Cherish,” Mamm said. “It’s not an easy adjustment for him to make. It’s only been him and Bliss for so long.”
“It’s okay, Wilma,” Bliss said. “He didn’t mean to upset you. That’s just how he is.”
“So, it’s not that he’s making an adjustment?” Favor asked.
“Nee.” She shook her head. 
Cherish filled up the teakettle with water.
Joy sat down next to Mamm and put her arm around her shoulder. She could see Mamm regretted her decision to marry Levi. How could she have known he’d be this intolerable?

FAQs Series Reading Order


Book 1 Amish Mercy

Book 2 Amish Honor

Book 3 A Simple Kiss

Book 4 Amish Joy

Book 5 Amish Family Secrets

Book 6 The Englisher

Book 7 Missing Florence

Book 8 Their Amish Stepfather

Book 9 A Baby For Florence

Book 10 Amish Bliss

Book 11 Amish Apple Harvest

Book 12 Amish Mayhem

Book 13 The Cost of Lies

Book 14 Amish Winter of Hope

Book 15 A Baby For Joy

Book 16 The Amish Meddler

Book 17 The Unsuitable Amish Bride

Book 18 Her Amish Farm

Book 19 The Unsuitable Amish Wedding

Book 20 Her Amish Secret

Book 21 Amish Harvest Mayhem

Book 22 Amish Family Quilt

Book 23 Hope's Amish Wedding

Book 24 A Heart of Hope

Book 25 A Season for Change

Book 26 Amish Farm Mayhem

Book 27 The Stolen Amish Wedding

Book 28 A Season for Second Chances

Book 29 A Change of Heart

Book 30 The Last Wedding

Book 31 Starting Over

Book 32 Love and Cherish

Book 33 Amish Neighbors

Book 34 Her Amish Quilt

Book 35 A Home of Their Own

Book 36 A Chance for Love

Book 37 Her Amish Wish

Book 38 Amish Harvest Time

Book 39 Whispers of Change

Book 40 Her Hopeful Heart

Book 41 Return to Love's Promise

Book 42 Amish Circle of Blessings