Capturing the Governess's Heart
Robert stood at the head of the table and rang the champagne flute with a spoon, and the company instantly hushed. “May I begin to thank you all for taking the time to gather here with us today for this happy family occasion? It is my great pleasure to announce the engagement of Miss Elizabeth Fletcher and Mr. Richard Baron. Please raise your glasses in a toast to the happy couple and join me in wishing them the very best of happiness in their future wedded life. Elizabeth and Richard!”
“Elizabeth and Richard!” cried everyone, raising their glasses to toast the couple, adding cheers and applause for good measure. The couple in question gazed at each other lovingly, both blushing with pleasure like brides. They were surrounded by their extended family, which had grown substantially over the last five years.
When Emma looked around the table, she could hardly believe they had all come so far and so much had changed. She felt proud of her family, but she still remembered her first time sitting at the very same table here in the dining hall at Dalwater. She had been a young woman, an inexperienced governess, meeting the illustrious Campbell family for the very first time.
And what a nerve-wracking experience it had been. And yet here they still were; her handsome duke, to whom she had now been happily married for five years, Abigail, now a beautiful woman happily married to Theo and the mother of twins, a son, Benedict, and a daughter, Agnes, three years old. The mischievous pair were named after their grandparents.
And there was Henry, sitting with his betrothed, pretty Emily, a baron’s daughter from Scotland. Henry had become a skilled equestrian, much in demand for his ability to entertain by performing startling tricks on horseback. Emma knew that Robert almost burst with pride when he saw how the boy had turned out.
Henry was very much like his uncle and guardian in nature, generous and kind. No wonder young Emily adores him, Emma thought, proud to have had a hand in bringing him up.
And opposite her sat her mother-in-law and her husband Reginald Earl of Penbury. The earl was a wealthy, sociable old fellow who seemed to have mellowed the fearsome dowager. She looked ten years younger since marrying him, Emma thought, wondering what his secret was. She smiled across at the old lady, who smiled back with real warmth in her eyes. Emma and the countess had long made their peace. She doted on her grandson, Jeremy, Robert and Emma’s first, aged three and a half, who was just then sitting on his grandmother’s lap, banging a spoon on a dish with great enthusiasm.
Yes, the old lady had mellowed, and she would probably mellow even further when Emma gave birth to their next child, due in just a few months.
It was wonderful for Emma to have her father at the table to celebrate his youngest daughter’s betrothal. He, too, looked ten years younger. Emma recalled his terrible illness when she and Elizabeth had feared for his life. But here he was, beaming with good cheer, looking healthy and happy to be celebrating Elizabeth’s engagement.
For several years now, her father had been managing her apple orchard, a first anniversary present from Robert to Emma. He did an excellent job of it too, and the apple business had grown to be very profitable.
Yes, she was very proud of her family, and the key to all her happiness was sitting next to her at the old table. Her handsome duke, with whom she had fallen in love but feared she could never have, being a lowly governess. But somehow, together, through all the hardships and obstacles thrown in their way, they had made a wonderful life, helped to forge this marvelous family.
Overflowing with love for Robert, she reached over and squeezed his hand. Their eyes locked, and they smiled at each other, just as they had all those years ago and would continue to do as long as they lived.
This is the end of my novel “Capturing the Governess’s Heart”. 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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