Home Extended Epilogues A Blind Bride for the Lonely Cowboy Extended Epilogue

A Blind Bride for the Lonely Cowboy Extended Epilogue

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A Blind Bride for the Lonely Cowboy Extended Epilogue

Extended Epilogue 


For the first time in Rose's life, everyone she loved was in one place. Mark sat with Angela on his knee, while the twins scurried about the porch, screeching and laughing. It seemed that everyone had given up on trying to calm them down, because Billy and Archie were at that age where they simply had too much energy to be contained.

Arthur and his boys were in the kitchen now, finishing up the last bits since they insisted on helping, no matter how often Rose assured them it simply wasn't needed. Even Mark's aunt Betsy made an appearance later in the day, although everyone insisted that she only came for the free meal.

And amongst the gathering crowd, enjoying the summer sun, was everyone else that Rose knew and loved. Martha and her husband, as well as their two baby girls. Joseph's new wife, even the sweet girl that Lucian was courting had appeared, bringing with her the most delicious apple pie that Rose had ever tasted.

And, of course, there were her parents. They hadn't said much since their arrival that morning, but it still meant the world that they had decided to show at all. Perhaps this was the beginning of a better relationship with them. With enough time and gentle words, perhaps they would really start to see that this was what Rose wanted. Needed.

"I swear," Mark said as he wandered over to place a gentle hand on Rose's shoulder, "the boys are giving me the run-around. Your friend Martha is lucky she has twin girls."

"Luck is subjective," Rose quipped, now fighting back a laugh. "I've heard stories about those two, some even worse than anything Billy or Archie have attempted."

Mark's huff was filled with fondness. "I don't believe that for a second. They've been perfectly polite all day."

"Because they've seen what our two get up to and are storing away new ideas to torture poor Martha, most likely." Although Rose couldn't see Martha herself, she knew that the woman had chosen a seat right where the sun was warmest, sitting with both of her girls and Rose's youngest, Elliot.

Four babies in five years. Even now, six months after Elliot, it still struck Rose how absurd that sounded. How long had she lived, assuming that a family like this was out of reach? Too long, obviously, because she had six years to get used to this, and she was still amazed by what she had. Sometimes she still woke up and expected to find herself alone, only to roll over in bed and feel Mark asleep beside her. It was nights like those where she doubted herself most - but here, under the bright sun, surrounded by friends and family, it was difficult to feel unsure about anything.

Mark brushed loose hair from her face, tucking it neatly back into her bun. "I think I still need to practice more," he mused, his fingers intertwining with the curls, "but Angela won't let me near her hair to even try."

Rose smiled. Right, her hair. Mark had been trying to learn women's hairstyles so that he could better fix Angela's hair now that she had started school, but it was very much a work in progress, as was evidenced by the current state of Rose's messy, lopsided bun. She could probably have done better, but she didn't dare say so. "Just keep practicing," she declared with a grin, "you'll get there."

"Then maybe Angela will trust me enough to try on her."

Rose snorted. "Good luck with that."

Mark only laughed - and he might have said more, but then Arthur's voice called from across the porch, carrying past the shatter, as he called, "Mark? Help us take the food outside, would you?"

"The table isn't set up yet!"

"Then hurry it up," Arthur called back, but his voice was smiling. "You can't expect Rose to do all the work."

"I don't," Mark grumbled, but silenced when Rose pecked his cheek. Even now, he was still overcome with even the littlest signs of affection. It would have been sweet if it wasn't such a clear sign of how poorly he was treated by others. "I'll go and get the table ready, okay? Be back soon." Then he kissed her temple before darting off across the little garden space.

No sooner did he vanish when someone else replaced him. "Hey," a soft voice said, and Rose instantly knew it was Martha. "Your parents have been glaring at me the entire time, but they won't even say hello. Have they spoken to you yet?"

Rose frowned. "They arrived this morning, same train as you, and came right here... but no, they haven't said much. Why?"

Martha shifted. It was obvious in the way the grass rustled at her feet and the shift in her silhouette. One of the twins stood silently beside her – whether it was Nadia or Sophie, Rose couldn’t tell unless she spoke. Yet it was Martha who said, "it's only that it seems awfully odd, for them to take the trouble to come here and not even try to have a conversation, doesn't it?" A hand raised to ruffle her hair. “I don’t mean to pry, honest, but I’ve known these two almost as long as you, and this is odd even for them.”

Well, yes, but odd was a word that was practically made to describe her parents. And considering that they had only visited one other time since Rose had married Mark, it wasn't difficult to believe that they really had no intention of stopping to chat. Rose wondered if they had simply come here to check up on her and ensure she wasn't messing things up.

It was a sobering thought, but one that Rose had come to live with. Oh, well.

"Well if they don't talk to you, I think you should approach them," Martha suggested tentatively. She hopped from foot to foot, as if the thought intimidated her, but she offered a gentle hand on Rose's arm. "If anything, it can't make your relationship with them worse."

It was a bleak way of putting it but perhaps true all the same. "You're right," Rose replied, “what do I have to lose... where are they?"

"By the gate, watching the field."

"Thanks, Martha."

It didn't take long to find them, because their harsh whispers carried in the breezy air. Rose kept her head high as she approached, shoulders relaxed. She forced a smile too, although it fell flat on her lips. "Mama, Papa," she said, "Martha said you'd be here."

She could hear the discomfort in Mama's voice as she replied, "oh, she did? Are we not supposed to be here?"

Rose bit down on her lip. "You can go wherever you like, you're my guests - but everyone else is by the back porch, and food will be served soon. You'll be joining, I hope?"

Neither answered, and Rose knew they were sharing one of their looks. "I suppose, it is rather late, and I'm starving," Mama said eventually, "but I hope you keep those boys under control."

Anger bubbled in Rose's chest, but she fought it down. "Those boys are your grandchildren. You have four, in case you can't remember, although since you never visit, I suppose you'd only remember Angela." Her voice dripped with ice. "Perhaps you should take some time to get to know your family."

Her words must have done something, because after a moment, Papa let out a long sigh. He sounded older than Rose remembered. Far older than only the six years since she left. "We would very much enjoy getting to know our grandchildren," he answered finally, and the words came out like a physical pain. "And our son-in-law, too - but you must understand, Rose, that this is difficult for us to adjust to."

Ice in her veins. Fire in her chest. "You've had over half a decade to adjust."

"Yes, but we spent two decades under the assumption that... that this was something you would never have a chance to have."

There it was. The truth. Rose should have known, really, that Papa would say something like this; her parents had always treated her like she was something unfortunate, their expectations of her were so low that they were almost non-existent. Yet even after all these years, it stung to hear it right from Papa's lips. "Perhaps if you'd had a little more faith in me when I was a child, instead of locking me away and making me your maid, you would have seen that I'm just as capable as anyone else."

"We did it for your own protection," Mama interjected, a frown in her voice. Did she really believe that? "You couldn't go to school or get a job. Even simple tasks are a struggle for you. What were we supposed to do?"

Rose's lips pursed. Deep down, she wondered if inviting them here had been a mistake. Mark had warned her that people rarely changed, and her parents would be no different. Perhaps he was right. The thought made her heart stutter anxiously against her ribs. "You were supposed to treat me like your daughter, not a burden you were stuck with."

"But-"

"No." Rose was having none of this. If they truly wanted to start a scene here, then Rose knew she couldn't really stop them. Yet she wasn't about to let them talk down to her like they had for the first twenty-two years of her life. "Sometimes, you have to admit when you're wrong. Now is one of those times. I want us to be a family again, truly, but you have to put in the effort, too." A deep breath, one that rattled her lungs. "This is my home, and you are guests. Perhaps you shouldn't disrespect your host so much, either."

"Very well," Mama replied coolly. Rose still remembered, from her childhood when her sight wasn't so bad, how Mama's face pinched when she was angry. She imagined it was happening now, too. "You're an adult now, you can do as you please, Rose. You left of your own accord to marry Mark, which proves that you are more independent than we ever gave you credit for."

A smile quirked at the edge of Rose's lips. "Thank you, Mama. See? Perhaps we can get along; so long as everyone is respectful of each other. Do you think you can both manage that?" Rose felt as if she was talking to children - but then, they were acting like children, too.

Mama's voice was clipped. "We can manage."

"We came here to make amends." Father let out a heavy sigh, one that spoke of resignation. He shifted awkwardly, like some great weight had been placed upon him. He didn't seem to want to say his next words, stalling with a rough clear of his throat. Then, "and you're right, you always have been more independent than we gave you credit for. I'm sorry, Rose."

Another sigh, one that spoke of resignation. "Yes, you're right. I'm sorry too, Rose."

I'm sorry. Such simple words, ones that most people heard often, and yet it was the first time that Mama and Papa had ever said them to her. It was enough to make her mind stall, and the breath left her lungs in one great gasp, the shock freezing her in place.

"Oh," Mama huffed, "don't make such a fuss of it. Can't you see that we're trying to compromise here?"

Compromise? On what, Rose wasn't sure, and yet it was the closest thing that Rose had ever had to acceptance. It wasn't an apology or even an excuse, but it was a start. And for that, she was grateful. "Thank you," she said eventually, the words leaving her in one whispering breath, "now why don't you come and eat with everyone else? I'm sure Arthur and the others would like to be formally introduced."

Papa followed, his footsteps heavy on the hard ground. Mama was less eager, trailing behind and no doubt scowling, but they both accepted her invitation, and perhaps that was enough for now.

Maybe in the future, Rose could repair this broken relationship. For now, she was grateful for what she had - a beautiful husband and loving children, friends of all kinds, and a wonderful life that a few years ago, she never could have imagined was meant for her.

So perhaps things weren't perfect, but they were certainly close.

 

The End


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