Leading up to the release of the 3rd book in
Later, when she walked John upstairs to the nursery for supper, Edward followed, and in the end they stayed, sharing a plate of cook’s crumpets with butter and honey instead of dining downstairs.
Afterwards, when she tucked John into bed and told him another story of his father, Edward watched, leaning against the door frame.
“He’s a good lad,” Edward told her as they left John to sleep, his hand resting on her shoulder as they turned to the stairs.
Ellen smiled. John had been her only reason for living until Edward. “I wish Paul had known him. He would have been proud. But I am grateful for your kindness towards him. You cannot know how much it means to me.”
“Ellen, no gratitude.” His hand slipping to her waist, he drew her closer as they reached the stairs and began to descend. “I promise I will treat John as my own son. Whatever I can do to heal the wound of losing his father I shall, but I don’t expect to be thanked for it.” …
“Mama? Papa?” John’s call came from beyond the door.
Ellen threw Edward’s hand aside, scrambled off the bed to retrieve their clothing from the floor and set the cluttered pile on a chair, then hurriedly pulled on her underwear, glancing at Edward who’d risen and was slipping on a dressing gown.
“Mama!” John called again.
“Just a moment, John,” Ellen answered as Edward moved to unlock the door, waving her back to bed.
She slid beneath the tussled sheets and was smoothing them out across her lap as Edward opened the door.
Ellen’s heart skipped a beat at his words. They were not pretense, he was still half asleep. They’d been spoken from the heart. She watched Edward lean forward to look out the door, his head turning right and left. “No nursemaid, John?”
Still in his nightshirt, John frowned and grunted. “I am not a baby. I came down on my own.”
“Did you indeed.” Edward spoke with a smile on his lips and in his voice. “Well then, young man, you had better come in and see your Mama while I ring for some chocolate.”
A broad grin stretched across her son’s face as he glanced upwards, sending a look of hero-worship at his new Papa. Heavens, Edward was turning out to not only be her rock but her son’s too. ..
“What shall we do today, Papa?” John chimed, animated with excitement.
Could a heart burst with joy, Ellen wondered. But not wishing him to overwhelm Edward she sought to pacify him. “Perhaps your new Papa shall want a day to himself, John. He has been travelling for days remember.”
“Hardly,” Edward scoffed. “It is our honeymoon, Ellen. No, I think today we shall go shopping, you need clothes.” Edward’s arm then slotted about John’s shoulders pulling him from Ellen’s hug to hold him in a more masculine, confidential and exclusive embrace. “And then we can look for something for you, John, a pony perhaps?”
“A pony!” Bouncing up John turned about, kneeling to face them both, full of enthusiasm.
Firmly grasping John’s smaller hands, Edward helped steer the curricle through the gates of Park House.
“Where are we?” Ellen asked, warily viewing their surroundings.
Meeting her gaze, he smiled. “At Park House, the home of my dear friends Lord and Lady Forth.”…
… “Forth just happens to be brilliant at breeding horses.”
The drive opened on to the circle which fronted his friend’s property and Edward helped John draw the curricle to a halt, congratulating the boy.
They were met at once by a groom in smart royal blue livery who took the horses’ bridals.
Edward jumped down and then lifted John down after him, saying, “Shall we see what we can find, young man.” John grinned, nodding and Edward offered his hand to Ellen. In contrast, she was unsmiling and looking starkly toward Forth’s large fashionable house…
“Are you not going to introduce us?” Casper prompted with a look that shifted from Edward to John and then Ellen, at which point Edward watched his friend physically step back…
“…this is my son, John,” Edward stated.
Stepping forward, John bowed deeply. When he rose, Edward found his hand resting on the boy’s shoulder, pride swelling his chest and broadening his smile. The lad was well-bred…
…when Julie mentioned Eton she inspired an indiscreet show of emotion from John who announced bluntly, he did not wish to go back…
…The conversation similar to systematic torture, Edward made the decision to remove to the stables… When they reached there, things eased a little as their attention turned to the horses, and John picked out a piebald pony…
Edward looked back at his friend. “Casper, can you have the horses brought over later? We should be going really.” Turning back to his new son, he added, “Then we can go riding tomorrow morning, John! If you’d like to?”
“Oh yes!” John stopped the horse easily, swung his leg across the saddle and jumped down. A move it looked as though he had done at least a thousand times before. Then the boy ran the distance from his pony and launched himself at Edward, hugging his waist. “Thank you, Papa.”
His hands settling to return the embrace, Edward felt his heart clench. “You are very welcome, John.” I love my son, he realized in answer, just as much as I love my wife.
Edward moved behind them and leaned against the doorframe, his arms crossing over his chest, watching her tuck John in and bend to kiss his forehead.
The look she gave Edward as she came back across the room clearly blamed and chastised him, warning him to hold his peace until they were out of earshot of the child.
“Ellen.” he spoke as she closed the door.
Her eyes narrowing in what appeared impatience, she put a finger to her lips, giving him a similar chiding look to the one she had given to her son when she had corrected his behaviour at Forth’s over the Eton outburst, then whispered, “Downstairs.”