Today's Reading

Bethany beamed as she watched her cousins grin at each other. Christiana and Salina were more than Bethany's cousins; they were her best friends. The three of them, along with their cousin Leanna, ran booths at the Bird-in-Hand market. Bethany ran the Coffee Corner, Salina had her Farm Stand, Christiana had her Bake Shop, and Leanna kept her Jam and Jelly Nook. Leanna had been widowed several years ago but she had a son, and now Salina and Christiana would both be married—something that had more than once lately made Bethany feel a bit left behind. Aside from Leanna, she would be the last single member of their friend group. Bethany hadn't had a boyfriend since she briefly dated a member of her youth group when she was nineteen. And as of now, she had no prospects.

She pushed those thoughts away. Today was Salina's day! And Bethany needed to celebrate with her, not wallow in self-pity over her lack of dates.

Bethany looked up and saw Christiana's husband. Jeff and Christiana had met when she opened her Bake Shop booth next to his Unique Leather and Wood Gifts booth at the marketplace.

"Gude mariye, Jeff." She reached out to shake his hand and was met by a cold touch.

"Sorry about that." His dark eyes sparkled as a sheepish chuckle escaped his lips. "It's chilly out there." He pushed his hand through his dark hair, which matched his beard, and the curl that always hung over his forehead bounced back into place.

"That is true." Bethany laughed, then turned to the next person in line. "Gude mariye, Leanna!"

Leanna reached around and hugged Bethany. "Gude mariye! I'm grateful to see you—and that it's nice and warm in here." She rubbed her hands together.

Leanna was her oldest cousin as well as the shortest. She had the same lovely shade of dark-brown hair as Salina, but what Bethany most admired about Leanna was the kind of woman she was. Leanna had been only thirty-one when she lost her husband, Marlin Wengerd, in an accident. Five years later, she was still raising her son alone, although they did live with her parents. With an unwavering positivity, Leanna always remembered to count her blessings, including the success of her Jam and Jelly Nook booth at the marketplace.

"Ya, it is cold outside," Chester, her son, chimed in. At fourteen he already towered over his mother by nearly five inches. He shared Leanna's bright smile and chocolate eyes, but his hair was a lighter shade of brown, almost blond, resembling his late father's. He hugged Bethany.

"Hey, Chester." Bethany smiled, patting his shoulder.

"You look beautiful," Leanna said, her eyes misting over. "I can't believe our Salina is getting married." She sniffed as she turned to greet the bride. "You are gorgeous today and always."

Salina blushed, and Bethany felt a tug at her heart as her cousins embraced.

"They're so mushy," Chester quipped, and Bethany gave a bark of laughter. She cupped her mouth with her hand to stifle the sound.

Leanna and Chester moved on down the line, shaking hands with Anthony and Will before disappearing into the knot of people gathered by the stairs. Bethany shook a few more hands, greeting members of her congregation and also Will's Older Order Mennonite family members and friends. When she spotted Micah Zook and his grandfather, Enos, standing near the end of the line, her heart turned over in her chest. She tried her best to continue greeting the guests moving past her, but her eyes were drawn to Micah. As he moved closer, she sneaked peek after peek.

One of the older men in the congregation paused in front of her and began talking about the cold weather. Down the line, Micah was saying something to his grandfather beside him. She took in his stature, as he stood nearly a foot taller than her own height. His brown hair was hidden by his black hat, but she enjoyed the sight of his intelligent brown eyes, which reminded her of her favorite dark-roast coffee. With his strong jaw and intense demeanor, he was the handsomest man she'd ever met. And he looked even handsomer than usual dressed in his Sunday best. Or perhaps she was seeing him through new eyes lately. His black winter coat was unzipped, and she admired his traditional black-and-white suit as it accentuated his trim waist, broad shoulders, and wide chest.

While she didn't know him well, she cherished their brief encounters each Saturday morning when he and his grandfather came to visit her at her Coffee Corner to purchase coffee and a few donuts. Their visits had become a routine during the past year, and she could count on their arrival soon after the marketplace opened each Saturday. They had become the highlight of her week, and she found herself often wondering about Micah.

If only she could take their relationship from acquaintance to something more . . .

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