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The Secrets Beneath By Kathleen Fuller
Book 2 in the Mysteries of Middlefield series
Today is going to be a gut day.
Rebekah Yoder made her way down the gentle slope of her backyard to her favorite tree.
The large oak provided the perfect shade for a hot Sunday afternoon. She sat down beneath the canopy and opened the latest Nancy Drew book she'd gotten from the Middlefield Library. Resting her back against the trunk, she dug her toes into the cool grass and began to read. She'd been looking forward to this all day. But a few minutes later her peace was shattered.
"Why do ya always got your nose in a dumm old book for?"
Bekah frowned. Caleb Mullet, otherwise known as the biggest pain in Middlefield, wouldn't let her have a moment's peace. She'd been disappointed when his family had decided to stop by after church service for a visit. Not that she had anything against the Mullets, at least most of them. Mary Beth was her older sister Katherine's best friend, and she understood Bekah's love for reading. Her twin brother Johnny was okay, for a sixteen-year-old boy. And the youngest Mullets, Micah and eighteen-month-old Aiden were cute and never a problem. The singular reason she hadn't wanted them here was standing over her, disturbing her afternoon just like he always disturbed her life.
She refused to look at him. Instead, she calmly turned the page. "Maybe if you read a
book sometime you'd understand."
Caleb snatched the book from Bekah's hands. "Maybe I should read this one."
"Hey!" Bekah popped up from the beneath the tree and stormed toward Caleb. "Give it
He held it up over her head. Although they had both just turned thirteen, he was nearly a head taller than her. He wasn't wearing his usual weather-beaten straw hat, and the hot breeze that suddenly appeared lifted a large lock of his light brown hair. Chocolate colored eyes, filled with teasing glee, gazed back at her. "You'll have to catch me first!" He spun around and ran off toward the sparkling pond that edged her parents' property.
Bekah hesitated. She wasn't in the mood for Caleb's annoying games. Fortunately she didn't see much of him over the summer, only during church services. But school was starting in a week and she'd soon see him every day in the small schoolhouse and she'd be subjected to his ridiculous shenanigans. Just last year he put gum on her chair at school right before she sat down, yanked on the ribbons of her kapp whenever he had the chance, and hit her in the head with a volleyball on the playground during recess. He'd said the ball got away from him but she didn't believe him.
"Bekah!" Caleb had reached the pond and was holding her book over the edge. "Say goodbye to Nancy Drew!"
Fists clenched, Bekah ran to the pond. "Don't you dare, Caleb Mullet! That's a library book. If you ruin it you're gonna pay for it!"
Caleb dangled the book above the water. Why wouldn't he listen to her? She picked up speed and hurtled herself toward him, ready to grab the book out of his hands. But just as she reached up he tossed the book over her head and onto the grassy bank.
Bekah dug her bare feet into the grass but couldn't slow down. She slipped on the wet bank surrounding the pond and tumbled forward headfirst into the murky water. Instead of
holding her breath she drew water up her nose. Flailing her arms, she broke through the surface, coughing and sputtering, touching her toes to the soft bottom of the pond. Then she heard Caleb's laughter and she started to fume. Wiping the water from her eyes, his guffaws battered her ears as he rolled on the grass, clutching his stomach.
"Woo hoo!" He gasped for breath. 'That was the funniest thing I ever saw! You went like this ... " He jumped to his feet and imitated her tripping over her feet, wind milling his arms before pretending to tip into the pond. "And then you did this ... " He cupped his hands around his mouth and let out a high-pitched shriek.
Soaked completely through, the ribbons of her kapp lying limply against her dress, Bekah fought the urge to cry. She wasn't hurt and she wasn't sad. She was angry, angrier than she had ever been before. A fly flew around her head, but she didn't bother to wave it away. She glared at Caleb, who now had the hiccups from laughing so hard.
"Shut up." When he kept laughing and hiccupping she shouted, "Shut up!"
That seemed to get his attention. At least it quieted him for a moment. "What's your problem?"
"Y ou're my problem!" She slammed her fist against the waist-deep water. "Look what you did to me."
He shook his head and hunkered down, his forearms resting casually over his knees.
"Don't blame me." He hiccupped. "You're the one who slipped."
"Y ou stole my book."
"I didn't steal anything. It's lying over there on the grass. 1 just wanted to look at it for a
minute." His lips curved into a mischievous grin.
"Oooh!" He had an answer for everything. He always did, and that more than anything made her ab im kopp.
"What's going on here?"
Bekah shifted her gaze to the left to see Katherine and Johnny hurrying toward them.
Caleb immediately leapt to his feet, casually shoving his hands in his pockets.
Katherine put her hands on her slender hips. "Bekah, what are you doing in the pond?" "Oh, I was bored, so I decided to jump in the pond and catch some fish with my bare
A confused expression crossed Katherine's features. "But there aren't any fish in the
Bekah rolled her eyes and made her way out of the pond. "I know." There hadn't been fish in the pond for years. Her sister wasn't exactly the sharpest person around, but she was one of the nicest. She didn't deserve sarcasm. That she should reserve for Caleb.
"You had something to do with this, didn't you?" Johnny moved to stand in front of his brother. Unlike Caleb he had his hat on, and still wore his black pants and white shirt from the church service earlier that morning, the sleeves rolled up above his elbows. 'What happened?"
Caleb glanced away from his brother's accusing gaze. "Uh, it was an accident." Her dress dripping, Bekah shook her head, water droplets flying from her wet kapp.
"Don't lie. It wasn't an accident. You did that on purpose because you wanted me to fall into the
"Did what?" Katherine went to stand next to Johnny. But she wasn't looking at Bekah or even Caleb. She only had eyes for Johnny. Bekah shouldn't have been surprised. Her sister had been chasing after Johnny ever since she could remember. Even with Bekah dripping wet and
Caleb finally looking slightly guilty, she still had her attention on Johnny, who didn't seem to
even notice her.
Johnny looked at Bekah. "What happened? I know you'll tell me the truth." He cast a harsh look at Caleb.
Bekah relayed what had happened. "When 1 went to get my book, 1 slipped and fell into
"See?" Caleb held out his hands. "I told you it was an accident. She admitted it herself." Johnny glared at him. "An accident you caused. Tell her you're sorry."
Caleb shook his head, crossing his arms. Bekah noticed his hiccups had suddenly disappeared. "Nee. 1 don't have to apologize to her."
"You will apologize." Johnny moved closer to Caleb until he was almost in his face.
Caleb looked up at his brother, as if he wanted to challenge him. Then his shoulders slumped a little, and he stepped away. He looked at the ground and kicked at a tuft of grass.
"I don't think she heard you."
"I'm sorry! There, satisfied?"
Bekah was far from satisfied. She didn't want his apology. She wanted him to go away.
Forever. Even in the heat of the day she shivered a little bit, her dress clinging to her skin. Her mother would be mad when she found out about this. All she wanted to do was spend a peaceful Sunday afternoon reading her book. Leave it to Caleb Mullet to ruin it.
"Caleb likes you, you know."
Bekah gaped at Katherine as she sat on the edge of her bed in their bedroom. She ran a brush through her hair, then shook her head. "Caleb doesn't like me at all. Look what he did to me this afternoon." Just as she suspected, her mother hadn't been happy when the four of them had gone in the house. She had sent Bekah upstairs for the rest of the day, something she didn't mind because at least she didn't have to see Caleb anymore. She was still angry at him for embarrassing her.
"U sually when a bu treats you like that he likes you." Katherine went to the mirror on their dresser and checked her kapp, adjusting one of the bobby pins holding it in place.
"That doesn't make any sense. If Caleb liked me he should be nice to me." Of course the last thing she wanted was Caleb Mullet to like her. She couldn't think of anything worse than that. Just because her sister liked Johnny didn't mean she knew anything about boys.
"If it makes you feel any better his daed was very upset with him." "Gut. I hope he gets grounded. He deserves it."
"Don't be so hard on him, Bekah. Buwe are strange."
Bekah smirked. "So you're saying Johnny is strange?"
Katherine turned around, shaking her head. A dreamy look appeared on her face and her
pale cheeks flushed, making her freckles disappear. "Johnny is wunderbaar."
Oh brother. "Is he taking you to the singin' tonight?"
The dreamy expression disappeared and she looked away. "Urn, nee. Not tonight." As far as Bekah knew Johnny had never taken Katherine to a singin ', although she
desperately wanted him too. Singin's involved Amish teens and young adults getting together to
sing church hymns and talk to each other. To Bekah it sounded boring. She'd rather curl up with a good book. "So who are you going to the singin' with?"
"Mary Beth and some other friends." She looked at the battery-operated clock on her nightstand. "Oh, I'm running late. See you later."
After Katherine left Bekah continued to brush her hair. She picked up a lock and untangled a small knot out of the ends. She had the same blue eyes, fair skin, and reddish hair as Katherine and their older sister Leah, who had married and moved with her husband to Pierpont two years ago. All three sisters looked a lot alike. "Like triplets, but spaced out a few years," one of her aunts said. Although they were similar in looks, they were different in personality. Leah was the practical one, Katherine the sweet one, and Bekah the curious one. Or nosy, depending on who you talked to. Bekah preferred curious. People who were nosy were usually gossipy, and she never wanted a part of that. God hated gossip and rumor spreading. She learned that in church, and it was something she never forgot.
Bekah finished brushing her hair, then stood up and went to the window facing the abandoned house next door. The two houses were fairly close to each other compared to the other houses on the country road she lived on outside of Middlefield. No one had lived in the house for the past three years, and before that the Harpers lived there, a Yankee couple who occupied it for a long time until they moved to Florida. Her father said they were having trouble selling it, and when the For Sale sign disappeared over a year ago he mentioned that the Harpers might be keeping the house after all.
She liked leaning against ledge of the open window, feeling the warm fresh air and staring at the light blue house with faded black shutters. She often imagined the family that
would move in someday. Maybe they would have a daughter her age. But hopefully not a boy who was anything like Caleb. She wouldn't be able to stand that.
Bekah didn't know how long she stood there, her chin resting on her cupped hand, her imagination carrying her away. The sun had started to dip below the horizon, shining a hazy light on the side of the house. She thought about her book, which was lying on her bed. She had just started it and the mystery was getting good. She started to move from the window when she suddenly saw a black car pull into the driveway next door.
Standing still, she watched as an old man stepped out of the car. He was thin and almost bald, with a few inches of white hair rimming the back of his head. He wore his tan pants high around his waist and a short-sleeved red and white plaid shirt tucked in. Had someone finally bought the Harper's house?
The man put his hands on his hips and stood in front of the house for a long time. Then he disappeared around the back. She expected him to quickly reappear, but he didn't. Finally she saw him walking through the high grass of the part of the backyard she could see from her window. He just paced around the yard, staring at the ground. Then he walked back around front, got in his car, and left.
How strange. Who was that man? If he'd bought the house, wouldn't he have gone inside? Why was he pacing the backyard? Maybe she should tell her parents that someone had been snooping around the house. But she couldn't leave her window, not just yet. What if he came back and brought someone else with him? She didn't want to miss him ifhe returned.
She waited for almost half an hour and gave up. If he was coming back it wouldn't be soon, and she was getting tired of standing and waiting. She thought about running downstairs to
tell her parents, but changed her mind. There was nothing they could do about it now. She'd tell them in morning.
Bekah picked up her book and lay down on her bed. She opened the cover and started to read. But she couldn't focus on the mystery. Her thoughts were filled with the mysterious man next door.