The Most Unpredicted Match – Extended Epilogue

Several Years Later

Hampshire

“Don’t hold the kitten like that, Sophia,” Tabitha scolded. “It is not a toy.”

“But I’m giving it love, Mama,” the little girl complained.

“Throttling its neck is not love, dear,” Tabitha explained, taking the shaking kitten from her daughter. “You have to learn to carry it gently. It’s only a baby.”

“Like Emma?” the girl enquired.

“Yes, like Emma,” Tabitha agreed. “But she’s a little older now and stronger. This kitten is still weak. We’ll give her back to her mother and let her get some milk.”

Sophia’s face fell. “I wanted to play with the kittens.”

“You will, but they need their mother now like you needed me when you were a baby.”

“I’m a big girl, now,” Sophia declared, taking her mother’s hand as they returned to the house.

“Yes, you are,” said Tabitha. “How old are you?”

“Four.”

“And your brother?”

“Three,” the girl replied, holding up her fingers.

Tabitha nodded. “Mhm. And what about your sister?”

Sophia scrunched up her nose as she thought about her answer. “One?”

“Precisely! Well done, my sweet. Do you still remember how to count to ten?”

“We made a song, so I can remember,” said Sophia. “Can I sing it at Grandpapa’s birthday?”

“Of course. I’m certain he will love such a wonderful surprise, but that means you have to practice so you won’t forget any of the words. Why don’t we sing it now? Grandpapa isn’t around to hear us.”

Sophia nodded eagerly. “Yes, I want to sing it now. When will Papa come home? I will sing it for him.”

“Papa is meeting his friend and will be back soon,” Tabitha promised.

Owen was having difficulty convincing the father of the woman he loved to let him marry her, so Jonathan had ridden to the rescue to discuss the matter with the older man. It was rather amusing that Owen found love in Hampshire quite unexpectedly and didn’t want to leave the area. It had taken him months to court Juliet, and now he wished to marry her.

“Will there be cake for Grandpapa’s birthday?” Sophia asked.

“Of course. We’ll have cake and all your grandfather’s favourite food. But that will only be tomorrow, so you still have time to practice your song.”

Tabitha entered the house with her daughter, brushing the piece of straw from her dress. The little girl had taken to the stray cat that lived in the stables the moment she had seen it and had been surprised when it gave birth to babies. Now, Sophia kept asking how the babies got into the cat’s stomach and whether it was the same way women had their babies. It seemed a heavy topic for a four-year-old to think about, but she was a curious little girl who liked to ask about everything. Tabitha recalled when she had fallen pregnant with Emma and Sophia had been confused that her belly kept growing. The little girl then took to trying to stuff her doll down her dress so she would look pregnant as well. Jonathan had been horrified as he didn’t want even to think about his daughter getting married one day, but it had been a source of amusement for Tabitha.

“Mama!” Jonny called, running towards her.

He tripped, landed on his knees, and got back up again as though nothing had happened. The three-year-old was accident-prone and always had scrapes and bruises on his body from all his various escapades. His favourite companion was none other than Beckham, which was a recipe for disaster because they were both clumsy and mischievous. Tabitha always had Betty watching them if she wasn’t immediately around to ensure they didn’t try to burn down the house or tie a rope around an unsuspecting victim’s legs. Jonathan had recently taught the boy how to make a knot, and despite being three, Jonny had caught on quickly and kept using his new skill on whoever he could get his tiny hands on. As a result, Tabitha had ordered all the ropes and candles to be put away to avoid any future problems, but somehow, Jonny always managed to find something to play with that was not a toy.

“Mama!” he called again, Beckham trotting behind him.

“Yes, my dear?”

“I want an ice,” he demanded.

Tabitha raised her eyebrows. “Is that any way to ask for something? Where are your manners.”

Jonny grinned. “Please, Mama.”

“After your dinner.”

“No!” the boy protested.

“Do not be naughty to Mama, Jonny, or she might disa …. uh, disappuh,” said Sophia.

“Disappear?” Tabitha asked, frowning. “Who told you that?”

“Grandpa,” the girl claimed. “He says mothers of little children disappuh if they are naughty. I don’t want you to go.”

Tabitha shook her head. Her father was scaring the children with his various stories and seemed to like getting into mischief with his grandson.

“That is not true. I will not disappear,” Tabitha assured. “I might go away for a little while if I’m very angry, but I’ll always come back because you’re my babies.”

Sophia hugged her leg while Jonny looked on with some jealousy. Tabitha laughed and held her hand out to him, watching his tiny body run towards her before he also grabbed a leg and hung on.

“I can’t walk like this,” she told them.

“I’ll take the little rascals,” Jonathan said, appearing out of nowhere.

“Papa!” the children chorused.

They let go of her legs and ran towards him, waiting their turn to be picked up. When they were both safely in his arms, he came to her for a kiss. Sophia giggled while Jonny pulled his father’s face away from her.

“You can’t kiss Mama,” he stated.

“Why not?” Jonathan asked.

The little boy didn’t answer but held his hands out to Tabitha. She took him, grinning when he gave her a wet kiss on her cheek.

“Ah, I see,” said Jonathan. “It seems we’re fighting for your affection, my love.”

Tabitha hugged her son to her. “I have more than enough affection to give everyone. How was your talk with Juliet’s father?”

Jonathan grimaced. “The old goat is quite stubborn; I’ll give him that. I think we’ve made headway with him, but we still have some way to go. Where is Emma?”

“With my mother and Grandmother,” Tabitha replied. “Sophia wanted to see the new kittens in the stable, so they insisted they would keep her with them. Have you received a letter from Charlotte yet?”

The young woman was recently married and on honeymoon, but she had hinted she might make a stop in Hampshire.

“Not yet,” said Jonathan. “She must be rather busy in Bath. My sister loves to shop, and Ewan enjoys giving her whatever she wants.”

“You’re no different. I think it’s nearly time for the children’s dinner, so I’ll take them to Betty to get washed up and ready.”

“I’ll go with you,” Jonathan insisted.

They chattered along the way with their children, ending the conversation with a promise to take one kitten home once they were old enough.

“Come, take a slow stroll with me through the garden,” said Jonathan, taking her hand. “I need some peace after debating with a headstrong man for hours.”

“Was he that bad?”

“Worse,” Jonathan said, sighing. “It seems he doesn’t want his daughter’s happiness.”

“Poor Owen. I suppose we all must go through some hardship before we can be happy. Our marriage started as a necessity to squash a scandal, but now it’s as perfect as it can be.”

Jonathan nodded. “Even our heartbreaks brought us closer together. Our happiness was birthed out of pain.”

“Perhaps the same thing has to happen to Owen,” said Tabitha.

They grew quiet, comfortable with the silence between them. When they returned to the house, Tabitha found out they had an unexpected visitor.

“Cecilia?”

The woman attempted a smile, showing a few lines around her eyes and mouth. “How are you, Tabitha?”

“Do you want me to tell her to leave?” Jonathan asked.

Tabitha stared at her sister and noticed the pride she had always worn like a coat about her was gone. Cecilia wasn’t here to fight, that much she was sure of.

“No,” Tabitha told him. “Just ensure that Papa is kept busy while I speak to my sister.”

Their father was still angry about Cecilia’s actions, but there was also a sadness in him at losing a daughter. Perhaps this was the time to bring about reconciliation for everyone.

“We’ll walk in the garden, Cecilia,” Tabitha told her.

The woman nodded. “Thank you.”

They went through the back door to avoid running into anyone else as the rest of the family was not aware Cecilia had arrived. Betty had been the one to run and inform her and Jonathan of the woman’s presence.

“How are you?” Tabitha asked her.

“I’m well, thank you. Just a little embarrassed, I suppose. I have caused our family so much grief, but I’m glad you agreed to talk to me.”

“What brings you here?” said Tabitha.

Cecilia gripped her hands until they turned white. “I wish to reconcile with my family. I’ve come to ask for forgiveness. I realised that I was young, foolish, and selfish and hurt many people. I was so caught up in my own self-worth that I ignored the feelings of others. I know that I hurt you the most.”

Tabitha said nothing. What Cecilia said was true enough, but she wanted to see if the woman was genuinely remorseful of her actions.

“I have children of my own now,” her sister said. “They made me realise how important family is. I wouldn’t want my children to fight each other and never speak to each other again. Alistair encouraged me to approach the family, but I must say it took a while before I had the courage to come here.”

Tabitha smiled. “What are your children’s names?”

“Adam and Sarah. I have another one on the way,” she said, touching her belly.

Tabitha was also pregnant with another child, but she had yet to announce it to her husband and family. She wanted it to be a surprise after their father’s celebratory dinner tomorrow.

“Are you happy?” Tabitha asked.

“Yes,” Cecilia said. “I am happy, but I continue to have an ache in my heart. I need my family, but I do not know if you will forgive me.”

Tabitha had thought about this moment long enough not to hesitate as she took her sister’s hand and squeezed it.

“I’ve forgiven you, Cecilia. It’s time to lay the past to rest and forgive all the wrongs. However, I’ll need to speak to our parents before they see you. Why don’t you come to dinner tomorrow? It’s Papa’s birthday, you see.”

“I know. I hoped to wish him a happy birthday, but I didn’t know if it would be possible.”

“Do not worry,” Tabitha assured her. “I’ll convince them to speak with you tomorrow. Come with your husband and children. It will soften their hearts to see their grandchildren for the first time.”

Cecilia took Tabitha by surprise when she threw her arms around her neck and held her close, her quiet sobs the only noise she made. Tabitha’s eyes grew wet as well as she patted her sister’s back, glad they had finally resolved their differences. Now, it was just for the rest of the family to forgive her.

***

Tabitha waited anxiously by the window, hoping her sister made it on time. She had told her to come at least an hour before dinner, but she was already late by thirty minutes.

“I do not think she’s coming,” Jonathan whispered.

“She is,” Tabitha argued. “I’m certain of it. I’ve already tilled the ground in my parents’ hearts; now it’s just for Cecilia to come and speak to them. I know how much they miss her, but Papa is too stubborn to admit it, and Mama goes ahead with whatever he says.”

“I think we should go to the dining room,” Mrs Beauchamp said. “We wouldn’t want the meat to grow cold.”

“Just one moment longer, Mama,” Tabitha begged.

“Why?” the woman asked. “What or who are we waiting for?”

Just then, a carriage appeared, making Tabitha sigh in relief. “It won’t be long now. If you will excuse me?”

She left the parlour and ran to the front door, flinging it open. She was just as eager to see her sister again and meet her niece and nephew and hoped everyone else would welcome the family.

The carriage stopped, and Alistair jumped out first to help Cecilia down. He stretched inside and came out with a little girl who immediately demanded to be carried by her mother, followed by a boy who didn’t want his father’s help to get down. Unfortunately, the carriage was too high and the step too low for him to jump down without hurting himself, so Alistair ignored his protests and put him on the ground. Tabitha went to them, smiling to welcome them.

“I’m glad you’ve finally arrived,” she said. “Did something delay you?”

“Sarah couldn’t find her stuffed bear,” Cecilia said apologetically. “We had to look through the house to find it.”

Tabitha noticed the bear clutched in the girl’s hands. “What a pretty bear, Sarah. What is its name?”

“Mr Pumpkin,” the girl replied.

“Oh, what a lovely name!” Tabitha exclaimed and crouched to meet the boy. “How are you, Adam? You look a lot like your Papa.”

“Who is she, Mama?” Sarah asked.

“This is your aunty, my dear,” Cecilia replied. “Aunt Tabitha.”

“You can call me Aunt Tabby,” Tabitha insisted. “That is what your mama always called me.”

Sarah suddenly held her hands out to her. “I want you, Aunty Tabby.”

Tabitha and Cecilia teared up as she took the little girl, planting a kiss on her plump cheek. The only person she had yet to greet was standing by quietly and seemed uncomfortable.

“How are you, Alistair?” Tabitha asked.

“Well, thank you,” he said, clearing his throat. “Thank you for inviting us.”

“You’re family, and it’s about time we all come together. Let’s go inside. They’re all in the parlour.”

The family followed behind her, some reluctance and trepidation on Alistair and Cecilia’s faces. Tabitha told them to wait a little while outside the room so she could take the children inside first and introduce them to their parents. They agreed, clutching each other’s hands tightly. Taking a deep breath, Tabitha walked inside with her niece and nephew, bringing the room to a standstill.

“Whose children are they, dear?” Grandmother asked.

“They’re Adam and Sarah, Cecilia’s children,” Tabitha replied. She let that sink in for a moment before continuing, “They’ve come to meet their grandparents. Adam, Sarah, go and greet your grandmother and grandfather.”

Tabitha’s mother immediately teared up and took the children into her arms while her father looked on with misty eyes.

“Papa, will you not greet them?” Tabitha asked.

“You’re my Grandpapa?” Sarah asked, looking up at the old man.

Mr Beauchamp nodded, scooping the girl up and placing her on his lap. “I am. It’s nice to meet you.”

Tabitha breathed a sigh of relief, but it wasn’t quite over yet. “There are just two more people who would like to see you.”

She went to the door and asked her sister and Alistair to come inside. They walked in with their heads down, undoubtedly nervous about what might happen.

“No more fighting,” Tabitha declared. “No more grudges and ill feelings for the sake of our children. We’re a family first, and we’re supposed to love each other unconditionally. Will you choose what is right, or will you continue to be unhappy?”

It took a moment for someone to make the first move, but Mrs Beauchamp rose from her seat, still holding her grandson in her arms.

“How are you, dear?” she asked Cecilia.

Cecilia looked up. “I’m well, Mama. I just miss my family, and I’m so sorry for all I have done.”

Tears poured down their mother’s face as she nodded and held her hand to her eldest daughter. Cecilia went without hesitation, but she stopped when she saw their father had not made a move.

“Papa?” Cecilia said, her voice small.

Mr Beauchamp closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. “Welcome home, child.”

It became one big, happy reunion as everyone asked questions, cried, and hugged until the children were quite bewildered. Tabitha offered to take them to the nursery where the other children were, knowing they had not fallen asleep yet. Sophia, Jonny, and Emma would meet their cousins, and hopefully, get along with them. Jonathan followed behind her, taking Adam’s hand from her.

“Well done, my love,” he said. “Bringing in the children first was genius.”

“It was the best way to soften their hearts. What grandparent does not melt at the sight of their grandchildren?”

They left Adam and Sarah in the nursery and slowly walked back to the parlour with Jonathan’s arms draped around Tabitha’s shoulders.

Jonathan agreed. “Everything has worked out well, and the family is whole again. I no longer have any hard feelings towards Cecilia and just want her to be happy.”

“I know something else that will make you happy,” she said.

“You and our children make me happy.”

“Yes, but this is something new.”

Jonathan frowned at her. “You’re not going to make me guess what it is, are you?”

“I am, but I will give you a good clue,” she told him. “Give me your hand.”

Tabitha laid his palm against her belly, looking up at him to see if he understood.

“Another baby?” he asked in wonder.

“Mhm. You’re going to be a father. Again. Do you think you can handle four children?”

Jonathan answered her by lifting her clear off the floor before giving her a thorough kiss that left her breathless.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” she said, laughing.

Jonathan pulled her closer and held her tight. “Thank you, my love. Thank you for everything.”

As Tabitha snuggled into her husband’s arms, she couldn’t think of a better ending to an eventful day.

THE END


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57 thoughts on “The Most Unpredicted Match – Extended Epilogue”

  1. A great story of family responsibilities and endearing love. It shows how different children can be, even from the same family. Some children take responsibility seriously, while other push it onto others. This story showed strength of character and true love. I laughed and cried through the whole story. Thank you for such a wonderful reading experience, Bridget Barton. (P.S. – I loved the extended epilogue and how the love of family was shown. Thank you.)

  2. This is a wonderful story full of forgiveness, patience, understanding and love. The extended epilogue gives an excellent opportunity to look into the beauty of love children can manage with their innocence. Beautiful story and definitely amazing characters. Absolutely a must read. I loved the beautiful but hard line of events. This is absolutely excellent written book. Congratulations!

  3. What a great ending! This story brought so many tears to my eyes! So much heartbreak for one family but in time it all comes together.

  4. This is a heartfelt story with forgiveness and family love and steadfast love The extended epilogue is wonderful

  5. What a great story of bravery, love, stupidity, honor, shame…. it has everything including the ultimate HEA.

  6. I did not enjoy reading this story and almost gave up reading it. The hero was so dim witted, and so dense when the heroine’s sister Cecilia was so evil. Not only evil, but totally nerve racking evil and there he was taking it all in almost till the end! Couldn’t believe how long it took him to wake up, the angst of a reader was so frustrating. Tabitha who was so adorable did not deserve to end up with the hero at all, she was better off with the secondary suitor, Peter. At least he had more gumption and was also funny.

  7. I did not enjoy reading this story and almost gave up reading it. The hero was so weak when the heroine’s sister Cecilia was so evil. Not only evil, but totally nerve racking evil and there he was taking it all in almost till the end! Couldn’t believe how long it took him to wake up, building on the angst of a reader to shake him up. Tabitha who was so adorable did not deserve to end up with the hero at all, she was better off with the secondary suitor, Peter. At least he had more gumption and was also funny.

  8. I enjoyed this book. People can be blind to the truth, but these people finally realized it. Hope we all can.

  9. I loved this romance! So many losses and shock that affected everyone. Tabitha was the loving joy who helped so many people heal. Bridget, this is one of your best stories!

  10. I just loved this book. I wanted hit Jonathan with a 2×4. He was so blind and couldn’t wait until he woke up. The end brought tears to my eyes that this family found in their hearts to forgive. I like the way you write and cannot wait to start another one

  11. Loved this book , it made me want to jump in and protect Tabatha myself from her sister and then her husband but it all worked out . Thanks for this wonderful read .

  12. I enjoyed this story very much. Tabitha was my favorite character because she was so strong and persistent, and despite her “loveless” marriage, she continued to love Jonathan. On the other hand, I was EXTREMELY disappointed in Jonathan for dreaming of a love lost without seeing and appreciating Tabitha for the wonderfully caring woman she was. I found myself yelling out loud to Jonathan, “to wake up and see the woman who loved him no matter what”. I highly recommend this book to others, and I hope my next read will be as good!!

  13. What a story. I wanted to give Jonathan a swift kick and then remembered that some men are just stupid. Thankfully, he finally came to his senses. Cecelia was a real bi*ch. Loved the epilough.

  14. I loved this story and was unable to put it down. The characters were so well written that I could actually see them all in my mind’s eye. Thank you so much for the pleasure this story brought to me and I shall certainly be looking out for more from this author. Thank you Bridget.

  15. I enjoyed this book very much, but I was becoming so frustrated with Jonathan I wanted to whack him on the head and tell him to wake up. I loved the ending, how all the family came together and they forgave Cecellia after all she had done. It was a fitting end, I will be waiting for the next book, hope it’s not too long before it’s released.

  16. What a wonderful journey of patience, forgiveness and inspiring love. This is a wonderful story full of doubtful feelings and inspiring ending. The extended epilogue gives a beautiful ending to the story. Beautifully written and detailed in the end Al worked out beautifully. Great job!

  17. This book was a roller coaster of emotions, but I enjoyed it very much. I really didn’t want to put the book down and go to bed. I would love to read a book 2 and 3 from different characters’ perspectives. Maybe we could learn about Johnathan’s little sister’s life, and we could read more about what happened to Cecilia.

  18. Please don’t listen to Thelma! How many books has she had published. my mother used to say “if you can’t say something nice, keep quiet! This was a well told story with a wonderful ending. Tabitha deserved her happy ending, love always wins out and civility costs nothing. Thanks for an entertaining read

  19. This was a lovely story. Tabitha who was so young dealt with the strange circumstances with such maturity. Jonathan was a total blockhead who just had no clue about how to behave. Fortunately he came to his senses eventually. Cecilia was so obnoxious and manipulative and deserved a harsher punishment. The epilogue was nice where everyone reconciled.

  20. I loved this book. Life is not a fairytale. There are ups and downs in life that have to be delt with along the way. Jonathan’s inability to see the truth is an important life lesson. I would also like to say that Jonathan was away when Cecilia met and ran away with her soldier. Jonathan was not there to see Cecilia move away from him and to another. As Jonathan said toward the end, he thought love was chaos and high emotions not peace, laughter, trust and caring. Tabitha’s steady love and caring helped Jonathan understand in the end. Great characters, dialogue and twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down. 🙂

  21. That was a good and challenging story. Cecelia was not a nice person. She left Jonathon and married another man. She thought she could get Jonathon back even though she knew that her sister Tabitha had already married him. What a spoilt and stupid woman. I am glad Tabitha and her husband Jonathon fell in love with each other. It’s a pity Jonathon didn’t see how much Tabitha loved him until he almost lost her.
    Tabitha had such a big heart and she was able to forgive her sister and made a way for Cecelia to reconcile with their parents and the whole family.

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