A Triumph of Love Over Sorrow (Preview)


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Chapter One

Erica hurried down the hallway toward the sound of coughing. She knocked urgently on her father’s door, before letting herself in. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, holding on to the back of a nearby chair.

“Pa?” Erica rushed to his side. “Are you alright?”

Her father held up his hand for her to calm down as he finished coughing. He looked older every time she saw him. The wrinkles by his eyes were more pronounced and his shoulders were drooped as if he was exhausted.

“It’s fine, really, just a bit of a cough. Nothing you need to worry about.”

Erica frowned. She knew that it was more than nothing. Her father had started getting sick a few weeks ago and had constantly been getting worse over the past week. He said that it was nothing, and he was feeling better, but Erica knew that was not the case.

She sat down on the bed beside him. “Pa, maybe you should lay down and rest a bit longer. I have things handled. You don’t have to worry.”

Her father shook his head. “No, no. I need to get up and help you around this place. I can’t let you handle everything alone.” He stood up and wobbled for a moment. Erica rushed to the side of the room and grabbed the cane he’d left leaning there. She placed it under his hand and helped him forward.

He waved her away with his free hand. “Don’t worry. It’s all right. Go ahead, do what it is that you were doing. I can manage.”

Erica slipped out of the room reluctantly. She didn’t want to leave her father alone. She wanted to keep an eye on him and take care of him, though that was hard to do when she was also responsible for everything around the ranch. And that, she was barely scraping by even with the help of the ranch hands. She had allowed them to handle things with her father, and she made the food, helped with the animals, and did everything else in between that she could.

Erica made it into the kitchen and dished up eggs and a few slices of bacon. She placed her father’s plate on the table, and they sat down across from one another.

“This looks wonderful, but I’m not really hungry. I don’t know what has happened to my appetite, and I should probably get out there and talk with the ranch hands about what needs to be done today.”

Erica knew he was trying to get out of eating, but the doctor had told her that him eating enough and staying healthy would be a big factor in whether he recuperated, or if his health continued to decline. She couldn’t let him just stop eating or there would be no way he would get better.

“Try to eat some, Pa. It is good for you.”

Her father heaved a sigh, then proceeded to do his best to eat. Erica remembered when her father used to have an appetite. Years ago, he would eat double what she would, even more sometimes. Erica hated to see him so weak and worn out. She missed the father she’d grown up with. As a child, she had nothing to worry about, because both of her parents did a wonderful job taking care of her. After she’d lost her mother, her father had taken care of almost everything.

He was the one who made sure she had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a safe place to live. It didn’t matter that she was nineteen years old now. She still felt as if she wasn’t ready to go out on her own. She needed her father, and she wanted to make sure he was all right. He was the last bit of family she had in this world, and she did not want to lose him.

After she’d finished her breakfast, and her father half of his, she started on the dishes while he went outside to speak with the ranch hands. Albert and Lincoln had worked on their ranch ever since they came to Colorado, six years ago. Andre had only been working for them for the last two years, but he was equally as skilled.

Erica paused her work and watched the three of them talking with her father for a moment. She didn’t know another person as strong as her father. Over the past year, he’d taken more and more responsibility for the ranch. When Erica was younger, he spent time with her, teaching her how to manage the books, and how to run the place if she needed to. Then around a year ago, he’d started taking over those duties again. Erica knew that her father liked to be independent. He did not like depending on others or needing help for anything. He most certainly did not like sitting back while others did the work.

Erica wondered if maybe the weaker he became, the more determined he was to do things for himself. He didn’t want to let things be handled by others because he most likely believed that it would mean he was a burden. Erica often asked him to slow down or let others take care of things, but he would turn her down and say she worried too much.

Erica finished up the cleaning in the kitchen just as she spotted her best friend, Diana, coming up the path to the house. She’d been expecting Diana and was glad she was there so early. It had been a few days since they’d seen each other, and it made Erica’s so far depressing day just a little bit lighter.

She dried her hands on her apron and hurried outside to greet her.

“Diana, you came!”

“I did.” Diana smiled. “I couldn’t go another day without seeing you. You look worried. Is everything all right with your pa?”

Erica nodded as she led her friend around the house to the little bench nestled between two huge trees. Her father made her the bench for her fifteenth birthday. Erica had made it her special spot where she would read sometimes, or she would spend time with Diana there, or just sit and think when she needed a quiet moment.

She plopped herself down on the rough wood and stared off in the distance. “He was coughing again this morning. I am really worried about him. I think he is getting worse. He just doesn’t want to tell me because he doesn’t want me to worry.” Erica ran her thumb over the bench surface.

“It’s going to be all right. Whatever happens, you know my family and I are here for you.”

Erica nodded. Her best friend’s family had always welcomed her and treated her kindly. Even so, she was terrified of being on her own, just like anyone would be. She just couldn’t express how frightening it was because she wasn’t sure anyone would understand. Diana still had both of her parents, her older sister, and her little brother. She was far from being alone in the world, and because of that, Erica didn’t feel as if they had that much in common in that area. She remembered a time when she still had a family and felt like nothing in the world was ever going to change with any of them.

Erica knew something was different when she walked down and found her parents talking in the kitchen of their tiny home in the city of Chicago. It wasn’t that it was strange for her parents to be talking, it was just strange for them to be talking the way that they were. Their heads were huddled together, and they were in deep conversation. The looks on both of their faces were serious. 

It took them a moment to notice that Erica was standing in the doorway of the kitchen. 

“Erica, come sit down.” Her mother patted the seat beside her. Erica wasn’t sure how to describe her parents’ dispositions. They looked worried and hopeful all at the same time. 

“What’s going on?” Erica asked. She was about to turn twelve in a few weeks, but her parents wouldn’t have planned something special so early in advance. 

“We have something big to tell you about. We’ve made a decision, a very difficult one, but one we think is going to be good for our family.” Her father sat back on his chair and grinned. “We are going west.” 

“What?” Erica had heard her friends talking about the west in school. They had plenty to say about the gold miners, the covered wagon trails, and the opportunities that were riffled with risk awaiting everyone out west. “Isn’t there Indians and robbers out west?”

“Aren’t there…” her mother corrected her quickly with a soft smile. Erica ignored the correction for the most part. She had a hard time with proper speech sometimes, but she liked to think she made up for it in other areas, such as piano and music. 

“There are Indians out there, and other dangers, but don’t worry, we are going to be careful. I’ve already found a buyer for the house and purchased a proper wagon and team of oxen. We’ll take one horse, but the oxen will do better with the wagon. We are leaving with a new batch of other wagons in two weeks.” 

“Two weeks?” she squeaked. Erica tried to see the adventure side of it, but she kept thinking about everything that she would leave behind. She thought of her piano classes at the prestigious music school. She loved singing and going to school with her friends. “Will we ever come back? Will we visit?”

“Not right away, but don’t fret. One day we might be back, and you are going to love the west. There are wide open fields and so many opportunities. We will start a ranch of our own, and finally, be the ones to own a business instead of working for someone else’s.”

Erica looked between her parents. The worry that was there before, seemed diminished and overpowered by happiness and hope. She couldn’t take that away from them. She’d seen how hard her mother worked late into the nights, washing clothes for wealthier families, boiling the garments over the fire, and enduring long hours of heat and discomfort. Her father would leave all day long to work and come home exhausted in the evening. If this meant that they could all be together more, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. She could almost imagine herself enjoying the west. She had heard a few good stories about it too. 

“What about my music lessons?”

“We will figure something out. The important thing is we are going on an adventure together as a family.” Erica’s mother squeezed her hand. 

Looking back, Erica wished that she had fought more to stay in Chicago. She thought she would lose her friends, her school, and her music, but she never imagined she would lose her mother. It broke her heart to know that the day in the kitchen was the beginning of the end with her mother.

“How is Luisa?” Erica asked, hoping to draw the conversation away from herself and her father before she lost her composure and began to cry.

“She’s okay. I don’t think she will ever get over what happened.” Diana frowned. “Look at us, sitting here talking about the most depressing things.”

Erica laughed. “You’re right. Let’s go to the barn. Two of our cows had their babies. They are the most adorable things you’ve ever seen.” She grabbed Diana’s hand and practically dragged her toward the barn. They could take time later to think of her father’s declining health or the way that Luisa had fallen in love and had her heart broken.

For now, they needed to try and enjoy a few hours while they had time together. They stopped in front of the stall with the new calves. They stumbled and wobbled on their legs. The calves looked like something brand new. They were so innocent and beautiful. Erica loved this time of year. The baby animals, the smell of the new flowers. The only thing dampening it all was the fact that her father was declining so quickly.

“They are adorable. I feel jealous. Our calves haven’t been born yet. Do they have names?” Diana climbed halfway up on the stall door.

“The brown one is Misty and the black one is Clumsy.”

Diana laughed. “Clumsy? That’s mean.”

“It is not. I love him all the more for it. It is just an honest name.” Erica rested her chin on her hands on the top of the stall door and stared down on Clumsy and Misty. Next year, she most likely wouldn’t know what happened to these calves like so many before, but even so, in the moment, they made her feel just a little better about everything. It made her feel that despite everything, there was hope for something good to happen against all odds.

Chapter Two

Erica sat straight up in bed. She wasn’t sure exactly what woke her up, but something was wrong. She padded across the floor with her bare feet and stuck her head out the door. The sound of severe coughing floated down the hallway. She hurried, nearly falling as she went. She didn’t bother to knock this time.

She threw the door open and rushed to her father’s side. He was sitting on the edge of the bed as before, but this time, he was coughing so hard that he couldn’t even stop to say anything. He pulled the handkerchief from his mouth, revealing a few drops of blood against the white fabric. Erica’s heart fell.

“Here, try to cover up a bit.” She pulled up one of the thick quilts that her mother made before they’d moved west and tucked it around his shoulders. “I am going to get the doctor.” She could tell that her father wanted to protest but was unable to. “It’s going to be all right, Pa. He needs to take a look at you and see if there is anything he can do to help you.” Erica fought tears as she left her father’s room.

She stopped on her own to get dressed and pull on some boots. Then she ran outside and to the barn. She loved riding horses and had plenty of experience riding them bareback when needed, such as this moment. She couldn’t take the time to saddle up the animal and prepare properly right now. She needed help, and quickly. She flattened herself against the horse’s back and nudged her feet into his sides.

Only once she was on her way to the doctor’s office did she realize how late it was. It wasn’t the safest time to be out riding but her safety didn’t matter at this point. The weather was not the greatest. She could feel the little droplets of drizzle as if the sky couldn’t decide whether it wanted to rain or not.

Every time the horse’s hooves hit the ground, she felt the jolt and clung to his mane with both fists. She kept him going toward the town on the main road and let him pick the right footing. The moon shined down, illuminating their path almost as if it were evening instead of three or four in the morning. On a normal ride, the town was around half an hour from their house. This time it might have taken Erica twenty minutes or perhaps fifteen. It had been a while since she’d ridden so fast bareback. She kept thinking of her father and envisioning him sitting there coughing uncontrollably. She hated to leave him like that. It was the worst part of living on the open plains of Colorado.

Neighbors were few and far between. It was a bit further to Diana’s house than it was to get to town. Their ranch was one of the closer ones. Some people lived even further away. Erica thundered down the main road, past the bank, the mercantile, and the wood mill. Everything was dark and silent. She quickly spotted the reassuring light of a lantern in Dr. Goodman’s window.

He was a caring man, as old as the town itself some said. He always left a lantern burning in his window just in case anyone needed something so they would feel comfortable approaching him. He would say it was like a beacon, to signal he was there to offer help when needed. Erica threw herself off of the horse and raced up the steps, pounding at the door as soon as she arrived.

Dr. Goodman opened a few seconds later. He was wearing his nightcap and a long-striped gown.

“Erica, it’s your father, isn’t it?”

“It is. He’s bad, really bad, I need you to come right away.”

“Of course. Give me a minute, and I’ll be right out. Looks like rain.” He squinted up at the spitting sky and frowned before disappearing back into the cabin.

Erica nodded, then waited on the porch for several long, agonizing minutes. In a moment like this, it was easy to feel as if everyone else was taking forever. She knew that Dr. Goodman was probably hurrying as quickly as he could, yet she couldn’t help but feel as if he could come out faster.

When she thought he might not be coming anymore, he came around the back of the house, riding his horse. Erica knew he had a small stable behind the house where his horse lived during the day. He seemed to have a talent for getting things ready quickly and getting places at any time of day or night. His ability to be present all the time was one of the many reasons that everyone loved him so much.

Erica hurried back to her own horse, remounted, then led the way back to the house, even though Dr. Goodman had already been there several times before. He had warned her that this time her father’s sickness seemed different on his last visit. It was more aggressive and persistent. In the past, he had gotten sick for a spell, but it had never stuck around this long or gotten this bad.

When they arrived at the house, Erica dismounted and took the doctor’s horse’s reins so he could go straight in. She tied both of the horses to the hitching post with a good amount of distance between them, then hurried in to see her father. She was praying silently that he wasn’t injured from all the coughing or worse.

When she got to her father’s room, Dr. Goodman was looking down her father’s throat with the lamp that had been on the little table in the room. He took a step back as Erica sat down on the foot of the bed.

“Well? How bad is it? We can both handle it, I assure you.” Erica’s father eyed the doctor suspiciously. Erica sometimes wondered if the reason her father hated it when she brought the doctor to the house was that he didn’t want to hear the truth or consider the fact that whatever he had was more serious than either of them wanted to face.

“It’s…It’s not good. I’ve seen others with this sort of illness, and to be honest, I have never seen anyone recover.”

Heavy silence smothered the room.

“How long do I have left, Doc?” Erica’s father didn’t look at her. Erica knew that it wasn’t because he was embarrassed. He was sad and he felt responsible that his body was betraying him and would not allow him to be there for her longer. She wanted to tell him that it was okay, and not to worry, but her words didn’t seem to be working. Would it really be all right?

“I don’t believe I can rightly say. It could be anywhere from a few days to a few months. It will be a hard road. I’m going to be honest with you. There will be some days that you might not want to get through. For some of my patients…it didn’t end well. Your lungs are bleeding.”

“I know, I know. It’ll be all right. Thank you for telling me the truth straight.”

Erica’s stomach hurt at the thought. A few months sounded awful, but a few days sounded even worse. She hated to see her father in pain and suffering. She wanted him to be there forever, but not if it meant he would be miserable.

“Of course.” Dr. Goodman dug around in his bag for a moment, then brought up a little jar with white pills. “You need to rest as much as possible and stay warm and dry. You can breathe the steam from hot water to ease the cough. I’m sorry that there isn’t much I can do, but if the pain starts to get too bad, in your head or anywhere else, these should help some.”

Erica took the little bottle.

“I should get back. It seems when it rains, I always have the most calls. Tonight, may end up being a long night. I will see you around, Mr. Tanner.” Dr. Goodman shook her father’s hand, then headed down the hall to the front of the house. Erica trailed behind him.

“If he gets worse at all, or you feel you need me to come again, don’t hesitate to come for me.” Dr. Goodman gave her a kind smile. She could see the sympathy in his kind eyes.

“Thank you. How much do I owe you?”

“It’s all right. Don’t worry about it. You’ve got plenty to deal with already.” He put his hat on his head.

“Do you really think he only has a few days left?”

“I don’t know, it could be. I would like to tell you a different story, but I can’t say that for sure. It’s better to be prepared rather than blindsided.”

Erica nodded. He was right. At least this way, she would have time to say goodbye and prepare for the worst. Losing him suddenly would be much worse.

“Thank you for coming all the same.”

Dr. Goodman smiled one more time, before slipping outside where it was starting to rain. She watched as he mounted his horse and rode off into the night. Erica turned and went back to her father’s room. He had the little jar of medicine the doctor left in his hand and was flipping it over repeatedly, staring at it, deep in thought.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“No, no, Pa. It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault. I should be the one saying I’m sorry.”

Her father shook his head. “All of this, I wonder about it so much. Sometimes I ask myself if all of it is my fault. I was the one who wanted our family to come to Colorado. I was the one who made that decision. I never should have done it. If I hadn’t done it maybe your mother would still be here, and you wouldn’t be left all alone when I go.”

“Pa, you couldn’t have known. You did what was best for us, and we don’t know that it would have been any better if we’d stayed in Chicago. We really couldn’t have known.”

Her father nodded, but he was still silent. “Would you play something for me?”

Erica stood. “Of course. Will you come to the parlor, or stay here?”

“I’ll stay. It will help me settle off to sleep.”

Erica patted his shoulder. “Tell me if you need anything.” She went back to the parlor. There, past the fireplace, was a mahogany piano. Her father had sent for it a year after they were living in Colorado. He said he missed her playing, and Erica knew that a certain portion of it was he didn’t want her to miss Chicago. She had started to write her own songs once she had grown bored of playing the ones in the music books that she’d brought with her.

Erica sat down on the bench and ran her hands over the keys slowly. She placed them in the middle and began to play. As she played her father’s favorite song, filling the house with a sweet melody, she thought of the many memories she’d shared with him. Sadness washed over her, threatening to overwhelm her. She imagined that she was alone in the house and tried to feel what it would be like. The feeling was crushing, and yet she could still pull herself back and see that she was not alone yet. She still had her father now, but soon, that might not be the case.

Chapter Three

Jack Herman hoisted another bag of feed onto the small pile at the back of the barn. A trip into town was long overdue. Some of the feedbags had fallen to the ground because the ones near them had been used up. Jack stood up and stretched his back, then got the wagon and horse ready before heading down the driveway. He had to pick up a few things in town urgently and had put it off for long enough.

Farrington, Colorado was a nice place to live. It was such a difference from Chicago and when he’d moved there, he had gained so much. He was glad that he had left behind certain individuals that only weighed his life down. It was a bright and sunny day, and there were plenty of people milling around town when he arrived. Jack went straight to the little mercantile that was growing faster than he’d ever imagined.

He had started that little store when he first got to Colorado. There was no mercantile in Farrington and people seemed to need one. No one else had started one since he carried everything people might need. So much had changed in five years. Now there was a railroad that came out there, making it easier to stock up on supplies. There were more people, more businesses, and more ranches. However, being one of the first ones to really take business seriously in the town had its advantages.

People knew him, respected him, and counted on him for a lot of different things. Jack had worked tireless hours, days on end without hardly ever taking a break to get to this point. He deserved everything he’d built for himself, and he was not about to slow down and let it be taken away by some up-and-coming young farmer who wanted to own the world.

He stopped his horse, tied his reins to the hitching post, and let himself into the mercantile. There were several people, keeping Ethan busy at the front of the store. Jack waited his turn until the store emptied, leaving him and Ethan alone. Ethan was old enough to be his father but he was so different than the father he’d left in Chicago.

When he’d been looking for someone to help him with the mercantile, Ethan had met all of the criteria he was looking for. He was smart, ready to work hard, and he believed in the idea of a shop that had it all. Jack had never felt the need to find someone else to manage the mercantile. He approached the counter with a smile.

“Jack, it’s good to see you in here. I have the books all ready for you to take home.”

“Oh, goodness, the books.” Jack frowned. He hated the bookwork, all the figures, and the tedious math.

“You still haven’t found a new accountant?” Ethan frowned. “I still hate that I was the one who referred Gerald to you.”

“It isn’t that I haven’t found one. Just don’t really trust anyone after what happened with Gerald. That most certainly is not your fault. I trusted him as much as you did, and he let us both down.” Jack sighed. Gerald had worked well for around a year. Then all of a sudden, Jack noticed that his profits started to go down, and when he started to look into it, he realized that Gerald was changing the numbers and pocketing the difference. He’d fired the man immediately, without his last pay, putting that toward the amount he stole, but it didn’t cover a fraction of it. Despite the hard financial loss, the loss of trust was worse. Having someone who was so close betray him had not been easy in the slightest.

He hated that Gerald had been the type of man that he was, and what was worse was that he hadn’t suspected it in the least until it was too late.

“I can understand that sentiment, but you can’t be the one doing all of the bookwork on top of everything you do. I can try to manage this side of things and just have you review it.”

“Are you sure?” Jack knew that Ethan already spent a good portion of his time at the store, taking inventory, ordering new supplies, and helping customers. He had a wife and two young daughters to be with, and Jack hated to be the reason he had even less time for his family.

“Of course, I’m sure. Now, what is really on your mind?”

“Nothing much.” Jack shrugged. He shared a lot with Ethan, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to share what he was struggling with lately. “Just dealing with the ranch.”

“Are you sure?” Ethan surveyed him for an extra-long moment.

“I think so. Maybe one of these days we will have to talk about it.”

“Sure. I have your feed bags in the back. How about I help you load them up?”

“A Triumph of Love Over Sorrow” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Erica Tanner’s life is plunged into despair when her father passes away. Amidst her darkest hour, she decides to find the man who owns her father’s ranch because of a large loan. However, she never expected him to be so handsome, charming, and kind… When they start working together to repair the ranch, Erica’s heart will shiver for the first time.

Could he be her shelter in the storm or should she rely solely on herself?

Jack Herman never imagined working with a young woman, but as he gets to know Erica, his walls start to crumble. As his heart has been broken by every person he has ever loved, he has decided the easiest way to avoid getting hurt is to not get close to anyone. Nevertheless, fate had other plans for him when he was sent Erica…

Is he willing to take on the risk of love and fully devote himself to her?

Soon Jack and Erica develop a sweet bond, but when their troubled past comes to haunt them, they are forced to make a tough choice. With tremendous danger surrounding them, will the power of their blossoming love be enough to hold them together? Or will they be torn apart once and for all?

“A Triumph of Love Over Sorrow” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Brides of the Untamed Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

7 thoughts on “A Triumph of Love Over Sorrow (Preview)”

    1. Such a wonderful, long preview. This story makes my heart pump with interest in the characters. Looking forward with excitement to read this story soon! Thank you.

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