Two years later, no one could deny that Thora had blossomed because of Alexander’s love for her. They also by this time had a son. Jasper was six months old, and thriving at Burleigh house in the stunning countryside. She also enjoyed being an aunt to Candace and James’ daughter, whenever she had the opportunity to see her, which was often. The Countess, who had moved into the dowager cottage immediately after their marriage, doted on her grandson and had fully embraced Thora as her daughter-in-law. Alexander was still a wonderful husband, and it wasn’t very long before she had become very proud of his achievements. As the time passed, she had also all but forgotten about the scar on her cheek, whilst he continued to find her beautiful.
Everyone thought that Lewis would marry Charlotte, after his engagement ended abruptly by mutual agreement. Lady Sarah had met another gentleman she professed to have accidentally fallen in love with, during the time she spent in London with her family. Charlotte and Lewis had laughed when they heard the gossip about them being romantically involved, since they were simply childhood friends. Charlotte was now courting the Earl of Portland, and they were blissfully happy.
Meanwhile Chloe was right when she thought that the Duke of Felsham would no longer be interested in her. It transpired that he soon started talking to another young lady at Lady Norton’s garden party, after she left. However, this was much to Lewis’ delight, once he was able to reveal that he had fallen in love with her. Alexander understood then why his friend had been so miserable when he had learned of the Viscount’s intention that Chloe should marry Lord Pickering. Lewis and her were courting now. He had told Alexander confidentially that he hoped she would accept his marriage proposal, and it was clear for anyone to see that she had stolen his heart.
What Alexander and Lewis had arranged, to keep Lord Pickering away from the Kingsley household and to thwart the Viscount’s intentions, remained a secret between them. After a lengthy stay at the Inn and Chloe had begun a courtship with Lewis, his lordship soon found a replacement for her whom he apparently wished to marry. At Alexander’s request Viscount Fordham gave his blessing to the courtship, and the bribe he had received earlier from Lord Pickering was duly returned to him.
After their marriage, and Thora had mentioned it to her husband, Lewis also managed to locate her mother’s diamond necklace which the Viscount had taken without her knowledge, causing her much distress. Fortunately the jeweller in Bath who had bought it from Lord Fordham had been unable to sell it on to a customer, and was more than happy to return it to her ladyship. After Alexander had arranged for the sum of money he had paid the Viscount to be refunded to him, along with a fee for the inconvenience caused. Needless to say the Viscountess was thrilled to have her necklace back again.
Although her daughter and her never did find out exactly how it had happened, Thora guessed straight away that it was her husband’s doing, despite his reluctance to admit it. Unable to believe the extent to which Alexander would go to ensure the happiness of her family and her own, she found herself doing something which she didn’t think was possible. Falling even more in love with him, than she already was.
Still there was about to be further cause for celebration. It was Thora’s birthday, and Alexander had arranged a party in the garden at Burleigh house for their family and friends to celebrate this. Everyone, including Lord Portland, and Lewis, had been invited to spend the afternoon having tea outside in the sunshine, playing games, and conversing with each other.
Mid-way through the afternoon Thora took Alexander’s hand and, laughing quietly, she pulled him further along the path behind the tall bushes in the flower border, hiding them from sight of the other guests. Mistaking her intention and thinking she was recalling the moment when they had been searching for the shuttlecock, with everything in their relationship going wrong afterwards, he immediately took her into his arms and kissed her lovingly. That was the perfect moment for Thora to reveal that she was expecting their second child.
Elated, and unable to stop himself, Alexander took her in his arms again. This time to carefully twirl her around, before he kissed her and took her hand. Leaving the privacy of that special moment they went back onto the lawn, and with a shout of joy, he told their family and friends that they were having a second child. Everyone stood up then, to clap or cheer in their own way, before going to Thora and Alexander to congratulate them both.
Amid the excitement, for Thora, it had been the perfect day. Especially when she looked into Alexander’s eyes, and the love in them clearly matched her own.