A Duke’s Diamond in the Rough – Extended Epilogue

Even a character, a scene, or anything. You could say no if nothing bothered you.

October 1815

Edinburgh, Scotland

The smell of books, old and new, was always a welcome comfort to Percival. It was familiar to him and bespoke of intellect, academia, and creativity. That is partly why he so adored the library in the house that he and Aileen shared as husband and wife.

But here in a bookshop, it was a different story. Here, he was not alone, especially not on today of all days. Today he was doing a poetry reading at Dougal’s Fine Reads as part of the tour to promote his new volume. With Aileen’s help, he had finally done it–had finally published some of his dearest writings. Even Lord Byron had written Percival a note that said, “not bad.” It was high praise coming from such a famous name.

Several pairs of eyes looked up at him expectantly, all gathered to hear the famous author read the poems as they were meant to be heard.

Percival took a deep breath, then opened the book to the first page.

“To my wood nymph; my forest fairy, my perpetual inspiration,” he read. Aileen beamed at him from the back of the crowd, dressed in green and flowers, true to his moniker for her.

“In a forest so lush and serene,” he began to read.

The crowd was enraptured. He took requests for specific poems, and when they had all heard their fill, they asked him about the writing process or where he got his inspiration. Percival entertained them all with grace and candor, and when the last eager listener finally left the bookshop, it was nearly night.

“Well,” Aileen said, her hands on her hips, “we ought to get back to the inn. That was quite a lot of visitors.”

“Indeed! How wonderful is that?” Percival said excitedly, grasping both of her shoulders.

“I am happy for your success. I just… I miss home. I cannot wait to go back.”

Percival’s expression softened. This journey had partly been a tour for his new volume of poetry but they’d done sightseeing, made love on various balconies in Greece and Italy, and enjoyed excellent food and wine. They’d also done quite a lot of work to promote his poems throughout the Continent and Great Britain. Aileen had not shown weariness until this last leg of the trip in Scotland. She had also left behind her little botanical shop, which she was loathe to do, but she loved Percival more than her plants.

“I know. But your father has excellent staff running it, and our own staff is managing the house well enough. You mustn’t worry.”

“I am not worried, only fatigued. But not enough to poison your tea,” she said with a wink.

Percival grinned at this little show of humor from his wife.

“I’m sure even I can identify the poisonous plants now. Perhaps I have developed an immunity about which you are uncertain.”

“Unless you just told me about said immunity,” she said with a raised eyebrow.

He smacked his lips and looked down at the floor.

“Ah, yes. Good point. But… I trust you.”

“And I trust you,” she said, bopping the tip of his nose with her fingertip. He loved that even after two years of marriage, they were still playful and witty with each other. So many couples lost the shine after a year, or even just a few months, but not them. Aileen had managed to conquer his heart, a feat many in the ton thought impossible. Then again, Aileen was an impossible sort of woman. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.


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