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The following is an epilogue to An Unsuitable Pursuit. It was the original ending for the novel and is more in line with a fairly standard happy-ever-after romance ending but of course, Lucinda and Robbie’s romance is not exactly standard.
After giving it some thought, I decided Robbie needed to do a bit of groveling in order to earn Lucinda’s love. He needed to show her that he would respect her desire to make her own decisions and that “Scotland would not rule England”.
I do think the original ending makes a good epilogue, giving a bit of additional warm and fuzzy feelings to take with you into the next novel. Who doesn’t love a wedding?
Which do you prefer? The current ending, or the epilogue ending?
Drop me an email and let me know.
The wedding bans were read the next week in Lucinda’s local parish church of Saint Bride’s.
Lucinda Margaret Evans, daughter of Sir John Evans,
Master of Defence of Whitefriars Academy
Robert James McCrae, nephew of Sir Colin Cavendish.
Two weeks later when the wedding took place on a cool but clear day in December the church was overflowing with all manner of people. There were swordsmen aplenty and the mothers of countless babies Grandma Jones and Lucinda had helped bring into the world. There was a smattering of esteemed guests, one of them being the groom’s sister Rosalind, a Lady in Waiting to Queen Anne, another, Sir John Harrington, who had charge of the Princess Elisabeth at his country manor.
From the waterwheel man with his tanned and well-lined face to the pretty blond woman with a baby on her hip (a woman many men were at pains to avoid in the proximity of their good wives) all agreed, it was the merriest wedding they had ever seen. The only person who did not seem to be beaming was the groom’s uncle, Sir Colin Cavendish and his very young and very new bride. A group of boy actors from The Children of the Queen’s Revels sang so beautifully even crusty old soldiers and swordsmen were brought to tears. Scottish and English fencers formed a guard of honour with crossed swords while the bride and groom left the church, laughing under a shower of dried marigold and rose petals.
On the short walk from the church to Whitefriars the festivities really got underway. Half a dozen pipers were piping some rousing Highland airs, and a young woman with bouncing red curls rode astride a donkey named James the First. The donkey’s owner, a woman scandalously dressed like a man and smoking a pipe, led the revelers in a medley of bawdy songs.
For the rest of the day and well into the night, the fencing academy was given over to dancing and carousing, the celebrations continuing well into the wee hours of the next morn.
The bride and groom did not stay long at the celebrations, wisely sneaking away to an undisclosed location and the delights of a new marital bed.
The next day, just prior to noon, they mounted McCrae’s black stallion, Thunderbolt, and returned to Whitefriars to say their goodbyes. No one was surprised when the bride hooked one leg either side of the saddle, twirling a sword above her head by way of farewell. The bells of Saint Bride chimed their departure, leaving those behind to toast their good health and nurse their sore heads.
“Where are we riding?” Lucinda asked, adjusting Robbie’s arms around her waist where he held the reins.
“To Scotland to see my homeland.”
“Yes eventually, I know, but the first stop?”
“There is an inn the other side of Oxford. I hear the beds are comfortable enough and there is a deed I plan to repeat…and repeat…and repeat.”
“A certain Highland pipe tune?” She could feel his grin where his face pressed against her neck. He hummed until the hairs at her nape stood to attention and every part of her body thrilled to the vibration of that tune.
“I love you Robbie McCrae.”
“I love you Lucinda McCrae.”
The new name would take a bit of getting used to. As would calling him Sir Robert, which meant she was truly now Lady Lucinda. No matter, they had plenty of time. Through the midlands of England and the grey Scottish lowlands they would ride until the weather grew colder, coating their cloaks with the first drifts of snow. Finally they would reach the McCrae family estate, recently restored to its rightful hands as Robbie’s reward for his part in the uncovering of a certain plot. They were glad to stay indoors in the sanctuary of the bed chamber. Sprawled on a rug in front of the fire, naked and in each other’s arms, was as good a time as any to broach the question on her mind.
“What age do you think a child should be given their first sword?”
With a glint of mischief and speculation, Robbie replied.
“Depends if it is a boy or a girl.”
“Wrong answer.” She dived under the blanket, torturing him with pleasure until he came up with the correct response.
“How about when their mother decides they are ready?”
“Better,” she said.
“Does this mean?” He dragged her up his body until they were face to face again.
“No. I am in no rush and would prefer some time on our own before having babies but even with the caution we take it is always a possibility. Twins run in my family, so it could be a boy and a girl.
“Whenever we are blessed, I shall be content with what we are blessed with,” he said.
“Excellent answer again.”
They smiled into each other’s eyes as lovers often do. With their faces pressed so close together, his sea green irises were no longer two separate entities, proximity having the effect of merging two into one. The fire had settled into a muted glow of smoldering embers, orange, black, red and yellow, the logs shifting and sparking as they slowly burned right through. With her back to the fire, her body cradled and enveloped in tenderness and love, she finally knew what it was to be contented, to be challenged as well as cherished, and to know with all her heart, she would never need to fight another battle on her own.
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