A Diamond For His Grace
In the year following his marriage to Evelina, Richard found his heart filling with more joy every day. He and Evelina did a little traveling, as he took her along on some of his business trips. As she progressed in her pregnancy, however, she began to stay at home more, at his insistence. Even though Lady Searington had admitted to making up Evelina’s troubles with carrying and delivering a child safely, Richard’s concerns had already taken root. He hired the best physicians to monitor Evelina throughout her pregnancy closely. They all said that both she and the baby were perfectly healthy, and that the pregnancy was progressing nicely, but he still felt better knowing she was resting comfortably at home during the final months of her pregnancy.
He was a nervous wreck on the day Evelina finally went into labor, refusing to leave the door of the room where she gave birth. And when the physician came out and told him that he could see his wife and child, he nearly knocked the poor man down in his rush to embrace Evelina and their brand-new baby. Sure enough, just as the physicians had told him, both his wife and his tiny daughter, whom Evelina requested they name Iris, after her late mother, were completely healthy. Richard had cried with relief and joy as he held little Iris in his arms and kissed his wife tenderly. And now, three months after her birth, Iris was growing and developing quickly, making him the proudest father in all of London.
One morning, Evelina burst into the study of their country home. Her eyes were wide and sparkling, and she was smiling so brightly, it lit up the entire room. Richard pushed aside the ledgers on which he was working and rose to greet his wife, kissing her softly.
“Darling,” she said, holding up two letters, “these came just this morning. It seems that both our families are going to visit us next week .”
Richard took the letters from his wife’s extended hand and read them. Then, he turned to Evelina, smiling.
“This is wonderful news,” he said. “I shall instruct the servants and ensure everything is made ready for their arrival.”
Evelina leaped into his arms and gave him a big kiss.
“I never knew life could be so wonderful,” she said, smiling brightly at him.
Richard picked up his bride and twirled her in the air. Then, he gave her a sweet kiss, relishing the taste and softness of her lips on his.
“You deserve the most wonderful things life has to offer, my love,” he said.
Evelina blushed the same blush which had made him fall madly in love with her.
“There could be nothing better than the life I have with you,” she said. “I love you so much, Richard.”
Richard smiled and kissed his wife again.
“I love you more, my beloved duchess,” he said.
The next few days were happily chaotic as they oversaw the preparations for their families’ arrival. Richard also spent as much time as he could with little Iris. He thanked the heavens every single night before he retired to bed for bringing such a precious miracle into his life. He was especially thankful for the beloved wife who had given him his daughter, and he knew, without a doubt, that his father was smiling down on him, prouder of him than he could even begin to imagine. Though he wished his father could be there to hold his granddaughter and kiss his daughter-in-law’s hand, Richard no longer grieved his absence. Rather, he celebrated the late duke’s life by being the best father, husband, and duke he could possibly be.
When the day of their families’ arrival came, Evelina and Richard stood in the vestibule by the front door, waiting in eager anticipation. Richard’s mother and sister arrived first, but they were not alone; just behind them came George, with Faye on his arm. Richard grinned broadly at his friend.
“You are still sane, I see,” he said, pulling George into a tight embrace.
George laughed, glancing back at Faye, who was now talking excitedly with Evelina.
“You must be going blind if I appear sane to you,” he teased, also looking sideways at his young wife.
Faye overheard the exchange and stormed up to the two men, her hands playfully thrust onto her hips.
“It is I who am going mad,” she said. “All George does is talk of you, Brother.”
Richard laughed, picking up his sister in a fierce hug.
“I knew he would not survive your marriage long without my presence,” he said, joking.
Faye tried her best to keep her mock stern expression, but it wasn’t long before she dissolved into giggles.
“I should have suspected something was amiss by the way you two stared at one another during our wedding,” she said.
Richard and George exchanged expressions of mock horror before bursting into laughter.
“Look at you both,” the dowager duchess said, coming up to them to disrupt the conversation with an expression of exaggerated exasperation. “Both of you married, and you still act like a couple of children.”
Richard grinned, turning to embrace his mother.
“I have missed you, too, Mother,” he said.
Just then, Evelina’s family arrived, and Evelina squealed with delight as her cousins, both very pregnant, entered the manor. She and Faye hurried over to them, gushing over how beautiful and happy they looked, delighting in their rounded bellies. Their husbands appeared, both grinning proudly, happy to slip away to join Richard and George in conversation. Richard turned to his mother and raised an eyebrow.
“I suppose that was a more adult display?” he asked.
The dowager duchess rolled her eyes, unable to suppress her laughter. Then, she smiled fondly at her son, her true feelings surfacing.
“It is wonderful to see you both looking so happy,” she said.
Richard returned her smile, kissing her on the cheek.
“And we have you to thank for all your love and support over the years,” he said.
The rest of the greetings amongst all the members of both families commenced. It seemed that everyone got on famously and were all genuinely pleased to see one another. Even Evelina’s aunt, who Richard noticed appeared decidedly more relaxed and happy than he had ever seen her before, laughed and talked with everyone, joining in the whimsical chatter. Richard smiled to himself as he covertly observed the viscountess. It seemed as though she was going to keep her word to both him and Evelina about doing right by everyone from then on. He was proud of her, and he was glad he and Evelina had been able to forgive her. Nothing made him happier than to see their entire family together, laughing and smiling and enjoying themselves.
After everyone was well reacquainted, Richard garnered everyone’s attention by raising his hands and gently clapping them together. When everyone was silent, he smiled and made a gesture for everyone to follow him.
“I do hope everyone is hungry,” he said. “We have arranged a grand picnic for all of us to enjoy.”
The women voiced their extreme delight and pleasure while the gentlemen approached Richard and clapped his back heartily. Richard held out his hand to Evelina, who was smiling brightly up at him. With her at his side, he led everyone out to the gardens of their country home. He took them around the side of the manor, where some of the shrubs had been trimmed into the shapes of cherubs. Beyond the shrubs was an excellent view of the stunning country scenery surrounding their home, and everyone marveled at the sight.
When they reached the picnic area, the gentlemen helped Richard to empty the baskets and arrange the grand spread of food and treats onto a large, plaid blanket, setting out plates, cutlery, and napery. Large jugs of iced lemonade were on hand to wash down the feast. Then, each of the gentlemen approached his wife and led her to the feast. Richard escorted both Evelina and his mother to the blanket, smiling at the pure joy on both of their faces. When everyone was seated, they all began to help themselves to the food before them.
“Excuse me,” George said, standing as everyone began sampling the treats. “If you would not mind, I have an announcement I would like to make.”
His friend’s words caught Richard’s attention immediately, and he lowered his plate slowly. He noticed George looked proud and slightly emotional, and he cast a sideways glance at Evelina. Her eyes were wide and bright, and Richard had the distinct impression she had an idea of what George was about to say. Richard, however, could not decipher it, so he waited patiently for George to continue. It took him a moment to realize George was looking to him for permission. Richard lifted his glass of champagne to his friend, smiling encouragingly.
“Please,” Richard said, gesturing toward George, “by all means, continue, my friend.”
George grinned at him, nodding in gratitude. Then, he turned to Faye, his expression proud and doting, and reached for her hand. She allowed her husband to guide her to her feet, upon which he kissed her gently on the forehead and put his arm around her, as they both turned to face the group before them.
“Faye and I would like to announce that we are expecting our very first child officially,” he said, beaming.
Richard’s mouth fell open. He looked at his friend and sister for a long moment while everyone around him erupted in shouts of delight and congratulations. Then, he leaped to his feet, rushing toward the couple. When he reached them, he opened his arms wide enough to embrace them both at once.
“Oh, George,” he said, pulling them close. “Sweet Faye. I am so happy for you.”
This is the end of my novel “A Diamond for His Grace”. I hope that you enjoy it! Your effort to read it means a lot to me and I have to thank you for your love and support these difficult days!
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