Heir in Despair (Extended Epilogue)


One Year Later

Clara was standing over the cot, reluctant to part. Her baby was sleeping soundly, still just a few months old. The baby’s hands were thrown up above her head, the small fingers wound into her short chocolate-red locks.


At her name, Clara turned to look at the doorway. William was there, visible in the fading light of the day coming through the windows. He smiled at her, seeing where she stood yet again, as she so often did these days. Clara struggled to part from her baby’s side, always fussing, always worrying. All that mattered to her these days was seeing her daughter safe and comfortable.

“She will be fine.” He came to her side and wrapped an arm around her waist. Even now, the thrill of his touch made a shiver of pleasure run up her spine.

“I know. It’s just hard to leave her for the first time.” Clara sighed looking down at her daughter. “I remember my mother saying how hard it was to leave me and Ruth for the first time when we were young. I understand what she meant now.” She reached down into the cot and pulled the blanket up around the child, covering her small chest.

“Baby Isabelle,” William said with love in his voice. He looked into the cot too and pulled up the other end of the blanket. Working together, they set the cover around their daughter. “Each day she looks more and more like you.”

“You’re just saying that because of her hair.” Clara laughed as they stood straight once more.

“No, she has your nose too –”

“But your grey eyes,” Clara insisted.

“A true mix then.” William turned his smile on her, and Clara warmed at the sight. He moved toward her, wrapping his arm back around her and pulling her into his chest. “Clara, she will be fine. Now, do I need to drag you away for your sister’s debut?”

It was an event they had been working toward for some time, and now Ruth was a little older, the timing was perfect. Tonight, it was to be her first step into high society.

“Ha! You’d have to drag me away,” Clara teased, resting her head on his chest.

“I think I could carry you out of here easily enough.” He lowered his voice and spoke seductively in her ear.

“No,” she sighed and lifted her head up to see him. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

“Then we best be going.” He kissed her lightly on the lips before taking her hand and drawing her out of the room. In the doorway, Clara still hovered. She held onto the doorframe, looking back at Isabelle. “Clara…” he warned and tickled her, forcing her to release the doorframe. She laughed and went with him, hurrying back through the corridor and down the stairs toward the main entrance hall.

As the two of them reached the entrance hall, Clara found Ruth standing by the door, wearing a fine gown indeed. It was one Clara had helped her pick out, ivory in color, and embroidered with lots of lace in the skirt. The dress was somewhat different to the patchwork gown Ruth used to wear before Clara married William. Slim fitting, showing off Ruth’s small figure, she would not doubt be the belle of the evening, Clara was certain of it.

“My little sister is all grown up now!” Clara said as she released William’s hand and reached for Ruth’s.

“Oh, don’t say that,” Ruth laughed, lowering her eyes down to their clasped hands. It caused her chestnut-colored hair to fall into her eyes. “I feel like I am still very much a child playing dress up.”

“It may surprise you to know that we all feel like that.” Clara turned their hand hold into looped arms, preparing to lead her sister out of the house and toward the carriage.

“I don’t think I have ever shaken that feeling.” William’s voice startled them both enough to look his way, eyebrows raised.

“Even you?” Clara asked in disbelief. “You were a barrister!”

Clara was reminded of the day she had first arrived at William’s house. That day she had felt so out of place in the world and had grown even more uncertain after she met William and had been entranced by his chiseled looks.

If I’d only known what was before me, I would never have been so worried!

“You’ll grow used to the feeling. We all do!” Clara laughed as she drew Ruth out of the house, eager to reach the ball.


As Ruth was announced, William and Clara led her into the room between the two of them. Clara couldn’t shake her smile, especially when she saw how many in the room turned to look at Ruth.

“Why are they all looking at me?” Ruth whispered, reaching for Clara’s arm again.

“Do you really have to ask?” Clara laughed under her breath, just as William led them further into the room.

They quickly introduced Ruth to their hostess, and from there on, it was one long round of introductions. They went through all the acquaintances Clara and William had in the ton, ensuring they all met Ruth. By the end of their rounds, Ruth was looking more lost than before. As they moved to the side of the room to get refreshments, Ruth was shaking her head.

“How do you remember all of these names?” she asked.

“It comes with practice,” Clara explained, just as their hostess re-joined them.

“Ah, Miss Griffith, there you are,” she said to Ruth before turning to Clara. “I wonder, My Lady, if I could steal your sister away for a few minutes. There are some gentlemen I would like to introduce her to. I’ll take good care of her, I promise.”

In answer, Clara looked to Ruth, her eyebrows raised.

“Well, if Ruth is amenable, I mostly certainly would not object.” Clara smiled.

“Excellent! Come with me, Miss Griffith.” Their hostess began to tow Ruth away.

“Clara,” Ruth dropped her voice to a whisper so only she could hear before she was dragged too far away. “You promised not to leave me alone!”

“I’ll only be a few steps away,” Clara assured her. “Enjoy yourself.”

Clara watched as Ruth was taken to a group of people on the other side of the ballroom. Though clearly nervous, Ruth had a way about her that was natural and easy, engaging people in conversation before they really knew it. Clara watched her with admiration, just as William appeared again at her side.

“Ruth seems to be a new favorite,” he said as he stopped beside her.

“That she does.” Clara laughed. “At this rate, she could be married within a few months. Isn’t it busy here this evening?”

“To be honest, this is merely reminding me why I like the world away from the ton,” William said to her as he linked his hand with hers, entwining their fingers together.

“I like our world,” Clara mused, thinking back to their home. “Our home, our family.”

“Speaking of family.” William passed her a glass of port that she took delicately between her fingers, “I realized earlier today there was a conversation you and I haven’t yet had.”

“Oh? What is that?” Clara looked over the rim of her port glass in surprise.

“Well, from the attention Ruth is getting this evening…” William gestured around the room with meaning, urging Clara to follow his gaze. Ruth was indeed now getting lots of attention. Flanked and protected by their hostess, there were at least three gentlemen trying to secure Ruth’s hand for a dance. “We will no doubt lose her to make her own family soon.”

“From the eagerness of the gentlemen around her, I would agree it seems likely.”

“Lizzy is getting older, too,” William continued.

“She is hardly considered of age yet!”

“No, far from it, but it won’t be long. Every day I look at her and realize how quickly she’s growing up.” William chuckled to himself.

“Your point is?” Clara tilted her head to the side, watching him closely as she sipped her port.

“How many siblings do you want to give Isabelle?” His words made her choke on the port. She started coughing, it made him laugh and tap her back, trying to help her. “I seem to have taken you by surprise.”

“The way you said that, it made it sound as though you were picturing an entire brood!”

“Ha! Not a brood, but maybe a few. What do you say?” he whispered to her.

“I…erm…” Clara was tongue-tied for a minute, staring at him in surprise. “You seem to have given this quite a lot of thought.”

“I have, I suppose.” He replaced his hand to hers and squeezed her fingers. “I like seeing the way you look into Isabelle’s cot. The happiness in your eyes when you see her. I like the idea of making that happiness even greater.”

William’s words made a smile spread across her cheeks. The kindness of his words, the decision to want to make her even happier than she already was, sent a thrill up her body.

“What do you say?” William squeezed her hand a little more.

“I love the idea.” Had they been somewhere private, she would have kissed him, but at the center of a ball, she could not express her full feelings, so she opted for the best words instead. “I love you, you know?”

“I know.” He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back. “I love you, too. Now, come on.” He turned her back to face the other end of the room. “I must do my duty to your sister and fend off some of the clamoring attention she is receiving.”

“What a good idea,” Clara said as they crossed the room. “It will give you good practice for when Isabelle is older.”

“And for when the rest of the brood are older, too,” he whispered in her ear.

“The rest? How many did you have in mind!?”

“You’ll see, but I intend to get started tonight.”

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  • It was thoroughly a good read.Could feel the chemistry between the 2 lead characters .U kept continuously to the story without repeating the words .This book had all , thrill romance , revenge .A mixture which held the attention of the readers.Looking forward to more of reading your books

  • A wonderful book. You kept my interest from start to finish. Loved the characters. I never skipped forward once. Well done. Thank you.

  • I really loved reading this delightful love story. I read it in one sitting. I did not want to stop until I reached the end.

  • Loved the story and could not put it down until the end. I was intrigued by the story and your writing. Look forward to your next book.

  • An enjoyable read, kept my interest through the characters and plot. Looking forward to the next one.

  • This is the first book I have read of your and I truly enjoyed it. The plot and Characters were wonderful.

  • Very good read, I really enjoyed this book. The story is wonderful, with love, suspense, and a HEA. Thank you and keep writing!

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this story. He fought so hard to deny love but found in the end the true joy that love brings.

  • This just warms the cockles of your heart. Such a beautiful romance and well written. Love the extra bit it made you warm and fuzzy.

  • Love this story. It was straight forward and felt honest. A feel good story with an extended epilog that tied a few loose ends together and left some open to additional adventure. Thank you.

  • I have just started reading historical romances and you have been my favorite so far. Looking forward to reading more of your books. Perfect mix of history and romance.

  • Poignant, heart wrenching story at times with a sense of watching characters emotionally circling one another. I enjoyed reading the story of William and Clara. As a follow-up, it would be nice to see how Ruth’s story progresses.

  • I loved the story. With the love Clara had for William and his hidden love for her it was worth telling. Also the kidnapping of Lizzy that brought them to the realization of their love.

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