Amanda Flower presents Book 2.5 in the Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.
Release date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Books
Print pages: 73
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I buzzed about the front room of Swissmen Sweets, the candy shop in Harvest, Ohio, that I ran with my Amish grandmother, Clara King. As I scurried about, I hit every flat surface that I could reach with a feather duster. I dusted the maple shelves that held the glass jars of jelly beans, lemon drops, licorice, and hard candy, all of which were made in this very shop. I stopped just short of dusting the shop cat, Nutmeg, a little orange striped feline who watched my feather duster with studied interest.
“Bailey,” my grandmother said from behind the half-domed glass counter where we displayed our most enticing treats: molded chocolate creations, truffles, and fudge all had a place of honor behind the glass. At the moment, my grandmother was sliding a tray of butterscotch peanut bars into the case. “You must calm down, kind. You are making us all dizzy.” After the tray was in place, she patted the prayer cap on the back of her head. “Your parents will be here any moment. The shop is as clean as it’s ever been. There is nothing more you can do.”
“Cousin Clara is right,” said Charlotte Weaver, our young Amish shop assistant and my cousin. She put away the bottle of vinegar water she’d been using to clean the counter. “You are making me nervous.”
“I know I’m wound a little tight. I just can’t believe that Mom and Dad are actually coming to Harvest today. I thought they never would again.” I stepped behind the counter and stowed the feather duster in the cabinet below the cash register with the other cleaning supplies. As I moved, my dangly silver earrings knocked against my cheeks. Being the only non-Amish person in Swissmen Sweets, I was also the only one wearing any type of jewelry. I have always been partial to dangly earrings.
I never thought my parents would return to Swissmen Sweets because my father ran away from Harvest when he was a young man. He left the Amish community and Ohio so that he could marry my mother. When I was a child, they came back once a year so my grandparents could see me, but once I was an adult my parents stopped those visits. I didn’t think they had been in Ohio in over ten years, except for a very brief trip to attend my grandfather’s funeral. My nerves were heightened by the fact that my parents did not approve of my decision to leave my job as a prestigious New York City chocolatier to move to Amish Country. I suspected in their eyes I’d gone backward, since I’d settled in the place they’d fled when they were young.
I straightened up and ran my damp palms over my jeans. Maami was right. I needed to get a grip. I calmed down just as the front door opened and my mother and father walked in. Dad looked like any other suburban New England father. He wore chinos, loafers, and a light blue Polo shirt—Polo with a big P—and his gray hair was combed back from his face. A pair of sunglasses sat in the breast pocket of his shirt. He was clean shaven. Looking at him, you would never know that he spent the first twenty years of his life in the Plain community.
My mother, on the other hand, had not grown up Amish. She was originally from Holmes County too, but from an English family in the county seat of Millersburg. She wore a long, flowered sundress and short-sleeved cardigan, and I thought the best evidence that she’d never been Amish was the flower tattoo on the inside of her right arm. It was something she got as a teenager when she wanted to assert herself, or so she’d told me when I wanted one as a child. Tattoos were forbidden in the Amish world, and I always suspected, having grown up in Holmes County, the tattoo was my mother’s way of stating her Englishness.
My mother’s parents passed away before I was born. They were farmers, and she didn’t want that for herself or her husband. When she and my father fell in love, he left his Amish district and they ran away to New England. He went to college on a scholarship and got a corporate job, and my mother delved into her first love: painting. She sold her New England landscapes in gift shops around the region.
When I was old enough, my parents would leave me in Holmes County for the entire summer. This gave them time to travel and see the world without a child tagging along behind them. During those weeks and months when I was alone with my Amish grandparents, I fell in love with chocolate. I know people say all the time that they love chocolate, but I really did, and do to this day. At five I asked my grandfather to teach me the art of candy making, and I never looked back. However, I can’t say my parents were pleased with my dream.
I refused to go to college and instead enrolled in culinary school with an emphasis on chocolate and desserts. It was my goal to be a world-renowned New York chocolatier, and I almost made it. I was days away from being promoted to head chocolatier at JP Chocolates, where I had been the protégé of owner Jean Pierre Ruge for six years—until I walked away from it all to move to Harvest and help my grandmother at Swissmen Sweets after my grandfather’s death.
I knew it was the very last place on Earth my parents wanted me to land. Mom and Dad thought I had thrown away my career by leaving New York, but I felt differently. In New York, I was a workaholic. Everything about my life was related to my work, but in Harvest I could be a new person. I could have a life outside of candy that included friends, a boyfriend, and a bit of sleuthing too.
However, I wondered if my parents’ opinion would change soon. In two months, my cable television show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets, would air on Gourmet Television. I had been going back and forth between Harvest and New York City for months to shoot the show and publicize its debut. Maybe when my parents saw that I could succeed in both worlds, Harvest and New York City, they would believe that I’d made the right choice. Then again, there were no guarantees when it came to television.
“This place has not changed a bit,” my mother, Susan King, said the moment she stepped into the shop. “I swear I just traveled back in time. Though I always feel like that when we come back.” She shook her head. “I don’t know why I expect Holmes County to change.”
My father, Silas, was far less vocal than my mother. “It is nice to see the old shop.”
Swissmen Sweets was more than just a shop to my father: it was his childhood home. He and my grandparents had lived in the apartment above the shop when he was a child. Charlotte and my grandmother lived there now.
I stepped out from behind the counter just in time for my mother to envelop me in a hug. “Bailey!” She smelled like r. . .
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