Featured Story – Captivating New Series from Bestselling Author Tracie Peterson!
In the early 1900s, Camri Coulter’s search for her missing brother, Caleb, leads her deep into the political corruption of San Francisco—and into the acquaintance of Irishman Patrick Murdock, whom her brother helped clear of murder charges. As the two try to find Caleb, the stakes rise and threats loom. Will Patrick be able to protect Camri from danger?
This excerpt © 2018 by Peterson Ink, Inc.
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Reprinted by permission.
Late November, 1905
Passengers throughout the car began gathering their things, and the volume of conversations grew as the train slowed.
Camrianne Coulter smiled at the two women sitting opposite her. “Thank you both for making this such a pleasant trip. I believe God put us together for a reason.”
The redheaded woman who’d introduced herself three days earlier as Kenzie Gifford nodded. “I don’t imagine I’ve been good company, but I’m grateful for your friendship.”
“You’ve been through a great deal, Kenzie, and despite that, you’ve been lovely to talk to.” Judith Gladstone pushed an errant strand of blond hair under her hat and smiled at Camrianne. “I’m not all that knowledgeable about God, but as my mother used to say, ‘I feel that fate has brought us together.’”
Camri nodded as some of the male passengers moved toward the end of the car. The aisles were narrow, and as the men jostled Camri, they tipped their hats and apologized. She paid them little attention. She’d grown up in Chicago and was used to crowded situations and people who were always in a hurry.
Seeing no need to compete for a place on the car’s platform, Camri merely checked the buttons on her gloves and continued her conversation. “I knew when I started this journey that God would provide for my every need. Because of my education, some people think it strange that I put my faith in an unseen Deity, but I believe trusting God is a choice based not only in faith, but wisdom. I personally don’t believe in fate or luck, but I’m very thankful that you both agreed to help me. I’m glad to help you in your searches as well.”
Kenzie gazed out the train window. “I am too. Although my search isn’t a physical one, like yours. I’ll be content just to find some peace of mind and heart.”
“I’m sure you will,” Judith said as she strained to look out the dirty train window over Kenzie’s shoulder. “And Camri, I’m sure we’ll find your brother.”
Camri’s journey was not one of joy and excitement, as it had been just a year ago when she’d traveled from Chicago to San Francisco with her parents. They had stayed with her brother, Caleb, for several weeks, and Camri had helped him put his house in order.
Now her parents were ill, and Caleb had disappeared.
She frowned. He had been missing for over three months, and no one had any idea where he’d gone. Until August, his letters had always come like clockwork on the first of every month. One letter came for their parents and another for Camri. He even managed to write their older sister, Catherine, who was married and lived nearby with her family. It was a routine Caleb had never wavered in since moving to San Francisco five years earlier.
“Are you certain your brother won’t mind us staying at his house?” Judith asked.
The train conductor passed through the car again. “All out for San . . . Fran . . . cisco!” He edged through the men standing at the end of the car and moved on to the next.
Camri raised her voice to be heard above the din. “I can’t imagine he would. He’s always been kind and generous.” She retied the ribbons of her simple travel bonnet. “He has a nice house with four bedrooms, so there will be plenty of room.” Especially since he was not even there. Camri left that thought unspoken. She had already spent the entire trip dwelling on or discussing her missing brother. “Since we’ve all come to San Francisco with a particular goal in mind, I’m glad we can pool our resources.”
The train came to a jerky stop with the screech of metal wheels on metal rails.
Judith sighed. “I’m glad not to have to go to a hotel. My funds are quite limited.”
“As are mine,” Kenzie said, turning to face Camri, “although I’m hopeful my mother’s cousin will honor his word and put me to work at his candy factory. I’ll ask him about jobs for you both.”
Camri nodded, although with her expanded college education, she found the idea of working at a factory a bit beneath her. Education had always been important in her family, and that, along with women’s rights, had taken all of Camri’s attention the last few years. She had hated leaving her teaching position at the women’s college in Chicago. Her teaching ability was highly regarded by the college administration, and her work with the suffrage movement had garnered respect from men and women alike.
But Caleb’s welfare was much more important. Something had to be desperately wrong, or he would have written.
She couldn’t help but sigh. The stress and worry had taken such a toll on their parents that both had taken to their beds with various maladies, and the doctor was concerned. Camri had decided, at their urging, to look for Caleb. She’d left their parents to the care of her elder sister, hoping against hope that she’d arrive in San Francisco to find that Caleb had merely been too busy to write. Of course, she was certain that wouldn’t be the case. Since even his household servants, Mr. and Mrs. Wong, hadn’t seen him, she knew he had most likely met with harm.
The real question was whether or not he was still alive.
Now that the train was stopped, passengers flooded the aisles. Camri knew better than to be in a hurry to disembark. She had no desire to be pushed and prodded by others as they rushed to exit the train.
Judith was the first of the trio to stand, reaching down for her small carpetbag. From the looks of it, the bag was ancient, but Camri knew it was one of the few things left to Judith.