Falling for the Mysterious Viscount – Extended Epilogue

Lavinia gazed down the length of the long table, feeling slightly anxious. It was her first big dinner party with her extended family, at Hillgate Manor, and she wanted everything to be just right.

“You have no need to worry, my love,” whispered Samuel, leaning across the table towards her. “It is all perfect, and now you can relax and enjoy the evening, at long last.”

She smiled slightly. How did he always know how she was feeling, even if she hadn’t said anything? It was almost uncanny, the way that he intuited her moods and her feelings. But then, they had been married for almost a year now, and spent most of that time together. They had grown ever inward, leaning towards each other, bending like two trees with intertwining branches.

She simply could not imagine what life would be like without him. And she almost couldn’t remember what it had ever been like before.

She took a deep breath, scanning the table. Everyone had taken their places, awaiting the arrival of the first course. Footmen were standing at attention, behind the seats, ready to replenish wine glasses when needed. Everything was ready for the evening to begin.

She noted her guests, who were conversing quietly, as they spread out their napkins. Walter and Sophie, sitting across from each other. They had only just arrived at Hillgate Manor, having been distracted with the autumn harvest on their land. It was promising to be a bumper crop of corn, and she knew her brother-in-law was hoping for a handsome dividend.

Her eyes travelled further down the table. Her mother and father, who had travelled up from the Cotswolds with Aunt Catherine, Beatrice, and India. Cousin Freddie was in London, unable to make it. Apparently, he had some urgent business to attend to. Lavinia hardly cared. She had never been overly fond of Freddie.

Finally, her eyes came to rest on the young girl seated to her right. Her other cousin, Jane Lock, the daughter of her Uncle Edward, on her mother’s side of the family. Jane had been staying with Aunt Catherine and joined the travelling caravan up to Nottinghamshire, with everyone else.

Lavinia’s eyes softened as they rested on her cousin. She hadn’t spent much time with Jane over the years, but she was impressed with what she did know of her. The girl was charming and lovely, in an understated way. Just eighteen, she was about to commence her first London season, in a few weeks. In fact, she would head to London directly, after her stay in Nottinghamshire was over.

“How are you, my dear?” she asked kindly, picking up her wine glass. “Are you quite recovered from the long journey?”

Jane smiled, dimples appearing in her cheeks. “I thank you, cousin. I am feeling very refreshed. It is so agreeable, in this part of the country!” She paused. “But I must admit, I am feeling a little nervous about my upcoming London season. Can you tell me anything about what I might expect?”

Lavinia smiled gently. “Expect anything and everything, Jane. It is a whirlwind …”

Sophie leant over the table towards them. “Oh, Jane, it is true that it will be a mad rush of activities and events! But you will find your way; I am sure of it.”

“You are heading to London for the season?” asked Walter, gazing at the girl.

“I am, sir,” said Jane, smiling tremulously. “You and my cousin met during a London season, did you not?”

Walter smiled expansively. There was a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes, one that Lavinia recognised well now. She had got to know Walter very well in the year that they had been living alongside each other, and she was very fond of him. But he did have a playful streak, and it was often difficult to tell which way it would go.

“It is true,” he said, raising his voice a little. “I met my lovely wife during a London season. Would you like to hear the story of it, Miss Lock?”

Jane looked intrigued and a little intimidated. “Of course I would, sir.”

Walter nodded. “It is an interesting story,” he said slowly, his eyes flickering around the table, to see if people were listening. “The Viscount and I went undercover, for the season, trying to find the most beautiful, intelligent, and sophisticated ladies in all of London society.”

“Undercover?” Jane sounded bewildered. “I do not understand, sir.”

“It was like a live masquerade ball, Miss Lock,” he continued, his eyes widening dramatically. “The Viscount pretended to be a commoner. He even went so far as to change his name and his clothing. He changed his hair style to look like a fashionable London fop. The change was so great that I almost did not recognise him, myself …”

“Walter, stop.” Sophie laughed, swatting him lightly on the arm.

Lavinia couldn’t help laughing as well. Walter was so dramatic in his retelling of events, almost like a storyteller with a crowd of eager children at his feet. She glanced over at Samuel. He looked a little embarrassed but was laughing with everyone else.

“The Viscount became Samuel Hunter, middle-class landowner, from Somerset,” continued Walter, without missing a beat. “The change was complete. And I was his trusty offsider, waiting in the wings, to tell him if he was performing well, or whether he needed to change things, just a little.”

“Is it true?” squeaked Jane, her eyes wide, turning to Samuel. “You pretended to be a commoner, for the whole season?”

Samuel smiled at her. “It is true. Although maybe it was not quite so dramatic …”

“Nonsense,” said Walter, his eyes sparkling. “It was full of drama, Miss Lock! And it became even more dramatic, after we met the most beautiful, intelligent, and sophisticated ladies that we had ever laid eyes on.” He paused. “I am speaking, of course, of your dear cousins. The sisters Beaumont, who each had very distinct ideas of what they wanted in a beau.”

Lavinia rolled her eyes. “Walter, please …”

“Our dear Lavinia did not trust nobility,” continued Walter as if she hadn’t even spoken. “She was seeking a commoner, and Samuel Hunter seemed to be everything that she had ever desired. A man of the people, a breath of fresh air in the stuffy halls of propriety.” He took a deep breath. “My dear Sophie, on the other hand, craved an advantageous match, one that society would approve of. She cared not a whit for the common man.”

It was as if Jane’s eyes were on stalks as she gazed at Walter. Lavinia couldn’t tell if she was horrified or intrigued, or both, in equal measure.

“The Viscount knew how Lavinia felt,” said Walter slowly. “He despaired that she would ever accept him for who he really was. And how could he tell her, after the deception that had been played upon her? She had been vocal in her opinions, after all.” He paused. “Sophie, on the other hand, was battling her attitude, that a commoner could be seriously considered for such a thing as matrimony. What was to become of them all?”

“I think we rather know the answer to that one, old boy,” brayed Lord Beaufort, as he swirled the wine in his glass. “The two lovely ladies that you are talking about are sitting at this table, after all.”

“Goodness,” said Aunt Catherine, fanning herself. “This is a most alarming story! Such intrigue, in the heart of good London society!”

“The deception was exposed,” continued Walter, his eyes on Jane as if hypnotising her. “A lady with designs on the Viscount told who he really was. Our Lady Lavinia was horrified, spurning him entirely, and her good sister Sophie loyally spurned the errant gentlemen, as well. It seemed that all was lost …”

“And so how did it come to pass that it was resolved?” asked Jane, spellbound.

Walter took a sip of his wine. “Patience, Miss Lock, and tenacity. The gentlemen persisted, in trying to win over the ladies again. The lovely Sophie was the first to admit what was in her heart.” His gaze softened as he stared at his wife for a moment. “But it took Lavinia a bit longer, to see that the Viscount was genuine, and would not deceive her again.”

Jane gasped. “It could have all gone so differently …”

Walter nodded. “Indeed. And it very nearly did. We were packed up, ready to leave our humble lodgings where the charade had been played out, when at the very last moment, Lavinia arrived, finally ready to forgive and forget.” He smiled. “And the rest, my dear lady, is history.”

“You make us sound like characters in a horrid Gothic novel, Walter,” said Lavinia drily, picking up her wine glass. “It did not happen quite like that, Jane, although the bones of the story are true, I suppose.”

The laughter went on, but Walter was finally done, mock bowing to a round of polite applause. The footmen refilled the wine glasses, and finally, the door opened, and the soup arrived, steaming in bowls placed before them.

“He was exaggerating, of course,” said Lavinia, in a low voice, to Jane. “But I will give you some advice if I may, my dear.”

“Of course, cousin Lavinia,” said Jane, picking up her soup spoon. “What is it?”

“When you have your season, speak to everyone, and anyone,” she said slowly. “Speak to nobility, but speak to commoners, too.” She took a deep breath, her eyes stinging with tears. “Because it is true, Jane, that love can be found anywhere, and often in the most unexpected of places.”

***

That night, Lavinia sat at her dressing table mirror, thoughtfully brushing her hair. Samuel was already in bed, reading a book, but she saw him glance at her in her mirror, his face concerned.

“Are you quite alright, my love?” he asked, putting down the book. “You have been unusually quiet since we retired. Did the dinner party not go to your expectations?”

Lavinia sighed, placing the brush down. “The dinner party was agreeable,” she said slowly. “Everyone was charming. Even Aunt Catherine limited her complaints about her health, and that is usually a sign that all is well.” She paused. “I am just worried about Jane, that is all.”

“Why are you worried about her?”

“She is just so young and innocent,” she replied, turning around to face him. “I hope that she finds a suitable match this season and does not have to endure season after season. It would rather wear one down, I think.”

He held out his hand to her. “Come here.”

She bit her lip, but did as she was bade, sitting beside him on the bed. He reached out a hand, stroking her long dark hair, threading his fingers through it.

“I am sure that Jane will find a good match,” he said, his green eyes glittering. “I know that you are not there, my Lavinia, and so your legendary beauty and intelligence are no longer on offer, but surely the eligible gentlemen will settle for a relative of yours, at least.”

She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. “You are sounding like Walter, now! You do not need to flatter me, My Lord, with your overblown compliments. I do not need them, at all, you know.”

“Of course not, My Lady,” he teased. “You are far too self-sufficient to need such things. You are fierce, Lavinia. So fierce that you sometimes scare me. I am surprised that I stayed the distance with you at all, without being eaten alive entirely.”

“Oh, fie,” she said, her eyes shining. “You were like a ball of india rubber in my hands, My Lord. I could have twisted you into any shape that I wanted, and you still would have come back for more …”

He laughed, pulling her towards him. For a moment, they kissed, their lips lingering, before she pulled back, her face solemn again.

“What is it?” he asked, his eyes searching her face. “Are you still worried about Jane?”

She shook her head. “No, well, I suppose I will worry, but that is not it.” She paused, staring at him searchingly. “Will you love me forever, Samuel? Even when I do not look the way that I do, now?”

“What’s this?” he asked, surprised. “What do you mean?”

She sighed. “You are always flattering me about the way I look,” she said slowly, staring down at the bed. “You tell me that I am beautiful, and that you love the woman that I am, in every way …”

“Do you not like it?” he asked, a quizzical expression on his face. “I thought that every woman liked compliments. And besides, I do not lie.” He paused, gazing at her curiously. “You are the most beautiful woman that I have ever beheld. You take my breath away, Lavinia.”

She smiled. “I know that you do not lie,” she said. “That is not what I mean. I am only asking … will you still feel the same way about me if I change?” She paused. “I will get old one day, and get wrinkles …”

“We all do, my love. Unless we die, we must age, and accept the changes that come with it.”

She took a deep breath. “Yes, but I could change in other ways, too. My figure, for example.” She hesitated. “I might not always be as petite as I am now. I could gain weight. Would you still love me if I did?”

He reached out, taking a hand, gazing at her intently. “I do not know where this is coming from, my love,” he said quietly. “But to answer your question, of course I will love you still, whatever you look like.”

She inhaled deeply. “I am going about this all the wrong way,” she said slowly. “But I do not know how to say what I am about to.” She took another deep breath. “You will see me looking different in the next few months, Samuel. Very different.”

He looked confused. “I do not understand …”

“I think that I am with child,” she blurted. “There! I have said it! And so, my shape will be changing in the most dramatic of ways …”

He looked stunned for a moment. Completely and utterly stunned as if she had just started sprouting Hindustani, or some other obscure language, and he simply could not comprehend it.

“With child?” he repeated, eventually. “You are having a baby? Our baby?”

She nodded mutely.

“But …” He sat higher in the bed, his eyes shining. “But this is wonderful news! This is incredible!” He reached out to her, taking her face in his hands, staring into her eyes. “Are you sure?”

She smiled faintly. “Almost sure. At least, Mama tells me that all the signs are there …”

He let out a whoop of pure joy, grabbing her tightly, hugging her in a fierce embrace.

“I am so happy,” he whispered into her hair. “You have made me the happiest man in the world, for the second time over, my Lavinia.”

Tears squeezed out of the corners of her eyes, as he held her. She had been so very worried, about telling him. They had only talked vaguely of children in the past, and she had been scared that he would not be happy in some way. That a child would change the charmed life that they had led up to this point. That a child would burst their happy bubble that they lived in.

And she had also been scared that he would not love her like he had in the past. She had seen women in the later stages of pregnancy and knew how huge they could sometimes get, as if they had a whole ball inside them. It looked terribly uncomfortable, but more than that, it did not look terribly attractive, either.

“You silly thing,” he said tenderly, pulling away from her. “All that talk about gaining weight, and still loving you!” He paused. “You will be growing our child, Lavinia! It is a miracle, and I can only love you more for giving me such a gift.”

“You are sure?” she whispered.

He nodded. “Very sure, my love. I know that we have not talked about it much, but I have always wished for a child, at some stage. Maybe more if we are so blessed.” He took a deep breath. “This is the beginning of our family, my love! It is a wondrous thing.”

She smiled, through her tears. She wanted to be happy about the impending arrival. And now, she could feel that happiness coming, in fits and starts, threatening to overwhelm her.

A baby, she thought, wondrously. A little child of their own. She would have to choose a room for the nursery. And a cradle. So many things that she had never thought about before …

“Yes,” she whispered. “It is a wondrous thing. And I am so very happy to be having your child, Samuel. A child, borne out of our love for each other …”

He took her hand, raising it to his lips. “I promise you that I will love you through everything that life gives us, Lavinia.” He paused. “I vowed it to you on our wedding day, and I repeat the vow now. You are my life, and so will be any children we are blessed with. And I promise to love you, whatever you look like.”

The tears were falling so heavily, now that she could barely see.

“You will only grow more beautiful,” he said, huskily. “And with every change, it is your inner beauty, that will shine through, my Lavinia.”

Her soul expanded, almost bursting with joy.

She was the luckiest woman in the world. It could all have gone so very differently, but it had worked out, in the end.

It was an anecdote, now. A funny story, to regale at dinner parties, about the way they had met, and the rocky road that had led them to each other, at long last.

THE END


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75 thoughts on “Falling for the Mysterious Viscount – Extended Epilogue”

  1. I absolutely love this story of Samuel and Lavinia! Despite the odds, they found true love. Right beside them, Sophie and Walter also found true love. Both couples defied society and overcame the stereotypes of their peers.

  2. You have outdone yourself with this unique and brilliantly crafted story. I had to read the whole book without stopping. Hopefully we can anticipate a new story about Jane in the near future. Good job.👍

  3. It was a truly loving story about 2 couples meaning to be together to spend their life together. Couldn’t wait to finish reading the extended epilogue to see how it all ends.

  4. What a wonderful delightful story. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen. Thanks for writing this great book!

  5. Two love stories in one fell! I loved the switch that the sisters, Lavinia and Sophie, took in their thinking about men to marry. Their sisterly love was as moving as the love that the couples shared. And with Lord Livingston asking for Lavinia, the heart palpitations! Thank you for such a wonderful read.

  6. This was pure joy! So happy that both ladies went with their hearts and not duty! Wonderful story.

  7. Beautiful story of true love. Wonderful writing that flowed well to the end. Loved the extended epilogue.

  8. It was a pleasure to read this love story. Sophies and Lavinias relationship was such a strong loving one. The same as Samuels and Walters friendship was. I liked the way they fought for and defended each other. The twist of changing opinions about a marriage was quite a surprise but I’m glad both ladies followed their hearts and had their happy ever after. The extended epilogue completed the story nicely. A very enjoyable story. Thank you

  9. I truly enjoyed the story and the extended epilogue was the icing on the cake! Thank you !

  10. This is a delightful story both sisters found love and happiness and I think you write very well

  11. Wonderful Love story of two sisters with two gentlemen! The epilogue was a nice touch with Lavinia announcing her expecting to her husband. This was a nice clean romance story.

  12. Bridget. Your wonderful stories have gotten me through breast cancer surgery and radiation, now keeping my spirits up through the Corona virus. You are a friend in need.
    Loved these two wonderful couples, and loved the relationship between sisters and friends. Thank you.

  13. What a wonderful story. Livinia and Sophia got their dream partners in a fantastic way. Love your books and look forward to the next one.

  14. Loved the story of two different sisters and the excitement they found at the ball. The extended story have a view into what was coming next. It would be an interesting next book to tell us more of what their lives become. The story was well written and did keep one on edge to see what would happen even though one’s mind hoped for the outcome. Thank you Bridget for writing this.

  15. Wonderful story about two sisters and two very close friends. I couldn’t wait to see what they would do. How they would grow. And fall i n love. It was interesting and hard to put the book down. I stayed up late so I could see.

  16. It’s an extra blessing to have true friends that end up as couples and live close enough to visit often. Most of our couple friends moved away, however it was wonderful when one couple moved back.

  17. I just love this story it was warm and loving between two sisters and two Friends ,and family. Although Latvian scared me sometimes ,I couldn’t believe she would let go of of Samuel so easily,I just fell for him right of the bat.especially when he ask walter did you see her after walter talk to father for sofie hand in marriage. Love love!!

  18. Two couples with different ways of living and how they thought. It was like watching a word puzzle untangling to become different words. The story was ingenious and I loved it from start to finish. What a wonderful author you are Bridget Barton. I feel that your personality must be wonderful as well. Thank you for all the hours of splendid entertainment. 🌺

  19. I think when I am done reading one of your books it’s my favorite. Until I read yet another! My goodness, so many wonderful choices. Great stories, love them all.

  20. I really enjoyed this story. The extended epilogue was perfect. I would have liked to see the search before they finally found Samuel and I also would’ve liked more details leading up to the weddings.

  21. Being part English and having been to England many times to visit my husband’s relatives in the Cotswolds, I never encountered any one person using flowery language my dear. I enjoyed the story line did sisters really talk with such endearments?
    Storyline was good. Entertaining read.

  22. I truly enjoyed this beautiful story! It brought back to me my husband and my love story! We dated when I was 16, 17, & 18. He moved away and we didn’t see each other for 26 1/2 years. We met again when I had been divorced for five and a half years, and he had just gotten divorced. We had both had very unhappy marriages! I fell in love with him when I was I was 16 and it broke my heart when he moved! I had so many to tell me when we started to date that I should contact Opera Winfrey and tell our love story. It was like a dream come true to meet this wonderful man again! We have now been married for a little over thirty Wonderful years! 😍😍😘

    1. Thanks for sharing your love story with me, my dear Peggy! Also, thank you very much for your support. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the book!

  23. What an uplifting story. It helped through many hours in hospital recovering from surgery. Thanks a lot

  24. Obstacles in the way of deception was what their love had to overcome. Lavinia and Samuel along with Sophie and Walter had to climbed this mountain and make it down the other side to find each other. A love story filled with wonderful characters.

  25. Loved the story of two sisters and finding their inner selves and the men they fell in love with. Refreshingly good read. Thank you

  26. oh I loved this book so very much I read it in one day as I couldnt put it down. the characters are amazing and the plot keeps you interested at each twist and turn. thanks for so much entertainment

  27. Great story. I especially enjoyed the closeness of the sisters and the true friendship between the gentlemen.

  28. Enjoyed the book so much along with the epilogue. Samuel and Laguna are perfect for each other. I was afraid that they weren’t going to get together at one point, by I told myself that couldn’t happen. Thanks again. For a wonderful book.

  29. Loved the story of the two sisters and how they found love. Also enjoyed the extended epilogue

  30. I love this story of love, friendship and close sisters. Each character learned valuable life lessons along the way to finding true love!

  31. I enjoyed the story very much. Had trouble putting it down it was so interesting.

  32. Thank you ever so much for the gorgeously “gentle man” Samuel Hunter/ Viscount Pemberton. It is so wonderful to have a delightful man such as this to contemplate on a rainy day snuggled up with a good book. He is soulmate material of the first degree, from his toes firmly rooted in the earth to his lofty ideals he is bound and determined to bring to fruition. I love the beautiful courtship “dance” he and Lavinia engage in. He never stoops to underhanded means beyond his light playful disguise. So refreshing to experience the unfolding of their mutual hearts in gentle tenderness. His steadfast loving patience is admirable and much above the common. Respectful yet ardent in love is a heady aphrodisiac. Paired with his stunning good looks he is all a woman could desire…

  33. Absolutely delightful book, MS Barton is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!

  34. Whenever I finish one of your books, I have a smile on my face. It is nice to escape from the chaos and uncertainty of our present world to one where you know that while the journey is difficult, the end result is a happy ending. I thank you for sharing your talent with us. As our good friend Arnold said in movies long ago, “I’ll be back.” I will be back, too.

  35. Bridget, that was a wonderful story. I loved every bit of it….Those two Sisters, Sophie and Lavinia were amazing in how they each felt differently about society ‘s expectations of the ladies. Sophie wanted to stick to the norm but Lavinia wanted to be in love with a man. Of course she was upset when she found out Samuel had deceived her, pretending to be a commoner, but eventually she understood why he did what he did and they both loved each other. Walter and Sophie were in love as well so overall it was happy endings for them all.

    The story was meaningful. I would rate it as 8 out of 10…..
    Thank you Bridget.

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