A Marquess’s Tormented Heart – Extended Epilogue


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A Year Later

“Are you ready?” Olivia asked, holding a hand to the door.

Laura bounced up and down excitedly in front of her as Cornelia stood behind the girl, placing her hands softly on her shoulders.

“I have never been so excited!” Laura could not stand still, repeatedly bobbing on her toes. Cornelia laughed warmly behind her, shaking her head.

“Oh, it is all a wonder to me,” she whispered. “Are you quite recovered now, my Lady? It has only been a few days.”

“Cornelia… how many times do I have to ask you to call me Olivia?”

“You can keep asking, my Lady.” Cornelia said with a laugh. “Yet you are a lady, and so you shall always be to me.”

Olivia smiled, touched by the soft tone of Cornelia.

These days, Cornelia was no longer their housekeeper. Over this last year, she had reduced her duties, so she was at last able to fully enjoy her retirement. With Olivia now taking over the responsibilities of running the household so well, all was in hand. She’d also brought Elsie over from her last home and was training her up to take Cornelia’s place, and she was proving herself an excellent housekeeper in training.

As Cornelia was considered more family than staff at all, she came over most days for dinner, and only spent the occasional day completely at the cottage.

“Are you recovered?” Cornelia asked again, patting her stomach.

Olivia laid a hand to her stomach that was still a little swell after the extra weight she had put on these last few months.

“I am quite fine,” she assured Cornelia, not wishing to give away to Laura just how risky childbirth could be. As it was, Olivia had had no trouble at all. The midwives assured her that everything had been smooth and despite the great pain that had blinded Olivia when she was in the midst of giving birth, the joy she had felt when her child was placed into her hands was unequal to anything else she had experienced. “Come, it is time for you to meet him.”

Olivia opened the door and stepped inside, her eyes darting across the nursery.

Across the room stood Benedict, with the new baby boy cradled sweetly in his arm, swaddled in linens so he was kept warm. The baby cooed as Benedict rocked him back and forth, ever so slightly, encouraging him to settle.

At their entrance, Benedict looked up, his eyes darting to Olivia’s first. She felt that familiar warmth extending through her as she looked at him. It was the same whenever he smiled at her these days.

We are an even greater family now.

He winked at her, a subtle sign across the room, something she had come to associate with him telling him he loved her, but no one else knew what it meant.

“He’s here! He’s here,” Laura said excitedly, darting across the room.

“Yes, he is. But he’s a sensitive soul so we must be quiet around him,” Benedict assured his daughter with a soft tone. He slowly bent down to his knee, still holding their son in his arms, so Laura could see the boy.

“That’s it dear, gently,” Cornelia urged, approaching behind her with her hands returning to Laura’s shoulders.

Olivia followed them into the room. With a tiredness overtaking her, for she had been up much of the night before as the boy had cried, she sat down in a vast armchair Benedict had had brought in for her. She watched her family together, unable to take the smile off her face.

Benedict pulled back the white swaddling from their son’s face, revealing his features to Laura.

“I have a brother,” she whispered, bouncing on her toes once more, but with a little more restraint this time and a softer tone.

“Indeed, you do. Laura,” Benedict held the boy up toward her, “this is your brother, Michael.”

“Michael.” Laura bent toward him, laying a soft palm on the boy’s linens. “I don’t like the name.”

Cornelia and Olivia laughed loudly as Benedict shook her head.

“How can you not like the name? It is your brother’s name now.”

“No, I mean… can I call him something different? Michael doesn’t suit a baby. Look at him. He’s all pudgy.” She tried to prod his little hand, but Benedict caught it before she could.

“Gentle, remember?” Cornelia urged. Laura tried again, this time with a gentler touch.

“He’s so soft,” she whispered.

“Indeed, he is,” Benedict murmured. “What did you wish to call him? A nickname, perhaps?”

“Mikey?” she asked. “That suits a baby.”

“Very well. You can call your brother Mikey,” Benedict assured her. “Cornelia? Would you like to hold him?”

“Me? Oh. Yes please.” Cornelia looked teary eyed as Benedict stood and offered the baby toward her.

Olivia settled back into the chair, resting her head on the cushions as she smiled at Cornelia. The older woman took the boy in her arms very gently indeed, cooing and making soft sounds down at him.

“How time passes,” she whispered. “I remember holding you when you were just a baby yourself, my Lord.”

Benedict laughed at the idea, standing with his daughter and holding her hand in his own. Laura wrinkled her nose, staring up at her father in some bemusement.

“It is hard to imagine you as a baby.”

“We’re all babies once,” he assured her, brushing the hair back from her forehead, lovingly. “Even you were.”

“Did I cry as much as him?” She kept that wrinkled face. “He would not stop screaming last night.”

“He was hungry, that is all,” Olivia said, sitting forward in the chair. “I was able to calm him at last.”

Benedict left Laura and Cornelia with Mikey and moved to sit beside Olivia on a stool. He sat down slowly and took her hand.

“You look tired,” he whispered, so only she could hear him.

“So do you.” She chuckled and pointed with their joint hands at the bags under his eyes. The night before, they had kept one another company as they tried to persuade their son to go to sleep again. “It is worth the tiredness though, is it not?”

“Very much so.” He nodded and lifted their joint hands to his lips, turning them over so he could kiss the back of her hand. “Worth every minute of it.” When he yawned, she pointed at him, and he abruptly tried to stifle it.

“What do you think he will be like?” Laura asked eagerly from across the room, pulling on Cornelia’s dress as she tried to get a better look at the baby.

“I imagine he will be a little like you, dear,” Cornelia said, sitting down on a stool so Laura could see the boy again. “He may be mischievous, just as you are.”

“An eager learner, perhaps,” Olivia pointed out.

“Reluctant to always do what one is told…” Benedict teased her daughter. She threw a mocking angry glare at him, and he laughed. “Sweet of heart. Kind.”

“I like these things. These are good things,” Laura said softly, placing a hand on the boy’s swaddling again. “I can’t wait to play with him.”

Olivia leaned back in her chair once more, resting her head on the cushion. As Laura and Cornelia fell into conversation about what else Mikey might be like as he grew up, Olivia turned her head to Benedict, admiring the way he watched their family together.

There was a degree of awe in his expression, with those rich green eyes wide. She had seen that expression often over the last year, but not as much as before.

She could remember the first few months those eyes had often been set into a frown, from when she started to attend events as his wife. Once the gossip that the marquess had married his governess had gotten out, and it transpired too that she was never a governess to begin with, it was initially quite a scandal. Whispers followed them everywhere, and the pair of them were sometimes pointed at during parties and balls. Benedict had hated every minute of that attention, and determined to make things better for him, she had taken it on herself to change their minds.

This last year, Olivia had arranged many balls and parties at their own estate. Where people first might have come out of curiosity, these days they came out of a wish to enjoy the wonderful parties. No one gossiped anymore, and Benedict never frowned at such events. Instead, he smiled like the rest of the company.

“People will want a party to be introduced to Michael now,” he whispered, his mind clearly following a similar path to her own.

“Indeed, they will. Let us give it a few months and I’ll arrange one.” She patted her stomach, wishing for it to go down a little first before she tried to put on a ball gown again. With her hand still tightly wrapped up in his own, she pulled on it softly, persuading him to look at her. “My father is coming over soon to meet the boy.”

“That he is.” Benedict’s smile faltered a little. “It amazes me how often he comes these days. There was a time when I thought he’d be quite happy to lose you from his life. Turns out, I was wrong.”

“As was I.” She agreed with a nod. This last year, her father had made more of an effort. Though they would never be a father and daughter with the warmth that Benedict and Laura shared, at the very least, their relationship had improved, and Olivia was very glad for it. “He wishes me to invite Lord Lyndhurst to our next event to mend bridges.”

“What?” Benedict frowned instantly.

“Have no fear.” She raised her free hand and purposefully brushed the spot on his forehead that had ridged so much, intently softening it. “I have refused him.”

“Thank God. I have no wish to see that man ever again.”

“Neither do I. Besides, I do not believe he would come.”

“Oh? Why not?” Benedict asked, one of his brows lifting. “I thought he’d always be eager to be near you.”

“You forget his initial pursuit of me was for my dowry alone,” she whispered. “Last I heard about him I actually found out from Cornelia, who heard it from another servant. Lord Lyndhurst is in Bath these days, and it seems is courting a very wealthy widow indeed.”

“Ah, I see.” Benedict smiled, clearly amused by the idea. “He will not stop until he gets his hands on someone’s money, will he?”

“I believe you are right. So yes, I am very content not to extend any invitation to him.”

“Well, you’re safe now.” Benedict raised their connected hands between them and kissed the back. “Remember that. He cannot hurt you anymore.”

“Thank you. I have you to thank for that.” She reached toward him and kissed him on the cheek, but he turned his head and before she could pull back, he turned it into a full kiss, with their lips pressed together. Such warmth spread through Olivia at that kiss, she happily held it, with her fingers sliding against his own.

I have many things to thank him for.

When they were completely alone that night, she intended to tell him how much she thanked him for. She wished to thank him for her new life, for being a mother, both to Laura and their son, Michael. She also wished to thank him for her happiness, for it was true that before she had come to this house, she had never thought it possible to be quite this happy.

They pulled back from one another as Michael began to wriggle in Cornelia’s arms and cry out, wanting attention.

“Oh, he’s loud!” Laura complained, thrusting her hands over her ears. “Make him stop!”

Olivia laughed and hastened to her feet, only too content to do as her children needed. She held her son in her arms and kissed Laura on the forehead, unable to keep the smile from her face.


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7 thoughts on “A Marquess’s Tormented Heart – Extended Epilogue”

  1. This was a great story to read. It brought some understanding of how difficult it was for women
    during the Regency era. Many times they were promised for marriage without their approval and many had very difficult marriages because of it. The story in this book shows that Olivia was not going to accept her father’s marriage arrangement, so she left home, and that was the best thing that happen to her, because she started working for the Marquees as a Governess, and eventually after many ups and downs, they were married. The Extended Epilogue showed that their marriage worked well and they had a baby boy to extend the family. A great book to read Amanda!

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