Escaping her Gilded Cage – Extended Epilogue


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The sun was already high by the time the first guests arrived at the sprawling ranch house Benjamin and Lily Rothschild had built on the outskirts of Dodge City. Five years had passed since they’d said their vows, and their home—complete with a wraparound veranda—had become a beacon of warmth and family life in the once wild town.

Benjamin, who once bore the polished demeanor of a Boston gentleman, now sported a ruggedness that the frontier life had etched into his features. He had embraced the life of a rancher with a fervor that surprised even those who knew him best. The change suited him, adding a touch of the wild to his cultured origins, a contrast that Lily found endlessly charming.

“Benjamin, do make sure the lemonade is stirred, not just set out in the sun to warm,” Lily called from where she arranged a series of canvases for an impromptu art show on the porch. Her paintings, vibrant depictions of the Kansas landscapes and intimate portraits of family life, were a testament to her thriving career as an artist.

“Already on it, my love,” Benjamin called back, his voice carrying over the laughter of their two young sons, Peter and Jonathan. The boys were a whirlwind of energy, chasing each other around the yard with the family dog bounding at their heels. Their grandmother, Lily’s mother, watched them with a smile, her presence a comforting constant in their lively household.

The party was in full swing, with tables laden with all manner of picnic fare. Benjamin had insisted on grilling himself, donning an apron over his work-worn jeans and shirt. The scent of barbecue filled the air, mingling with the sweet aroma of wildflowers that bordered their property.

As guests mingled and admired Lily’s art, the atmosphere buzzed with joy and celebration. It was her father’s birthday, and the entire family had come together to mark the occasion. After his health had taken a turn for the better, he’d become an invaluable part of the ranch operations, his wisdom in agricultural matters guiding Benjamin through the complexities of land and livestock management.

Across the yard, Aunt Agatha, who had softened considerably over the years, sat beside her new husband. The transformation in her was remarkable; from a stern and sometimes cold figure, she had grown into a woman of warmth and generosity, much to the surprise of everyone who had known her before. Her husband, a kind-hearted doctor who had moved to Dodge City some years back, had been instrumental in this change.

“Look at them,” Emily remarked to Sam as they approached Lily and Benjamin, who stood watching their children play. Emily and Sam had taken over her father’s hotel, expanding the business and securing its reputation as one of the finest establishments in the area. “It’s hard to believe how much has changed in five years.”

“It truly is,” Sam agreed, his gaze fond of the scene before them. “And to think it all started with a bit of chaos and a lot of courage.”

Lily turned to greet her friends, her smile bright. “Emily, Sam, I’m so glad you could make it. It wouldn’t be a celebration without you.”

“We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Emily replied, handing over a beautifully wrapped gift. “This is for your father, from both of us.”

Benjamin joined them, wiping his hands on a cloth. “Thank you both. He’s going to love it. Speaking of which, he’s been asking about you, Sam. Thinks it’s time we discuss expanding the ranch further west.”

Sam chuckled. “He’s got more ambition than all of us put together. But I’m ready for it. Any chance to work alongside you folks is a chance worth taking.”

As the afternoon drifted on, Benjamin pulled Lily aside, wrapping an arm around her waist. “You happy, Mrs. Rothschild?” he asked, his gaze soft as it rested on her.

“Immensely,” Lily replied, leaning into him. “It’s everything we dreamed of, isn’t it? Our family, our friends, this place—it’s our own piece of paradise.”

“It is,” he agreed, kissing her forehead gently. “And it’s just the beginning.”

Their conversation was interrupted by a burst of laughter from the children, and they both turned to watch, their hearts full. The joy of the moment, the beauty of their surroundings, and the closeness of their family melded into a perfect snapshot of their life together.

As the sun began to set, casting long shadows over the land they had come to love, Lily and Benjamin stood together, a testament to the enduring power of love in the ever-changing landscape of the Wild West.

As the sun dipped lower, casting golden hues over the ranch, the party shifted from lively games and conversations to a more relaxed, reflective atmosphere. Guests settled into groups, lounging on blankets spread out under the expansive Kansas sky, now streaked with the fiery colors of sunset.

Benjamin, ever the attentive host, navigated through the clusters of friends and family, ensuring everyone had what they needed. His eyes frequently found Lily, who was now seated beside her father on the veranda, showing him one of the smaller canvases she had recently completed.

“It’s beautiful, Lily,” her father praised, his voice stronger than it had been in years, a testament to his regained health. “It reminds me of Texas, but I must admit, the plains here have grown on me.”

Lily smiled warmly at him. “I’m glad, Dad. It means the world to me that you’re here, not just for today but for good.”

Her mother, sitting beside them, chimed in, her hands busy with knitting a small sweater for one of the boys. “This place has been a blessing, sweetheart. Your aunt Agatha even seems like a different person these days.”

Across the yard, Agatha laughed heartily at something her husband had said—a sound so rare in her former life that it still caught Lily off guard whenever she heard it. Agatha caught Lily’s gaze and waved, a genuine smile on her face.

“I never thought I’d see the day,” Lily’s father said, following her gaze. “She really has changed, hasn’t she?”

“Love and kindness can heal many wounds,” Lily replied, her eyes flicking back to Benjamin, who was now kneeling beside Jonathan, helping him tie his shoe. The tender moment filled her with an immense sense of pride and love.

As the sky darkened to a deep navy, lanterns were lit, casting a soft glow around the yard. Music started up again, this time slower, more melodic tunes that had couples pairing off for gentle dancing on the grass.

Benjamin eventually made his way back to Lily, offering his hand with a charming smile. “May I have this dance, Mrs. Rothschild?”

With a laugh, Lily placed her hand in his, letting him lead her down the steps to join the other dancers. “Always, Mr. Rothschild.”

They moved together in easy harmony, their bodies attuned to each other’s rhythm. Around them, the night buzzed with the soft sounds of conversation and laughter, the air sweet with the scent of blooming night flowers.

“You know,” Benjamin whispered as they swayed, “every day I wake up and still can’t believe this is my life. This ranch, our boys, you—it’s more than I ever dreamed of.”

Lily rested her head against his shoulder. “We built this together. From all the chaos and challenges, we made something lasting. I’m proud of us.”

“I am too,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head. “And speaking of building, Sam and I have been discussing some ideas about expanding the ranch into a sort of community project. Maybe start a program for young ranchers or families wanting to settle out here. What do you think?”

“That sounds wonderful,” Lily said, her voice filled with enthusiasm. “Education and support for new settlers could really transform this area even more. I love how involved you’ve become in the community.”

“It’s all part of putting down roots, isn’t it?” he replied, his gaze sweeping over the land that stretched beyond their property. “Making sure it’s not just about us, but about building something bigger, for everyone.”

Their dance continued under the starlit sky, the gentle melody a perfect backdrop for their conversation. It was a moment of peace and deep connection, reflecting both the tranquility of their current life and the dynamic energy that drove them forward.

As the song ended, Benjamin leaned in, his voice a soft murmur meant only for her. “Let’s keep dreaming big, Lily. Who knows what the next five years might bring?”

Lily laughed, a sound of pure joy. “With you, I’m ready for anything.”

They paused, their eyes locked, and then together, they turned to watch their sons playing nearby, their laughter mingling with the music and night sounds. It was clear that here, in this place they had made their own, the possibilities were endless.

As the evening progressed, the festive atmosphere at the Rothschild ranch only grew warmer with the flickering lantern lights casting dancing shadows across the faces of their guests. Emily and Sam, having taken a moment to themselves away from the lively crowd, approached Benjamin and Lily with bright smiles.

“Everything looks wonderful, Lily,” Emily complimented as she hugged her friend. “This party might just be the highlight of the year in Dodge City.”

Lily laughed, her eyes sparkling under the lantern light. “Thanks, Emily. It’s all Benjamin’s doing; he’s become quite the event planner.”

Benjamin, overhearing the compliment, joined in with a modest nod. “Just trying to keep up with you ladies. Speaking of plans, Sam, how’s the new hotel branch coming along?”

“It’s going better than expected,” Sam replied, his face lighting up with entrepreneurial pride. “Thanks to some of the strategies we discussed, we’re ahead of schedule on the construction and booking reservations for next season.”

“That’s fantastic,” Benjamin said, clapping Sam on the shoulder. “And how about you, Emily? How are you managing with the original hotel and this new expansion?”

Emily’s eyes gleamed with the thrill of the challenge. “It’s been a whirlwind, but I love it. It keeps me on my toes, and having the original hotel basically run itself helps a lot. Your advice on staff management has been invaluable, Benjamin.”

As they chatted, Lily’s gaze wandered over to where her aunt Agatha and her husband mingled with other guests, laughing and sharing stories. It was a sight that filled her with a sense of surreal happiness, considering the tumultuous past they had all navigated. Agatha had transformed, her hard edges softened by the genuine care and companionship she found in her marriage. The change in her was a constant reminder to Lily of the redemptive power of love and family.

Just then, Benjamin’s voice brought her back to the conversation. “We were thinking, maybe next year, to start a community fair right here on the ranch. A sort of annual event to bring everyone together—showcase local talents, crafts, and of course, Emily’s hotel catering.”

“That sounds like a marvelous idea!” Emily exclaimed. “It could really put us on the map even more and draw visitors from across the state.”

Sam nodded enthusiastically. “Count us in. It’ll be great for business and the community. And it’s another excuse to enjoy more of these gatherings.”

Their plans flowed seamlessly into dreams of the future, each idea sparking another, until the children’s laughter nearby drew their attention. Peter and Jonathan, covered in grass stains and giggling, ran up to the group, their energy undimmed by the fading light.

“Mommy, look what we found!” Jonathan exclaimed, holding up a small, wriggling frog.

Lily bent down to his level, her expression a mixture of amusement and maternal affection. “Oh, what a great find, sweetheart! But let’s make sure we put him back where you found him, okay?”

“Yes, Mommy,” Peter chimed in, already tugging at his brother’s arm to lead him back to the frog’s home.

Watching her sons run back into the twilight, Lily felt a deep contentment settle over her. This life, these connections—it was everything she had ever hoped for and more.

Turning back to her friends and husband, she shared a look with Benjamin that said without words how blessed they felt. The simple moments like these, surrounded by friends and family, underscored the profound depth of their journey together.

As the children’s voices faded into the distance, Benjamin squeezed Lily’s hand gently. “You know, every time I think it can’t get any better, it does. Life with you, the boys, our friends—it’s more than I ever imagined.”

Lily leaned into him, her heart full. “And to think, all this started with a daring escape and a leap of faith.”

“Here’s to many more leaps,” Benjamin said, raising his glass that he had picked up from a nearby table. Emily, Sam, and the others joined in, their glasses clinking in the soft night air, a perfect symphony of hope and celebration for the future.

The evening’s festivities began to wind down as the last streaks of twilight faded into a star-studded sky. The guests, full of food and laughter, started to say their goodbyes, each of them leaving with smiles and promises to return soon. Benjamin helped Lily gather the children, who were now yawning and leaning against each other, barely awake after their day of adventures.

“Let’s get these little cowboys to bed,” Benjamin whispered, lifting Jonathan into his arms as Lily took Peter’s hand, leading him inside their warm, inviting home.

Once the children were tucked in and stories of wild prairies and daring cowboys were told, Lily and Benjamin found themselves back on the veranda, the quiet of the night enveloping them. They sat side by side, Lily resting her head on Benjamin’s shoulder, both watching the vast Kansas sky.

“It was a beautiful party,” Lily murmured, her voice soft with contentment. “Thank you for making today so special, not just for my father, but for all of us.”

“It was my pleasure,” Benjamin replied, his voice low and warm. “Seeing you and the boys so happy, that’s all I need.”

They sat in comfortable silence for a moment, each lost in their thoughts, when Benjamin broke the stillness. “Sam brought up some news earlier. About Jackson Tate.”

Lily lifted her head, a shadow crossing her features. “Oh?”

“He’s been released. Moved out West to California,” Benjamin said gently, watching her reaction closely. “Sam’s keeping an eye on any news about him, just in case.”

Lily nodded, a slight tension easing from her shoulders. “California is far from here. Let’s hope he finds what he’s looking for and leaves us in peace.”

“That’s the plan,” Benjamin assured her, squeezing her hand. “With Sam on it, we’ll know if he even thinks about heading back this way.”

The conversation shifted as Lily looked back up at the stars, her mind wandering to the vast possibilities the future held. “Do you ever think about how different our lives might have been if we hadn’t made those choices years ago? If you hadn’t run from Boston, if I hadn’t fought so hard against Aunt Agatha?”

“All the time,” Benjamin admitted. “Every choice led us here, to this moment, to this life. It’s like the universe conspired to bring us together, despite everything.”

Lily smiled, her heart swelling with love for the man beside her. “And it’s a good life, isn’t it?”

“The best,” he agreed, pulling her closer.

Just then, the soft sound of the wind chime caught their attention as a gentle breeze swept through, bringing with it the sweet scent of the wildflowers that Lily loved so much. It was a reminder of the ever-present beauty of their surroundings, the life they had cultivated together.

“Tomorrow, I think I’ll start a new painting,” Lily mused aloud. “One of this night, this peace. I want to capture it, just like this, with the stars and the quiet. A reminder of when the Wild West brought us peace instead of turmoil.”

“I’d like that,” Benjamin said. “To see our life through your eyes, captured on canvas.”

They leaned back, hands intertwined, the vast sky above them a canvas of infinite possibilities. The challenges they had faced seemed like distant memories, and the future stretched out before them, ripe with potential.

“Our love story,” Lily started, her voice filled with wonder, “it’s one for the ages, isn’t it? From turmoil to peace, from chaos to the quiet beauty of a night like this.”

“It is,” Benjamin agreed, his voice filled with emotion. “And I’d choose you in every life, Lily. No matter the setting, no matter the challenges.”

As the night deepened, they remained there, together, the pillars of a home filled with love, laughter, and the promise of many more years of happiness. The West had indeed been wild, but for Benjamin and Lily Rothschild, it had also been the beginning of a beautiful, enduring love story, framed by the sweeping landscapes and the enduring strength of family.

THE END


OFFER: A BRAND NEW SERIES AND 2 FREEBIES FOR YOU!

Grab my new series, "Brave Hearts of the Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!




23 thoughts on “Escaping her Gilded Cage – Extended Epilogue”

    1. Such an amazing book with such a horrible aunt. I just could not help feeling so very sorry for her. Tho e characters come alive in this book.
      But I found too many uses of God’s name being used in vain. The Bible tells us not to use His name in such a senseless manner. {We are to only use His name when in actual prayer}

    2. A terrific story! Wonderful characters and a beautiful example of true friendship. So glad the aunt had a change of heart.

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the story and the characters. The aunt’s change of heart was a pivotal moment, and I’m glad it resonated with you.

  1. A good story and sometimes language is used in writing to make a point. There were evil characters in the story therefore ugly words were spoken.
    The plot was great and the EE brought a great ending.

  2. I just want to take the chance to tell you that with every book you write, they just keep getting better and better! I love this book. I’m A big fan of evil being overcome and you do it so very well! Thanks for this story and the EE. It sure is great having a wonderful ending!

  3. I very much enjoyed this book. I loved all the twists and turns to have everything right in the end. The only thing I missed is a comment about the nasty father and his dirty dealings catching up with him. One question, why is the EE written with his name as Benjamin Rothschild instead of the name he chose for himself, Ethan Westwood?

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed the twists and turns. As for EE’s name in the book, it’s a deliberate choice tied to his backstory and identity. I appreciate you raising the question!

  4. I have really enjoyed this story. The characters were wonderful. The story line kept my attention from start to finish. Please keep writing and thanks for sharing your talent with me.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed the story and connected with the characters. Your support means a lot to me. Happy reading!

  5. Dear Ms. Knightly,
    I, too, enjoyed your book. The characters seemed real. The situations are believable. The abrupt change in the Aunt was hard to accept I do not feel the character would change so quickly after one conversation unless something was paid. I also thought the repetition concerning the hero’s situation was unnecessary contrasted with the heroine plight getting worse everyday. The villain’s actions although not surprising took an interesting twist. Who would have thought the painter would attack. Good job. I really thought the epilogue was extremely well written. It was totally believable. I do not understand why writers are including epilogues rather than making them part of the original stories. I enjoyed your story.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback on my book. I’m glad you found the characters and situations believable, and I’m pleased you enjoyed the twist with the villain and the epilogue. I appreciate your comments on the Aunt’s change and the repetition in the hero’s situation. I’ll keep your insights in mind for future works.

  6. Dear Ms. Knightly,
    I do not believe there was an overuse of any religious terms. Your word choice fit the story beautifully.

  7. I enjoyed this book very much! The EE was such a wonderful beautiful finish to the story!
    It was nice to see Aunt Agatha’s character soften after how horrible she had been to her niece. It was hard for me to read that part of the story to think someone could be that way with anyone let alone a sweet niece!
    Thank you for all the many stories you write. What a talent!!

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