Glamorous Illusionsby Lisa Tawn Bergren
When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening,
When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery.
Read an Excerpt
By Lisa T. Bergren
David C. CookCopyright © 2012 Lisa T. Bergren
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMontana, 1913
As the locomotive reached the train station, I strained so hard to see my folks that my eyes hurt. I looked left and right, but the town was as sleepy as always. It wasn't as if I had to search for them among throngs—I saw no one but old Clifford Miller across the street, climbing into his wagon with some effort, and Susan Johnson entering her hardware store.
Likely just late, I decided, making my way forward between the seats before we had fully stopped, then climbing down the steep steps to the wooden platform.
"Miss?" asked a man's voice behind me.
I turned in surprise, holding my hand up to my old hat as I felt a pin slip, and then—embarrassed that I'd forgotten to even look for it—took my valise from the conductor's hand. "Thank you."
The railroad man looked beyond me to the vacant platform and street. "Someone comin' for you, miss?"
I nodded eagerly. "Yes. My parents. They must've been delayed. They'll be along shortly." A long whistle sounded. Not that there was anyone around to rush aboard. Protocol, I supposed. That whistle, usually heard from three miles distant, was a part of all my childhood years. A warm sense of home filtered through me, making me smile.
The man lifted his brows and nodded back with a curious smile as the train began to chug into motion. "Good day, then."
"Good day," I returned, watching as he stepped aboard the steps and disappeared inside the train.
The train station—little more than a water tower, a platform, and a tiny hut of a shelter—was in the center of Main Street, which was all of two blocks long. I shaded my eyes and looked to the massive mountains behind the station, which were a pale blue in the afternoon sun. Dunnigan had once been a gold-rush town, established to supply the miners who had streamed into the mountains, seeking their fortune. But it had seen its heyday come and go. Now the buildings were in need of paint, and half the storefronts were abandoned. These days, it existed solely to supply the local farmers who stubbornly eked out an existence on the prairie in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains' peaks, farming and ranching.
But oh, did it feel good to see those mountains again. I closed my eyes and lifted my face to feel the cool breeze coming off them, down to us on the eastern plains. The feel of it, the scent of pine and sage and dust ... all were of home. I craned my neck again, eagerly looking down the road in the direction Mama and Papa should be coming from. But no one was on the road—and I could see a good mile before it disappeared over a hill.
Mr. Miller, with his balding head, giant, flapping ears, and sagging jowls, pulled up alongside the platform. "Well, if it isn't Cora Diehl," he said with a smile. "Welcome home, girl."
"Thank you, Mr. Miller. I don't suppose you've seen my folks today, have you?" A stab of anxiety shot through me. What if something was wrong?
"No, miss. Drove right by your place on the way in. Didn't see hide nor hair of 'em. But I can take you out." He nodded toward the foothills, in the direction of home.
"Oh, that's all right," I said. I could walk the three miles faster than Clifford Miller's old mare could haul us.
"Nonsense, girl. I'll take you. And if we meet your folks on the road, then that's less time on the road for them."
"Oh, Mr. Miller. I don't wish to burden your mare ..."
"Come, come," he said, waving me forward. "If old Star can haul hay, she can haul a bit of a girl like you. Unless that valise is full of bricks." Even though his tone was gruff, his watery eyes twinkled.
I smiled. I was hardly a bit of a girl. I was a woman grown, but I supposed my old neighbor would always see me as the five-year-old who would come to call, uninvited, and trail him around his homestead. "As long as you're certain it's no imposition."
"Imposition? Pshaw. Just being neighborly. Did they not teach you that in teacher college?" He reached over across the seat to take my hand as I clambered up.
I met his teasing grin. "No, we didn't cover that particular subject."
"Hmph," he said, flicking the reins.
We moved out, down the road. Mr. Jennings, the saddler, came outside to sweep his front stoop and waved as we went by. "Welcome home, Cora."
"Thanks, Mr. Jennings! See you soon!"
"Hope so! You stop by and tell me all about that teacher college, all right?"
I didn't know what was keeping my folks, but it didn't really matter—I felt welcomed already. The welcome sight of sleepy Main Street; the warm, dry wind as it swept dust across the road; the cheery red barns and tidy fence posts ... After the busy bustle and noise of the city, the quiet and normalcy of the long summer stretching before me felt peaceful, like a blanket settling in around my shoulders, urging me into a porch swing.
"So I take it that Normal School over there in Dillon still suits you," Mr. Miller said.
"It's wonderful," I said. "I've learned a great deal. Two more years, and I can teach anywhere in the state."
"Should come home. Settle down with Lorrie Cramer."
I lifted my brows. "Isn't Lorrie Cramer seeing Louisa Anderson?" I said politely. Not that I really cared. Lorrie Cramer was a nice boy. Quiet. Hardworking. But all he ever thought about—all he ever wanted to think about—was farming. In the last year, I'd decided I loved learning. It fed me. Expanded me. Shaped me. I'd be eager to return to school, come fall. And I knew I needed a man who longed for the same.
"Ach. He doesn't care about Louisa. He's always had an eye for you." Mr. Miller gave me a sidelong glance, and I smiled. While I couldn't help but find Lorrie's attention flattering, I didn't want him to set his cap for me. Because he and I would never be more than friends. We just weren't well matched.
Mr. Miller and I chattered on about his rheumatism, the strange, dry winter followed by the dry spring, the shortage of spring lambs, calves, and foals. "Wind started in January," he said, "and hasn't let up yet."
In all my years on the farm, I could only remember one year when my papa was happy with how much rain we'd had—when it came, how it came, how long it lasted. Every other year, it was the common refrain of every farmer I knew—if only the weather ... But even in Dillon, we'd noted the uncommonly warm winter, the lack of snow at Christmas. Papa would likely be fretting too.
I squinted my eyes, trying to see the house now that we were over the hill and about a half mile distant. The wind was gathering in strength as we neared the mountains, sending waves of dust across our path. All along, I was certain we'd meet up with my folks, and with each bend in the road, I grew more anxious.
My heartbeat accelerated. Something was wrong. Or was it simply my imagination running wild?
I thought back to the last time I'd heard from my mother—a letter two weeks ago, with the ticket enclosed. Perhaps they never got my reply confirming I'd be on this train, on this day? That was likely it. Everything was fine. Just a misunderstanding.
But the words inside my mind didn't match the fear gathering in my chest, making me fight for breath.
They'd know I would be on that train. They'd expect me. Today. An hour ago.
As we neared the farm, I could see that the wagon was pulled up to the house—Sugarbeet ready for a run to town. So what had kept them?
Mr. Miller gave me a sidelong glance. He had fallen conspicuously silent. At last, we turned onto our farm's long lane, and I could bear the slow pace no longer. "Please. Stop the wagon, Mr. Miller. I need to get out."
"Just a bit farther, Cora. I'll deliver you to your stoop."
"No," I said, shaking my head. "Please."
When he only frowned, I half stood and jumped to the ground, even as he abruptly pulled back on Star's reins. I was out and running before he came to a full stop, tearing down the lane as if a mad dog were after me. I lifted my skirts and ran across our yard and into the house. "Mama?" I called, opening the door. "Papa?" The house was quiet.
I turned and saw that Mr. Miller was only halfway up the lane. I ran across the yard to the barn, hesitating at the door. I peered into the dark recesses. "Papa?"
That was when I glimpsed her. My mother. Weeping over my father, who was sprawled over the straw-strewn floor of the barn, his neck and head in her lap. He looked semiconscious, deathly pale.
"C-Cora?" Mama asked, looking up at me, her face red and blotchy. "Oh, Cora. I didn't know what to do," she sobbed. She reached out to me, and her expression was so full of raw need and fear, I brought a hand to my chest as I sank to my knees beside Papa.
He was breathing. But his eyes were wide and vacant, and his hand was so cold—
"Cora!" Mama said. "Please, baby. Take Sugarbeet and run for the doctor."
Excerpted from Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren Copyright © 2012 by 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.
Meet the Author
Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >