FREE CHRISTIAN BOOK- A Lancaster Amish Home For Jacob

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FREE CHRISTIAN BOOK — MUST READ FOR AMISH FICTION LOVERS!

Will orphaned teenager Jacob Marshall conquer his troubled past and discover love and acceptance in Lancaster County?

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When orphaned Philadelphia teenager Jacob Marshall gets into trouble with the authorities, he has two alternatives – go to juvenile detention or work on a farm outside of the city. However, when he chooses the latter, Jacob gets more than he bargained for as he struggles to find his place in an Old Order Amish community in Lancaster County and with Thomas Mast, the straight laced Amish married man who is given the job of keeping Jacob in line. Caught between the light and dark, will Jacob be able to face his demons and put his past behind him or will his past prove more powerful than the faith of the Amish community he’s grown to love? Find out in Book 1 of the Home for Jacob series.

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CHAPTER ONE

“Run!” Charles shouted, but Jacob was already running, feet pounding against the broken concrete. He was heading at breakneck speed in the direction of what he knew to be an abandoned building.

Quickly, he grabbed onto a loose drainpipe adjacent to the building’s fire escape and began to climb. While others might find this sort of climb incredibly difficult, he always found it fun. The city was full of amazing obstacles, and he loved finding new ways to get around.

On most nights, they were able to do this without so much as a glance from the police, or anyone else for that matter. But on this particular night, Charles had suggested they bring a couple of cans of aerosol paint and work their magic on a car. They had been very proud of their work — but it did not seem anyone else was, especially the person who called the cops on them.

If they were lucky tonight, very lucky, they might manage to slip through the unlocked window at the inner-city group home without getting nabbed by the police. If they were even luckier, they might be able to slip into their rooms and into their beds without being noticed. It was more possible than it seemed, actually. They had done it a million times before, though Jacob wished Sherry were with them tonight. She was so much better at planning, strategy and getting out of things.

No sooner were they on the fire escape than they dived through an open window into what they had surmised was an abandoned factory. With any luck, the police outside would simply forget about them. It had happened before. After all, the factory was huge, and as Jacob made his way to the next floor he was not intimidated in the least by the red and blue strobes flashing just beyond the foggy windows. He had been in here a million times before — maybe a million and one; finding a place to hide was going to be easy.

“Over here!” Charles whispered urgently.

He’d found an old cabinet, lined with grease, but still a decent hiding place. It was better than nothing; that was for sure.

Jacob made a beeline toward the cabinet, following Charles in so that he could close the flimsy metal door behind them.

“Don’t close it all the way!” Charles hissed. “If it locks and we die in here, I’m going to kill you!”

Jacob held on to the edge of the door with three fingers, keeping the gap wide enough to see, but not so wide as to allow anyone to see in.

As he expected, no one came to this floor, but he could hear the sound of metal doors being swung aside and footsteps on the floor below. With any luck, that would be as far as they actually searched.

The footsteps stopped momentarily, and Jacob’s heart skipped as the unthinkable happened: they began to come up the stairs.

Jacob and Charlie had both played in this particular factory over the years often enough to know the layout. If the police came up those stairs, they would first encounter a door, and after that door, they would be on what Jacob had always thought to be a factory floor.

There were a million cabinets in here, at least, so the odds of their actually being found were slim to none. But it still made him incredibly nervous. He glanced toward the back of the cabinet, expecting to see Charles, but all he saw was darkness.

“Shh….” Charles said. He was probably placing a finger over his lips.

It was at this moment that Jacob realized there was not nearly enough room in the cabinet for both of them; his legs were at an odd, uncomfortable angle, and he was sure he felt Charles’ foot in his bum. In addition to that, he was sure he felt something crawling up his arm. But he dared not move. A single sound could easily give away their position, and the last thing he wanted to do was spend the night in a police station. He’d been there and done that plenty of times.

He thought for a moment at how angry — or annoyed — his social worker, Carol would be. She’d be furious if she found out he’d pulled this crap again. Not that it mattered in the end.

The footsteps came nearer, and for the first time Jacob could see light outside of the cabinet.

He squinted, trying to figure out just where that light was coming from while remaining as quiet as possible. Maybe, just maybe, the cops would go away if they didn’t hear anything. It was a long shot, though. The cops pretty much never went away on their own.

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fist. They weren’t supposed to be here.

At any minute, back at the group home, someone would check their beds, and the ‘policy’ when one was found empty was to call the police. The home might not have been a jail, but it was the closest thing to it.

Jacob remembered very clearly the last time he’d been in a predicament like this one. He’d been told he was lucky — extremely lucky — that the jails were full: otherwise he’d have been occupying his very own 8×4 concrete hotel room.

But Jacob had never been much for threats. And he didn’t consider this much of one.

How much worse could it possibly get? He peeked through the crack once again — and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw a pair of blue legs standing right outside the cabinet.

He stopped everything. He stopped moving, stopped looking, stopped breathing.

This all seemed very surreal, but in his mind, he was very aware of the situational severity. That was something that had always amused him, actually — being dragged into the administrator’s office after every escapade and being accused of ‘not thinking about the consequences of his actions’. That could not be further from the truth. He always thought about the consequences, and was more than aware of them. It was simply that he did not care. And why should he? No one seemed to care about him, after all.

If they did, he’d be living with a family instead of in a crappy group home. Not that he needed a family. But in all of his thirteen years, no one had seemed interested in fostering him, and when potential foster parents wandered the halls, he often felt like a dog at the shelter. They didn’t take more than a glance at him. He was trouble. He looked like trouble, his file said he was trouble (it was six inches thick, or so he had been told), and the workers at the group home said he was trouble. The truth never seemed to matter — though the truth was, simply, that he was trouble, even if it was only a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe, Jacob thought to himself, just maybe the police officer would give up the search and go back to whatever doughnut shop he’d come from, and then, just maybe, he and Charles could sneak back into their room and, for once, be exactly where they were supposed to be in the morning. Turning over a new leaf seemed like the thing to do about now.

As these thoughts raced through his mind, he heard the last thing he ever, ever wanted to hear from Charles’ mouth:

“Sorry.”

Charles had just uttered an actual apology – something that he would never do under normal circumstances.

Suddenly, and without warning beyond that halfhearted apology, Charles kicked him. The force sent him flying out of the cabinet and sprawling across the concrete floor with a yelp.

Immediately, the flashlight beam was on him, and the voice of several police officers echoed throughout the factory floor.

“Freeze! Put your hands on your head!” One of them shouted. Jacob couldn’t tell whether they were in a terrible mood or simply excited at the prospect of having something to do. Or both. ‘Both’ might definitely be worse.

“All right, all right!” Jacob said, rising to his knees and putting his hands on his head.

“I didn’t ask to hear your mouth,” said the officer, making a beeline for Jacob.

Jacob glanced to his right. Quietly, the cabinet door shut.

“Is there anyone else in here with you?” the officer demanded. He shined the light in nearly every direction, while another officer walked up from behind.

“No,” Jacob lied. “It’s just me.” He was nothing if not loyal.

“You want to tell us what you’re doing here?” the officer behind him asked.

Jacob turned to answer, but was grabbed roughly by the first officer.

“Stop moving around!” the officer shouted. “Wait — I know you. You’re that Jacob kid… yeah… The one from the group home.”

“You’ve got me.” Jacob shrugged.

“I said I didn’t want to hear any of your mouth, and I’m tired of you punk kids thinking you can get away with whatever the hell you want.”

“Well, maybe,” Jacob said, starting to rise to his feet, “if you’d leave us alone, you wouldn’t have to deal with it!”

He knew as the words fell from his mouth that it had been a mistake.

Without warning — other than Jacob’s brief speech — the officer removed a canister of pepper spray from his belt and delivered a volley directly into Jacob’s face.

“I said stop moving!” the officer shouted as Jacob screamed. He fell to his side, assuming the fetal position. He’d been sprayed before, but it didn’t exactly get better with time, and he was nowhere near building up an immunity.

His eyes immediately tired up – a futile act on the part of his body to clear the spray from his eyes. Each breath labored, creating the sensation of fire spreading through his throat and nostrils. He tried to scream again, but it caught in his throat, causing not only more pain but a coughing spasm that ended in a stream of vomit surging up from his stomach.

“Oh, well, that’s disgusting,” the other officer said, kicking Jacob in the back. “You hear that, kid? You’re disgusting.”

He hated the police. They were never helpful or kind like their advertising portrayed: cops were mean, vile creatures with pepper spray, power-mad, with too much time on their hands. When they weren’t eating doughnuts and getting fat and lazy, they insisted on chasing nearly-homeless kids like him.

Minutes later, they dragged him from the building, and tossed him into the back of a waiting police car.

Time went by in a blur, and he was booked at the local police station. He was certain he was being questioned, but between the beating and the pepper spray, he couldn’t make head or tail of it.

Finally, he heard an officer say something along the lines of “Clearly intoxicated…”

“I’m not drunk,” Jacob started to say. But the words once again caught in his throat. He unceremoniously vomited all over the booking counter. Shortly thereafter, he found himself not in a cell, but handcuffed to the handrail at the edge of the lobby.

“Don’t want you messin’ up one of our cells,” the arresting officer said, as he left Jacob practically hanging on the bar.

With nothing left to do, he drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep — which, if he were very, very lucky, would give the effects of the pepper spray time to wear off. He might even be able to see again.

The least they could do was offer him an eyewash station. But these were cops. Most grownups were useless, but cops were worse than your average grownup. They were useless and merciless.

Jacob fell more deeply asleep than he’d wanted. He dreamed of a family picnic, with a mom, dad, two brothers and a dog. It was a dream he had often, but even as he ran across the make-believe lawn, he knew he was dreaming.

His dream parents were kind and rich, and there was a ton of food on the picnic table — enough to feed everyone in the group home, but all of it for him.

He was jarred awake by a new police officer, one he hadn’t seen before. The sight of a new face was not exactly comforting. But at least his eyes no longer burned, and he wasn’t cuffed to the railing.

“Kid, wake up,” the officer said. “Your social worker’s here to pick you up.”

Of course she was. Carol wouldn’t miss this for the world, would she?

He pulled himself from the floor, utterly exhausted, and took a step forward.

“No, that way.” The officer corrected him, turning him in the right direction.

The first thing Jacob noticed was that the world beyond the plate-glass windows at the front of the station had transitioned from night to early morning, with the bright Pennsylvania sun assaulting nearly all of the senses he had left after last night. This place could really do with some blinds, he thought.

The second thing he noticed was Carol, his Social Worker. She was standing in the doorway, wearing her usual white turtleneck and toting that huge pleather bag. She looked angry, but that was nothing new.

He walked toward her.

He was not afraid of her, per se, but when she wanted to, she could have a serious temper. He was expecting her to read him the riot act. In fact, he almost expected to be smacked in the back of the head a few times during the ride back, and told how much of an idiot he was, how he made her life hard and how she didn’t like a hard life. He expected the usual threats: you will be tied to your bed; your food privileges will be cut; blah, blah, blah.

She was not a half-bad caseworker. He’d had worse. She did seemed to genuinely care about him – at least, as much as time allowed, with her caseload of fifty-three other rejects and losers like him.

This time she made no threats, just looked at him sadly, and that made him nervous.

Disappointment, that was her look, as her eyes seemed to bore a shaft straight into his soul. It wasn’t a new thing, of course. She was all of fifty years old, which, when held in comparison to Jacob’s mere thirteen years on the planet, seemed like an eternal gap that would never be traversed. She’d been on the job far too long, and, deep down, Jacob realized that his crap was the probably the straw that was breaking her back. How many times in the last month had he been in trouble?

While he felt some remorse for the hell he put her through, he only had enough room in his mind to worry about himself, and what was coming next.

“Let’s go,” she said, turning to the door and walking briskly through the airlock, onto the street. A cold blast of air hit Jacob as he followed her, eventually reaching the sidewalk and her waiting car.

He had no idea what time it was, but with the sun barely creeping over the tops of the buildings, he guessed that it was still well before eight in the morning.

They both climbed into the car — an old Cavalier, all that Carol could afford on her meager salary. He figured the only thing going through her mind on the way back to the group home was: “I really do not get paid enough for this.”

The ride back to the home was short, and even shorter than usual due to the lack of traffic on the city streets. Carol pulled her car into the parking lot located behind the building, purposefully ignoring the speed bump placed at the entrance. Jacob’s head hit the roof of the car. He shot Carol a dirty look.

“Then wear your seat belt,” she said sharply in response to his unspoken criticism as she pulled into one of the free parking spaces. “Get out.”

He complied, if only to avoid her wrath.

Carol purposefully made tracks across the parking lot, likely to avoid talking to Jacob before she had to. One could hardly blame her, but Jacob had a hard time keeping up.

Moments later they were sitting in her makeshift office. It had been erected years ago using cubicle dividers in the corner beside an exterior door. In fact, the ‘walls’ were not nearly tall enough to provide any sort of privacy, and the door to the office was a re-purposed door from inside the group home. He couldn’t remember where the door had come from, and neither could anyone else. All that mattered, he had come to understand, was that the state did not have to pay for it, and that made it a good thing.

Carol sat behind her desk, shuffling through papers as she often did. Jacob often wondered what type of degree she had to have for such a mundane job. But his thoughts were interrupted as she finally dropped the papers, and stared across the desk at him.

“I’m going to be frank,” she said, in a freakishly monotone voice. “What the hell? I mean, really. What the hell?”

This was a bit terrifying. He had never heard Carol curse.

“Okay,” said Carol, “listen. We have our limits – well, the limits the state imposes on us. The fact is, Jacob, we can’t–”

Carol’s speech was rudely interrupted by a knock on the cubicle door. In this universe, knocking granted an individual permission to simply enter the office, as Carrie, the other social worker, now did. She did that half-in half-out thing that Jacob found utterly annoying as she spoke.

“Hiiii,” she said, stretching out her word, as if it was going to make the interruption any less annoying. As she spoke, she constantly smacked her lips, apparently a side effect of trying to enunciate her words. “I just wanted to let you know that…Mack…the one upstairs…he made poo-poo on the floor–”

“Get out,” Carol said flatly.

“I’m sorry?” Carrie said, looking offended.

“I said get out. Close the door behind you.”

As soon as the door closed, Carol continued her impromptu speech. “Bottom line,” she said, “you can’t stay here anymore.”

“Is this supposed to be bad news?” Jacob asked, slouching down in the chair.

“It is bad news,” Carol said. “There are only a few other places open, one of them being a mental hospital on the south side. Of course, considering your actions last night, you’re more likely to spend time in juvenile detention.”

“Or I could take my chances on the streets,” Jacob suggested. “I never asked for your help.” That old rage began to well within him, as he felt his stomach constrict and his throat tighten, and he burned to pound his fist on something or somebody. “You could have just let me die back then.”

“You couldn’t go for one night without being picked up by the police,” Carol pointed out. “How do you think you’re going to do out there?”

“I could do it,” Jacob insisted. The fact that ‘back then’ had been when he was a baby made little difference. He was now on the brink of manhood. Everyone told him that, to try to make him comply with this or that. Until right now, he hadn’t figured a way to work that expression to his favor. Until now.

“No, you couldn’t,” Carol said, no longer bothering to look up from her paperwork. Her shoulders were slouched – rolled, he thought; that sight you see in older adults or people exhausted or depressed. He guessed she might be all of those right now.

Finally, she spoke. “You’re an idiot.”

“I’m not an idiot,” Jacob muttered, sinking further into the chair. “Whatever you say,” Carol said.  “Now there are some other options . . . well, one other option. I can’t get you a foster family in the city; quite frankly, you’re considered a sociopath, and those foster families have a right to know that an idiotic, psycho like you would be coming to live with them.”

“They don’t even know me,” Jacob quietly protested.

“I don’t care; you’re going to be labeled a sociopath. Especially after what you told the State psychiatrist,” Carol said, still reading her paperwork.

“I was joking. I fed her all the lines from a kid on ‘Law & Order.’ It wasn’t real.”

“Well, she took it to be real. That’s why I called you an idiot. I know you’re not psycho, but it’s becoming increasing difficult for me to convince others of that fact.

“There’s a family outside the city that owes me a favor,” she went on. “It might be just what you need — a fresh start, a place where you can live, learn and grow into adulthood as a good citizen. Honestly, I think the city places are simply a revolving door to nowhere. At least this way, you’ll have a chance at a decent life. It won’t be easy, but it’ll keep you out of jail and off the streets. And that’s what counts. I know you don’t believe anyone cares for you,” she wound up, “but I do. And, this might be a chance for you to pull your life together.”

Jacob blinked, but didn’t reply. In fact, he didn’t know what to say. In those few words, she had summed up his life with her – messed-up – and offered to give him a chance to start over . . . because she… cared about him.

That last part was hard to fathom; it had been so long since anyone had expressed anything toward him that he felt his stomach constrict. Only Charles and Sherry were even slightly close, and even they never flat-out came and told him they cared about him.

He shook his head and forced himself back to the present. He thought about the other thing she had said: She was sending him to “the country.”

When that hit him, he just stared at her. I didn’t know Pennsylvania had a country, he thought.

“Outside the city? Where outside the city?” he said finally.

 The idea of actually leaving the city kind of appealed to him, though he was always a little apprehensive about leaving Charles and Sherry behind. Then again, they were like family. They always found their way back to one another, somehow.

“Far outside. I’m not even sure if you’ll even have a zip code. But it beats the alternative.” Carol pushed her graying hair back from her eyes, and stared at him with her tired blue-eyed gaze. “You are a pain in the ass, because you’re smart,” she said. “I know life has dealt you a shitty hand; I cannot change that. But I want to give you a chance. And calling in this favor might be the only thing left.”

Outside the cubicle, Jacob could hear the day starting. The outer door was constantly opening, with that horrid squeaking noise accompanied by the shuffling of footsteps and the low, murmuring voices that came standard with group home workers this early in the morning. It had become clear to Jacob long ago that none of them actually wanted to be here, and, for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why they didn’t simply seek employment elsewhere.

After all, they were always telling him that he could be anything he wanted, if he just put his mind to it. It never went over well when he turned it around by saying, “Then why aren’t you a millionaire?” or “Then why don’t you have that pilot’s license you always talk about?”

It had occurred to him long ago that maybe, just maybe, life wasn’t as full of sunshine and flowers as they were trying to lead him to believe. In spite of that, he stayed at the group home under both mandate of law, and the promise of three meals per day and a bed — even if the meals weren’t always hot and the bed was pretty uncomfortable.

“The alternative being jail, right?” Jacob said. His eyes wandering to the walls of the ‘office’. He realized idly that Carol had all these fake pictures on the wall: framed representations of happy children in fake families, little girls in pretty sundresses and boys running through meadows laughing. She also had kid stuff: pictures of cartoon characters that might have entertained children half his age.

“Or the psych ward,” Carol agreed. “There just aren’t enough beds. And, to be frank, there are kids out there who want that bed more than you do.”

He didn’t answer, but instead continued to survey the walls of the cubicle. It was such a – he didn’t have a word to describe it – but it meant roughly that what was on the walls seldom matched the reality of life. He’d also heard this speech a million times before, although, to be honest, he’d never actually been kicked out of the group home.

“Do you have anything to say? Any input at all?” Carol asked. Her tone was becoming less patient.

Jacob shrugged and kept staring at the walls. He’d fixated on what appeared to be a makeshift calendar Carol had made. He wondered if he should express some emotion, but it would probably be as fake as the pictures on her walls. In reality, he didn’t care that much about his fate: group home or foster home, it was pretty much all the same to him.

“Fine,” Carol said finally. “Get upstairs, pack your stuff, and get back down here. Someone will be around to pick you up in a bit. Best you say goodbye to your friends… No, scratch that; you haven’t made any friends here. With the exception of Charles, who may be following you to the country.”

Jacob silently pushed the chair out, stood up, and walked toward the cubicle door.

Passing a mirror, he was struck by how small he looked. Stringy hair pasted to his forehead, daiquiri-blue eyes dulled by neglect and want looking back at him; slightly hunched shoulders, rolled over by the weight of his situation, he guessed. It was not a pretty picture, and from the image in that mirror, he thought he might have shrunk. Was he really getting shorter?

He half-shrugged to himself, accepting the situation. His mouth was downturned, and there were dark circles and redness around his tired gaze; they were a holdover from the pepper spray. Maybe that was why he seemed shorter today, too.

“Jacob, push the chair in,” Carol said. As usual, he ignored her, and simply exited without turning around, squeezing through the door, as wide as it would open with the chair sitting in the way.

It was a juvenile kind of resistance, he knew. Nevertheless, what else did he have? No family, few friends, a foster care system that couldn’t give a fig about him… and now he was nearly homeless.

Oh, yeah, and he was a sociopath, whatever the heck that was. He had accomplished all this after being on this lousy planet for only 4789 days.

But Carol, who always came and picked him up from whatever trouble he got himself into, was now giving him a chance. Maybe, he thought, with a little flash of surprise, it wouldn’t have been too much to push the chair in.

He took the stairs up to the second floor of the home. Surprisingly enough, it was clean this morning. He found the door to his room, swung it open, and walked in to find Charles lying in his bed.

“Welcome back,” Jacob said, walking straight past him.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Charles said smugly. “I’ve been here all night.”

“I hope you can get used to being alone for a while,” Jacob said. “They’re shipping me out to the middle of nowhere.”

He knew he should be angry with Charles, but he couldn’t be. He knew that Charles’ leg had nearly cramped off, back there in the cabinet, had been a matter of throwing him under the bus or screaming bloody murder. He understood the rationale: Why should they both have gotten caught?

“It won’t last long,” Charles said with a laugh. “We always end up back here.”

“Not this time,” Jacob said as he stuffed his clothes into a small duffel bag. He went to the doorway and turned back around. “You know, you owe me one,” he said.

He looked at Charles for a moment longer. Even though they were best friends, he didn’t feel a hug was in order. That would be too much like connecting, and he didn’t like to connect to people. You just got disappointed in the end. “See you around,” he said.

“That’s right, keep your hopes up!” Charles called after him as he made his way down the hall. “There’s always emancipation. Then we can live where we want.”

It was a familiar refrain, shouted between two foster kids whose biggest hope was to finally become adults and leave the system, or to get old enough to ask for emancipation and get out on their own. Two fifteen-year-olds in their group home had done it, and had left all happy, like they’d won the lottery. Conquering heroes who’d left to make something of themselves in the big, bad world.

Jacob had seen them a couple of times afterwards, walking down the streets looking like they were on top of the world. He’d asked how they were doing, and they’d said great, fantastic, working at McDonalds was a career path to fame and fortune. He hadn’t believed it, but he’d wished them well and played along.

In reality, they’d both looked a little hungry.

“Long live King Emancipation!” he called back, as he headed down the stairs. He wasn’t headed to a life of splendor at McDonalds, but he was going to a place that might be far worse – the country.

Why did the thought of the wilds of Pennsylvania fill him with so much anger, and so much dread? Well, no matter what happened, the other group-homers and the social workers weren’t going to see how scared he was. He sauntered toward the office, to sit and wait for his ride.

***

“We’ve been driving for hours,” Jacob complained. “I haven’t seen a building in…well…hours. Where are we?”

“Don’t ask me, kid,” said the driver. “I just get paid to take people here…well, there…wherever ‘here’ is. You know.”

“Have you ever brought anyone out this far before?” Jacob asked, genuinely curious.

“Ah, no, actually . . . and I hope they pay me a little better for this one.”

Another two hours dragged on. Jacob was beginning to wonder if he would ever see the highway again.

Finally, they passed a green township sign that simply read: “Hope Crossing”.

It was an old sign, and the poles supporting it were bent, as if they’d been hit, toppled, and re-erected dozens of time. After the sign came a long stretch of road, a few farmhouses here and there, and then finally, for the first time in hours, a town.

A real town! Jacob sat up in his seat, trying to catch a glimpse of this place called ‘Hope Crossing.’ But he realized almost immediately that it would be nothing like the city. There were a few cars parked here and there, but what really drew his attention were the horse-drawn buggies. They were everywhere, and he could see some of the most strangely dressed people walking up and down the sidewalk. They almost looked like . . . could that really be right? . . . Pilgrims.

“Where are we?” Jacob asked the driver. “Did we go back in time?”

“I hit 85 a while back,” the driver said with a straight face. “But no, seriously, this place is called Hope Crossing. It’s an Amish community. Old backward folk, if you ask me.”

“‘Backward’?” Was he going to live with a bunch of idiots?

“Well, look around you, kid. They ride in buggies when there are perfectly good cars. They don’t even have electricity.”

“That’s crap. I saw a light on in that store,” Jacob pointed to a grocery store that was proudly advertising ‘Amish Whoopie Pies’ in the window.

“Those stores are owned by normal folk… probably not something you’ll be seeing for a while.”

“What do you mean?” said Jacob suspiciously.

“From what I hear, you did some nasty stuff back in the city. Ms. Carol pulled some strings to keep you out of jail, and she does not want you anywhere near the home — or near any buildings over three stories tall, for that matter. You’re going to live with the Amish.”

“The people with no electricity?!”

Great. No video games, no television, no radio. Ms. Carol sure knew how to punish a person. Dropped in the middle of nowhere with nothing — with less than nothing.

Come to think of it, it was kind of fitting for him, because he was worth less than nothing.

“And I get paid to deliver you to the gates of hell.” The driver chuckled. “Isn’t it great how that works?”

“Absolutely fantastic,” said Jacob.

They drove for still another twenty minutes: down the road, flanked by massive fields, long fences, and kinds of livestock that he’d heard about in school, but had never actually seen before.

“I’m so screwed,” he muttered, low enough that he thought the driver wouldn’t hear.

“Yep,” the driver answered calmly, as he took a left turn into what must have passed for a driveway around here.

In fact, it looked less like a driveway than like a long, winding gravel path that someone had laid down haphazardly. Jacob briefly wondered if they would not have been better off with a dirt road. Maybe it would have been less bumpy.

They were heading toward a farmhouse, a large one, though it was dwarfed by the outline of the barn behind it. Jacob briefly wondered if these people were farmers. But his thought process was interrupted by the vehicle coming to a stop, and then by the appearance of what Jacob could only assume was an Amish man on the porch of the house.

The driver stepped out of the vehicle, and Jacob followed. Moments later, the driver was handing the man a piece of paper. “I need you to sign here, or I don’t get paid,” he said.

The man put pen to paper and handed it back. Then he stood waiting for the driver to turn the vehicle around and exit his property.

Jacob looked at the Amish man who had emerged from the house. This was, easily, the largest man he had ever seen. The guy stood six feet tall at least, and wore clothes that looked as if they’d come directly from the 18th century.

Despite his strange manner of dress, he was intimidating – more so than Jacob had ever seen in any other man. And, of course, Jacob still had that little shrinking problem from the pepper spray, so he felt even shorter than usual. It was like staring up at a tree with a hat on top.

“My name is Thomas,” the man said. He towered over Jacob like a skyscraper. “Thomas Mast.

“I know all about you, Jacob,” he went on. “There will be no shenanigans here. You will not find any cars to spray paint; you will not disturb our way of life. Look to your left, look to your right. Look behind you. There is no city; there are no houses, and hardly any people. Nowhere for you to go. But,” he added, “if you should find that this place does not appeal to you, you are free to take your bag and your two legs, and walk off in the direction that tickles your fancy.”

Jacob just stared up at him, dumbstruck. The man went on:

“If you stay, you can expect to be treated like a member of my family, with all the rules and consequences that entails. You will have an opportunity to earn our trust, respect and affection. That last part is entirely up to you. Right now, you have no black marks against you. See to it that you keep it that way or suffer the consequences of transgression. I hope we’re clear on that point.”

Thomas Mast stared at him for a moment to see if his point was made. Then he turned toward the house. Jacob was sure he felt the man’s steps shaking the Earth as he walked. He vanished into the house as if he’d been a giant apparition, some large — no, massive — white tree-ghost in a straw hat, farmer’s clothes and a long beard.

This had to be a joke. Suffer the consequences of transgression? That didn’t sound too good.

Jacob was put in mind of those old prison movies he had seen at the group home, when the tough guy first met the warden. The warden made a speech; the tough guy listened and then when the warden was finished, he turned and left the prisoner to be led away to his cell. All this place lacked was a black-and

-white background, and a six-by-nine cell with loud clanking bars.

“I should have gone to the psych ward and taken the drugs they give sociopaths,” Jacob murmured to himself.

He stood there staring at the closed door, wondering if he should try to get across the porch. Then he made a decision and tiptoed across the wooden planks toward the door.

“Mr. Mast… uh… Thomas?” What did he do now?

Clearly, the man had taken him in under duress. And he had made it clear that if Jacob walked away, he would be on his own. The flip side to that was that if he stayed, he would be treated like a Mast… whatever that meant.

It didn’t sound too much different from being treated like a sociopath. Both treatments were unknown, probably dreadful, and therefore similar.

This was certainly different from the group home. Mr. Thomas- the-Tree-with-a-Straw-Hat Mast did not even make a pretense of caring for him. He had said that Jacob had the opportunity to earn it. The group home hung up signs saying how much they cared, which were there no matter what he did . . . and it was all a lie.

At least, here, he knew where he stood: he was dirt under his host’s shoe. He had a chance to earn more than that — but he also had a chance to suffer consequences. Which sounded a lot like the hammer of doom, coming down from Thor, complete with ground- splitting and lightning strikes.

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Product Details

  • File Size: 3449 KB
  • Print Length: 156 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Global Grafx Press; 3 edition (July 22, 2014)
  • Publication Date: July 22, 2014
  • Sold by:  Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HLUH7BM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Enabled
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Customer Reviews

A Home & Second Chance for Jacob

 on January 16, 2016
By Christy
I chose this book because of it’s synopsis; I was drawn in and curious, the more I read of this story, the more I wanted. I literally did not want to put this book down. Aside from some errors/typos, it is an enjoyable read.

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

 on May 10, 2015
By Barbara Mojica
This book of approximately one hundred pages relates the story of a Philadelphia orphan named Jacob Marshall. Jacob is thirteen years old and has never been a member of a family. When he is caught spray painting in a warehouse, his social worker is desperate to find a solution. His choices are juvenile hall, a mental hospital or banishment from the city to live with an Amish family. Jacob is resentful, but reluctantly chooses to try the Amish life. At first he hates the life, but just when things seem to be falling into place, he is blamed for a crime he did not commit. Will he be shunned, land in jail, or run away again?

Inspiring reading

19 people found this helpful.
 on July 26, 2014
By Mary Lawrick
I love the Amish stories, and this one was getting very interesting when all of a sudden it was over! I had not realized it was only book one of a series. Guess I’ll be on a quest to find the next in the series, for I really want to follow Jacob, to see how he handles his problems in living with the Amish.

Do people choose to turn bad, or do we make them?

 on January 16, 2017
By MJ
Good story line on how our surrounding and people can make a difference in how we turn out.

Five Stars

 on June 4, 2016
By Ruth M. Alexander
I felt sorry for Jacob and glad he found a home to go to.

Finding his place

19 people found this helpful.
 on July 21, 2014
By Willa Haynes
Not having been part of the foster care system (at least in the Lancaster area), I will take, as truth, what is said about the group home environment. The story is an excellent and heartfelt description of a boy who is trying to find his place in the community – either city or country – by surmounting incredible odds. I look forward to reading Book 2 in the series.

I liked this book because it shows don’t judge a person on here say

21 people found this helpful.
 on January 11, 2014
By b.owens
I would like to read more books like this one. it was very hard to put down.

Loved This Book – Can’t Wait for Book 2

32 people found this helpful.
 on January 3, 2014
By Rissa Trent
A Lancaster Amish Home for Jacob was great. Funny, touching and sweet are the only words I can think of to describe it. It follows a boy from the streets of Philadelphia who comes to live with an Amish family in Lancaster. It is touching to watch him grow and mature and learn to trust after years of neglect. He comes into his own in this book, and even finds love and a family that understands him and allows him to take concrete steps towards manhood. He learns the Amish ways, and takes to farming because of his love for the family. It’s funny at points, touching at others and all the time engrossing. I cheered at the end, and can’t wait for the next book in this series.

A Very Different Way of Life for Jacob

22 people found this helpful.
 on January 5, 2014
By Nightingale
Jacob, after another escapade, is sent away from the care home in the city to live with an Amish family in the country. Adjustment is difficult on both sides, but after a time it seems the move might be a success. However, something happens which could spoil everything. Jacob’s feelings of rejection and worthlessness are described well, as is the way of life of the Amish community, which offers an alternative to his previous troubled existence. An interesting view of a very different way of life.

Jacob needed the guidance

20 people found this helpful.
 on February 19, 2014
By Rosanna
It was a good story line . It showed the compassion of the Amish community. He learned a lot from the family that took him in.

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