A Lord’s Unspoken Promise – Extended Epilogue

Three Years Later…

The day had started like any other.

Violet had woken that morning beside Rhys, who had snuck his way into her room during the night. This had become a habit of his. A habit Violet was glad he had as she was equally eager to share the bed with her husband, despite the queer looks from the staff. It had begun a year ago when they had received news of Rhys’s father’s passing.

The former Duke of Winthrope had surprised them all in the end. He had defied the odds after Violet and Rhys’s wedding; and lived an additional two years past expectation. Those around the duke had suggested it was Rhys’s marriage that had done the trick, and that it had given the duke some final impetus to live long enough to see a grandchild. 

Violet was glad. She had been delighted to meet the duke, and their relationship had blossomed once she had become his daughter-in-law. Malcolm Winthrope had lived, breathed, and laboured duty. He had shown himself to be a tender man with a level-head and excellent taste in books. He had not been perfect; no one was. He could be cruel towards Rhys on the days where his health faltered. He ate too much when he was hail. He had a clear view of the world, and nothing, not even his son, would deter him from it. But Violet was glad for every imperfection because he had taught her what it took to lead a family. 

Of course, Violet did considerably less, leaving that to her husband. For that too, she was glad. Rhys had taken to the tile of duke like a new-born deer. He had all the suave to pull it off but none of the confidence. His cousin Jackson had been instrumental in that regard, teaching Rhys what he knew. He came to work alongside him as the estate manager, despite having four lovely daughters at home to keep him busy.

Rhys had said once after his cousin’s departure for the evening, “Jackson has spent his entire life worried about tending to a wife and family, but I have never seen any man approach anything more naturally.”

Violet had not said it at the time, but she had disagreed.

Nothing is more natural than seeing you where you belong: in love, in charge of a dukedom, doing exactly as you please.

Now Violet was turning onto her side in bed. She tucked her folded hands beneath her head and gazed longingly at her sleeping husband. Three months in, and she had yet to come to terms with Rhys’s beard. He kept it short, thank heavens, neatly trimmed and sharp. It made him look ten years older than he was, and Violet suspected that was the point. His face was otherwise too boyishly handsome to be taken seriously. His youthful dark brown eyes and playful mouth were features she could no longer imagine living without.

“How do you expect a man to sleep in these conditions?”

Violet flinched back, and her hand shot to her chest. Before she could argue that she had not been watching him, Rhys pulled her into him and held her close. His body meshed with hers like they were the only two pieces of a puzzle. Violet rolled her head in the crook of his neck to conceal her mischievous smile. 

He mumbled his plans for the day into her hair. “Meeting with the solicitors about the property in Angers this afternoon… Luncheon with Jackson and your father at the club… A long night of admiring my wife to cap things off.”

With each item, Violet nodded. With the last, she kissed him. 

After they had managed to tear themselves from one another, Violet rang the bell for her lady’s maid. Soon, she was groomed and garbed for the day ahead. Lavishly, as was expected of her as the new Duchess of Winthrope.

She stood and inspected herself in the tall standing mirror of her dressing room. Her fingers ran along the beaded waistline of her gown, up into her twisted hair, and through her ringlets. Against all odds, she loved the woman she had become. It was far from the life she had imagined for herself: alone, touring the world, not bound to anything or anyone; and yet so much better.

Still, Violet continued to advocate for her independence in small ways. She had a bedroom that was separate from Rhys’s and her own study. Her mornings were her own, no callers, no functions. She was in charge of the library. Three times a year they were off on a new adventure; once a year she travelled on her own.

And there was the matter of her writing…

She wound through the house, a feat in and of itself given the size of Winthrope Court and entered the breakfast room. While most wives chose to take their breakfast in their rooms, Violet had chosen differently. She loved watching Rhys consider his post, sparing what time he could before his day was underway to speak with her. They had been married over three years, but every day he delighted her. She supposed that was the good thing about lovers who were able to challenge one another. There was never a dull moment. 

She was being served her tea when the butler stopped beside her, having just delivered the duke’s post. He was holding a packet of some sort in his gloved hands, bound with paper and twine. From the shape of it, Violet didn’t have to ask to know what it was.

“Is that it?” Rhys said, surging from his seat as Violet did. “I thought they weren’t sending the book for weeks.”

She unwrapped the package as quickly as she could, then held it up proudly. Her cheeks hurt from how much she was smiling. Rhys circled the breakfast table and came to look over her shoulder.

“V. A. Irons… You’ve done it again.”

Running her fingers over the book’s embossed title, The Rise of Family Babin, Violet gave a little shiver. 

Her first book had been a whopping success. Bells of Babette Babin, it had been titled, in which a young aristocratic French woman had found herself implicated in a string of grisly murders in London. Minerva Press had been eager for Violet to pen a sequel, or a prequel, anything to capitalise off of the success of the first. She had taken to the task gladly, backed by Rhys at every turn. The writing had taken longer for the second instalment, though with her marriage, and her ascension, and other distractions, the publishing house had understood.

“I am so proud of you, Vi,” Rhys said, his hand running circles on her back. “May I?”

“Of course, my darling.” Violet handed him the book, and Rhys took it with him to his side of the table. “But if you get any jam on it, I shall plead lunacy and divorce you on the spot.”

A set of footsteps sounded from behind her, and Violet turned on her heel. As expected, their nurse had arrived with Theodore, who was still rubbing his eyes from sleep, a thumb in his mouth.

Violet’s heart surged again for the arrival of her son, twice as hard. She left the table and took Theo from the nurse’s arms, thanking her for having brought him down. It was almost unheard of for children to have free reign of their homes, but Violet would have things no other way. She was not prepared to lock her son up in his nursery for hours on end. Where Violet went, so did Theo. 

He was two years old at that point and managed to babble a few words, but he was otherwise quiet. Violet wondered from whom he had inherited his shyness. It was certainly not her, and certainly not her husband. When she looked into Theodore’s face, the answer was there waiting for her. 

Her son was the picture of Rhys’s late father, with dark hair and rounded cheeks, only his eyes belonged to her father, bright, blue, and curious. 

“He will be a thinker,” Violet had said at his birth, clutching her babe tight to her breast. “Do you not see it in his eyes, Rhys? He will be a philosopher, or a traveller. Not that it matters, as long as he is happy.”

With her son hanging on her hip, Violet moved to Rhys’s side of the table. Arms outstretched, her husband welcomed Theo into his lap, then proceeded to finish sifting through his post. Theo’s head was barely visible over the top of the table, bobbing up and down on Rhys’s knee, and Violet laughed softly as she continued with her breakfast from opposite them.

Rhys read the first chapter of her book in silence, and she was proud to see him so enraptured. This was the man who had spent years touring the most culturally rich cities in the world, who now read almost more than her, who had opinions on art and life that inspired her. If he enjoyed her book, she considered the manuscript a victory. 

“I was wondering whether Theo and I should call on the Beaufort house this afternoon, ahead of our dinner tonight.” She took a bite of her toast, smiling as Theo stole the bread from Rhys’s plate and did the same. “The weather is fair, and I know Aunt Helena will want for company now that Rose is gone and married.”

“Oh?” Rhys quirked a brow and put the book down. He leaned down to kiss the top of his son’s head. “I was under the impression your Aunt Helena was glad to have her house back to herself after all these years.”

“She says that, but I know it is not true, especially with Mother and Father so often in Hampshire these days.” Violet sighed and wiped her mouth. “Yes, I do believe it will all do us a tremendous amount of good to gather this evening. It has been so long since we have dined with Rose and Freddy, especially.”

It was no wonder. In the end, it had taken Rose two Seasons to find a husband worthy of her. Frederick Hartle was the second son of an earl, a former officer in the army, and he liked the ton as much as Rose did… which was to say, “not at all.” He was a year younger than Rose and was strong and reserved, though it was clear as day that he loved the bones of Violet’s sister. She could tell Rose felt the same, always looking up at him like he was a star in the sky; the same way Violet regarded Rhys, with absolute love.

“I wonder whether he still does that funny thing with his hands,” Rhys commented. He looked up from the letter he had been reading and brushed the top of his beard in imitation. “Just like this, when he speaks.”

“I am sure that was only a nervous tic. Anyone would be quite nervous meeting you for the first time, Your Grace.”

“Anyone except for you.” Rhys laughed through his grin. “If I recall correctly, you were anything but nervous when first we met.”

“Of course.” Violet shrugged, playing that little feigning game of theirs. “You were nothing to me but a common vagabond.”

“Is that right?” Rhys asked. He laughed heartily and whispered into Theo’s ear. “Did you hear that, son? Can you believe the terrible things your mama thinks of me?”

Thought,” Violet corrected. “If I had known who you were, I am sure I would have acted appropriately.”

“I am not convinced, and that gladdens me,” Rhys said. “I loved you exactly as you were, exactly as you are.”

THE END


Readers who read this book also liked

29 thoughts on “A Lord’s Unspoken Promise – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Hello my dear readers! I hope you enjoyed the book and how the story concluded for Violet and Rhys! Was there any scene you would single out as your favorite? I can’t wait to read your comments here! Thank you – always! 🌺

  2. Another book I couldn’t put down. Such a delight! I love that they both realized that they were so much more than they though of themselves. Great work Bridget

  3. A lovely story. Strong women of the day were rare, though so many wanted their independence. So glad that Violet found her freedom and her love.

  4. This is exactly the kind of story I love to read. It gave the reader an insight into their married life instead of ending with the wedding as so many of them do. Loved everything about this book.

  5. An interesting mixture of being able to guess what happens next and being surprised by something unexpected. Looking forward to another of your books. Keep up the great storytelling.

  6. Amazing how, as in everyone’s life, what Rhys and Violet had planned for their lives changed entirely when they fell in love, much to their everlasting happiness. Lovely, entirely believable characters who had me cheering for them every step of the way.

  7. I enjoyed this love story of two very independent people afraid of commitment but in the end found that they were stronger together.

  8. I finished this book as I finish all of yours that I have read: with a big smile. I enjoy your books so much and thank you for sharing your talent wit us, your readers.

  9. True love is helping to me make each other a better person, and then growing together, yet still allowed the other their “freedom.”
    Loved the challenging vocabulary. I read extensively, but still locked up a few words to make sure I didn’t misunderstand the meaning. Great work.

  10. I loved how Violet was a strong woman and would not give up on her dreams, especially given how women were viewed and treTed in those times. I think my favorite part was when Rhys left but realized how much he actually loved Violet, seeing all those Violets in that field. Ethereal ! Thank you Bridget for another wonderful derful story!

  11. Bridget,another winner,Vi and Rhys are the perfect pieces to the sweet love story!My favorite part is when Rhys find himself in the beautiful pasture of wild flowers with Violets. He feels his mothers present,made my eyes tear,now he is ready to admit he LOVES VIOLET!!!! I also was happy that Rhys father was able to be part of their life and see his grandson before he passed.The best part is that Violet and Rose stayed close and Rose found her true love also!Now I’m off to another one of you enjoyable novel to keep me happy!Please keep them coming Bridget!

    1. Dear Barbara, I’m delighted you loved Vi and Rhys’s story, especially the poignant moments. Your support means the world! I’m already hard at work on the next novel – stay tuned for more happiness!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *