Spotlight: There is Always a Tomorrow by Anna Belfrage

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There is Always a Tomorrow is the ninth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

It is 1692 and the Colony of Maryland is still adapting to the consequences of Coode’s Rebellion some years previously. Religious tolerance in the colony is now a thing of the past, but safe in their home, Alex and Matthew Graham have no reason to suspect they will become embroiled in the ongoing religious conflicts—until one of their sons betrays their friend Carlos Muñoz to the authorities.

Matthew Graham does not leave his friends to rot—not even if they’re papist priests—so soon enough most of the Graham family is involved in a rescue attempt, desperate to save Carlos from a sentence that may well kill him.

Meanwhile, in London little Rachel is going through hell. In a matter of months she loses everything, even her surname, as apparently her father is not Master Cooke but one Jacob Graham. Not that her paternity matters when her entire life implodes.

Will Alex and Matthew be able to help their unknown grandchild? More importantly, will Rachel want their help?

Excerpt

Matthew’s face darkened. “Samuel is gone north, to visit with another Mohawk tribe. And as to Qaachow, he’s waiting for us by the old Indian village—I spoke to him when I went to the privy earlier.”

“Without telling me.”

“Aye. Qaachow wanted to surprise you—has a gift for you, from Samuel.”

“Oh.” She threw him a dark look. “You should have told me he was here.” She’d have changed to her new bodice, put on a clean apron. Alex scrubbed at a stain on her hands—preserving blackberries always left her and her clothes covered in purple stains—before setting to work on her hair. Matthew’s brows shot up. She flushed under his scrutiny. “What? I’m just making sure I look okay.”

“Ah.” He moved close enough to set a finger to her nose. “For me or for him?”

“For him? Don’t be an idiot. But I like looking neat before our visitors.”

“Do you now?” His breath tickled her cheek. “And if I want you looking dishevelled?” He tugged out her pins, and her hair cascaded down her shoulders.

“Before others?” she asked, leaning towards him. He cupped her face and kissed her—deeply. She moved even closer, relishing the strength of his embrace, his familiar scent.

“No,” he replied once he’d released her. “My wife, in all her dishevelment, is for my eyes only.”

He helped her bring some order into her hair, strong fingers combing it back from her face and twisting it into its customary heavy bun. Hand in hand, they resumed their walk, and soon enough the glade which housed the remains of the old Indian village came into view. Alex shivered. This was where Matthew had almost died, pinned beneath a tree. This was where Samuel had been conceived—or so they both thought—and maybe this had defined their son’s fate. Or maybe it was the fault of the man waiting for them, sitting so still it took Alex some time to discover him among the shadows.

“Alex.” Qaachow stood up. Fluid in his movements, he approached them, his footsteps muffled by the thick moss beneath. He was still an attractive man, despite his lined face and the grey hair, long enough to brush his shoulder-blades. Just like Matthew, he retained a lean and muscled build, testament to daily use of his body. The belt that held his tomahawk and knife clung to narrow hips, his long legs were encased in leather leggings, adorned with the same intricate embroidery that decorated his shirt.

“From Samuel,” he said, handing Alex a heavy bundle. “I should have come by earlier, but Thistledown was ailing and I could not leave her.”

“Is she doing better?”

Qaachow’s mouth softened into a smile. “If not, I would not be here.”

Alex nodded, no more, carefully undoing the strings that held the bundle closed. A pelt. A beautiful, thick wolf pelt, shifting from the purest of whites to grey. An impersonal if precious gift; Alex handed the pelt to Matthew.

“He killed the wolf himself,” Qaachow said, dark eyes regarding her intently.

“I’d have preferred for him to come home,” she replied.

“He prepared the pelt as well,” Qaachow continued. “It took him hours.”

Alex shrugged. “I don’t need a wolfskin. I need my son.”

“But he is elsewhere,” Qaachow replied.

“You sent him away on purpose,” Alex said, ignoring Matthew’s frown.

“I did not.” Qaachow crossed his arms over his chest. “He asked to go—he knew this was an important mission. His tribe’s future may depend on it.”

She turned away, needing some moments to regain control over her features. His tribe? He was hers! Matthew placed a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off. Her son, choosing to depart on some excursion north instead of coming home to be with her. He’d always come home over harvest, always!

“Don’t think too badly of him,” Qaachow said. “At times, he finds it difficult, to be caught in between.”

She nodded, no more, still with her back to them. “And he thinks it isn’t difficult for us?”

“He’s a young man,” Qaachow said, as if that explained everything.

“This has nothing to do with his youth!” She whirled. “This is about how you stole him. My son, my baby boy, and you lured him away from me!”

“Alex,” Matthew said, “This doesn’t help.”

Her breath came in deep gulps, her vision blurred, and she wanted to hurt someone, make them feel the pain she was suffering.

“Nothing helps! Nothing.” She turned on Qaachow. “I will never forgive you for stealing my son. Never. And to this day, I regret having saved your son and woman from starvation. If I hadn’t—”

“You don’t mean that,” Matthew interrupted.

She gave herself a little hug. No, of course she didn’t. But she liked it that Qaachow flinched at her words.

“He’s mine,” she said. “Mine!”

“He makes his own path,” Qaachow replied.

“One you set him on. And now he’s so conflicted he won’t even come to see me, and how am I supposed to bear it? How?” Tears spilled down her cheeks.

“Like we all bear loss,” Qaachow said. “With dignity.”

At that moment, she was tempted to slap him. Who was he to preach to her about loss? Had he lost his son to others like she had? Had he… Then she remembered just how much he had lost: his first wife, his children to smallpox, his hereditary lands to the white man’s incursion. Once, the Susquehannock ruled all this land, now they were a refugee remnant obliged to become Mohawks to survive.

“Calm yourself, lass,” Matthew said softly, and that had her shoving him aside and retreating to the further end of the clearing. 

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About the Author

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Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.