Three Years Later
Haringdale grunted as the little boy who had been climbing onto the settee jumped and landed on his belly.
Nathaniel laughed and scooped the child away, hoisting him into the air.
“Careful, Timmy. Grandpa is not a cushion you can jump on.”
Timmy giggled loudly as Nathaniel spun him around before putting him back down. Then Timmy started running back over to Haringdale. The earl groaned.
“You are a pest, do you know that?” He grabbed at his grandson and lifted him onto his lap. “Do you know how to sit still?”
Timmy grinned and shook his head. Nathaniel could see a lot of Juliana in his little boy. His son had only just turned two years old, and he had a very strong personality. So much like his mother.
He looked over at baby Kate, who was fast asleep in Lady Farley’s arms. Six months old, and she was a very placid child compared to her brother. Nathaniel was surprised at how different raising the two children had been. Maybe it was because they were more experienced that it wasn’t as bad. Nathaniel wasn’t about to question it.
He didn’t think he could love anyone more than this.
“Where is everyone else?” Haringdale asked as he handed Timmy a toy soldier, which the boy seemed to take great interest in. “I thought they weren’t going to take long.”
“You know what ladies are like when they get to talking.” Lady Farley laughed. “We like to just talk and talk.”
“Well, they’d better hurry up. I don’t want Timmy jumping on me more than he already has.” Haringdale ruffled the boy’s hair. “I love this chap, but he’s all elbows and knees.”
“Yep!” Timmy declared with a grin. “I know.”
Nathaniel couldn’t help but laugh at that. He was definitely Juliana’s child. Just then, the door opened, and Lady Haringdale and Juliana came in. Immediately, Nathaniel’s gaze was drawn toward his wife. Despite having had two children, Juliana still looked incredible. Her body had filled out a little, so she had some definite curves, but she looked very comfortable with herself. Nathaniel could see the glow in her face, see how relaxed she was. Not like three years ago when she looked tense all the time.
Things had changed a lot in a short space of time, and Nathaniel was glad about that.
“There you are!” Haringdale looked relieved as his wife came over to him. “Where are the other guests? Are they not here yet?”
“Not yet. It takes a bit longer to travel when you’ve got small children to wrangle.” Lady Haringdale sat beside her husband and moved Timmy onto her lap. “Makes me glad that we’ve gotten past that stage, and we can hand the children back.”
Timmy giggled as he curled up on her lap. Lady Farley looked up at Juliana.
“Your father isn’t going to stay in his study forever, is he?”
“He’s just finishing a few things up, and then he’ll join us. I’m sure he’ll be with us in time for Edward, Eleanor, and Lucy to arrive.” Juliana’s expression warmed as she kissed her daughter’s head. “He’s like putty with his grandchildren.”
Nathaniel couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t think he would see his father-in-law softening to anyone, but he had with all three of his grandchildren. It was quite adorable.
Juliana sat beside him, and Nathaniel linked his fingers with hers.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, kissing her cheek.
“A little tired. I’ll be glad to go to sleep tonight.”
“Thank God for wet nurses and nannies, I suppose.” Nathaniel squeezed her hand. “You’ve been really busy lately, and you deserve a rest.”
“Can you blame me? I love Christmas, and I can’t wait for the festivities to really start.”
Nathaniel knew all about that. Juliana threw herself into it every year. He couldn’t argue when it made her light up, and she was constantly smiling. He put his arm around her and kissed her cheek.
“As long as you remember me every now and then, do whatever you need.”
“Of course, I remember you,” Juliana giggled. “How could I forget you?”
“That’s good to know.” Nathaniel kissed her forehead. “Have I told you that I love you today?”
“Several times.” Juliana’s expression warmed as she leaned into him. “But I’m not about to argue. I love hearing you say it.”
“Just as much as I love hearing you say it to me.”
“Since when have you and I ended up being so soppy?”
“You don’t complain about it.”
“At least it’s better than what we had before.” Juliana looked up at him. “I prefer being soppy, even if it does make us look daft.”
Nathaniel couldn’t argue with that. His parents had brought it up with him before, but Nathaniel didn’t care. At least they couldn’t complain that he was fighting this marriage any longer. That had faded away a long time ago.
Who knew that marrying someone who had been at odds with him for years would turn out to be his perfect partner? Nathaniel hadn’t thought that it would turn out like this, and he was glad that it had. Now, he had a growing family as well as a loving wife. There was a big weight off his shoulders.
“I love you,” Juliana whispered, leaning her head against his shoulder. “I don’t think I’ve said that enough today.”
“I don’t think you have.” Nathaniel smiled. “But I’ll take anything you send my way.”
When it came to his wife, he would take anything. Especially her love.