Longing for a Liberating Love – Extended Epilogue

The sound of Christmas carols drifted in faintly from outside, and Alina strained to look out the window through the softly falling snow. “I think we’ll have guests soon,” she said, spotting the cloaked carolers as they moved from door to door, spreading cheer.

She turned and surveyed the cozy little room. A handful of women, Theo’s female cousins who had become her close friends in the years since her marriage, and Molly Pendleton were gathered in a small group, eyes shining.

They’d come together for a sewing circle—a tradition Alina had never before participated in, but had heard was a staple of American life. They each had their own projects, and as she pulled out the soft grey and lavender baby’s blanket she was quilting she looked up and caught the eyes of the women resting yet again on her swelling belly.

“It’s coming any day now,” Molly said. “Theo must be getting nervous.”

“He keeps the doctor closer than I would like,” Alina admitted with a light laugh, “but he knows I’m healthy and has promised not to worry more than is needed.”

“Yes, you’ve had a blessed nine months,” one of the women agreed with a soft smile. “I was rolling about in agony, and then swollen as a whale in the weeks before birth. You look serene.”

“Looks can be deceiving.” Alina patted her stomach, loving the way the fabric stretched over her belly. She rarely thought of her life in London, but moments like this made her thankful again for the contrast between her life with Jonas and her life with Theo.

When she had first married Jonas and became pregnant with Jinx, she had been hidden away in Marshall Gardens like an ugly secret. She came to be ashamed of herself, a ridiculous thought that had only been resolved once Jinx was cooing in her arms. Boston was completely different.

The women flocked to Alina like moths to a flame, offering her all their good advice and asking always after her health. She felt the treasure growing inside her and she was pleased with even the more uncomfortable parts of her pregnancy.

“I’ve had my share of vomiting,” she told her friends, laughing, “but thankfully, I think that’s behind me now. It’s only a waiting game.”

There was a moment of contented silence, and Alina looked around the room with a glad heart, listening to the sounds God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen coming in softly from outside. The hearth was hung with greenery and bright red berries, and the house smelled, even in the parlour, of warm, spiced things.

One of the older cousins stretched and laid her embroidery aside. “Tell me, have you decided yet what you’ll name the child?”

“Oh, yes,” another woman echoed the sentiment with glee. “Please, do tell.”

Alina smiled. “Well, if it’s a boy I will, of course, be naming him after Theodore. He is the most respectable, remarkable man in my life.”

“And if it’s a girl?” Molly pressed. From the very first, she’d claimed inner knowledge of the baby, and had declared all along that it was a little girl. Since there was no way of truly knowing, Alina had paid her little mind.

“I’m not sure,” she admitted. “Theo, of course, wants Alina, but I disagree. I want something different, original, if it’s a little girl.”

“Is Jinx ready to have a little sibling?” asked another woman.

“Jinx is beyond ready. He is beside himself.” Alina smiled. “I know you were all there for the signing of the adoption papers, but what you didn’t hear afterwards was Jinx’s request that we ‘keep making the family bigger.’”

The women laughed and Molly raised her eyebrows. “I’m surprised he understands what that means.”

Alina blushed. “Oh, I’m sure he doesn’t know that, but he does know that Mama and Papa wanted to have a baby. He has been planning for a sibling, setting aside half his toys even though I keep reminding him that we can get more for the newcomer. No, there was never a boy so eager, or so selfless—”

She paused, a sharp pain stabbing through her lower abdomen. She drew a quick, sharp breath. The other women froze, each taking their time and avoiding the temptation to panic.

Molly looked at the clock. “No worries, dear,” she said reassuringly. “There are often pains days in advance.” But Alina could see her noting the time anyway.

She smiled shakily. “Yes, I’ve had some already, but this felt different.” She picked her sewing back up. “I think baby is telling me I need to hurry these seams along.”

“It’s a lovely quilt,” one of the women pointed out. “Although lavender is more a girl’s colour than a boy’s.”

Alina rolled her eyes. “I know, but I sent Molly to pick out the fabric and she brought this back—insisted it was nonrefundable and the finest fabric there is. If this child comes out a boy as Theo suspects, Molly is going to have to do some sort of penance for her lofty turns of phrase.”

“A woman always knows,” Molly said mysteriously. “If you looked in your own heart, I think you’d admit you know, as well.”

Alina smiled to herself. “I still think it would be good to see you eat your words. You’ve been so—” She stopped, whimpering as another sharp pain tightened its grip on her abdomen.

Molly checked the clock again. “Seven minutes,” she said. “I don’t want to alarm you, beautiful child, but I think it might be time to lay aside your work and move into the bed chamber.”

***

Theo stepped into his office and smiled at his uncle with confidence. “When you told me you needed me to step into the role of public prosecutor, I admit I doubted you. But this—this is better than financial handlings and the underbelly lifestyle of the rich. This is… enjoyable.”

“It’s like hunting down lions, isn’t it?” William leaned back in his chair and stretched. “You’ve got your office on the Commons and your face time with the judges, and you still get to feel like you’re protecting the city from crime and slander.”

“It’s cutthroat here, that’s for certain.”

That day, Theo had spent the entire morning arguing his case in the courtroom. Trials had gotten heated in London, but those angry scenes had nothing on the raw fighting fury of Bostonians. They entered courtrooms the same way fighters met in the ring—no holds barred, spitting vitriol like sailors.

“I almost lost over a technicality,” Theo joked. “One of my witnesses refused to put his shoes on to enter the court. He was a homeless man who’d been robbed in the street, but he thought putting on the shoes I’d purchased for this event was demeaning. He honestly believed they would steal his soul. The judge finally let him in, barefoot, and there was no contempt of court recorded. I wanted to hide my head in my hands, but we won the case in the end. Turns out Bostonian juries aren’t swayed by disgustingly dirty feet.”

William’s eyes widened. “That is indeed one of the oddest things I’ve ever heard,” he confessed. “I have some stories of my own, but I’ve never yet met a judge that would allow a man to appear before the people in partial disarray.”

“It was just Judge Morris,” Theo explained, shuffling his papers. “You introduced me to him on my first day.”

“Judge Morris?” William threw up his hands in mock dismay. “I brought you here to Boston to aid me, not to steal all the cruelest judges and turn them into lily-livered men who allow their courts to be run like loose carnivals.”

Theo laughed, familiar with his uncle’s teasing. He sat behind his desk, set to open the next day’s case, but just as he was about to dive in he heard a disturbance at the door, followed by the sounding of small feet running down the hall. It was a familiar sound, and even before Jinx burst through the doorway, William and Theo had met eyes across the room.

William said with a smile in his tone, “You really ought to teach that boy of yours to enter a room at a more human pace.”

Jinx pushed upon the door with all his childish strength and stood there in the archway, his feet apart like a matador, his hat lopsided over his right ear, breathing hard.

“Good afternoon, son,” Theo said placidly, well acquainted with Jinx’s fervor. “I was wondering if I would see you today, what with all the good fresh snow for sledding on the far hills—”

“Papa!” Jinx interrupted, his cheeks pink from the recent cold. “I’ve got news.”

Theo still couldn’t get over how wonderful it was that this little boy would call him “Papa” after everything their little family had been through. Jinx was fully recovered now from his accident across the ocean, and as much a fixture amongst the Boston children as any of those who had been born stateside. He was still small for his age, but had a bright imagination and endless kindness for all who would welcome him in.

“Well,” Theo encouraged gently. “Out with it, then. You’ll never be a good newsman if you stand there panting in doorways and keeping the important stuff to yourself.”

“It’s Mama,” he gasped.

A sudden stab of fear fell ice cold into Theo’s heart. He’d watched the baby grow in Alina’s belly for months now, always trying to get her the best care and keep her from overexerting herself, and the idea of her in any sort of danger filled him with dread.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

“No, Papa,” the boy said sweetly. His eyes were as big as saucers, and his next words fell on Theo like sweet, warm rain. “It’s good news. I’ve a baby sister, Papa. And she’s so small you wouldn’t believe. I think she might be too small. Would you come and look and be sure of her?”

William already had Theo’s coat in his hand, handing it to the young father. Theo grabbed his hat and overcoat, then raced out the door with Jinx’s hand clutched in his own, headed home for his first sight of his precious little girl.

***

The house was quiet when they arrived. Too quiet, Theo thought, pushing back the nerves that threatened. He had to be steady and calm, for Alina’s sake as much as for his own. He laid aside his hat and gloves and threw his overcoat into the maid’s hands.

“Where is she?”

“Upstairs in her bedchamber.”

“What of the doctor?”

The maid smiled. “Mr. Pendleton, I know you’ve been keen on the doctor’s presence to check on your wife, but it’s not the done thing in Boston. She had a midwife, but the baby came too early—” She saw the look on Theo’s face and rushed to add, “Not like that. Everything was quite alright. The midwife was just… redundant. By the time she came, Mrs. Molly Pendleton and the other ladies had already seen to the birth.”

“So, she’s… alright?” he asked with bated breath.

“Yes, sir. And she’s looking to see you.”

Jinx was tugging hard on Theo’s hand, and he let the boy lead him out of the room and up the stairs to the bedroom. All was quiet within, but when he knocked Molly opened at once, her cheeks pink with exertion and the warmth of the room. She smiled.

“Ah. I wondered when you would get here. Be glad you didn’t come earlier; I would have hated for you to sit in the parlour while the birth was undergone—your wife may seem the docile creature in the day-by-day, but when faced with adversity, she has a pair of lungs on her that would shame the town crier.”

She slipped out of the way and Theo walked in reverently with Jinx by his side. The little boy ran across the room to his mother’s bed and scrambled up as though he’d done this every day of his life. Alina looked up at Theo, and he felt his heart stop in his chest.

She was beautiful, laying there—just as beautiful as she’d been on their wedding day, or the first time he’d met her in that faraway ballroom. She was in her nightdress with her hair long and soft around her face, and there was a sheen of sweet along her hairline. Her eyes were tired, but shining with pure joy, and in her arms she hugged a small bundle.

“It’s a girl,” she said softly. “Come meet your daughter.”

“I’ll be taking my leave now,” Molly said, “but I’ll have you know I was right all along.”

Alina gave a weak laugh. “Begone with you, woman.”

Theo approached the bed with an almost hallowed step and knelt down next to it. He pulled back the soft curl of the blanket and peered inside. It was amusing, perhaps, but this was the first newborn baby Theo had ever seen up close, and he was mesmerized by every part of her. Her fingers were impossibly small, but still curling open and closed as though with a mind of their own. Her eyes were shut tight, and her nose was pert and covered in fine, pale baby hair. He could see Alina’s heart-shaped face reflected there, and when he pulled back the blanket and sought her toes he could see his own form, as well.

“She’s beautiful,” he said breathlessly. “But Jinx is right. She looks too small.”

Alina laughed. “She felt big enough on her journey into the world,” she said with a smile. “And I’ve been told by all present that she’s a strong, healthy little girl. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

Theo put his hand against his daughter’s tiny fist; she opened her fingers and closed them tightly around one of his. “I know that is just reflex,” he said softly, “but it feels so right regardless.”

Jinx bounced once or twice on the bed, then stilled when Alina looked up in alarm. “I won’t hurt her,” he said penitently. “I won’t ever hurt her.”

“That’s right, my boy,” Theo cajoled him. “And in the future, you are her guardian. You will be the one who stands up for her on the schoolyard and takes her out to her first public dance.”

Jinx nodded soberly, taking his duties quite seriously. “I will.”

“That’s my fine, strong boy,” Alina said proudly.

“Was it very awful?” asked Theo. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t downstairs when it was all happening. I would have offered you all the emotional support I could muster.”

“Your devotion is noted,” Alina joked. Then, more seriously, she added, “But truly, Theo. You have been devoted to me from the start. This happiness—I would never have imagined it to be possible before, in the years when—”

She broke off, and Theo laid a hand on her arm. “We don’t need to speak of that time, not when we have everything we need for happiness here before us in blissful perfection. You thank me for my devotion, and I in turn will thank you for believing in me. You followed me literally across the ocean.”

“And I have been given only blessings upon blessings for my choice,” she said. She leaned forward, and Theo planted a warm kiss on her lips.

Jinx, who had drawn close to gaze again at his sister, drew back with a disgusted frown on his face. “Ew, really?”

He shrugged, a wrinkle in his brow, and then when Theo and Alina broke apart, he wriggled back up by the baby and whispered loudly near her ear, “They do that all the time. You’d best get used to it.”

Alina let out a laugh like tinkling crystal, and Theo joined in.

“So,” Theo said, “shall we name her Alina?”

“It doesn’t feel right,” Alina said, frowning. “I know you want to honour me, but I want to honour her.”

“There is no greater honour than to be tied to the most beautiful, kind woman I know,” Theo pressed.

“But look at her,” Alina said, pulling back the blanket again and drawing Theo close. “She needs another name. You can see it right there on her face. She has a special destiny, and she is not an Alina.”

Theo looked at the baby again, swept up for a moment in the beauty of his child. He almost didn’t feel the tug on his sleeve, but when he looked down he saw Jinx staring up at him with urgent eyes.

“I have an idea,” he said with a smile.

“For her name?” Alina asked.

“Yup.” Jinx scrambled from his seat on the bed and went to the fireplace, where a warm flame was still crackling in the hearth. He reached on tip-toe and gripped the shock of holly that was tied there with red ribbon, bringing it back to the bedside. “It’s the day before Christmas, right?” he asked.

“I don’t want to name her ‘Holly,’” Alina said doubtfully.

“No, not ‘Holly,’” Jinx scoffed, as though the idea was as preposterous as could be. “It’s Christmas Eve. We should name her ‘Christmas Eve.’”

Theo wanted to laugh again, but then he caught Alina’s eyes and it was as though they had the exact same thought.

“Eve,” Alina said softly. “What think you of that, Jinx?”

“Eve!” He jumped up and down on the ground, and then scrambled onto the bed and put his face nose to nose with his baby sister, whispering a little too loudly, “Hello, Eve.”

Theo turned his gaze again on his wife. The sight of her was, as ever, a refreshing balm, and he saw in a moment the future spread out before them in glory.

“That’s right,” he said, bending to kiss his daughter. “Welcome to the world, Eve.”

THE END


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64 thoughts on “Longing for a Liberating Love – Extended Epilogue”

  1. I very much enjoyed this book. It plays neck with the emotions tho. I felt so sad for Alina and the awful life she had to live with that hateful Jonas. Then hoping that she and Theo we’re finally going to be together only to have that devil Jonas show up and ruin everything. I wondered how you were going to get Alina and Theo together and was surprised at how it worked out. I really did love the epilogue and the appearance of little Eve. Thank you for another great read. I always look forward to your books and am not disappointed in any of them. Just please keep them coming. 💕

  2. For me, this was the best book yet. lot of drama, believable characters and a great amount of twists yet very believable in content. Thank you for creating this adventure and sharing it with us.

  3. Could not put book down. The story was very intriguing all the way to the end. Please do a follow up with these same characters.

  4. What a book! I read it in one seating. I love the struggle of Alina and Theo. I appreciated Alina’s devotion to Jinx too. The characters were well rounded and so believable. Thank you for an engaging and pleasurable book. I look forward to the next one!

  5. Hi Bridget,
    Your story was very good and just as good as all of your others. This one was a little harder to read. The abuse of Alina and Jinx hit a little close to home, but the ending is as always a happy one. Which helped me continue and complete the story. Again a great plot and I was in the story from beginning to the end.
    Thank you and please keep writing from your heart.
    Always
    Sherry

  6. I enjoyed each and every word. The characters were emotionally real and produced all the feelings one would expect: rage, tears, happiness and love. Thank you for this book Bridget.

  7. Thank you for being such a good writer as this is a great story and I enjoyed it very much.It was intriguing and emotional and I am glad that Theo and Alaina found happiness.

  8. Beautiful ending. Spousal abuse is hard to read about but you managed to give it a happy ending. Loved the characters especially Jinx.
    Thanks again for another lovely story.

  9. This is my favorite book of yours up to this time. It was exciting from start to end. The characters are very real and life situations true to this time. The abused wife and the fear of the child had of his father was heartbreaking but happens every day . Loved it!

  10. Some stories start out strong and then whimper down to a sedate and courtly finish. The story of Alina, Theo, and Jinx started out darkly and then got dark and sunny with the eye of the hurricane passing overhead. Then the story got really exciting until it got to a new and bright finish to the actual beginning.

  11. Bridgett, Great story……I went through such a range of emotions during this story…. In some ways it was healing due to my own personal history….keep up the good work.

  12. Please don’t stop writing, I enjoyed the book, couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Thank you for such an enjoyable read.

  13. This was a beautifully written story. That was a total shock, finding out that she wasn’t really married! I do have to admit, though: This book begs for a sequel. In the sequel, years have passed, their family has grown larger, but a financial cloud has unfortunately entered their lives.

    When they least expect it, they get a letter from Theo’s old law firm partner: The courts in England have determined that it cannot be assume that the “mistress/wife’s” paternity claim is valid, for she undeniably had an extra-marital affair with the brother. And that, while her marriage was false, the child that resulted was her husband’s, for he left records behind, in the end, stating has master plan. So each child receives half of the estate holdings. The family’s financial problems are over!

    1. Wow! What a lovely idea, dear Patricia! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me, I will definitely keep them in mind for my future stories! ❤️

  14. Really enjoyed the book but it was so sad in the beginning I despaired of a happy ending but I got it. xxxx

  15. A most fabulous job you did with this book. So very nice how you pulled things off and Alina and Theo found their happiness. Amazing how pompus Jonas was. How cruel he was. It’s hard to believe what money can bring to some.

  16. A great book. The story was so well written I could imagine the character in real life.and it kept me hooked turning the pages Judas was such a horrible cruel man and the shock of him returning from his watery grave was a real twist just when Alina was starting to find happiness with Theo I felt so sad for them both. It was a shock to read Judas turned out to be a bigamist but I was glad Alina was able use it against him and be free of him in the end so she and Theo could have their happy ever after. They both deserved it. Looking forward to your next book Thank you for a most entertaining read

  17. What a wonderful story. It is true to the situations that people experience everyday. The struggle that Alina endured while maintaining her dignity was heart wrenching. It was a good story. Thank you.

    Joanne P.

  18. Awesome Bridget simply awesome I could not put this book down it had me close to tears it was so good please keep writing your books are all so good you are my favourite author thank you so much .

  19. What a book! Theo and Alina, plus Jinx. The book held betrayal, abuse, loyalty and angst. The topics are so real and true even to now. Alina was taken in by Jonas, who had an ambitious agenda, and married him at seventeen years of age. Too young to see through his ambition to rise to the very upper-class. Which he didn’t and took it out on her. The story line was fascinating as it stayed true to course and the characters stayed true to the author’s intent, which I liked. Actually, Alina grew into herself over her love of her son, Jinx. A strong woman emerges at the very end. The epilogue was the frosting on the cake.

  20. I enjoyed the story of how a timid abused wife and Mother found her strength to stand up to an abusive husband. When Jonas was supposedly died from his ship sinking Alina had to explain to her son, Jinx, his Father had drowned and wouldn’t be coming back. Over 6 months she mourned him as a respectful wife. She went away to Brighton to get away to be with an old friend, just what she needed. I was happy for her after all the misery she went through. It was nice to see Theo came there to see is Alina and Jinx at the beach. Jinx liked Theo because he was so different from his Father. His nasty brother came to bring her back home to. I felt he was just as bad as his brother. What a twist to find out Jonas was still alive. When Jonas threw out Alina for he thought she was unfaithful and kept Jinx, I never would have thought an accident would happen to her son. I brought tears of thinking an innocent child got hurt.
    But I was glad that Alina’s friend Imogene was able to find out information on Jonas so she could get away with Jinx forever.
    Great to see there are some wonderful men out there to love a woman and her child. Love the story, couldn’t put it down.

  21. What a wonderful story! Well written, with believable characters and plot twists. I couldn’t put the book down and loved the extended epilogue. From an abused wife, to widow, to breaking out of being downtrodden, forced back to an abusive relationship, finding out that her marriage was in fact false and calling the car on it when he tried to kidnap their child, finding Theo again, I just had to continue reading to the end! Love that you have them a happily ever after with a new child in the extended epilogue.

  22. I loved this book, so different from the usual tale, wept for Alina and wanted to giuve Jonas a piece of my mind, such a fitting end for such a cruel man, It was refreshing to have a child rith throughour the story. Could not put it down until I had finished.

  23. I have loved every one of your books but this one was exceptional. It was full of so many twists and turns. So much pain but was ended with so much happiness. Those who deserved it got their just ending. Thanks for a great read.

  24. I enjoy your story line in all of your books and wish they didn’t end. I wanted to have Imogene come for a visit. And know what else was in that letter. 🙂

  25. A very good story, that moved well, with believable characters. And the editing was the best I’ve seen in your books. However I wish you would get straight on I and me after a prepositional phrase. For me, not for I.

  26. Great story and really believable characters, l have to admit that I do get annoyed by some of the gammer, nobody” drug” anybody, it should have been “dragged” l know that your American and that”British” English is a complicated language, however as the story is based in England, l believe that your proofreading should reflect this. Still a great story and l enjoy reading your books. I would enjoy them more if the proofreader did their job better. Keep writing, thank you.

  27. I loved this book. As an innocent abused by her husband, then a loving mother Alina showed her will to survive and to try to protect Jinx.. Jonas was a vicious bully and had no love for anyone but himself as most abusers do so how could she not love Theo !!
    Theo was an incredible character loving, patient, kind, but thoroughly human. I was cheering for him from the first page to the last. How satisfying it was for the three of them to finally get together and sail away to a new life in America leaving Jonas to his ruined life and eventual death when his 2nd ship sank.
    The extended dialogue was icing on the cake for me as I love to see if they have the wonderful life I wish for them. Baby Eve was the blessing they needed to complete their family.

    Altogether an exceptional book full of highs and lows that keep you engrossed until the end. Thank you Bridget Barton !!!

  28. Hi Bridget.
    Well wow, Longing for a Liberating Love was just the best. Now this one is most definitely the top dog of all the novels I have read, both yours and any one elses. It was charged with emotions from the start, what a rotten man was Jonus,and his brother was no better. Poor Alina was maligned and bullied, but even though she tried to be a good wife it was never going to happen with a numb nuts like Jonus. So glad he got his in the end, along with his wicked brother. Theo was kind and gentle and I loved having Jinx in it all the time. What a spot on kid he was and Alina was such a wonderful mother to that boy. How well written and edited your novels are. This one delivered in spades and it was so emotional throughout. The story was not only from that era, but sadly, as we all know is still relevant today. Way above top marks and thank you as usual for your spectacular and special novel. How I will miss singing your praises as an author and I suspect a special person too, once I have read all your novels. Sadly, I am almost done. You are a wonder Bridget, and I will rave about your talent to anyone who will listen. Be safe and remain healthy in this trying time.
    Regards from you devoted Aussie reader. 🌺

  29. Very interesting book and the later finding of her horrible ‘husband’ was completely unexpected – but wonderful to read. The extended epilogue was really nice to read.

  30. Enjoyed reading this story. So many of these historical novels have impossible time sequences. Yours were believable. I enjoyed trying to guess how it would end up. Never had I speculated all the twists and turns!

  31. I absolutely fell in love with. Jink. This is a marvelous story so true to life about women in that day and age. Well written one of your best. Highly recommend

  32. This gripping, poignant Romance, kept pulling at my heartstrings, holding me in agonising suspense until I reached your happy, enthralling, conclusion. Enjoyed immensely and looking forward to another amazing story.

  33. Most interesting and enjoyable read ever!!! I can usually figure out the plot of a book and who done it by the first chapter, not this time. It has been 8 hours since I read this book, and I am still smiling over the outcome. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

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