Painted with the Colors of Love – Extended Epilogue

“Goodness, you would think we were moving out to Texas permanently!” Joseph groaned out loud as he set a large suitcase in the back of the carriage. 

Cassie giggled. “You know I tried to only take what we would need. It’s hard to pack.” 

“I know.” Joseph shook his head. Cassie knew that he was not upset, he liked to tease her whenever he got the chance. He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close, kissing her on the cheek. She loved the way that Joseph treated her. It was like they were still the good friends they became back in Texas, only closer now. While she loved it when Joseph hugged and kissed her, she always got nervous when she thought his parents might see. 

“Joseph! Your parents are going to be out any minute to say goodbye.” Cassie pushed him away playfully. She hated the idea of his parents seeing them being affectionate with one another. It felt like that was something they should keep private. 

“You worry too much.” Joseph let her go gently. Even after being married for two full years, Cassie couldn’t get herself used to calling Joseph by his given name Michael. She called him Joseph all the time and eventually, it even wore on his parents. His parents would call him Joseph, and even those who worked around the house. 

“I worry enough for both of us because you worry very little,” Cassie bantered. 

“That is very true,” Mrs. Farland joined in from behind them. Cassie had turned away from the door of the house and hadn’t noticed Mr. and Mrs. Farland walking out. It was barely the break of dawn and they needed to get going if they were going to make it to the train station on time. “We are going to miss you both so very much while you are gone.” Mrs. Farland dabbed at the corners of her eyes as she said the words. 

Cassie knew that she was speaking the truth. Mrs. Farland had become like a second mother to her. She enjoyed the time that she spent with both of Joseph’s parents. 

“We are going to be back before you know it. We are only going for two months.” 

“Two months seem like such a long time.” Mrs. Farland walked over and pulled Cassie into a tight hug. “Please be careful. I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to you.” Mrs. Farland’s voice shook. She looked so sad that Cassie almost considered calling off the trip.  

Cassie squeezed Mrs. Farland tightly. “I will be. Don’t worry, nothing will happen.” 

Mr. Farland followed after Mrs. Farland. He gave Cassie a quick half-hug. “We really will miss you, Cassie. You are like a daughter to us.” 

Cassie pulled back, wiping away a tear of her own. In two years, practical strangers had become like her family. She loved them every bit as much as she did her own parents. It was a bit terrible having her parents live in Texas and Joseph’s parents live in New York. There was a big part of her that wished they could all live near each other so they could visit each other more often. Even though she wished that, she loved living in the city. 

At first, it had seemed foreign to her and she thought she would have a hard time adjusting, but slowly, she had started to think of it as home and she had adapted quite well. 

“We really have to go. If I didn’t know better, I would say that you two are trying to keep us here so that we don’t make our train and don’t get to go on our trip.” Joseph shook his head. Cassie wouldn’t put it past his parents. They had done everything they could to try and convince her and Joseph not to go, or to bring her parents to New York for a visit instead.  

“That is exactly what we are doing.” Mr. Farland chuckled as he gave Joseph a quick hug. “You take care of her, all right?” 

“Always.” Joseph gave Cassie a fond look that made her want to melt. She never doubted that Joseph would take care of her. He took her hand and helped her up into the carriage, then they waved to Joseph’s parents until they were out of sight. 

Cassie felt a rush of giddiness. They were officially on their way back to Texas. She couldn’t describe the sheer joy she was feeling. She was going to see her family again. It was almost unbelievable.

—*—

“We’re almost there, Cassie. You might want to wake up.” Joseph was shaking her gently. Cassie sat up with a start. She didn’t mean to fall asleep all the time, but the gentle rocking of the train was hard to resist. She loved the way it soothed her off into another world. She smiled sleepily. The train was still rocking lazily back and forth, begging her to go back to sleep. She hadn’t really even felt the long trip like she thought she had. It had been a nice change of pace for her fast-paced lifestyle. 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you sitting there all alone.” 

“Don’t worry about it. I actually got a few winks of sleep myself. I am sure your family will be waiting for us when we arrive, so I thought you might want to look half-awake.” Joseph reached out and touched her cheek with his thumb. “You have a little wrinkle.” 

Cassie rubbed at the wrinkle with a grunt. “Hopefully it will be gone by the time we get there. Remember when we made this trip last time? You were on the same train, just in a different car. I can’t believe you did that. We could have spent the entire journey together.” 

Joseph laughed. “We could have, but then that would have ruined my surprise. I did surprise you, didn’t I?” 

“Yes. You gave me the biggest surprise of my life and I doubt that anyone else will ever do anything that resembles it.” Cassie still thought of the feelings that had washed over her when she realized that Joseph was one and the same as Michael. 

“I wonder how much your family has changed. I didn’t get to know them a lot the last time I was here in town, but do you think they are very different?” Joseph looked a bit concerned. She wondered what he was worried about exactly. She wasn’t worried about her parents being different. She knew exactly who she was going to visit. They would be the same family that she said goodbye to in New York.

“I know you think that money might have changed them, but I would bet even more money that they are the same people I left behind, or that I said goodbye to.” 

“I didn’t mean that. I just meant…I wondered how much they’ve changed. You said that Arnold is married now, and your little brothers, well, they are both nineteen. Everything is going to be very different for you.” 

“I know.” Cassie took a deep breath. It was something she was terrified of. She didn’t want her family to be different around her or with her. She wanted to go back to the same family she had said goodbye to after the wedding in New York. If they were different in any way, she would be caught completely off guard. 

“Look, there’s the station.” Joseph pointed and Cassie spotted the little platform in the distance. It grew larger and larger with each second until they were pulling to a stop. Joseph stood and pulled Cassie to her feet. “Careful.”

Cassie giggled. He had been overprotective ever since she’d told him the news. It was the same news she had planned this trip around and wanted to share with her parents and siblings. She didn’t know what they would think just yet, but she was fairly certain they would be happy. Mr. and Mrs. Farland had been overjoyed to hear it. 

“Come on then, take your time.” 

Cassie shook her head. “You are so sweet when you are worried.” 

“Then I must be worried all the time.” Joseph winked and shielded her from the other bustling passengers. They made their way to the door of the train and then stepped out onto the platform. Cassie spotted her family right away. They were all there. Gilbert, Leroy, and her parents were on one side, with Zoe there beside them. Arnold and his wife were a few feet away. Arnold was standing taller than before, his arm wrapped around his wife’s waist as they waited. 

Cassie went as fast as she dared, with Joseph right behind her. 

“You’re here!” Her mother rushed forward and wrapped her arms around Cassie, squeezing her so tight she could barely breathe. 

“I’m here,” Cassie said. She went to each of her brothers and then her father and gave them a quick hug. When she got to Arnold, he held her for an extra second. 

“I am happy you followed your heart,” he whispered. 

Cassie pulled back and gave him a nod. Her brother had been the one person to make her feel like the world would not end if she made the right choice. The choice she’d made at the end had put her with the happiest ending of her life. Cassie turned to the young woman beside him. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Cassie gave her new sister-in-law a hug. 

She suited Arnold. She had light brown hair that bordered on red. Her cheeks were round and rosy and she looked cheerful. 

Cassie turned to Zoe. She had saved her friend for last because she knew that as soon as she and Zoe started talking, they would not be able to stop. 

“You’re here! I can hardly believe it!” Zoe was squealing as she pulled Cassie into a tight hug and refused to let go. The two of them burst into a fit of giggles. “I see that my advice got you a long way, didn’t it?” 

“Your advice?” Cassie rose her eyebrows. “You mean giving Wilson a chance?” 

Zoe blushed red. “Well, you know what I mean. Without me, you wouldn’t have considered Joseph either. Besides, everything started with Wilson.” 

Cassie shook her head. “You do have some solid logic.” 

“I very much do. I can hardly believe you are here. You were gone so fast and then I heard you decided to marry Michael and I couldn’t believe it. When I received your letter that it was Joseph, I was so stunned. My goodness, you really do know how to have an adventure, don’t you?” 

“She does, that’s for certain.” Joseph chimed in and gave them both a beaming smile. “So, are we going to have lunch at the famous diner?”

“No.” Cassie’s mother stepped forward. “We are going to have our midday meal at home. Everything is already prepared. Come on!” 

Cassie couldn’t wait. She knew that her family had probably done amazing things with the ranch and she knew that it was going to make everything so much better to see it. 

—*—

Joseph looked to the back of the wagon. Ever since they’d arrived, Cassie had been catching up with Zoe. He had no idea what they hadn’t spoken about in their hundreds of letters that they had exchanged in the last two years, but it seemed that there was obviously something left. They had their heads together and every once in a while, they would look up and giggle, then they would be back at it. 

Joseph turned to Leroy, who was riding beside him in the wagon. “How is your leg doing? I remember the last time I saw you, it was still giving you some trouble.” 

Leroy grinned. He was no longer the lanky seventeen-year-old boy that Joseph had seen in New York. He was now a young man at nineteen and he was certainly taller. 

“It is doing better. I can’t say that it is anything like it was before the accident, but it is close. I think that it will continue to improve.” 

“Really? I’m glad to hear that.” 

“The doctor in New York really made a difference.” Leroy reached down and rubbed the scar that Joseph knew was underneath his pants leg. When he’d come to New York for the wedding, he’d managed to see a fancy New York doctor who had done a lot to improve his leg and now Joseph had noticed he hardly walked with a limp. 

“I did not want to ask this in front of Cassie, just in case it upsets her, but do you know whatever happened to Wilson?” Joseph had been wondering for a long time what happened to Wilson and the thugs that had tried to kill him. 

“Yeah, him and the two men he hired spent some time in jail, a year or so I think. He was so certain that his father would get him out of everything, he never saw it coming. When he got out of jail, he thought that he was going to be welcomed back with open arms. I guess the mayor was pretty embarrassed by him, so he sent him away, basically disowned him until he learned his lesson. Last I heard he had headed down to California to try his hand at gold mining.” 

“Really?” Joseph had a chuckle at the thought of Wilson digging in the river for gold. It certainly didn’t seem like the type of job he would enjoy. 

“Really. I know it seems strange, but he got what he deserved.” Leroy pulled the wagon to a stop and the other two wagons were right behind them. Joseph looked up at the buildings in front of him. He was surprised. For some reason, he’d expected everything to look bigger, fancier, and better. But instead, it was still simple and efficient. 

“I know from here it doesn’t look like much, but we’ve done a lot. We added on to the back of the cabin. There’s a second barn behind those trees and we’ve added several fenced pastures. We also got a new group of cattle this last month.” Leroy beamed as he stated everything they had done. 

Joseph reached up and helped Cassie down. “It looks good. It looks great, actually.” 

“So, how have things been? Did I send enough?” Worry played on Cassie’s face. She had insisted on sending a large portion of the inheritance she received after their marriage to her family. Joseph had had no protests against it. He saw how much she loved her family and how much they loved her. He was happy for her and happy for the fact she had the opportunity to help them. 

Gilbert chuckled as he walked up. “You sent more than enough, Cassie. Don’t let Leroy fool you. We’ve grown the ranch to over twice its size in the last two years. We have five ranch hands who work for us now, and we have everything under control. Who knows? Maybe next year we can pay you back.” 

“You don’t need to do that.” Cassie’s protest seemed to fall on deaf ears. The next couple of hours were a flurry of activity as Cassie’s brothers gave them a tour around the ranch and showed them all the improvements. Joseph was impressed by the time they made it back to the cabin for the mid-day meal. There were a lot of changes. Not all of them were obvious at first glance, but what was obvious was the fact that Cassie’s family had not wasted the money. They had put every penny to good use in betting on their ranch and their family. 

Cassie’s mother herded everyone to the table in the kitchen. “Sit, sit. Let’s eat.”

They all sat down around the table, and even though Cassie asked over and over to help, her mother insisted she sit and let herself rest. Joseph leaned in and gave her hand a squeeze. “Should we tell them now?”

“Yes.” Cassie grinned. 

Just when Joseph was about to speak, Cassie’s mother set the last plate on the table, then stood right where she was. “I did not plan on announcing this, but I thought that you would be happy to know something.” 

“What is that?” Cassie asked, sitting up a bit straighter, her own news forgotten. 

“Annie sold the diner last year.” 

“What?” Cassie asked. 

“Your ma bought it.” Cassie’s father spoke up, the pride clear in his eyes.

“You did?” Cassie leaped up and gave her mother a hug. “I’m so happy for you.” 

Joseph noticed Cassie’s mother looking down at Cassie’s middle. She knew, he could tell. She’d guessed Cassie’s news. Joseph leaped up from the table. He had to tell everyone the news before Cassie’s mother said it. It was clear by the surprise on her face that she was about to ask. 

“Everyone, I know this is not the best time, but I have an announcement to make.” 

Cassie’s eyes went to his, astonishment in them as her hand landed softly on her growing stomach. 

“Cassie and I are expecting a baby.” 

The different exclamations that went around the table were exactly what Joseph had expected. Everyone was congratulating them at once, giving him pats on the back and Cassie hugs. 

Cassie was right, her family may have grown and may have more money than they once did, but they were the same people. They were the people who loved them both and would be a part of their lives forever. Joseph watched as Cassie did a little dance around the kitchen with her mother. They were home. Whether they were in New York or here in Texas, wherever they were together, they were home.

THE END


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62 thoughts on “Painted with the Colors of Love – Extended Epilogue”

    1. A most wonderful story. The ext epilogue was joyful too. I wish we would have been able to see the drawing she did of Joseph.

      1. I sure did enjoy this book. It was really nice to read a book without kidnapping, gun fights just a good clean story. Thank you

    2. Great book. Loved the story line of Michael wooing his nitentes without her knowing it was him.

    3. Another wonderful story as always with many interesting characters. I always enjoy your extended epilogue because it leaves no questions in the readers minds as to what happened to some of the different characters. You pull everything together for the best happy endings with still many wonderful surprises included!!!😊

    4. Lovely story proving that love means so much more than money. They both wanted the same thing – love and not just marriage because of money. Is kind of funny and sweet when she finds out just who Joseph really is.

  1. This is a very good story and the characters are determined to make a honest living and Cassie and Joseph found love and happiness

  2. I like your story Carol, particularly as it endorses supportive, strong, and loving family relationships.

  3. Proving love was the real reason to marry was kept at the front of this story. Learning to love and trust after 2 attempts which were heartbreaking took a great deal of courage. There was many challenges that were endured to make the story interesting.

  4. Really enjoyed reading this feel-good romance. Great characters in Cassie and Joseph, both loved and were close to their families. Great extension of story. Thank you. Keep writing.

  5. I loved this book and that Cassie was able to marry for love and still got the inheritance. The extended epilogue was simple but the perfect ending.

  6. Oh my, what a wonderful story! It really stayed on the theme of marriage with love being most important. The characters were all so special to the book. I loved reading every word. Thank you! The ending wad great and the Epilogue finished the story perfectly!

  7. This is my kind of book !
    Loved every second reading this book and the epilogue.
    The characters were all great.
    Cassie and Joseph were perfect for each other.
    Thank you for my entertaining read……..!

  8. How I loved this wonderful story! Cassie is one of my favorite characters. Michael Joseph messed up a little, but love won on the end. I was thankful for the extended episodes.

  9. This book was so sweet, I Loved it so much. Keep your writing going. I will be waiting for the next Book.

  10. I really enjoyed this story. I could not put it down when I got to bed. Thank you so much for a great read.

  11. I truly enjoyed your book and the way the story began and ended. Love a great love story. Pleased that there was no bad language, or sexual content.

  12. Your stories are so warm and vibrant. I loved the characters in this book and i was so excited for the surprise towards the end. Once again i could not stop reading until i got to the end!!!! 🥰

  13. A wonderful clean and delightful story. The characters are interesting and I hope there will be sequels. I hope Cassie and Michael Joseph have any children to help fill their home with happiness and love. Maybe marry Zoe to one of her brothers so they can be sister in laws. I have enjoyed all of your stories. I loved how the story ends.

    1. Thank you my dear Sharon! I will take into consideration your suggestion about a sequel and if I have the inspiration I will gladly write one for my lovely readers!

  14. This was an excellent book! The plot was a refreshing surprise. I would recommend this book to anyone because of the content that is different than most “Bride” novels. It is a great story, full of excitement, and just the right touch to warm your heart! Get the book! Enjoy!

  15. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book through the good times as well as the struggling bad times. You just loose yourselves and don’t have to think on the ever present topic of the hour. Please continue to write these good books.

  16. Thank you so much a beautiful story. The characters were very interesting and the storyline was very good. I do have one question though: the first time Cassie met Joseph he had green eyes but the rest of the time he had brown eyes. My brother-in-law’s eyes actually did change, but they went from brown to green. But, I was wondering if you meant for an eye color change to happen?

    1. Thank you so much for the heartwarming comment dear Karie! I truly appreciate the love and support! To be honest it was something that happened by mistake but sometimes the most beautiful things in life happen by mistake/by chance! 🥰

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