This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rebecca Bryan will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Enjoy an excerpt:
March, St. Augustine
Elizabeth.” She sat up in bed, darkness all around her. The digital clock on her nightstand read two in the morning. She strained to listen, but could only hear the howl of the wind from outside. It must have been the storm brewing, she told herself as she readjusted her pillow and tried to go back to sleep.
But there would be no sleep, because creeping like a silky web into the inky spaces around her rose the sound again. This time she recognized it as music. And it was coming from her mother’s room. She slipped out of bed, her feet silent as they crossed the cold wood floor to the shadowy hall where her eyes were forced to adjust to an even deeper blackness. The floorboards creaked loudly. She shivered. It’s just an old house that creaks in the night, she tried to assure herself.
The sound grew louder behind her mom’s closed door. She opened it a crack and Chopin’s familiar “Nocturne” escaped, giving her the courage she needed to fling the door wide and flip the switch.
The blaring light silenced her fear, but not the sound coming from an old music box by the bed. I must have bumped it when I was in here earlier, she thought.
The room had a very different appearance than it did two months ago. Piles lay in heaps all over the floor. Things to go, things to throw away, etc, etc. She walked around all the stacks of giveaways to where the small jewelry box sat open, it’s song winding down. She picked it up.
The stiff ballerina twirled and spun, her plastic arms high above her head, her leg bent effortlessly as the sharp, tin can-like music played in her ears.
The painted lips, drawn-on brows, red and white striped costume, tight bun and serious, beautiful face were a big part of her childhood. She used to sneak in and listen, closing her eyes and humming along. This ballerina symbolized another world. The idea that somewhere, there was something greater than what she knew or had. A family, a lover. A doting mother.
Inside were several necklaces her mom used to wear. She held a long silver chain up and gasped when she saw what was hanging on the end. A key. Silver and small as a thumbnail with a tiny fin at one end. She had seen this before, but had forgotten it.
She hurried to her room where the silver box had remained on her nightstand since January, inserted the key, and gave it a small twist. It clicked, releasing the lid. She peered in. The box itself was lined in red velvet and smelled like old paper. An old leather-bound book with the outline of a sparrow lay beside a bundle of letters and a decorative pin made of a green beetle stone. She lifted the book from its resting place and carefully turned the crisp pages covered with old fashioned writing in the margins.
As she turned the next page a photograph dropped onto her lap, stiff, parchment-like, and definitely old. The young woman in the photograph had her hair pulled back in a low bun. Her smile was straight, yet tipped up in the corners, held up by her secrets. Her deep-set eyes curious. She turned it over to find an inscription written across the back in fancy cursive. To HJ from longtime friend CFW.
She tucked it back into its hidden spot so she could examine the pin. It was a small green brooch, beetle-like with gold wings, something you’d see in ancient Egypt. Strange, but also interesting. She returned them both to the box and held up the single pearl necklace. Pretty, but nothing extraordinary. Next was the stack of letters. She returned everything except the letters, which she was careful not to rip as she unfolded the thick paper and read.
I am here to tell you that it is time to marry. Father and I suggest Miss Woolson. Haven’t you said she is intelligent, and your equal? Or perhaps Mrs. Van Rensselaer. I hear she has moved close to you in London. Do the two women often cross paths? Please respond quickly as Father is pacing the floor.
Elle quickly opened the next letter which seemed to be a response.
Tell your father that I will not even have The Constanza. As far as your other suggestion, The Rensellina, she is more than close. She is practically breathing down my neck like a crazed dragon just beside me on Bolton Street (as if Half Moon Street hadn’t been close enough.)
As far as the two women crossing paths, I am relieved to say they have kept to their separate spheres—The Rensellina with the titled, The Litteratrice alone with her pen— and I remain undevoured.
As she returned everything to the box her head spun with questions. Who were Lizzy and Henry and why had her mom kept the box hidden all these years? And did it have something to do with her long lost sister Lois?
About the Author:
In a previous life Rebecca graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Interior Design. When she is not writing or taking care of her five children, she can be found working in the theater and has been known to do a commercial or two on the side.
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