Plain Fear: Forgiven: A Novel
“How is Rachel? Her baby?”
    “Good. One day my boys will play with their cousin. But I see Roc more often,” Levi said. “Easier since Rachel is being shunned.”
    Samuel looked up, ignoring his dinner. “Marrying an Englisher is not taken lightly.”
    “They married not long after they returned.” Levi smiled. “Hannah and I attended their wedding. It was very small. But I believe they are good for each other.”
    “Then you don’t think she should be shunned?”
    “It is not for me to say, is it? Hannah grieves for her sister, though. So we see them occasionally, but…not for reasons you might think. And we do not discuss these visits with others.” Levi gave a warning glance.
    Samuel raised an eyebrow, but he gave a nod of understanding. He would not say anything either.
    “I do not lie,” Levi added, a tone of defiance in his voice. “I want you to understand that, Samuel.”
    “You’re not Pop.”
    “No, I’m not. Our actions—Hannah’s and mine—could lead to our own shunning at some point. But I must protect my family, and I will.”
    This man who lay in the bed seemed so different from the brother he had known growing up. Levi acted more like Jacob, skirting the rules and playing with fire. Maybe that was simply part of adulthood. Samuel had done his share of that in the past few months, so he wouldn’t judge. Besides, it had been three years since he’d seen Levi. Yet in a world where nothing with the Amish changed in hundreds of years, much had changed.
    “When I was injured,” Levi said, “Roc canceled a trip he’d planned to find a missing friend so he could help out. He is a good man. And he loves Rachel as she loves him. They are devoted to each other and to Josef’s son.”
    “The child won’t be raised Amish then?” Samuel asked.
    Levi shook his head. “Both Rachel and Roc understand we are all in a battle. And this battle strips away the dividers between religious institutions.”
    Samuel’s eyebrows rose. A battle?
    “But I get ahead of myself.” Levi scratched his beard. “Samuel, our father sent me a letter a while back. He expressed concerned about you…about an English girl you have been seeing.” Samuel opened his mouth to deny it, but Levi rushed on. “Hear me out. You are a man now, Samuel, and can make your own decisions. I will not lecture you as Pop most probably already has.” He shrugged. “Besides, as you can tell from what I’ve said about Roc and Rachel, I do not think marrying an Englisher is the worst you can do—if it’s the right Englisher . Rachel’s situation is different, of course, because she was baptized. If you were to marry an Englisher , you would not be shunned because you have not been baptized.”
    “Are you telling me not to get baptized?”
    “I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, Samuel. You must make your own decisions. However, marrying outside our community can be a rocky path. You were raised Amish. When you become a parent, you might be—”
    “Whoa, I’m not about to become a parent.”
    “It is a consideration before you make a big decision. Like marriage.”
    “I’m not about to get married either.”
    Levi nodded slowly. “Now that you know about…Jacob and how—”
    “I don’t know anything about Jacob.” Samuel stiffened in response to Levi’s jabbing words. His gaze shifted to the cell phone beside Levi. “Or about you.”
    “A lot has changed in three years.”
    “Yes,” Samuel agreed, “it has.” He dropped the fork onto his plate, having lost his appetite.
    The gravity of the discussion weighed on Levi’s expression, making his face look long and shadowed. Blue smudges deepened his eyes. “I regret that you were lied to, Samuel, about our brother. I never wanted to be a part of that. And I regret the last few years we were separated. A family should be together. But I believe you are here now for a reason.”
    Reason? What reason? Had it been the plan all along? Was Levi’s

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