Home > Breaking New Ground

Breaking New Ground
Author: Amy Clipston


Chapter 1


Korey Bontrager’s heartbeat accelerated as he stood on the rock driveway under the rapidly darkening sky and stared up at the familiar two-story home with the small front porch. The house was quiet with only a single lamp burning in the front window, and the early April air around him was cool and held the hint of animals. While his pulse pounded in his ears, the only sounds he heard were the rumble of traffic on a distant highway and a dog barking on a nearby farm.

He dropped his two duffel bags on the ground with a thud and then studied the modest brick home. This was the house where he had been born and raised with his two brothers—one younger and one older. And this was the home he’d fled fourteen months ago after he and his older brother had a falling out. No, it was more than a falling out. It was an estrangement.

His mouth dried as emotions swamped him—sadness, guilt, betrayal . . . and hope.

But this house was more than that. It was his history. His best and worst memories had been born and grown there. Many of them remained, and his most precious were of his mother.

Korey closed his eyes and envisioned his mother—his beautiful mother—and his heart squeezed. His mother had passed away nearly four years ago after a battle with cancer, and to Korey’s dismay, his father had remarried two years ago.

He set his jaw as he thought about how Crystal, his stepmother, had moved into their house and into his mother’s place, and that familiar resentment that had hung over him like a dark cloud filled his chest. He took a deep breath and tried to breathe away the tightness in his chest like Sherman, his elderly friend and neighbor in Ohio, had taught him.

He still couldn’t understand how his older and younger brothers stood by and accepted his stepmother as if she hadn’t rocked their family to its very core. It had been too soon for Dat to move on, but they acted as if it were only natural.

Korey rubbed his hand over the stubble on his chin and turned his attention and his flashlight beam toward the barn, then to the cinder-block building beyond it where his father stored his supplies for his roofing company. Both buildings looked the same as in his memories of working with his father and brothers. He had once believed that his father’s business would be his future, and he had never considered leaving the roofing business. But everything changed fourteen months ago when he went to work with a cousin in Ohio and left his family behind.

Korey’s stomach clenched as his flashlight beam illuminated the new two-story house that sat at the back of his father’s property with its small front porch and fresh white paint. A soft yellow light glowed in an upstairs window. Thoughts of his older brother, Tyler, and their fractured relationship assaulted his mind. It was Tyler and his betrayal that had chased Korey from Pennsylvania to Ohio. Korey and Tyler had always had their differences since they were children. In fact, their squabbles were a normal part of their day-to-day while working together on their father’s roofing jobs, but this had been different.

When Korey and Michelle had broken up after more than a year of dating, it had become apparent to Korey that Tyler had feelings for her. Soon after the breakup, Tyler started dating Michelle, and Korey couldn’t stand the sight of them together, which was why he had arranged to move to Ohio to get away from them. But while leaving had helped to heal some of Korey’s wounds, he was startled to feel that familiar resentment and anger within him. And even though he knew deep in his heart that he and Michelle weren’t meant to be, he still couldn’t dismiss the betrayal that his older brother not only dated her but married her. Tyler had certainly broken the unspoken code between brothers.

Korey closed his eyes and slowly breathed in through his nose as he recalled the conversations he’d shared with Sherman. And then Sherman’s words that had pushed Korey to purchase the tickets and make the fourteen-plus hour trip from Sugarcreek, Ohio, back home to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, filled his mind: “You’re hiding from your problems here. Family is God’s gift to us. Don’t forsake your family.”

He opened his heart to God and sent up a silent prayer: Lord, soften my heart toward my brother and my father. Help me close this distance I feel between my family and me. My heart can’t stand to be separated from them any longer, but I need your help to forgive them and move on. I can’t do this without your guidance.

Then Korey hefted his bags onto his shoulders and started up the path toward the front door of his father’s house. His shoes crunched along the rock path as the beam from his flashlight guided his way.

When he reached the top step, the front door swung open, and Korey’s younger brother, Jayden, grinned from the doorway. “Well, look at what the cat dragged in! The prodigal son has returned.”

Korey dropped his bags on the porch and chuckled as his younger brother enveloped him in a warm hug. “Hey, Jay.”

Dat stood behind Jayden with a wide smile on his face. Except for more gray peppering Dat’s dark hair and beard and a few more wrinkles around his mouth and dark eyes, he looked the same.

“Sohn. You’re finally here.” Dat’s voice seemed to croak. “We’ve been watching out the window for you. Your taxi must have snuck up on us.”

Korey cleared his throat against a sudden thickness. He had missed his family more than he’d realized.

“Dat. Hi.” Korey stepped into the house and hugged his father.

“It’s so gut to finally see you.” Dat’s voice was hoarse as he patted Korey’s back. “Are you hungry, sohn?”

“No, danki. I grabbed a sandwich at the train station.”

Jayden lifted Korey’s bags. “Did you bring your rock collection?” he teased.

“Ha.” Korey rolled his eyes. “Give them to me.”

“Nope. I got it.” His younger brother slipped in the front door and into the family room.

Korey followed him and was grateful to find it just as he recalled with the same sofa, two wing chairs, and a recliner, along with a coffee table, two end tables, and two propane lamps. It was still home. His home.

Dat rubbed Korey’s shoulder. “You’ve been gone too long, sohn. We’ve all missed you.”

Korey swallowed a sarcastic snort. Surely Tyler was grateful to get Korey out of the way so he could become Dat’s business partner. Korey’s absence also enabled Tyler and Michelle the opportunity to enjoy planning their wedding and building their house without his interference. No, they certainly hadn’t missed Korey at all. In fact, everyone had moved on without him. He tried in vain to swallow his resentment.

“Crystal wanted to stay up to see you, but she was too tired,” Dat continued. “She told me to tell you that she’ll make your favorite breakfast in the morning—chocolate chip pancakes—to celebrate your return.”

Korey clamped his lips together. It was obvious Crystal was going to welcome him home, despite his past behavior. Korey had gone out of his way to be unpleasant to her when she and Dat were first dating, but then he had turned his sarcasm to silence after they were married. Embarrassment covered Korey. He would try to accept his stepmother somehow. Help me, Lord.

“We have church in the morning,” Dat said. “Will you join us?”

Korey nodded. “Ya. Of course.” He jammed his thumb in the direction of the stairs. “Has my room been converted into a sewing room or something? Or do I still have a bedroom?”

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4)