Two Years Later
“I’ve just gotten a letter from Lily.”
Chloe looked up. Florian was coming across the grass towards them, holding a letter in his hand. She straightened up, which caused their daughter to make a noise saying she didn’t like that.
“Is she being fussy again?” Florian asked, settling onto the grass beside the baby and kissing her head. “She’s being very clingy right now.”
“I think she senses that we’re having another baby soon, and she’s not happy she won’t have our undivided attention.” Chloe laughed. “Babies are good at sensing things, after all.”
“Just as long as you take it easy,” Florian said as he kissed her. “Be careful when you’re playing with Elizabeth like this. I don’t want you to squash our second baby.”
“Don’t worry. I’m very careful.” Chloe shifted to sit on the other side of Elizabeth, putting her finger across her daughter’s palm and watching as Elizabeth curled her fingers and grabbed onto it. “What did Lily say? Are she and Cecil settling in well?”
“They are. Her parents just came to visit, and they came away happy and satisfied that their daughter is content with what she’s got.” Florian glanced through the letter. “Also, she’s going to be having their first child in the winter. A Christmas baby, she hopes.”
Chloe was glad that Lily finally had her own happy ending. It felt like she was fighting a losing battle with her parents, but with Florian’s help and not wavering on what she wanted, her parents had relented and allowed her to marry her barrister. It sounded like things were getting even better for her.
Lily was a sweet woman once she and Chloe actually had a chance to talk. She deserved that.
“She also said she was going to make a visit to this part of the country to see her family in a few weeks, and asked if she could come and visit.” Florian stroked Elizabeth’s head, causing her to laugh. “Are you alright with that?”
“Of course. I’d be happy to do that.” Chloe grinned. “Actually, I received word from Richard. He was planning on visiting Mother and Father this week. He wants to introduce the woman he’s been courting to them.”
“Richard? Courting?” Florian frowned. “Since when did this happen?”
“I think he said they’ve been seeing each other for about three weeks now. He kept it quiet because he didn’t want a lot of scrutiny about them.”
“Then why didn’t Isabel say anything? She doesn’t keep something like that quiet.”
Chloe burst out laughing, which just made Florian look even more confused.
“What? What did I say?”
“You do realise that Isabel is courting the Earl of Leeds, don’t you?”
Florian’s eyes widened.
“What? Since when did that happen?”
“They’ve been spending a lot of time together this Season. Isabel told me that their courtship was made official about two months ago.” Chloe couldn’t stop laughing. “I think you’ve been spending too much time searching for Atlantis in those texts. You’ve really not been paying attention to anything around us.”
“If it’s outside the grounds of our estate, I’ve not really bothered.” Florian winced. “Now I feel like an awful brother not knowing about this.”
“Well, we have been living here since we came close to Elizabeth’s birth, and we have been looking after a baby.” Chloe leaned over and kissed her daughter’s nose, which resulted in another squeal of laughter. “But I’ve managed to keep up with everything, unlike you.”
“Why should I keep up with it all when you can do it for me?”
Chloe swatted his arm, causing Florian to laugh. Elizabeth joined in, her laughter getting louder when Chloe tickled her belly. Five months old, and she was such a happy baby. It was a wonder that she had such a wonderful child. Chloe felt blessed about it.
“So, tell me about Richard.” Florian shifted to cross his legs under him. “Who is he courting? I thought he and Isabel were going to end up getting married sooner or later, given the way they are together.”
“Well, there was a spark between them before, but they decided it was better to remain as friends. They see each other as close brother and sister, so to ruin that would make it worse. Besides.” Chloe grinned. “Richard’s had his eye on someone for a while. He didn’t want to say anything, especially with everything hanging around her, but now he’s finally made that step to be with her properly.”
“Now you’re intriguing me. I didn’t know this about my friend.”
“Richard told me not to say anything just yet, and Isabel wanted to see how long it would take before you actually noticed. You can be oblivious when you want to be.”
“Oh, you are.” Chloe picked up Elizabeth and sat her on her lap. “Anyway, Richard is coming with Helen Knott.”
Florian’s eyes widened, his mouth dropping open.
“Did you … did you just say Helen Knott? Richard is courting her?”
“Yes. Helen never paid him any attention because she was so focused on you, but Richard was attracted to her.”
“I never thought …”
“It was Isabel who noticed it. She questioned him about it, and Richard confessed.” Chloe smiled. “And it was Isabel who urged him to actually say something to her. That it was not fair for him to sit back and not do anything. Even after what Helen did, she still deserves love.”
“So, your brother and Helen … they’re courting?”
Florian still looked dazed. It was quite comical seeing his expression.
“Richard said in his letter that they were happy, and he would like to marry her in the future.”
“And he’s going to introduce her to your parents? Do you think they’re going to be happy?”
“If they see how happy Richard is, I know they will. They’ve been pestering him to get married soon, so this is perfect for them.” Chloe adjusted Elizabeth as she wriggled. “You can ask all the questions you want about it when they arrive. We’ll be going over tomorrow night for dinner.”
Florian sighed and shook his head.
“Maybe I should come out from my little cave in the library if I’m missing this much.”
“It is quite amusing.”
“That’s not helping, Chloe.”
“I wasn’t meant to be helping. I’m just making an observation.” Chloe reached over and touched her husband’s cheek. “Just bring yourself into the real world occasionally, that’s all. I don’t mind you digging into your passion as long as you remember that you have a family.”
“How could I forget my family?” Florian smiled. “I would never be able to forget my wife and daughter, and our impending arrival.”
“Are you able to prove that?”
“Absolutely.” Florian leaned over and kissed her. “I love you, and I wouldn’t be able to forget you if I tried.”
“I’ll take that as a good thing.” Chloe kissed him back. “By the way, don’t be too hard on Helen. It’s not fair on her if you can’t forgive her for what she did. What’s done is done. And she’s trying to make amends.”
“You really have forgiven her, haven’t you?”
“I was in her shoes at some point. I just reacted differently.”
Florian sighed, resting his forehead against hers.
“I was a fool back then. And I almost let it get the better of me two years ago. I’m glad I finally made a decision.”
“No regrets about it, then?”
“No. No regrets.” Florian kissed her cheek. “None at all.”
Chloe smiled. She had no regrets, either. They were in agreement on that.