Three Years Later
“Do you think they’ve already arrived?”
Cassandra’s question went unanswered for a few seconds as Jacob frowned at nothing, pondering. A smile touched her lips at the sight. He was so handsome, she thought for what felt like the tenth time that morning. His hair was styled closely to his head, a slight shadow crowding his jaw. Ever since they’d begun residing in Bath, Jacob spent nearly all his free time outdoors with his horses, and she could already see the result of his constant exercise in the cut of his shoulders. She could hardly believe that this handsome gentleman was hers, could hardly fathom how he’d only grown more endearing as time went by.
“Cassie?” Jacob’s voice floated in, bringing her mind back to the present. “Are you listening?”
“Yes,” she answered instantly but the look he gave her told her that he didn’t believe her at all.
Jacob shook his head. “What were you thinking about?”
Cassandra bit her lip, wondering if she should say the words aloud. They were not alone, after all. Next to her was a small infant who was so focused on the toy in his hand that Cassandra doubted that he noticed the fact that they were currently en route to Hyde Park.
“I was thinking about you,” she admitted after a moment, absently reaching out to rustle her son’s, Edward’s, hair. His strawberry blond hair was already beginning to curl much like hers. He leaned into her touch but his attention was still wholly on his toy.
“Oh?” Jacob stretched out a little, tilting his head to the side with a smile. “What about exactly?”
Cassandra huffed a laugh, rolling her eyes. “I may only be inflating your ego by saying this but I was just thinking about how much more handsome you have gotten over the years, which feels quite impossible. Can you believe that it has already been three years?”
“I can’t,” Jacob admitted. “Time flies so quickly when you’re happy. Before we know it, Edward will be running through the hallways as a child and then pining after girls as a teenager.”
“Running through the halls will be nothing to him in no time,” Cassandra laughed. She tugged Edward closer to her side, only because she felt a sudden surge of love. He was already two and yet she couldn’t believe she’d given birth to such a beautiful child.
“You’re telling me,” Jacob agreed. “I can hardly keep up. And to answer your question, I think we might be the last to arrive actually.”
“Oh, I’d hate to keep them all waiting.”
“They’ll be fine. They know that we’ve only just arrived in London for the Season yesterday, so they will assume that we need a bit more time to settle in.”
Cassandra nodded and fell silent as the carriage came to a slow stop. A few seconds later, the door was opened by Edward’s governess, who had been riding next to the coachman. She helped Edward out first while Jacob helped Cassandra. They held hands as they set down the path that would lead them to the large willow tree they had picnicked under all those years ago. As they approached, Cassandra could hear Simon’s voice far before she saw him.
“If we don’t get ahold of them now, they will disappear on us!”
“That’s fine! They’re children, leave them be.”
Cassandra came to a halt, gaping at the sight before her. Simon was on his feet, chasing identical little girls around as they raced away from him, squealing in delight. Elizabeth was already seated on the picnic blanket, laughing hysterically at the sight while Adeline shook her head at the tall gentleman stretching next to her. That man was her husband, Ethan, who hurried forward a second later to help Simon capture the escaping, giggling twins. Cassandra and Jacob’s parents were also in attendance but they were content to sit next to each other and watch all that was happening with stark amusement.
“What is going on here?” Jacob asked but before he could get anything else out, Edward let out a hysterical screech and rushed forward to join his twin cousins.
“Dear God, there’s more of them,” Simon wailed, while Ethan laughed loudly, missing the chance to scoop one of the twin girls into his arms. Cassandra giggled at the sight. She had to admit that Elizabeth’s little girls were quite fast. Almost the next second, tears pricked her eyes as her emotions grew overwhelming.
“Cassie!” Elizabeth squealed when she spotted her. “I’m so happy to see you! Come over here, join us.”
“One moment, Lizzie. I need to speak privately with Jacob first.”
Jacob frowned at her, taken aback by the tears he saw in her eyes. Before he could ask her, Cassandra seized her hand, leaving Edward in the care of their large, ever-growing family, and pulled him behind the willow tree so that no one would hear them.
“What’s going on, Cassie?” he asked, brushing the tear from her cheek. “Why are you crying? Are you hurt somewhere?”
“No, I…just the sight of Edward playing with Lizzie’s twins made me a little emotional.” She offered a watery smile. “And so I thought this might be the best time to tell you.”
“To tell me what?”
She bit her bottom lip, pulling his hand towards her stomach. It was still rather flat, seeing that she’d only confirmed with her physician right before leaving Bath, but she was sure Jacob would understand.
His eyes went wide. “You mean…”
She nodded, a bright smile stretching across her face. “I am with child, Jacob. I’m going to have another baby—”
Jacob swept in for a kiss, cutting into her words. Cassandra laughed against his lips, more tears streaming down her face. “I’m so happy that I can’t stop crying,” she murmured when he pulled away.
“I’m so happy I could cry too.” He kissed her tenderly on the top of her head. Three years later and he was still capable of making her heart skip a beat and melt right out of her chest at the same time. “Should we tell them?”
“Not yet,” Cassandra said. “I want to enjoy it a little longer before I share the news. I just want this moment to be between us.”
“Your wish is my command, my love.” He kissed her again, as if he couldn’t help himself. “What shall we name her?”
“Her? How do you know I will have a girl?”
“I just know. Trust me.” Jacob pulled slightly away from the embrace, raising a brow at her. “We should go back. It sounds as if Simon’s twins are besting him once more. He might need my help.”
Cassandra simply nodded, squeezing his hand as they made their way back to their family. And she could already picture another child joining the fray, to receive all the love and care in the world so that they may never suffer the way she had.