REMEMBER ME by Tracie Peterson
SERIES: Pictures of the Heart #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2023
From the Yukon to Seattle, the hope of a new beginning waits just around the corner.
Addie Bryant is haunted by her past of heartbreak and betrayal. After her beau, Isaac Hanson, left the Yukon, she made a vow to wait for him. When she’s sold to a brothel owner after the death of her father, Addie manages to escape with the hope that she can forever hide her past and the belief that she will never have the future she’s always dreamed of.
Years later, Addie has found peace in her new life as a photographer, training Camera Girls to operate and sell the Brownie camera. During the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo in Seattle, Addie is reunited with Isaac, but after the path her life has taken, she’s afraid to expose the ugliness of her former life and to move toward the future they had pledged to each other.
When her past catches up with her, Addie must decide whether to run or to stay and face her wounds in order to embrace her life, her future, and her hope in God.
“Oh, what a busy day,” Pearl Fisher said, coming into the kitchen. “How’s supper coming along?”
Addie Bryant stirred the thick beef stew. It was one of Pearl’s favorites. “The stew is ready. I just pulled it from the oven. If you want to call Otis, I’ll have it and everything else on the table momentarily.”
“Wonderful. I swear I have such an appetite these days. I believe it’s all due to the extra work with the expo. I’ve never worked nearly so hard.” The older woman left Addie to finish up and went in search of her husband.
Placing the stew in a serving bowl, Addie smiled at the creation. She had always been a decent cook. People in the Yukon used to come calling just in hopes of getting a sample of whatever she was serving for supper. That was saying something, too, because they had to endure her father and brothers in order to eat at the Bryant table.
She hurried to gather up the vegetable side dishes and biscuits. Once Otis knew supper was on the table, he’d waste little time getting there. The Fishers were good people, and Addie thought Pearl was right. The soon-to-be-open expo was making them all work harder and eat more.
The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was opening in Seattle on the first of June, and Addie’s employer, Otis Fisher, had the brilliant idea of creating what he called “Camera Girls” to promote photography and in particular the sale of Kodak’s new Brownie camera.
Otis had hoped to be the expo’s official photographer, but that went to his rival Frank Nowell. To counter his disappointment, Otis had come up with the idea of training pretty young ladies to take pictures with the new cameras, and then folks could stop by his little store at the expo and buy the postcard-sized photo that had been taken. And with any luck, they’d buy a new camera as well.
Addie thought the entire thing was brilliant. She knew the pretty and personable young ladies would attract attention. Otis and Pearl had even invented a uniform for them to wear. Black skirt, high-necked white blouse with long sleeves, and a straw boater hat trimmed in black ribbon, which they provided for each girl, as well as a name tag that Pearl had fashioned. The uniforms were smart looking and distinguished them as Camera Girls to the roaming expo crowd.
Pearl returned to the kitchen to help with the coffee. Addie handed her a tea towel so that she wouldn’t burn herself.
“Otis is so worried that people aren’t going to buy the photographs or cameras,” Pearl tsked as she followed Addie to the table.
“I think folks are really going to be excited about this, and Otis is selling the photos quite inexpensively.” Addie grabbed the sugar and cream from the sideboard.
“So long as he has the camera sales he anticipates, we should do fine,” Pearl replied.
“I believe the sales will go well. The girls are quite excited about the commission they’ll earn for each camera they sell.”
They went to the table, where Otis waited to take his place. Addie surveyed the scene, making sure nothing was missing, then took her seat as Otis helped Pearl into her chair. Once seated he offered grace, then immediately dug into the stew to serve it up.
Addie passed her bowl to be filled, as was the routine on something like stews or soups. They never stood on formality here.
Once the stew was served, Addie passed the biscuits and butter. After that the creamed peas and a platter of asparagus made their way around the table, and they were finally ready to eat.
Otis sampled the stew and smiled. “Good, good. Our Addie is quite the cook and takes the load off you, Pearl. We are blessed.”
He was a pleasant employer and even better landlord. Addie had found them on her first day in Seattle, seven years ago. She had spied a notice declaring there was a small room for rent on the third floor downtown. Fisher Photography occupied the first floor of the building while its owners were on the second floor. The small room on the third floor suited Addie just fine. She was living with other people, and there would be no need for her name to be listed at the address.
Knowing she was newly arrived, Otis asked if she was interested in a job. He had presumed her a boy in need of work, and for a time, Addie let them both believe that. It got her established and solidified her friendship before she confessed the truth.
The Christian couple had been loving and kind, very nearly becoming the parents Addie had always longed for. Eventually she confided in them, explaining that she wasn’t a boy at all, but rather a young woman trying to make it on her own after her father’s death. She told them of how her brothers sold her in marriage to a man she didn’t love. Pearl was horrified at the thought. Addie was careful not to reveal the truth of the matter in full. When she’d seen Pearl’s upset over the idea of being sold in marriage, Addie could hardly admit to the situation being so much worse. Fortunately, the Fishers had told her they would do whatever they could to help her. In turn, Addie admitted to having some gold in the bank. She had offered to help them on several occasions, but always Otis told her no—that he would find a way to provide for Pearl and himself.
“Well, the shop is ready for opening day,” Otis admitted. “I stocked the last few crates of supplies and made sure the dark room was ready.”
“Do the expo coordinators have everything ready for tomorrow’s opening day?” Pearl asked.
“I think so. They were going to lay the last bits of sod tonight after the University of Washington graduated its classes and ended the school year,” Otis replied.
“It’s all so very exciting.” And Addie meant that too. There had been very little that she’d taken such pleasure in as she had the expo’s birth and development. She had watched the area come to life as the men built grand and glorious buildings, fountains, and gardens on property belonging to the University of Washington. Of course, there was a bargain to be made. Those in charge of the exposition agreed to build several permanent buildings amidst the temporary ones, so that the college could use them after the expo. Locally, it was seen as a great boon for the school and the city.
The plan was for millions of people to attend and learn about the various cultures represented in Alaska, the Yukon, and the Pacific. The focus of the exhibits on Alaska was meant to encourage a push for it to become a permanent territory or even a state. It was hoped that there would be renewed interest in people wanting to settle there if visitors knew about the place and its peoples. The emphasis on the Yukon exhibits would also be tied to the rapid development of the local area. Seattle exploded with people in 1898, when the gold rush was on. There were to be several displays devoted to the requirements for each citizen heading into the Canadian wilderness. Lastly, the Pacific exhibits would focus on anything and everything in the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Representatives for Hawaii would share its culture and history, as would those for the Philippines, Japan, and other locales.
Despite whatever might happen in the next few months, Addie, and many others, thought the expo had already changed Seattle for the better. There had been new streetcar lines added, the sewers and electric services had been extended, and new neighborhoods were springing up faster than anyone had expected. Added to this was the betterment of the university. Even if the expo should fail overall, Seattle had benefitted.
“Do you think the girls will do well, Addie?” Otis asked, sounding a little more anxious than she’d heard him before.
“Of course. I’ve had them over there every day to learn the locations of everything they could. They know the position of the shop and where it stands in contrast to various buildings and amusements. I think most of them could find it blindfolded.”
“And they understand all about the camera. Are you sure we don’t need to call them together tonight?”
Pearl responded before Addie and patted her husband’s arm. “It will be good, Otis. You’ll see. The girls will do well. It might be rocky at first, but I believe by the end of this grand event, they will be quite comfortable and have sold every camera you have available.”
“I hope you’re right. We’ve invested so much.”
“Otis, I believe it will be a complete success.”
He still looked worried. “But you know the last expo did not do well. The one in Jamestown was a huge failure. Millions of dollars were lost.”
“That’s true,” Addie admitted, “but I don’t believe it’s going to happen to us. The newspaper said they were poorly managed and had overly ambitious goals that they knew they could never accomplish. The planners here have been very wise and the people equally supportive. Just look at all the money they were able to raise from regular citizens alone.”
“She’s right, Otis. It’s going to be just fine.”
Addie smiled. “Besides I’ve already told you that if all else fails, I’ll buy your entire inventory and sell it elsewhere. You two are the only ones who know that I have plenty of money in the bank to do exactly that.”
“No, no. I want to earn the money myself,” Otis said, shaking his finger at her. “I will build my new shop with my own blood and sweat. This is a matter of pride. My father always told me anything worth having was worth giving your all. Sometimes chances have to be taken, and this is that time for me.”
“Then do not give it further concern, husband.” Pearl smiled so sweetly at the man. Theirs was a true love match, and Addie couldn’t help but be a little envious.
Pearl began again. “We prayed about this and felt it was the right thing to do—the thing God called us to do. Satan wants us to doubt. We cannot spend all of our time in worry.”
He drew a deep breath and refocused on the food. “You are right. I will stop my fretting.”
Hiram Bryant was tired of being bossed around, but as a part of an early release agreement with the Canadian government, he and Shep had signed on for the hard work in order to get out of prison.
They had been sentenced to ten years for an armed robbery that had resulted in a man being severely wounded. After serving seven of it, they were offered a deal. If they would participate in helping with the heavy lifting aspect of moving artifacts to Seattle for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, they would receive an early release. The news was well received by Hiram and Shep, who had more than wearied of life in prison.
“You fellas have done a good job,” the overseer announced. “I have paperwork here that declares you’ve served your time and met all of the requirements for early release from prison.” He handed out the envelopes to a dozen men and smiled. “The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition is going to be better for all of your work on the Yukon exhibit. You’ll find a small amount of pay included in your release papers. You’re welcome to spend the night in our tent, but tomorrow it’s coming down.”
Not a single man there cared one whit as to whether the exposition would be better, nor did they have any interest in staying in the prison tent. Hiram took his papers and elbowed Shep.
“Let’s go into town. I’m sure we can manage to find something else. At least a decent meal, and maybe some female companionship.” He took up the sack of their worldly possessions and threw it over his shoulder.
Shep nodded and followed his brother away from the Yukon exhibit. As they neared the front gate area, a man called to them.
“Hey, you two. Wanna earn some money?”
Hiram stopped, and Shep ran into him. His growl was enough to cause Shep to jump nearly three feet to the right.
“What did you have in mind?” Hiram asked, turning around.
“I’m helping with landscaping. We’re laying the last of the sod tonight. I could use a couple more fellas to help with carrying the sod from the wagons to the areas where it will be planted. It pays well.”
Hiram considered it only a moment. “I suppose we could.”
“We’ll probably work quite late,” the man added, “so if you want, you can stay in the dorm we have for the groundskeepers. I know for a fact there are a few empty cots—private too. They arranged rooms for the men who would be working throughout the fair.”
“Sounds good.” Hiram nodded. “Where can I put our gear?” He nodded to the sack.
“I can take it to the place where you’ll stay. After we’re done laying sod, I’ll escort you there as well. I promise you it’ll be safe.”
“It better be.” Hiram looked to Shep and then to the man. “Let’s go.”
It wasn’t that he wanted more meaningless work to do, but the promise of good pay and a place to stay was too much to pass up. He was determined to get a drink as well, but this exposition was dry. Whoever thought that was a good idea was obviously blind to the profits that could be made by whiskey and beer. People would get thirsty, and the advertised lemonade and iced tea didn’t satisfy like a cold beer. The exposition planners were fools.
They worked until midnight, and when the last of the sod was laid and the last adjustments made, the man who’d hired them reappeared.
“I’ll walk you over to the dorm.”
Hiram and Shep were covered in dirt and sweat, but it didn’t matter. They’d never worried overmuch about cleanliness. It took money to stay clean.
As if reading Hiram’s thoughts, the man pointed. “At the far end of the building are showers. There’s plenty of hot water. Soap is provided as well as towels.”
Suddenly settling for dirt and sweat didn’t seem nearly so appealing. “Thanks,” Hiram said.
“I never really introduced myself. The name is Riley Martin. You fellas worked hard. Want a job helping to keep up the grounds? Pick up trash and so forth. You’d carry a canvas bag around and use a pickup stick to get the trash. It doesn’t pay as well as what you just made, but I can keep you in the dorm for no charge.”
It wasn’t at all what Hiram wanted, but he was starting to think it might be to their benefit. “Any time off? We haven’t had even a day since they brought us down here.”
The man smiled. “I can give you opening day—tomorrow, but you’ll need to be available at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. We’ll need to have the entire campus cleared of trash before the expo opens that day. The other trash collectors will do what they can through opening day, but we’re anticipating around seventy thousand people or more, so it’ll be difficult to keep up. Your regular days off will be Thursdays and Sunday until noon. The expo doesn’t open until one in the afternoon on Sundays.”
He opened the door to the groundskeepers’ dormitory and led the way to a small room with two cots. “This will be yours for as long as you’re employed by the exposition. Oh, and you get a free lunch each day—part of your pay. Otherwise, you can get food from the expo at a discounted price. Just show them your work pass.” He handed one to each man. “This will get you in and out of the expo for free, and like I said, discounts on food and drink and a free lunch.”
Hiram looked over the small room. The cots were made up with a pillow, sheet, and blanket. There wasn’t even a window in the room or another piece of furniture. It wasn’t all that different from prison. “Sounds good.” Hiram and Shep received their pay and waited until the man was gone to speak.
“Why’d you do that?” Shep asked. “I thought we were going into town. I wanted to get a beer.”
“I know, and we’ll have tomorrow off to do just that.” Hiram noted that their sack of goods was placed at the foot of one of the cots.
“I thought we were gonna make some money for ourselves. Make money our own way,” Shep said, sounding quite disgruntled.
Hiram pushed him aside. “Look, I had an idea. If we work here and live nearby, we can pick the pockets of all who come to the expo. It should be an easy way to make a living—at least until this fair closes down. As employees of the expo, no one is going to expect us to be picking pockets.”
Shep actually smiled. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“We’ve got a place to stay, showers, and free meals. There’s been many a time we’ve gone hungry in the past, so at least there’s that. We’ve got some good money in our pocket and the day off tomorrow to figure out what all we want to do.”
“You suppose Addie might come to the expo?”
Hiram frowned. “That’s hard to say. We don’t know exactly where she ended up.” They had overheard Millie telling one of the store owners that Addie had moved to Seattle. That had been enough to set Hiram’s mind on future plans. He figured to beat it out of Millie, but instead he and Shep had gotten caught robbing a man who just happened to be a judge. There had been no mercy for them—only prison.
But now they were in Seattle, and if she hadn’t moved away, Addie was here as well. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be all that hard to find her . . . and that gold-nugget necklace.
“I’m going to go take a shower. You’d do well to do the same. Maybe wash out your clothes, and we can dry them overnight.”
“Seems like a lot of fuss to pick up trash.”
“We’re going into town tomorrow, stupid. And frankly I don’t want to smell your stench all day.”
Shep shrugged. “These clothes aren’t all that good anyway. Just used clothes given to us by the prison. Couldn’t even give us a change of clothes.”
“That’s all right. We’ll steal what we need tomorrow.” Hiram smiled. “Remember how to do that?”
His younger brother laughed. “I reckon I do.”
“I thought as much,” Hiram said, heading for the door. “Now, come on. I’m worn out and want to get to sleep. We’ve got a lot to accomplish tomorrow. Including figuring how to sneak some whiskey back with us.”
Tracie Peterson, Remember Me
Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2023. Used by permission.
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Tracie Peterson is the award–winning author of over 100 novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her many bestselling series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit traciepeterson.com to learn more.
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