Scenes from an epilogue
Ar! There be spoilers within, matey. If you haven’t read What Isabella Desires, click here to return to the book’s page. Also, if you read the book and were happy creating your own future for Marcus and Isabella, I am completely in favor of you keeping your ending!
However, if you read the book, and are looking for a peek into the author’s mind about the characters’ futures, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are six scenes from an epilogue. More may be sneaked onto this page in the future.
Isabella walked softly down the hall. She didn’t know what had awakened her, but it had only been a week and she was apt to jump out of bed at the smallest whisper of noise. She approached the room – the path in the rug already worn from her slippers. Calliope had smiled knowingly when she’d remarked about needing new rugs.
A single gas lamp cast shadows in the corners. A haze of light in the center caressed the two figures within. She stopped, and leaned heavily against the door. Marcus stood in the center, leaning over the bundle of blankets.
“A bit tiny for all of the pain you put your mother through.”
He had been wonderful through her pregnancy. There had been nothing material or emotional for which she had wanted. Post pregnancy though…well, things had been busy – filled with baby moments and events unplanned – and it had taken her a day or two to realize that Marcus had retreated into long moments of silence. He had been conspicuously absent during the group cooing sessions, and he managed always to have something in his hands when the baby was passed around.
She had decided to give him time and space. Let him come to terms on his own.
A finger softly pulled along a silky forehead. “She wanted you so badly.”
His finger touched the small hand, along the palm, and tiny fingers wrapped around his. He paused for a moment, then gently lifted the bundle, cuddling it against his chest. “We will see that you make it through.”
A tear slipped down her cheek as Isabella tiptoed back down the hall, knowing everything would be just fine.
“I drew a picture today. Of Bartholomew.” A picture secreted somewhere under a chair was retrieved and shoved forward for display.
“That’s lovely, Thomas. You have caught the exact color of his fur. We will pin it up after supper.”
A sleek dark head nodded earnestly.
“Mind your vegetables though. You still have a full portion of spinach on your plate.”
“I’m not really interested in my spinach, mama.” The voice was solemn.
“I know, dear, but eat it anyway. It will help keep you healthy.”
“But I’m healthy now.”
“And you will stay that way if you eat well.”
The boy looked unconvinced.
“Daddy doesn’t like his either, but he eats it,” Charlotte said, her fork chasing a carrot around her plate.
The little boy huffed, but sent a furtive look in his father’s direction, then forked a green bundle into his mouth. Isabella looked down at her plate to hide her grin.
He tugged his shirt down. The smart outfit fit perfectly, but as with most boys aged twelve, it was a little too confining. “I will do you proud, Father.”
“I know you will, Thomas. Study well, but have fun. The friends you meet at Eton will stay with you through the years. William and Charles will be there.”
An excited look replaced the solemnity. “Yes, they have promised to show me all the best pranks, er, prancing ponies.”
Marcus chose to ignore the slip. “Don’t forget to write to your mother every week. She will be most depressed otherwise.”
“And it is our duty to make her smile.”
Such an earnest, good boy, his son. He’d never be a Machiavellian politician, but with his intelligence and sincerity, working from the inside…if he wanted, he could change the world.
“That’s correct. Your sister too. Send her a line or two.”
Thomas made a face. “Very well.”
“Now, you have your pocket money?”
“Yes, Father, thank you.” He held out a hand full of notes and coins.
“And you will be careful outside of the school confines? Not to trust strangers?”
“And you will eat everything – even the spinach? And you’ll take the herbs your mother has packed for you? And if you aren’t getting enough of any of them, you will let us know?”
Thomas hesitated, then nodded, solemnity back in place. “I dislike them, but I promise, Father.”
Marcus hugged him tightly.
Isabella had completely changed the family’s dietary habits, and though he sometimes agreed with Thomas on the taste of a few of the herbs she employed, hell would freeze over before he uttered a word of complaint. For thirteen years he had been healthy. Neither Thomas nor Charlotte had possessed a hint of headache, and he promised they never would.
“Mama, he asked me, he asked!”
Isabella had been waiting for a week for her daughter to come to her. Ever since Lord Trestlebee had sought Marcus to ask his permission.
She hugged Charlotte, then pulled back to look in her eyes. “He is who you desire?”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “Freddie is the most perfect man.”
And there it was, the confirmation in her daughter’s beautiful eyes that she really was in love. During the Season, Isabella had witnessed the developing bond between the two. Freddie was a thoughtful, intelligent young man, so she’d hoped, fervently hoped, that her daughter had found her match.
“I’m so happy for you, dear.”
Isabella pulled a dandelion from the garden.
“Do you think we should go to Bath tomorrow instead?”
She looked up at Marcus leaning back on the bench, a book in hand.
“And here I thought I’d be the one fretting,” she said.
“I’m not fretting.”
She patted his knee. “You’re fretting. Charlotte will be fine. She is not due for a month.”
“I can check in with the political factions. Thomas is-”
“Thomas is fine. He is going to be in Bath in a week when we get there. You will see him then.”
“Marcus, you are fretting. I love it, you know. Utterly satisfying for you to be the fretful one these days.”
“I think you are asking for a trip over my lap.”
“I’m always asking for a trip over your lap.” She shot him a coy look, then returned to her task, wondering how to bring up the subject she wanted to discuss.
She snipped a flower. “You passed your father’s age years ago and will pass your grandfather’s next week,” she said idly, trying to be nonchalant. “Did you think I hadn’t noticed your state?”
Silence fell on the garden and Isabella peeked at him from under her brim.
“No, there is little I can get past you these days.”
She touched his knee. “Do you have a headache, Marcus?”
He wrapped his fingers around hers. “No. Not even a twinge.”
He hadn’t had an episode since the month before they had married. That didn’t mean that they didn’t take precautions or think about it. Since Marcus hadn’t given a single indication in years that he wasn’t in the prime of his health, it had become easier.
“Then stop fretting.”
“I don’t fret.”
She pulled her fingers from his and tugged another weed. “You do so. It’s rather endearing.” There was silence for a few seconds and she wondered if he was going to carry out his threat of putting her across his lap. All in all, not a bad way to go.
“I love you, Isabella.”
She didn’t think she’d ever be tired of hearing it. “I love you too, Marcus.”
Marcus pulled back one edge of the blanket. A scrunched, sleepy face peered back. He scooped up his fifth grandchild and smiled.
Let Anne know what you thought!