Tuesday Sampler: A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Laurie Boris
November 17, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Tuesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from A Sudden Gust of Gravity, a romantic suspense thriller from Laurie Boris.
As one reviewer said: An entertaining mix of intrigue and romance. A well-written tale with a magical feel as well as a magical plot line. This is a story of second chances, an uplifting look about not settling for less than you deserve. I found this to be uplifting and delightfully endearing. Moved me and had me charmed.
Christina Davenport, waitressing to pay the bills, has abandoned her childhood dream of becoming a magician–until she meets the mesmerizing Reynaldo the Magnificent. He hires her as his assistant for his magic and juggling show; she hopes she can play the role without cutting his giant ego in half.
Devon Park, a surgical resident, is escaping his own problems when he visits the street performers in downtown Boston. But the young doctor worries that the bruises beneath Christina’s makeup go deeper than the training accident she professes.
Convinced the doctor’s interest is more than clinical, the mercurial magician attempts to tighten his grip on Christina. Now she needs to decide–is the opportunity Reynaldo offers worth the price of admission?
The box arrived on a Tuesday and sat on the kitchen table for three days before Christina could bring herself to touch it. She’d assumed her father’s things had been tossed after all these years, but no—this remained. Mom had found it in the attic and decided that his last surviving possession would make an ideal twenty-fifth birthday present for his only daughter.
She almost sent the package back. But then she didn’t.
“Get it out of here, already,” one of her roommates told her. So she took it off the table, stuck it in the corner of her bedroom, and covered it with a green pashmina.
As a child, she’d memorized the contents of the tarnished metal case engraved with her father’s initials: three silver cups, a half-dozen red sponge balls, five decks of cards, a few magic quarters, a selection of spring-loaded wands, and various other doodads and thingamabobs handy for a close-up magician to have up his sleeve.
Pick a card, Chrissie.
She itched to hold the decks, palm the tiny objects the way he’d taught her, but another part of her wanted nothing to do with it.
She thought about it on the way to yoga, and on the way home, and after her long shift at the restaurant. And her sleep fractured, leaving her as wide-awake as the thrum of Boston outside her window.
This went on for another week, until she got the call that her boss, Rosa, was in the hospital, and the restaurant was closed. Now there was nothing to think about but the box, and what it contained. And the truth was, no matter how great her anger at her father and herself, her desire to open the box was greater. She craved the comfort of those old, familiar objects.
Swallowing the knot in her throat, she flipped the latch. It sounded louder than all the traffic on Commonwealth. Her fingers once again tasted the textures—the foam of the sponge balls, bits of red crumbling into dust; the shiny silver cups; the decks of cards engineered for tricks.
Pick a card, Chrissie.
Shuddering, she snapped the lid shut.
It was too late for her. Too many years had gone by, and her skills were shot. She might as well give the box away—to the owner of the magic store she passed on her way to yoga class. But she didn’t.
* * *
A mild heart attack. The words sounded ridiculous, like a teensy war or an insignificant tsunami. Nothing about a heart attack, especially one that required an emergency bypass, struck Christina as mild. Especially when it involved Rosa. The older woman acted as if it had been nothing, like she’d burned her hand taking a pan of lasagna out of the oven. In fact, only hours post-op, Rosa was putting on lipstick and inviting Christina to play a few hands of gin rummy on her hospital bed. Christina accepted, of course. She wanted to. And none of the other waitresses had bothered to visit.
“Your turn, honey.” Rosa nodded toward Christina’s cards.
“You sure you don’t want to try to get some rest?”
“Rest, ha. I don’t need rest. I need to cook. And then get a decent night’s sleep in my own bed.”
She did look tired, though. Her color was beginning to fade; the words were coming slowly, mixed with more Italian than usual. Yet Rosa kept talking, telling Christina the secret of her famous osso buco. She was just winding into her story about the night Joe DiMaggio came into the restaurant when her husband returned to the room.
“Rosabella.” Sal reached down to pat her cheek. “It was DiMaggio’s son. Remember?”
“I think she needs a nap,” Christina said.
Rosa’s lovely, limpid eyes were already half-closed. Sal nodded, cupped a hand to Christina’s elbow, and guided her out into the hall. “You’re a good girl,” he said, “like a daughter. But you don’t have to stay. Surely you have other things…”
Christina shrugged. “I don’t mind.” A yawn caught her off guard. “But I need to pop downstairs and grab a cup of coffee. You want anything?”
“Yes,” he said. “I would like this never to happen to my beautiful bride again. Maybe you could pop into the chapel and ask the Big Guy to do something about that.”
If only she could. If only her father’s magic wands were real and she could wave all of this away.