05 September 2013

Excerpt Thursday: Work of Art by Ginger Myrick

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Ginger Myrick, whose latest novel WORK OF ART is set in 19th century New York. Join us on Sunday, when the author will offer a free copy of To Work of Art to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb:

Work of Art is a Cinderella story with a violent twist set 139 years in the past. From the mean streets of Five Points to carriage rides in the park and lunch at Delmonico’s, it evokes all of the extravagance of the age along with the stark disparity between classes.

Every girl dreams of a handsome Prince Charming to whisk her away to a fairytale ending. For Del Ryan it seemed unlikely, but that’s exactly what happened.

In 1874, New York booms with prosperity and conspicuous consumption with a clear social divide between classes. Families have lost their men to the Civil War and do what they can to get by. Del Ryan, an intelligent and talented Irish immigrant, works as a lady’s maid for a society matron to support her invalid mother. Although plain and unassuming, she is an accomplished artist with the gift of clairvoyance. She meets Killian Arthur, a golden god from a privileged New York family. He is flawlessly handsome with impeccable manners and a penchant for bare-knuckle boxing. Fascinated by her, Killian transforms Del into a fine lady, the toast of her new class of friends.

But things are not always what they seem. Rough Jimmy Sheehan is from the same Irish community and has always thought of Del as his own. He has known Del her entire life and has a keen understanding of her plight. Hot-tempered and hard drinking, he is Killian’s polar opposite in form and deed. Jimmy has seen enough of the world to know that there is something not quite right about Del’s suitor and warns her to that effect. Is he simply jealous, or does he want the best for the woman he loves?

Then the fairytale takes a violent turn when girls from the neighborhood start turning up dead. Del witnesses the murders through her disturbing visions and documents them in startlingly accurate detail with her artistic talent. She realizes that with each new victim, the killer is getting closer. Will his identity be revealed before he comes for her?

**An Excerpt from Work of Art**
Perhaps something had arisen to keep Mr. Arthur from showing up. Would it really be so bad never to see him again? She had made it through her life so far without a man to muck it up. Why was it suddenly so important to garner male attention? She could continue on in the same emotionally unattached state and be perfectly fine. Absorbed in these self-placating thoughts, she failed to notice a large shadowy figure approaching from a darkened doorway.
“Well, if it ain’t the high an’ mighty Del, Queen o’ Five Points,” the deep voice rumbled, startling her out of her attempts to quiet her inner demons.
“Jimmy Sheehan!” she said, putting a hand to her heart to stop it leaping out of her chest. “You scared me half out of my wits!”
“An’ where’s yer dandy escort this afternoon, or did he have to stay uptown with his wife an’ kiddies on a Sunday?”
“Now what’s that supposed to mean, ya great muscled-headed buffoon?” she asked angrily, her violet eyes flashing and her speech reverting to the neighborhood patterns.
“It means that no upper-class nancy boy is gonna want anythin’ beyond a roll in the hay with the likes of a poor Irish Points girl like yerself!” he shouted. Then more gently he said, “Del, can’t ya see that we have to stick to our own?”
“I see no such thing, Jimmy,” she shook her head stubbornly. “Besides, Points girls have made it out before.”
“Yes, only the most beautiful ones an’ only to become mistresses, locked away in their apartments, kept by the richies. That’s what I’m sayin’, Del. Do ya want to become a kept woman?” He waited expectantly for a moment before continuing, “I always thought you an’ I would … ya know …”
She looked up into Jimmy’s face and for a moment was at a loss how to answer. Del was taller than any other woman she had ever encountered, but Jimmy towered over her by a full head, the crown of hers only reaching as high as his chin. He was powerfully built from the physical labor he performed, broad-shouldered and rock hard without an ounce of excess flesh on his lean frame. His whole rugged person looked as if it had been carved from stone. He was brutally handsome with devilish good looks. He had jet black hair and brown eyes with russet highlights, and as a child he had been called ‘Satan’s Spawn’, because he was hot-tempered as Old Scratch himself.
Del shook her head slowly to clear it then looked him straight in his reddish-brown eyes and said, “No, Jimmy. It’s not to be.”
For a moment he stared blankly back at her. Then his red eyes blazed and his temper flared. “So now that you’ve drawn the attention of a society boy, I’m not good enough for ya anymore? Is that it?”
“No, Jimmy,” she glared back at him, “that’s not it at all. You’re like a brother to me, aside from the fact that you treat me so shabbily.”
She spun on her heel to leave, but Jimmy would not be dismissed so easily. He grabbed her arm to turn her to him and, in doing so, spilled the bundle of almond limbs from her arms. They tumbled into the dirt, and with a little cry, Del stooped to recover the sweet-smelling bounty that Mr. Flynn had so generously bestowed.
“Oh, now look what you’ve done! They were a special present for my ma!”
“I’m sorry, Del,” Jimmy said repentantly. “Here, let me help ya.” Then he knelt down to assist her.
“Go away, Jimmy!” she cried. “You’ve done quite enough!” She struck out blindly at him to swat his hands away. In doing so she accidentally poked him in the eye, and he bellowed out in wounded rage.
“Ya did that on purpose!” he yelled. Del continued gathering her flowers and paid him no heed, which enraged him even further. “Look what ya did!” he roared and grabbed her chin to make her do it.
The moment his bare skin contacted hers, Jimmy felt the tingle of foreign current sizzle through his body, and Del’s deep purple eyes opened wide, a mixture of bewilderment and fright on her blanched face. He released Del’s chin, but the damage was already done.
“You wanted to strangle me right then,” she whispered.
“No, Del, I’d never hurt ya. You know that,” he pleaded. “You can just be so maddenin’ sometimes—”
“I saw it, the whole scene. You had me by the neck. My feet were dangling off the ground!” Jimmy instinctually reached for her in an effort to allay her fears, but Del quickly backed away from him and stood to her full height, leaving a few scattered almond branches where they lay in the dirt. “Don’t touch me, Jimmy! Don’t ever touch me again!” Then she turned and hurried off toward home, her shoes making muffled staccato sounds on the rickety boardwalk.
“Del!” Jimmy called after her, but she was already too far gone.
As Del distanced herself from him, her heart slowed back to normal and her breathing eased. Her mind began to clear, and she replayed the entire incident in her head, noting every little nuance. She supposed that she was not really surprised at Jimmy’s reaction. He was notorious for losing his temper, and everyone felt like they could throttle a person from time to time, but one thing stood out to her as odd.
Jimmy had always exuded the musky scent of primal masculinity, but this time he had reeked with the sharp tang of pure menace, overpowering even the fragrant cloud of almond blossoms. And there had also been a subtle underlying smell, one that she had never experienced before. She had nothing to compare it to, so she had no idea what it signified, but she was sure that she could name it. It was sulfur.

Ginger Myrick was born and raised in Southern California. She is a self-described wife, mother, animal lover, and avid reader and knitter. Along with the promotion for THE WELSH HEALER, and EL REY, she is currently crafting her third novel, which takes place during the U.S. Civil War. She is a Christian who writes meticulously researched historical fiction with a ‘clean’ love story at the core. She hopes to persevere with her newfound talent and show the reading community that a romance need not include graphic details to convey deep love and passion.