Loving the Wrong Viscount – Extended Epilogue

Four years later …

The carriage rumbled up the long, familiar drive. Hannah, who’d been enjoying a few hours’ well-deserved sleep, jerked awake as the carriage drove over a particularly vicious pothole.

Opposite, Luke grimaced. “I see Mother and Father haven’t got round to fixing the drive yet.”

Hannah chuckled. “Why would they? They’re hardly here these days. They have their sweet little cottage in the country to live out their golden years.”

“I’d hardly call Sterling House a cottage, but you are right.”

The little boy curled against Hannah’s side came to life, stretching out his chubby little limbs and blinking all around.

“Mama, Papa, are we there yet?” he enquired, his childish voice high.

Hannah ran a hand through his hair, nut brown like his mother’s. “Very nearly, Timothy. Are you excited to see Grandmama and Grandpapa again?”

Timothy nodded furiously. “And Alice?”

“Alice will be there too. She’s walking now, I hear,” Luke added. “Beatrice wrote to me the other day. She’s tremendously proud. William seems to think that his daughter is the only child to ever learn to walk, judging by his reaction. I am looking forward to seeing them all.”

Timothy stood up on his knees, peering out the window. The carriage turned a corner, and Evington Manor came into view. Timothy gasped.

He’d never been to Evington Manor before. They’d always met at Hannah and Luke’s home, a modest house on the Evington estate, or in Beatrice and William’s countryseat, or at Sterling House.

“Mama, look at how big it is!” he gasped. “How will we know where to go?”

“Your Mama and I know Evington Manor very well,” Luke assured him. “Oh, and there is a treehouse in the back garden. If you promise to be very careful, you will be allowed to play in it.”

“With Alice?”

“I think Alice might be a little too small for treehouses. But your Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Benedict will be very keen to play with you.”

Timothy beamed happily, leaning out of the carriage to watch the house approach.

“This is going to be a very good summer, I can tell!” he said enthusiastically, and his two parents exchanged smiles.

The carriage rumbled on, the road levelling out as they approached the grand old house. Two figures stood out to meet them on the steps.

Grinning, Luke all but tumbled out of the carriage, hurrying forward to embrace his parents.

“Mother, Father, it’s wonderful to see you!” he greeted them, kissing his mother’s cheek.

Eleanor and Robert had aged, of course, but Robert’s health had improved greatly. He’d been very anxious during the first year of Luke and Hannah’s marriage, clearly concerned that it would turn out to be a mistake, that one or both of them would suddenly realise just how unhappy they were.

When it became clear that there was to be no such realisation, Robert began to relax. He was thrilled at the birth of his grandson, and both he and Eleanor were there to comfort their son and daughter-in-law through the tragedy that occurred one year later.

The family were ushered inside, Robert picking Timothy up and settling him on his shoulders.

Beatrice and William were already inside, cooing over their golden-haired, blue-eyed little girl, Alice, who burbled and waved her chubby hands with delight.

Benedict lounged in the corner, talking to a friend that Hannah and Luke did not recognise.

“Hello, Benedict!” Luke greeted. “How are your travels!”

“Oh, I have such stories to tell you. This is Captain Philip Evans, by the way, the gentleman I travel with. It’s his ship,” Benedict added, glancing up at his tall, handsome companion with a smile. The dark-haired Captain Evans gave a neat bow.

“Still not married, Benedict?” Luke asked, and Benedict chuckled, glancing up at the captain.

“Neither me nor Philip are the marrying kind, Luke. Marriage is all very well, but I can’t settle down when there is a whole world out there to see.”

“Very well said. As is it, the rest of us will have to eagerly hang on your every word when you tell your daring stories. Have you any for us now?”

“Stories to curl your hair, Lord Sternford,” Captain Evans said, his voice deep and gravelly. “Benedict suggests we save them for dinner.”

Luke chuckled. “I can hardly wait. Oh, and please call me Luke, Captain Evans. This is an informal family gathering.”

The captain smiled. “Then you’d better call me Philip.”

Hannah slipped her arm through Luke’s. “It’s good to meet you, Philip. Any friend of Benedict’s is welcome in our family. I look forward to getting to you know you better. For now, however, I plan to drag my errant husband out for a walk – I need to stretch my legs after that long carriage ride.”

“I shall watch Timothy, if you like,” Eleanor offered.

“Thank you, that would be wonderful.”

Hannah and Luke exchanged smiles and made their way out onto the terrace. For a few moments, they just stood there, breathing in the clean, fresh air, and marvelling at the beauty of the gardens.

“You know, it feels as though this place hasn’t changed at all,” Luke mused. “We’ve changed, though.”

Hannah rested her hand on his arm. “For the better, though.”

“I agree. It’s hard to believe that I’m a father. A father, and a husband. More than once, I thought … well, it doesn’t matter what I thought.” Luke glanced fondly down at her. “Shall we go to our place?”

Hannah glanced archly up at him. “You mean the clearing? The place where I crept down at a ridiculous hour before my work began, simply to meet you?”

“Now, here I was thinking that you just wanted to read your poetry books in peace.”

“Don’t you mean your poetry books? Don’t you think I could have read them up in my room?”

Luke chuckled. “That is an excellent point.”

They stepped into the clearing and took a moment to take it all in. The space was the same, perhaps with the woods hemming in a little closer these days. Flowers carpeted the forest floor, lush and beautiful.

The bench stood where it always had, with a few vines climbing up the arms now. In a few years, it would look like some sort of fairy-seat, reclaimed by the forest.

For now, though, it still belonged to Hannah and Luke. They moved wordlessly over to the bench, not needing to consult each other, and sat down, side by side.

From here, they could catch glimpses of the old treehouse through the trees.

Luke smiled. “It’s as if we never left. Tell me, Hannah, are you still as happy now as you were the day we met?”

“Oh, far happier. When we met, I was exhausted, treated like a slave, and I thought I could never have you. You were so far above my reach.”

“I was never above your reach,” Luke said stoutly. “I was yours from the moment we met, we just didn’t know it yet.”

Hannah leaned against him, resting her head against his shoulder. “What about you? Are you happy?”

“I’m surprised you have to ask. Of course I am. I couldn’t be happier. The only time in our marriage I’ve been unhappy was when …” Luke trailed off. Hannah swallowed, nodding.

The memory of their second child, who ought to have been born a year after Timothy, was still raw. They’d been convinced that she would be a daughter, and had a name chosen all ready. They had decided on Rose.

Hannah had miscarried, and what a horrible night that had been. She was ill, and of course the baby was lost.

It had been a girl. Rose’s tiny bundle of wasted life was buried in the back garden, and the doctor softly told them that it was unlikely Hannah could conceive again, after that ordeal.

Be grateful that you have your son, he said. Cherish the boy.

And cherish him they had.

“She would be two years old now,” Hannah murmured. “I sometimes wonder if …”

“No, Hannah, no. You mustn’t start thinking about whether you did something wrong. You did nothing wrong, and I can’t bear to hear you blame yourself. There was nothing else you could have done. Nothing.”

Hannah swallowed, nodding. “I know. The fact is, Luke, I brought you out here to break some rather surprising news.”

She straightened up, turning to look him in the eye. Luke’s breath caught in his throat.

“Well, what is it?”

“I waited to tell you, just … just in case, you know. I’ve paid several visits to the doctor, just to be absolutely sure. He’s as surprised as you will be, but the point is that everything is fine, and everything is going to be fine.”

Luke chewed his lip, searching his wife’s face for clues. “What are you talking about, Hannah? Are you ill? You’re scaring me now.”

Hannah gave a soft laugh. “I’m pregnant again, Luke.”

Luke drew in a sharp breath. “But the doctor said there wouldn’t be any more babies.”

Hannah shrugged. “I know. I’m as surprised as you, and so was he. I’m five months along, which is later than when I lost Rose. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed – I’ve been putting on flesh like nobody’s business.”

Luke snorted. “We both put on flesh since we married. It’s supposed to be a sign of happiness.”

Hannah smiled fondly, leaning forward to kiss him. “Anyway, I just know that everything is going to be alright. It is going to be alright. I know you, Luke, and I daresay you’ll worry nonstop until the baby is safely born and we’re both well, but I just know that it’s going to be alright.”

“If you say so,” Luke said, grinning. “I’m not one to argue with your instincts.” He dropped his hand to the curve of her belly, noticing its roundness for the first time. “What do you think? Another little girl?”

Hannah considered, tilting her head to one side. “Hm, no. I have a feeling that it will be a second boy. Perhaps we’ll have a girl later, or perhaps three children are all we’ll be gifted with, and little Rose will be our only girl. But no, I think it’s a boy.”

“I will be thrilled regardless.”

“I know. I believe it’s my turn to choose the name, too.”

“What were you thinking?”

“Well, you wouldn’t let me have Edith after Aunt Edith, so I thought of Thomas, after my Uncle Thomas. I admire him very much, and they do say you should name your children after men and women you would like them to resemble.”

“Thomas Sterling,” Luke said thoughtfully. “Thomas and Timothy. I like it.”

“It’s decided, then?”

Luke snorted. “You are the one who births the child. I really do think that you should get the final say in the child’s name. Frankly, I don’t know how you women do it.”

Hannah grimaced. “It’s not enjoyable. But the baby is worth it.”

“I shall have to take your word on that.” Luke wrapped his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Boy or girl, I will love it the same,” he murmured. “And whether we only have the two children, or twenty, I will love you and my wonderful, wonderful family the same.”

Hannah chuckled. “Twenty children, you say.”

“Well, perhaps twenty is a bit excessive.”

“A bit?”

The sun began to set slowly on Evington Manor, bathing the gardens in a magical golden light. Hannah and Luke sat side by side, talking idly about the past, present, and future. They talked of their children, of the books they’d read, their family, their friends, the rigours of Society, the unfairness directed towards the working class.

It’s a strange phenomenon that two people who love each other – husband and wife, family members, friends, and so on – never quite run out of things to say, no matter how much talking they do. Hannah and Luke were two of these lucky people.

True love isn’t to be sniffed it. It’s difficult to find, and surprisingly hard to keep. But it’s a flame that can’t be extinguished, something powerful, something stronger than its fragile frame would suggest.

Or so Hannah said. She had a very poetic way of describing things, Luke said.

They talked and talked until the sun went down a little further, and the golden light turned cool and chilly, the stars coming to life above them, one by one. Hand in hand, they returned to the grand house behind them, where lights were winking on in the windows. The door opened as they approached, warmth and light and chatter spilling out from inside.

Hannah and Luke paused on the threshold, turning to each other for a quick, heartfelt kiss.

“I love you, Hannah,” Luke murmured. “Now and forever.”

Hannah smiled up at him, her dimples appearing. “And I love you. Even though you are a noble. Nobody’s perfect, after all.”

THE END


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22 thoughts on “Loving the Wrong Viscount – Extended Epilogue”

  1. I noticed when she wrote her letter to Luke after she moved in with her father she addressed it as My Dear Robert. I don’t know if it’s too late to change it.
    I really enjoyed the book and the descriptions were good enough could envision everything.

  2. I noticed when Hannah wrote her first letter to Luke after she moved back with her father she started it as My Dear Robert. I enjoyed the book and could picture it because of the good description.

  3. Delightful story of love and triumph over snobbery. Hannah and Luke proved that they were meant to be. Lady Katherine and het mother were truly horrible, I definitely would not have been able to work for them. Keep these wonder stories coming.

  4. Excellent. Held my interest making it a fast read. Looking forward to your next book.

  5. Fantastic! I really enjoyed this book. Lady Katherine and her mother were truly horrible, but everything worked out well in the end this book is well worth the read. Can’t wait for the next story

  6. Brilliant book which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. I always look forward to reading the extended epilogue. I cannot wait to start reading your next story. If I were to have one complaint, it would be that once I start to read your books, I simply cannot stop reading until I reach the end, of course I then have to read the extended epilogues!!

  7. I enjoyed reading about the courtship of Hannah and Luke. Everyone need to work in order to have food, shelter, clothing, etc. But, no one should work for employers who beat them, throw things to hit them, or make them work unbelievable hours. I was disappointed that Luke didn’t give Hannah a chance to explain the Percy situation. However, the story ended well!FF

  8. This is a good romance story and glad they were able to be together and find happiness

  9. I enjoyed the book. It is hard to believe that some of the “nobles” would treat their servants so cruelly. I’m glad Hannah stood up to Mrs Stevens and was happy to see that love wo in the end.

  10. Another winner! I loved the spin on this story. Bridget has given us another. Tremendous novel to thoroughly enjoy and I could hardly put it down! I hated how unjust servants were treated, but, in the end came out alright. Thank you Bridget for yet another excellent read! You rock!

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