On the Run from Destiny – Extended Epilogue

One Year Later

Today was the big day. 

Amélie repeated that to herself, over and over. She’d been up before dawn, jittery and nervous. 

‘Go back to sleep,’ Doc had murmured sleepily, still buried in his pillows and blankets. 

‘Can’t,’ Amélie had answered gruffly, climbing out of bed. 

‘You should try. I’m surprised that Fleur hasn’t woken us up by now.’ 

Amélie had smiled at that and gone to check on their baby girl. 

Fleur had seemed like a good name. It sounded suitably French, and it was a pretty, delicate name. Lots of people had had lots of suggestions for names. Mary, Ann, Jane, Susannah, and Alice were all suggested, but Amélie didn’t really like any of them. They were nice names, certainly, but very … well. Very ordinary. 

Amélie wanted her daughter to have an extraordinary name. Something that fit with her heritage, perhaps. 

Oh, some of the older church ladies had turned up their noses at the name. 

‘What’s wrong with a nice, sensible name like Ann or Jane?’ they said, more than once. ‘Don’t saddle the child with something silly.’ 

Amélie and Doc had smiled politely, listened quietly, then gone ahead to do whatever they wanted. In this case, doing whatever they wanted included naming their daughter Fleur Marianne Pacer. 

Her crib was in Amélie’s old room. Doc had built it himself, then they’d had to call Tom in to smooth out all the mistakes and splinters. It was a fine crib, big enough for a large child, and comfortable, too. Lena had made a handful of little toys, dangling on a string above the crib. That meant that when Fleur lay on her back at night, she could look up at the toys floating gently above her head. 

Amélie slipped into the room, leaning over the crib. Fleur was awake, large blue eyes blinking placidly up at her mother. 

She was going to have red hair. There was a halo of fuzz around Fleur’s soft head, and that fuzz was decidedly red. Amélie bent over her, whispering nonsense and patting Fleur’s soft, round cheek. Fleur gurgled happily, lifting up her arms to be picked up. 

Amélie cradled her baby close, whispering little things in Fleur’s ear, singing tuneless snatches of an almost-forgotten lullaby. 

‘My mama, your grandmother,’ Amélie murmured to Fleur, ‘she used to sing me that song. I couldn’t go to sleep without it.’ 

Fleur blinked up at her, fat little hands reaching out to grab Amélie’s long red braids. 

‘I wonder if you’ll like your grandmother?’ Amélie whispered. 

Fleur didn’t know. She just looked back up at her mother, sleepy and content.

*

The morning seemed to fly past and drag by, all at the same time. Amélie was terrified, one eye on the clock at all times. 

Doc leaned over, reaching out to take her hand. ‘It’s alright,’ he murmured. ‘It’s going to be alright.’ 

‘How do you know that?’ Amélie whispered back. ‘I haven’t seen them in almost a year and a half. So much has changed, and …’ she broke off, biting her lip. ‘I’m afraid,’ she admitted.

Doc gently squeezed her hand. ‘I know,’ he said. ‘But you’re not alone, Amélie. I will be here, all day. I promise you that.’ 

He sat back and glanced over at the clock. ‘We need to leave soon.’ 

Amélie drew in a nervous breath. ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ 

There was a pause. ‘You don’t have to, not if you don’t want to,’ Doc said comfortingly. ‘I can go by myself if you like.’ 

Amélie squeezed her eyes shut. ‘That’s a cowardly thing to do.’ 

‘No, it isn’t. A cowardly thing would be to never invite your parents to visit. You are not a coward, Amélie, I promise you that. You’re just nervous, and it’s understandable. You’ll be perfectly safe with me, I promise. Besides, your parents are the ones who should feel nervous.’ 

Doc went back to eating his breakfast, and Amélie stared down at her own untouched porridge. Doc was right, of course, but that didn’t change the way she felt. Amélie felt like a child, out of place and on edge. 

She was going to see her parents for the first time since all this had passed. What would they be like? What would they expect from her? 

Well, if they expected the quiet, docile, and elegant Amélie they’d known in New Orleans, they would be sorely disappointed. Amélie had changed in so many ways. She’d faced her worst fears and very nearly had her heart broken. She was a mother, both to her sister-in-law and her own baby. 

She was different. Every day, Amélie cradled Fleur in her arms and wondered how her mother, Marie, could have let her own child be hurt by somebody else, even if her own husband was doing the hurting. 

That wasn’t the right attitude. This visit was all about patching up relationships and becoming a family once again. 

‘I’ll come with you,’ Amélie said suddenly. Doc looked up, eyebrows raised. 

‘Are you sure?’ 

‘Quite sure. I won’t bring Fleur, though. It’ll be too hot for her. Nellie, can you stay in and watch Fleur?’ 

Nellie reluctantly tore her attention away from her book. She was becoming quite the young lady now, fiercely intelligent and just as mad as ever. Amélie wouldn’t want her any other way, although she had a feeling that Nellie would soon start causing trouble between the two young men of her acquaintance, Jimmy and Matthew. 

Amélie thought that perhaps Matthew had the advantage there. 

‘Of course,’ Nellie answered, reaching over to tweak one of Fleur’s chubby fingers. The baby loved this game, flinging up her round arms and squealing with delight. She loved her Aunt Nellie, and her Aunt Nellie loved her. A year ago, Amélie would never have believed that Nellie would be so good with children. If someone had told her that she would happily leave her own child under Nellie’s care, she would have laughed. 

Well, she wasn’t laughing now. Fleur was laughing, though, as her aunt determinedly tickled her, egged on by Fleur’s shrieks of delight. 

 

*

 

‘Do you know,’ Amélie commented, ‘I haven’t been to this train station since you and I met? Since I first came here from New Orleans?’ 

Doc grinned down at her. ‘Is this bringing back happy memories?’ 

‘Happy? I’m afraid not. I was terrified. I was afraid I was making a huge mistake, that my family would never forgive me, that you’d be ugly …’ 

‘Ugly!’ 

‘Don’t worry,’ Amélie said reassuringly, jokingly patting his arm. ‘You were passable.’

Doc snorted, pretending to be hurt. ‘Passable? You wound me, my dear wife. Besides, I’m sure I described myself in my letters.’ 

‘You did, but not in great detail. It was very vague, I’m afraid, my dear.’ 

Doc chuckled, squeezing Amélie’s hand. Her arm was looped through his, and they stood together on the rickety old train platform, waiting for the train to come chugging in. 

Amélie was glad Doc was here. She knew that he had plenty of chores and rounds to get on with, but he’d said right from the start that he intended to be there when she met her parents for the first time in so long. 

In fact, glancing up at Doc’s serious, grim face, she worried that he might not be too hospitable to her parents. She knew that he blamed them for many of the things that had happened to Amélie. 

Still, Amélie just wanted to rekindle her relationship with her parents. Wasn’t that what any child wanted? 

The train came puffing into the station, and Amélie sucked in a breath. She didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps her parents wouldn’t have come at all. Perhaps they would be cold and unfriendly, with a ticket booked back to New Orleans the very next day. 

She certainly hadn’t expected to see her parents’ faces pressed against a train window as they passed by. 

Terrence and Marie pulled back immediately, seeming a little embarrassed to be caught staring. 

The train seemed to take forever to stop, and then passenger after passenger stepped off the train, each one rudely not Amélie’s parents. 

But finally, they appeared. 

Marie stepped out of the train first, holding one dainty little bandbox. She looked thinner than before, with more gray in her hair and more lines on her face. She stared across the platform at Amélie and Doc, then turned anxiously to her husband, who was climbing out of the train behind her. 

Terrence seemed to be busying himself with their suitcases, in an attempt not to look Amélie in the eye. His face was bright red, and his hands were shaking. 

Taking a deep breath, Amélie made the first move. She began to walk towards them, a smile on her face. Doc followed at her heels. 

Marie broke first. She dropped her bandbox with a cry, and ran across the platform, arms outstretched. Amélie barely had time to register surprise before her mother threw her arms around her, pulling her close in a tight, squeezing grip. 

‘My darling girl,’ Marie said, voice muffled. ‘I’m so happy to see you.’ 

Amélie’s arms went around Marie of their own accord. ‘And I’m happy to see you, Mama,’ she whispered. ‘I’ve got so much to tell you.’ 

Marie held on for at least a minute, during which time Terrence sidled up. Amélie couldn’t see Doc’s face, since he stood behind her, but she saw her father blanch and look away. Obviously, Doc had been practicing his death stares. 

The two women finally drew apart, with Marie red-eyed and sniffling. Amélie turned to her father, quite ready for a hug, but Terrence spoke first. 

‘I think … I think I owe you an apology,’ Terrence said quickly, as if afraid he wouldn’t be able to finish what he wanted to say. 

‘Pa, we don’t have to do this here.’ 

‘No, no. I won’t accept your hospitality until I’ve said what I’ve got to say. Not a bite of your food will I eat, nor will I set foot in your house.’ Terrence drew in a deep breath. ‘I’m sorry, Amélie. I almost made you marry that terrible man. I led him straight to you with my own stupidity. Your mother almost tore my head off for that.’ 

‘Mama?’ Amélie said incredulously, glancing at her mother. Marie blushed and said nothing. 

‘I’ve been a fool, Amélie,’ Terrence said frankly. ‘A fool. A bad husband, a bad father, and a terrible listener. I’m glad you’ve worked it all out, but with no help from me. I’m your father, and I ought to have helped you. I’m sorry, Amélie, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.’ 

Amélie blinked at this. She hadn’t even introduced her husband, for heaven’s sake!

‘Of course,’ she said, without even thinking. ‘Of course I forgive you, Pa. Why would I have invited you here if I didn’t want us to be a family again?’ 

Terrence sighed in relief, stretching out his arms to Amélie. She hugged him as if she would never let go, and it seemed as if everything – every little thing – was right in Amélie’s life again. 

She drew back, eyes a little moist, and turned to Doc. 

‘Let me introduce my husband, Mama, Pa. This is Doctor Benjamin Pacer. This is the man I ran away to marry. We’d only corresponded by letter before.’ 

Amélie wasn’t sure why she’d added that last part. Perhaps she wanted her parents to know what a prize she’d snagged, even without meeting the man in person. 

‘My, Amélie, you’ve done well,’ Marie said, in a stage whisper. ‘He’s ever so tall. And very handsome.’ 

Doc had certainly heard that last part but pretended he hadn’t. He graciously shook hands with both his in-laws. 

Terrence seemed a little awed by his tall, intelligent son-in-law.

‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Doctor Pacer,’ Terrence said humbly. Doc gave a nod of acknowledgment, and Amélie narrowed her eyes. He hadn’t told Terrence to call him “Doc”. Perhaps he still wanted his father-in-law to sweat a little. 

‘Well,’ Amélie said, ‘let’s not stand around! It’s almost noon, and it’s going to get unbearably hot soon. We’d better get inside.’ 

Marie stared at her in horror. ‘It’s going to get hotter?’

‘I’m afraid so. Come under my parasol with me, Mama. We don’t want to burn, do we?’ 

*

Marie and Terrence craned their necks, trying to get a good look at the ranch as they approached. Amélie felt oddly proud. She knew her parents were going to love their home. She couldn’t wait to introduce them to Nellie and Fleur. 

Amélie had naturally sat beside Doc, who held the reins and expertly guided the black mare home. She had looped her arm through his almost without thinking, and the two of them leaned towards each other. She felt eyes on her, and turned to see Marie watching them thoughtfully, only to turn away. 

Is she so surprised that we’re in love? Amélie thought. Yes, I suppose so. After all, Mama probably assumes that I married Doc for purely mercenary reasons. 

To an extent, she had. So had Doc. Each of them had sought out a marriage partner that they’d never met, each one wanting something specific. But there was more to it than that. Both Doc and Amélie craved love, intimacy, respect, friendship, and affection. 

They’d found all that, and more, in each other. 

We are lucky, Amélie realized in surprise. I’m lucky. 

‘Here we are,’ she said aloud. ‘There’s the ranch.’ 

Terrence and Marie oohed and ahhed as they approached the ranch. Marie flinched at the barking dogs and blinked in surprise when they quietened down after just one command from Amélie. 

Doc carefully helped Marie and Terrence down from the cart and led them onto the porch. 

Nellie had come out when she heard the cart, little Fleur held in her arms. 

‘Mama, Pa, this Nellie, my sister-in-law. She’s becoming quite the young lady now, but don’t let her start talking to you about mythology! This,’ Amélie reached over and took Fleur, ‘this is my baby. This is Fleur.’ 

Marie’s expression softened, and she cooed quietly to the baby. Terrence reached out a nervous hand, offering Fleur a finger to shake. Fleur inspected the finger with large, critical blue eyes. Then she grabbed onto his finger, her tiny hand gripping tightly. 

‘She’s beautiful,’ Terrence whispered. 

‘Yes,’ Doc murmured with a soft smile. ‘She is.’ 

Marie began to rummage in her bandbox. ‘I’ve been sewing and knitting,’ she said excitedly. ‘I’ve made hats, and scarves, and mittens for you all! And some baby things. I’ve made …’ 

They all politely accepted their gifts, not bothering to point out that knitted scarves weren’t likely to be useful in the hot Texas sun. Marie had even remembered to make things for Nellie, although Amélie had to admit that the sickly peach color did not flatter the poor girl. 

‘Shall we go inside?’ Amélie suggested with a smile. ‘I daresay you two would like to cool off.’

‘Oh, I would,’ Marie said. ‘I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the heat here. It’s a different sort of heat to back home.’ 

Amélie suppressed a smile. ‘You’d be surprised, Mama. After all, I got used to it. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable anywhere else, now.’ 

It took some doing to herd her rebellious guests inside, but Amélie managed it. Some of the clothes that Marie had made were quite suitable for Fleur – not the knitted booties, of course – and she seemed delighted when her gifts were accepted. 

It was chaos in the Pacer household that night. Everyone talked at once, everyone was eating and laughing and happy. Fleur was passed from lap to lap, seeming to take a real fancy to her grandmother. Marie sat happily in the rocking-chair, holding her granddaughter on her lap and singing an old lullaby. 

Amélie took the chance to sit down and be quiet for the first time all day. She glanced around at her parlor, smiling to herself. 

Marie was still in the rocking-chair, listening to Nellie talk. Nellie was talking about things she’d learned in school, about her own projects, and the books she was writing. Marie was quite clearly impressed. Earlier in the day, she’d commented to Amélie: 

‘My goodness, Amélie! That little sister-in-law of yours is so tremendously clever! She’s so outspoken and knowledgeable, and quite fascinating to listen to! Do you know, she’s writing a book? Fancy that!’ 

Amélie had chuckled to herself and nodded. Marie was hanging on Nellie’s every word, gently rocking her sleeping granddaughter in her arms. 

Doc and Terrence were sitting together, talking. Terrence hadn’t quite shaken his awe of his son-in-law. It seemed that he was cultivating quite a healthy respect for Doc, and Amélie privately thought that it would do her father some good. 

He was still calling Doc “Doctor Pacer”, though. Amélie supposed that Doc would eventually put her father out of his misery and allow him to use his nickname instead. She smiled to herself. 

Amélie sat back in her chair, quite content to watch the world go by, to listen to the conversations she was only half a part of. 

This was her family. Her place. Amélie had once felt as if she belonged nowhere, that she was a misshapen piece of a jigsaw, good for nothing but tossing aside. 

How different things were. She had a husband she loved. She was loved in return. She had Nellie, she had Fleur. She had friends, neighbors, people who cared for her and enjoyed her company. She had her home, her animals, her land. 

Now, she had her parents back. Of course, they would soon go back to New Orleans. They were only staying here for a few weeks, but for now, that was enough. Amélie knew now that New Orleans had nothing for her. 

How could it? Doc wasn’t there. 

As if sensing that she was thinking about him, Doc looked up and caught her eye. He smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling up. 

Amélie smiled back. The surge of emotion and love that had once twisted her heart had faded to a pleasant pulse. Far from being an occasional feeling, it was always there. She loved Doc. He was half of her soul, and those feelings of love – and being loved in return – were now part of who she was. 

Amélie didn’t know what the future held, not by any stretch of the imagination. But she knew now that she didn’t fear the future. It would be her and Doc, for as long as they lived. 

And, of course, Amélie’s wretched steamer trunk, which Nellie called a casket. Nellie called Amélie “Casket Girl” sometimes. Amélie had no idea what it meant, and quite frankly, she didn’t care anymore. 

THE END


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56 thoughts on “On the Run from Destiny – Extended Epilogue”

    1. A very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the characters in this book. Some parts were funny about Nellie and some scary about Cole Brown who she ran from. But mostly I loved Amelie and Doc and how their love grew for each other. 😍

    2. It was amazing , I could not put it down, its been a long time since I had a good book, thank you for sharing it with me.

    3. A superb story with some good characters, apart from the “Baddie” of course!! The extended epilogue just finished the storyline nicely, thank you.

    4. Such a wonderful and entertaining book. Funny, sorta, at times with Nellie and what she thought. But then, Nellie was an intelligent very young girl who really liked to read about myths. But the main story is about Amelia and her leaving New Orleans to get away from a bad man.
      The EE is a really nice ending.

  1. A wonderful book, l loved it. Good clean romance and also mysterious. I love all the characters, especially Doc! Thanks for a interesting clean love story! Joe

  2. I enjoyed this book. It was very interesting and I liked the character. Very well written. W. Millions

  3. I found this book very entertaining with many twists and turns. Nelly is such a character but extremely intelligent. I loved the way they finally found each other. The epilogue was interesting all about family coming together. Thank you.

    1. Mail order bride, the old west , mystery and romance. All entwined into a beautiful story. Kept me busy reading a day and half . Housework had to wait. Thank you !

  4. Close to being forced into a marriage to a dangerous man, a mail order bride ad offers a chance to get away from the dangerous man. She tries to settle in, learning the life of a ranch. Her husband and his sister know she is hiding a piece of her previous life. She thinks she has hidden herself so far from New Orleans. Her only letter to her parents, is shown to last person she would want to know where she was. By failing to tell her new family of the troubling and dangerous man, everyone is in dire trouble. Is there any way to survive this attack?

  5. What a great story! Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Loved the happy ending in the Extended Epilogue.

  6. Loved the story, loved he characters, loved the setting! Was a great book to distract me from all the drama and confusion of moving from Florida back to Massachusetts.

  7. Good read ,with good characters.And I really enjoyed the
    extended epilogue,, I enjoyed Nellie, the sister in law,,
    She could be the main character in her own book

  8. I usually do not write comments but from the first book I read I was hooked.
    Your character and plot development were so fresh, unique. and fascinating.
    Bought 3 books…it seemed daily and am proceeding to buy the fourth when I finish writing my comment.

  9. Brilliantly entertaining. Nellie was a total scream thinking her new sister in law was a vampire. Amelie was right the only true monsters are in real life. Brave brave women and Doc was the knight in shining armour.

  10. Really enjoyed the story and could not put it down. Glad that they sorted things out and that they would be able to get on with their lives and put the past behind them.Really glad that they caught the bad guy 👿👎😠. Good luck to them all.🤗😄👨‍👩‍👦‍👦👣.Keep up to good work and thanks for a good 👍👍read.

  11. Great novel with strong and enjoyable characters in Doc, Amelie and Nellie. Amelie comes to Texas a mail order bride to escape the arranged marriage planned by her parents to a controlling ma, Cole Brown. Much evil comes when this man finds And kid’s location. A wonderful romance with lots of action and love. Read as an ARC and highly recommend.

  12. Really good read..Amelie leaves New Orleans to escape an abusive forced engagement, she goes Texas to marry
    Doc and also meet his young sister Nellie, who could
    Have a book of her own

  13. Excellent writting. True to life emotions fitting each circumstance. Loved the exchanges with the sister-in-law, very believable. Thank you for an enjoyable read.

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