When my mother enrolled me in the Little Miss Texas Butterfly Beauty Pageant at the age of eleven, I don’t believe it ever crossed her mind that one day I’d be lying in the dirt with my arms around the neck of a runaway goat.
Petunia the Nubian goat baaed and kicked at me with her sharp hooves. I shifted my body away from her reach, and one of her long tawny-colored ears smacked me in the face. Two minutes ago, when Petunia had raced past me as I made my way to the auction barn, jumping on her back seemed like a fantastic idea. Maybe because it never occurred to me I would actually succeed in catching her. My blond curls fell into my eyes. I blew at them, but that only seemed to make the tangles worse.
The tan, white, and brown goat tried to maneuver her feet so she could stand up and make a break for it. A wild goat ride was not my idea of fun. “A little help, please!” I cried.
An out of breath Jonah Graber ran toward me and looped a leash around Petunia’s neck. Dust covered his plain clothes and Amish beard. “I got her.”
As I rolled off the animal, she glared at me with disconcerting goat eyes. I crawled backwards on my hands and knees, jumped to my feet, and bounced off of something soft. Spinning around, I saw auction house owner Gideon Nissley catch his balance. His plain button-down shirt stretched across his ample stomach.
Heat rushed to my face. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Nissley.” The last thing I wanted to do was knock down the auction yard owner. This was my first day at the Rolling Brook Amish Auction. Gideon had agreed to have some of the quilts from my quilt shop, Running Stitch, auctioned off and had offered me space in the merchants’ tent to sell directly to tourists. I was the first English shopkeeper to have a spot in the auction, and I didn’t want to lose it.
I had my Amish friends, the Grabers and the Millers, to thank for my place at the auction. They vouched for me and agreed to be responsible to the Amish community if I messed up. Seeing how I’d just tackled Gideon’s goat, the auction owner might be reconsidering his offer.
Reprinted from MURDER, SIMPLY STITCHED by Isabella Alan by arrangement with NAL, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, Copyright © Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2014
Isabella Alan is the pseudonym for Amanda Flower. Amanda is an Agatha-nominated mystery author, who started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.
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