The Lord’s Wicked Ways – Extended Epilogue

Three Years Later

A child’s giggle came from the curtains behind Lila at her escritoire, where she sat finishing a letter to her father, hopefully in time for his upcoming birthday. “Clayton!” she called without looking up.

“Yes, dear?” Her husband appeared in the doorway with a smile.

“I do believe you’ve lost something.” She didn’t look up, but she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. Behind her, she could hear not one but two distinct whispers.

“Oh?” His eyebrow rose.

“Were you not helping get prepared for our picnic?” She signed her name and looked up at her handsome husband.

“But of course, my love.” Clayton gave her a longing look. Their days of picnicking by the lake as a private getaway were long over.

Lila shook her head at him. “So those are fairies hiding behind my good curtains?”

The somewhat confused expression on his face instantly vanished. His attempts to keep his smile from his face were only marginally successful, but it was audible in his voice. “Fairies? It’s a blessing to be visited by fairies, is it not?” Giggles exited the lumps behind the curtains.

“Do you intend to defend your wife from such creatures, or do you plan to leave me at their mercy?”

“Heaven forbid, my lady. Let us go fairy hunting, then.” A squeal from an excited child made Clayton and Lila share a smile. The smaller of the two lumps behind the curtains was already wiggling excitedly.

“Then let us chase fairies in three… two… one!” Two toddlers shot out from behind the curtains, one toddling too unstably to really run away. With a quickly shared glance with his wife, Clayton chased their elder son, Liam, and left Lila to pretend to chase their younger son, Tobias, who hadn’t quite reached his first birthday. She did little more than creep up behind him as he shrieked and laughed, getting closer and letting him escape her in endless circles until finally she caught him up in her arms and kissed him all over his face.

Her son squealed in almost ear-piercing glee. “Mummy! Nooo!”

“I caught you, so I get to kiss you.” she laughed with him, sinking onto the couch with her son in her lap. Tobias wiggled in her lap but seemed to enjoy snuggling into her despite his protests.

Clayton reentered the room, their almost two-and-a-half-year-old son thrown over his shoulder, the boy wriggling and kicking ineffectually as both laughed.

“Papa, put me down!”

Clayton did as he was commanded, bending and setting Liam on the couch beside his mother. “There. Boys, what have you done with your nurse? I thought she was getting you dressed to go out and have a picnic.”

“She did!” Liam insisted, waving in a general way at himself and his brother. Both wore matching little white outfits to leave the house, even if both would be soiled and grass-stained in no time.

Lila tickled her younger son on her lap until he shrieked. That was quite enough of that, however. She looked up to joke with her husband only to catch sight of the boys’ nurse entering the room, looking embarrassed. “I’m so sorry, my lady. They promised they would sit where I put them and not run away.” Her eyes turned to the boys, who both shrank down guiltily.

Clayton clicked his tongue. “Liam, Tobias…”

“Promised a picnic!” the younger of the two pointed out.

“And we’ll be going for a picnic just like I promised,” Clayton agreed. “That’s what a promise is. You should have stayed where Miss Adams asked after you promised.” Both boys looked penitent, so he gave in, sharing a smile with Lila. The boys were too young to hold accountable, but they’d agreed they wanted to make sure honesty would run in the family. “Now, which of you is going to go check if the carriage is ready?”

Shouts of “Me! Me!” came from both boys. They slid away from their parents, running out of the room and rampaging down the stairs like a herd of wild horses. Of course, Tobias’s attempts at running forced Liam to be patient with his younger brother. Clayton trailed after them with a nod for the two ladies that remained.

“I’m sorry, madam—” The nurse began, but Lila shook her head.

“No, it’s quite all right, Miss Adams. I love my boys, and they do tend to get riled up with promises of picnics and other such outings.” Lila rose to her feet to make for the door to follow her boys. “Is everything else ready?”

“Yes, madam.”

Lila gestured for the governess to precede her out the door. “Then let us go seek out the carriage which has my sons laughing so excitedly down there.”


Not for the first time, Clayton wished he could whisk his lovely wife away to celebrate their anniversary more privately, but that would never work, not with their boys. He loved his sons dearly, but occasionally he would enjoy making love to their mother spontaneously, rather than being forced to plan out their evenings around such encounters.

The family reached the lake, and Clayton quickly leaped from the carriage to hand his sons down to the ground before they hurt themselves. “Don’t run off, boys; you need to stay where Miss Adams can see you. Remember?”

“Yes, Papa!” Liam even grabbed his brother’s hand to make sure Tobias stayed put, even if it would only last for a moment.

Clayton offered the young woman a hand down first, knowing she would be needed to chase after his boys any moment now.

“All right, boys,” the nurse said, offering her hand to the younger of the two. “Let’s go to the picnic blanket over there!” The boys laughed and started running off, the meadow looking more like a well-tended lawn than it had when Clayton and Lila had first taken up residence. They didn’t want their sons running afoul of unpleasant wildlife.

Surrounded by the children’s cries of delight, Clayton turned to his wife, grasping her waist and gently picking her up to bring her down to join him. “Happy anniversary, my love,” he told her, bending his head to kiss her. Three years had flown by; he almost couldn’t believe it.

“Happy anniversary, dear husband,” Lila replied, and then after a glance to make sure their boys and the nurse weren’t looking, gave him a more forceful kiss, gripping his shirt as she made the decision to deepen the kiss. “The rest will have to wait till tonight, I’m afraid,” she murmured under her breath.

Clayton groaned quietly. “That’s not fair, dearest. It’s cruel and far too early in the day. It’s not as though I can snuggle with you when the boys and their nurse are here.”

“I don’t see why not. Come sit with me on the blanket; they won’t even notice. Look, they’re already playing some kind of game.”

He turned and saw that she was absolutely right. The boys were chasing one another and their nurse in circles. Liam was big enough to catch his brother, and Tobias could catch their nurse’s carefully planned “escape,” and then she could chase the older of the two boys. It seemed well planned out to drain them of energy, at least enough so they might sit still when they opened the large hamper of food that had been delivered to the meadow before they arrived.

Clayton reached for his wife’s hand, tucking it into the crook of his elbow before they headed for the plaid blanket. In the three years, they had lived at Clover Hill, Lila and Clayton had been coming to the lake frequently each summer, from as early as they could stand the spring chill. Usually, their first several visits were too cold to jump in the cold lake water, but by the time the weather warmed up, so had the lake. “I must admit I failed to figure out what to get you for an anniversary gift, love.”

“That’s all right, Clayton,” Lila softly replied as they approached the blanket. “I have something for you that’s big enough to share.”

“Oh? And what’s that?”

She looked up and gave him a cheeky smile. “Guess.”

Clayton blew out his breath in a great big huff of a laugh. “You’re too creative for me to guess, love. That old watch of my father’s you had fixed up and mounted as a keepsake still takes the cake for the best gift yet.”

Lila laughed. “This is better.”

When they reached the blanket, he was so wrapped up in his wife’s secret that he didn’t even notice when the laughter of two toddlers swirled closer or farther away from them. Clayton and Lila had sat down close to each other, but he pulled her closer until she sat between his knees. “I don’t know. If I give up, will you tell me?”

“How about a hint?” Lila laughed at him when he pouted. “Oh, very well. You’re going to have to wait about eight months for the gift, anyway.”

The father of her children opened his mouth to question her when the time frame clued him in. “Are you? Truthfully?” he breathed, feeling every part of him practically floating with the idea of another child. Lila nodded several times fast, grinning while pressing her hands to her midsection. Clayton wrapped her in his arms, pressing his hands atop hers, and leaned in to kiss her soundly.

Only when their kissing toppled them over sideways did he retreat from his lovely wife. “I’m sure this time we’ll have a daughter for the boys to fuss over.” He knew that Lila wasn’t upset with two boys, but she had hoped for a girl the second time.

A slow smile spread across her face. “We can only hope. With my luck, we’ll end up with eight boys before we get a little princess for them to protect.” The sly smile she presented that statement with tugged at him low in the gut.

“Good heavens, just think of that. What a madhouse it would be!” Clayton laughed, his heart lighter than it had been in years. He kissed her cheek, leaning in so he could whisper, “Though I’ll not argue trying again and again. Let’s fill the house to bursting.”

“Goodness, you’ll fill me to bursting first.” She attempted to straighten, but he was having none of it. He pulled her over sideways again just to hear her squeal in surprise. She didn’t disappoint him, nor did the answering squeals from the two little boys who ran over to climb on top of their parents’ lying half on and half off the blanket.

“Would you like to have a little sister, boys? Or a little brother?” Clayton asked, tickling one barefoot and then one rosy cheek.

“I’m the little brudder!” announced Tobias to everyone’s amusement.

“Yes, dear, you are,” Lila agreed, sitting up slowly with Liam’s tiny shoes in her lap. “But you’re going to have an even littler brother or sister by the end of winter. Do you think you can be a big brother like Liam is your big brother?”

Tobias looked solemn, picking at the grass as if it would answer the question for him. “Think so,” he muttered after a moment. “Can we play togedder?”

“Oh yes,” Clayton confirmed. “What about you, Liam? Could you be a big brother for two little siblings? It’s a big responsibility.”

“Oh yes,” Liam echoed, nodding once like it was a fact they could count on.

Clayton rolled his son off of his chest so he could sit up and hug Lila to him again. “You are such a wonderful present yourself, my dear, but I love your anniversary present already.”

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  • This book was well written, entertaining, and had lessons on revenge, love, and forgiveness. As revenge for a rejection and betrayal that caused his father’s death, the Duke of Wilensdale’s daughter is ruined and Clayton just happens got be there to save her. What started as marriage of convenience is transformed into true love that will require much forgiveness. Ms.Francis leads the couple to a HEA in an entertaining and well developed story.

  • Revenge sours, and the story evolves with the hero regretting his actions and trying to atone for his misdeeds and overcome their repercussions to reach HEA. A lesson in forgiveness.

  • “Honesty is the best policy” is a tried but rue phrase for a reason. I am so glad that Clayton and Lila could see their way back to each other. The additional epilogue was a great period to their story.

  • I liked the story very much. It is another example of the importance of the “ton” in 19th century England/London. Revenge sours and the Clayton tries to atone his bad actions. Lila forgives him. They have a brilliant ending with so much love in the family and with two offsprings and one on the way after three years of marriage!

  • I enjoyed reading this story. Love does conquer all especially the lesson in forgiveness. Have lived reading your books and this is my third one and am going thru the list.

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