Their Destiny’s Rocky Road – Extended Epilogue

Three Years Later

“Hurry, he’ll be here at any moment!” Hannah said. “Robert, did you shake the rugs?” 

Robert paused to grin up at his wife. “Of course I did, dear. You asked me to do it. Besides, it’s not like you’re in any fit state to do it yourself.” 

Hannah rolled her eyes at him, unable to repress a fond smile. “Oh, get on with you. Where’s Hazel?” 

“Where do you think? Pouring over a book, of course.” 

“Of course.” 

The two of them exchanged smiles. Hazel had blossomed from a nervous, frightened child to a confident, intelligent young girl. Under the care of her brother and new sister-in-law, Hazel was almost unrecognizable. The only constant was her round glasses, perched on her nose. 

“I’ll go up and check on her,” Hannah said. Robert frowned. 

“Be careful, you’re in no condition to be climbing stairs.” 

“I’ll be fine.” Hannah bent to kiss him, and Robert moved up to meet her. 

One hand on her rounded, heavy belly, Hannah made her slow, laborious way upstairs. Their little house was no more than a cottage, with most of the rooms on the ground floor. Hazel had the room under the eaves, and she filled it with books and papers and maps, sprawled out and pinned up on the walls in a way that she”D never been able to do at home.

“Hazel?” Hannah called quietly, heaving her way up the last of the stairs. 

Hazel was lying on her stomach on the rug, with a large book open in front of her. It had some sort of map spread over two pages, and Hazel seemed quite enthralled by it. Her nose was almost touching the paper. 

She leapt to her feet when she saw Hannah. 

“Hannah, be careful! You shouldn’t be climbing up and down stairs like this. You could have called me down!” 

“Oh, I’m fine. I’m sure a little exercise won’t hurt.” 

Hazel pressed her lips together in a way that indicated that she didn’t believe that, at all, but she said nothing and simply pulled out a chair for Hannah to sit on. 

“How are you feeling?” Hazel asked. 

Hannah rolled her eyes. “Heavy. I feel heavy. Oh, and sick.” 

“At least you haven’t got long to go.” 

“No more than a month, by my reckoning.” 

Hazel smiled. “Are you excited?”

“Nervous, more like.” Hannah patted her belly. “Raising a child is no joke.” 

“Yes, but you know you’ll be good at it.” 

“Do I?”

Hazel looked incredulously at her. “You raised me, didn’t you? You and Robert, between you?” 

“I suppose so.” Hannah paused, eyes on a stack of paper on Hazel’s desk. Even from here she recognized the looping, confident handwriting. “Has your mother written again?” 

Hazel nodded. “She met Ryan’s family for the first time since they’ve been married. They live so far away, you see. Apparently, none of the family like her. Ma was very upset.” 

Hannah patted Hazel’s shoulder sympathetically. Neither Hazel nor Robert had seen Emma since the day they left her house. They certainly hadn’t seen the awful Aunt Jane, which was good since Hazel still occasionally had nightmares about her. However, Robert had written to Emma soon after he and Hannah were married, giving her the facts and an address. None of them had expected a letter. 

They had all been wrong. 

Emma wrote regularly, if not often, and Hazel dutifully answered those letters with letters of her own. Over the years, the letters had grown longer and more detailed. Only last year, shortly before they had realized Hannah was pregnant, Hannah had finally been able to convince Robert to write to his mother. They received a reply as quickly as the post could carry it. 

Hazel occasionally gave Hannah the letters to read. They were strange, more like the letters of a woman writing to an old acquaintance rather than a mother writing to her daughter. Still, Hazel, at least, seemed resigned, even content. Perhaps now she didn’t have to rely on her mother for her care and home, Hazel and Emma could have something of a relationship. 

Hannah had fewer hopes for Robert and Emma, but nobody could deny that they had made progress. Good progress. 

“How do you feel about it?” Hannah asked quietly. She had learnt the value of this question. Not just asking the question but waiting after asking for it. Sometimes, she had to wait, and wait, and wait. But she always got her answer, and it was always worth the wait. 

As always, Hazel paused, chewing her lip and collecting her thoughts. 

“She’s happy,” Hazel finally said, “with Ryan. It’s been two and a half years since they got married, and they still love each other. In their own way, at least. I don’t think I can ever forgive her for the choices she made but staying angry won’t change anything. She’s happy, and… well, that makes me happy. It’s a freeing thing, to decide that you won’t hold a grudge anymore. It’s a lot easier, to be honest.” 

Hannah nodded. “You’ve thought a lot about this, haven’t you?” 

Hazel smiled. “I’m a deep thinker. That’s what you said, wasn’t it?” 

“Was I wrong?” 

“You’re never wrong, Hannah.” Hazel gave her a gentle nudge. Hannah was in the middle of chuckling to herself when she let out a gasp and clutched her belly. 

Hazel was on her feet in an instant. “What? What? Hannah, what is it?” 

“Nothing, calm down. The baby just kicked, that’s all.” 

“Oh.” Hazel sank back onto the rug. “You scared me!” 

“I’m sorry.” Hannah chuckled, heaving herself to her feet. “Right, I’ve got my wind back, so I’m going back downstairs. Remember, our guest will be here within the hour. Be ready for supper later.”

“I will,” Hazel answered, going back to her book and her map, which seemed to engross her far more than a collection of colored lines and a set of square distance markers should ever interest anyone. 

Smiling to herself and shaking her head, Hannah slowly made her way back downstairs. 

 

“Are you alright, sweetheart?” Robert called from the kitchen. 

“Quite alright, I just needed to pull Hazel’s nose out of a book.” 

“Care to come and see my progress?” 

“I’d love to.” Hannah waddled through the narrow corridors of her home, cursing her large belly. She couldn’t get through the doors sideways, now. It was very embarrassing. 

Their little homestead was cosy and perfect for them. Of course, if more children followed this little one, they might need to either expand their cottage or find somewhere else very soon. 

The kitchen was the largest room in the house, kept warm in the winter by the large fireplace and kept cool in the summer by the stone floors and thick walls. Robert was hunched over his pet project by the fireplace, with one of the cats lying on the kitchen table, watching and purring in approval. 

“You’d better hurry with that,” Hannah commented. “We’ll be on our fifth child by the time it’s finished.” 

“Five children? Good heavens.” 

“Yes, that might be too much. Do you think we should settle for one perfect child?” 

Robert chuckled. “Well, this is us, so we’re unlikely to get a perfect child on the first go, I’m afraid.” 

He sat back, revealing his project. It was a baby’s crib, carved from fine, polished oak. It had rockers and high walls to stop a toddling child climbing out, and it was large enough to last a child for several years. It wasn’t quite finished, with some rough edges, and a carving on the headboard that hadn’t quite taken shape yet. 

Hannah reached out, smoothing the wood with her palm, and ran a fingertip over the half-finished carving. 

“What’s this?” she asked.

Robert smiled fondly up at her. “It’s a knight rescuing a princess.” 

Hannah leaned down, squinting further at it. “Are you sure? It looks rather like a princess is rescuing the knight.” 

Robert’s grin widened. “Yes, that might be it. You never know.” 

“Well, our baby will love it regardless. He was kicking earlier, by the way. Hazel was horrified.” 

Robert chuckled. ‘Poor Hazel. Why are you so sure it’s a boy, by the way?” 

Hannah shrugged. “I don’t know. I just am. I suppose I could be wrong; I really have no way to tell, but somehow I don’t think so. Look, he just did it again?” 

“What?” 

“Kicked. Here, feel.” Hannah reached out and took Robert’s hand, placing it flat on the side of her belly. They waited for a few breathless moment, then Robert sucked in a breath. 

“I felt that! How strange.” 

“It’s like he’s kicking his way out.” Hannah grimaced. “I hope that means the labour won’t last too long.” 

“So do I, for you.” Robert lifted Hannah’s hand to his lips, kissing the knuckles. “I can’t wait for our baby to get here. We’ve waited so long.” 

“Neither can I. Between you and me, I don’t think Hazel is thrilled, but I’m sure she’ll love him when he gets here.” 

Robert tilted his head to one side. “Given any more thought to names, yet?” 

“I had a few ideas. How about Theodore? We could call him Teddy.” 

“Not Theodore. A boy called Theodore used to try and fight me at school. He was an awful boy.” 

“Hmm, alright. How about Jasper?” 

Robert considered. “I like Jasper. What about a middle name?” 

Hannah smiled softly. “I thought Marlowe.” 

Robert nodded. “Alright. Yes, we can call him that. Jasper Marlowe Stein. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” 

“I certainly do. By the way, did you answer those letters from Wesley?” 

Robert pulled a face. “I was hoping you could do that one. The last case he sent me looks a little dangerous.” 

Hannah nodded. “I will deal with that.” 

 

She padded out of the kitchen, hearing Robert’s rhythmic scraping staring up again behind her. Their little parlor was seldom used, but Hannah was determined not to keep it as some sort of forbidden land, with pristine carpets and furniture that one wasn’t allowed to sit on. In the corner of the parlor was a heavy mahogany desk which Hannah used for writing. 

Robert was no eloquent letter-writer. Their farmstead produced a little food and money, but they had to take on other work to keep themselves comfortable. So Robert had written to his old agent, Mr Wesley, and told him of their new home, and said that he would take on a few small bounty hunting jobs. 

Wesley had replied almost immediately, with a list of half a dozen jobs and their prices. Hannah had been shocked to see how much money a man could make from bounty hunting, and that almost outweighed her fear that Robert could be hurt and killed. She had gone through the list, ruled out the ones that were clearly too dangerous (they were unfortunately the best paid jobs, but Hannah would rather have a live, poor husband than a rich, dead one), and wrote back to Wesley. 

Since then, they’d had a reasonable back and forth. Wesley would write with curt, insincere enquiries about Robert’s health and his family, and then list a few jobs that he could take on. His letters usually included the fees from the last month’s jobs. 

Due to Robert’s reluctance to write letters and terrible correspondence habits, Hannah had naturally taken over. She did the family’s accounts, managed their money, and wrote to Wesley for work. They suspected that Wesley knew about this, since he more or less addressed his letters to Hannah, with a kind of grudging respect. 

Smiling to herself, Hannah pushed the letters aside. There were no new correspondences, and it could wait, in any case. They weren’t going to do any work today. Today was special, and Hannah was extremely excited. 

A scrap of paper under the letters caught her eye, and Hannah paused, pulling it out. It was a bland newspaper clipping, detailing a story about a man who had been shot and killed during what was apparently an attempted burglary. One man had escaped from the scene of the crime, never to be found again. There was a description of him there – a tall, thin man, with flame-red hair.

There were names there, but no pictures. The shooting had been written off as a simple case of self-defense. 

It had taken place on a sweet little homestead in Parker’s Crest. 

There was another newspaper clipping, but this one was much more detailed. It was the story of a man who had been arrested for an attempted bank robbery. A tall man, a tall, thin man with flame-red hair. 

Hannah smiled to herself, looking down at an artist’s sketch of what was clearly Simon Moran, grim-faced, older, and significantly worse for wear. He scowled at the reader, angry at the world and daring them to face him head on. The newspaper clipping was dated only a few weeks ago.

Simon Moran was in jail, and it was doubtful that he would ever be released. With Simon in jail and Lucas in his grave, Hannah felt as if she could finally breathe. The two most vengeful, evil men that she and Robert had ever met in their lives were gone, and that was a wonderful feeling. She no longer had to worry that Simon would find some lead, would somehow follow them from Parker’s Crest to their new home and wreck his vengeance, both for himself and his dead father. 

Now, they could be free. Finally, at long last, they didn’t need to look over their shoulders, eyes peeled for thin men with red hair and wolfish expressions. She supposed that with Robert’s job as a bounty hunter he would often be exposed to the worst of society, just like a lawman. Criminals would hold grudges, and he would experience danger. 

But right now, in this moment, the danger seemed to Hannah to be gone altogether. 

“Hannah!” Hazel called from upstairs. “The stagecoach is here. I can see it from the window.” 

“Thanks, Hazel!” Hannah called back. She tidied away the letters, neatening them and slipping them back in the drawer. She carefully smoothed newspaper clippings, tucking them safely between the covers of a book. 

She left Robert carving in the kitchen and Hazel engrossed in her books in the attic, each one happy and enjoying the little paradise they had created. Hannah opened the front door and stepped out into the oppressive midday heat. 

Squinting through the heat haze, she could see the black shape of the stagecoach at the bottom of the drive. She wondered how on earth he’d been able to convince the driver to drop him off right at his desired location. Hannah chuckled. 

Silver tongue, indeed. 

A small figure climbed down from the carriage, speaking to the stagecoach driver as he pulled his luggage down from where it was lashed to the carriage roof. He waved them off, and then the figure started to make his way up the drive. 

Hannah longed to run down the drive, squealing with joy, arms out and ready for an embrace. Unfortunately, her proud, swollen belly wouldn’t allow her to do that. 

Besides, it was far too hot. 

So Hannah stood on the doorstep, cradling her belly, and watched the figure, Marlowe Welsh, approach. 

Her father. Her Pa. It still felt good to say that. Hannah was determined that her baby would grow up all the way to adulthood knowing exactly who to call Pa. He would be safe, and happy, with a united family. He would never be abandoned. 

“Hannah!” Marlowe called, still a little distance away. Apparently, he simply couldn’t wait. “You look well!” 

“I look fat, Pa!” 

Red-faced and sweating in the heat, Marlowe finally reached the top of the drive. He let his suitcase fall to the dusty ground with a thud and reached out to hug his daughter. 

It was an awkward hug, with Hannah’s belly in between, but neither of them cared. 

“You don’t know how I’ve longed to see you,” Marlowe said, smiling. “Simon never came back to Parker’s Crest, by the way. I daresay he’d have been arrested if he tried, but I just wouldn’t take the risk.” 

Hannah nodded. “You were right. He could have followed you. He could have been waiting. But it doesn’t matter now, he’s gone.” 

“Ah yes, the botched bank robbery. It serves him right.” 

Hannah tilted her head, scrutinizing her father. “And you? How are you? You shot and killed a man, after all. I thought it was you, for weeks afterward. We couldn’t find anything out, and I was so sure you were dead.”

“It’s not so heroic as you might think. I tried to talk to them, but Lucas tried to push past into the house. I tried to stop him, he withdrew his pistol, we struggled, the gun went off.” Marlowe shivered. “It was awful. Simon would have killed me, right there and then, if it hadn’t been for the rest of the villagers coming up the drive to see where you were. He decided to run, thank heavens.” 

“Pity he hadn’t tried to rob a bank earlier,” Hannah commented. “Awful man.” 

“Hannah, you should know I… I felt terrible about…” Marlowe began, but Hannah held up a hand. 

“No more apologies, Pa. No more looking back. We’re family now, all of us. Now that Simon’s gone, you can come and see us often. After all, your grandbaby will be along soon.” 

Marlowe smiled. Behind Hannah, Robert came to the door, draping an arm around her shoulders. 

“Mr. Welsh,” he said, inclining his head and smiling. “It’s a pleasure to meet my father-in-law. Officially, that is.” 

“And you. You seem like an excellent son-in-law,” Marlowe said back, a smile slowly spreading across his face. “You should know that my daughter only deserves the best.” 

Robert pressed a kiss to the top of Hannah’s head. “And that’s exactly what she’ll get, for as long as I live.” 

“Oh, give over, you two,” Hannah said, laughing. “Now. Are we all going inside, or what?” 

Marlowe let out a sigh. “That would be wonderful. I’m fairly frying in this sun.” 

“You’d better get used to that,” Robert commented. “Just like you’d better get used to Hannah’s cooking. She fancies herself as quite the chef, but I’m afraid…”

“Hey!” Hannah exclaimed, aiming a half-hearted blow at Robert’s arm. He dodged, laughing. 

Marlowe watched, smiling softly. “My family,” he murmured. He stepped inside, and the door closed behind them. 

THE END


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49 thoughts on “Their Destiny’s Rocky Road – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I like the story of Hannah and Robert, both needing to find a place and family to belong to.
      Somehow their far ranging journeys by wagon and horse back seemed to be so easy and trouble free, not as I would imagine would be the case.

    2. This was a perfect story and a great example of what Happily Ever After is all about The characters were believable and I was happy to keep turning the pages The story was wrapped up nicely

    3. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had difficulty putting it down. Hanna is a brave and strong woman, easily admired. There are several typos, which were a little aggravating. Why do so many authors turn to extended epilogues? I feel that it should naturally be part of the main story.

      1. I feel the same way about extended epilogue. I don’t like having to put my email address in to all these requests. It’s a good way for you to get hacked. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe the caption saying that she will never sell my email address. It says at the top of the page that it is not secure.

        1. Dear Ollie, I can assure you that I have no intention of giving your email to any third party, I would like to have it just in order to inform you about any other releases you might be interested in. The website saying is not secure is probably just some technical issue and I will take a look at it. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and pointing this out!

      1. I certainly enjoyed the story and the epilogue. This Cinderella story was well done and an easy afternoon read! Thank you for continuing to keep us engaged with your written word(s)!

    4. I loved the story of Hanna and Robert. I was so happy for Hanna that she not only found love and marriage with Robert, but found her father who turned out to be a faithful father to her. Also glad Hazel got to live with them as one happy family. Also enjoyed the extended epilogue and a very happy ending.

    5. Thank you for another wonderful read. You are on my list of authors and as long as you keep churning out clean, wholesome stories, you’ll remain there. Thank you again for books that are refreshing in today’s society.

    6. I was finally able to read the extended episode and was not disappointed!!!! I had to know if Hannah’s father was the one who was shot and I’m so happy he wasn’t!!!! Loved everything about the story!!!!!
      Thank You!!

    7. This storyline was very original and who doesn’t like a happy ending? I can never understand mothers who don’t love their children. I would have enjoyed more detail on how Robert got his sister from the cold aunt.

    8. A lovely story showing a romance developing without words between the two. Also filled with danger and so much more. The EE really completes this book.

    9. I really entrusting this story. I think it ended to abruptly. I think it should have ended with Robert catching Simon. But it was a page turner.

  1. Another good story. There were several errors but nothing that deterred from the exciting story line and the fun characters. From Chicago to Missouri to Arkansas and Texas, I wasn’t sure where they would all end up.

  2. This is an amazing story with a long journey involved but happiness in the end The characters are diverse The extended epilogue is a good one and it lets us know what happens with the other characters

  3. A great story done with much research and Ellen nailed it. The lovely Hannah Welsh who always felt abandoned even by the handsome bounty hunter, Robert Stein, who she hired to find her pa after the death of her mother. Both had an unloving parent and the other parent loving and kind.
    The extended epilogue closed the story in great fashion.

  4. A wonderful extended epilogue! Set three years after the conclusion of the book. Robert, Hannah and Hazel are all doing well and expecting their first child! There were some slight errors but nothing that couldn’t be overlooked! Thank you Ellen Knightley for another great story!

  5. This book is a great read. I especially enjoyed Hazel and Hannah’s relationship.

    I admit to reading this happy ending story in a few hours in one day.

    Thank you for your excellent writing abilities and your obvious joy of writing

  6. A good storyline. I was unaware of Arkansas having any deserts. I thought it was full of mountains and such.

  7. Another well laid out tale. So glad that out of all the despair and heartache they got their happy ever after, Is it bad that I wish nothing but ill will towards Emma and Ryan “The Dastardly Duo” they deserve to live in the same misery they caused. A big brother like Robert “Yes Please”

    1. However you feel, dear, it’s always fair to feel it. We all have our reasons to react certain ways towards people, and especially those who only do harm! I am happy you enjoyed this, though, thank you very much!!

  8. Very compelling story! I enjoyed it and it was an excellent ending. I too have trouble with the corrections that are needed and don’t know how hard it is to do it after the book is out there…but it could make it “perfect” and that is always fun! Great job overall. I will move on to the next one!

  9. Excellent novel showing the struggles of women in the period and during th push west. No jobs with decent wages available and treatment of females were deplorable. Robert, bounty hunter , takes on the job of finding Hannah’s father after her mother died. He also had to place his sister who was kicked out by her mother. Drama and excitement pull the novel together as a love story evolves. Great novel I thoroughly enjoyed as an ARC.

  10. A good clean read! And thanks for the epilogue,
    Although like the earlier comment I also wish it ended the book, and not having to give out my email again,,,but all in all I enjoyed the book

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