Where Love Defeats Sorrow – Extended Epilogue

Epilogue

The wheeled suitcase bumped along behind her in the airport terminal, and Lauren frowned as it caught the back of her heel yet again. One of the wheels was coming loose, and she knew it was because it was old, and she always put too much in there. The terminal was as busy as always, and Lauren was late, which wasn’t like her.

Lauren stopped to press the wheel back into place before it came loose and rolled away. The case was too heavy to pick up and carry. As she straightened up, she glanced up at the departures board and out of habit, her eyes settled on the next flight bound for Miami, Florida. She was cutting it close if she wanted to make the flight; check-in closed in just a few minutes.

She was marrying Tom in two days’ time, but on the drive to the airport, she was still having second thoughts about whether she could make him happy, whether it was what she wanted. There was always that element of doubt in the dark corner of her mind, but she usually pushed it away.

Lauren still had time to get to the airline desk and buy a ticket. She could still make the flight back to her old life in Florida. She’d only leased her apartment out and only had to give her tenants a month’s notice. She could stay in a hotel for that long. She could run away, but could she live with the pain that she knew she would leave behind.

Could she leave as easily as she had the last time? Not without breaking her own heart, as well as those of her family. She had too much to lose, and she didn’t want to spend another minute away from them.

Florida could wait for when she and Tom finally took their honeymoon, but it was soon to be harvest time, and that wouldn’t wait.

Stepping out with a firmer grip on the suitcase she used to take samples of the Miller Springs product line to new and existing client meetings, Lauren headed towards the baggage claim. Her sister’s flight was due to land any minute. She had plenty of time, even though her appointment with the airport’s new hospitality manager had run over. It was a productive meeting, and they’d agreed to an initial order of the new sparkling alcohol-free range, in addition to their usual order of wine.

Lauren ordered a coffee and chose a spot in the café where she could work but also keep an eye on everyone as they came through customs and out to where loved ones waited for them. It only took a little while to formalize the order and send an email to Tom to let him know how it had gone, then she sat back and thought about her improving relationship with her sister.

It had been three years since they’d seen each other in person, since Lauren dropped her confession, since Louisa left; life in England clearly suited Louisa and Mitchell had been promoted for the second time in as many years, meaning they were not planning on coming back to the States any time soon.

Lauren, buoyed by the closeness she had quickly regained with her father, wanted to call Louisa as soon as she was in her new home in England, but Tom and her dad had counseled caution. She knew her sister was okay because she heard Louisa’s voice when she video called their father.

David had told Louisa that Lauren had moved back home, and she’d reacted much the same as when Lauren had confessed that day. She’d been almost hysterical, crying and shouting that it wasn’t fair, that Lauren got to run back home after all the hard work she, Louisa, had put in with the vineyard and the family home. Louisa blamed her father for being too soft, too forgiving, too easily manipulated, and she refused to take his calls.

Mitchell had to convince her that she was being unreasonable, that she should be glad that Lauren was there to support their father and carry on where she had left off. Louisa had agreed to talk to her father again, but she didn’t want anything to do with Lauren.

At first, Lauren had avoided being in the same room when her dad was on a call with Louisa, but after a while, she realized that this was her home, and if she wanted to be in the kitchen making a drink or fixing lunch, Louisa would just have to get used to it.

Her lack of a relationship with her sister started to bother her, and she talked it over with Tom, asking for his advice. Lauren knew she’d never have the kind of relationship with Louisa that Tom had with Molly, but he had worked with Louisa for a long time and knew her well. He suggested she just send a light, chatty email, maybe once every few weeks, just to check-in. If Louisa wanted to reply, she could, but Lauren knew that she was doing her best to keep in touch.

Lauren sent seven emails, one a week on a Monday morning, without so much as an acknowledgment; she didn’t know if Louisa was reading them or deleting them. Exasperated, she decided her sister would never forgive her, and on the eighth week, she didn’t bother. Louisa liked to speak to her father every few days by video call. On the Tuesday, Lauren came in from the vineyard to make lunch, and David was on a call. She’d grown quite adept at tuning out her sister’s voice and carried on making her sandwich when she realized her name was being called.

“Lauren. Lauren. Laurie!”

Looking over her shoulder, she saw her dad had pushed the tablet to one side so that Lauren could clearly see Louisa peering into the camera, calling her name.

“Can she hear me, Dad?” Louisa asked.

“I think so.” David tried to keep the smile from his face, but Lauren saw it.

“Lauren, where’s my email?” her sister demanded.

“What?” Lauren took a few steps toward the table and frowned.

“You didn’t write yesterday.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“What’s wrong? Is Tom okay? Molly? Is it Lucas?” Louisa sounded concerned.

“You read them?”

“Of course, I read them. Dad never tells me anything. How else am I supposed to know what’s going on there?” Lauren kept a straight face at Louisa’s indignant tone, but she was glad they were at least talking.

“I’ll send you an email tonight, Louisa, after dinner,” Lauren promised.

“You can just tell me now. Did Lucas try out for the softball team?”

All was not forgiven just at that point, but at least she was included on the video calls, and Tom was pleased that Lauren was back on speaking terms with her sister.

After three years apart, Lauren was excited to see Louisa, and Mitchell, and her baby nephew, who was called Leo, in honor of his uncle. Lauren had formed the closest bond with Lucas, and she hoped to have the same with little Leo, even across the Atlantic Ocean.

The arrivals board confirmed the baggage for Louisa’s flight was now on the carousel, so Lauren stood up and wheeled her case right to the front of the cordoned area. She wanted to be sure Louisa could see her. She didn’t have to wait long, and soon she saw her sister pushing a buggy and Mitchell following behind with a laden trolley. Louisa started to run as soon as she saw Lauren, who wished she didn’t have to drag the case of samples around with her, but they soon were hugging.

Lauren felt her eyes filling with tears as Louisa held her tightly. A sense of relief washed over her. Louisa was home with her family, and soon, they would all be one family, which meant more to Lauren than she had ever known possible until this moment.

“Hey,” Lauren said.

“I missed you, Laurie.”

Lauren hugged her brother-in-law, who she hadn’t had much time to get to know when Louisa and he got married, but she very much looked forward to doing so. Louisa was visiting for a month, although Mitchell had to fly back after a week.

Louisa took the sleeping baby out of his buggy and held him up for Lauren.

“Leo, meet your Aunty Laurie. Laurie, meet Leo.”

Louisa’s eyes were full of tears as Lauren took the baby and cradled her in his arms, pressing the softest kiss to his forehead, careful not to wake him. “Hey, baby. Lou, he’s beautiful.”

“You say that now he’s asleep,” Mitchell quipped, picking up Lauren’s sample case and adding it to the pile on the trolley.

Lauren carried the baby while Louisa pushed the empty buggy.

“I tell you, Lauren, I had second and third thoughts about coming. Having a baby is wonderful, but it’s such a big change. The idea of traveling with all his stuff, ours too, well, it almost didn’t happen.” Lauren smiled to herself. Three years hadn’t changed her sister that much. She pretty much said whatever she felt without a filter. “Oh, but of course, I wouldn’t miss you and Tom’s wedding for the world.”

With the car loaded up, the baby secure and snoozing in his car seat, along with his daddy in the back, Lauren and Louisa talked quietly.

“It’s so hard being away from you guys, Lauren, especially with the baby. And I was super nervous about coming back home after three years. Things have changed so much. I understand a bit how hard it must have been for you to come home after much longer away.”

Lauren nodded. For Louisa to acknowledge that meant so much more than she’d ever know, and Lauren reached out to squeeze her sister’s hand.

The baby stirred and let out a coo, and both women looked at each other and smiled.

“No matter, Lou. We’re all home now. You, me, and Leo.”

🙡⚪🙣

“How are you so calm, Lauren?” Louisa asked as she jiggled the baby on her hip. “I was a complete and utter mess the morning of my wedding.”

Molly looked up from where she was just adjusting the hem of Lauren’s wedding dress and waved her arm in the air.

“For a start, my arm isn’t in plaster, and—” Molly winked in the mirror at her soon-to-be sister-in-law. “Lauren didn’t need a trillion tiny flowers sewn on the night before.”

Lauren laughed, and Louisa grinned.

“To be fair, I did tell Tom that it wasn’t necessary.”

“That you did, but a bride deserves to have the dress of her dreams on her wedding day.” Molly stood up straight and turned Lauren around so that her sister could see her dress front on.

“You outdid yourself, Molly. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

Lauren’s dress was a fitted silk dress, sleeveless with a v-front and scooped back. The only decoration was a grapevine embroidered, white on white, around the hem. The embroidery had taken Molly’s team weeks to do, but she’d insisted on doing the final fitting a week ago herself.

“Molly’s so busy, you have to make an appointment just to have lunch with her these days,” Lauren teased.

“If David hadn’t let me use the outbuilding for a studio, I’d still be working from the table in the living room and using Tom as a mannequin,” Molly said, tickling the baby under the chin.

“What’s that?” Louisa tilted her head to the side in question.

“That’s a story for another time.” Lauren changed the subject, not wanting to risk upsetting Louisa with that particular story.

If she knew someone else, albeit a man, had worn her wedding dress before her, she might have something to say about it. The only fireworks Lauren wanted today were the ones Lucas had asked for at the reception. Louisa had told him the story about Guy Fawkes trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, and he was currently obsessed.

“Will I do?” Lauren picked up her simple bouquet of white roses and turned to face her audience.

“Tom’s a lucky man,” Louisa told her sister.

“I’m the lucky one,” Molly smiled. “My brother is moving out today. I never thought he’d leave home.”

It was a standing joke that Molly couldn’t wait to have the cottage to herself, and she was always dropping hints about Tom moving in with Lauren, but they wanted to wait until they were married. They spent every day together anyway. It was nice to be able to look forward to being together once they were husband and wife.

There was a knock at the bedroom door, and they heard David asking if she was ready to go.

Louisa opened the door and left the room, followed by Molly, who told him not to get her creased, and Lauren was left face to face with her father.

“You look beautiful, Lauren.” Lauren headed toward him for a hug, but he held her gently away from him and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I’ve been warned.”

They made their way downstairs and walked across to the winery offices, where the wedding ceremony was going to take place on the mezzanine, where Tom had first hugged Lauren. It was big enough just for the happy couple, the pastor, and the immediate family. The other guests were gathered in the lobby and clapped as Lauren climbed the stairs, holding her father’s arm for support.

Lucas, taller and cheekier than ever, waited at the top of the stairs, grinning like a Cheshire cat, as he walked in front of Lauren and David, leading the way. His suit was the exact copy of his uncle’s, who Lauren could see waiting for her just a few meters away.

She felt a flutter in her stomach, not so much nerves, more excitement that she was about to promise herself to this utterly wonderful man for the rest of her life.

Tom smiled at her, as she walked towards him and winked. He’d told her last night as they’d walked the vines together for the last time before they became husband and wife that he’d give her one last chance to make a run for it. He would wink at her, and she told him he’d know when she was one hundred percent absolutely sure she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

This man understood her so well. It was her last chance to do what she’s always done and run away rather than stay and face whatever was coming. But Lauren had no desire to run anywhere but into Tom’s arms. She made the right choice three years ago, the night of the storm. She chose then to stay, where she belonged.

The pastor began the ceremony, calling on David to give Lauren’s hand in marriage to Tom. As soon as she felt Tom’s warm hand on hers, she felt complete. She looked at him with a smile, as she promised to honor and cherish him, to care for him and support him, and to love him for the rest of their days. He promised the same to her, and it was only after the pastor pronounced them husband and wife, and they kissed for way too long. Lauren grinned at her husband and gave him a saucy wink.

Because Lauren was absolutely one-hundred percent sure that Tom was the only man she wanted to be with until the end of their days until the grapes no longer grew on the vines. Forever.

THE END


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11 thoughts on “Where Love Defeats Sorrow – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I thought the story lovely, despite some muddled pronouns, typing errors. There is a very good case made for openness and honesty even in a time of tragedy and I liked the emphasis on the importance of family.

    2. I Loved this book. I felt like I was there,at times I wanted to Cry, but all is well as it ended beautifully.

    3. A beautiful story of family, loss, grief, pain and love. Going through grief myself I felt Laurens pain. I’m glad at the end the truth came out about Leon’s death it was an unfortunate accident and not Lauren’s fault. Love the extended episode of how the sisters made up and Lauren and Tom got married. !oved all the characters. 🤗

  1. This is a very lovely story and so glad lauren was able to learn the truth about what killed her brother and open herself to love

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