Book Excerpt: A Death for Beauty by Alberto Rios Arias

A DEATH FOR BEAUTY, by Alberto Rios Arias, Freedom River Books, Kindle Edition, $7.95.

Set during the Civil War, a troubled young woman struggles with her conscience after the suspicious death of her unfaithful husband. When her dreams of a new life seem hopeful, she ventures across the western plains with her sickly daughter in tow and an unscrupulous businessman who promises her a pot of gold. But the seeds of this dangerous venture—sown in blood—yield the unexpected and what she encounters along the fringes of the Oregon Trail in the dark corners of the prairies, will change her life forever.


THE SOUND RUMBLED THROUGH the air like a stampede of wild horses, warning what was yet to come. The winds echoed like an open wound—a wound so deep that only death could heal it.

She could feel the storm approaching from the east, the rising heat, the smell of rain. She saw the natural order of things gathering. Death comes like salvation, unexpectedly. But her life was slow and deliberate. A life bound by swirling untruths—dark, unanswered prayers.

Virginia Mae Mercy always dreamed of starting over somewhere else. Now that her husband died, everything else stood still too, and if she needed a little push to get on with her life, that’s when the whirlwinds seemed imbued with divine purpose.

She tried to lock down the storm shelter, but within seconds, she lay in a cornfield searching for her little girl. The storm tore off the shelter doors, snatching her and the girl in a flash. They landed acres away but somehow survived, almost falling together, bruised and hallucinating.

Two signs from above were enough.

Last month, the first sign had come in the unlikely form of a telegram. She felt it coming. Confederate soldiers killed her husband in battle, or so they thought. That shocker was still under investigation, and the disorienting malaise from this recent storm, was finally beginning to fade.

Virginia never understood life’s storms. Not hers. But if there was one defining moment in her mind that crystallized and spoke to her sensibilities, this was it. She wished she could understand eternal matters too, a lifetime of prayers that until recently had gone unanswered.

Yet it was the earthly things that often made her breathe a little heavier, made her heart beat a little faster. In reflection, she feared the sudden horror of dying alone, her childhood premonitions about a fragile life in Geneva, Kansas. How dangerous life really was.

– Excerpt from A Death for Beauty by Alberto Rios Arias.  Visit the author’s website at

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