One Year Later
A year of marriage passed faster than Alice could have believed. She had spent every second of it in bliss, even throughout the spats and difficulties every wedded couple was bound to have, she was still over the moon to be with Vincent. He grew more affectionate and loving by the day, and Alice couldn’t imagine anyone else being by her sid
Vincent felt the same. Time passed quickly, and he wished it would slow down, until he remembered he had Alice with him for the duration. He was perfectly content. He watched Alice becoming more lovely by the day, and he knew he was the most fortunate man in the world to love her and be loved by her.
They moved to the countryside the second they could, not long after their wedding. Alice had never been fond of over-large houses, so Vincent found them a smaller, cozier place. It was still magnificent and worthy of a duke and his wife, but it was much more to Alice’s taste. Vincent didn’t care; he would have lived in a cottage in the woods with her if that was what she asked for.
They spent much of their first year building their lives and settling into married life and their new home. Alice, thrilled to have a place to call their own, created a library and filled the walls with any paintings and objects she found interesting, no matter how well or badly they went with the decor. Vincent ensured she put up some of her own fanciful pictures, mostly in the library or his study. He smiled every time he saw one of her faeries or mermaids because they were so Alice. All part of her daydreams and charming imaginings. Alice had tried to resist putting any up, as she insisted they were unsuitable for public view. But Vincent reminded her it was her home, and they could do what they wished. They compromised by keeping the dining room and drawing rooms proper for entertaining, and every other part of the small manor as fanciful and mystical as they wished.
Vincent had never thought he’d care for the types of things Alice was so fond of, the many colors and unconventional decorations, but now, he adored it before. It made him completely happy to spend the year watching her flit about, making her home just as she wanted it. Whatever she cared for, he cared for
She was even more thrilled to decorate when they found out she was pregnant. The moment she knew, she was off to one of the rooms, turning it into a nursery, making it perfect for their future child. Vincent and hadn’t known they’d had room left for more love, but they found an entirely new way to love when they knew they would be welcoming a brand new addition to their family.
“What about names” Alice asked, sitting in a rocking chair at eight months pregnant and watching Vincent hang one of her drawings in the nursery, just for their baby—a lovely drawing of a family of bears in a little house, perhaps Vincent’s favorite piece of hers.
“For a girl, what about Sylvia?” he suggested, and Alice thought about it for a moment
“Or Josephine?” she offered, but Vincent shook his head.
“That doesn’t feel right,” he said, and Alice thought some more.
“I do like Sylvia,” she said, “or Charlotte?”
“I like Charlotte,” Vincent said, standing back and observing the drawing before going back to straighten it.
“And for a boy?” He asked.
“For a boy, I like Andrew,” Alice said quietly, smiling when Vincent turned to look at her.
“Truly?” he asked, delighted at the thought that his son would be named after his father. Alice nodded, and Vincent bent down to kiss her.
“Andrew it will be,” he said, “and we’ll decide on a girl’s name before too long.”
A girl’s name wasn’t needed, for barely a month later, a healthy baby boy named Andrew was born who quickly had his parents wrapped around his finger. They loved him with everything they had, and Alice got to work finishing the nursery sooner than Vincent would have liked. They had left several things undone in order to finish once they knew if they were having a girl or a boy, and Vincent wished Alice would rest longer before working. She insisted that Andrew should be made to feel at home as soon as possible, and Vincent laughed and shook his head at her sentiment. He told her he wasn’t certain Andrew would notice the difference, but gave in the moment Alice gave him a sharp look. He helped with the work, keeping Alice resting in a chair, directing operations as much as possible.
Not too long after Andrew was born, Edwina’s baby girl came along. They named her Lucia, a name which Alice thought was lovely. Edwina and Lord Darlington decided to visit Alice and Vincent soon after Lucia’s birth, and Alice was very excited to see them.
The time before the visit seemed to pass too slowly for Alice, she was so eager see Edwina. They hadn’t visited for months, both remaining where they were once they were far along in their pregnancies. It wasn’t a terribly long trip from Edwina’s town mansion to Alice’s modest country manor, but the men had been adamant on their wives remaining at home and not risking the two-hour carriage ride. The result had been many letters and two very impatient women once the visit came nearer.
“Oh, there they are!” Alice exclaimed, standing from her chair by the window and holding two-month-old Andrew close. Vincent looked up, smiling at Alice’s eagerness. He could only picture Edwina’s face, which was likely just as thrilled as Alice’s, he imagined. He was quite excited himself; he had yet to meet his niece and was ready to do so.
He followed Alice out the doors, keeping his hand on her back and staying in step with her. He was constantly worried for her, concerned that she hadn’t rested long enough. She had reassured him since the first week after Andrew’s birth that she was perfectly all right. He knew after the second week that she was right, but he couldn’t help himself.
Alice opened the manor door, waiting anxiously as the carriage slowed. She grinned, handing Vincent Andrew to hold while she picked up her skirts and rushed down the steps and onto the drive. The carriage door opened before the footman had a chance to open it, and Edwina jumped down in a flurry and embraced Alice, both of them laughing joyfully. Lord Darlington came down next, holding Lucia and smiling at the sight of his wife so giddy to see Alice again.
Alice took Edwina by the hand, leading her up the steps to where Vincent waited. Edwina hugged him, quickly doting over her nephew, while Alice greeted Lord Darlington and took her niece in her arms, in awe of the little girl’s beauty.
“Vincent, just look at her,” she gasped, smiling down at the baby, while Vincent admired her too.
“Edwina, she’s beautiful,” Vincent said, turning and watching Edwina giggling over his son.
“Oh, isn’t she perfect?” Edwina asked. “And this little man is so handsome!”
“We should go inside,” Vincent said, placing a hand on Alice’s back again and leading the way inside and to the drawing room.
Everyone settled into the sofas, the ladies doting over each other’s children, the men watching their wives with fond eyes. They soon fell into merry conversation, catching upon all their news.
“I must confess, I didn’t picture your home like this,” Edwina said, looking around admiringly. “It’s perfectly beautiful, to be sure. Perhaps I just thought there would be more of a touch of fancy to it.”
“Oh, there certainly is,” Alice laughed. “I simply wanted at least a few spaces where I could bring proper company. Would you like to see my favorite rooms?”
Edwina nodded, standing with Lucia in her arms, while Alice stood with Andrew in hers. Their husbands began to stand before Alice waved them off.
“Oh, don’t bother to get up,” she said, “I’m just showing Edwina around, it’s nothing of interest to you.”
“Are you sure you’ll be all right?” Vincent asked, giving her a slightly concerned look. He relaxed slightly when she laughed.
“I’m perfectly fine,” she said good-naturedly, “you needn’t worry so much over me.”
“All right,” Vincent said slowly, settling back into the sofa, watching her walk off with Edwina before breathing a sigh of relief.
“She may be right in saying that I worry over her too much,” he chuckled, looking at Lord Darlington, who laughed as well.
“I would do the same if Edwina would allow me,” he joked. “You know how stubborn she is. I’m not permitted to worry.”
Vincent nodded, knowing exactly what he meant.
Edwina was perfectly charmed by Alice’s home, loving the library nearly as much as Alice herself did. She found the paintings and colors to be perfectly suited to Alice, and she was delighted to learn that Vincent had wholeheartedly supported her in the arrangements.
“Now, this is much more what I pictured when I thought of your home,” she said with a laugh, looking out of the library window to the forest not far away. “It fits you and Vincent so well.”
“I like to think so,” Alice said, smiling contentedly, shifting Andrew to her other arm in order to pick up a book. “He’s so kind for letting me have rein over it like this.”
“He would let you live in a mushroom if you but asked for it,” Edwina said fondly, and Alice paused.
“That would make quite a lovely drawing,” she mused, and Edwina laughed.
“I do believe it would,” she agreed. “I’m in need of a picture for Lucia’s nursery, if you are in need of an excuse to draw something along those lines.”
“Oh, of course!” Alice exclaimed. “Why didn’t you ask me sooner?”
“You needed time to make this your home,” Edwina said softly, “and you’ve done such a grand job of it. Now, shall we go back to the men?”
“I think we shall,” Alice said with a smile, following Edwina back out of the doors.
“I’d be quite delighted to see your home too,” she told her friend as they reentered the drawing room. They both smiled, seeing their husbands so engrossed in conversation over drinks that they didn’t notice the ladies coming back in at first. But when Alice and Edwina sat down, the men turned their attention back to them.
“I’m soon going to be in possession of one of Alice’s famous drawings,” Edwina told her husband proudly, and he raised his eyebrows, looking at Alice, who blushed.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one of these famous drawings,” he said, and Alice laughed, feeling suddenly shy.
“That would be because they are not famous,” she said, while Vincent suddenly stood up.
“They should be,” he said. “I’ll fetch one.”
Alice sighed, not bothering to stop him. She knew it would be futile, though she wasn’t fond of the idea of her drawings being shown off. She had never thought them to be very good, no matter how hard Vincent tried to convince her otherwise. The drawing was shown, receiving many compliments, each making Alice blush harder, and Vincent prouder.
The visit was a complete success, but it was over far to soon. When Edwina and Lord Darlington decided it was time to take their leave, Alice and Vincent reluctantly escorted them to the door, and the ladies embraced, while the men shook hands. Sadly Alice watched Edwina drive off, missing her even before their carriage disappeared over the hill. Back inside, Alice knew it was time to settle Andrew into bed.
“I’m so glad they were able to come,” she said softly, Vincent following her to the nursery.
“As am I,” he said, helping Alice settle into a chair.
The night passed, and Vincent and Alice stayed by each other’s side, already making plans to go back to Town to see their families as soon as possible. But both knew, even if it was years before they made it back, they would be perfectly happy just to have each other.