Join New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter along with Jean Brunstetter in Holmes County for a dramatic new 6-part serial novel.
In Part 5, The Divided Family, while in the midst of grieving their father and settling his estate, the Byler family faces some of life’s hardest challenges—sickness, disaster, loss. When Joel should be stepping up as the man of the family, his selfish determination continues to cause chaos. Can the family pull together, or will the prodigal son defy his father’s last wish and part the family for good?
The Amish Millionaire A 6-Part Serial Novel
#1: The English Son
#2: The Stubborn Father
#3: The Betrayed Fiancee
#4: The Missing Will
#5: The Divided Family
#6: The Selfless Act
About the Author
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nation's most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.
Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.
Jean Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish when she first went to Pennsylvania to visit her father-in-law’s family. Since that time, Jean has become friends with several Amish families and enjoys writing about their way of life. She also likes to put some of the simple practices followed by the Amish into her daily routine. Jean lives in Washington State with her husband, Richard Jr. and their three children, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish communities in several states. In addition to writing, Jean enjoys boating, gardening, and spending time on the beach. Visit Jean's website at www.jeanbrunstetter.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Divided Family
By Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing, IncCopyright © 2016 Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter
All rights reserved.
Elsie stood trembling at the foot of her sister's hospital bed, listening to the doctor give Doris and her husband distressing news. In addition to a broken leg, plus a nasty bump on the head, the fall Doris took down the stairs earlier this evening had caused her to miscarry. It wasn't fair. The broken leg would heal, but Doris and Brian had waited a long time for her to become pregnant. The joy they'd felt over the pregnancy, which Doris had seen as a miracle, disappeared before their eyes, like a glass of ice melting on a hot summer day.
Elsie glanced at Arlene, standing beside her with tears trickling down her cheeks. She, too, felt their sister's pain.
When Doris had been taken by ambulance to Union Hospital, Brian rode along. Elsie and Arlene had hired a driver to take them, leaving their husbands at home with the children. Right now, and for many days ahead, Doris would need her family's help and support.
It hurt Elsie to hear her sister's anguished cries after the doctor left the room. Brian took the news hard as well, yet seemed unable to offer Doris the comfort she needed. Even if sometime in the future Doris got pregnant again, she might never get over her loss.
Elsie and Arlene moved to the other side of the bed, across from Brian. Elsie reached out to clasp her sister's cold hand. "I'm so sorry...." The words nearly stuck in her throat as she swallowed around the lump that seemed to be lodged there.
"I'm sorry, too." Arlene placed her hand on Doris's trembling shoulder. "Elsie and I will do everything we can to help you get through this."
Doris just closed her eyes and continued to weep.
Brian looked up at Elsie with a distant stare. "Would you mind leaving us alone for a while?"
Elsie slowly nodded. Her body felt heavy as she let go of Doris's hand. As much as she wanted to remain at her sister's bedside, she understood Brian's request to be alone with his wife. This tragedy was something the two of them needed to deal with together. At least for the time being. Hopefully Doris would eventually be more receptive to their sympathy.
"We'll be in the waiting room if you need us." Arlene turned toward the door, and Elsie followed. They took seats in the waiting room down the hall.
Dabbing at her tears, Arlene turned to Elsie with puffy eyes. "What if Doris never recovers emotionally from this? What if she's unable to conceive again?"
"We must pray for her and try to think positive. If it's meant for Doris and Brian to have a boppli, then it will happen in God's time."
"You're right. Larry and I never expected to be blessed with another child after Scott was born. The doctor said due to the damage done to my uterus, it wasn't likely I'd get pregnant again." Arlene smiled, despite her tears. "Then eight years later, along came baby Samuel."
Elsie nodded as she reached for her sister's hand. "You've been blessed all right."
"Doris is going to need our help when she leaves the hospital in a few days. That means we'll have to put looking for Dad's will on hold for a while."
"It's not a priority right now." Elsie was sure their brother wouldn't be happy about the delay, but it couldn't be helped. Their sister's needs came first. She would give Joel a call later on and tell him what happened.
* * *
Joel had been sneezing and blowing his nose so much it felt raw. He hated being sick — especially while spending Thanksgiving alone with a less-than-exciting frozen dinner. With only the company of his television set during the holiday, he'd given in to self-pity. Kristi was probably at her folks', eating a moist turkey dinner with all the trimmings, while he sat at home on the couch with a box of tissues and a bottle of cough syrup that was six months past its sell-by date. Joel didn't care how old the stuff was; he needed something to relieve his nagging cough.
Pulling himself off the couch, he ambled out to the kitchen to replenish his glass of water. He remembered how his mother used to stress the importance of staying hydrated when a person had a cold or the flu. Joel felt like he had both, because, in addition to coughing and sneezing, his body had begun to ache. "I probably have a fever, too," he mumbled, going to the sink and filling his glass with cold water. He would have taken his temperature, but he'd misplaced the thermometer.
Joel set the glass on the counter and pulled a tissue from his pocket as he felt another sneeze coming on. Ah-choo! Ah-choo! Ah-choo! As the final sneeze hit, a muscle in Joel's back spasmed, and he fell to his knees from the pain. Oh, great! How much worse can it get?
He gritted his teeth, pulled himself up, and tried to straighten, but the pain was too intense. Walking bent over while holding his back, he shuffled across the room to the refrigerator. He grabbed an ice pack from the freezer compartment and wrapped it in a dishtowel. Since the living room was closer than Joel's bedroom, he headed in that direction, grimacing as he inched his way along. When he reached the couch, he somehow managed to lie down and stuff the ice pack behind his back. This was one time Joel was glad he didn't have any work lined up for a few days. It would give him time to recover from the pain surging up and down his back. But it would be a long weekend, being alone and feeling so miserable.
Joel wished he could lie back on the sofa and relax while someone tended to his every need — making sure he was fed and being there to keep him company. He would have had the help he needed if he hadn't lost the special woman in his life.
Pouting, Joel glanced at his cell phone lying on the coffee table. He thought about calling his friend Tom, but Tom had gone out of town to spend Thanksgiving with his family and wouldn't be back until Sunday evening.
Maybe I should call Kristi. If she knows I'm not feeling well, and that my back's acting up, she might feel sorry for me and come over. It would give me the chance to tell her once again that I'm sorry for messing things up.
Another jolt of pain shot through Joel's back as he reached for the phone. It would be worth the agony if Kristi responded to his call. In desperation, he punched in her number and held his breath. Several rings later, her voice mail picked up. "Kristi, it's Joel," he said, groaning. "I have a bad cold, and during a sneezing attack, my back went out. I'm really miserable and barely able to function. Would you please come over to my place and put your nursing skills to work so I'll feel better?" He paused, searching for the right words. "Please call me or drop by. I really need you, Kristi."
When Joel hung up, he kept the cell phone by his side so he wouldn't have to reach for it if she called.
* * *
"Was that your cell phone I heard buzzing?" Kristi's dad asked as they sat at the dining-room table eating pumpkin pie and drinking hot chocolate.
"It may have been." She scooped a dollop of Mom's homemade whipped cream off her pie and dropped it into her cup. "I turned the ringer off before I put the phone in my purse so I wouldn't be bothered with any calls while I'm here." Truthfully, Kristi half expected Joel to call, and he was the last person she wanted to talk to today. Even though he hadn't called her for several days, she had a hunch, with this being a holiday they'd previously spent together, he might get nostalgic and decide to call.
"Why don't we play a card game after we finish our dessert?" Kristi's mother suggested. "All the food we ate today has made me sleepy, and a rousing game is what I need to keep awake."
Dad yawned and leaned back in his chair. "I'm with you, Jo Ann. There's something about eating turkey. Even if I don't stuff myself, it causes me to feel like I need a nap."
"It's the tryptophan," Kristi said. "Tryptophan is an amino acid found in turkey, and it's known for making people sleepy."
"Our daughter's smart." Mom smiled at Kristi. "I'll bet you learned that in nurses' training."
"I may have, but it's something I read about a long time ago in a magazine article." Kristi stirred her hot chocolate and took a drink. "Yum. I like it when you whip heavy cream. It's much better than the spray kind you buy in a can, and I like the subtle way you sweeten it, without too much sugar or vanilla."
Mom's smile widened. "I enjoy cooking for you and your dad, and I'm glad you appreciate it."
"I appreciate it, too." Dad reached over and helped himself to the fluffy white topping, added some to his mug, and took a drink. "Ah ... now that's what I call good."
Thinking about all the delicious food she'd just shared with Mom and Dad caused Kristi to reflect on one of the patients at the nursing home where she worked. I wonder if Audrey felt up to eating any turkey today. Poor thing. She looked so pale when I checked on her yesterday.
"Is anything wrong?" Mom tapped Kristi's arm. "You look so serious all of a sudden."
Kristi slumped in her chair. "I was thinking about my patient, Audrey, who's dying of cancer. I'm sure I mentioned her before."
"You did. Has she gotten worse?" Mom's gentle tone revealed her concern.
"Yes. Up until recently, she's been able to be out of bed and get around on her own, but now she's pretty much bedridden."
"Cancer's an ugly thing." Dad spoke up. "Seems like there's hardly a family who hasn't been touched by it."
"I know." Kristi sighed. "I've been praying for a miracle on Audrey's behalf, but with her getting worse, I have to think my prayer won't be answered."
"All prayers are answered," Dad reminded. "Just not always the way we would like."
Kristi thought about Joel again and how she'd been praying for him, as Audrey suggested. It had only been a little over a month since they'd broken up, so he was still fresh on her mind. She continued to wonder if anything in his life had changed. Obviously, Joel wouldn't be a different person right away, but maybe he'd receive the help he needed from God sometime soon. Before Joel could change, however, he had to let Jesus come into his heart.
Redirecting her thoughts, she smiled and said, "As much as I'll miss Audrey when she's gone, I'm convinced she's a Christian and will be in a better place. She's told me more than once that she's ready to go home and be with the Lord."
"The sting of death lessens a bit when we know someone we care about has been transported to heaven." Dad reached for the pot of hot chocolate in the middle of the table and poured himself another cup.
Kristi finished eating her pie and pushed away from the table. "I'll take my dishes to the sink and then get out one of our favorite games." Hopefully once they started playing, she could concentrate on something more uplifting.
After she rinsed her dishes, Kristi decided to check her phone messages, in case someone from the nursing home had called with an update on Audrey's condition. Dorine was working this evening and had promised to let Kristi know if Audrey took a turn for the worst.
Listening to the only message she'd received, Kristi inhaled a long breath when she heard Joel's voice. She took a seat at the kitchen table and pressed the phone closer to her ear. For a split second, hearing him say he wasn't feeling well touched a soft spot in her heart and she felt pity for him. Kristi was aware of how miserable a person felt when they had a bad cold, much less a sore back. But common sense kicked in when she remembered Joel lying to her about why he'd taken money from their joint account. He was probably either making up the situation, or using it as a means to get her there so he could try and talk her into taking him back.
Kristi's lips pressed together as she pushed her shoulders against the back of the chair. Sorry, Joel, but it's not going to work. I'm staying right here for the rest of the evening.CHAPTER 2
How are you feeling? Are you comfortable there on the couch, or would you rather lie on your bed?"
Doris clenched her teeth in an effort to keep from shouting. Today was Monday, the last day of November, and she'd only been home from the hospital a few hours. But in those few hours, all her sister Elsie had done was fuss. How does she think I feel? I'm laid up with a broken leg and sore head. Worse than that, my hopes of giving Brian a baby have been destroyed. "I'm fine here on the couch for now," she murmured.
Elsie placed a pillow under her cast, with a reminder that the doctor said she should keep her leg elevated as much as possible. "You'll probably have less pain that way, and it will help with the swelling."
"Jah, okay." Doris blinked back tears threatening to spill over. It won't help the pain in my heart, though, will it?
"Is there anything you need me to bring you before I wash the breakfast dishes?"
"No, I don't need a thing." Except my baby. Since Doris had been pregnant less than twenty-four weeks, there would be no funeral. In some ways, she saw it as a blessing, for she wouldn't have to endure the agony of watching a tiny coffin being lowered into the ground. On the other hand, a funeral service brought closure.
Elsie placed her hand gently on Doris's shoulder. "Arlene should be here soon, and then the two of us can do your laundry and get some cleaning done."
After her sister got busy in the kitchen, Doris sat on the sofa awhile, pondering the loss of her unborn child. With the aid of her crutches, she pulled herself up and made her way down the hall to the room next to her and Brian's. It would have been the baby's nursery.
Inside the doorway, Doris paused and looked around the small room with anguish. Her vision blurred as she gazed at the wall where the crib would have gone. Across from it, Brian had placed a rocking chair — the same one he had been rocked in as a baby. Doris's leg throbbed as she hobbled over to the chair and collapsed into it. Strong sobs shook her body. Her heart felt as if it was broken in two. She thought her tears would never stop flowing. So many feelings hit her all at once; it was hard to feel any hope.
In no time it seemed, both of Doris's sisters were at her side. Arlene, wearing her jacket and outer bonnet, held baby Samuel in her arms and placed him gently on Doris's lap. "Will you hold him for me awhile?"
Doris sniffed. "Jah, of course."
Elsie and Arlene stood quietly beside her, looking down as she rocked the baby. Doris found comfort in the little guy's chubby, warm body. Did Arlene know how fortunate she was?
"What about the sorting we'd all planned to do at Dad's house this week?" she asked, looking up at Elsie. "How's that going to get done if you two are here helping me?"
"It can wait. Right now, your needs take priority over finding Dad's will."
"I bet Joel won't be happy about that."
"I still haven't called him, but I need to do it soon."
Doris figured Elsie had put off making the call because she dreaded Joel's reaction to the news that the search for the will had been suspended. She couldn't blame her. Their brother could be quite difficult when he didn't get his way.
* * *
"I'm worried about Doris," Arlene said after she and Elsie had gotten their sister settled on the living-room couch and gone to the kitchen.
"She looked tired, so hopefully she'll sleep awhile," Elsie replied.
Arlene had brought the baby to the kitchen with them so Doris could rest. "I hope Samuel doesn't get fussy and wake her. With my older children in school and Larry at work, I didn't have anyone to watch him today."
"I'm sure it'll be fine. We can set his playpen up here in the kitchen, if you brought it."
"Jah, it's in my buggy. I'll go get it." Arlene handed Samuel to Elsie and went out the door.
Elsie looked at the precious infant in her arms. The little guy's eyes closed slowly then opened. He was no doubt ready for a nap. "You're so adorable and sweet," she whispered, reflecting on how soothing it felt when her children were babies.
A short time later, Arlene returned with the playpen. Elsie waited for her to set it up before passing the little one to his mother.
"When I finish the dishes, we can move him to whatever room we decide to clean."
"That's a good idea." Arlene placed the baby in the playpen, then grabbed a dishtowel to dry the dishes. "I feel sorry for Doris. She wanted a boppli so badly."
Excerpted from The Divided Family by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter. Copyright © 2016 Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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