Emma Sutter lifted the ice cream cone to her lips, took another lick, and licked her fingers too. It was chocolate, her favorite, and she wondered if Aenti Ruth Ann would let her have it every day. Sometimes things like that happened, mostly because she’d lost her momma. Even though it had been two years, Emma still got two scoops of ice cream when most other kids just got one. Two scoops was a lot for her only being eight years old, and sometimes her stomach hurt when she was through, but she didn’t want to tell Aenti Ruth Ann that.
Dat said that people wanted her to feel happy again, and sometimes she was. Sometimes ice cream did help…just not deep down where it hurt the most. Not in the hole inside that she was saving for a mother.
Emma took another lick and then glanced up at Aenti Ruth Ann to see if she noticed the drips trailing down her fingers. Thankfully, her aunt was too busy chatting with her friend near the front door of the pie shop. Too busy to notice how sticky Emma had become.
The sun was warm overhead—much hotter than it had been in Kentucky. She’d asked for ice cream instead of pie. She’d promised to eat it all, but now it was melting faster than she could lick.
Footsteps sounded behind her, and Emma turned. A pretty woman approached, tall and thin, with red hair. Not a bright orange-red, but a light red that looked almost golden in the sun. The woman had a nice smile too. She paused, pulled a wipe from a plastic package, and handed it to Emma. “I thought you could use this.”
“Danke.” Emma nodded and then quickly wiped her hand, glancing at her aunt from the corner of her eye. When she finished wiping, the woman took it back, holding it by the corner. It hung limply in her hand.
She handed Emma another clean wipe and pointed to her lips, making a wiping motion. “I always get two scoops at Big Olaf ’s too, but I’ve learned to get them in a cup so I don’t end up with drippy hands and an ice cream mustache.” The woman laughed, and her eyes twinkled. “This Florida sun is twice as warm as the sun up north, don’t you think?”
Emma wiped her mouth, and then she handed the wipe back. “Ja. Hotter than the hot side of a wood burning stove.” The woman smiled. Then, looking around, Emma saw the large pots of flowers near the front door of Me, Myself, and Pie. “Are you the gardener? What is your name?”
The woman tucked a strand of hair that had slipped from her kapp behind her ear.
“My name is Hope, and I guess you can call me a gardener, but I’ve personally given up my title.” Hope sighed, placed a hand on her hip, and looked at Emma. Hope didn’t have the sympathy in
her eyes that Emma usually saw when people looked at her, and she liked that.
Emma took three quick licks. “Did you used to be a gardener?”
“Ja, I guess you can say that.”
“Do you wish you could be a gardener again?”
“I do. Very much.” Hope cocked an eyebrow. “You sure ask a lot of questions.”
Emma took another lick of her ice cream, but it was impossible to keep up. “If I had a garden I’d let you come and pull my weeds.”
Laughter spilled from the woman’s mouth, and Emma smiled. Seeing smiles was better than seeing tears.
Click here to read excerpt from Planted with Hope!
When Hope Miller is offered the plot of land behind the Me, Myself, and Pie shop to start a garden, she jumps at the chance. Finally—some space away from her four sisters! But everyone in town seems to have an opinion about what she should grow and how she should grow it. When the widower schoolteacher, Jonas Sutter, asks if his students at the Amish school can help turn the plot into a community garden, Hope only halfheartedly agrees, wondering if she will ever get the peace and quiet she craves. And will she get anything to grow?
The stories of friendship, community, and unexpected love within these pages will plant real seeds of hope within your heart.