main_newcanaanWhen Rachel came home she stood in the hallway thinking about the man she had just met and the woman he represented.
Augusta St. Clair.  Mama told me that she was a bad woman.  Why is she trying to be friendly now?
Rachel heard the soft sound of voices from the front room.  It was her mama and papa, talking quietly.  Rachel started to walk in when she heard something that made her stop and listen.  Her mama was speaking.
“… and he was looking for someone who holds the Key.”
Jonathan’s low voice answered Jenny.
“What is the key, Jenny?”
“It’s the St. Clair Birthmark.  It’s a key-shaped red stain right above the heart.  It has been the main way that the trustees of the St. Clair estate have decided who inherits the fortune.”
Rachel’s heart leaped.  She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  Her mama went on.
“My birth father, Robert St. Clair, was the heir to the St. Clair money.  When he died the fortune was put in trust until a new heir could be determined.  Obviously Augusta is having trouble laying her hands on the bulk of the estate or she wouldn’t be sending out agents.  There’s something going on and it does not bode well for us, Husband.”
“And this key – is it the same one that Rachel has on her chest?”
“It seems so, Jonathan.  The man, Randall, showed me a picture of one of the St. Clairs from around 1200 A.D.  He had exactly the same mark above his heart.”
“And the holder of the Key is the heir to all the St. Clair money?”
“Yes Jonathan, but there is a catch.”
“What’s that, Jenny”
“Rachel would have to marry a suitable St. Clair male in order to inherit.  That would keep the money in the family.”
“How does that affect Rachel?”
“Augusta St. Clair has a grandson, Gerald.  From what Randall said, Gerald would be a suitable male St. Clair.”
“So if Rachel married him, she would become fabulously wealthy?”
“Yes, Jonathan.  And that is why we must not tell her.”

As she stood outside, listening to her parents, Rachel started to feel angry.  She was about to open her mouth and say something, but in that moment she felt the card in her hand.  She walked quietly back down the hallway and held it up in the light.

Gordon Randall
Investigations and Security
12 Plaza Way,
New, York, NY   213-342-1200

Rachel felt something else rise up in her.  It was a mixture of hope and fear.  This was her way out!  She was the heiress to a vast fortune.  She could come forward and claim it and then she could do anything she wanted with her life.  No more Papa yelling at her, no more elders of the church telling her what she could or couldn’t do.  She could pay her own way through school and set up her practice wherever she wanted.  It was like a miracle…

And yet there had been something about the man’s eyes that troubled Rachel.  But still…  As the prospects opened before her, something in Rachel’s heart hardened.  She would leave here, she would leave this Amish life, with all it’s rules and regulations, the hateful Ordnung that bound her with fetters of steel.  She would escape from her papa’s insanity, his moods and rages.  This was her way out.  As she stood there in the hallway, a great battle begin to rage in Rachel’s soul.  She thought of her mama, and her home, all the things that she loved… and… Daniel.

Daniel? He’s just a friend.  I could never marry Daniel…
And yet there was something, like a light trying to force its way into a very dark place.
Daniel!  He loves me.  He loves me with all his heart…  Daniel…

For just another moment she hesitated.  And then Rachel shut the door of her heart and walked up the stairs to her room, clutching Gordon Randall’s business card.

 Excerpt from The Amish Heiress – Book one in The Paradise Chronicles by Patrick E. Craig.  Coming Soon!