Southgate Farm was even more beautiful than what Grace remembered, even though, toward the end, she had come to like the London house, nothing would ever compare with how much she LOVED Southgate. To everyone's delight, Susie and Rob had come to the countryside as well, settling at Greystone Hall for a long stay, as Susie was quite near to giving birth to her second child.
Grace spent her days either finishing the details for her baby's room or taking Sheldon to long walks around the house or visiting Susie – who lived less than an hour away. Sam was usually around her all the time too, which was very good indeed since Shelly had gotten just a little bit plump and his basket was pretty heavy for Grace, who was already carrying the baby's added weight.
Still, Grace was no complaining about it, even if she was hot all the time, her feet ached and she was getting a little fatter every day.
"Would you really be glad if we had a baby girl?" Grace asked him one day they had gone out on a picnic with Sheldon.
"Of course I would be glad!" Sam said as he carefully rubbed Grace's back. "I only 'suggest' the baby to be a girl every day, don't I?"
Grace smiled, at random times Sam felt compelled to talk to her stomach and 'suggest the baby' things, like being a girl, or having honey-colored eyes, or to love puppies instead of kitties other than Sheldon.
"In truth, I don't care if it's a boy of a girl, Grace." Sam added. "I love our baby already regardless. Don't worry about that."
"Most men would want a boy, an heir."
"I don't want to think of my children that way." Sam said. "My grandfather always told me it was better to just love your children no matter what... I guess he told himself that to remember why he loved my Dad."
"I've been thinking a lot lately... about your father." Grace began slowly. "I'm not saying I like him but I do like your mother and I think your estrangement from your father would hurt her."
"My mom is much stronger than anyone thinks. And she knows my father's shortcomings better than anyone."
"Still, I mean, I know you're close to your family and I don't want our baby to miss out on that."
"Our baby won't miss out on anything. In the end it will happen what always does: the family will gang up on my father and ostracize him – HIM, not my Mother- and in the end he'll come around and ask for forgiveness. Sad but that's how it works."
"Do you think I can invite Lady Wakefield to come stay with us when the baby is close to be born? I don't have a Mother and... I'm a little afraid. Because I don't really know much about babies..."
"Of course you can ask her to come for a visit, and her daughters too, I know you like the girls. And I'll ask my mother to come too, so you have all the support you need."
As the weeks and months passed, and Susie finally gave birth to twin girls – named Charlotte and Katherine, after both their grandmothers - Grace spent a lot of time around her, trying learn as much as possible about babies. Susie was patient with her and let her experiment diaper changing and burping and all that with her daughters.
"They are easy," Susie told her once. "Adam used to cry a lot more. He was such a light sleeper. And he was practically born with teeth..." Susie said with a long-suffering sigh. "He was cute though."
"Sam says he wants our baby to be a girl."
Susie grinned, "He would. Sam has always liked to be adored by as many women as possible."
"I just love him. Adoration I save for Sheldon." Grace said a little grumpily and she made Susie laugh.
Grace later found out that Sam had overheard them and she felt a little mortified about it. She hadn't been able to tell him yet, at least no recently; and she knew she had to but she still felt shy about it.
"You shouldn't listen on other people's conversations." Grace said during their carriage ride home.
"If I don't, how am I ever to find out stuff?"
Grace snorted and wouldn't look at him.
"You know I love you, Grace... I dare say I love you enough for both of us but it was still nice to hear you feel the same way."
Grace didn't say anything but at least she didn't stiffen when Sam tried to hold her.
"I don't understand how you can adore the cat, though, and not me!"
"Shelly is more adorable than you, Sam, I'm sorry to give you the bad news." Grace said finally.
"Lies!" Sam said with great dramatic flare.
Grace laughed and snuggled closer, mumbling something against his shirtfront.
"What was that?" Sam asked, making her lift her face for a moment.
"I said that I do love you." Grace said, "Just so you know."
End of Chapter Twenty-One.
Several weeks later, just three days shy of nine months, Grace gave birth to a lovely baby girl, which prompted Sam to declare that he always got what he wanted, in the end. Grace, who had just undergone more than 10 hours of labor, was in no mood to put up with him, so she happily threw a pair of baby-shoes at his head.
Said baby-shoes were knitted and soft, so they didn't cause any harm – much to Grace's momentarily displeasure. But eventually Grace calmed down, especially after Sam promised to bathe Sheldon for the next two years without complain. It was a bargain too good to pass – especially since Sheldon was now a year old, heavy and had very sharp claws - so she forgave Sam for his gloating about their daughter, whom they named Elizabeth.
After little Elizabeth's birth, and thanks to the combined pressure of the whole family, Lord Fred finally apologized to Grace – though no one could tell if he was being sincere – and made peace with Sam. They would never be really close ever again, but at least were able to carry on polite conversation.
Sam, Grace and Elizabeth lived happily at Southgate Farm for many, many years to come, and their family eventually grew to include two pesky little brothers for Elizabeth, two dogs and another cat to keep Sheldon company.
It was a noisy and messy life, but dreams can take many shapes and forms and for Sam and Grace, their noisy, messy family was a dream come true.
End of Secrets