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Double M: The Jennings [Double M Series Book 4] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Sherry Derr-Wille

eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Romance
eBook Description: With the deaths of Suzanna and Ralph, JP is left to take over the Double M while Kenlyn oversees the fortunes of the family through the investment firm where she works. The future of K-Chemical/Colliers Industries rests in the hands of David Vasser and Scott Preston. The wars of the late 20th and early 21st century take their tolls as well on the residents of Corbit and the Double M. This is the fourth book in the epic Double M Series by multiple EPPIE AWARD Winning author Sherry Derr-Wille that includes: Book One: DOUBLE M: THE MALLONS Book Two: DOUBLE M: THE KENDRICKS Book Three: DOUBLE M: THE PARKHURSTS

eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2007

4 Reader Ratings:
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"Author Sherry Derr-Wille does an excellent job of threading the lives of her characters through recent history. They also deal with past issues and discover a lost part of the family. There is a strong romance element through the story and an interesting, almost paranormal, thread as certain family members hear the voices of their ancestors advising them. This is not distracting and fits the strong religious faith of the characters involved. The magnitude of the story may be too large for the actual number of pages. Covering too much history in a relatively short novel leads to some choppy passages, but the characters are interesting, the situations often emotional, and the pace is one to keep your interest glued to the story. If you enjoy historical fiction, buy this series."--Robin Lee, Romance Reviews Today

Chapter 1

February, 1979

Ralph Jennings watched as Suzanna's coffin was lowered into the ground of the cemetery behind the main house of the Double M Ranch. In this small plot of land lay the ghosts of the Double M. Janet, Mike and Maggie Mallon rested here. The empty grave of Austin Mallon was nestled in the same area. Katie and Steve Kendricks rested beside Ralph's parents, Nevada and Marion Jennings. Also here were Suzanna's first husband, Clay Parkhurst, and Ralph's first wife, Barbara.

There were people from the Double M who rested elsewhere. Even so, their ghosts haunted the ranch. Austin Mallon, his wife, Ruth, and their son, John's graves were on the Indian reservation high in the mountains, Mallon Kendricks, as well as his sons, were in Chicago and Kenny Parkhurst lay in a field in France that had been transformed into a beautifully peaceful cemetery. Mallon, Austin and Kenny had all been born on the ranch, but had followed a different path that led them all far from the Double M. Their deaths had been a loss, but life had gone on.

A cold wind blew over the crest of the hill causing all of Suzanna's family and friends to shiver.

"In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen."

The final words of the minister sent the mourners to the warmth and security of the ranch house. As the people left, Ralph stayed. He wanted a few more minutes with his beloved Suzanna. She had lived a long life. Anyone who reached the age of ninety deserved their eternal rest. As for Ralph, he had shared twenty of those years with her and now as he approached his eighty-first birthday, he too was getting tired.

This ranch and the land will survive. I'm with Clay, Kenny, Ma, Pa, Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma Janet and Uncle Austin. Even Barbara was here to greet me. They assured me that the Double M will continue to prosper. When the time comes, JP will lead the ranch into the twenty-first century. As for me, I'm waiting for you to join me. Just don't wish your life away. Every minute you have with those who love you is precious.

"Good-bye, Suzanna. Sleep well. If Bob is right it won't be long before I'm by your side again."

After throwing a clump of dirt into the grave, he turned and started down the hill when a sharp pain radiated through his chest and down his left arm. The joys and sorrows of his life flashed before his eyes just as the darkness of death claimed him.

In the blink of an eye, he stood with Suzanna, Clay and Barbara, looking down on their beloved Double M. Looking further, he saw all the other ghosts who watched over the acres around Corbit, Montana that they had built from nothing over the past one hundred and ten years.

* * * *

"Where's Grandpa?" JP Jennings asked his father.

"Come to think of it, he hasn't come down from the cemetery. He's taking this pretty hard."

JP nodded. "I'll go up and bring him back to the house. There are several people here who want to see him."

"I'll come with you," Luke Johansson said. "I could use a cigarette."

JP agreed. Luke was his brother-in-law, his sister's second husband, and JP's best friend. He was the one JP would lean on now that his grandmother was gone. He needed to be strong for his grandfather, but there was no one other than Luke to be strong for him. His father would be comforting his mother and his Uncle Jeff would be lost in his own sorrow. Luke would be there for JP's sister Kenlyn as well as for him.

"I can't believe your grandpa is still up on that hill," Luke said when they stepped outside into the cold wind that blew against the porch.

JP took a cigarette from the pack Luke held out to him. "You haven't lived here long enough to understand the pull of that old cemetery. The first people buried there were my great-great-grandma Janet, the empty grave of her son Austin, and one of the cowhands."

"Kenny told me that story. I would have liked to have seen the looks on everyone's faces when Austin returned from the dead fifteen years later."

JP nodded. He'd often wished he could have been there himself. Of all the stories of the ghosts of the Double M, the one about Katie and Austin coming home during the same week was his favorite. They were almost at the top of the hill when he saw something that disturbed him.

"Grandpa!" he shouted as he ran the last few yards to where Ralph lay face down in the snow. When he reached his grandpa, he knelt beside his body.

"Is he..." Luke's words were cut short by the expression JP knew was on his face.

"He's dead. I can't get a pulse. I knew he wanted to be with Grandma. I just didn't expect it to be this soon. Help me get him back to the house."

Between JP and Luke, they lifted Ralph's body from the snow-covered ground and started down the hill. More than anything, JP wanted to cry. The hurt of losing both of his grandparents was almost more than he could stand. All his life if he'd needed comfort, he could run to Grandma Suzanna or Grandpa Ralph. Now they had both joined the ghosts of the Double M.

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