After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.
A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.
Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.
It had to be said: Philip Burley had a certain flair to him, in everything from how he carried himself to how he was dressed, impeccable linen contrasting nicely with the deep blue of his dashing coat. That didn’t endear him one whit to Alex, and, in particular, not when he popped up most unexpectedly just as she was leaving the apothecary, her daughters trailing after her.
“Mrs Graham,” Philip said, bowing. Alex controlled the urge to turn on her heel and run. Never, ever show him how much he scares you, she admonished herself, just stare him in the eyes. Except that she didn’t want to, unnerved by the penetrating, assessing look in them – as if he was putting a value to her, estimating how much she might be worth should he sell her.
“Mr Burley, how unfortunate to find you still so very much alive.”
He laughed, shaking his head so his signatory lock of black hair fell over his left eye.
“Why, Mrs Graham, one could think you don’t like me much.”
“Like you? I hate your guts, Philip Burley, and to my dying day, I’ll regret not serving you toadstools the first time we met.”
His eyes lightened into impenetrable ice. “Well, you didn’t, did you? And so, here I am.” He glanced over her shoulder, studying her girls with interest. “See?” he said, directing himself to the Philip lookalike that had appeared beside him. “Quite pretty, aren’t they?”
Walter Burley grunted, his eyes stuck on Sarah.
“We’re partial to fair girls,” Philip said. “In particular to young, fair girls.”
“You …” Alex swung at him, Philip ducked, and came up grinning, eyes like flint.
“Don’t,” he warned, and, at a snap of his fingers, yet another Burley brother materialised, this one so badly scarred Alex knew he had to be Stephen. She threw a look over her shoulder, relaxing somewhat at finding the street busy. Should they try anything, she’d scream – or stab them with her new knitting needles. Still, they were far too close, with Walter more or less drooling over Sarah. When he made as if to touch her daughter, Alex flew at him, slapping him hard over his wrist.
“Don’t you lay a finger on her. Do that, and I’ll—”
“… do what, Mrs Graham?” Philip purred.
“Kill him,” she replied, staring into those eyes as firmly as she could. It only made him laugh.
Anna Belfrage combines an exciting day-job as the CEO of a multinational listed group with her equally rewarding writing endeavours. When she isn’t writing a novel, she is probably working on a post or catching up on her reading. Or standing about on a crossroads and wondering why time isn’t unravelling at her feet… Other than work and writing, Anna finds time to bake and drink copious amounts of tea, preferably with a chocolaty nibble on the side. And yes, now and then she is known to visit a gym as a consequence…
For more info about Anna, visit her website or her Amazon page. You can also find her on her blog. Serpents in the Garden is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
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