“Come with me.” Luke Lambright took her hands in his, warm and calloused. Emily’s skin tingled where he touched her. Oh, how she wanted to tell him yes.
Bright sunlight spilled all around them. How could she tell him nay? She had loved him as long as she could re- member. She loved everything about him, from his dancing blue eyes to his unruly hair that was as dark as a raven’s wing. He was the handsomest boy she had ever seen. Since they were no more than ten or twelve, they had talked about getting married, the children they would have, their house, their farm.
But now he was leaving. In broad daylight. Boldly walk- ing away from the Plain life they had always known. Walking away from their shared dreams of a simple life in Wells Landing.
Luke wanted to experience the Englisch world, go to see movies, dance, and drive a race car for money. Even as much as she loved him she couldn’t understand what spurred his dreams in such a different direction.
“Luke, I—” She stopped short of giving him an answer. Her heart wanted to tell him one thing, but every other part
2 Amy Lillard
of her knew she had to stay. Tears sprang into her eyes. She blinked them back. “I—”
As if he knew she was about to tell him no, he pulled her into the circle of his arms. He held her close. Pressed against his warmth, she felt like she was home. His heart pounded under her ear, his breathing steady and true.
“How can I leave?” She managed to keep her voice from cracking, the building sob from escaping.
“How can I stay?”
She pulled away to look into his blue eyes. Normally they sparkled with a mischief to rival any Englisch trouble- maker, but today they were cloudy with longing and hurt.
“You can’t ask me to choose, Emily. I can’t.”
“I know,” she whispered. “Nor can I.”
Leaving with Luke, leaving Wells Landing would mean saying good-bye to her family, her mudder and vatter and all of her shveshtah. And because she had already joined the church, a meidung for sure. A shunning.
“Ich liebe dich,” he said, cupping her face in his hands and pressing a kiss to her forehead.
“I love you, too.”
How could she leave? How could she ask him to stay?
Why, oh why, did love have to hurt so bad?
He trailed his f ingers down the snowy white linen of her prayer kapp, tracing an errant tear that had somehow managed to escape.
“I’ll call you, you know.”
“And I’ll come back for visits. I’m not a member of the church. They won’t shun me.”
She tried to smile at his hopeful words. But would her father let her visit with the wayward son of the community? She knew he wouldn’t. Dat would barely let her see Luke a’tall now as it was. They had been sneaking around so
much, they didn’t even ask for courting visits any longer. And once he left the community—
“Are you afraid I’m going to forget you?”
Emily swallowed hard and gave a small nod. It was her worst fear of all: he would forget her and find some Englisch girl who understood things like race car driving.
“I could never forget you, Em. You’re my best girl.”
She closed her eyes as he traced the outline of her brow, the curve of her jaw. Lord, please protect him; let him see the error of his ways. Let him come back to me.
A car horn honked. Emily started at the noise, her nerves and emotions raw from the pain.
“I’ve got to go.” He gave her a small kiss, just a brief touch of his lips against hers, and then he was gone.
Emily watched, tears running unheeded down her face as he hoisted his suitcase and placed it in the trunk of the car. He still wore his Amish clothes, though his shirt was un- tucked and his hat had been shucked long ago. Already he looked different. Already he was apart from her.
He looked back at her once as the Englisch driver revved the engine. Luke smiled and waved, then opened the door and disappeared inside.
She pressed the back of one hand to her mouth to stifle her sobs as the blue car pulled away taking with it the only boy she had ever loved.
How was she ever going to live the rest of her days and be happy without Luke?