Long after Josette's demise, Collinwood returned to normal with more merry events that took place. For one thing, Jeremiah recovered from his ordeal, and was achieving his goal as a prosperous architect. Although his clientele was gradually growing, he managed to add on to his achievement a third marriage to one of his client's daughters, Miss Annabelle Hastings of Boston. They were married in late April, agreeing to stay on at Collinwood until he moved his prospering business to Rhode Island, where not only he bought an office there, but was also constructing a new home for his new wife and future family.
Before his engagement, he and Angelique had settled their differences from their previous relationship. Jeremiah admitted to Angelique that his love for her grew out of his loneliness for his wife, Laura. He enjoyed her company, charm, and words of comfort and wisdom in Martinique, but like Georges, he wasn't really in love with her. Jeremiah's love for Angelique was more of a need to fill an empty space left by Laura. Despite the fact that he was under the witch's curse, and was later freed, he loved and respected Angelique enough to free her for his betrayal. He could have fought for her by agreeing with Josette to annul their marriage, but he conceded, believing that Angelique was much better off with Barnabas. She forgave him and made peace with him as she did with Georges.
As for Jeremiah's time as a vampire, he manufactured a story for some, and revealed the truth to only two people who understood. When Joshua, the constable, and Naomi questioned him about his time with his "extortionist abductors", Jeremiah "revealed" that he was held captive by grave-robbing ruffians who planned to ransom him for an exorbitant amount of money to Joshua. He also mentioned that he escaped when the kidnappers passed out drunk, and ran for his life. He didn't know how long or how far he ran, but he passed out in the woods, not knowing that he was back in Collinwood. Joshua wanted the derelicts to be caught, but Jeremiah convinced him and the constable that it would be useless since the men would have most likely fled Collinsport since their bounty was lost, and would have been wanted by the law. Yet, knowing from Georges that Barnabas and Angelique were aware of his previous "condition", he told them the real truth of his ordeal. When Georges took him away, he remained in his coffin, bounded and secured by the chains around it, writhing and suffering from a gnawing desire to drink blood. Georges helped him through his ordeal by assuring him of his freedom from the curse as soon as Josette was dead. After her death, Georges brought him back to the woods near Collinwood to be found. Jeremiah thanked him for his assistance to returning him back to normal. In private, Jeremiah informed Barnabas on the circumstances surrounding Josette's demise. Barnabas understood his need for revenge and swore to never tell Angelique the details of her sister's death, just as they and Angelique swore to never tell the patriarchs of Collinwood about Jeremiah's temporary time as a vampire.
The second thing that brought joy to the Collinses was the addition of Barnabas' "second prized possession": his one-year-old daughter Sarah Collins. Everyone loved little Sarah as she was a bright and happy child who brought much laughter and joy to Collinwood. Even Joshua had a soft spot for the child although he secretly wished that she could have come after a grandson. When Sarah was born, Angelique feared that Barnabas would have disapproved of a daughter being his first-born offspring, but to her surprise, he was thrilled. After nearly losing the child and her mother to an unhinged woman, Barnabas didn't care that Sarah wasn't a boy as long as she and Angelique were alive for him to love and protect. Angelique was proud of her husband and daughter, possibly more proud than any other wife and mother could be. She was ecstatic, and more truly happy than she ever been in her life. And with the man she loved who returned to her genuine love, devotion, and attention.
After Jeremiah and his new wife left for their honeymoon in Pennsylvania, Barnabas, Angelique, and a sleepy Sarah, whom Barnabas proudly carried around the wedding reception when he wasn't entertaining guests or dancing with his wife, returned to the Old House. While Barnabas put Sarah to bed, and attended to providing last-minute instructions to Ben, Angelique prepared for bed, and waited up for Barnabas. An hour later, Barnabas entered their bedroom. Angelique stood up from sitting by the fireplace and smiled at him. The way she stood there in her night attire reminded Barnabas of their wedding night. He approached her, encircling his arms around her. Barnabas could smell the lavender on Angelique, and it was driving him mad.
"Barnabas," she whispered, nuzzling his scarred jaw line.
"Angelique," he muttered, possessed with desire.
She pulled away from him and sat on the side of the bed. "Speak with me for a moment."
Disappointed that he had to wait to ravish her, Barnabas sat next to Angelique, waiting to hear what she had to say.
"Barnabas, I have a long-standing confession to make to you tonight," said Angelique, nervously.
"Yes, darling?" he said, hoping it was not disturbing.
She looked into his eyes and said, "I love you, Barnabas."
Barnabas' eyes widened. "You, Angelique…love me? You're saying that you love me? As we speak, you are now in love with me?"
"Yes, cher!" she answered happily.
"Oh, Angelique! I longed to hear those words from your sweet lips. I thought that I would never see the day that Angelique Collins would say those three words to me, Barnabas Collins. What finally brought you to that glorious conclusion, my love?" he asked, taking her hands.
"It was Georges who brought me to that realization," she replied.
"Georges?" he asked, confused.
"Yes. You see, he helped me to realize that you were the one for me all along. I told you about our last conversation together, but not everything. I needed time to think about what he said about us."
"What did he say about us?" he asked.
"He told me that you were the only man who truly loved me through your feelings and deeds…although some of your deeds were inappropriate, as you remember. I had two fiancés before you who ended up betraying me of their own will or by witchcraft. And yet, none of them truly loved me. Although you were attached to Josette in the beginning, even carnally, you showed more fidelity to me as my betrothed and spouse than Georges or Jeremiah. I found out from Georges that he was marrying me out of guilt, and Jeremiah needed me to replace Laura in his life. Of course, I'm glad that Jeremiah married Annabelle, and I wish for them to live as happily as we do. And I was unable to utter the words to you out of guilt and harboring spite for Josette. Barnabas, he made me realize that I would have broken my marriage vows for you if you married Josette, and I, Jeremiah."
"Really?" said Barnabas, awestruck that Angelique was making this admission.
She nodded. "Only to spite Josette, of course. However, your love, care, and devotion to me had shown me that you were the worthier spouse. And the way that you have rejected Josette after our marriage and your concern for mine and Sarah's well-being had won me over completely. So now, with Josette and the past behind us, I can say, mon cher, that I love you with all my heart and soul."
Barnabas caressed her cheek, thrilled at this revelation. "I regret that I chose to betroth myself to Josette over you. It would have saved us all the trouble of the madness that took place in Collinwood."
Angelique shrugged, smiling. "Well, Barnabas, we all make mistakes, do we?"
"So we do, my love. So we do."
Barnabas drew Angelique to him, kissing her passionately.
"So," he said, reluctantly pulling from her, "now that we know how much we now love each other, what happens now, ma cherie?"
Angelique coyly smiled and replied, "Well…your father did mention several times that we should concentrate on providing Sarah a brother for her, and a male heir for Collinwood…"
Pushing her dressing gown off her shoulders, Barnabas chuckled, "That sounds like the best advice that Father had given in months…"
While they both "concentrated" on providing an additional member to the Collins dynasty, Barnabas and Angelique were comforted by an inner peace that everything was going to be alright. In the beginning of her life, Angelique believed that Josette would always triumph over her in everything, including taking from her men whom she thought she loved, and who didn't really love her in return. Yet, at the end, it turned out that the least likely candidate to become her husband, the handsome, distinguished, sophisticated, arrogant, opportunistic interloper Barnabas Collins had become the love of her life.
Every so often as the years passed, Angelique thought about Josette and how different their lives resulted. During their childhood, her life was miserable with Josette. As young wives, she realized that she was the most fortunate of the DuPres sisters. Angelique didn't obsess over having the best of everything as Josette had, nor did she allow for bitterness and jealousy to rule her. Angelique became grateful for the trials she experienced for they lead to clarity and joy for her future. If Josette had chosen to not be as she was, her life would have resulted differently, and they would have both been alive and well. However, while Angelique could look forward to a happy and prosperous life as a wife and mother, Josette will suffer in everlasting torment with Bette and other wicked degenerates. And thus was the tale of two sisters from the beautiful island of Martinique.
*****Thank you one and all for reading, favoring, reviewing, and following! I had fun writing this story and reading your comments. And thank you especially Mtimpa2005 for your enthusiastic reviews! Also, feel free to check out my first fan fiction, The Paths to Everlasting Love: A Dark Shadows Reimaging. Take care and Happy Halloween! ;)