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Characters: Who ARE These People?by Naomi King
Poor Emma is always the bridesmaid and potentially never the bride—she has lost Matt, the man she’s always secretly loved, to another young woman, and then when Jerome Lambright comes on to her like a fire truck, she runs the other away. I’ve never been fearful of guys’ advances, as Emma is, but I have been known to avoid undesirable situations by making excuses to stay home! Emma also experiences some of the grief I felt after my mother died—and I expect readers will mourn Eunice Graber, as well, because she’s been such a persnickety yet humorous old gal as she’s dealt with her husband Merle over the course of this series.
Recently wed Amanda and Wyman Brubaker are thrilled that their children from previous marriages have blended together to form a strong family. But when the construction of Wyman’s new grain elevator is delayed, making the project more expensive than anticipated, Amanda’s determination to rally the kids into taking on work to improve the family’s finances comes into conflict with Wyman’s sense of responsibility as head of the household….
Meanwhile, as James Graber and Abby Lambright prepare for their long-awaited nuptials, folks gather from far and wide. Amanda’s nephew Jerome has long been smitten with James’s sister Emma and wants to seize this chance to woo her. But Emma’s been burned once and is twice shy of trusting the fun-loving, never-serious Jerome. As Emma and Jerome struggle to understand each other, and find the courage to make a leap of faith, the Brubakers face a bigger challenge than they first anticipated and begin to discover just what it means to fight…the Amish way.
“What do I need to know to work in the store, Abby?” Emma grabbed the handle of the pull cart, which was loaded with dirty tablecloths, and the two of them started across the Lambrights’ yard. “I hate to waste Sam’s time if I’m not qualified. And everyone knows it’ll take three people to accomplish what you do in the store.”
Abby waved her off, considering her answer as they went around to the back of the tall, white house. “Can you figure change and count it back?” she asked. “We’ll teach you how to run the cash register, of course, but sometimes I find it just as easy to total the small orders on paper—especially if the line’s getting backed up,” she replied. “There are times we really could use a second cash register, but Sam won’t hear of that.”
Emma considered her reply. “My math’s pretty solid. I’ve been keeping our home checkbook—and James’s business account—for a long time. If we practice making change, I think I’ll be all right with that part.”
“Jah, I think so, too.”
They entered the mudroom then, where Abby ran water into the ringer washer while Emma checked the tablecloths for stains. She was grateful for this time to discuss these details while it was just she and Abby, because she trusted her best friend to tell her the truth about the job. While Emma was flattered that Sam thought she was capable and competent, there was no denying that working in the mercantile would be a big responsibility. “So . . . what’s the worst part about running the store? What do you think I’ll have trouble with?” she asked.
Abby’s eyebrows rose as she thought about her answer. “It’s really important to greet people when they come in. You’ll want to ask how you can help them, of course,” she continued as the washer began agitating. “But you have to look them in the eye—especially the folks you don’t know—so they realize you’re aware of their presence. It cuts down on shoplifting.”
Emma’s hand flew to her mouth. “You mean people steal from the store? What should I do if I see that happening?”
“Do not go up to them and accuse them of anything,” Abby warned her quickly. “The best thing is to let Sam know that you suspect something, and he’ll handle it. During the Christmas shopping season, a lot of little items get stuck into purses and coat pockets. It’s best to keep circulating, to keep talking so everyone knows you’re around.
“It’s mostly English,” Abby continued above the noise of the agitating washer. “They tend to think that we Plain folks aren’t bright enough to figure out what they’re doing, or that because we don’t keep our inventory on a computer, we won’t miss the merchandise they take.”
As Abby tucked the ends of the first tablecloth into the wringer and began to crank, squeezing out the excess water, her expression became more serious. “Your trusting nature might give you some problems, Emma. It’s like the Scripture from First Corinthians, which Vernon preached on during the wedding,” she went on in a thoughtful tone. “You’re patient and kind. You bear all things and believe all things—and when you work with the public, you need to question more and accept less. You’ll have to stand firm when folks dish up their attitude, too—and when they try to return things without a receipt. I suspect that part won’t come easy for you.”
Emma sighed. Abby made it sound like she’d need to cultivate a whole new personality. But at least she was being honest. “Mamm and Dat have told me a time or two not to be such a doormat,” she admitted. “I’ll have to work on that.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links
One Big Happy Family, Book 2
NAL Trade (November 4, 2014)
ISBN-13: 9780451417886 •• ISBN-10: 0451417887
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