© 2007, Sherry Derr-Wille
Reviews For DOUBLE M: THE KENDRICKS by Sherry Derr-Wille
Sherry Wille is Brilliant; she will bring you into the old west in this amazing book, “Double M The Kendrick’s. This is the second book in this series. Sherry has a wonderful talent for writing I have always enjoyed her books; I think you will as well. From Sensual Reads
Besides the drama of the family saga, the lure of THE KENDRICKS is how deftly the surrounding history is woven into the story. If anything, time moved too fast, for I found myself wanting to spend more time with each character. So, I’m moving right on to THE PARKHURSTS, the next episode in the Double M chronicles. Robin from Romance Reviews Today
Sample Chapter For DOUBLE M: THE KENDRICKS by Sherry Derr-Wille
Nevada Jennings sat on his horse and looked down on the Double M Ranch. A light rain started to fall and through the drizzle, he could see the men scurrying for shelter.
Steven Kendricks, with his wife Katie, now occupied the ranch house. Construction on another house for Steve’s brother, Carl, started less than a week ago.
On the opposite hill, Nevada’s best friend, Mike Mallon, stood in the old cemetery with his wife, Maggie. Mike and Nevada built the Double M and Mike owned it. Now he lived in Washington D.C., where he served as a United States Senator.
Nevada reached into his coat pocket to assure himself the ruby ring, which once belonged to his mother, was still there. Secure in the knowledge he hadn’t lost it, he turned his horse toward town.
Throughout the ride, which certainly wasn’t a long one, Nevada wondered if he would make it. Inside his chest, his heart pounded wildly. Perhaps he wasn’t ready to ask Marion Howe to marry him. Perhaps once he told her the truth about himself, she would not want anything to do with Ralph Madison’s bastard. Marion was a proper lady, the daughter of Corbit’s founder, Ned Corbit and the widow of Jake Howe.
He would have turned around right then and there, but he now sat in front of Corbit’s, the town’s general store, and Ned Howe saw him.
“Good morning, Nevada,” Ned greeted him. “I see you didn’t forget.”
“Forget? Forget what?” Nevada asked, completely baffled by Ned’s statement.
“Ma’s birthday, of course,” Ned said and laughed, making Nevada feel all the more foolish. “You did forget. Well, just don’t let on that you forgot. She wouldn’t understand.”
Nevada thanked Ned and smiled as he bounded up the steps two at a time. He remembered the first time he saw the store, over thirty years earlier. Then the stairs led to the hotel. Now the area housed separate living quarters for Marion. The old hotel had been replaced by the more elegant Corbit House, which was built closer to the train station.
At the top of the stairs was Marion’s door. Softly, he rapped, almost hoping Marion wouldn’t answer.
“Come in,” she called.
Nevada opened the door and saw her working in the kitchen. “Good morning and happy birthday,” he said, kissing her on the cheek.
“Why thank you. How did you ever remember it was today?”
“I didn’t, Ned told me when I rode up.”
Marion laughed, putting him at ease. How could I have been afraid of Marion? “I’ve come for a special reason. Can we talk?”
He could tell Marion’s curiosity had been aroused. “Of course we can. I just made some soup. We can talk over dinner.”
Nevada hadn’t thought about how close to noon it had gotten. His stomach rumbled, but he thought it was nerves. It could be it was just hunger. He was still contemplating his conclusion when he heard the mantle clock strike twelve.
He took a seat at the table and watched as Marion busied herself at the stove. He thought she’d never sit down but at last, she sat across the table from him.
The soup was steaming hot, giving him the time to say the words he had been practicing all the way to town. Before beginning, he took a deep breath. “Marion, I’ve come to ask you to marry me. I don’t want you to answer until I tell you about myself.”
“Why, Nevada, I’ve known you for more than thirty years. What can you possibly tell me?”
“Just let me
finish. I was born in 1847. It doesn’t take
a genius to realize I’m fifty years old. I know
it’s not important, but it’s a place to
start. My mother was a cook for a very prominent lawyer
in Philadelphia. I grew up thinking my father had
deserted me before I was born. The Madisons, at least
Ralph and his daughters, were good to us. I was raised
with the same educational benefits as their own children,
Clara, Amy and Estelle. Clara and Amy were older than
me and Estelle was five years my junior. In 1862,
when I was fifteen, my mother died. We buried her
on the same day. That was when Judy Madison kicked
me out of the house. I’ll never forget it. All
during the funeral, it rained. As we left the cemetery,
Judy informed me that from that point on, I would
help the groom in the stable.
He paused briefly to compose his thoughts before continuing. “The more I walked, the more I thought. It was hard to decide who my father might be, since I looked so much like my mother. In my heart, I knew it was Jennings, Ralph’s groom. He was a good man and I saw no shame in being his son. It had never bothered me until then, but I was alone and grieving. As I left the carriage, I heard Judy refer to me as Elizabeth’s bastard son. At fifteen, her words hurt. Later that evening, I returned home and packed. I hardly slept that night, trying to decide what to do. I could stay in Philadelphia and become an apprentice for some trade. At least I could stay in contact with the girls. I realized I had fallen in love with Clara. The more I thought about it, the more foolish the idea became. By dawn, I decided my future lay in the West. Since Ralph gave me access to his library, I had read many books on the subject. The excitement of it made my decision all the easier.”
Each bit of information he was imparting to Marion was like a knife in his heart. He knew she would never accept him once he finished. He looked for judgment in her eyes, but saw only pity for a young boy with no home.
“I don’t know when I fell asleep, but when I woke up, the room was full of sunlight. On the floor by the door, lay a piece of white paper. It contained a note from Ralph asking me to stop by his office before I left. After I dressed and gathered my possessions, I took the back stairs to the kitchen. The new cook was already preparing breakfast. I recognized her as Trudy O’Connell. Her mother worked as a cook for another family in the neighborhood. She couldn’t have been much older than me. Quietly she served me my breakfast. I remember it was oatmeal and fresh bread. While I ate, the girls came to say good-bye. Clara and Amy were reserved, but Estelle cried desperately. I got up and threw the only money I had in the world on the table. Mother’s purse had been as empty as it always was and I had no money of my own. ‘For room and board,’ I said when I walked out the door. I debated about going to see Ralph, but I finally decided it would do no harm. When I arrived, he gave me a horse, a Bible and three hundred dollars as a start for my new life. I thought he had something more to tell me, but he didn’t, or couldn’t, say it.
“After that, I drifted for about a year. I started by working on farms until I knew that wasn’t the life for me. That’s when I lit out for Texas. Just before I arrived at the Circle M, Mike’s pa’s ranch, I changed my name. Jennings was natural, because of my father, and Nevada was for a man I met on one of the ranches. He taught me a lot about ranching. I picked a good time to arrive in Texas since most of the ranches were short-handed because of the war. Ben Mallon became like a father to me and his children were like my brothers and sister.
“Once I settled there, I wrote to Ralph like I’d promised. It was over a year before I heard back from him and then the letter came from Clara. She enclosed a letter that her father had written to me the night before he died. He wanted to tell me that he was my father. Almost three months later, I received a visit from a lawyer. Ted Loring, Clara’s husband, showed up at the ranch with a check for my share of Ralph’s estate. I never saw my family again, but we’ve kept in touch over the years.”
Nevada sighed deeply,
relieved to have the story of his past completely
out in the open. Now he only had to wait for Marion
to reject him as not being good enough for her.
“I guess so,” he said, fumbling for the words. He’d never strung together as many words as he just had and decided there wasn’t anything more to say.
“I don’t know what difference the circumstances of your birth makes. I’ve been wondering why it’s taken you so long to ask me to marry you.”
“I had to get up the courage to tell you the truth about me. I’m a bastard, but I’m a rich bastard.” Nevada laughed for the first time.
“And just who do you think I am?” Marion asked.
“You’re Ned and Ellen Corbit’s daughter, Jake’s widow and a respected citizen of this town,” he answered, bewildered by the question she just asked.
“Oh no, my dear Nevada, you couldn’t be any further from the truth if you tried. I’m the daughter of Ellen Corbit and Will Magee. Mother called my conception the product of her night of sin. Of course, Pa never knew it. I only found out about it a year before she died. I’m as much a bastard as you are. Does that change your mind about me?”
Nevada laughed so hard, he couldn’t answer for several seconds. “Well, I guess we have more in common than I thought,” he said, once he regained his composure. “After hearing that, all we have left to do is set a date.”
“You are anxious, aren’t you?” Marion asked. “How does a week from Saturday sound to you?”
“It sounds just fine,” Nevada replied, slipping the ruby ring onto her finger. “I wanted Mike and Maggie to be here with us. Guess you were thinking the same thing.”
* * * *
The following days were hectic. Marion and Maggie worked for hours on Marion’s wedding dress and the arrangements for the wedding. It was Friday night before Marion actually relaxed as the two couples sat in her kitchen.
“So, where are you two going on this mysterious wedding trip Nevada keeps hinting about?” Mike asked.
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask Nevada about it,” Marion replied.
“I suppose it’s time to let the cat out of the bag,” Nevada said, his green eyes dancing. “I’m taking Marion East. First to Chicago and then to Philadelphia to meet my family and finally over to Washington to see how a United States Senator lives. Of course, I didn’t make anything definite. I told Clara we’d wire her about our arrival.”
Marion’s mind began to swim. Chicago wasn’t that far from Springfield where her mother had grown up. Do I dare ask Nevada to take me to meet my family?
“I hadn’t planned to tell you this way, Marion,” Nevada continued, taking her hand in his. “If there is any place else you want to go, we’ll go there. Didn’t Ellen tell me she was from Illinois?”
Marion’s head spun. When had Nevada become a mind reader? “I do have family around Springfield, Illinois. I hadn’t planned a reunion, though.”
“Don’t let my bad experience stop you from finding your family, Marion,” Maggie said, reassuringly.
“What bad experience?” Nevada questioned.
“Right after Mike and I moved to Washington, I told him I was determined to find Pa’s family in Boston. The first weekend we had free, we took the train up and started our search. We found Robert Magee, Pa’s brother. When we told him who we were, he practically threw us out of his house. He said when Pa left Boston, he gave up any family he had there. He also said any man who would take up with a squaw wasn’t civilized enough to be his brother. I was hurt, but I’m over it now. Honestly, Marion, I think you’re foolish not to try and find your family. I took my chance and I satisfied my curiosity. Don’t you want the chance to meet them for yourself?”
Marion thought for a long moment before answering. “I’m sure you’re right, Maggie. I’ve wondered what they were like most of my life. I guess now is the time to meet them. At least I won’t be doing it alone.”