KNOWING YOU by Tracie Peterson
SERIES: Pictures of the Heart #3
GENRE: Historical Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2023
Could a captivating art exhibit hold the key to truth–and love?
Budding artist May Parker is captivated by the Japanese exhibits at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and longs to know more about her mother’s heritage–which her mother refuses to speak of because of the heartache she left behind in Japan. Wanting to experience more of the exhibits, May works as a Camera Girl–but her curiosity leads her into danger when a suit of samurai armor becomes the target of an elusive art forger.
After ten years apart, May is reunited with her childhood friend Lee Munro, a police detective assigned to keep a watchful eye on the exposition. Their friendship immediately begins to blossom with hints of something more, but when they become entangled in a dangerous heist involving the samurai armor and their love is threatened, can they overcome the odds against them?
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“Leave her alone!”
Thirteen-year-old May Parker hurried to get to her feet. She dusted off the skirt of her dress and scurried to stand behind Leander Munro.
“Why are you standing up for her, Lee? She’s Japanese.”
“She’s also my friend, and if you bother her again, I’ll knock your teeth out. All of you.”
May’s three attackers stood their ground. “There’s three of us, Lee, and just the two of you.”
“Bradley Anderson, I don’t care if there are six of you. I can hold my own and take you all on. You’ve seen me fight, and you know I can do it. Leave her alone, or I’ll make sure you never bother her again.”
“I don’t understand why you’d stand up for her. She’s not one of us.”
May peeked around Lee. “I’m half white.”
“Yeah, but you’re also half Japanese,” Bradley replied and spit on the ground. “You people were banned from Seattle, and I don’t know why you’re still here.”
“You’re talking about the Chinese Exclusion Act. It wasn’t for the Japanese,” Lee countered. “Learn your history, Bradley, before you go spouting it off and prove just how ignorant you really are.”
“They’re all the same. The yellow menace. My father works with other businessmen to rid the city of the Japanese, as well as the Chinese. They’ve put some five hundred Japanese out of Seattle’s southside. He’s very proud of that.”
“It’s hardly a thing to be proud of,” Lee replied.
“We don’t need their kind here. This is a white man’s world, and the only reason her parents were able to buy into this neighborhood is because her father is white,” Bradley said, and his companions nodded. “But she isn’t, and neither is her mother. They need to go back to where they come from.”
“I was born in America!” May exclaimed. “Right here in Seattle. I am where I come from.”
“Doesn’t matter. You belong in Japan.”
“Bradley, you’d do well to take your friends and go home. If I hear that you so much as look at May with a frown, I’ll finish this once and for all.”
May so admired Lee’s strength and bravery. At fifteen, he was everything she thought a man should be. Just like her father.
Bradley seemed to consider Lee a moment, then shrugged. “Come on, fellas, let’s go to my house. Cook is fixing us a grand lunch with cherry pie for dessert.”
The other two went without protest, and May came out from behind Lee. She watched the boys move off down the street. Bradley lived only three doors down. His father was a wealthy investor who owned properties all over Seattle. Most of them commercial. Father said the man had more money than he knew what to do with, yet he still wouldn’t fix up his buildings to be safer.
May’s and Lee’s families had plenty too. She knew they were blessed. Father had told her that over and over. His work in Asian imports had earned him good money, and he’d invested it wisely over the years. Lee’s father owned one of the largest fish canneries on the West Coast, and he, too, had invested wisely and now had an entire fishing fleet that provided for his cannery. He was, as Lee had once said, “Dependent on no one but God.”
“Are you all right?” Lee asked, looking at May as if for any sign of injury.
“I’m fine. He’d just started on me when you showed up.” May dusted off her clothes once again.
“I don’t know what you’re going to do after I move away.”
“That won’t be for a long time.” May looked up into his blue eyes and frowned when they narrowed. He was hiding something. “What is it?” she asked.
“Walk with me, May.”
She nodded and kept in step with him as they headed back toward her house. She waited, wondering when he would answer her. Something was clearly not right.
“Lee, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know how to say what I must tell you. We’ve been friends for such a long time, and I’ve never had this trouble before now.”
“We have been friends for a long time, since I was very little.” Some of May’s first memories were of Lee, her next-door neighbor. They had been boon companions, often sneaking out to meet in the garden at night and gaze up at the stars for hours on end. Lee had talked of how he wished they could fly up into the skies and see the stars up close. Sometimes they accidentally fell asleep and were discovered by the servants in the morning. Their mothers had been appalled when they found out.
May could see that he was very upset and put her hand on his. “Just tell me what you must, and we will talk it through.”
“My parents bought another house, and we’re moving away. I won’t be around to protect you.”
The pain in his expression matched the ache in her heart. May felt the air go out of her lungs. How could this be true? She twisted one of her black braids. “But why?”
“You know the answer to that as well as I do. They hate people who aren’t white. There are now three families in the neighborhood who have either a mix of races or aren’t white at all. My mother says it’s ruined everything. She said it was hard enough living next to a woman who was Japanese. You know the things she’s said about your folks.”
May nodded. “But she’s very unkind even to her white friends.”
“Yes, Mother is a snob. She thinks that because she was born the daughter of wealthy New Yorkers she has a right to look down on everyone else. She was raised that way.”
“So we must forgive her.” May frowned, and her shoulders drooped. “I can’t believe you’re going to leave me. You’ve been my best friend. None of the other children will even speak to me. Or if they do, they call me all sorts of names and tell me to go back to Japan. What they don’t know is that I would actually love to see it and meet my Japanese family there. My mother, however, will not even consider it. She hates Japan, although I don’t really know why. She won’t talk of it, and Father says we must respect her wishes. We both have difficult mothers.”
“Perhaps, but yours is kind. She has always been nice to me.”
“That’s because you are nice to me. But now I’ll have no one. I suppose I will stay in the house and paint and never come outside again.”
Lee shook his head and touched her shoulder. “You must be brave. You mustn’t let other children make you feel bad. You are a wonderful girl, May, and you belong to Jesus. Because you are His, you will always have the best of friends right here with you—in your heart. Jesus won’t let you face the world alone.”
Tears came to May’s eyes. “But it won’t be the same. I thought you and me . . . I thought we’d always be friends.”
“We will be. I’ll always be your friend, May. No matter how far away I move or how much time passes. I will be your friend until the day I die.”
“I promise to be yours too.” She wiped the tears away and forced a smile. “But it won’t be the same.”
“No.” Lee’s voice was edged with sorrow and resignation. “It won’t ever be the same.”
“That’s such lovely work, May.” Mrs. Pearl Fisher stepped forward to better observe the photograph that May was touching up. People were often willing to pay for color to be added to their exposition photographs, and May was just the artist to handle the matter.
“I’m so glad we hired you to do this.” Mrs. Fisher dabbed a cloth to her throat. The warmth of the day had left all of them perspiring.
May glanced up at the older woman. “Thank you.”
Mrs. Fisher was such a nice woman to work for at Fisher Photography, temporarily set up at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The expo had only a month to go until it would close down on October sixteenth, and Seattle would go back to the way things were before all the hoopla and planning of a world’s fair took over the minds of its citizens.
The expo had been an amazing experience for May. Not only because she was able to put her interest in painting to use and be paid for it, but because of the incredible display on Japanese history in the Japan building. May had gone there every day during her break at lunch. She had sometimes taken her sketch pad along and drawn pictures of the various garments displayed. There was also a Japanese village on the Pay Streak Avenue walkway, and May had gone there on many occasions. It was fascinating to see the history of her mother’s people presented at the fair.
“Otis and I have talked about having you come work for us at the new shop downtown. Would you be interested in continuing to touch up photographs?”
May smiled. “I would. It’s such an enjoyable way to pass the time.”
Mrs. Fisher rubbed her oversized abdomen. She was expecting her first baby in a matter of weeks. “We can speak more about it later,” she said as two of the Camera Girls came into the shop.
Mary and Esther put the cameras they carried on the counter and waited to be given two more. This was the routine. The Camera Girls would go out and take pictures of tourists and their families with Kodak’s new Brownie camera, then when the ten pictures of film were used, they would bring the cameras back with little notes about the pictures. Mrs. Fisher or Mrs. Hanson, the Camera Girls’ supervisor, would oversee the development of the photographs and take the notes made by the girls to ensure the right picture was marked for the correct family. Some of the people paid ahead of time for their photos to be mailed, while many showed up in the shop later to see the photographs before buying them. When they saw what May could do, some paid extra money to have colored paint added to their souvenir pictures.
“Here you are, Mrs. Fisher,” Mary said, putting several coins on the counter. “I marked who paid and wants the photos mailed. Their addresses are in the notes.”
“Thank you, Mary.” Mrs. Fisher moved to the far end of the counter and brought her another camera, already loaded with fresh, unused film.
Mary took the camera and headed for the door. “See you later.”
Esther followed suit. “Most of my people wanted to see the photographs first. I only had one who wanted the postcard mailed.”
“That’s quite fine, Esther. Let me get you a camera.” Mrs. Fisher went to retrieve another Brownie while Esther came to where May was working in the front window. A couple of people had stopped outside the little building to watch her work.
“You have fans,” Esther said.
“People have been stopping by pretty regularly,” May admitted. “I think they are surprised to see someone painting on the postcards. Then they realize what I’m doing and sometimes get very excited about it.”
“Do you suppose we will ever have film that takes colored pictures?”
May shrugged and picked up a brush that barely had any bristles. “I suppose the right person will have to figure it all out, but I don’t know why it couldn’t be done.”
Tracie Peterson, Knowing You
Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2023. Used by permission.
Tracie Peterson (traciepeterson.com) is the bestselling author of more than 100 novels, both historical and contemporary, with more than 6 million copies sold. She has won the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award and the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Her avid research resonates in her many bestselling series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.
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