Arms of Mercy

Arms of Mercy

by Ruth Reid
Arms of Mercy

Arms of Mercy

by Ruth Reid

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Overview

A story of renewed love, boundless hope, and a little help from angels above.

He lost her once to a rash decision.

He will not lose her again.

On the eve of a new year, Catherine Glick is expecting her bu of five years to propose. Instead, the unexpected arrival of an old boyfriend, Elijah, sends her life spiraling out of control. When a rash decision damages her current relationship, Catherine leaves for Florida to work in her cousin’s bakery—anything to flee the source of her shame.

Elijah Graber knows he hurt Catherine when he left their Amish district six years ago. He’s determined to explain his actions, even if it means accompanying her to Florida. Perhaps their two-day bus trip together will provide enough time for him to win her back.

Just when Elijah is starting to tear down the walls Catherine has built, their bus skids on an icy road—and amid the mayhem and tragedy that follow, Catherine disappears. Elijah’s friends urge him to prepare for the worst, but Elijah holds on to his hope in God and refuses to give up his search for Catherine. With supernatural nudging from the most unexpected places, Elijah sets out to find the love he once lost—no matter the cost.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718082468
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Series: Amish Mercies Series , #2
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 539,915
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth, the Amish Wonders, and the Amish Mercies series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life. Visit Ruth online at RuthReid.com; Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid; Twitter: @AuthorRuthReid.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Posen, Michigan

Finally, he arrived.

Catherine Glick placed the jar of pickled eggs on the serving table, then pretended to straighten the other dishes so she could spy Zachariah Lantz pressing through the crowded entryway of The Amish Table restaurant.

Removing his snow-covered coat, Zach looked her direction and smiled. Even from across the crowded room, his deep blue eyes had a way of warming her insides and melting the balled-up tension. Thoughts of him sliding into the ditch somewhere had invaded her mind. Sure, icy roads were typical this time of the year in northern Michigan, and Zach owned an exceptional horse, but not knowing if her boyfriend of nearly five years was stranded someplace had knotted her muscles. Now it didn't matter how much snow accumulated. Zach was here, safe, and just in time for their district's New Year's Eve supper.

Catherine stepped away from the food table to greet Zach at the door but was stopped when his sister, Mary, sidled up beside her, a vegetable tray in her hands.

"I see mei bruder finally made it."

Catherine smiled. "Better late than never."

Mary set the tray on the table. "You'd think being a clockmaker he would pay more attention to all those chiming reminders around him in the shop and be on time."

"Jah, you'd think," Catherine echoed while following Zach with her gaze as he joined the other unmarried men in the corner of the room. He was a talented clockmaker, meticulous with details, but he was certainly not a timekeeper. He'd missed several functions in the past, citing work-related reasons. But she wasn't about to complain about his punctuality now and ruin this fine evening. Her heart had been pounding with anticipation of their sleigh ride home tonight.

The women filed out of the kitchen, carrying various plates and bowls of food to put on the long buffet table. Roasted turkey, sliced pineapple ham, sauerkraut and pork, and venison made up the meats, and yummasetti, baked yams, mashed potatoes, green beans, and peas made up the side dishes. The feast was like Christmas all over again. Even the children had flocked to the cheese and pickle trays, their tiny hands snitching a few samples before the meal was blessed, while their mothers hovered nearby, chiding them for their actions.

A niggle of jealousy stabbed Catherine's heart. One day she would have a few sticky-fingered culprits to wag her finger at. Of course, she'd told herself one day for years and it hadn't changed the fact that at twenty-nine, she was the oldest maedel in her district.

Don't dwell on such negativity. Everything could change after tonight's sleigh ride. She wrung her hands, suddenly eager for the meal to get started and, more importantly, for it to end.

The bishop's wife, Alice Zook, was the last to come out of the kitchen. She placed a steaming dish of brown gravy on the table, then nodded at her husband, who stepped forward.

Bishop Zook cleared his throat, signaling everyone's attention. "Shall we bow our heads and ask the Lord's blessing over this wunderbaar food the women have prepared?"

Catherine closed her eyes. I know You hold the future, Lord. I pray it's Your will that Zach wants to include me in his future.

The bell over the door jingled, and a gust of cold air sent a shiver down her spine. Boots stomped, muffling the tune the latecomer whistled as he entered. Catherine didn't have to open her eyes to know who it was. She recognized the man by his off-pitch tune.

Elijah Graber.

The latecomer blew into his fisted hands. His hat, coat, scarf, and pants below the knees were snow covered. As Elijah stood at the entry, his gaze flitted across the room and stopped on Catherine.

Sharpness seized her breath. After six years, why would he search her out in the crowd first? Years of wondering what it would feel like to see him again flooded her senses, and for the split second that their gazes connected, everyone else in the room disappeared.

Rein it in. You feel nothing. Nothing.

Catherine narrowed her eyes on the man. At least be respectful of others, Elijah, and bow your head.

As if reading her thoughts, he dropped his hands to his side and lowered his head for the final seconds of the blessing.

Once the bishop cleared his throat again, his way of signaling the end of the silent prayer, conversations and activity around the room resumed. Except for Catherine who was frozen in place.

Elijah shivered and snow fell from the brim of his straw hat. Removing the knitted scarf from around his neck exposed his big red ears, which contrasted with the pale, purplish tinge on his lips. But what caught her off guard was his beard.

She focused on the puddle that had formed from his stomping snow off his boots, a hazard that needed to be addressed immediately. As other members greeted Elijah, Catherine dashed into the kitchen, grabbed the mop from the utility closet, then returned to the dining room.

Still standing at the front door, Elijah looked up from brushing snow off his pant legs as she approached. "Hiya, Cat." He smiled as if there'd never been a moment of distance between them.

Before she had the chance to return a formal greeting, Bishop Zook came up to Elijah and patted his shoulder. "It's gut to see you again, Elijah."

"Same here."

The bishop glanced at Catherine a brief second, then continued.

"I trust your trip to Posen went well."

"The roads were snowy, and for a while there was talk that Mackinac Bridge might close due to high winds, but we made it fine."

"How long will you be staying?"

This time it was Elijah who looked at her uncomfortably. "I'm, ah, nett sure."

This was agonizing. She expected any conversation she might have with Elijah to be stilted, but she hadn't expected Bishop Zook to guard his words. Why didn't he just go ahead and ask Elijah about his wife and children?

"Again, it's gut to have you home. Hopefully we'll have a chance to talk more later." Bishop Zook motioned to the table of food. "Nau don't be a stranger. Jump in line and fill your plate while the food is hot."

"Jah, I'll be sure to join you shortly."

Once the bishop left to rejoin some of the other married men, Catherine mopped up the trail of water he tracked across the floor. Elijah hadn't moved from the doorway when she went back to finish cleaning up the entrance area.

Elijah lifted one snowy boot, then the other. "I made a mess, didn't I? Would you like me to mop it up?"

"Nay. I'll get this." She motioned to the other married men filling their plates. "You should go eat. I'm sure a hot meal and mug of kaffi will warm you up."

"That's nice of you to be concerned. I've been meaning all week to stop by your haus and say hello."

All week? Catherine harrumphed. "It's a little late to tell me you got married."

He scratched his whiskered jaw. "Jah, I've been meaning to —"

She glared.

"It's a long story."

"I'm sure." Obviously he hadn't changed. He was always itching to tell long stories. Well, this time she wasn't interested. Six years ago when he'd told her he needed to visit an out-of-town friend, she hadn't expected to read in The Budget newspaper a few weeks later that he'd gotten married. She redirected her attention to the wet floor and shoved the mop around.

"I'll get out of your way," he said, yet didn't move. When she purposefully swabbed the area next to his boots, he finally sidestepped the mop. "Nice seeing you again, Cat."

She stopped cleaning the floor and straightened her posture, but just as she unclenched her teeth to speak, he was swarmed by other members welcoming him home.

"Mei name is nett Cat," she muttered to herself.

She finished sopping up the melted snow, then returned the mop to the utility closet in the kitchen. After taking a moment to relax her breathing and slow her racing heart, she turned to head back to the dining area, but a shadowy figure moved out from behind the row of storage shelves.

She clutched her chest, hissing his name in a sharp gasp. "Zach!"

* * *

"Were you expecting someone else?" Zach stepped closer.

"I — I wasn't expecting someone to be lurking in the shadows. I thought you were in line getting food with the others." Her hands trembled as she wiped them on the side of her dress.

"Jah." He lifted his plate, dumbfounded by her sudden lack of observation skills. "I did." He hoped catching her off guard was all that was wrong and her jumpiness didn't have something to do with Elijah's return. "I didn't mean to startle you. I figured I'd say hello and tell you that I'm looking forward to our sleigh ride tonight."

"You are? I mean, I'm looking forward to our ride too." She tucked a stray strand of her honey-colored hair under her prayer kapp. "When you didn't arrive right away I started to think something had happened."

"I had an important business matter to take care of and lost track of the time." He stabbed his fork into a chunk of carved turkey, his mouth watering. He'd been so preoccupied tinkering with a customer's antique pocket watch that he'd skipped lunch. Although his stomach complained, he was happy that word had started to spread about his clock and watch repair services.

"Business on New Year's Eve?"

"I'll tell you all about it later. But now you should get something to eat. I don't want to stay long." He had to wake up earlier than normal tomorrow morning. The man was coming to the shop to pick up his watch, and Zach wanted to give himself enough time to adjust it if it wasn't keeping perfect time.

"Jah, I'm sort of anxious to leave early too." Catherine's cheeks turned a rosy shade before she spun around, her dress hem swinging around her ankles with her quick turn.

He took another bite of turkey and followed Catherine through the swinging doors, but as she went toward the food line, he veered over to the table where his long-lost friend Elijah was seated.

Zach clapped Elijah on the shoulder. "Nobody whistles like you."

"You mean off-key."

"Exactly." Zach set his plate on the table, then plopped down beside him. "I heard you were in town."

"Mammi guilted me into being here for her birthday. She told me, 'One doesn't turn one hundred years old every day, you know.'"

Zach chuckled. "I'd say nett. How long do you plan on staying?"

"A week, maybe two — maybe all winter if I can't get mei mammi's buggy out of the ditch. The driveway was like a big frozen pond. The buggy skated into a pile of snow at the bottom of the ditch — at least I think it's the ditch."

Zach opened his mouth to take a bite of food but lowered his fork. "The mare didn't get hurt, did she?" He recalled Elijah always trying to race his family's horse and goading Zach into doing the same. But on snowy nights like tonight, no way. Even with runners on his buggy, Zach always went slowly.

"The old mare is fine. I put her back in the barn. Hey, you think you could give me a ride back to Mammi's when this is over?"

"Ahh ..." So much for Catherine and his moonlight sleigh ride. "Jah, sure."

"I can find someone else to take me, or I'll walk if you have other plans," Elijah said, buttering a dinner roll.

"Nay, that's okay. But I want to make it an early nacht. I have to work in the morning." He ate a spoonful of buttery mashed potatoes while pondering how he'd tell Catherine their plans now included driving Elijah.

"Still making clocks?"

Zach nodded. "I repair watches nau too."

"That's great. I always knew you would do well." Elijah pushed his empty plate aside and picked up his coffee mug.

"What about you? I seem to recall you wanted to train horses."

"Still want to ... one day," Elijah muttered as he stood. He motioned to the dessert table. "I think there's a piece of apple pie calling mei name."

Zach continued eating. When Elijah didn't immediately return to eat his dessert at the table, Zach scanned the crowd and found him standing with the married men and engaged in a conversation with the bishop. A scene all too familiar to Zach. His other friends had migrated to the married side of Sunday services and gatherings after they married, too, as if an unwritten rule forbade them from hanging around their unmarried friends once they passed over to the other side.

Sure, he could join the group by marrying Catherine, and several of his friends had encouraged him to do so, but he wasn't one to do things to appease others. Besides, up until the other day, his business wasn't stable; he couldn't support a wife. But for some reason, watching his once best friend huddling with the others irked him. Elijah — his so-called friend — had never bothered to tell him he'd gotten married. Zach read the announcement in The Budget same as everyone else. Zach finished cleaning off his plate, then picked it up and went to the buffet for seconds.

Catherine approached the serving table from the opposite side. "Have you tried the pork pie?"

"I haven't yet. Did you make it?" Catherine's grin told him she had before she confirmed it with a nod. Zach reached for the spoon.

Usually he asked Catherine what she brought and selected those dishes first, but tonight she'd been busy cleaning the floor when he was in the serving line selecting his food. He scraped the bottom of the dish to get the last few morsels of pork gravy and crust. "This looks gut."

"I hope you like it."

He smiled. "I don't think you've made anything I haven't liked." He took a bite and nodded. "It's gut." Just as tasty as when she had served it to him a few weeks ago when she invited him for supper at her brother's house.

A gust of cold air filled the room as several men went outside, then reentered a moment later. Bishop Zook raised his hand. "Folks, may I have your attention? The weather appears to have gotten much worse. I suggest we conclude the evening activities as soon as possible."

Zach wasn't concerned about the amount of snowfall. The runners he'd mounted on an old open buggy would glide over anything. Besides, he had a blanket for warmth and lanterns to help guide the way. Perhaps the get-together ending early was a blessing. He did need to get up early and double-check the watch he'd been working on.

Within minutes the women had the tables cleaned off and the place tidied up. As children were dressed in their outerwear and shuttled to the buggies, the room emptied quickly. Zach shoved his arm into his coat sleeve. He spotted Elijah being handed a covered dish by the bishop's wife. Knowing Alice Zook's motherly concern over the flock, she would insist on them giving Elijah a ride to his grandmother's house once she heard about him going into the ditch. Zach smiled at the thought of not having a third passenger in his sleigh tonight after all.

He scanned the area for Catherine and spotted her talking with her cousin Faith. He sidled up beside them as they were discussing restaurant operations.

"Last winter we struggled badly," Faith said. "Closing is for the best."

"You're closing the restaurant?" Zach divided his attention between Catherine and her cousin, who looked equally somber.

Faith nodded. "We don't do enough business in the winter to pay the fuel bill, and the township won't allow us to install a woodstove. Mei parents and I have prayed about it, and ... it's only for a few months. We plan to reopen in April or May."

"That's nett so bad." Zach studied Catherine's strained expression. She was no doubt worried about her loss of income. She'd been a cook at the restaurant for more than fifteen years, and since both of her parents had died, she had given most of her paycheck to her brother to help with household expenses.

"Perhaps we can get together and sew. I want to make a few things for mei hope chest." The blush on Faith's face said there was more, but with Zach in the midst, she wasn't about to blurt what he already knew. Gideon had asked him to make a grandfather clock for a wedding gift Gideon planned to give Faith. Of course, Zach had promised to keep their news a secret until an official announcement was made.

"Sure." Catherine's voice cracked. Did she suspect her cousin was engaged? She was always fast to get choked up at weddings. Maedel tears.

Faith glanced over her shoulder in Gideon's direction. "Gideon is putting on his coat. I'd better get mine on too." She turned back to Catherine and reached for her hands. "I'm going to miss talking with you at work every day, but we're going to get together regularly, right?"

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Arms of Mercy"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Ruth Reid.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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