Book 1: Hope's Haven
Spirited, forthright, impulsive -- everyone told Greta Eicher she'd have to change her ways if she ever hoped to marry. Then her best friend Calvin, the man she thought she would wed, chooses another woman. Now Greta's wondering if the others were right all along. Her dreams dashed, she pours her energy into crafting beautiful quilts at her shop and helping widower Noah Stoll care for his adorable young children.
Noah knows it's time to think about finding a wife. When Greta offers to play matchmaker on his behalf, Noah eagerly accepts. After all, no one knows his children better. But none of the women she suggests seems quite right, because, unexpectedly, his feelings of respect and friendship for Greta have grown into something even deeper and richer. But will he have enough faith to overcome the pain of his past and give love another chance?
“Esther told me you asked her to help you find a new fraa.”
Something akin to irritation flashed across Noah’s face before his guard went up. “And why did she feel the need to speak of it to you?”
“She and I are gut friends and she knew I would help in any way I can.”
“Help you find a new fraa, of course.” She smiled. “And a mamm for your kinner.”
His guard eased a bit, but now he seemed ready to dismiss the subject, and her. “I appreciate your desire to help me, but I think this is something best left to Esther. She knows me and she knows my preferences.”
Greta wasn’t going to let him dismiss her that easily. “I realize Esther is your cousin and you might be more comfortable dealing with her. But perhaps you don’t know that I have experience helping other young men find a helpmeet.”
“Jah, I’m aware that you’ve played matchmaker in the past.”
The way he said “played” got her back up, but Greta decided to ignore his tone and keep her focus on convincing him he needed her help. “Then perhaps you’ll understand why Esther thought I’d be able to help in your search as well. If you give me a chance I know I can find a woman who’ll make you happy.”
“What do you know about what will make me happy?”
Good question, especially after her spectacular failure on her own behalf. And for a moment her certainty wavered.
But then she rallied. This was different. “I believe I understand people well enough to know who’ll get along well together and who won’t.” At least when it came to others.
He raised a brow at that. “Do you now?”
She refused to let his skepticism affect her again. “It probably sounds like pride and boastfulness to you, but it isn’t. I believe this is a gift from Gotte, just as your skill with woodwork is, and that it would be wasteful not to use it.”
She saw him sober at that and study her thoughtfully.
Trying to press her advantage, she quickly added. “But of course you’ll need to help me figure out some of your own specific likes and dislikes.” Would he agree? She realized she wanted to help him, that she needed to find some purpose to fill the emptiness that was stretching out in front of her.
But rather than respond directly, he asked a question of his own. “Why do you want to do this?”
“Because I love your kinner and want to help see they are well cared for. And also because I think it’s something I can do well.”
“And for no other reason?”
She squirmed a bit under his steady, much too perceptive scrutiny. Surely he didn’t know about her feelings for Calvin and what had happened New Year’s Day.
She tilted her chin up. “What other reason would there be?”
Noah saw the slight reddening of Greta’s cheeks that belied the confident expression on her face. Was she thinking of Calvin? If she’d been so wrong about his bruder’s feelings, how could she possibly know what he needed? But somehow it seemed cruel to point that out to her. And what could it hurt to let her try, if even Esther thought she would do a better job for him? “I suppose we could give it a try.”
Her face blossomed in a smile that made him blink—it had been a while since he’d seen those impish dimples of hers.
Her hands clasped tightly together, as if trying to hold in some big emotion. “Gut.” Her tone was charmingly businesslike. Apparently she’d wanted to do this more than he’d realized.
“Now there are a few things we need to discuss, and it would probably be best done away from where passersby might overhear. Since your little ones are in the quilt shop, would you like to go back into your workshop?”
Noah hesitated a moment. He’d prefer his employees not overhear any of this either. “My office would be better.”
She nodded and fell into step beside him. His office was in the second floor loft, accessible by a set of stairs tucked away in the back corner of the building. When they reached the narrow stairs, she went first while he followed her up. When she reached the loft, she paused at the window that overlooked the open fields and her face took on an appreciative, faraway look. “I’ve never been up here before. The view is lovely."
She stood in the direct path of a sunbeam. The light streaming in through the window spotlighted her in a way that made her face literally glow.
A lovely view indeed.
Greta wasn’t pretty in the usual way of things—the gap between her teeth and her blunt nose saw to that. But even so, in the light from the window, there was an arresting quality to her that made words like pretty and attractive seem inadequate.
Noah blinked, not sure where those thoughts had come from. s