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 4, The Missing Will, the Byler family is on a hunt for the father’s will while relations continue to deteriorate among the siblings and between Joel and his fiancée. Joel is desperate for closure to his father’s estate, but how far is he willing to go in order to restore the chaotic turn his life has taken? Will his quest cause him to ignore the needs of those closest to him?
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 Missing Will
By Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing Inc.Copyright © 2016 Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter
All rights reserved.
Blinking against tears threatening to spill over, Kristi struggled to keep her focus on the road. Breaking up with Joel had been one of the hardest things she'd ever done. But it was the right decision. Her fingers turned white as she gripped the steering wheel. I can't believe all the lies he's told me.
Nothing about Joel made sense anymore. She'd been blinded by his good looks and charm. I should have listened to Mom. Kristi still didn't understand the reason he'd kept his Amish heritage from her for so long or why he'd taken money from their joint account without telling her. If he hadn't foolishly used money he'd earned on a job to buy a classic car he didn't need, Joel wouldn't be in a financial bind.
Kristi reflected on how desperate he'd seemed when he asked his sister Elsie about the will on the day of his father's funeral. Joel had acted selfishly and unfeelingly. She couldn't picture herself asking about her parents' will so soon after one of them had passed away. Was Joel really that desperate for money?
Her throat constricted as she changed lanes. "For the love of money is the root of all evil," she murmured, quoting 1 Timothy 6:10. She reflected on 1 Timothy 6:7, as well: "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." Kristi had committed those two verses to memory when she'd attended a Bible study on money management a few years ago. Too bad I didn't think to quote those scriptures to Joel when he told me how desperate he was for money. If he needed funds for a good cause, that would be one thing, but to waste it on a car he could certainly live without was foolish.
The longer Kristi thought about things, the more she wanted to pull to the side of the road and break down in tears. It would probably do her good to go for a run to release some tension, but right now she needed a listening ear. Turning at the next road, Kristi headed for her parents' house. She hoped they were home.
* * *
"Are you okay?" Arlene's husband, Larry, looked at her with concern. "You were quiet on the buggy ride home from church, and since we've gotten here, all you've done is sit and stare out the kitchen window."
Arlene sighed as she clutched her damp handkerchief. "I miss my daed, Larry. Remember how almost every Sunday when his district didn't have church, he would attend service with us? Looking at the men's side this morning and not seeing him there didn't seem right." Tears pooled in her eyes. "Then the three of us always came here for a meal, and afterward we'd visit, sing, or play games."
Larry sat beside Arlene and placed his hand on her shoulder. "I'm here for you, no matter what. We all miss your daed, but it's been the hardest for you, Elsie, and Doris."
She sniffed, raising her handkerchief to wipe tears from her eyes. "The kinner miss him, too. Dad loved our children, and they looked forward to spending time with him after church." She pointed to the birdhouse on a post outside the kitchen window. "Every time I look at that, I'll think of Dad and be glad Doris found it."
"When the lightning struck your daed's tree house, it's amazing everything in and around the tree didn't burn to a crisp."
She lowered her arm and turned toward him. "It's a shame Doris didn't find four birdhouses on the ground beneath the tree — then Joel could have had one, too."
"Do you think he would have wanted a birdhouse?" Larry's brows furrowed. "From what I can tell, the only thing your bruder wants is your daed's money."
Arlene swallowed hard, remembering how Joel had acted after the funeral dinner. When he'd asked about Dad's will, everyone in the room became upset. "We do need to find the document. It's the only way we'll know how he wanted things divided among us. I only hope when Joel comes around here again he won't create another scene."
"If he does, one of us will set him straight."
With shoulders slumped and head down, their youngest son, Scott, shuffled into the room.
"What's wrong, Son? You look umgerennt." When Scott looked up, Larry motioned for him to come over to them.
Scott stepped up to the table. "I ain't upset. I'm bedauerlich."
Arlene slipped her arm around him. "Why are you sad? Do you miss your grossdaadi?"
"Jah. Not only that, but I won't get to watch Peaches climb the ladder to Grandpa's tree house."
Arlene tipped her head. "Peaches?"
"You know — she's Henry Raber's hund. Henry said Peaches likes to climb. Since the tree house is gone now, me and Doug won't get to see her do it." Scott kicked the floor with the toe of his shoe and lowered his gaze. "Won't get to go up there and enjoy the view with Grandpa, neither."
"I'm sorry, Son." Larry pulled the boy into a hug. "Your mamm and I know you miss your grossdaadi, as we all do, but we have lots of fond memories of him."
Larry was right, but Arlene couldn't stop thinking about their children having lost their grandfather, whom they all loved and respected. She had hoped he would see them grow up, get married, and have kids of their own. It was hard to accept the changes in life that she couldn't control and were not what she'd planned.
"Why don't we gather the rest of the family together in the living room? We can sing some of our favorite songs for a while," she suggested.
"It won't be the same without Grandpa here, playin' his harmonica." Scott frowned. "Guess I'll never learn to play the mouth harp now, neither."
"Maybe your uncle Joel can teach you." Larry ruffled the top of Scott's thick brown hair. "As I recall, he's pretty good at playing the harmonica."
I doubt that's ever going to happen. Joel doesn't seem to care about anyone but himself. Arlene made sure not to voice her thoughts. Even though she was upset with her brother, the last thing she wanted to do was turn any of her children against him.
"Say, I have an idea." She rose from her chair. "After we sing awhile, I'll fix some snacks."
"Can we make popcorn?" Scott's eyes brightened a bit.
She nodded. "Jah, we'll do that."
"How about hot chocolate and marshmallows to go with it?" Larry smacked his lips. "That always tastes good with popcorn."
"We can have some of those peanut butter kichlin in the cookie jar, too." Arlene gave her son's arm a tender squeeze. "Now why don't you go let your brother and sisters know what our plans are for the rest of the afternoon?"
"Okay, Mom." Scott grinned at his parents and hurried from the room.
Larry looked over at Arlene and smiled. "It's nice to see our boy smiling again."
"Jah. A little joy is something we all need right now."
* * *
Kristi felt relieved when she pulled up to her parents' house and saw their car parked in the driveway. She was desperate to talk to someone right now — someone who would understand and offer support.
She'd no more than stepped onto the porch, when the front door swung open. "This is a surprise. I thought you and Joel went on a picnic today." Mom stood in the doorway, drying her hands on a towel.
"We did, but we ended it early, so I ... I decided to come here."
"Are you all right?" Mom asked as she let Kristi into the house. "Your eyes are red. Have you been crying?"
Kristi looked at her shoes, struggling to keep her emotions in check. "You don't have to worry about fixing lunch for us next Sunday, because Joel and I won't be coming."
"Is Dad here? I'd like him to hear this, too."
"He's in the living room, reading the newspaper." Mom gestured in that direction. "Let's go in, and you can tell us all about it."
After Kristi took a seat on the couch between her parents, she told them everything that had been discussed at the picnic and explained how Joel had taken money from their account without her knowledge.
"You need to pull out the rest of the money and close that account before every penny is gone." Dad's expression was somber.
Kristi cupped her cheeks in her hands. "Oh, you're right. I'll take care of it first thing tomorrow morning." Since Joel had taken over half of the money they'd saved, she was certainly entitled to what was left.
Dad's eyebrows furrowed, and he gave a quick snort. "I can't understand why he'd do something like that. Didn't he realize what it would do to your relationship?" He slapped the folded newspaper on the coffee table. "I'm disappointed in him. Joel is obviously not the man I thought he was."
Kristi dabbed at the tears dribbling down her cheeks. "I think ... Joel's so caught up with his need for money ..." Her voice broke on a sob. "He's not thinking of anything but himself."
To her surprise, instead of Mom saying something negative or reminding her of what the Bible said about being unequally yoked with an unbeliever, she pulled Kristi into her arms. "I know you must be hurting right now, but perhaps in time you'll find someone else — someone better for you."
Kristi sniffed against Mom's shoulder, returning the hug. "I ...I can't even think about that right now."
"And you shouldn't, either." Dad reached over and took Kristi's hand. "You need time to work through your pain and heal. Always remember, your mom and I are here for you."
"That's right," Mom agreed. "If you need to talk or want someone to pray with you, come by anytime or give us a call."
"Thanks. I will." As Kristi reached into her purse for a tissue, her cell phone rang. Seeing it was Joel, she let her voice mail answer the call.
* * *
Joel held his cell phone up to his ear and grimaced when he heard Kristi's voice mail pick up. It was the fourth time he'd tried to call since she'd left his place, and he was desperate to talk to her. "If she's not going to answer my calls, then I'm going over to her place and talk to her."
Joel had already put the Corvette away in his shop, so he hopped in his everyday car and headed down the road. He hoped Kristi would listen and give him another chance. He was determined to patch things up. As he neared Kristi's place, Joel's palms began to sweat. Could he convince the woman he loved to change her mind about him?
When he pulled in front of Kristi's condo, his stomach clenched. Her car wasn't in the driveway. I wonder where she could be.
Joel sat for several minutes, running his hands through his hair. He tried calling her again, but she didn't answer. When her voice mail finally came on, he left a message: "Listen, Kristi, we can't let it end like this. I love you, and we need to talk things through. Please call me."
As his heartbeat continued to race, he decided to drive over to Kristi's parents' house, thinking she might be there. When he turned onto their street, he saw Kristi's car parked in their driveway. At first, he felt relief, but then he realized why she probably was there. I'll bet Kristi came here to tell her folks about our breakup.
Joel had always felt a sense of coolness from Kristi's mother, JoAnn, so it wasn't likely she'd have anything positive to say to him right now. He'd gotten along better with her dad, but Paul might side with his daughter and ask Joel to leave.
"Nope, I wouldn't have a chance or a prayer in there," Joel murmured as he drove on by. "I'll give Kristi a few days to calm down, and then I'll call her again."CHAPTER 2
When Kristi entered the nursing home Thursday morning, she was greeted with a cheery smile from Dorine Turner, one of the other nurses. "A bouquet of flowers came for you a few minutes ago. I put them in the break room."
Kristi's forehead wrinkled in puzzlement. "Are you sure they're for me?" she asked as she placed her belongings in a cubby. Many of the nursing home residents received flowers, but in all the time Kristi had worked there, no floral delivery had been for her.
Dorine nodded. "I saw your name on the outside of the card."
"Hmm ... Guess I'll go take a look before I start my rounds."
When Kristi entered the room and spotted the glass vase filled with six lovely pink roses — her favorite flower — she blushed with pleasure. She walked over to the table and cupped the petals gently in her hands, leaning in to smell their delicate scent. Whoever sent these must know me well. Maybe they're from Mom and Dad.
When she opened the card attached to the ribbon, she flinched. To Kristi. Love, Joel.
Her warm feeling vanished like a candle flame snuffed out by a gust of air. She bit her lip, then released an irritated huff. So now Joel thinks he can win me back with flowers? She shook her head determinedly. I think not.
The roses were too pretty to throw out, but there was no way she would take them home. She couldn't believe Joel expected her to take him back and forget everything he'd done to her. I know what to do. I'll give these flowers to one of the patients.
After removing the card and tossing it in the trash, Kristi picked up the vase and started down the hall. When she approached Audrey Harrington's room and spotted the elderly woman sitting in a chair by her window, she rapped on the open door.
"Come in." A radiant smile spread across Audrey's wrinkled face when she turned to look at Kristi. "Is it time for my medicine?"
"Not yet." Kristi set the vase on the table beside Audrey's bed. She noticed some gardening magazines stacked neatly next to the lamp. The table looked like it had been cleaned recently with furniture polish, as it glistened in the sunlight shining through the window. Audrey's room was definitely one of the most orderly in the nursing home. While all the rooms received attention from housekeeping, Audrey also made sure her personal items were either lying neatly on the table or tucked away in one of her drawers. "These flowers are for you. I hope you will enjoy them."
"Oh, my!" Audrey's arthritic fingers touched her parted lips. "Who are they from? No one has ever sent me flowers before. At least not since my husband passed away."
"There's a first time for everything." Kristi smiled, placing her hand gently on the elderly woman's slender shoulder. "These pretty roses are from me."
Audrey's hazel-colored eyes blinked rapidly as she gazed at the bouquet, then back at Kristi. "Why, thank you, dear. It was so thoughtful of you."
As much as Kristi disliked Joel trying to worm his way back into her life, she was glad he'd sent the flowers to her place of employment and not her home. It did Kristi's heart good to see the look of joy on Audrey's face as she rose from her chair, shuffled over to the flowers, and bent to smell them.
"The pleasant odor equals their beauty. I hope they last several days."
"I'll make sure when I come in to check on you that the roses get plenty of water," Kristi assured her.
Grinning like a child with a new toy, Audrey seated herself again, before picking up the worn-looking Bible lying on the foot of her bed. "God answers prayer." She lifted the book and held it to her chest. "I had prayed earlier that something good would happen in my life today, and it has." She gestured to the roses.
Kristi had not even thought to pray such a prayer when she'd gotten up this morning, but if she had, she, too, could proclaim that her prayer had been answered. The "something good" in her life today was seeing the joy she'd brought to a sweet lady who had never had a single visitor in the year she'd been here.
It grieved Kristi to see lonely patients with relatives who either didn't care or lived too far away to come for a visit. Smiling down at Audrey, Kristi decided to take a few minutes each day to visit this sweet lady and any other patients who appeared to be lonely. It would be good for them, as well as her.
* * *
When Elsie arrived at her father's place to do more organizing and sorting, she was surprised to find Aunt Verna sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea, still dressed in her night clothes.
"Ach, you must think I'm a faulenzer this morning." A circle of pink erupted on Aunt Verna's cheeks.
"I don't think you're a lazy person at all." Elsie removed her shawl and outer bonnet, hanging them on a wall peg before taking a seat across from her aunt.
Excerpted from The Missing Will 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Way too much repeating the same stuff (characters' thoughts generally) over and over and over and ..... in this very short story. It is ridiculous that ppl are being charged for each part of a 'novel'.