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Breathe (Homeward Trilogy Series)
     

Breathe (Homeward Trilogy Series)

4.1 57
by Lisa T. Bergren
 

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Embark on this western epic in Book 1 of the Homeward Trilogy

It's Colorado, 1883. A publishing heiress is on the brink of life.and death. Her beautiful, younger sister is called to the forbidden stage. Her brother and troubled guardian is raging inside. A veiled treasure map leads to a hidden silver mine while a threatening villain hovers in the shadows. And a

Overview

Embark on this western epic in Book 1 of the Homeward Trilogy

It's Colorado, 1883. A publishing heiress is on the brink of life.and death. Her beautiful, younger sister is called to the forbidden stage. Her brother and troubled guardian is raging inside. A veiled treasure map leads to a hidden silver mine while a threatening villain hovers in the shadows. And a hero is bent on saving his bride.

JUST BREATHE.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781434767080
Publisher:
David C Cook
Publication date:
06/01/2009
Series:
Homeward Trilogy Series
Edition description:
New
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
759,423
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

BREATHE

A Novel of Colorado


By Lisa T. Bergren

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2009 Lisa T. Bergren
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0029-2


CHAPTER 1

March 1883


Odessa tried to shove back the wave of fear as the slow suffocation began. It was too much, this long ride west. Three days they had been on cursed trains chugging across endless tracks—three days! Hours of dust and dark, choking smoke from the train, the sweet-sour body odor from fellow passengers. She could even smell herself, and the combined force seemed to pour sand in through her nose and down into her lungs, filling them, filling them like two sacks of concrete.

Her father had meant for her to chase the cure; instead, she was merely hastening her own demise.

"Odessa? Dess!" Dominic said, leaning forward in his seat. "Moira, quick. Dampen this handkerchief."

Odessa closed her eyes and concentrated on each breath, her brother's voice, her sister's movement. She willed herself not to panic, not to give in to the black demon that loomed over her. This was worse than before. The creature had moved in and around her, tormenting her as he sat upon her chest.

"Dess, here. You must take your laudanum. Just this once. You've made it this far; we'll be there within hours."

Odessa could feel the cold stares of the people in the seats next to them as she sipped from the blue bottle. She knew she was not the only consumptive patient on this train, but the healthy passengers seemed to consider all of the consumptives a nuisance. She had not the strength to care at this point.

She had to keep herself from coughing.

To begin coughing was to never stop.

But her throat, the mucous, the tickle, the terrible desire to try and take a deep breath, to give it just one attempt, one huge cough to clear the way, to free her from the storm cloud that covered her now, roiling like a summer thunderhead. Oh God, she cried silently. I can't breathe! I can't breathe! Don't let me die!

Visions of her little brothers filled her mind. Gasping piteously. Blue lips, blue fingernails, eyes rolling back in their heads. Michael, thirteen; Clifford, eleven; Earl, eight; tiny Fred, only three ...

"Dess," Dominic said urgently. "Dess!"

She could feel herself sliding sideways, her head spinning. She knew it improper, such public loss of control, but she was helpless, giving in to the dark demon that was casting her about, twirling her about like a chicken on a spit.

Dominic picked her up in his arms and laid her gently on the floor between the seats. From far away, she could tell he was placing his coat beneath her head. She could feel the rough woolen fibers at her neck. But how was that possible? Spinning at this rate—

"Stay with us, Odessa St. Clair," he called to her firmly. "We are almost there! Fight it! Fight back! Stay with us!"

It was as if he called to her from the mouth of a long, dark cave. Could he not see the monster? The demon cloud that was spiriting her away? How was she to fight such a thing? Why did they call it the White Death when it was dark, so dark?

The laudanum, the blessed drug, moved through her and began its soothing work. She did not wish to be the latest St. Clair invalid, wasting away of consumption, wasting away the family money, the family's time, the family's attentions. If she was not strong enough to chase the cure, she didn't deserve it at all. She had to find it within her, the hope, the desire, hovering somewhere deep within. Was it even there any longer?

Moira returned to her side and placed a delicate white handkerchief over her nose and mouth, cool and light and smelling faintly of soap—clean, clear soap. It reminded Odessa of her mother, of years ago when she would come to Odessa's sickroom to care for her, to nurse her back to health. She wanted to thank her sister, knowing this collapse was embarrassing her, embarrassing them all, but she could not find the breath to utter one word.

"Nic!" Moira said in alarm. Was she outside, floating away from Odessa? Or was Odessa floating away from them? Out of this train, out of her cave, breaking free?

"Is there a doctor on the train?" Dominic yelled. "Is there a doctor? Can anyone assist us?"

"You listen to me," Dominic said lowly and fiercely in her ear, suddenly right beside her. "You are not going to die on this train. You are going to reach the sanatorium and regain your health. You have a life ahead of you, Odessa St. Clair. A life. Not as an invalid. But as a vital, healthy woman. You will know freedom. You will beat this curse on our family. We will be friends into our old age. Do you hear me? Do you hear me, Odessa?"


* * *

"Is there a doctor aboard this train?" Dominic yelled as he watched Odessa slip into unconsciousness. He looked down the aisle of the rocking, swaying train car, meeting the doleful glances of thirty other passengers. No one moved to help. Moira, his younger sister, wept behind her hand. Odessa grew more lax in his arms. Never had he felt so helpless. What had Father been thinking? He could barely keep himself out of trouble; he was supposed to watch over his sisters, too?

He rose, Odessa in his arms. "Is there anyone who can help us?" he cried.

Halfway down the car, a man rose, hat in hand, and a woman beside him. They hesitantly made their way toward the St. Clairs. Nic studied their faces, then saw the man's collar. A preacher. Nic looked over his shoulder, hoping another was rising, a physician, a nurse, anyone. But no one moved.

"Not the doc you're seeking, man," said the tentative preacher. "But it looks like we're the only ones. Why don't you put your wife—"

"Sister."

"Put your sister down, and we'll pray over her. Heading to the sanatorium, I take it? Best there is in these parts."

"And not far," put in his wife. "We'll be there soon."

Nic studied them a moment longer, then glanced down at Odessa in his arms and Moira on the floor in a heap. "Quit your weeping, Moira," Nic hissed. "And get back on the seat. She's not dead yet." Her tears chafed at him, made him feel more helpless.

Moira only cried harder, but she rose and went back to the bench seat by the window as instructed. Nic gently set Odessa down beside her, head in Moira's lap, then moved aside to let the preacher and his wife gain entrance to the bench seat facing them.

Moira kept crying, her slender shoulders shaking, one hand on her unconscious sister's forehead, the other on the handkerchief dabbing at the corner of her eyes. Her face depicted the same horror Nic felt inside.

He pinched his temples between his third finger and thumb, trying to think his way out of this. "Use your brain as well as your brawn," Father had said to him as they said good-bye in Philadelphia. "I'm counting on you as a St. Clair." If he failed in this, failed his father again, here on the border of hope, if he failed his sisters ... But try as he might, he could not think of what else to do.

"Nothing to do but pray," said the preacher, staring up at him, waiting, as if reading his thoughts. The preacher's wife stood beside him, silently seeking his permission with her eyes. Odessa was still deathly pale and her breathing now emerged as a tight, wavering whistle.

"No other option, I guess," Nic groused. "Go to it."

The preacher stared at him with eyes of understanding and pity. "It's in God's hands for sure, friend. Let's ask Him to help her make it to the sanatorium. Let's ask Him to restore her to life itself. Will you join us?"

Nic pulled back a little. "No. I mean, you do what you need to. I'll ... I'm going to go and ask the conductor how long until we reach the Springs." He turned away and headed down the aisle.


* * *

The preacher's wife handed Moira a clean handkerchief and patted her arm. "What's her name?" she asked softly. There was something in her voice that soothed, warmed Moira. Something that reminded Moira of her own mother, dead and gone a year now.

"Odessa," she whispered.

"Your older sister?"

Moira nodded. "By two years." She smiled and stroked Odessa's cheek. How many times, growing up, had Odessa held her, comforted her, nursed her when their mother had been so busy with the boys? "Do you think God will hear us?" she whispered, the woman's face swimming through her tears. "That is, do you think He'll actually save Odessa? I've never seen her ... so poorly."

"I hope so," the woman returned, reaching out to squeeze Moira's hand. "All we can do is ask and hope. Hope."

Moira glanced up to see her brother pacing, waiting to talk to the conductor, clearly not wanting to rejoin them. He had refused to go to church ever since their mother died, claimed he wanted nothing to do with a God who would rob them of so many dear ones.

Nic had gotten into trouble again and again; he'd even gone to jail for brawling. It had horrified her father, infuriated him. Nic claimed Moira's incessant desire to perform, sing, had brought their father so low, but Moira thought Nic's troubles and Odessa's illness were the more likely cause.

Moira looked back down to Odessa, stared at her hard when she realized she wasn't moving, wasn't even taking the tiniest of breaths. "Odessa! Odessa!" she screamed. She cast desperate eyes toward her brother, and he came barreling back down the aisle. The preacher and his wife were on their knees beside Odessa, heads bowed, praying. Heart filled with dread, Moira forced herself to look back to her sister, terrified she'd see the same death mask steal over her lovely features as she'd seen on their brothers, their mother.

"Here, let me take her," Dominic demanded, roughly squeezing between the preacher and his wife, pulling Odessa from Moira's arms.

"Don't be so rough, Nic!"

Nic ignored Moira and stared only at their sister. "You hold on, Odessa St. Clair. We are just minutes away. You hold on. This is where it begins, your new life. Wake up, wake up and see the mountains. See your new home. It's beautiful, Dess. Beautiful. Wake up."


* * *

Beat this curse. Fight it. Wake up. Odessa considered his words from far away, as if she were a judge hearing both sides of a case. She could give in to this demon, let it spirit her away, so her siblings could bury her at the foot of the towering Rockies and be free to open the bookshop, live their lives without her as a burden. Or she could find the sword at her side and strike back at the curse of her family, this dark cloud that had stolen her brothers, that now came back like a foraging, hungry monster seeking more sustenance from the St. Clair fields.

She could not tolerate that. She could not bear the thought of her father, so thin, aging so fast, coming west to simply attend her funeral. She longed for hope, for light to again settle into the lines of his face. To see a smile and not that dim look of desperation, defeat. I will fight, she thought. The words gave her strength. God almighty, You have the power of all in Your hands. Give me the strength to fight!

Odessa opened her eyes and then quickly closed them, blinded by the bright, clear sun shining through towering windows all about her. She had a vision of brilliant white and wondered for a moment if she had already landed in heaven. Recognizing that the tip of her nose and cheeks were very cold, and supposing that heaven was bound to be warm, not frosty, she chanced a second glance through squinting eyes.

She was on a covered porch, all painted in white, upon one of ten beds—only two others occupied—and covered in ivory sheets and blankets. A porch, a blessed porch, and off that cursed train! She saw that two windows on either side of the long porch were open, letting a cool draft wander past. But she was laden with heavy woolen blankets that were tucked neatly on either side of her, cocooned against the cold. And she was propped up against several pillows.

Outside, towering pines gave way to the majestic mountains, purple in the light of morning's glow. One far outweighed all the others in girth and height; it had to be the famous Pikes Peak, the mountain that guided the way for the wagon trains heading west from as far away as Kansas.

They had made it. The St. Clairs had made it to Colorado.

She had survived, lived to awaken in the sanatorium where she might find the cure.

"Awake at last," said a voice from down the porch.

Odessa turned her head, suddenly aware that she must look frightful. She tried to give an older man, also cocooned from the chest down in his own bed, a small smile. It was an odd situation, this. Being on a porch alone with two men, even at a distance of twenty feet.

"You've been here three days. Doubt you remember most of that."

Odessa nodded and gave him a quick glance, not yet trusting her voice, uncertain of how to behave in such a foreign social situation. He was a small man, with a wild, wiry gray beard and eyebrows that appeared to be taking over his forehead. His eyes, sunken and dark-rimmed from the consumption, were still alert, a spark of humor within.

He nodded at her, encouraging her to stay engaged. He seemed clearly bored with his hours of lying about. "Name's Sam O'Toole," he said. "I, too, came from Philly, but it's been ..." He paused to cough, a long, hacking process that Odessa tried not to listen to. It made her want to join him. And although she couldn't take a long, deep breath, it was better than coughing and not stopping. She closed her eyes, tried to concentrate on the fact that she was alive, she hadn't died on the train; she was in Colorado Springs....

"It's been twenty years," Sam continued at last. "I imagine it's quite different now." There was a note of sorrow, separation in his tone. He was quiet for a moment and then seemed to remember himself. "Our companion here is my neighbor from down south, Bryce McAllan."

The other man, his cot set at an angle, was partially hidden by a canvas and easel.

Brown wavy hair. Kind eyes. He gave her a gentle smile and nod in greeting. He dabbed a brush in the paint somewhere that Odessa couldn't see, laid his head back as if summoning the strength to move, and then lifted an arm to place the color upon the canvas. But then he looked her way again.

Where was the nurse? Her doctor? Her siblings?

"You need not respond to Sam's idle chatter," Bryce said. "We know your struggle well." His smile faded and he returned his attention to the canvas. He dabbed his brush on the unseen palette, settled back among the pillows, took a few breaths, and then lifted his arm again toward the painting.

"We've met your brother and sister," Sam said, then paused to cough again. He leaned his head back, exhausted from the effort, but couldn't seem to stop himself from speaking. He pulled an age-spot-covered hand from beneath the covers and wiped his upper lip with a handkerchief. So he struggled with the fever, too. "Fine people. And I know your name is Odessa. I assume you know you arrived in Colorado Springs in the nick of time. They'll be very glad to see you awake."

Odessa moved a little and smelled the herbal poultice still upon her chest. Peppermint and sage and a deep, mossy scent that reminded her of the shady forest just after snowmelt. "My brother?"

"They'll return soon, I'm certain. They've hardly left your side. Your sister appeared faint herself, so he left to take her back to the hotel. She's been through an ordeal, between the journey west and their bedside vigil. Quite the beauty she is ... almost as pretty as you, miss. If I was a few years younger—" He paused to cough and Odessa dared to glance his way, and further, to Bryce.

She fought the urge to squirm, touch her hair. She knew that he, too, was comparing her to Moira. She concentrated on the view outside instead. No wonder he painted it. Cloaked in springtime snow, the mountains were magnificent.

Bryce cleared his throat. His lungs sounded good, the way hers sounded on her best days. But she had seen the sheen of sweat upon his brow, how he leaned back among the pillows from the mere exertion of painting. She wondered so many things, how long he had been here, how many other patients there were ...

Old Sam kept coughing, sitting up now to try to get on top of it.

As if reading her agitation, Bryce set down his brush and settled long, strong fingers around a glass bell. It looked desperately dainty and a bit silly in his big hand. She met his eyes, wide and blue, and then noticed his hair was streaked, his face weathered, as if he had spent many summers in the sun. He smiled, and his eyes crinkled again at the corners appealingly.

He was handsome. Terribly thin, but handsome. And only a few years older than she.

Blessedly, the nurse arrived then. "Oh!" she cried in delight. "Miss St. Clair, you're awake! The doctor will be so pleased. Let me go and fetch you some water—no doubt you are parched—oh, and Sam, you too ..." She turned back to Odessa. "I'll make the doctor aware of your condition."

"Thank you," Odessa croaked.

"Not at all," said the nurse with a bob of her head, and with that she hurried out as quickly as she had arrived.

"Nurse Packard," Sam managed, still coughing as he grinned Odessa's way. "A saint in white."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from BREATHE by Lisa T. Bergren. Copyright © 2009 Lisa T. Bergren. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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.

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Meet the Author

Lisa T. Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books that have sold more than two million copies. A former publishing executive, she now spends her time writing, editing, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy while parenting her three children with her husband, Tim. They live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Breathe 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the historical setting of Colorado Springs. Nice to read a book that I can share with my teens and not worry about inappropriate descriptions. Thanks!
mmvasquez More than 1 year ago
Breathe by Lisa T. Bergren is absolutely incredible! I can't say enough about this wonderful book. The story blends a beautiful historical with thrilling, edge-of-your-seat suspense. The setting is magnificent and the author makes you feel as if you are truly there. There is great family drama between the siblings, as well as great romance. This book has it all! The writing is simply outstanding. From page one I was totally engrossed and couldn't bear to put it down. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It has something for everyone with action, drama, suspense, and romance.
Shay14 More than 1 year ago
My Review:  This book is fantastic. It has it all. Love. Mystery. A touch of Christianity. It's the story of three siblings, told from all three points of view. I thought I might find this distracting, but I didn't. It actually added to the story and made you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens!  When Odessa arrives in Colorado Springs, you're thinking, WE JUST MET THIS CHARACTER! IT CAN'T END ALREADY! And you're glad when it doesn't. The mystery is intriguing, the love story is sweet and subtle, the bond between the siblings is one I can relate to (having a sister of my own). I love how they affectionately call each other "sissy" and "brother." The Christian undertone of the book cannot be denied, but it's not overwhelming in any sense, and I related to each characters struggle to accept that God wants us to live, to breathe, and to accept his creations and his path for our lives, come what may. I loved the ending and am eager to finish the second book as well. The book is well written, the characters are just beginning to grow (as all three books will feature points of view from all three siblings) but are already lovable and I'm rooting for them. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too!
SJT22 More than 1 year ago
Predictable ending and routine plot but the unique take on TB made it one of a kind. Appreciated the clean sweey romance.
cherryblossommj More than 1 year ago
Breathe is more than just a prairie romance, it is an edge of your seat page turning mystery. This book is deeper than most historical fiction books that you will find and it really makes you think. There is a darker side of things, but not too dark to survive without God on your side. In this novel, instead of following one character with various side characters in the background, the reader really follows the three different St. Clair siblings on their individual adventures. Having one story come to a content closure in this book, I really look forward to the next two books in the series to find out just how their journeys continue.
Janna6 More than 1 year ago
David C. Cook publishers has started putting a "Good Read Guarantee" on certain books and "Breathe" is one of those books. My belief is that they will not be giving any money back on this book - it is a good read and much more! "Breathe" is the first book in a new trilogy about Dominic and his two younger sisters and their travels to the new town of Colorado Springs in around 1860 in search of healing for his sister Odessa who is near death from consumption. They Dominic and Moira take her to a sanatorium by Pike's Peak and hope that she will finally find health from the disease that stole 4 younger brothers from them already. In the process Odessa finds love, murder and mystery waiting for her at the sanatorium while Dominic and Moira find adventures and love (or lack thereof) waiting for them as well. We see viewpoints of all 3 siblings pretty equally in this book even though it is really Odessa's story. We have 2 more books to come over the next year and I eagerly await them both to see where life is going to take these siblings as they go their separate ways now. One of the best things in this book (besides the mystery that will keep you in your seat til the end) is how she really took me back to the early days of Colorado Springs. You could see the mountains and scarcely touched land, breathe the crisp, cool air and walk the mountains with Odessa as she did. I loved this book and would highly recommend it to any fans of historical fiction!
BrittanyMc More than 1 year ago
I am reading through The Homeward Trilogy series this month. Breathe is the first book in the trilogy, as well as the first book that I have read by this author. It will definitely not be my last! Breathe was such an interesting and enjoyable story to read. I am excited that each sibling will get their own book in this trilogy. Although Odessa is the main character in Breathe, I loved that Moira and Dominic, her sister and brother, also have a lot of page time. I have read a couple of other books about characters with consumption and I know that it was a devastating illness. I thought that that the author did such a good job at describing what Odessa and others at the sanatorium were going through during a coughing fit. Breathe also had mystery and danger to keep it moving along, as well as a sigh-worthy love story. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and to reading more from this author. My daughter insists that I need to read her River of Time series soon and that I will love it! I won this book in a giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After the Civil War Katie finds herself and her brother in a dangerous situation in GA. Her husband, home from the war, no longer found his bride the love of his life, but part of the "Yankee's" that burned his home and runed his life. She fled from GA and went to the Nothwoods! Find how her faith and life took twist and turns! Loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having to start over in a new city due to health issues. Odessa found love and better health. Dominic found he could be his own man. Miora found her voice.
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I will look for more like this.
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