Escaping Betrayal’s Pain – Extended Epilogue


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Two Years Later

Talia was on her knees planting seeds of geraniums and marigolds in the small garden flower garden she and Molly had started behind the farmhouse. She was on her knees and thought for the hundredth time that she wished she could wear the new style of denim work pants that Caleb bought on their visit to San Francisco instead of a bustled dress. She thought they had to be better for stooping or sitting in the dirt than one of her day dresses.

“Talia! Are you planning on working out here all morning?” asked Rebekah. Holding on to her hand was Louise, Talia’s sixteen-month-old daughter.

“Mama!” cried Louise. Rebekah released her hand, and she ran to her mother, albeit slightly unsteady. Louise’s arms were open wide as she threw herself at Talia’s back and wrapped her chubby toddler arms around her mama’s neck.

“Hello, sweet girl!” She grabbed her daughter’s hands and kissed them, then pulled her around to her lap and began cuddling with her. “It’s a beautiful autumn morning, and I wanted to get these seeds planted before we happen to get an early frost.”

“Susannah and Patrick are napping soundly in the nursery. That son of mine sleeps like the dead—just like his father,” remarked Rebekah.

Rebekah and Silas married in March 1878. On Caleb’s recommendation, William Jeffries kept Silas on as station agent. So, after they married, Rebekah moved to Reno, Nevada. They purchased a small house on the outskirts of town and welcomed their son, Patrick James O’Brian, one year later.

Rebekah looked on as her best friend cooed loving words to her black-haired child. “How in the world did both girls get Caleb’s black hair? Susannah got your thick curls, though, and has more hair than I’ve ever seen on a one-month-old baby.”

“She does have a mass of hair. Louise didn’t have that much, but look how fast it grew beyond her shoulders. I can’t imagine how long Susannah’s will be by the time she’s this age.” Talia lifted Louise from her lap, set her on the ground, and pushed herself up, knocking the soil from her green gardening apron.

Louise attached herself to her mother’s knees and demanded, “Up.”

Talia picked her up into her arms, and Louise reached for the rose pendant her mother always wore.

The two friends walked from the garden to the front porch that spanned the width of the home. Caleb and Lucas had built a swing on the left side of the porch after Louise was born. Caleb had thought it would be nice for Talia to rock the baby or for the two of them to sit outside in the evenings. Talia sat down in the swing with Louise while Rebekah went inside to get a blanket and a few toys. She returned and spread out the blanket for Louise to sit on as she played with the toys.

“Silas said Caleb is expecting a good crop from the hayfields this year,” said Rebekah.

“Yes, that’s what he says. I’m glad he’s seeing all his hard work of the past two years start producing. He’s purchased an additional five acres and will be expanding the hayfields now that the first crop was successful.” She lovingly watched her daughter playing with the wooden horses Lucas carved for her. “Sometimes, Rebekah, our lives in Virginia City seem so long ago. We are now married with children, and living simply with the men we love and who love us is like a fairytale.”

“More like a fairytale come true, I’d say,” laughed Rebecca. “Even my father can’t believe I’m happy not ordering a new dress every month. But he dotes on Patrick and makes time for him and Mother to come up on the train twice a month to spend the day with us.”

Talia thought about her father and how they were progressing toward communicating on friendly terms. It had taken him six months after the five hundred dollars was repaid to write a letter acknowledging he had received it. And she wrote him when Louise was born to let him know he had a granddaughter. She sent letters telling him about the milestones in Louise’s first year, and his letters back read like he was pleased to know about his grandchild but made no mention of visiting to meet her.

Eleanora had been there for Susannah’s birth and had just returned to Carson City a few days before. She had asked for and received permission to tell Paul that his newest granddaughter was named after Talia’s mother, just as Louise was named in honor of Caleb’s mother.

Talia bent down and kissed the top of Louise’s head. “I love you, my darling!” she whispered. Her daughter bent her head back and giggled up at her mama.

“Her eyes are starting to turn green, Tally. She’s adorable now, but she will be a beauty and a temptation to the young men in Reno one day,” declared Rebekah.

“Don’t tell Caleb that,” agreed Talia, rolling her eyes.

“Speaking of Caleb, I believe I hear the wagon bringing him and Silas home.” Rebekah stretched her neck to see around the pines trees at the end of the path.

Caleb drove the wagon to the barn, and Lucas came out to unhitch the horses. The men washed at the well and went to join their wives.

“Look who’s playing with her horses!” exclaimed Caleb when he saw his eldest daughter.

“Pop!” Louise tried to stand up but fell back on her bottom. She tried a second time, steadied herself, and ran to her father.

“That’s my girl,” said Caleb, smiling as he picked her up and twirled her around, much to her delight. Louise put her head on his shoulder, and he hugged her tightly to him. “Do you think she’ll ever get “papa” out?”

Louise writhed to be put down, and Caleb obliged by sitting her in the middle of the blanket.

“I think she’s not quite sure what to say, so she compromises. Louise hears you call Jasper “pa,” and Molly and I refer to you as “papa.” She says the in-between, so to speak,” explained Talia.

Silas kissed his wife on the cheek. “We might have a similar problem with Patrick. Growing up with Irish parents, my mother was “mam,” and I’m trying hard to use “mama,” but sometimes the “mam” slips out.”

Rebekah clicked her tongue and playfully scolded her husband.  “I’ve told you several times that I’m delighted to be known as “mam.” You don’t listen to me, and I certainly hope that’s not a habit Patrick picks up from you.”

Molly came through the door and interrupted the banter. “I hear Patrick making baby talk upstairs, and I think he’s trying to soothe Susannah’s tiny whimpers, bless his sweet little heart.  Would you like me to tend to him?”

“No. thank you, Molly,” said Rebekah, jumping up from the swing. “I’ll go to him because I’m sure in a minute he’ll tire of soothing her and scream to alert someone that he’s hungry.”

Silas followed her upstairs, and Caleb insisted to Talia that she should stay where she was while he tended to their tiny daughter. She asked Molly to take Louise into the house and make lunch for her before the adults came in for lunch.

Talia sat in the swing and thought about Caleb’s devotion to his family. He had fallen in love with both daughters when he held each one for the first time, and each baby had given a hint of their future personality. Louise had gazed up at him with eyes opened wide and made soft baby gurgles as if talking to her father. On the other hand, Susannah opened her eyes once, turned her head into his chest, and promptly fell asleep.

“Here’s your mama, little one,” Caleb softly said as he returned and placed the baby in her mother’s arms. He sat down next to Talia and put his arm around her.

Talia placed a soft kiss on her daughter’s tiny hand.

“I believe Molly was right in Patrick trying to calm Susannah. When I finished changing her and started to leave the room, I swear the little imp was scowling at me like I was kidnapping my child.”

“Caleb, don’t be ridiculous! He’s only six months old,” laughed Talia.

He shook his head. “He may be only six months, but the boy has a possessive streak where my daughter is concerned, and no one can tell me different. I will have to keep my eye on those two starting now,” he warned with a twinkle in his eye.

Talia smiled, indulging Caleb in his beliefs. “Did you get a good price for the hogs?” she asked.

“It was a generous price for four three hundred pound hogs, so we have more than enough to get three more for next year,” said Caleb. “With the strong hay crop, we should have a plentiful winter and still be able to increase hay production for next year.”

“I’m proud of you, Caleb. You’ve accomplished so much for our family in such a short time,” acknowledged his wife.

“We’ve done so much together, Talia,” corrected Caleb. “I may have worked the farm, but I wouldn’t have succeeded without your faith and support and Pa’s on top of it. Please don’t minimize the strength of your love—it’s what drives me to make a better life for all of us.” He bent his head to kiss her lips.

Talia sighed contentedly and looked down at Susannah. “I believe she got tired of waiting to be fed and went back to sleep.”

“I guarantee you the minute she’s out of your arms, she’ll make her demands known,” chuckled Caleb.

“You’re probably right, so I’ll try to see if she’ll wake long enough to be fed before we all sit down to lunch.”

“Before you go, I have some news. The marshal stopped me before I left Reno and told me he got word from the prison that Benjamin Warner got caught with three other inmates trying to escape. The judge added another two years to the eight years he was sentenced for assaulting us, and Gil thought we should know.”

Talia was silent for a moment as she held her sleeping child close. “Benjamin wasn’t the type to stand incarceration long, so it doesn’t surprise me he tried escaping. He probably didn’t take the additional punishment well, but I don’t think he ever thought of consequences before he acted. I should get Susannah inside and feed her.”

Caleb held the door open for his wife and child but stopped to embrace her before she walked through it. Talia crossed Rebekah and Silas coming downstairs as she went up to feed Susannah. When Patrick saw Susannah in her arms, he whined and held an arm in her direction and refused to be consoled until Molly brought out Louise. Silas sat in the parlor on the carpet with them and played with wooden building blocks. His son was trying to sit up but was more successful when sitting between his father’s legs. The two children played well together, giggling as the blocks fell.

Caleb had gone looking for his father and found him reading in his wheeled chair on the back porch. He sat with a wool blanket over his legs and a soft felt hat on his head.

“Pa, I see you’re enjoying the warm October weather.” Caleb sat on the steps below his father’s feet.

“I am. We won’t have too many more warm days like this one.”

Jasper’s health had improved since moving to the farm with his son and daughter-in-law. His appetite was better, and with the daily walking, he had gained enough strength to often walk to and from his room with only the help of his cane.

“How did the sale work out? Profitable, I hope,” queried Jasper.

“I thought so, Pa. We’ve been blessed with a good year. I came out to bring you in for lunch.”

“I’m ready,” answered Jasper.

Caleb stepped up to hand his father the cane and open the door. They walked to the parlor, and Louise knocked over the blocks as she attempted to stand—several times—and toddle to her grandpa. Jasper quickly sat down so Louise could crawl up on his lap. She pulled his hat off and put it on her head, covering her eyes and laughing.

All those gathered in the parlor laughed along with her, not hearing the carriage coming up the long path from the road. Rebekah stood near the front window and peered through the curtains when she heard a man’s voice commanding the horses to stop.

“Oh, my!” She quickly looked to Caleb, her eyes round in surprise.

“Who is it, Rebekah?” Caleb went to the window and glanced through the curtain she was holding open. “I don’t recognize him.”

“It’s Mr. Montgomery—Talia’s father.”

All in the room noted Caleb’s worried expression and reddened face. “He’s not going to upset my wife. Excuse me.” He moved swiftly to the door and jerked it open. He stepped out and had blocked the door before Paul Montgomery reached the top step.

“Hello, young man. Is this the home of Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Tomlinson? And are you Caleb?”

“You have, and I am. What can I do for you, Mr. Montgomery?”

Talia’s father removed his hat and smiled ruefully. “Ah, so my daughter sent you out to warn me away. I can’t say I blame her.”

“No, Talia hasn’t seen you arrive. Mrs. O’Brian recognized you.”

“Mrs. O’Brian? Oh, you mean Rebekah. She’s here, too.”

“Yes, she, her husband, and son are visiting. I’ll ask again; what can I do for you?”

“I’ve come to make amends with my daughter—and you, Mr. Tomlinson. It’s been brought to my attention several times over the past several years that I haven’t been a good father. According to my sister, not a father at all. I regret that and hope for a chance to rectify it. It’s my great hope to be a devoted grandfather to your little ones, too.”

Caleb saw the look of remorse on the man’s face, and the tension relaxed in his body. “You should know, sir, that my only concern is for the well-being of my family. I can see you are sincere in your motives, but I won’t tolerate any harm to my wife and children. If Talia wants me to welcome you into our home, I will respect that, but you will answer to me if you upset or hurt her as in the past.”

“I understand.”

Caleb stood aside and opened the door for Talia’s father.

Talia was coming downstairs after feeding and laying a sleeping Susannah down in her cradle and stopped before reaching the bottom when she saw her father standing in the hall.

“Father? You’re here in my home.” She was so shocked that was all she could think of to say.

“Your husband has kindly let me inside. Is that acceptable to you, Talia?”

“Why, of course, it is.” Talia continued down the stairs and went to stand and face her father, but she needed a few minutes to take in his presence. “Come in, and let Caleb introduce you to the rest of the family.”

She led him into the parlor and immediately went to take Louise from Jasper. Caleb made the introductions to the stunned group, and Paul mentioned how glad he was to meet them and to see Rebekah once again. Talia hadn’t known what to think but made up her mind to accept the opportunity presented to her to fully forgive her father and show him kindness. She moved to stand between her father and Caleb.

“Father, this is Louise Eleanora Tomlinson, your oldest granddaughter.”

“My goodness, little princess, you’re quite the prettiest child I’ve ever seen.” Paul Montgomery couldn’t take his eyes off Louise, and he laughed when she stared right back at him, showing no fear at meeting the stranger.

Louise wiggled in her mother’s arms. Thinking she wanted to go back to playing, Talia set her down on her feet.

Instead, the little girl simply looked up at the man who was almost as tall as her father, raised her arms, and said, “Up.”

Paul Montgomery handed his hat to Caleb and picked up his charming granddaughter. “Then up you go, Louise.” He laughed even more heartily when he pulled at his whiskers.

“Louise!” exclaimed Talia. “I’m so sorry, Father, let me take her.”

“There’s no harm done, Talia. She just wants to figure out who I am, don’t you, princess?”

Louise smiled, showing her few teeth as she reached for her mother.

Caleb was relieved that his father-in-law seemed genuinely caring and happy to be with Talia.

“Talia, maybe your father would like to join us for lunch?” He wanted to test where Talia’s thoughts were in the midst of the situation of her father’s presence.

“Father, it would please us if you stayed for lunch if you have the time,” she warmly invited, sending Caleb a grateful look.

“I have plenty of time, and I’d like that very much if I’m not intruding. I’ve taken a room in Reno, hoping we could spend some time together over the next few days. But if you and Caleb don’t mind, could I . . . may I meet your mother’s namesake before sitting down to eat?”

She looked from her father to Caleb, who nodded and took Louise from her arms. Her father’s tentative request touched Talia’s heart, and she had to swallow the lump in her throat before answering. “She’s sleeping, but I’d love for you to meet her. She’s the sweetest thing, Father.”

Talia turned to the others in the parlor. “We’ll be right back. Rebekah, will you please let Molly know to start serving lunch?”

“I’m on my way to the kitchen,” said Rebekah, wiping a few tears from her cheeks at the tender scene they all had witnessed.

“Let’s go up, Father.”

When they reached the nursery door, Paul Montgomery stopped his daughter from opening it.

“Talia, I know I have many years to make up to you, but if you allow me to spend time with you and my grandchildren, I promise to be the father you always deserved.”

She kissed his cheek. “I welcome that with open arms.” She opened the door quietly and stood there as she watched her father approach the cradle.

He peered in, and tears sprang to his eyes as he looked down at the sleeping child. “Susannah’s an angel sent by your mother to heal deep wounds. I believe that with all my heart.” He pulled aside her blanket to see her tiny hands and feet.

Talia felt Caleb come up behind her and put his arms around her waist.

“Are you alright, my love?” he whispered.

“Oh, yes, Caleb. Thank you for being so gracious to him.”

Caleb chuckled softly in her ear. “I’m not sure I was so gracious meeting him at the door. But he certainly took my words as a gentleman would—I’ll give him that.”

Paul Montgomery gently lifted Susannah from her cradle, sat down with her in the rocking chair, and began to rock slowly.

Talia went over to them. “Father, come downstairs and join the family when you’re ready.”

“It may be a while, Talia. This is where your mother’s spirit has led me.”

Her grandfather smiled down at Susannah as she stirred in his arms and opened one eye. She brought a little hand up and laid it where his heart was beating.

No one would ever be able to convince him that Susannah Montgomery Tomlinson didn’t smile at him before she closed her eye and fell back to sleep.


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Grab my new series, "Western Brides and True Loves", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

30 thoughts on “Escaping Betrayal’s Pain – Extended Epilogue”

        1. Hi Leslie
          I am extremely disappointed there is no epilogue, and no extended epilogue to your story about Carrie and Finley.
          There is only an extended epilogue about Talia and Caleb ????
          I will greatly appreciate your help in correcting this error.

    1. A beautiful story of forgiveness, and a growing love for each other. I was happy when Talia’s father finally came to see his daughter and grandchildren. Enjoyed the extended episode also. 😃

    2. Such a wonderful story of forgiveness and hope. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this delightful story of hope and love.

    3. Hello Leslie Hales
      You must know how much I’ve loved this story! Your writing puts me right into the stories in which I get to enjoy your characters! My most favorite authors have epilogues! When I enjoy the story I love to know a bit about the characters’ future years! So if you have any series that is a continuing story of the first book of the series could you please take the time to give me the series name?
      Thank you so much for this wonderful story! I gave it 5 stars!
      Take care
      Arlene Parsons

  1. This is a wonderful story and though there was betrayal and hurt feelings There is forgiveness and love

  2. I loved the way you wove together the heartbreak of a young girl’s life from her estranged father, to her running away and finding love. Thank you.

  3. This was such a lovely book. I fell in love with Talia & her new family. couldn’t put it down & the epilogue was so special also! so happy 4 reconciliation!! Babies often do that!
    Thank you 4 this wonderful story! it was a defiant 5 star!!

  4. I am very disappointed in this author, or perhaps she needs a new editor. The book is about Carrie and Finley but the EE is about Talia and Caleb. Now how did that happen?

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