a Lady's Reputation

Extended Epilogue

James paced around the door, praying under his breath. He was agitated, his body convulsing with fear and panic. The news of Christine’s pregnancy was met with immediate elation from him. He was excited, more than ever, to have a child. But as the days wound into weeks and finally into months, the excitement turned grim.

He heard from Charles how childbirth could be and that scared him. Not that Christine was not strong enough, but James feared that he was not strong enough to be a father. Christine had assured him that he would be a great father, and by the day, he grew sure of that.

But as he paced in front of their bedchamber, her screams only got louder and more frantic. He was terrified, wondering if he would ever put her through such an ordeal again. His heart thumped uncomfortably in anticipation, mouth whispering words of prayer.

James turned around, pacing the way he came. It had been hours since Christine went into labour, and all he had heard were the ever-growing screams. The midwives his mother called were assuredly the best, but he was getting even more worried.

Could childbirth take this long? he asked himself, turning around and trailing his fingers across the grain of the mahogany door frame.

He wanted to shove his way into the room, past the doctors and midwives, to be there for Christine. James wondered why he could not be there now after he watched her belly grow round and wide as the months whistled past. It was his right to be present, but he was told by his mother that he might faint at the sight of Christine bringing a child into the world.

Childbirth was supposed to be a wonderful thing, but all he could hear were screams of agony. James wanted to hold her hand and tell her that everything would be alright, to kiss her forehead and face. Just like they did on the night of their wedding.

James did not try to shut out the shouts with memories of the bliss he shared on their wedding night. It would be selfish for him to do that while his wife was bringing forth a child. So he continued to pace, senses alert in case he was called.

And that was when he heard it.

A soft cry at first, followed by a shocking wail that tore through the silence of the house. James stood there, relief plundering his veins. Christine had stopped screaming now, and that alone was welcoming.

His heart rammed against his ribcage as he heard his child cry. His own child and nobody else’s. Happiness and joy flooded through him, and it made him jump and yell.

The bed-chamber door opened, and James saw his mother smiling at him, her hair plastered to her forehead with sweat. “You are a father! Of a healthy baby boy!”

James wasted no time rushing in. Past the doctors and midwives. To the love of his life.  


She was holding their child in her arms, sweat matted to her forehead. Her body was draped in sheets, but none of that mattered. It did not even matter if it was a girl or a boy. Because the child was his and Christine’s.

Smiling, he reached down to part the gold locks on her face. She was paler than usual but strong. His son was still wailing, swaddled in blankets. He had bright hair like Christine’s, and James fell in love all over again. With her and his child.

His heart imploded at that moment, filled with nothing but joy, love, and peace. James bent to kiss her forehead and looked at his wailing son. His voice rang through the room, shrill but beautiful.

“What will his name be?” Christine asked, her voice soothing all of James’ worries.

“Anthony,” he breathed softly so that he did not make his child cry any further. “After my father.”

Christine smiled, and James carried his baby in his arms. Truly, love was beautiful and kind. And truly, nothing was better than love.

Staring outside the window as the sun rose to kiss the skies, James truly felt at peace.

                                                                                                         THE END

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