Untangling a Fateful Courtship – Extended Epilogue


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Caroline glanced out the window. It was going to snow, the sky low and dark with clouds. She grinned, feeling her heart lift. It was one of her favourite times of the year, especially out here at the manor. The forests that encircled the place seemed blessed with enchantment and the snow lay thick about the building, piling up to over her knees.

“James?” she called as James hurried into the drawing room. “Are the rooms ready?”

“Yes, my sweetling.” He grinned. “I’m just going to chat with the gardener quickly. I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Good,” she said contentedly. He reached out and kissed her on the cheek. “You sweetheart.”

He chuckled. “I could say the same thing. Now, I’ll just hurry downstairs to the garden. I’ll be right back.”

Caroline smiled and went back to looking out the window. The garden was so tranquil down below, the snow settled in thick, fluffy layers over the flowerbeds. She grinned to herself, imagining the flowers that would soon show in springtime. She wondered how the journey was from Kent up here to their estate.

“Sweetling!” James came hurrying over, flushed and grinning. His hands, when he reached for her, were quite cold. “All organised. And I got word that a coach had been spotted. They’ll be here any moment.”

“Grand,” Caroline said. She looked about the room. “Is Anabel…?”

“Sleeping,” James confirmed.

“Good,” Caroline said, face softening as she thought about her. She was headed towards the doorway when the butler appeared.

“Your grace! The coach has arrived.”


They hurried down the stairs and were in enough time to see Eliza and Michael in the hallway, with their son Edward. She felt her lips lift in a grin, seeing the little boy. He saw her as she ran downstairs, and his big hazel eyes widened. He was two years old, just a little older than her own child.

“Edward!” She grinned and bent down, lifting him up. He stiffened nervously, and then, when she chuckled and kissed him, he chuckled nervously, too.

“Sister! Michael… my dear friends!” She grinned, carefully putting the little boy on his feet, where he stood and looked up at the two of them as she embraced first her sister, then Michael affectionately.

“Sister!” Eliza hugged her, holding her tight against her. She smelled like roses, as always, and she seemed to glow, her lovely face radiant with happiness.

“It’s so good to see you,” Caroline said. “Come on… we have tea set out upstairs for you all.” She grinned as Edward took his father’s hand and stumbled towards the stairs.

“Papa is on the way—the coach got held up a little in the narrow part of the road,” Eliza said. “He will be here any moment, though.”

“Grand!” Caroline clapped her hands. She couldn’t wait to see her father. The country air here was milder, and he had taken to spending winters with either herself or Eliza, who didn’t live too far from her. The weather suited him, and he looked better than she had seen him looking in a while.

They all hurried up the stairs together. Michael lifted Edward and helped him up the steps.

“He’s tired,” Eliza said fondly. “The coach trip was exhausting for him.”

“I’m sure of that.” Caroline grinned. She didn’t like long coach trips much herself, and she could imagine how frightening they were for a small child of his age.

They all went up the stairs to the drawing room, and a maid followed them in.

“Lady Anabel is awake,” the maid informed her, grinning fondly.

“She is?” Caroline smiled. “Grand. Excuse me a moment, Eliza, Michael? We’ll just go and fetch her.”

“Of course,” Eliza agreed. She was already seated at the table while Caroline hurried to the door, James rushing after her.

They tiptoed into the nursery. The small bed—beautifully carved of oakwood—was situated opposite the window, and soft winter daylight fell through onto the form who lay there. Caroline bent down over the cradle and looked in. The small child—almost two years old—blinked sleepily and looked up at her. Caroline felt such a powerful sense of love that it was like a physical pain. She bent to pick the child up, cradling her lovingly in her arms. She looked into her eyes, still a soft grey colour, and the child gazed up at her.

“Sweetling,” James murmured. He grinned down at the baby and Caroline smiled to see Anabel’s little mouth curve in a smile. Caroline passed the bundle to James, who held his daughter up, beaming into her face. “Good morning, sweetness.”

The baby made a little gurgle that was her laughter. Caroline laughed, too—it was such a joyful sound.


Caroline held her breath. Naming members of her family was something Anabel had recently started doing—she recognized Caroline, James, her nanny, and most of the members of the staff, all of whom adored her. She wondered if she would remember her grandfather, whom she last saw three months ago.

“Do you want to come downstairs and see your auntie and uncle?” she asked the baby. Anabel frowned.


Caroline had no idea whether that meant she remembered her relatives or whether she was simply repeating. She took the baby from James, cuddling her against her chest. They went out of the door and into the hallway together.

“Look!” Eliza exclaimed as they came through the door. “Look, Edward! It’s your cousin!”

“Anabel,” Edward said. Caroline grinned. He remembered her, clearly. She watched as Edward slid down from his seat at the table—they had put a box on one of the chairs so that he could sit and reach the cake on his plate—and come over.

Caroline’s heart ached as she bent down to show Edward his cousin. The little girl, who could walk quite well now, if somewhat unsteadily, saw him and wriggled, wanting to get down.

“Careful with her,” Caroline advised Edward, who took her hand and the two of them moved unsteadily toward the fireplace. Caroline watched carefully, but they settled on the hearthrug—a carpet of beautiful red silk—and started to play with a ball that James handed them.

“They’re so lovely,” Caroline murmured, as she and Eliza sat together, watching the two children. The chaise longue was close enough to the fireplace that they could be assured of reaching them on time before one of them wandered too close to the hot hearth stones. The two children looked similar—Caroline and her sister both had similar faces, and both children had inherited a fair complexion. Edward’s eyes were soft hazel, and Anabel had inherited a magical grey colour—Caroline still didn’t know exactly from whom.

She looked up as the butler came in. James and Michael, who were talking at the table, stood up.

“Guests for you, your grace,” the butler said, bowing low.

“Papa!” Caroline jumped up. The thought of seeing her father delighted her. She went to lift Anabel from where she lay on the rug, and Eliza fetched Edward, who insisted on toddling to the door, holding her hand.

“Daughter!” her father called. He was in the doorway, clearly having ignored the butler and brought himself upstairs. He was grinning, white-haired and full of life. He winced as he bent down, opening his arms as Edward cannoned into him.

“Grandpa!” Edward yelled. “Grandpa!”

Caroline felt her own eyes well with tears as her father lifted his grandson off his feet, hugging him close to his chest, his own face a picture of love.

“Greetings, young sir,” her father said, setting the little boy down on his feet. “And how are you today?”

“Sleepy,” Edward informed him. Caroline giggled. Her father chuckled and ruffled his hair fondly.

“Sleepy, eh?” he laughed. “Not surprised. I’m sleepy, too. Long journeys do that, eh?” He winced, trying to get to his feet, and James held out a hand to help him. He came over to Caroline.

“And how is my granddaughter, eh?” he said. He smiled fondly at the small bundle who lay in Caroline’s arms sleepily. “How are you, Anabel, eh?”

The little one opened her eyes and looked up at him seriously.


Caroline laughed. Her father blinked and she thought he was going to cry. He lifted the little girl up and held her, and Caroline could see he was in the grip of strong emotion. He went with her to the chair and sat down, still holding her tightly.

“She is the image of your mother,” he whispered to Caroline. “So beautiful. Same grey eyes, same face.” He was clearly overcome with the strength of feeling.

Caroline took a deep breath and nodded. “I wondered about that.”

The little baby looked up at them and frowned as if wondering what the fuss was. Caroline took her hand and held it, the tiny fingers filling her with amazement as always.

“It’s all right, sweetling.” She kissed her forehead. “Grandpa is just so pleased to see you.”


Caroline smiled softly. She didn’t know if the child understood or not, but the explanation seemed satisfying because she settled down, staring up at her grandfather who chuckled and rocked her in his arms so affectionately.

She sat with her father while Eliza, Michael, and James sat at the table, together, drinking tea and chatting.

“I was in London during the Season,” her father said. “I had to go and see some buyers, some fancy house in London they had and wanted some imported rugs for it. Anyhow. I was visiting a publishing house and they found out who I was, and they were very impressed. They congratulated me on my remarkable daughter. They also wanted to know if you will be writing any other work.”

Caroline stared. “Are you serious?”

He chuckled. “Yes, I am. They were very interested. They would be pleased if you would contact them before going to other publishers.” He felt in his pocket. “I have their card somewhere. I must find it and pass it to you, just in case.”

“Papa!” Caroline chuckled. She stared at him, barely able to believe what she was hearing. She swallowed hard. She had never thought about her work being a success. She had simply wished for her words to be heard—admittedly, she had always wanted them to be heard by a wide audience. But the thought that an eminent company wanted a second book? It was almost too much to imagine.

“Well?” he said. “I know you can do it.”

Caroline swallowed hard. She sniffed, moved deeply by his words. “Thank you, Father,” she said quietly. “I want to.”

She looked around the room, thinking about it. She had written her earlier book about all her anger at society, about the way that the rich exploited the poor and the class system made sure that nobody had much chance to rise above their circumstance. But now she had so much love in her life, and she wanted to write about that. She wanted to speak of home and family and the joy that can be had in those things.

She grinned to herself. Was there room for such a book?

She had no idea. All she knew was that she wanted to try to write it.

She looked around the room, ideas already forming. The library was well-stocked—classics abounded, and should she wish to refer to Plato or Aristotle, to Marcus Aurelius, all she had to do was go downstairs to fetch them.

She swallowed hard. Eliza looked over, smiling at her.

“Caroline! Come on. There’s so much cake here… if you let us sit here with it, I’ll be tempted to eat it all.”

Caroline grinned and stood, going over to the table; her father walked with her, his one leg dragging a little. Caroline made a note to ask Eliza about his health—her sister saw him more often, since their home was closer to London.

“A note for you, your grace,” the butler said, coming in. He passed a letter to James. James took it and scanned it, then nodded and put it in his pocket. Caroline wondered who it was from.

“It’s from Mama,” he said, when she looked over questioningly.

“What did she say?” Caroline asked. The dowager duchess, since they had moved to the countryside, had visited them once or twice. Caroline was still a little wary of her, though she was learning to like her.

“She said she will be calling on us next month,” he said. “She also says that she and Luke are enjoying London a great deal and have been to the theatre three times already.”

“That’s grand.”

Caroline grinned. Luke—Lord Elpenstone—was an earl who had lived alone for many years in his manor, where he looked after his many sons and daughters. James’s mother had met him at a salon, and they had become friends. Caroline wondered, as did James, if the duchess was going to become Lady Elpenstone at some point.

She was so happy. Caroline couldn’t help but be delighted—having someone she could trust and rely on was exactly what his mother needed, and she was so glad she had found someone who could teach her about trust and loving in a gentle way.

She leaned back, looking around the room. Edward was on the hearthrug again, playing with a ball. Anabel slept in her grandfather’s arms. He had a plate in front of him, but he wasn’t eating—he was too busy fussing over her.

“Let me hold Anabel for a bit,” Caroline said, going to take the baby from her father.

“Thank you, my dear.”

Caroline went to sit down, Anabel cradled sleepily against her chest. She looked down into her daughter’s pale grey eyes and felt her heart fill with affection. She had never imagined such love in her life.

She looked up as Rebecca came in. Caroline thought she had come to check on Anabel, and she grinned up at her. Rebecca grinned back, curtseying.

“A visitor for you. She insisted on waiting in the hallway.”

“A visitor?” Caroline frowned. She glanced across at Eliza, who looked like she knew who it might be. Before Caroline could ask, Eliza announced it warmly.


“Mathilda?” Caroline got to her feet, careful not to wake the baby. Rebecca nodded.

“How delightful!”

Caroline walked carefully to the door and James came with her, taking Anabel so that Caroline could hurry down the stairs. Eliza was running downstairs, too. They almost bumped into her as she came up the steps from the hallway, her hair ringleted, her bonnet and cloak hanging by the door, snow pooling on the floor around them.

“Eliza! Caroline!”

She was almost knocked off her feet as they ran to her, both embracing her at once. Caroline rested her head on her aunt’s shoulder, holding her tight, feeling the safety and love of her embrace. She stood back, surprised by the lump in her throat. Mathilda grinned up.

“Caroline! Why, look at you! And Eliza! I declare. You both grow more beautiful every minute.”

“Aunt. It’s grand to see you.” Caroline looked at Mathilda. She didn’t look a day older than the last time Caroline had seen her, the energetic presence and ramrod-straight spine making her glow with life.

“Grand! So good to see you, my dears. Now, let’s get upstairs. It’s too cold to stand about in a tiled space like this hallway.”

She followed them up the stairs and Caroline beamed as she reached the drawing room. James was there, cradling their daughter. Michael was at the fireplace, Edward still playing on the rug. Mathilda smiled when she saw them.

“Grand-niece! Grandnephew! I declare!”

She bent down slowly, and Edward toddled towards her. He hugged her and Caroline blinked as James passed Anabel to her. Mathilda embraced them both close to her.

“Look at you both! So lovely. Now, I have some toffee with me and if you can guess where it is, it’s for you.”

The children’s eyes lit up. Caroline winced—the thought of two children energized by toffee tearing about the house was rather intimidating—but she couldn’t deny her aunt the pleasure of spoiling them just a little.

“In your bag,” Edward tried.

“In your hand.”

“In your glove.”

“In your pocket!”

“Yes!” Mathilda laughed and reached into the pocket of her gown, passing them each a paper-wrapped toffee.

Caroline watched delightedly and went to sit at the table. The toffee kept both children busy for quite a while as the adults chatted and laughed and drank tea.

“I’m quite tired,” Mathilda declared. She looked tired; Caroline had only just noticed. She never considered Mathilda as ever getting tired, but the trip from London was demanding, especially since her aunt had been travelling rather a lot that year as it was.

“We can show you the accommodation,” Caroline suggested fondly. “You can rest a while. Then we can all meet here later while the children nap. If they will,” she added, seeing them playing noisily on the hearthrug.

“That would be nice.”

Mathilda got to her feet, and Father got up, too. Caroline walked with them to the guest suite—they had three bedrooms, which was just right for their number of guests. She showed them to their rooms, a fire was blazing in each of them, and went upstairs.

“I think I might like to rest, too,” Eliza commented when she got back. “And Edward should rest a while, too, though I doubt he will.”

Caroline chuckled. “You can take them both to the nursery. If they play up there for a while, it would be good for them both.”

“Grand idea.” Eliza grinned, and they all laughed.

Caroline showed Michael and Eliza to their room, and then went back to the drawing room. The nanny had fetched the children, and James was sitting on the big chair by the fire, almost asleep. Caroline went to join him.

“It’s lovely to see them,” she said fondly, and James nodded.

“It is. But it’s also good that we can rest for a bit.”

Caroline giggled. “Yes, it is.”

She leaned her head on his shoulder and snuggled up in his arms. As he held her close, she looked up at him, staring into those green eyes she loved so well. He smiled down at her and her heart filled with love, and she felt such happiness as she had never imagined feeling.

“I love you, Caroline,” he said gently.

“I love you, too.”

He held her and she snuggled against him, and they settled down to read.


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Grab my new series, "Regency Hearts Entwined", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

10 thoughts on “Untangling a Fateful Courtship – Extended Epilogue”

  1. This was a beautiful story, which details brilliant how love can not be controlled at will. The trials of the sisters and the Duke had to navigate kept the interest flowing quite nicely. The use of the extended epilogue is a delightful way to give us an inkling as to what their future will look like. A very enjoyable and captivating story.

  2. She was very intelligent and not many girls would admit the. It was a good story to read about somebody that was different.

  3. A lovely storyline, and the main characters were quite believable. The extended epilogue finished it off quite nicely.

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