#Blogtour #Extract: A Class Entwined by Susie Murphy @susiemwrites #AClassEntwined #AMatterOfClass #Histfic #HistoricalFiction
I'm delighted to take part in the blog tour for A CLASS ENTWINED by Susie Murphy, which is the second instalment in this emotional and beautifully written historical fiction series (A Class Apart is book one). Here is everything you need to know and I have an extract for you all to enjoy too:
Book length - 309 pages
Publisher - Self-Published
Worldwide - www.bookdepository.com
Amazon UK - www.amazon.co.uk
Amazon US - www.amazon.com
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Trapped in a loveless marriage far from home, Bridget does what she can to fill her lonely days. She throws herself into charitable work, but her cherished daughter, Emily, is her only true source of happiness.
Meanwhile, Cormac's own life unravels and he finds himself doing unspeakable things just to survive.
Neither of them dream they will ever meet again, but fate brings them back together in the most unexpected of ways.
Can Bridget rediscover her love for the man Cormac has become? And how will Cormac react when he learns Bridget’s secret?
A Class Entwined is the second book in Susie Murphy’s A Matter of Class series.
EXTRACT - **SPOLIER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT READ BOOK ONE**
A Class Entwined
(A Matter of Class, Book 2)
by Susie Murphy
The tea tray rested on a low table by her knee, tea cup full and biscuits untouched. A fire blazed in the hearth and a soft blanket covered her lap but still she felt the November chill seep into her bones. With the passage of every second, the ticking of the pendulum clock on the wall beat loud and relentless in her ears, drowning out the sounds of the bustling Berkeley Square beyond the windows.
The drawing room door opened. Bridget did not turn her head but a figure stepped into her peripheral vision and stood there waiting until she dragged her gaze away from the fireplace. It was her new housemaid, Lizzie. The girl had bad skin, her forehead, nose and cheeks marred by a haphazard sprawl of pockmarks and pimples, but it was self-consciousness which made her face so red.
‘Begging your pardon, mistress,’ she said with an awkward curtsey. ‘I can’t help noticing you ain’t had nuffin to eat nor drink.’
Bridget didn’t speak for a while, counting the clock beats until the maid would fade from view.
‘I was not hungry or thirsty,’ she said at last when it became clear Lizzie was staying put.
‘But you ain’t had nuffin for breakfast neither. And hardly a scrap at dinner yesterday evening. You need to eat something.’
Although she tried to appreciate the maid’s concern, she could only muster a sense of mild irritation. ‘I shall eat when I feel like it.’
She waved languidly in dismissal but Lizzie stood her ground, clutching at the folds of her apron.
‘The tea’ll be cold by now. I’ll fetch you a fresh cup. And if you ain’t liking these biscuits, Muss-yoor Lévêque can make you something else. A bowl of broth? Anything you fancy, mistress, I can get it for you.’
‘I am fine. I do not desire anything.’ Though a lie in general terms, it was true for the purposes of this conversation. She genuinely had no appetite. Whenever she tried to force down even a morsel, it roiled in her stomach until it came back up again.
‘But you must look after yourself, mistress.’ Lizzie gulped, gathering her courage. ‘You’re wasting away.’
Bridget supposed that a proper mistress would remonstrate her servant for the effrontery of such a comment. However, she glanced down at her thin arms and knew the girl was right – and yet she could not stir herself to care. She no longer paid heed to any part of her existence. Her lady’s maid dressed her and her butler announced dinner and her housemaid reminded her to retire to her bedchamber, and that was all. She had stopped weeping every night in the confines of her lonely bed because the effort of it had become too much. Now she just did nothing and thought of nothing. To think would be to face the grief and the guilt, and that would finish her.
‘I do not want—’ she said faintly, but Lizzie’s nerve held out.
‘I’m going to refill the tray,’ she said, voice firm. ‘Would you like anything in particular?’
Bridget had no energy to heave a sigh, but a tiny breath of exasperation escaped her.
‘Some broth would be nice, thank you.’
She remained motionless after Lizzie departed from the room. Her correspondence also lay on the low table but she disregarded the two letters arrayed neatly side by side. By the writing styles of the addresses, she recognised one author as Miss Madeleine Wallace, her closest friend during the seven years she had spent in Dublin, and the other as her mother, now residing full time at Oakleigh. However, neither held any appeal, when she could only presume the former to contain a dramatic string of trivialities and the latter to be as cold as her bones.
She did not react when Lizzie scurried back into the room and set down the replenished tray, now bearing a bowl of steaming beef broth, but she blinked when the girl knelt beside her and lifted the spoon to her lips.
Lizzie gave her a lopsided smile. ‘I’m determined to get you to eat, mistress, even if I have to feed you myself.’
Had Bridget not felt so numb, she would have cried at the despair and the shame of it all. But she just opened her mouth to accept the spoonful of broth and swallowed, like a child.
She made it through half the bowl before she refused to take any more. Still, Lizzie looked quite satisfied.
‘The master’ll be pleased,’ she said, dropping the spoon back onto the tray.
Bridget’s fingers twitched. ‘He spoke to you about me?’
‘He’s worried about you, mistress. We all are.’
She shrugged. If Garrett was worried, it was probably about what society would think were his wife to be found starving in their own house. London would get weeks out of that bit of gossip.
Lizzie stood and picked up the tray with a hopeful expression. ‘Now you’ve eaten something, would you feel equal to going for a stroll in the gardens across the way?’
Bridget looked away. ‘Did he suggest that?’
‘No, mistress, I did. I open the windows in here every morning but it ain’t no match for the proper outdoors. It’d do you a world of good.’
‘Perhaps another day.’
And she was left in solitude to stare at the fire, listen to the clock, and sense neither heat nor time.
The door opened again.
‘I’m not hungry, Lizzie.’
‘It’s not Lizzie.’
Garrett came around into her line of sight and took the chair at the other side of the fireplace.
‘Is this some sort of protest?’
She didn’t reply.
‘If it is, you will achieve nothing by it. You need to stop this absurd behaviour.’
Her stomach churned. She imagined the broth sloshing around inside it, masticated meat tossing in bile-coloured juices, and closed her eyes against the sickening image.
‘Forget him, damn you!’
Her eyelids flew open. Garrett was sitting forward, hands clenched and jaw line rigid.
‘He’s gone. You cannot get him back, so wake up from this trance and let us move on with our lives. I am weary of living with a ghost.’
It was the first time he had alluded to Cormac since they had left Oakleigh, preferring on the whole to act as though the events of the summer had not occurred. His capacity to ignore reality’s more disagreeable aspects was remarkable, given that he had married her, even though she was not a virgin, and then brought her from Dublin to London, despite the fact that the move was blatantly against her will. But it seemed there was a limit to his talent, and the skeleton in his drawing room was it.
‘What would you have me do?’
‘Your duty. Be my wife.’
She had fulfilled her wifely obligations a number of times after their wedding but not since their arrival in London, where they kept separate bedchambers. Was that all he sought?
‘Very well. Tonight, if you wish it.’
His gaze hardened further. He detested this, having to ask for her cooperation in the matter. With his silky, jet-black hair and captivating hazel eyes, he had never had to solicit such attention in his life.
He folded his arms. ‘If we must negotiate it thus, then so be it. I shall come to you.’
He stalked out of the room and she sank back into her chair, relieved to be alone again.
The relief did not last long. The broth still bothered her stomach and a surge of queasiness sent waves of heat over her, making her skin clammy and her head dizzy. She would need to lie down until it passed. She pushed the blanket off her lap, rose shakily to her feet, and went out into the hallway. Praying no one would come upon her in this state, she took the stairs one slow step at a time. Her legs wobbled and her insides pitched about, reminding her of the unpleasant sea crossing from Ireland.
She entered her bedchamber but, instead of dropping down onto the bed, she fell to her knees, dragged the chamber pot out from under it, and expelled the contents of her stomach. It came out in sour, watery spurts and she gasped in misery and disgust. The smell was horrible. She crawled away towards the bell pull on the wall. Lacking the strength to stand, she moaned and stretched up to tug on its tasselled end.
Lizzie came running. ‘Oh, mistress!’ she exclaimed. ‘I’ll remove it at once.’
She returned with a clean pot and a damp cloth which she pressed to Bridget’s forehead. Bridget did not protest; it felt cool and soothing.
Lizzie coughed discreetly. ‘Mistress?’
‘Do you think you might be with child?’
Bridget gaped at her.
Lizzie coloured, the pimples on her face turning redder too. ‘I remember what it was like for my mother when she was carrying my youngest brother. She was sick for months. You ain’t as bad as her, but it might be a possibility, if…’
If Bridget had had relations with a man. She had.
Her breath hitched in her throat.
Two men, in fact.
Her heart raced. ‘How can I tell how long it’s been?’
‘It’s hard to know. Do you remember when you last had your courses?’ Lizzie’s blush deepened even more. This was far beyond her remit as a housemaid.
Bridget tried to recall the last time she had noticed the blood. Never in London, that was certain. They had spent a month in Dublin around the wedding but she had no recollection of seeing it then either. Could it be as far back as Oakleigh? If that was the case…
‘Thank you for bringing this to my attention,’ she said and took the maid’s arm to struggle upright. ‘Please keep it to yourself for now. I shall inform my husband once I am very sure.’
Lizzie nodded. ‘Can I do anything else for you, mistress?’
She looked ready for the usual dismissal but Bridget said, ‘Yes, I would like hot water for a bath. I feel grimy after sitting idle for so long. Lay out a fresh gown for me and have Monsieur Lévêque prepare something that will be easier for my stomach to tolerate. Some dry toast, perhaps, and a cup of very weak tea. Can you do that?’
‘Of course!’ The girl looked ecstatic as she bounded out of the bedchamber.
Bridget stumbled over to the bed and sat on the edge, cradling her still-flat belly. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were there and I neglected you. But I will get healthy again for your sake. I promise.’
She had thought her life was empty, that she was empty. Far from it. Hope flickered within her; perhaps all was not lost as she had believed. She could make enquiries, send out letters in an attempt to locate Cormac. Maybe, by a miracle as great as the one growing inside her, she would find him.
She had been standing on a precipice but now she scrambled back from the plunging darkness beyond. This baby would keep her alive.
For more information:
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Hi fellow bookworms. My name is Linda and I'm a reviewer & blogger, wife & mother who loves all things books!
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