Falling for the Earl I Loathe – Extended Epilogue

Four Years Later

“I can’t believe we’re actually here,” Henrietta whispered as she, Bridget and Julia walked around the edge of the room. “It feels like we’re in a strange dream.”

Julia smiled.

“It’s certainly a novelty. Being in the royal palace and having a viewing for the royal court. I didn’t think this would be happening.”

Bridget laughed.

“You didn’t think it would happen? This is the third time you and Henrietta have been brought to the palace this year alone. This is my first time, and I can’t believe how you two are talking as if you’ve been let loose in the sweet shop.”

Henrietta giggled.

“That’s a strange comparison, Bridget. And can you blame us? This place takes our breath away every time we come here.”

Julia agreed with that. St James’s Palace was a beautiful place, almost too much for her. She felt like she was going to get told off for touching anything in the room, just in case she broke or ruined something somehow. Even now, after three-and-a-half years, it was still rather surreal.

Who knew that she and Henrietta would end up becoming artists for the royal family? Alexander had stayed true to his promise to put in a good word with Queen Charlotte, and both ladies had had an audience with her not long after Alexander and Julia got married. The elderly lady had been impressed, and found their story of how things happened amusing. She had been the one who decided that Charles Vane should be made to pay for his crimes, so he was to work closely under the watchful eye of a contact of hers until he paid everyone back, working some of the worst jobs possible. It would take the rest of his life to pay back what he stole, but at least it would keep him out of trouble. Julia hoped that the queen’s contacts would follow through on their orders.

She was honored to have met Queen Charlotte, who sadly passed not long after they met. Her health had been declining, so it was no surprise when she finally died. And now the last king, George III, had died a few months before after spending many years suffering from madness. His son, the prince regent and now King George IV, was on the throne and he was more than happy to keep Julia and Henrietta on as royal painters. He was just as impressed with their work as his mother, and Julia hoped that this would stay like that; she certainly enjoyed the payments she got from royal commissions.

Henrietta benefited from it more than she did. Alexander had offered her a home on his estate, and it had taken a while to persuade her that this would be better for her and her daughter. So now Henrietta lived in one of the cottages on the estate, close to the house, where she could paint and raise her daughter. The money she got from royal commissions made sure that she could more than provide for Anna, who was now six years old and growing up far too fast. Julia and Henrietta had gotten close in the meantime, working together on a few projects. It was surprising how easy it was to slip into a partnership with each other. Julia liked it; she found it fun having someone who understood her well working alongside her.

Of course she had her husband. Alexander was always there, pushing her work through his art gallery and gathering commissions for her and Henrietta. His business was thriving, and he was becoming the person to go to if anything was needed, either by an artist or a client. Julia was surprised at how good Alexander was at making sure he had whatever everyone needed.

He certainly loved doing it. Julia could see the fire in his eyes when he was absorbed. When he wasn’t playing with their two sons, that is. Henry and Hugh followed him around everywhere, getting into everything and making a mess. But Alexander didn’t mind; he just laughed and let them get on with it.

Julia loved him even more for being such an incredible father to their two children.

“Looks like your husband can’t take his eyes off your new work,” Bridget commented as they moved towards the main piece of the viewing. “Why don’t you go and distract him? Henrietta and I are going to see if we can be introduced to an eligible young man present.”

Julia gasped.

“Bridget, have you forgotten that you’re married?”

“It’s not for me, silly! It’s for Henrietta.” Bridget squeezed Henrietta’s arm, the other woman blushing. “I think it’s about time this lovely widow found love of her own.”

“There’s no need…” Henrietta began, but Bridget steered her away.

Shaking her head, Julia joined Alexander. He was staring at the floor-to-ceiling painting that filled the entire wall. Julia and Henrietta had worked tirelessly on it for almost a year, painting every immediate family member of King George III and his family. Him, his wife Queen Charlotte, their twelve surviving children and six grandchildren. Julia had known that the royal family was huge, but seeing it for herself while planning out the portrait made her even more shocked. It was remarkable. From what she knew, the last king and queen had had a happy and loving relationship, even when the king fell into madness.

“It’s just a wonder, isn’t it?” Alexander said as Julia leaned into him. “They managed to have such a huge family and be together for so long.”

“The last king was about eighty when he passed, wasn’t he?”

“He was eighty-one. He managed a long life.” Alexander sighed. “It’s a shame that it wasn’t completely healthy and happy, but there’s hope for us all if he can live until he’s in his eighties.” He gave her a grin. “Maybe there’s hope for us to live that long, do you think?”

“As long as you don’t expect me to give birth to twelve children. And those are the surviving ones.” Julia shuddered. “I think I’m happy with two.”

Alexander laughed and put his arm around her. They were being a little overly affectionate in public, but Julia didn’t care. She liked it when her husband did this with her; it made her feel loved and happy.

“You don’t need to worry about that. I think Henry and Hugh are more than enough for us. Who knows? We might have another couple of artists growing up to follow in our footsteps.”

“I think we can decide that when they’re older. They are three and one, after all.”

“We’ve got plenty of time. Then they can paint something as magnificent as this.”

“I’ll love them whether they want to be artists or not.” Julia smiled up at him. “Much as I love you regardless of what you do.”

“Thank God for that.” Alexander looked around them, and then quickly kissed her. “Nobody’s looking.”

“Alexander!”

“They will look if you exclaim like that,” Alexander chuckled. He kissed her head. “I’m so proud of you, Julia. You’re such an incredible woman, and I’m very lucky to have you as my wife.”

Julia had heard this many times from him, and it never got boring. She loved hearing it from him. She leaned into him.

“And I’m very lucky to have you in my life as well. My champion.”

“And I’m never going to get bored hearing that.”

Julia was glad about that. Because she was never going to stop calling him that.

THE END


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7 thoughts on “Falling for the Earl I Loathe – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Greetings, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed this delightful tale and especially the resolution of Julia and Alexander’s journey! I eagerly anticipate hearing your thoughts! ♥️📚

  2. I enjoyed reading Julia’s story. She really had a tough time during that time period. Women of the ton were stuck up and proper. She did not fit their mold. She was talented and creative and enjoyed her painting. Alexander was a good main character as well. I truly enjoyed Nridget’s part in the story as well.

  3. Romance and mystery, two of favorite genres, seamlessly stitched together in this entertaining novel. Will they/won’t they? Who is Henry Ash? Beautifully written, much enjoyed!

  4. ***** for the cover. He was the perfect Alexander.

    I can relate to Julia’s situation. When I was very young, I had a passion for paper doll books. I had them all because my father managed variety stores. They were 15-25¢ in those days. This led to my dream to be a costume designer.

    Being a small town Texas girl, I had no clue how to get there. My love of art led to a BA in art education and 9 years of teaching. I was 35 when I finally got an MA in costume design/theatre. I worked 5 years in a theatre, but marriage at age 42 ended that career. For 20 years I ran a costume business out of my home. I retired the day I turned 62.

    Unlike Julia, I didn’t have people criticizing me and standing in the way of my success. Women today have so many choices of how they live their lives. Even choosing to never marry.

    A wonderful book with interesting characters and situations.

    1. Thank you so much dear Bonnie! I really appreciate you sharing your heartwarming story with me! And I am glad Julia’s journey resonated with you! ✨

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