From this picture I took of a door in Greenwich Village, NYC, in 1994, I imagined an entire cast of characters, their histories, their struggles, their relationships – an epic-sized world of which I wrote only a snapshot. Mulberry Street was meant to be the sequel, but after I wrote it, I realized that this is where it all started. So it became the first in the Murals of Manhattan series. Here is part of the prologue for Mulberry Street, a romantic historical fiction, my first genre-love. I hope you enjoy.
Oh, and please don’t make any assumptions about character name choice… I named them a long time ago, not inspired by any current heroines’ names. J I can’t change the names, either, because I already know my characters, I just couldn’t do that.
Anyway… here you go…
Prologue – Southern Italy – 1843
The summer sun gilded rows and rows of thriving grapevines with bronze as it slipped slowly behind the Campania hills. Antonio DeAngelo wiped his forehead with an dirty rag, then stuck it back halfway into his pants pocket. Peering up the lane to the villa in the distance, he continued gathering his tools and whistled a low tune. The harvest would be stellar, the best in Antonio’s twenty-one years.
As he bent to retrieve a worn pair of gloves, a clump of dirt whacked him on the shoulder. His head whipped around, but he didn’t see anyone. Then a stirring amidst the vines caught his attention. His eyebrows went up and he grinned. He glanced around to assure privacy, then slipped into the row. A young woman jumped into his embrace and threw her arms around his neck. He met her smiling lips with his in a passionate kiss, being sure to duck low enough for his crops to conceal them.
Reluctantly, he pulled back and whispered, “Bella Mateo, you will be my ruin.”
Giggling, she answered with a deep, knowing sparkle in her eyes.
He kissed her again, lowering her to the ground. Their limbs intertwined as they indulged in one another. But then Antonio set her back with half-hearted resistance and sat up. “Bella, we must stop. Not until we can truly be together.”
“But when, mi amante?” she cooed, sifting the rich soil through her fingers. “Do you forget? In three weeks you will be a married man…and lost to me forever.”
Antonio’s heart clenched, but he forced a smile and caressed her face. “Bella…”
She continued to stare at the dirt. “How can you say we will truly be together when your wedding has not yet been cancelled? I don’t believe you…”
“Bella” he sighed, frowning. “It is not the right time…”
“When, Antonio?” she snapped, leveling a fiery glare at him. “The longer you wait, the more unfair it is to me… and to Isabella.”
Crossing his legs, he hung his head to think. “It is a difficult task to break a woman’s heart.” He glanced at her, drinking in her golden locks, tanned neckline and bosom, her full lips and eyes like the sea. Shoulders slumped, he watched her sift through his very livelihood, the land. He loved this vineyard, he loved his family and he loved Bella, but the arrangement made years before had him betrothed to Isabella Brando.
The wealthy and influential Brandos held powerful political clout in the region. The DeAngelos enjoyed prosperity as well although they just tended vines for a living. Five years ago Antonio’s father and Isabella’s father agreed upon their marriage, which was now fast approaching. Antonio sighed. Isabella was a handsome woman, intelligent and even pleasant company. But he did not love her.
“Antonio…” Bella coaxed, her eyelashes fluttering.
Gazing at her again, he tucked a long curl behind her ear. He couldn’t resist her. “I love you, Bella. I’ll take care of this. Tonight.”
(photos from photobucket.com) except for my picture, of course. Thanks for visiting Dry Ground!