Sneak Peek: Sleigh Bells Ring

Amish Christmas Miracles released this week! Enjoy a sneak peek of my story, Sleigh Bells Ring

Hope Miller likes working as a clerk at Lewis’s Deli and Meats, a new shop in her hometown of Gatesville, OH. But she likes the owner, Griffin Lewis, even more. Believing he will never return her feelings and not wanting to lose her job, she keeps her emotions deep inside, making sure to focus on her job and not on her handsome boss.

Griffin Lewis used to be a big-time chef, running some of the most successful kitchens in restaurants all over the country. He gave up that life to become Amish, and it was the best decision he’s ever made. He’s new to the community of Gatesville and is struggling to fit in. He also has growing feelings for Hope, who is a ray of sunshine in his life. But he could never imagine a sweet woman like Hope falling for him, especially if she learns about his past.

When Hope comes up with the idea of Griffin catering and hosting a Christmas supper for the church, he is enthusiastic about the idea. Who will reveal their feelings first—Hope or Griffin? Or will both of them continue to keep each other at arm’s length?

Chapter 1

Gatesville, near Holmes County, OH

The light ring of small bells filled Hope Miller’s buggy as she pulled into the parking lot of Lewis’s Fresh Meats and Deli. She bypassed the lot and headed for the small barn behind the shop next to Griffin Lewis’s equally small house, and then brought the buggy to a stop. After making sure her horse, Sunny, was snug in the stall next to Griffin’s fine-looking gelding, she went back her buggy and grabbed her purse. The source of the ringing was a string of tiny bells she had made last night, placed into a small bag, and put into her purse. The deli, which was her place of employment, needed some Christmas cheer.

She walked inside the back of the shop, which wasn’t much warmer than the outside. Like most Amish, Griffin took advantage of the cold weather to chill perishable food. She walked over to the small office, removed her coat, gloves, and scarf and hung them on the peg next to Griffin’s. Her heart jumped a little, just as it had a little more than a month ago when she had started working here. When she answered the Help Wanted advertisement she’d seen in the window of the shop at the beginning of November, she hadn’t expected minding the counter would change her life. It had, but she was the only one who knew.

On impulse she touched the sleeve of Griffin’s coat. The navy-blue wool fabric didn’t feel any different than any other Amish man’s coat, but she felt different. And foolish, especially since she was risking Griffin walking in here at any moment. She dropped her hand, grabbed her white apron, tied it around her neck and then her waist. She headed for the front of the deli, then stopped in the doorway of the office and hurried back to the strand of bells.

When she reached the counter, Griffin was already there, counting change into the drawer. He paused, his dark brown eyebrows forming a V above green eyes that were both serious and kind. “Is that you jingling?” he asked Hope as she moved to stand behind him.

She nodded as she pulled the bells out of the bag. Tiny round pieces of metal shone underneath the gas-powered ceiling lights, strung together on a red cord. “Where should I put this?”

His brow relaxed, but as usual, his expression was inscrutable. She didn’t mind that, though. She’d gotten to know Griffin well since she started working for him, and she was drawn to his solid strength—not to mention his punctuality and the way he took his business seriously. Her personality was a little more carefree, but when it came to work, she was as sober-minded as he was.

When he didn’t answer immediately answer her, she said, “I thought I could decorate a little around here…for the Christmas season.”

He eyed the strand of bells. “That’s a little decoration, that’s for sure.”

She chuckled. “I thought I’d start small.”

Griffin nodded and shut the cash drawer. “You can put that wherever you want. You’re right, we do need some decorations around here. I’m sorry to say I don’t have any.”

“I’ll take care of it,” she said.

“More Christmas bells?”

“Maybe one over the door so it will chime when customers walk in. But I was thinking more like some evergreen boughs trimmed with red ribbon.”

“What about a ribbon draped on the meat case? Would that be allowed? I’m not sure what the rules are here, since this is my first Christmas in Gatesville.”

She nodded. “Christmas decorations are all right, as long as they’re not too fancy. We don’t like to detract from the true reason for the season.”

“I don’t want to do that either.” He took the strand of bells from her. “I have an idea where these can go.”

Surprised, she watched as he took the small strand and wrapped it around the small miniature of an Amish horse and buggy business card holder that was next to the adding machine on the counter. “Perfect,” she said, grinning. Then she turned to him and her breath caught.

He was also smiling, his green eyes twinkling and lighting up his freshly shaved face. Dark brown curls touched the back of his neck, and his bangs, which were also curly, hung above his brow. He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Hope had never thought in her wildest dreams she would fall in love with a man who wasn’t born Amish.

Ivy Daly’s Shortbread Cookies

Christmas Memories: Ivy Daly’s Shortbread Cookies

Not my Nana’s cookies, but they looked very similar to these.

One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was making my Nana’s shortbread cookies. She would travel from Michigan to Arkansas to visit us at Christmas and my brother, sister and I would help her make the cookies. We decorated them with red and green sugar, but you can use any decorations you like. I hope you enjoy them!

1 cup sugar

1-pound butter at room temperature (no substitutes)

4 cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together until well mixed. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between additions. The dough will be stiff.

On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness (or thicker if you want). Cut out cookies with cookie cutters and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick with a fork 2-3 times.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Cookies should be barely brown at the edges, and they will be soft when removed from oven. Let cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes; then transfer to a cooling rack. Decorate as desired.

Have you pre-ordered Amish Christmas Miracles yet? Visit my website for ordering information.

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With over a million copies sold, Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, the Amish Letters series, the Brides of Birch Creek series, the upcoming Mail Order Brides of Birch Creek, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. She has also contributed to numerous novella collections.

She and her husband James live in Arkansas and have three adult children. When she’s not writing, Kathleen is avidly crocheting, reading, and traveling, sometimes all at the same time. She runs the Facebook group Books & Hooks, which combines her love of books, crochet, and collecting recipes that she’ll never have enough time to make.