A Blooming Love for the Apothecary – Extended Epilogue


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The smell of flowers came in on the slight wind through the open window. Claudia breathed in, feeling uplifted by it. She looked around the room, noting the beautiful pale sage cover on the chaise and the fine table that sat beside it. It was a beautiful room, if small, and she loved it.

She loved everything about being here in this little house, in the middle of the fields, miles from everything.

“Claudia?” a voice came from the hall. She turned and went to the door as Lucas came in, carrying a bunch of herbs. “Shall I take this over to the hallway?”

“Yes, dearest. If you could hang it up by the chimney? That would be just right.”

“Of course,” Lucas agreed. He went through to the room next door, the smell of green, fresh leaves, and many medicinal smells following him.

Claudia smiled and followed him in. The room was where they spent a great deal of their time. Shelves were on almost every wall surface, except where the fireplace stood, and there the chimney took up space, adding its warmth to the air of the room. The windows were small and looked out onto the lawn below. Claudia went and looked out, staring into the garden. They had left a generous square of lawn, though most of the garden was taken up with flowers and plants. On the left side of the house, as one faced it, there was a whole area devoted to the growing of herbs.

“There we are,” Lucas said, reaching up to hang the bunch on a framework they had specially built for the purpose. Claudia nodded.

“Grand. And then we can grind those leaves of parsley for tea and for seasoning the food.” She smiled at Lucas, who nodded.

“We can indeed. And I shall be using the new grinding apparatus, not doing it with that grinding-stone and getting a pair of sore wrists as an added extra.”

Claudia chuckled. “Yes! It is grand to have that. We must thank Albert for it when next we see him.”

“I’m sure we’ll have the chance.” Lucas nodded. “He’ll be calling on us soon.”

Claudia smiled. “That’s fine! I hope the house is tidy enough for visits?”

Lucas took her hand and pressed it to his cheek. “My dearest, it is a beautiful house. I am sure it is the tidiest anyone has ever seen.”

Claudia giggled. “I hope not! Though I suppose it might be the tidiest one for a mile, considering it’s the only house for a mile!”

Lucas laughed. “It is, almost. Though I think that Mr Chesterford, the farmer, would disagree with you – they’re not a mile away.”

Claudia nodded. “If you insist, I suppose you’re right. You can be rather infuriatingly right, Mr Highgate.”

“As can you, dearest. More so.”

She laughed. “Now, is that a compliment? I’m not sure.”

He smiled and wrapped his arms around her, drawing her close to him. “My dearest, it is certainly one. You are the most wonderful creature I could imagine. How could I not?”

“Not what?”

“Not compliment you, my dearest.” He drew her close, and his lips pressed her cheek. Claudia giggled, he squeezed her tight, and she closed her eyes as his lips pressed her face again, the sensation so lovely she couldn’t talk.

She was breathless as she looked into his eyes. Being close to him, physically close, was something that she still revelled in even after five years in this house.

“When will we be eating luncheon today?” she asked.

Lucas shrugged. “I suppose at midday, as usual. The cook seemed busy.”

“She has a new recipe for a cake with raspberry jam. I think she was trying that out. She asked me if we had any ginger to flavour it. I think this is going to be quite something.”

Lucas chuckled. “We shall see.”

They had taken on a cook, their only staff in the house. She came from the village, which was two and a half miles away, and she seemed happy to stay and work at the cottage, which wasn’t really that small, after all, Claudia reflected: It had eight rooms in all, and the roof offered space, should they need it. It was a cosy, lovely home, and she loved it.

She followed Lucas downstairs, where they had a room beside the kitchen where they took their meals; too informal to be called a dining room, but not a drawing room either, something in between. The cook stayed in one of the downstairs rooms and the other one they used for entertaining guests. Upstairs was their bedroom, the room where they prepared herbs and tea, and the drawing room. The fourth room, Claudia halted outside.

“Shall we take Emma downstairs?”

“Yes, let’s,” Lucas agreed. Their daughter, Emma, now three, had been asleep, but she woke as they arrived. She looked up at Claudia solemnly.

“Mama work!” she said.

“Yes!” Claudia grinned, pausing to take off the apron she wore, a white one with pink flowers that she wore whenever she worked with herbs. She picked her daughter up, holding her up in the air and looking at her beautiful hazel eyes, so like her father’s.

“Papa is here!” she said, seeing her father over Claudia’s shoulder. She smiled, passing the little child to Lucas, who lifted her up, making her chuckle.

“Yes! I’m here! Now, do you want to come and take lunch with us?”

“Lunch!” Emma yelled. Claudia laughed and watched as Lucas tickled her, making her yell with laughter. Claudia took her and held her while Lucas sat down, and the little child sat on her knee, looking at the table interestedly.


“Yes! There’s bread to eat and stew, and we have cake today, too,” Claudia explained, sitting Emma in a little chair Albert had made – it was in all respects identical to the other chairs, except that the flat part for sitting on was much higher. Emma grinned as Claudia passed her a spoon and placed a little bowl of stew in front of her.


“Yes, almost,” she said, smiling. She thanked Lucas, who passed her a plate of stew, and then settled down to eat, watching Emma eating with her own teaspoon.

She smiled at Lucas, who grinned back. Neither of them had been raised so informally – both having been separated from their parents at mealtimes until they were five or six, but they had agreed on wanting nothing like that for their children. They wanted them to take part in everything with them, and Claudia could not be happier than she was, sitting at the table with Emma and her dearest.

She watched Lucas as he ate, thinking he had enjoyed the challenge of becoming the apothecary to a remote community, though he didn’t actually run the shop himself. They had an assistant, whose sole job it was to manage the shop, prescribe and sell the medicines, while Lucas devoted his time to their preparation. Since there was no other apothecary for ten miles, they were doing very well.

Lucas had also invested in a few things, and the investments were doing well. Their income was good, and in their little cottage, they wanted for nothing. The garden was beautiful and their favourite place. Claudia found herself thinking about the new patch they had prepared and what they wanted to plant in it. She was lost in thought and frowned.

“I also heard that,” Lucas agreed. “It sounds like a cart, coming here.”

“It does, yes,” Claudia said, frowning. She didn’t expect any delivery today. Why would a cart be coming here? She stood as the sound of wheels got closer, but Lucas jumped up, squeezed her hand, and then went through into the hallway to answer the door.

Claudia smiled at Emma, who was watching the doorway and seemed distressed. Claudia stood to take her hand and then gasped as someone came in.


“My dear friend! I didn’t expect you!”

“We ended up coming a day earlier,” Ettie explained, looking into Claudia’s face. “I hope that is all right? We can stay at the inn in the village as usual. We just had to come and visit you!”

Claudia smiled and took her friend’s hand, looking into her eyes.

“It’s so lovely!” she said. “Of course, I’m delighted to see you! Please, come in! Where’s Albert? Have you had lunch?”

Ettie nodded. “We did have a brief stop for lunch. Though, of course, Alfred and Luke are both hungry, and Gertie was sleeping the whole way.” Her friend took Claudia’s arm, and Claudia gestured her to a chair.

“Please, sit down,” she said. She was just pouring Ettie a glass of something to drink when the two little boys – Alfred and Luke – burst through the door. They ran to Ettie, clamouring for her instantly.

“Mama! Mama! We just got down from the cart!”

“Mama! Can we go out to play soon? I had to sit still for hours and hours! It’s nice outside.”

Claudia smiled. She looked at Ettie, who grinned. Alfred was five, little Lucas three. Albert came in, carrying the baby in his arms. He went to Ettie and kissed her, and Lucas came over to greet him, exclaiming over the baby.

“She’s so lovely! Look at her. Still sleepy.”

Albert smiled. “She slept most of the way. And I quite envy her. My head hurts like someone hit it with a plank!”

Lucas chuckled. “Here. Sit down! Would you like some stew? We were just having luncheon. I’ll go and tell the cook that we need some more space for some more guests.”

Claudia grinned as Lucas hurried to the cook, asking for plates and spoons. She turned to Ettie. Her friend, who was only a little older than herself, looked radiant. She was clearly so happy, and when Claudia glanced at Albert, she could see happiness there. His firm-jawed, ruggedly-handsome face radiated peace.

“Ah! Lucas. There you are. I wanted to tell you about the progress I’m having with that special corner-shelf.”

“Albert! You don’t need to tell me. Sit and eat,” Lucas said with a grin. “It’s more important to me that you take time to rest and replenish after the trip.”

Albert laughed. “It won’t be me who needs to eat. Those lads out there are growing each day! Alfred’s already up to almost my hip, and he’s just five! I think you must feed them something special, Ettie.”

Ettie blushed. “Now, you don’t blame me. You sit there and eat that stew. And if you grow, we know it’s Mr Highgate whose putting something magical in the stews.”

Claudia laughed. Albert roared with mirth.

Lucas just smiled.

He bent to kiss Claudia and then lifted Emma up, who had been sitting on Claudia’s lap, watching the group with some confusion. She smiled as Lucas took her to say hello to the new guests, especially the baby, who slept on Ettie’s knee.

“Look, Emma. Look who it is.”

Emma stared up at Ettie, eyes wide. She grinned, her face lighting up, and Ettie chuckled and bent to kiss her, making the child let out a peal of sudden laughter.

“Mama! Look! A dolly.” She was pointing at the baby, who was asleep on her lap. She shook her head.

“No, dearest. You can’t play with that. Now, I should feed her. Will you excuse me a moment, Claudia?”

“Of course. I’ll take you up to the drawing room if you like. It’s quieter up there. You can put her in the nursery room to sleep a while if you want. We can all come up to the drawing room so we’ll be able to hear her.”

“Good. Thank you. That would be lovely.”

Claudia nodded and followed her upstairs. They went and sat in the drawing room by the fire. Ettie smiled at her fondly, gesturing at the room.

“It looks lovely, Claudia! You have made such a beautiful home here.”

“It is beautiful,” Claudia agreed. “It’s small and cosy, and I would never have even imagined something so lovely before. Your house is lovely,” she added. The cottage where Albert lived had been transformed by himself and Ettie into a small, fine home.

“It is!” Ettie agreed. “Very fine. And so good to see the boys playing in the village. They have a grand time. And so good to have them running about in all that open field up by the house! They never stay still! Not for more than a few seconds, I swear.”

Claudia chuckled. She sat with Ettie for a while, and, when the baby slept, she helped her settle her in the nursery room and then went downstairs to fetch Albert, Lucas, and Emma. The two sons of Albert and Ettie – Alfred and Luke – were already playing in the garden. Claudia was glad the lawn was big enough to accommodate them without needing to let them through to the garden with their special herbs in it. They were quite playful, and she was sure plants and creeper-frames would be broken.

“So,” Lucas said, leaning back. He had brought some tea up, and they all sat and drank tea while Emma slept in the nursery and the boys raced on the grass. “How is Winley faring, then?”

“The village? They all fare very well. That young fellow who took over as apothecary is doing well, by all accounts, though everyone says he isn’t as good as Mr Highgate.”

Lucas chuckled. “Now, I’m sure they’ll get used to him. I know villagers – it took me longer than five years to be accepted.”

Albert laughed. “Lucas! I don’t remember it like that. You and I were friends from the moment you arrived there.”

“That’s you, Albert … you’re the friendliest person in the earldom. Probably in the country, if one could know that sort of thing. I can’t imagine anybody more friendly than you.”

Albert went red.

Ettie giggled. “You are friendly, Albert! Even though you were shy when first we met!”

“Was he?” Lucas asked, grinning.

“He was!” Ettie chuckled. “He barely said two words to me at first, but after a while, he said more.”

“And now you can’t make me stop talking.” Albert laughed.

Lucas grinned at him. Claudia leaned back in her chair, sipping her tea. She looked at the familiar, smiling faces and knew she was so happy to be here.

She glanced at Albert, who commented to Lucas about Winley Manor. “Lord Winley does very well – we see him sometimes. He comes into the village with the coach on the way north. He’s making a habit of being more sociable, and there are often parties of guests at Winley, too.”

“I think my aunt has helped a great deal,” Claudia said. After finally talking to her father after years of his more or less ignoring her, Aunt Alexandra had become a guest at the manor, and she had insisted that Lord Winley travel. She herself was travelling more too, and Claudia believed she might think of moving to a city, but only on a visiting basis. She would not leave her manor in the woodlands, Claudia knew.

“I believe Lord Benjamin visited on the way to the north,” Ettie commented.

“Yes,” Claudia agreed. “He visited us.”

Lord Benjamin had dropped past a few years ago, shortly after Claudia had wed, to tell her that he had married the young woman of whom he’d spoken. He was also investing in a ship, which would one day take him to the far east. More recently, he had returned from his first trip and called here.

Claudia smiled, recalling the visit. Benjamin was a dear man, and he would always be a friend. She was so grateful that he had encouraged her and that he had kept his promise, as had she too.

“Shall we go outside?” Ettie asked as they finished cake. “I would dearly like to see your fine gardens. I have a good herb garden too, and perhaps I could take some seeds to grow in mine. I wanted to ask you about the properties of a certain plant, one that grows in our garden and I haven’t seen.”

Claudia smiled and nodded. “Of course! Let’s go there immediately.”

She stood, and Lucas and Albert came with them as they went outside. She walked about the garden with Ettie, listening to her news. Merroway had been spoken of in the village – apparently, he had fled the country and was living in one of the newly-founded colonies. Claudia didn’t really want to know – she had long ago stopped caring about him or even thinking of him in any way.

She nodded to Ettie and was glad when the news turned to more friendly everyday things, like what Alfred and Luke had done when they ran in Mr Healy’s field and how their feet were outgrowing every pair of shoes.

She sat with Ettie, Luke, and Albert in the garden for a while until Ettie and Albert declared they should go back to the village. When they had gone, taking the three children, Claudia felt sleepy.

“I enjoyed seeing them so,” Claudia said, sitting beside Lucas, who took her hand in his, holding it gently.

“It was lovely, yes,” Lucas agreed. “I so enjoy their visits too. It seems strange to think that we lived in Winley.”

“It does,” Claudia agreed. She looked around the garden, then up at the house, and thought about how happy she was. “It seems impossible to think I was anywhere else but here, with you holding my hand, in our beautiful garden.”

“It does, yes,” Lucas agreed. “And I wouldn’t want to remember anything else. I am so happy here with you, my dearest. I love you.”

Claudia felt her heart melt, and she leaned forward, giving a kiss. He drew her close, and she moved to sit beside him, feeling love fill her heart. “I love you, Lucas. I love you so very much, my dearest. So very much.”

Lucas smiled and drew her close, and they sat together on the bench, arms around each other, and Claudia looked out over her garden and thought how happy she was. The one thing in life that we have to do, she realised, is to follow our joy and follow our hearts; the words of joy and the words of love are the same language and following them is how we reach our place of greatest bliss.


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19 thoughts on “A Blooming Love for the Apothecary – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Hello my dears! I really hope you loved the book and the Extended Epilogue. I can’t wait to read your wonderful comments. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! 💕

    1. Wonderful story! Couldn’t put it down. Thank you for great work looking forward. to your next book.Great job.

  2. Amanda you have brought us amazing story, that had me enthralled from start to finish. This plot has some wonderful characters and the two main characters having been portrayed with the courage and determination to follow their convictions, to outwit the villain of the piece, to follow their dreams. The extended epilogue has usual is a great device that gives us an insight into their future lives. A delightful work.

  3. What a wonderful storyline. Lucas and Claudia were so in love from the start that it wad fun to see what would transpire. Couldn’t put it down.

  4. What a very interesting story. Two people fall in love and have the determination to find a way to marry without the obstacles facing them.
    Thanks for a wonderful book Amanda.

  5. A wonderful story about love and all the obstacles one had to conquer to get to their true love. The villain was easy to dislike and most of the characters were fun and like able. It was interesting to see how the plot came about.

  6. That was a lovely book, the kind I like to read. I like the excitement of an entangled story but without the sex, violence, and dirty words. Thank you

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