Series: Emerson Pass Historicals #6
Fiona Barnes has a secret. One so big she’s afraid it will destroy everything she holds dear. Not even her beloved music can save her.
Li Wu has fought prejudice his entire life. But he’s always felt safe and protected within the fierce love of the Barnes family. If only the object of his desire were free to be his, all would be well. Will he risk everything to be with the one he loves or will societal pressures keep them apart?
Join the Barnes family for Fiona’s story and return to the world of Emerson Pass for another heartwarming installment of this American Historical Romance by USA Today Bestselling Author Tess Thompson.
Li returned to me on a chilly day in the deep midwinter. The Colorado sky, blue against the white backdrop of our mountains, had no cloud layer to shield me from the numbing cold. Just as I had no protection from my own heart. The way it beat for only Li.
First, came the smoke, billowing in front of the train’s engine in a puff of grey, followed by the roar and clanging of metal, complaining like a grumpy old man with aches and pains in his joints. It slowed as it came around the bend and came to stop before me.
I searched for him in the windows. The face I knew as well as my own. And there he was. Centered in a window as if he were a photograph in a crude frame. I lifted my hand in welcome. He placed his hand against the foggy window.
My stomach fluttered with excitement even as a sense of calm washed over me. He was here. Everything was right in my small world. There would be no one else for me. I’d known it for a while now. I wanted him for all time. Not only as a musical playmate but as the love of my life. By my side, through seasons and children, joys and sorrows.
By the end of this week, I would be nineteen years old. I’d decided I would tell him, finally, of my feelings. In all the days we’d spent together I’d searched and searched for hints in that face I loved so. Did he love me too? But I couldn’t see it, one way or the other. Li was not like my father or my brother Theo. Everything they felt was portrayed with a nod of the head, twitch of the cheek, or curve of a smile. Not Li. His reticence and caution informed his day to day life. Except when he played music. Then, I knew his heart.
And still, I had no idea if he returned my feelings. I’d bided my time, restless and itchy but knowing it was unlikely. For one thing, he was six years older than me. I might be a silly schoolgirl to him or the youngest sibling of the original Barnes children. A little girl with black curls and a big bow. I didn’t know and so I waited.
He’d been away in Denver since the new year, playing music in a club there and playing piano and violin for a recording with a renowned blues singer.
For as long as I could remember, my family had departed and returned from the train platform in Emerson Pass. I’d watched with a bittersweet ache as my sisters and brothers left for adventures. Later, I’d waited for them in the same spot I’d said goodbye, delighted to welcome them home. Yet, I had no desire to travel myself. Was this a character flaw? This natural contentment and love of home? I’ve no idea. I was quite simply Fiona Barnes. Sister, friend, daughter, and auntie. My gifts were appreciated. I never had any urge to go myself. Why would I, when everything and everyone I loved was a stone’s throw away?
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