Alternate epilogue from How to Marry a Marquis

It was a perfect wedding… almost.

James Anthony Edward, Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance, in the holy estate of Matrimony?  Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour and keep her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?

James’s voice was loud and firm.  “I will.”

Elizabeth Mary, Wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony?  Wilt thou obey him, serve him, honour and keep him in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?

Elizabeth’s voice was low but true.  “I will.”

Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?

Lucas stepped forward.  “I do.”

The curate continued with the ceremony and James repeated his vows, but in the first pew, not everyone was paying attention.

“What are you holding?” Jane whispered to Susan.

“Be quiet.”

“What is it?”

“I said, be quiet.”

“But I want to know.”

“The two of you,” Lady Danbury hissed, turning to face them, “be quiet.  We’re almost to the part where Elizabeth promises to obey again.  Ha!  This ought to be amusing.”

Jane waited until Lady D was focused on the couple at the altar and then she nudged Susan hard in the ribs and whispered, “What is it?  Is it a book?”

Susan finally gave up and handed Jane a bible.

Jane gasped.  “This is the parish bible!  Aren’t they supposed to be saying their vows over this?”

Susan’s smile was devilish in the extreme.

“What is that book the curate is holding?”  Jane squinted and went pale when she noticed the red binding of the book in the curate’s hand.  “Oh, no, it’s not…  Oh, Susan, Elizabeth will kill you.”

Susan shrugged.  “She’ll appreciate the irony.”

Jane shook her head, her lips parted and her blue eyes wide.  “Oh, no, she won’t.”

“Be quiet!” Lady Danbury hissed again.  “Or I’ll toss the both of you straight through the stained glass window.  This is a serious proceeding.”

“I know,” Jane said mournfully.  “I know.”

Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

“Oh, thank you very much,” Susan snapped at Jane.  “Now I’ve missed the bit where he promises to worship her with his body.”

Jane’s eyes bugged out.  “He says that?”

And of course she forgot all about the book.

I now pronounce you man and wife.  You may kiss the bride.

And he did.

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