Her Safe Harbor is the third book in the Crawford Famlly Series and will be released in early March 2016!
1893 . . . Jennifer Crawford, the peacekeeper in a well-to-do Boston family rife with anger, deceit, and even treachery. A woman born to solve mathematical mysteries at a time when women were only beginning to venture from home and into the world of commerce and politics. Beautiful and shy, will she have the courage to face a scheming mother, and guide a father denying their familial dysfunction and hesitant to traverse the volatile economics banks faced in 1893? When danger threatens, will Jennifer Crawford triumph?
Zebidiah Moran, Georgia-born chief of staff for a new senator in Washington is reacquainted with his employer’s sister-in-law and is determined to uncover her secrets and guard her from danger. Will his sacrifices keep her safe? Will he be ‘Her Safe Harbor?’ Find out in Book Four of the Crawford Family Series!
“What do you mean you are planning to travel again? You have just returned,” Jane Crawford said to her daughter. “No more traveling. Mr. Rothchild won’t like it. Will you, Jeffrey?”
Jennifer Crawford watched as her mother leaned forward from her place at the table in the family dining room at Willow Tree to cover Jeffrey’s hand with her own, purse her lips, and wink at him. It made Jennifer ill to think that if she were to spend her life with Jeffrey, as he and her mother had already planned, that she would be subject to her mother’s ridiculous flirting and fawning over her husband, and in turn his obsequious and affected gratitude and flattering towards her mother.
“Jolene has asked me to come and help her in her new home in Washington when Max takes his seat in the U.S. Senate. She will be very busy and Melinda will need attention. I have already told her I will come,” Jennifer said.
Jeffrey took a sip of his wine and looked at her over the rim of the cut crystal glass. “The Morgans are expecting us at their gala. I’m sure you don’t want to disappoint them.”
“I do not,” she said. “But you will have to make my excuses. Certainly, they understand what a momentous occasion this is for our family.”
“There is nothing momentous about the occasion at all! This person your sister has married is nothing! His family barely touches any good Boston society. And anyway, politicians are inevitably low-born and crass,” Jane Crawford declared. “He is nothing to us and your sisters are dead to me.”
“Jane,” her father, William Crawford, said to his wife in a plaintive voice Jennifer was accustomed to hearing.
“It is true!” Jane said. “After everything I have done for Jolene and Julia? For them to turn their backs on their own mother?”
“Mother, please. Mr. Rothchild does not want to hear any of this.”
Jane Crawford demurred with a shrug. “He is nearly family.”
Jennifer continued to eat, eyes down to her plate so she did not have to view her mother’s smug smile. But when she looked up, Jeffrey’s eyes were on her.
“I have already replied to the Morgans for both of us,” he said.
“I’m sure they will not miss one lone person from the hundreds they invite.”
“This is business, Jennifer,” he said. “They are longtime customers of the bank and if not for Harry Morgan’s introductions we would have missed out on having some very important clients. I’m sure you understand that.”
“Wouldn’t having a family member that is a U.S. Senator be good for gaining new clients?” she asked.
Her mother harrumphed.
“Jennifer,” Jeffrey admonished. “It has already been decided. We are going to the Morgan’s.”
Jeffrey’s lips were a hard line and his eyes cold as he spoke. She recognized that look and didn’t challenge him or say more. In fact, no one at the table conversed, and she was feeling embarrassed by the set-down. She continued to eat and sipped her wine, willing herself to be patient, until it was time to make her escape to her rooms. But what would she do when they were married? How would she escape him?
Dessert had just been served when her father cleared his throat and every head turned to him. “If Jolene has asked for your help, then you should attend her. I will make your excuses to Harry Morgan.”
Jennifer was shocked and stared at her father, not daring to witness Jeffrey’s or her mother’s reaction, as he rarely exerted himself on her, or her sister’s behalf. Jennifer didn’t believe he didn’t care, in fact, she felt he cared very deeply about all of them, and was mortally depressed when Jillian went to live with Julia. But he’d always stayed clear of the family machinations, believing that was his wife’s purview, Jennifer thought. And, if truth be told, she felt Julia was correct when she said in her letters that Father wanted to avoid the living hell that his wife would make of his life if he interfered. She also thought that her father was a bit frightened of Jane Crawford and her moods and maneuvers, just like everyone else in the household.
Jeffrey waved away the servant offering him a cordial. “I’m sorry I’ll be unable to stay longer this evening. There is something I must attend to.”
“I’m so sorry, Jeffrey,” her mother said. “Must you go now before we adjourn to the music room?”
A servant hurried forward to pull back Jeffrey’s chair as he stood. “It is rarely wise to put off an important task, especially as current circumstances are not as friendly as I would like,” he said and stared at Jennifer.
“Escort Mr. Rothchild to the door, Jennifer. It is the least you can do,” her mother said.
Jennifer walked beside him down the long hallway of Willow Tree, the sound of her slippers tapping on the marble floors breaking the silence. She watched Jeffrey as Bellings came from his position at the door to help Jeffrey on with his coat, and hand him his top hat and walking cane. Jeffrey was tall; taller than her by a good number of inches and she was a tall woman. He had a handsome face, but his eyes never matched any gaiety he showed with laughter or smiles, in fact, his dark eyes were disconcerting. Frightening even, on some occasions. She’d thought him very attractive when she first met him but with each encounter, mostly arranged by her mother, she’d felt a cold chill pass across her shoulders when he spoke to her in the way he had at the dinner table. Let alone when . . . well, she would not think of that.
Jeffrey glared at Bellings and the servant retreated towards the grand staircase that wrapped around the edge of the foyer. Jeffrey turned his stare on her.
“Do you believe I enjoy being contradicted by my future wife in front of her parents?”
Jennifer swallowed. “I did not mean to contradict you.”
“However you did. I would have expected you to have more respect for your betrothed as I do for your mother and father.”
“I do appreciate how kind you are to my family. Especially to my mother,” Jennifer said purposefully and looked at him.
Jeffrey tapped his cane on the floor. “She is dreadful to you. I won’t allow her interference after our marriage. She is an altogether unpleasant woman in my estimation.”
Jennifer felt her heart skip a beat as he defended her and promised her protection. But would his words match up to his actions and she wondered if she would be exchanging one unpleasant master for another.
“I am most surprised your father chose to interfere between you and me.” Jeffrey leaned forward and spoke softly. “Let me be very clear. I will expect complete loyalty in a wife.”
Then as if for Bellings benefit, he pulled her hands to his lips for a kiss and stared into her eyes with intensity and passion, and spoke loudly enough that the servant would hear. “I will count the days until I see you again, my dear.”
Jeffrey went out the door and Jennifer drew a deep breath and turned, intending to go to her rooms. Jane Crawford stood at the bottom of the staircase. She dismissed Bellings.
“How clumsy you are, Jennifer. Pitting your father against your fiancé over something as inconsequential as Jolene’s imagined needs. You will stay here and you will attend the Morgan gala. I will not see you squander this opportunity that I have made available to you from the goodness of my heart.”
“He is not my fiancé. I have never said yes to his proposal and may never do so.”
“You are ridiculous! Your engagement has been discussed at parties and in board rooms. Do not pretend to threaten me. I will not stand for it.”