The Return of the Ravishing Marquess Extended Epilogue

Extended Epilogue


Seven Years Later


Spring had just arrived and nature had risen in all her glory. The gardens were abundant with white and pink flowers, the trees were green, and the sun was shining bright. It was the perfect day for a picnic.

Apparently, many others had the same idea, for Hyde Park was full of people strolling, having lunch under the trees, and playing games. After all the food they had eaten; the French pastries Archibald had brought from his recent travel, the fruit, the cider, and delicious desserts, Selina felt sleepy. She sat under the tree watching people come and go.

However, their meal seemed to have had very different effects on Henry and the children. Currently, Alexander was playing cricket with Archibald, a few feet away, cheering and celebrating every successful take he attempted. Archibald seemed like a young lad himself; he was always so attentive with the children.

Alexander was now four-and-ten years of age. He was a bright young lad, top of his class, who was planning on studying law in a few years. He had just returned from school and he spent his summer reading, lying on the garden, playing games with the rest of them, and going to the Opera with Henry.

The two of them shared such a special bond. They had finally told him everything about that horrible day seven years ago, since they had deemed him mature enough to understand, and indeed he was. He showed immense capacity of understanding and embraced Henry even more now than he did before, if that was possible.

Henry, on the other hand, was lying down on the grass right now. The girls were on him, one on each side, and tickled him as he was also tickling them. Many ladies passing by their spot frowned upon this spectacle, but Selina was proud of them.

He is such a good father!

The girls had been born five years ago. What a shock it had been when she realized that she had two! Henry was with her during the delivery, holding her hand, and wiping the sweat off of her forehead. After she had revealed to him that she wished he had been with her during Alexander’s labor, Henry was determined to not lose a single moment this time.

They were identical; to one another and to Henry as well. They had the same green eyes and crooked smile. Viola had Selina’s light brown hair color, though, while Ingrid had Henry’s. They were very smart and very loud! They liked music a lot and Henry made sure they attended every single musical performance appropriate for their age.

Alexander was a fine older brother as well. He was always very protective of the girls, attentive, and sweet. He sent letters from Eton to each of them, although they could not read them yet. Their feelings were the same toward him; they almost worshiped him and they would follow him around the house wherever he went.

Archibald never married, so far at least, but it was doubtful he would from now on. He always said that he felt Selina’s family like his own; he was receiving all the love and attention he was after, and his fears of dying alone had disappeared.

As she watched him now, Selina wondered whether she had, unintentionally, caused him more harm than good. She loved having him around and he and Henry had built an extraordinary friendship as well. However, Selina could not help but wonder, whether she had discouraged him from having his own family by offering her own so openheartedly.

Finally, the girls went to join their beloved Alexander and Archibald at their game and Henry approached her. He took her hands in his and kissed them many times.

“You make me so happy!”

“Well, in that case I can claim to have achieved all my goals in life!”

“I have too! You look concerned, love…”

“I received a letter yesterday morning.”

“From whom?”

“Lord Ruthland.”

Henry seemed upset. They had not heard from him for seven whole years and now, all of a sudden, he had approached them so directly. She had been quite startled as well.

“What did he say?”

“He thought that if we had seen the news of his release on the paper we would be frightened, so he wrote to us instead.”

“Do you believe him?”

“I want to, so very much Henry. I want to put everything behind us, but this was coming sooner or later and we knew it.”

“It would not have come if you had not helped him at court.”

“You would have done the same and you know it. He made a mistake; horrible and dangerous, yes, but he deserves to feel the necessary remorse and start over.”

“I believe he will not be welcome among the ton again.”

“I know… His parents have retired to the countryside and they do not wish to see him either, or at least this is what he has written.”

“What is he going to do then?”

“He is thinking of going to the East Indies for work.”

“Does he know anyone there?”

“He did not say much. He just wanted to let me know he is leaving, so I won’t have to be afraid.”

“I see.”

“Henry…”

“Yes, my love. I know what you are going to suggest…”

“Please… Everyone deserves a second chance. Especially if they have regretted their actions.”

“Fine. I will have to talk about it with Archibald.”

“You can convince him, even if he is opposed to the idea. After all, it is not going to be a huge obligation. Just give him a place on the ship and work in one of your companies there…”

“That is more than huge, but I will do it for you. Also, because I will not have to worry about him if he is going to be on the other side of the world.”

“Thank you, my love,” Selina said and put a little kiss on his hand when no one was looking.

“Speaking of second chances and criminal figures…”

“No. I don’t have any news after the latest incident…”

“Seems that some are less worthy of a second chance.”

“Unfortunately…”

Cordelia was still in Scotland. When Selina had been with child again, they had received news from the North that Cordelia wanted to marry and was asking for their permission.

Their relatives had send them information about the prospective match, a young gentleman of the McEwan family. Selina had been thrilled and after discussing it with Archibald and Henry, they had agreed to give their permission.

However, there was another request on the letter. Cordelia was claiming to have changed and she wanted to travel south in order to see Selina’s newborn. Ideally, she would bring her new husband with her, so the families could be introduced properly and spend some time together.

Selina was scared, especially since she was with child, and Henry was absolutely opposed to it as well. So, they granted their permission for the marriage, but not for the visit.

That was indeed a fine, wise choice we made…

A few weeks later, one more letter arrived from Scotland informing them of the dissolution of the arrangement. The McEwans had taken back their proposal, deeming Cordelia to be dangerous and evil. Apparently, she had tried a similar scheme with the one she had pulled some years ago. She had falsely claim that Selina had sent her away to take her father’s fortune all to herself and that she had treated her unjustly.

Thankfully, the McEwan gentleman was not so naïve as to fall into this trap and he had turned to the family. They had explained everything and he rescinded his proposal as soon as possible.

“She ruined her own chance at finding a good husband at last.”

“Indeed. This obsession of hers is ruining her life and by the time she will understand it, it will be too late.”

Henry hugged her tight by the shoulder and kissed her hair. Selina sighed at she thought of her obligation to speak to the girls about this affair at some point. They needed to know, because they may have to protect themselves from her at some point. The thought only terrified her to her very core.

“Is your mother feeling better?”

“I think so. When I passed by this morning, she seemed quite well actually.”

“Such a pity to fall apart every year, is it not? I thought she would have moved on, but no.”

“I think this is part of the problem. She feels as if she is betraying him, when she lets go.”

“How terrible! However, I understand how she feels. I felt the same when you were away and you were not deceased, just far from me. I can not even imagine her pain.”

The Dowager Duchess was still living at her house in London, even after the Duke had long passed. She wanted to be close to Henry and the children since they were her only comfort in her now lonely life.

Every year, on the anniversary of the Duke’s death, she fell completely apart. After the first two years, Selina noticed the pattern, and since then, they had a physician on standby from the day before. Selina could totally understand her situation and she had talked to her about it.

She had told her about Henry and her own past and how she had felt when he left. Since those revelations, the Duchess and her now had a better relationship. Her mother-in-law had finally found someone that could empathize with her. It was a relief for both of them.

“We should definitely bring the girls to see her. They will cheer her up in no time.”

“I agree!”

“Maybe next weekend?”

“We have the seven year anniversary of the school this Sunday, love.”

“Right, I am so looking forward to it! It makes the children so happy!”

A few months after the tragic events of the kidnapping, Selina and Henry had decided to make a gesture of gratitude towards the children who had helped in her rescue. Their view of the less privileged on the other side of the bridge had shaken them both. It was astounding really that, in spite of the circumstances of their deprived childhood, those children had stayed true to their word and had done their duty that fateful day.

I guess integrity and good heart cannot be bought…

Thus, Selina and Henry had thought of how to give back to them and their community. They had then settled on educating the kids. This way, they might also have an opportunity in life that would last longer than if they had just offered them coin.

In the school, the children received meals and a daily stipend, so that their parents would  allow them to attend. Otherwise, their children’s absence from work would severely hamper their family’s survival. But if they did contribute coin to the family while being fed at the same time, there would be no reason to deny them access to education. In the long run, after all, their contribution would be more substantial than if they became just factory workers.

Selina was always so touched by the stories of the children who had once studied there. Some of them had become governesses, others had become teachers, and sometimes, Selina deployed her network among the ton to secure jobs for them. One particular boy was now a mechanic in the same factory his parents used to be menial workers!

“I am so thankful for the school! I wish we have more admissions this year.”

“So do I, love.”

Henry still had his hand in her hair and he was kissing it.

“You smell wonderful. I cannot wait to take you home…”

“You’re greedy! You had me all morning!”

“I cannot get enough of you. Ever!”

“We have three children, Henry! I keep wondering where we ever find the time!”

“There is always time to taste you,” he said and pretended to take something away from her hair, while in truth he was caressing her earlobe. Selina giggled like a little girl.

“Since you mentioned time… I have something for you.”

“A time machine?” Selina mocked him.

“You could call it this, in a way…”

“All right, now I am intrigued. Pray tell, what is it?”

Henry took out of the inside pocket of his tailcoat a package wrapped in brown paper.

“Open it.”

Selina tore the paper and found a beautiful, leather-covered journal inside. It had her initials on the cover, painted with golden letters, and a nice ribbon in the middle to mark the pages.

“For you… To write the rest of our story.”

Selina put a soft kiss on the lips of the gentleman she loved.

“I will. With all my heart.”

The End