A Lady’s Tantalising Portrait – Extended Epilogue

Two Years Later

Yours truly, Rachel. 

Dropping the quill pen on the blotter after writing a long letter to her parents, Rachel placed a weight on the corner to let the ink dry, then stood to go and check the crib just across the room. Her newborn son, Noah was sleeping peacefully in his swaddling clothes. His plump ruddy cheeks and wild cowlick of his dark hair made her smile. 

The soft tread of William’s boots had her turning. His astute eyes took in the scene and he smiled knowingly. “Admiring our son again?”

“How could I not?” Rachel tilted her head to accept his kiss. “He’s beautiful.” 

“He takes after you,” William said while resting a hand on the table and quickly reading her letter. “Sweetheart, are you sure about this? Do you want your parents here after all they had done to you?”

“It’s been two years,” Rachel said, pulling away from the crib. “Surely they have realized that it is not worth it to hold unto a grudge like this for so long?”

“I don’t know,” William said. “Your parents seem to be the sort of people who will hold unto a slight until reckoning day.”

Deeming the ink dry, Rachel folded the letter and slid into an envelope. “If they choose to hold onto the grudge then that is their loss. I have extended the olive branch. If they choose to break it, I am not the one who is going to be judged.”

Resting a kiss on her cheek, William said, “I hope so.”

***

Three days later while Rachel was having tea with Jane, who had in fact been dismissed from the Hurstmere house the night the morning of the botched marriage ceremony, Mrs. Wright came to them. 

“My Lady,” she said. “I believe your parents are here.”

She jolted a little but managed to set the cup down and stood. Nervously, she brushed down  her skirts. “Thank you, Missus Wright. Please, arrange a tray of tea and sandwiches for us, thank you.”

Jane stood as well, “Shall I stay with you.”

“I think you should see Noah until I call you down,” Rachel said nervously. “Let’s take it a little by little.”

While Jane headed upstairs, Rachel went to the door, but before she opened it, she whispered a little prayer. She opened the door and her gaze landed on her parents, both clad in somber blue coats and dark scarves. She expected to see harsh caustic expressions on their faces, but shockingly enough, she did not see it.

Instead, her mother looked tired, and wan, with dark circles under her eyes and her father even more so. “Mother, Father…” she swallowed over a sudden lump in her throat. “Welcome to my home. Please come in.”

“Rachel,” her mother said while she crossed the threshold. “I am so happy to see you.”

“I know, mother,” Rachel said. “Far too long. Father, how are you?”

“We—” he shook his head. “We’ve come because we realized that a lot of things that we said in our last meeting should not have been said, and that the ones that we should have, took us two years to realize them.”

Was that an apology…or the beginning of one?

“We’ll use the drawing-room,” Rachel said. “Let me take you coats.”

She expected a snide remark about her not having servants to do it for her, but nothing came while they handed their coats over to her. She led them to the cozy room, and they sat.

“Where is Mr. Smith today?” Lady Mary asked.

“He is in the village painting a room in the local orphanage for the poor children,” Rachel said. “I should be expecting him soon though. He left at dawn.”

“Pardon me,” Sarah, the lone maid, came in the room with a tray of tea. “Missus Wright sends her regards.”

“Thank you, Miss Wills,” Rachel said. 

After the maid left, Rachel made her mother’s tea. “How are things in London? Has the scandal of me running away petered away yet?”

“Somewhat,” her father said. “And that is why we are here. Looking back in it now, we realized that we did not do right by you, Rachel. We should have listened to you when you said that you did not want to marry Strathmore. We should have listened when you said that you were not ready to marry at all, but we did.”

“Why?” Rachel asked, though she knew the reason she had to hear it from them.

“We wanted a deeper connection with the capital and found Lords that would give us that tie,” her father said. “It was selfish of us.”

Finally, they admitted it. The admission confirmed what she had suspected all along, and was balm to the still hurt she had felt. 

“With no word from you in two years until we got your letter four days ago, we decided that it was wrong to hold this anger against you,” Lady Mary said as she rested her tea down. “Clearly, you do not want anything and it is wrong to carry this grudge against you for something you have not done. You not meeting what we wanted from you is our fault as we should have put that burden on you. Please forgive us.”

“I accept your apology,” Rachel said as she stood. “One moment.”

She left the room with her parents’ curious eyes on the back of her neck and went to her private rooms. She found Jane there, holding Noah and tickling his tiny tummy.

“I’ll take him a moment,” Rachel said, lifting the babe from her friend’s arms. “Mother and father must meet him. Come with us, please.”

Leaving for the drawing room with Jane one step behind her, Rachel entered the room. “Mother, father, meet Noah, your grandson.”

“The one you wrote about,” Lady Mary stood and went to her side to gently take the babe from Rachel’s arms.

For the first time in her life, Rachel saw tears come to her mother’s eyes and felt compassion for her. Just as her father stood, William came inside the room and looked at all three. The guarded expression he had, dropped from his place and he came to stand with Rachel. 

“Your Graces,” he bowed his head. “Welcome. I see you’ve met our son, Noah George Smith.”

The Duke startled, making Rachel smile. “Yes, he is named after you, father.”

Her father cleared his throat, and reached out for William’s hand, “I’ve apologized to Rachel, but I must do the same to you too, Mr. Smith. Do you think we can put this all behind us and we can start again as one family?”

Rachel looked at William with a smile and nod, causing him to grasp the Duke’s hand. “Yes, Your Grace, we will be happy to.”

THE END


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8 thoughts on “A Lady’s Tantalising Portrait – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Thank you so much for your detailed feedback my dear Pamela! I truly appreciate it! I am glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

  2. I enjoyed the story, but I felt the beginning dragged a bit. Once the foundation was set, the pace increased nicely. I’m glad William found a way to take care of Rachel and that Rachel found peace with her family. I have read other books of yours and have enjoyed them all. I look forward to reading your next book!

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback! I’m delighted you enjoyed the story and appreciate your support across my books. Excited for you to dive into the next one!

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