A/N: My darling Just4Me, this epilogue is for you, and of course Barbara Cartland would be mortified :)

Isn't it always They fell in the silken entrapment of sheets with her, and then it's the next chapter, and the heroine awakes in the safety of his embrace? Or worse so, the entrapment of sheets is the last paragraph of the book and a reader wants to yell, BUT WHERE?

But there is always Jude Deveraux and her whoohoo :) And yes, I have read plenty of this rubbish myself :)

EPILOGUE

John entered his house, shaking the snow off his Persian mutton collar, breathing in the pleasant smell of his home, of the wax from the polished floors, fresh linen, fur tree branches decorating the walls, and sweet and spicy fragrance of the Christmas plum pudding that he remembered from his childhood and that now was an established tradition in his home. He took off his top hat and coat and was handing them to Perkins when he heard a faint giggling on the staircase. He looked at the butler and saw the corners of the old servant twitch. Both men industriously ignored the sound that had betrayed the presence of more people in the parlour, and John approached a mirror on the wall and pretended to fix his ascot, while attentively listening to the muffled conversation between two small figures hiding in the shadows of the landing.

"I do not see any parcels."

He heard his son's whisper, and the soft voice of his wife answered, "I am certain, darling, Papa has already hid all your gifts. He is a barrister, darling, it is a profession that requires cunningness and strategic mind. Do you honestly think he'd bring your gifts into the house openly?"

"But, Mama, I have already searched the house," Thomas' voice was undignified, and John clenched his jaw to suppress a smile. "I haven't found anything."

"Which only proves you, my darling, that you have much to learn," John spoke without tearing his eyes from the mirror, and his six year old son yelped. John heard the silver laughter of his wife.

He lifted a lamp, and its light spilled on the landing. They were sitting on the floor, both already in their sleep attires, Thomas in stripy pajamas, his wonderful redhaired wife in a long robe with white crochet nightgown peeking from under it.

"What are you two doing here at this hour?" He feigned strict tone, but quite obviously deceived no one.

"We are waiting for the best Christmas gift there is there in the world," Wren murmured, and he met her shining eyes. He gave her a small lopsided smirk, they both were thinking on the evening that was so dear in their memory, the very first evening of their marital bliss, when she met him on this very landing, throwing her arms around his neck, which lay ground to their later openness, trust and passion for each other.

"Oh, are we?" Thomas' face lit up, and he lifted his bright blue eyes at his father. He looked so much like John, according to family portraits he was an exact replica of his father at the same age, the same line of jaw, dark hair, disobediently curling at the ends, the same eyes. "Is it the pocket knife we saw in that shop window, Mama?" His voice was hopeful, and Wren laughed again.

"No, my duckling, the best Christmas gift is Papa himself." John could never resist the smiling happy face of his wife, he quickly leaned in and placed a fleeting tender kiss on her lips, and then another one, and before they were both in danger of forgetting any propriety, and since their son had already cringed his face in undignified disgust, John straightened up and ruffled Thomas' thick dark curls.

"Do you disagree with me, Thomas?" Wren's voice was mischievous, and the boy sighed.

"I do not, of course Papa is the best Christmas gift, although I have to say the ivory handle on that knife..." He trailed off, sighing wistfully, and Wren suddenly wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him into herself, and he was withstanding her caresses stoically, although giving his father pitiful eyes. John laughed, from the spectacle of his beloved family, and from the martyrdom fire splashing in the eyes of his heir. Wren nuzzled her son, and then John heard her quiet whisper.

"Perhaps Saint Nicolas has already considered that knife, my duckling." The boy's head whipped sharply, and he looked at his mother with shiny eyes.

"Alright, to bed, both of you," John ushered them, and they both rushed upstairs, giggling and whispering something to each other. John had some papers to look through, but his wife threw him a look over her shoulder, and he decided most of those matters could be attended to the next day. He quickly walked to his study, locked the files he brought from the city in a safe box, and rushed to the bathroom adjoint to their sleeping quarters.

"Do keep your tie on, please, my darling," Wren's voice from behind the door made him stop in his tracks. Mrs. Thorington had an odd infatuation with her husband's ties, although he would never even consider complaining of it. He jerked off his jacket, washed his hands and face, and hurried into the bedroom. She was sitting on the bed, and he caught a faint citrus aroma in the air.

"Have you been indulging on clementines again, my darling?" John halted in the doorframe, enjoying the view of her slender body in a lace nightdress, pooling around her thighs. The request regarding his tie and the fact that her legs as if accidentally were uncovered by the lace gave him a rather clear picture of what mood he found his wife this evening. He could not say he objected.

"I have, my palate was demanding something sharp and flavourful tonight," a slightly more noticeable accent in her speech, together with the double meaning of her statement, made John feel rather hot, and he quickly sat on the bed, hoping she would already venture in her favourite pursuit.

Small fingers of her little strong hands lay on the white ribbon of his tie, she pulled, and he could not tear his eyes from the slightly open red lips.

"I have a matter to discuss with you, Mr. Thorington," she continued in her soft, almost feline like tone, and he nonchalantly put his hand on one of the delicate knees.

"Do proceed, my darling," he was using his barrister tone, as she would jokingly call it, which was especially inappropriate, considering that his wife had pulled his tie already off his neck and it flew through the bedroom in a rather flamboyant gesture. He chuckled, and with pleasure he watched her little fingers start working on the buttons of his waistcoat. Apparently, she enjoyed his waistcoats, although she claimed she would have to restrict herself and not utter all the compliments to his physique she felt rising in her, according to her, not to overindulge his self-esteem. He cared little about it, he very much prefered talking about her enticing physique.

"Do be so kind as to answer my questions truthfully and without concealing any aspects of the truth, Mr. Thorington," she switched to strict and formal tone, while her hands pushed the waistcoat off his shoulders, and she moved closer to him. His hand was on her thigh already, but he was enjoying the game immensely, and he stroked her skin with his thumb, not venturing higher.

"Are you cross-examining me, Mrs. Thorington?

"Indeed I am, so do care to consider your answers thoroughly, you are after all under the oath." He chuckled, she was indeed following the official procedure. She had become rather knowledgeable in legal proceedings, she claimed she enjoyed watching him in the Parliament, and her elegants hats were quite often seen at the gallery. He was very much grateful for her presence, considering that many of his speeches were written with her assistance. They would spend hours in his study discussing the current affairs, he valued her opinion immensely. "Are you happy in your family life, Mr. Thorington?"

He smiled to her, picked up her hand and pressed her palm to his lips, "Immensely, Mrs. Thorington."

"Do refrain from emotional statements, Mr. Thorington, it is a courtroom, not a gazebo for amorous conversations," she was hardly containing her laughter, the corners of her wonderful mouth pressed in futile attempts to sustain her pretense, and he snorted. She was so clever, so entertaining, so completely enthralling! "So, are you, Mr. Thorington?"

"I am, Mrs. Thorington," he answered pressing his right palm to his chest, over his heart.

"How would you evaluate your experience of fatherhood, Mr. Thorington?" She had started on the buttons of his shirt, her fingertips as if by accident brushing the skin she was uncovering, and he saw her lashes flutter. There was gentle blush rising from the cut of her nightdress, up to her elegant beautiful neck, to her small ears. He was holding on to the shreds of his self-control, but his body craved her, he could almost taste the silky radiant skin on his lips, and he renewed his caresses of her slender hip, his second hand lying on her waist.

"I would say, having a child is rewarding… Heart-warming… Exciting..." She was nodding after his answers, and finally his shirt flew through the room following the tie. He moved towards her, incapable of waiting anymore, but she halted him, her gentle hand pressed to his lips.

"And do you feel, Mr. Thorington, that you would care to repeat the experience?" This time her tone was serious, and he paused to look into her eyes. They were earnest and sincere, and he smiled to her softly. She looked slightly shy, and he nodded to her encouragingly. They had discussed the possibility of having the second child this year, and he quickly leaned in and pressed his lips to her cheek.

"I would say, I would find such endeavour to be the most desirable perspective." She smiled back at him, slight bashfulness disappearing from her features, and he kissed the tip of her nose. "My darling, I have heard that conceiving a child is a rather laborious task. We might have to repeat the required drudgerous chores again and again." She giggled and rubbed her nose to the underside of his jaw. Her glorious orange curls were scattered on her shoulders, her tender little hand was drawing some swirls on the skin of his forearm, and he cupped her face.

She looked at him from under her lashes, and murmured, "Perhaps we need to make it our primary endeavour these days, since this cause indeed is of demanding kind."

"Indeed, and what active steps are you planning to take to propagate our cause, my darling?" He playfully kissed her burning ear.

Her small hand lay over his length, through his trousers, and she applied just the right amount of pressure, and this one small caress was all it took for him to lose his self-possession. He had enough resolve for one last teasing remark.

"Am I allowed to leave the witness box?" His voice was raspy.

"You are," she murmured, and he threw his arms around her and toppled her into the sheets.

Her lips tasted of clementines, and his head swam from the familiar and the most dear sensations. She returned his passionate caresses, her body arching into him, and they quickly divested each other of the remaining garments. With special pleasure he pulled the nightdress off her body, and his eyes roamed her glowing flawless skin in the light of the gaslamp that they never extinguished these days. Quite soon after they had discovered their passion for each other, when the depth of their mutual feelings became known to them, and their intimacy in their marital bed became a frequent and matchless pleasure, they stopped putting out the light. They loved each other, and everything about the other one was beautiful and dear. Many hours had been spent in exploration of each other's bodies, both of them realising quite quickly to their utter shock to have rather extensive appetite when it came to carnal matters. Quite often one of them would remind the other of the slightly childish question Mrs. Thorington asked right after their very first act, whether they were depraved people, and these days they would laugh and readily agree that they indeed were.

John spread his wife's legs, they eagerly went around his waist, and he entered her small beloved body with a low moan, echoed on her lips. Her hands flew into his hair, and he caught her mouth in a deep passionate kiss. He started moving, thrusting into her, still restraining himself, savouring the sensations, and she scraped the back of his head with her short fingers in one his most favourite caresses. They loved each other slowly, caress returned for caress, eyes shining, kisses exchanged, and he felt her legs suddenly grasp around his waist immensely tightly, and she cried out softly, in the abandonment of her release. He joined her quickly, her body trembling in his arms, her lips whispering the words of love, which he readily answered to with equal fervour.

Nine month later their daughter Unna was born, named after Mrs. Thorington's paternal grandmother, and three years later Daniel and Otis joined the Thorington family. John Thorington became the youngest Member of Parliament, a man of impeccable reputation, respected and sought out among his colleagues, while his wife played one of the most prominent roles in the suffragette movement of the era.