Saturday, September 30, 2017

Be the FIRST to read Chapter ONE!

Sneak Peek of CHAPTER ONE 
The Amish Bishop's Disgrace 

Chapter One 

Eva Yoder considered the large rocks that bordered the water below as she leaned over the edge of the cutout window just inside the entrance of the covered bridge that separated the east side of Goose Pond from the west. It wasn’t the first time she’d considered the large, white boulders that echoed the moonlight like beacons. Surely, there was a better way out than crashing to her death from the high bridge, but she didn’t believe those rocks would hurt long enough to even come close to comparing to the pain that had plagued her since she’d been dating Adam Byler, the Bishop’s son.
Her breath hitched as she stared down at the large rocks, the choppy pond slapping at them as if they challenged her defiance. Her heart raced, fear coursing through her veins like ice water.
From a nest in the rafters of the bridge, an owl hooted, startling her. Her heart rate increased and sweat rolled down the middle of her back despite the early autumn chill in the air. Bile rose in her throat, her fingers gripping the wooden ledge so tightly she could feel splinters piercing her skin.
She would put an end to her pain tonight—one way or the other. He wouldn’t let her go easily; nothing about Adam was easy. When they were young, he was different—almost gentle, but the loss of her youth had come painfully fast with every strike of violence against her.
She gazed at the reflection of the full moon off the wind-churned surface of the pond and the uneven ripples of light illuminating the dark water. Frogs splashed and croaked on the narrow side of the pond, while crickets sang their song, hidden among the tall reeds; fireflies alighted on the thick, brown cattails that stood tall and waved in the breeze. Some folks might consider a night like this to be romantic, but she was too miserable to consider anything besides throwing herself to the rocks below.
Tonight, was the night, and she had to be brave and wait for him so she could tell him her decision not to marry him. She should have told him sooner, but never before had her gut driven her to rid herself of his company once and for all.
To the entire community, Adam was her perfect soulmate and the perfect example of a Bishop’s son. He was the community’s Golden Boy. Eva knew better than anyone how rough he could be. She’d hoped the handsome wild-boy would calm down once they were married, but he’d only gotten worse during their engagement; he’d pushed her further than the respectable limit.
Why had she agreed to meet him? Tonight would be no different than any other time. He’d give her a few minutes to enjoy the pleasant, late August evening and the full moon before he coerced her into the dark shadows of the covered bridge where he’d test his limits by putting his hand up her dress. When she’d resist him, he’d slap her playfully at first, until his temper flared and she’d end up in a heap on the damp floor of the bridge.
She had to put a stop to it.
Not just for the sake of her nerves, but for the sake of her virtue.
Each time, he’d pushed a little further, pressing himself to her, trying to entice her into sinful actions with him as if he wasn’t able to control himself and wouldn’t wait until they were wed. It was not easy resisting his charms, but the more he pushed her, the more she believed he was not the one for her. They’d been the community’s example to the youth as the perfect couple. Having grown up together, Eva was thoroughly aware of his mean streak, but as he grew more handsome over the years, she hoped he’d develop an inner beauty, but he hadn’t. It seemed the more beautiful he became on the outside, the uglier and darker his inner self became.
Gentle was not a word she used to describe Adam and neither was patient or mature or a whole slew of other virtuous words. He lacked most qualities the other youth possessed, but she was Adam’s girl from too many years back to count. Even if she wanted to date someone else, none of the boys would challenge Adam for a chance to date her. He’d made it clear to the other boys from the beginning that she was his property, and he’d used his fists to prove it more than once.
Eva rolled her shoulders and rocked her head from side-to-side trying to ease the pain between her shoulders that shot up to the base of her head where it pounded worse than any headache she’d ever experienced. She took in a deep breath and wrung her hands to keep them from shaking. The time to tell him was now, before she lost her nerve. He didn’t love her; he loved the feeling he owned her—like a plow horse.
When he’d broken her ribs during a fight a few weeks ago, she should have had the courage to tell Emily or someone the truth, but lies had seeped from her throat that day, just like all the other times. She covered for him and made excuses for his behavior. In some ways, she’d enabled him to continue to hurt her.
The community, including her own mother, believed her to be very clumsy because of her constant bruises, and she wasn’t about to suffer through a lifetime of the same treatment with Adam. She’d seen similar bruises on his mother, and often wanted to go to the woman and ask her about them, but she didn’t have the nerve to speak up. On the chance she was wrong, she would insult the woman, and likely be shunned for making such accusations about the Bishop or his son.
Her breath hitched when the familiar clip-clop of horse’s hooves echoed in the night. He was late in meeting her at their usual spot that was only a short distance from her mother’s home. Thoughts of her mother’s sadness over the loss of her soulmate entered her mind; she could never have the same kind of love with Adam as her mother had with her father.
His buggy approached slowly. He didn’t race toward her; no, he taunted her with the slow trot of his horse as he weaved lazily down the lane toward her. Marrying Adam would certainly benefit her widowed mother in the community; it would assure she was well-provided for once she left home to live with Adam.
Could she let her mother down so easily? The woman had suffered so much already since the death of her husband. Guilt plagued Eva about her decision to reject Adam’s proposal, but her ribs still ached from the blows he’d delivered when she’d pushed away his advances the last time. Once the news of her broken engagement would reach the gossipy community, her mother would be looked upon as a failure with her daughter, and she’d suffer a fate almost as bad as being shunned.
Gott, forgive me for shaming mei mamm, but I can’t marry Adam.
Moonlight reflected off Adam’s perfect smile—a smile so charming he could fool anyone—except for Eva. She knew the truth behind that wild smile of his, and she would not allow herself to fall prey to it tonight. She would fight her physical attraction for him and remember what kind of man he was on the inside. Her daed used to tell her before he passed away that some people should be forced to wear their skin inside-out, and Adam was one of those people.
He hopped down from his buggy and rushed to her, pulling her into his arms. She winced from the pain of her still-weakened ribs, but he wouldn’t let up on his grip on her. She tried to push him gently, so as not to make him angry, but he was too strong for her.
“Let me go; you’re hurting me!”
“You know you like it,” he said through gritted teeth.
At six feet tall, Adam was a pillar over her. At barely five feet tall, Eva was fully aware that he could easily overpower her, and that was what scared her the most. It was too late to rethink her foolish decision to meet him at such a late hour. Truth was, there was so much to be done at her mother’s farm, there wasn’t enough daylight to get it all done, and night was her only respite from her responsibilities.
She’d had to take over her father’s chores since he’d become ill when she was only twelve. Resting had prolonged his life for almost two years, and by that time, Eva was well-versed in her father’s responsibilities on the farm. Her twin sister, Emily, was better at taking over for their mother in the kitchen and doing household chores. When their father died, a piece of their mother had gone to the grave with him. She was a shell of a woman, and could not get along without the help of her or her sister.
Poor Emily was likely to become a spinster, and had planned to take care of their mother for the rest of her days on this earth once Eva was married; she hadn’t exactly inherited their father’s handsome features. They weren’t identical twins, but they were just as close as two sisters could be. Emily would certainly benefit from Eva’s decision not to marry Adam. The burden of the farm would no longer fall on her shoulders alone, and they would take care of their frail mother until she went to meet their father in the afterlife.
Adam pulled her closer, kissing her neck, her ribs pinching sharply against the clutches of his arms tightly wound around her waist.
She let out a sharp cry under the vigor of his embrace. “Please, Adam, my ribs still hurt from when you…”
He stopped kissing her and drew his face close to hers, his gaze boring a hole right through her. She shivered, but not from the chill in the autumn air.
“When I what?” he asked, his fiery eyes taking on a mean glint.
She averted his gaze, casting her eyes downward. “Nothing,” she whispered.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be so clumsy,” he said with a chuckle.
“I’m not clumsy,” she blurted out, regretting the words the moment she lifted her gaze to meet his angry eyes.
He let go of her and swung his arm, backhanding her in the face so hard she fell back against the railing. She caught herself from teetering over to the rocks below, her heart pounding like a thousand horses’ hooves. It was at that moment, when death stared her in the face, that reality hit her. She did not want to fall to her death; she merely wanted to be away from Adam enough to wonder if that was the only way out.
She held her stinging cheek and turned away from him, trying not to cry, but the tears flowed uncontrollably. She swiped at them, biting the inside of her cheek so he wouldn’t see her cry.
He closed the space between them. “Now, see what you made me do? Why do you insist on angering me? You’re my Eve, like in the Garden of Eden, but you always insist on ruining the mood for me. All I wanted to do was spend a pleasant evening with mei betrothed.”
“I don’t want to marry you, Adam,” she whispered, not looking at him. Her heart raced, but it was now or never. She feared death less than she feared this man. Death would be over in an instant, but his violence would stay with her for a lifetime if she married him.
He grabbed her, his jaw clenched.
She stifled her cries; if she resisted him, it would only be worse for her.
He kissed her madly, his hot breath on her neck causing bile to rise in her throat.
“I’ll have you, married or not,” he said, as he thrust himself against her. “You won’t make me wait any longer. I’ll have mei way, and you’ll be mei fraa one way or the other.”
Ach, please let me go, Adam,” she begged through tears.
“Tell me you’ll be mei fraa,” he said. “If you break our engagement, you’ll make a fool of me, and I won’t let you do it.”
She paused, considering lying to him, but he would see right through her. He would never let her go no matter how much she promised to marry him, and now, she was going to pay for rejecting him. Her knees wobbled and the angry set of his jaw made her quake.
“Please, Adam,” she begged around her tears. “All the women in the community in our age group are in love with you.” Her voice was whispery and shaky. “You can marry any one of them you want.”
He yanked her closer, causing her to cry out from the pain in her ribs.
“I don’t want any of them; I want you!” he said, raising his voice so loud, it echoed in the gulch and reverberated across the expanse of the pond.  
She pushed at him, trying to break free. “I don’t want you, Adam.”
“I want you to give me what I want or I’ll take it!” he said, reaching up her dress.
She wriggled away from him, bending at the waist to keep him from touching her most intimate place, but he ripped at her dress to get to her.
 “Let me go,” she cried out, yanking her arm to free it from his clenched fist, but he twisted it.
“Please!” she cried out.
He let go of her, surprising her with a blow to her head so forceful it knocked her to the floor of the covered bridge that was too narrow for anything more than foot traffic. She was secluded from the reaches of help from anyone in the span of the many acres that separated her from the nearest farm, including her own. No one would hear her even if she screamed at the top of her lung capacity. 
She rolled, trying to get up despite the dizziness and pain that forced her into a stupor. Adam threw himself on top of her, snaking his hand up her dress.
“No, Adam, please,” she cried, trying to wriggle out from under him.
She kicked and squirmed, but he was too strong.
He braced his forearm in her throat to pin her down, cutting off her air just enough that she no longer had the strength to resist him. She gasped for air, but the more she struggled, the more force he used.
I can’t breathe; I’m going to die.
She was painfully aware of him ripping her clothes and pushing at her thighs with his knees—until suddenly, everything went black.
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