NURSING HER AMISH NEIGHBOR
by Marta Perry
Healing his physical wounds is just the beginning… Seeking a break from her nursing duties, Miriam Stoltzfus returns home to Lost Creek—and encounters her most difficult patient yet. Her childhood neighbor, Matthew King, is suffering after an accident left him injured and his younger brother dead. But he doesn’t want anyone’s help. Can Miriam guide him through his grief to prove he’s still the strong, confident man she remembers?
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“It takes time to come back from lying in bed,” Miriam said, as if she knew his thoughts. “I’ve heard a therapist say a week of exercise for every day in bed.” She’d moved closer, and as he tried again, she put her hand on the middle of his back, pressing.
He could feel how much easier that made it to pull up. And he could also feel the shape of her palm and the warmth of her skin through the thin cotton of his nightshirt. He looked at her, feeling that awareness move between them.
“Here, let me help.” Betsy charged in, inserting herself between him and Miriam.
Jealous? He couldn’t be sure.
“That’s right.” Miriam, unruffled, moved Betsy’s hand slightly. “Good. Now don’t push. Just use your hand for a little extra support. We want his muscles to work but not strain.”
“Yah, I see. I can feel it.” Betsy sounded pleased, her antagonism slipping away.
With the two of them behind him, he couldn’t see either of their faces. But he didn’t like the idea of them ganging up on him.
“Betsy, do we have any lemonade?”
“I don’t think so. Do you want some? I can make it.” All her eagerness to please him rushed back.
“We could all use some after we finish here, ain’t so? Why don’t you make a pitcher?”
“Right away.” She hurried off.
“Don’t worry about it.” Miriam seemed amused. “She’s still your willing servant.”
“That wasn’t the idea,” he said stiffly, his temper flaring that she could read him so easily. “In case you haven’t noticed, it makes her happy to do things for me.”
“I noticed.” She looped the handles back up over the bar and pulled down a pair of stretchy bands. “As long as she’s helping you to get stronger, I don’t object.”
“Stronger.” He almost spat out the word. “Stronger for what? None of this is going to do any good. It’s useless. I can’t be the person I was.”
She seemed unaffected by his anger. “We’ll never know that if you don’t try, will we?”
He glared at her for a long moment as
He glared at her for a long moment as a thought formed in his mind. He turned it over, looking at it from all angles. Would it work?
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’ll make a deal with you.”
“What kind of a deal?” Miriam’s expression was cautious.
“I promise to do everything you say…to try my hardest…for a month. If I’m not much better by then, you agree to quit.”
Miriam stood very still, considering before she spoke. “I can’t speak for Tim. Just for myself.”
“Yah. Just for yourself.”
“Who’s going to decide whether or not you’re much better?” she said. “You?”
His jaw hardened. She wasn’t going to make this easy.
“No,” he said abruptly. “How about… Betsy?”
Her lips twitched. “Don’t you think Betsy has her own reasons for wanting to be rid of me?”
He raised one eyebrow, a gesture that used to attract the girls. “If you’re really making progress, you’ll have won her over by then. What’s wrong? Don’t you have any confidence in your work?”
She seemed to wince at that. After a long moment, she nodded. “All right. It’s a deal.”
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