A Lady’s Perfect Match – Extended Epilogue

“How is the spread?”

Hannah moved about the room with her pad of paper held tightly in one hand and her pen in the other. It was one year since the hospital that Emelia and Montgomery had locally funded became a successful teaching college, and they were arranging an event for the new students to welcome them in preparation for the next year of study.

“It’s all laid out on the table—sandwiches and tea and scones. I don’t think we will have any hunting dogs breaking in today to eat it all, either,” Emelia answered with a wink. She walked to one of the chairs in the main meeting room and dusted off the coverlet thrown casually over one arm. “Next?”

“Wait staff?”

“They’ve all been briefed, and they will be ready at a moment’s notice to help if anything goes awry.” Brody rose to answer this question from his place at the window, where he’d been pouring over a last-minute list of the students’ names. He had moved into the Wells home after marrying Hannah, just as Emelia had moved into the Shaw residence after her marriage to Montgomery a year and a half ago. While Emelia always had a hand in preparing the social events the hospital hosted, it was always Brody and Hannah who actually offered up their home to the students.

“It’s been a year,” Emelia said with a raised eyebrow. “And I still can’t get over the fact I come to my old childhood home and I’m not technically the hostess here any longer.”

Hannah rolled her eyes. “But you’re every bit the hostess in the way that matters. You know the college wouldn’t even exist if you didn’t hold regular events and go door to door speaking to people and raising charitable funding for the students and the learning materials. Brody and I just proved the framework for your events so nothing goes…awry.”

Emelia smiled tenderly at her sister. “Alright then, framework provider. Tell me what’s next.”

Hannah looked down at her list. “We’ve talked about everything I have here. What about the front door?”

Brody flicked the gold tip of his cane up a little off the ground. “Butler’s waiting already.”

“Yes,” Emelia acknowledged, “but I ought to go to.”

She moved out of the room and perched herself on the entry bench at the front hall, expectantly. She remembered, as she sat there, the day years ago when she’d waited just like this to welcome Montgomery into the home and show him to the room of the ailing Aggie. It seemed so long ago, and then, on the one hand, when the door opened in front of her and her handsome husband strode in followed by the six new students he’d picked up in the village square, she felt the same old flutter of appreciation in her heart—as though they’d only just fallen in love yesterday.

“Mrs. Shaw,” he said, tipping his hat to her with a sparkle in his eye. “You’re certainly looking lovely today.” He turned and waved to the six students who crowded together in the doorway, each looking more nervous than the next. “Gentlemen, don’t be shy. Come in further and meet my wife. You will see much of her at the college—she helps in the attached hospital, and is taking some classes herself even as we speak.”

The young men came forward with muttered explanations and nods, shaking her hand and making comments on the home.

“It’s actually my sister’s home,” Emelia said with a smile. “She and her husband are offering up their gifts to welcome you today as well, and I think you’ll find that the entire county is just as pleased to have you as we are. The added help of students at the hospital has meant a real change for the local clinic, and a growth in wellness all across the county.”

When the students had filed past her into the breakfasting room where Brody and Hannah were waiting, Montgomery reached out and pulled Emelia aside by the arm, stealing a moment to plant a quick kiss on her lips.

“You’re looking lovely today,” he said.

“You say that every day.”

“I’m a doctor. It’s my job to observe the facts and make recommendations based on the evidence I perceive.”

“And what do you think the symptoms represent, Dr. Shaw?”

“I think the only treatment for such loveliness is that you stay by my side for the rest of my life,” he said archly. He looked so happy and lighthearted, something that seemed to come out of him more and more often now that they were married. Emelia could hardly remember now why she once thought him to be sober and stern. While he was very serious about his work and sober-minded about the things that the students needed to learn and the lives they held in their hands, he was all smiles and tenderness outside the classroom. He pulled her close. “You know, I’m so thankful for what you’ve done with these events and all the other charity-building soirees in the community. I can’t imagine how you find time to do it in addition to your work at the hospital.” He peered at her rather closely. “Are you sure it’s not getting to be too much, love? I don’t want you to tire yourself out or be exposed to some dangerous illness while your immune system is weakened.”

Emelia felt as though he was looking right through her. She smiled. “I have been a little tired as of late, but I don’t think it has as much to do with all that I’m taking on as it has to do with the turning of the seasons and the coming of winter. I’ll find my stride soon enough.” She looped her arm into his. “But my little welcoming event means nothing if the man of the hour isn’t there to inspire his students. Follow me, husband.”

***

As often followed at these events, the students lingered long into the evening. After all the food had been put away, the wait staff dispersed, and the party long settled in the parlor with small glasses of dark sherry, the conversation stretched on around the fireplace. Brody and Hannah sat in the corner sharing a game of cards and conversation, but Emelia took her place at Montgomery’s side and joined into the discussion of cadaver politics and the rise of a medical revolution alongside her husband.

She had heard of how improper it was for a lady to insert her own opinions in such matters and saw a few initial looks of confusion on the other students’ faces, but they seemed to take a hint from Montgomery’s honest answers and straightforward engagement of ideas, and soon they were arguing with Emelia as if she were one of their classmates.

When the last student finally stood to leave, Montgomery stood as well.

“I’m his ride into town,” he said quietly to Emelia. “The others had already arranged for transport, but he’s new to the area. Would you be alright to ride with us and then we will go home afterwards?”

Emelia thought for a moment, that niggling responsibility in the back of her mind, and then shook her head. “I have something to speak with Hannah about first. Afterwards, I promise I will take the shortcut between our two properties.”

“It will be dark.”

She tilted her head to the side. “I’ve done it many times before; once, after a particularly uncomfortable ball, where you were filling my mind with confusing thoughts of love.”

“There’s nothing confusing about our love,” he said tenderly, squeezing her arm before turning to go.

When he’d gone, Emelia went over to watch the end of Brody and Hannah’s game. When the last card had been laid, she laid a hand on her sister’s arm in turn.

“May I steal you for a moment?” she asked quietly but urgently.

Brody stood up quickly. “I think I’ve spent enough time with you lasses to know when a bit of privacy is called for.” He winked at Emelia. “But remember that she tells me everything.”

“Almost everything,” Hannah answered, waving him away and leading Emelia across the room to the window seat they’d enjoyed as children for just such secret conversations. When the women were settled, Hannah tugged at Emelia’s sleeve. “What’s on your mind? I saw you looking over at me all evening, and I was as curious then as I am now. Was it the party? I think it went more to plan then we could have imagined. You have nothing about which to be concerned—”

“It’s not the party,” Emelia laughed. “It’s just…you know, Hannah, I promised you back during all that confusion with Brody and Montgomery that I would be honest with you, and there’s something I want to tell you that I haven’t told anyone—not even Montgomery.”

Hannah raised her eyebrows. “Go on.”

“I’m…” she put her hand on her stomach. It was only just beginning to round, although the symptom was for the moment still concealed by her loose skirts and empire waist dresses. “I’m pregnant. I’m almost certain of it. I’ve been tired and ill to the stomach for two months now. I read in one of Montgomery’s textbooks that in this sort of situation I can expect the sickness to endure through the first three months, but I’m not sure how much more I can take.”

“Why haven’t you told Montgomery?”

“I want to surprise him, and if things don’t go to plan,” she said, the little twinge of fear she’d been pushing away for the last two months rising again, “I’m not sure I want to tell him. It’s customary to wait a few months to ensure the safety of the child.”

Hannah reached forward and hugged her sister. “Well, I’m glad you didn’t wait to tell me, because someone needs to remind you that the best thing for your baby is for you to rest. You’ve been on your feet planning events and working at the hospital since it began. You cannot do that any longer.”

“But what reason will I give?”

“I suggest the truth. Montgomery is a doctor, Emelia. He’s seen great loss, and thanks to you, he’s learned how to cope with it without feelings of guilt or responsibility. You can tell him about this child, and if things don’t go to plan you will at least be there for each other.”

As Emelia listened to Hannah, her heart knew that the words her sister was saying were true. She had gone back and forth between what or when to tell, but now all she could think about was Montgomery’s excitement and joy, and she knew now was the time to tell him.

“But,” Hannah reached out a restraining hand, “what will you do? You can’t keep working at the hospital, as I said.”

Emelia raised her hand and waved it before her. “I’ve been thinking about that. I can help in other ways. The students have meals that need planning, lessons that need arranging, and social calendars that need orchestrating. I haven’t been able to do any of that because of my other duties, but once I begin showing more pronouncedly I plan to limit myself to the home duties.”

“You ought to consider doing that sooner,” Hannah mused, “especially if you’re concerned about the health of the baby.”

Emelia nodded. “I’m glad I spoke to you about this, Hannah. I knew I was going to have to talk to you sooner or later, but I couldn’t gather up the necessary courage.”

“And you will tell Montgomery?”

“You mentioned that he was a doctor—I’m worried that he’ll fuss over me more than is necessary. Imagine if you were married to a solicitor and had your case come up in court: it would be agonising.”

“Or, as other people would say, completely fortuitous and helpful,” Hannah teased. “Tell him. Stop making up excuses otherwise.”

***

Emelia spurned Brody’s suggestion that she take the carriage home and, hugging Hannah one last time, made off across the land separating their two residences. Walking to the Shaw’s had always been a visiting motion, but now as she made her way through the dark paths she felt only that she was going home at last.

As she crested the hill she saw a familiar figure striding through the moonlight towards her. She raised her hand in greeting, and before she’d made in ten steps down the embankment Montgomery was by her side.

“You shouldn’t wave at strange men you see in the dark,” he scolded.

“I wouldn’t have,” she retorted. “But you weren’t strange, and it isn’t all that dark with a moon so very magnificent.”

“It is magnificent.” He looped an arm around her and they slowed to an easy stroll. The Shaw estate was sparkling with light and welcome. Emelia looked at it and felt the warmth of belonging bloom deep in her chest.

“Montgomery, I need to talk to you about something,” she ventured, looking up at him.

His eyes were on the distant moon. “I know.”

She started, surprised. “Did you…stop by the Wells’ house before you came home?” She didn’t want to give it away if he hadn’t.

“No,” a smile crept onto his face. “But I know you well, and I could see that you had something on your mind. Hannah invariably tells you to share all such things with me, and so I expected to hear something from you tonight.”

“Stop for a moment.” She turned to face him, taking his rough—work-worn hands in hers and raising them briefly to her lips. “Montgomery, I’m…I’m with child. I have been for a little over two months now.”

A smile spread on his face, not a smile of shock, but a smile of knowing. He leaned down and kissed her warmly and tenderly, then straightened up and looked directly into her eyes. “My beautiful, precious wife,” he said. “It’s not two months. It’s been closer to three.”

She stepped back in shock. “What? You knew?”

“I’m a doctor, remember? I’ve grown very accustomed to seeing the signs of just such an occasion, and as the symptoms don’t usually appear until a few weeks in—and with some other markers I’m privy too—I diagnosed you as pregnant some time ago.” He winked at her. “Also, you kept leaving the history of modern medicine open on the page of pregnancy and what we must do to prevent miscarriage.” He pulled her close. “I know that nothing is certain, Emelia, but I am glad to at last have a chance on that point to say that you are healthy and well in every way. You don’t need to worry about anything happening to the child. The only thing I require—”

“—Is that I stop working at the hospital,” she finished for him. “I knew you would say that, and I admit it was one of the smaller factors that kept me from telling you. I love my work there so very much. But, for a time, I am willing to give it up.”

“My dear wife,” he said, taking her arm again and starting off towards the house, “I’m so blissfully happy about it. I can’t wait to teach my child everything there is to love about this world, and everything I love about their sweet little mama.”

Emelia leaned her head on his shoulder as they made their way into the house. “All that’s left, then, is to tell our parents.”

“Mama’s just inside.”

“Has she guessed, too?” Emelia asked, a bit tongue in cheek.

“No, of course not,” he retorted. “But she will, of course, be thrilled.”

The Dowager Mrs. Shaw was about to turn in for the night when Emelia and Montgomery stopped her in the parlor and told her the news. Emelia felt a warmth of sweet sadness at the thought that she would have seen a similar reaction of joy and tears from her own mother if Mrs. Wells had lived to see this day, and she was blessed that she’d inherited another mother through her marriage to Montgomery; someone every bit as level-headed and kind.

“I’m so, so happy for you,” the older woman said in a burst of happiness. “I kept hoping this day would come. It will be wonderful to hear the sound of children’s laughter in these halls again, will it not?”

“It will,” Montgomery said with a smile.

“And you, my dear,” his mother went on, taking Emelia’s hand in hers. “You have done me so much good. Do you know why?”

Emelia was startled by this shift of focus. She raised her eyebrows. “No, what do you mean?”

“When you were a little girl, you were friends with my Brody. You taught him to be polite and kind and channel all that charm into a place where it could actually help people. But I knew from the very beginning that you weren’t meant to be with him—no matter what the rest of the county said. Still, I was glad that you were in his life so you could bring some good to him. Then, when my dear Alistair passed away, I saw my eldest son’s broken heart and I had no idea how to heal it.”

This was all a bit effusive for a woman of the Dowager’s standing, but Emelia was touched regardless. The old woman went on, her eyes shining.

“Then it was you again who came and nursed my son through his sickness. Little did I know you were also nursing him through his heartbreak. You healed him, Emelia, and now this little child will be the seal on that act.”

Emelia fell into her mother-in-law’s arms, and felt Montgomery’s embrace close over the both of them. She looked into the future and saw only light.

THE END


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90 thoughts on “A Lady’s Perfect Match – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Bridget, this book is marvelous. I think it’s my favorite of all your tales. Great characters, sweet story, wonderful outcome. Thank you.
    Elizabeth Mccarthy

  2. I couldn’t wait to finish reading the book to see what happens. Truly enjoyed reading it!

  3. I love how you developed likable, real characters. I always enjoy witty banter so thoroughly enjoyed this story. Well done.

  4. Loved the book…Great reading…Not just another love story, brought the characters to life and their problems…Thank you …Looking forward to your next book…

  5. Rich characters that made it a joy read this story. The women, especially Emelia were caring, funny, smart, and strong. She was a perfect match for her husband! It was a pleasure to read this story and the epilogue was the icing on the cake with Emelia and her husband Montgomery starting a family.

  6. Loved reading the lives of Emelia and Montgomery. Very happy ending for them. As well as getting to know Hannah and Brody. Sisters can be a pain sometimes, but worth the effort.

  7. Bridget,
    Another great story that I could not put down. As always the twists and turns that keep the reader in the story. And best of all they always have a great ending. This is why I enjoy and love all of your stories. Please keep writing and I will keep reading. Looking forward to the next one.

    Best wishes to you,
    Sherry

  8. This is one of the best stories I have ever read. The relationship between the two sisters were awesome. Bridget made the characters of the story jump off the page and seem like real life

  9. Loved it and read it one afternoon while watching football.
    Can’t wait for your next book.

  10. I really enjoyed this book. The relationship between Emilia and Brody was fun and vibrant. Made me feel as though I knew them. When the both realized they were in love with each other’s siblings, I would have expected them to reveal their names since they revealed their love. I would have liked to see them switch gears and help each other clear the relationships rather than the painful confusion and hurt feelings that were so predictable. It seemed contrite after building up such wonderful and honest relationships in the book up to that point. Hanna was too sweet and shy to do something so nasty and Montgomery was to smart and observant to suddenly be obtuse and run away.
    Fortunately the confusion didn’t last long. I would have rather heard about the weddings and involvement starting the school!
    Overall a good read!

  11. I so admire your writing skills! This book was wonderful. You are at the very top of my list of favorite authers. Please write more fascinating books like this one.

  12. Loved every bit of it from the beginning to the extended epilogue; just my kind of sweet tomance and happy ending.

    I believe I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all your books to date. Each one I always think may have been my favorite. This one did in no way disappoint!

    Bonnie

  13. Nice clean and romantic story. A delightful tale of secrets and mixed under standings.

  14. Thank you again for another beautifully well written historical romance! Loved!!!

  15. Wonderful book. Things are repeated a bit much but I did enjoy it. Thank you.

  16. You have done it again Bridget. What a grand story and what wonderful characters. I seem unable to put your novels down while reading and so it is that I am reading them very quickly. The misunderstanding between the sisters was cleared up thank goodness and all was right for them all. I love your style of writing and it is refreshing that they are clean. You are such a wonderful and refreshing author Bridget and once again I thank you for the hours of entertainment that I have by reading your novels. Stay safe and well. 🌺

  17. A good author involves the reader in the story! I knew you were good by reading other books of yours, so I bought A Lady’s Perfect Match. I was deeply involved by the end of Chapter One. I laughed at Emelia’s attempts to make the perfect social event. When Hannah thought Emelia had betrayed her. From that point on I felt such heartbreak for the women! I was so thrilled when Hannah found out the truth and made up with Emelia! But there were more tears for Emelia when Hannah and Brody got engaged and her heart was breaking because she thought the man she loved didn’t feel the same! She was thrilled for her sister but tears were running down her cheeks. Then, I felt Emelia’s joy when Montgomery told her he did love her. There was joy at the reception when he told her his plans for the money he inherited, he asked her to marry him and share it with him.
    I felt proud of their success in the hospital and college. The pregnancy was the biggest thrill and the best ending ever!!
    I have some of your books in my library that I haven’t read, yet! I look forward to more emotional stories. I will end up buying more of your books in the future! Keep up the good work!
    P.S.. Be safe. Wear a mask AND a face shield when out in public!

  18. Beautiful story, with a heart warming and tender dear Romance and joyous ending!

  19. Being a retired nurse and spending my life caring for others while raising three children it is with great pleasure for me to tell you that I immensely enjoyed this novel. Thank you for bringing a little of my past into my future as I was a surgical nurse loving what I did for 35 years! I saw many advancements in the medical field as they continue to evolve!

  20. What a special story, actually stories. You make the characters so real. Love your books so much.

  21. This book was wonderful. I didn’t want to stop reading it. My husband yelled at me last night for staying up so late reading. But I couldn’t help it. I just finished reading it tonight and loved every minute of it.

    I loved your characters. I fell in love with the four of them. Everything about them was perfect. When you had Hannah have her tantrum or what ever you want to call it at the get together I thought it was perfect.

    Thank you for a wonderful ending and a wonderful book.

  22. I loved this book Bridget! Wonderful twists and turns for all the happy endings. Can’t wait to begin another one of your great books! Thank you!

  23. Ms. Barton – I thoroughly enjoyed this very sweet story about sibling rivalries, both real & imagined. The relationships between the Shaw & Wells families are well played out and thoughtfully similar in tragedy to make that shared bond more poignant. Love the romantic twists & turns, heartbreaks & healing. Thrilled with the delight of the extended epilogue as well. I do look forward to reading more of your delightful romances. They truly carry me away to that moment in time…

  24. Lovely romantic story with a happy ending for the sisters and brothers each finding true love and happiness in their lives. I have read many of your books and always find them so interesting. Always looking forward to your next book. Thanks!

  25. I really loved this book so much. I loved the sisters being sisters and the love they shared along with the scraps in life over boys as I and my sis had issues too. the characters and storyline were entertaining and I had to finish it to know the ending. thanks for a great story , so very worth the time it took to read it and never did I skip over any of the story from boredom 🙂

  26. Hello Bridget, I have just finished reading A Lady Defying all for Love which I really enjoyed, unfortunately when I tried to get the extended epilogue I got the one for A Ladies Perfect Match which I have already read. Please can you send me the correct epilogue, thank you .

  27. Dear Bridget,
    I just love your books. When I have one to read, I know it will be a long night as I can’t put it down.
    Thank you so much.
    Debby S.

  28. A wonderful book. Unfortunately, folks back then did not speak up as they should – Like why not squash the rumor of the two {the wrong two} being made for each other and would marry.
    The extended epilogue was a nice ending.

  29. It was a great book and you brought the characters to life. I was glued to the book into the end and than the extended epilogue, which was good as well. Keep up the good work.

  30. What a wonderful read. Story was different and had great characters. I LOVE the extended as I always want to know what happens after they fall in love. Thanks Bridget.

  31. This story is a perfect example of how love, honesty, and insight can heal and inspire as well as bridge gaps in relationships.

  32. What a great story. It’s always good to see that misunderstandings have a tendency to be misconstrued and find out later that all the hatefulness was for nought. So glad it worked out in the end for all parties and happily. Keep them coming.

  33. I loved this book, and all the books in this series, they are exceptional!. I was disappointed that the Epilogue was the wrong one for this book. I would of liked to of read more about Eliza and Benedict.

  34. This book was so interesting that I couldn’t go to sleep until I finished it. I was eager to read the Epilogue as well but then noticed it was for another book. Can you please send me the right Epilogue? I would love to see how it all ends nicely.
    Thanks.

  35. Oh WOW!! What a beautiful journey of love. Wonderful characters, and a beautifully crafted story. I love your books are this is my new favorite. Oh goodness it’s absolutely entertaining and interesting as well as inspiring. I love the extended epilogue which brings the story to a beautiful happy ending. I LOVE IT!

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