Solace @missliss15
Chapter 7

Amish/ Pennsylvania Dutch:

Rumspringa - A time for young Amish teens to "run around" and figure out if they want to join the church or not.

December 2021—

BPOV

I took a deep breath as I turned the corner and into a dirt lot where a large red barn sat. In the front was a large sign that read 'Cullen Farrier and Supply.' Wracking my brain, I tried to remember exactly what a farrier was, but the only thing I could come up with was that they were a blacksmith of sorts.

A knock at my window made me gasp, pulling me from my thoughts. I turned to find Edward standing beside my car. I placed my hand over my heart, trying to stop it from racing before pushing open the door and stepping out. "You scared me half to death."

He gave a soft chuckle. "I'm sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were all right. You've been sitting there for a good ten minutes."

I gaped at him. "Was it really that long?"

"Jah—I mean—"

I put my hand up, cutting him off. "I know what you mean. You don't have to change how you speak for me. Besides, I kind of like it."

"Oh, okay then." He nodded. "Do you want to come in, or have you changed your mind?"

Part of me wanted to jump back in my car and speed off. What the hell was I doing, standing here with this man—an Amish man at that—who was a perfect stranger, ready to bare my soul to him? Was I that desperate for companionship?

Though, when I thought about it, it didn't feel like desperation; at least not on my part. Every time he'd come into the restaurant, he'd seemed so quiet. His eyes, bright green eyes that seemed like they should have been alive and vibrant, had a sadness about them. I felt maybe he'd understand me.

I shook my head. "No, I haven't changed my mind. Have you?"

He hesitated for a moment, looking anywhere but at me. "No, I haven't. Let me show you around first."

"You're a blacksmith, right?" I asked as I followed behind him.

He hummed quietly, pulling open a door on the side of the barn. "Yes, but not exactly. I'm a farrier. I work with horses, taking care of their hooves, fitting them with shoes. I travel to different homes but occasionally board a horse or two here if the job will take longer. Englischers are mainly the ones who do that."

I raised my eyebrows. "Okay, I may need a little help with that one. Englischer?"

Edward grinned at me, and even though it didn't exactly reach his eyes, it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. "Anyone who isn't Amish. You're an Englischer, or just English, if you'd rather."

"Is that a bad thing? That I'm English?"

He shook his head, a small smile on his lips. "No, it's not a bad thing."

"Okay."

He took me further into the barn. "I'm not sure how interesting you'll find any of this." He gestured around the open area. There were about five or six stalls; two had occupants.

"Oh, Edward!" I breathed. "They're beautiful!" I moved toward the horses but stopped. "Is it all right if I pet them?"

He nodded, his eyes softening as he looked at me. I felt my cheeks flush and a stirring in my belly. "Jah, they enjoy the attention," he murmured. "This one here"—he reached out, petting the muzzle of a horse that was as dark as ink—"is Midnight." The horse pushed at his hand, searching for something. "And he's quite a needy thing, always begging."

I smiled, reaching out to pet the horse who gave me a quick snort of approval.

He moved to a horse who was a deep gray speckled with black, and a brilliant white mane. "And this one is Twilight."

"I love them."

"I can see that," he teased.

I ran my fingers over Twilight's muzzle. "Edward?"

"Yes?" He fidgeted with the hat on his head.

"Are you all right? You seemed so upset earlier at the restaurant."

He was silent awhile, holding his hand out in front of Midnight, who was happily munching on the carrots Edward offered. "I'm all right. I was just thinking about my wife."

My eyes widened at his confession. I definitely shouldn't be there. He was a married man; what would people say? "I didn't know you had a wife."

"Ach!"he exclaimed. "I don't—I mean, I did. She, uh, she died three years ago. Ovarian cancer."

"Oh, Edward. I don't know what to say."

"I don't either. It's been three years, and I know she's up there, shouting at me to get moving. She'd want me to live my life again. I'm trying to listen to her, but…" He trailed off, shrugging. "You've also been upset today, are you all right?" He took a step toward me.

I returned his shrug. "It's such a long story, one I haven't told since I moved here. I had a baby," I blurted before slapping my hand over my mouth.

His eyes widened in shock for a moment before he schooled his features. "And you lost it?"

I shook my head, staring at my feet. "No, she's perfectly healthy—well, as far as I know." I felt my eyes welling with tears. "I had a baby, but I gave her up for adoption."

His voice was quiet. "I see." He shuffled around before I heard the sounds of a brush running against the side of Twilight. "So, you blessed a family who couldn't have a child by giving them one."

My head snapped up at his words. "I guess so."

"May I ask a question?"

"Sure."

He took a few moments to collect his thoughts before speaking, which was something I was catching on to; he didn't like to speak without choosing his words carefully. "Where is the father?"

"Oh. He's at college in New York. He wanted nothing to do with the baby."

"Is that why you gave her up?"

A warm feeling rushed through me when I realized he'd truly been listening and acknowledged that my baby was a girl. "No. I'm only 19; I couldn't raise a baby on my own. I wanted her, but I knew she'd have the life she deserved with someone else. Parents who had stable jobs and lots of support."

He nodded. "I was 21 when we thought Maggie was pregnant; she was merely 20. Things were different for us, I suppose. Do you not have support?"

"I guess I do, but both my parents have a lot going on. My dad is a police officer in Washington, my mom lives here in Berlin. She's great, but flighty. Oh, and now she's pregnant. So there's that."

He turned toward me, looking me directly in the eye for the first time. "After you've given away a baby of your own, one you obviously care for, that must be difficult."

I wiped the tears from my face. "Yeah, it really is," I whispered. We stood there in silence for quite some time, aside from the soft snuffs from the horses. I expected to be uncomfortable, but I wasn't. It was the exact opposite; I felt safe there. "I thought you'd judge me."

"Because I'm Amish?" I noticed a slight smirk on his lips.

"If we're being honest, yes. I've had sex out of wedlock—"

"Who am I to judge you, Bella? We've all done something. During Rumspringa—you know what that is, yes?" I nodded, and he continued. "Well, I was far from an angel, but it's late and those are stories for another day." He glanced over at me. "Will there be another day?"

I bit my lip as I looked at him. "Yeah, there'll be another day."

Let me know what you think!

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