A lost love rediscovered after 160 years.
Prologue – December 1849
“I do so wish you would reconsider, Daniel. I can’t bear the thought of parting.”
“Amanda, we’ve been through this so many times. There’s no work for me here and no possibility of finding a job. This is a golden opportunity,” Daniel laughed at his own joke.
“But California is so far away and there will be hostile natives and all sorts of dangers. And how do you know you’ll be able to find gold?”
“Prospectors are picking it up off the ground and there is plenty of opportunity for someone who is prepared to work hard. No, Joshua and I will be leaving in two days’ time. We’ll work our passage from Liverpool to New York and go overland from there. Don’t worry, Amanda, we’ll be back within three years as rich men, and I’ll be able to marry you and give you everything you’ve always wanted.”
“Oh Daniel, all I’ve ever wanted is to be with you. I’ll miss you so much.”
Dan McCarthy drove with great caution getting used to driving on the left hand side of the road and had narrowly avoided two or three mishaps. Navigating around small towns and villages after the wide open spaces of California was also something of a challenge, but he was determined to reach his goal, the little town, village, really, of Woodham Ferrers.
Dan wanted to talk to the descendants of a man who had left England for the California goldfields, a “FortyNiner”. The discovery of some old documents had piqued Dan’s interest as he was himself descended from a similar man, believed to be the brother of this family’s ancestor.
Dan navigated slowly around a new housing development and the old Pete Seeger song, “Little Boxes”, “all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same” ran through his mind. He eventually located the address he had been given and picking up the flowers he thought of as a way of breaking the ice, rang the front door bell. A tall, well built young man with an air of quiet confidence, Dan was comfortable in his own skin, even though he was now in a strange country, about to talk to someone who might be a cousin many times removed.
The door opened and a small woman wearing a cautious smile looked Dan up and down.
“May I help you?” she asked.
“Yes, Ms Felton? I’m Dan McCarthy and I rang you recently about family history and genealogy, and you were kind enough to invite me to call.”
“Oh yes, Dan, I’m so sorry, it completely slipped my mind—you see, we’re celebrating my daughter’s recent engagement.
“Look, if this is inconvenient, I’d be happy to come back another day, but please have these flowers as a gesture of thanks for your time.”
“No, come in, Dan; I’m sure Amanda would be interested to meet you and hear what you have to say about our family’s history. And please call me Sonia.”
She led Dan into a small but comfortably furnished lounge room, then called out, “Amanda, come and meet our visitor.”
Dan never believed the story about an electric current passing between two people when they first met. He believed this was just a fairy story from writers of women’s romantic fiction and had no place in real life. As Amanda entered the room, he realised just how wrong he had been.
Amanda was quite tall, probably five feet six inches, with alabaster skin, big brown eyes with just a hint of gold, long, thick chestnut hair and a perfectly proportioned figure. Engaged or not, Dan was immediately smitten, more so when she spoke in a deep, warm voice with a trace of what he thought of as an English accent.
“Hi Dan, pleased to meet you.” She held out a perfectly manicured hand and Dan’s interest was further fuelled by its soft warmth.
“Um, er, yes, likewise,” he stammered, his normal confidence shattered by the close proximity of this gorgeous creature, and he became uncomfortably aware of his embarrassment.
Amanda smiled knowingly but made no further comment.
Sonia offered tea and biscuits, and although Dan was somewhat uncertain about tea as opposed to his favoured coffee, he didn’t want to seem ungrateful. When they were settled, Sonia took up the conversation.
“Dan, I’m thrilled to hear what your research has uncovered. Our families date back 160 years? That sounds really intriguing; what can you tell us?”
"Yes and its fascinating. In 1850, my great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Joshua Westwood, and his older brother, Daniel, went to California during the gold rush." Some recent discoveries have confirmed that Daniel died in a mining accident soon after they arrived at the goldfields. He carried with him a locket containing a tiny painting of a woman whose name was Amanda.”
Amanda gasped. “Who was she? Do you have any details?”
“Well, yes. The discoveries I referred to came to light when we were demolishing an old family property that had stood in the San Francisco area for well over a hundred years. It was falling apart, and in it, we found diaries, papers and letters starting with some that had evidently been the property of the original Joshua. Letters addressed to Daniel eventually found their way to Joshua, together with a local newspaper cutting detailing Daniel’s death in a mining accident. The letters were from an Amanda Colless who expressed a great deal of love and devotion to Daniel. And …” Here Dan paused for effect. “And to tell Daniel that she had given birth to a son she named Daniel.”
This time both Sonia and Amanda gasped. “That poor girl—left all alone with her baby while its father lay dead in a California grave. From what you’ve said, he probably never knew that he was a father, or probably even knew that she was expecting their child. Do you know if Joshua ever told Amanda of Daniel’s passing?” Sonia asked.
“I really don’t know; I suspect not, because from all the information we’ve been able to glean, Joshua was hardly able to either read or write, so although he had Amanda’s letters, we don’t know if he ever read them, had someone read them to him or reply to any of them. We do know, however, that Joshua was very good with his hands. He became a carpenter, and with the rapid expansion of San Francisco at that time, was able to make a reasonable living from his skills.”
“He established himself in the community, building the property that we recently had to demolish. He married and had a family, and eventually that led to me. My father and I became very interested in our family history, and Joshua’s documents were a gold mine, if you’ll excuse the pun.” Dan grinned, an infectious smile that had Sonia and particularly Amanda responding in kind.
“That’s how we came to find out about the original Daniel, his sad death and the girl he left behind him,” he continued. “We wanted to find out more about the original Amanda and her descendants, if any, although we knew about the son, Daniel junior. That proved difficult in the States, so I took a break from my job and came over here to do some research on the ground.”
“So how is the research going?” Sonia enquired. “We can go back a couple of generations in our family, but to be honest we’ve never really taken the trouble to dig very deeply. But now you are whetting our appetite.” Amanda nodded in agreement and leaned forward, her eyes fixed on Dan’s face, and he caught a hint of her intoxicating perfume.
“It’s a bit sketchy; there is a slender thread, but it may break if I can’t get confirmation. Still, it seems as if you and I may have the same six greats grandfather, Amanda.”
“Wow, we are related—it’s not every day you get to meet a long-lost relation, no matter how far removed. Pleased to meet you, cousin.”
“Likewise, Mandy—is it okay if I call you Mandy?”
“You can, but I wish you wouldn’t. I’ve always been Amanda, and now it seems so much more important knowing that my long-lost relative was also Amanda.”
Dan smiled, a warm smile that spread across his face, hoping Amanda would find it hard to resist, even though he knew she was engaged to someone else.
“It’s getting a bit late, and I don’t want to outstay my welcome, so I’d better be going, although I’d like to continue this conversation another time, if it isn’t too much trouble.”
“Dan, why don’t you stay for tea? I’m sure mum wouldn’t mind and we’d be happy to give you a home cooked meal, wouldn’t we, mum?” Amanda asked in such a way that Sonia couldn’t refuse. But her smile said that she had no intention of refusing anyway.
Dan spent an enjoyable evening with his new friends, and the time flew by. He found it difficult to keep his eyes off Amanda, who seemed willing to reciprocate. Sonia, meanwhile, maintained a faintly amused smile at the two young people trying hard not to show any interest in each other—and generally failing miserably.
Thanking them both profusely, Dan arranged to return the following day, a Sunday, for lunch and to continue the ancestor hunt. As he left, Amanda half-heartedly held out her hand for a handshake, although she seemed uncertain about what was the right thing to do. Dan knew that he would have much preferred a warm embrace and an even warmer kiss, but in a gesture that was as charming as it was unexpected, he took Amanda’s hand and kissed it in a decidedly continental manner. Amanda blushed and smiled as Dan left, feeling he had made a positive impression on someone he hardly knew existed just a few hours earlier.
He arrived late the following morning and saw another car parked in front of Sonia’s house. She welcomed him in with a rather guarded expression on her face and as they went in to the lounge, he saw Amanda with a young man. Amanda introduced Simon, her fiancé, and Dan shook his hand. He saw a tall, slim guy with long hair and a rather proprietorial attitude towards Amanda, seeming to want to protect her from Dan’s influence.
“Amanda tells me you’re researching family history? Never had any time for it meself,” Simon continued. “All that dead stuff doesn’t seem important; what we have to do is stay with today and look forward to tomorrow; know what I mean?”
“Quite agree, Simon, although this “dead stuff” as you put it has only recently come to light, and I’m following up on my family’s English connections. It looks like Sonia and Amanda have some links with my family, although they do go back to the mid-nineteenth century.”
“Yeah, well, me and Amanda are going out for lunch at the pub, so we probably won’t be seeing you again, hey, babe?” he addressed his last remark to Amanda, who nodded in agreement. However, she turned away as a flush crept up her neck and over her face.
They left and Sonia sighed. “Well, Dan, it looks like just you and me for lunch.”
“Suits me fine, Sonia; your cooking hits the spot perfectly. Could I ask you a very personal question though; you don’t have to answer if it makes you too uncomfortable. Would I be right in assuming you are, shall we say, less than absolutely enthusiastic about your potential son-in-law?”
Dan found himself quite unable to read Sonia’s expression, but she answered carefully. “Amanda was badly hurt by a relationship break-up a year or so ago. She was engaged then, too, but she found he was seeing another woman and the split was messy and painful.”
“That must have been very painful for Amanda—and you, too, I guess?”
“Yes, but then she fell for Simon, or, to be more accurate, she agreed to his proposal but I must say I’m not entirely sure about him. He’s very slick and self-assured to the point of arrogance.
“I could see that,” Dan agreed.
“Amanda jumped for him in what I’m sure was a rebound after her previous relationship disintegrated, and he seems to want to take control. I’ve tried to talk to her, but she doesn’t want to discuss it, which, I suppose, is her right.”
“Hmm,” Dan ran a hand through his hair as he studied Sonia’s face. “Okay if it’s what she really wants, but rebound relationships often fall apart.”
“Dan, I don’t want Amanda hurt again. Her father died when she was just ten in a motor vehicle accident and that shook her up badly; they had been very close. After the breakdown of her previous relationship, I don’t want this one to go sour, although,”—Sonia sighed again and looked into the middle distance. “I can’t see anything really sweet about it.”
Dan tucked that piece of information away for future reference and after a delicious meal, he and Sonia resumed their discussion about ancestors. She had information about her grandmother, Elizabeth, and a copy of her death certificate, which she gave to Dan as a starting point for some more detailed research.
Dan was on the point of leaving when he turned to Sonia. “Look, Sonia, I’m so grateful to you and Amanda for your help and hospitality that I want to make a small gesture of thanks. I’m staying in Chelmsford, and there are some nice restaurants there, so I’m going to take you both out to dinner on Saturday week.”
Sensing some hesitation on Sonia’s part, he continued, “And I won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. I’ll pick you both up at seven o’clock on the Saturday evening.”
“Fine, Dan,” Sonia smiled. “I’ll alert Amanda, and I think she’d enjoy it, too."
Dan drove back to his hotel, plotting ways to see Amanda again. As a step in this direction, he spent a long time digging back through birth and death data and Census records based on the information about Sonia’s grandmother. He was able to discover records dating back to the original Amanda Colless, but no father was recorded on the birth certificate of her son, Daniel. It appeared that she had subsequently married a man named Jeremiah Wheeler, a miller. Presumably this was to give young Daniel a stable home, as there was no mention of any further children.
Dan swung into action. First stop, florist, where he bought a single red rose in a container, and delivering it to the beauty salon where Amanda worked. He was disappointed that she was on a break when he arrived, but he left the rose and a small card with just the letter “D” printed on it with her co-workers. They seemed fascinated by the flower-bearing American and wanted to pump him about his “intentions”.
Dan eventually escaped and moved into phase two. This was simply to invite himself to Sonia’s place the following evening with the excuse of having found information about the original Amanda Colless. Sonia was delighted and Dan arrived at Woodham Ferrers that evening to be greeted by Amanda. “Mum had to go to a Women’s Guild meeting; she’d quite forgotten but asked me to entertain you. She’ll be back around nine thirty, but you and I can have something to eat, if that’s okay with you?”
‘That’s more than okay, you gorgeous creature,’ Dan thought to himself, but cautiously replied, “Yes, that’s fine.”
After a delicious meal, they sat in the lounge and Amanda opened the attack. “Dan, what on earth possessed you to buy me a single red rose? Don’t get me wrong, I was tremendously flattered, but don’t forget I am engaged to someone else.”
“Mmm, yes, I know, but you can’t blame a guy for trying. I really like you, and if things had been different, I’d be trying ten times harder.”
“Dan, please don’t go there. It’s all too hard and all too dangerous. Simon can be very jealous, and I wouldn’t want you to get hurt”
“I sincerely hope it doesn’t get to that stage, but don’t worry, I’m quite capable of looking after myself. Now enough of that, let’s talk about you.” With that, Dan segued into Amanda’s taste in music and movies and they had an in depth conversation about many things. Dan was intrigued at the extent to which their interests matched and he found himself falling increasingly under Amanda’s spell.
Sonia returned from her meeting and the little party broke up soon after. Dan had found himself captivated by Amanda and as he was about to leave, took a calculated risk. Standing close to her to say goodbye, Dan slipped his arm round Amanda’s waist and, drawing her to him, kissed her.
But those words cannot even start to convey the power of his reaction, the heat of one kiss that sent his mind reeling and his senses into overload. Her body was firm but yielding, her mouth a torment of soft sensuality and hot demanding passion and Dan had no idea of how he would ever recover—even if he wanted to.
“Dan, I … oh God, I don’t know … I’ve never felt like this before. You’re sweeping me off my feet, and I’m engaged to Simon and I don’t know what to do, and I’m so shaken up I can’t think even partly straight.” Amanda’s words tumbled from her as she clung to Dan to stop her knees giving way.
Dan seized on what he knew to be his one opportunity. “Amanda, look at me. Now, please answer me ‘yes’ or ‘no’—is Simon the guy you want to spend the rest of your life with, and are you crazy in love with him? If the answer’s ‘yes’ I’ll leave now and stay out of your life. If it’s ‘no’, I’d like to see you again, very soon.”
Amanda looked at him, uncertainty and confusion spreading across her face before she burst into tears and rushed inside, leaving Dan on the doorstep.
Dan returned to his hotel with a great deal on his mind. Amanda had got under his skin, in the best possible way. He had discovered that she was smart and funny as well as devastatingly attractive, and he was delighted when she revealed attitudes and ideas that were very similar to his. He wanted very much to continue their relationship, but he recognised all too clearly that Simon was the “elephant in the room”.
Dan spent a lot of time working through how he might spend more time with Amanda, but an intriguing phone call from Sonia smoothed the way for him.
“I know this is probably none of my business, Dan, but Amanda is having a lot of difficulty dealing with her feelings for you. Whether you meant to or not, you’ve made a huge impression on Amanda, and she can’t stop talking about you. Could you call round, say tomorrow evening, for a meal and talk with Amanda and maybe me about this whole thing?”
“Sure, Sonia, I’d be delighted to. I can tell you that Amanda’s only been out of my mind when I’m asleep, and I think we do need to get things straight. I certainly don’t want to hurt Amanda, but I’d like to get my position clear for all our sakes; even for Simon’s.”
“Great, Dan, shall we say six thirty tomorrow?”
“I’ll be there with bells on.”
“Tinkle, tinkle” replied Sonia with a laugh in her voice.
Dan arrived at the appointed time the next day and was walking towards the house when he was pulled up short by a loud, aggressive voice. “Hey, yank, what do you think you’re doing here?”
Dan spun round to see Simon with a snarl on his face and his shoulders hunched in aggression.
“I’m visiting Sonia and her daughter, if it’s any of your business,” Dan replied.
“Listen you sneaky septic bastard, Amanda’s my woman and you’d better keep your hands off her if you know what’s good for you.”
Dan noticed the front door of Sonia’s house open slightly as a result of this loud exchange.
“Oh really. So Amanda belongs to you, does she?”
“Yeah, that’s right. She’s mine, and nobody else had better interfere. I protect my property, especially when it’s been pledged to me, and she carries my brand on her left hand.”
“You really do have some strange ideas about relationships, Simon. Doesn’t it occur to you that you can’t own another human being?”
“Smart arse. Amanda knows what side her bread’s buttered. I rescued her after her last man dropped her, and she’s been only too grateful for my protection, particularly against interfering intruders like you.”
Any further discussion was interrupted by a blazing fury bursting through the door.
“You pig, Simon,” Amanda screamed . “I thought you cared about me, but I am NOT your woman, I am NOT some needy little girl seeking protection by a so-called big, strong man, and gratitude is the last thing I feel towards you.”
“No, listen, babe, you’ve got it all wrong,” Simon almost whimpered. “I love you and I know you love me. Don’t let this useless Yank come between us.” So saying, he moved towards Amanda and grabbed hold of her wrist.
Dan reacted with totally controlled anger. “Leave Amanda alone, Simon, or you’ll answer to me.”
“Oh yeah? You and whose army?” he responded with exaggerated bravado.
“Just me, skeezix,” and without seeming to move at all he hit Simon once with a powerful short-arm jab to the solar plexus.
“I don’t normally approve of violence as an answer,” he looked at Amanda, as if begging her forgiveness, “but I thought maybe a short sharp shock would bring him to his senses.”
She smiled at Dan and blew him a kiss, then crossed to Simon as he gradually recovered his breath. “All over, Simon. I don’t ever want to see you again.” So saying, she removed her engagement ring and tucked it into the pocket of his shirt, patting him over the ring. “Have a nice life, babe,” she finished with sarcastic emphasis on the last word.
As Simon staggered down the road, shouting curses at Dan and Amanda, Dan followed her into the house. “Wow,” he said, “I don’t believe I did that. I’m sorry if it offended you in any way, Amanda, but …”
“Oh Dan,” her voice was warm, smooth and enticing. “Brave knights who rescue fair maidens from dragons are entitled to a reward,” and she took his head in her hands and kissed him, long, sweet and full of the promise of something really special.
“Now that the elephant has left the room, I don’t think there’s too much more we need to talk about. Particularly with the amount of stardust floating around you two,” Sonia’s voice was full of laughter and happiness. “I think I might go visit Margot for an hour or two. I’m sure she’ll be pleased to see me.”
“Subtlety was never your strong point, mum,” Amanda was equally relaxed.
They stayed together, kissing and talking. After a short while, Dan turned to Amanda, saying, “Amanda, I’ve fallen crazy mad in love with you, and all I can hope is that you feel some of the same way.”
“Dan, do you remember what you asked me about Simon? Is he the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with, and am I crazy in love with him? If I substitute ‘Dan’ for ‘Simon’, the answer is an unqualified ‘yes’.” They kissed, passionately as if sealing a lifetime deal.
They held each other close, and Amanda ran her finger down Dan’s cheek, then around his ear and along his jaw. “Dan,” she breathed, “I want you to … I need you to be with me … I want …”
Dan could hear the desire in her voice, but uncertainty jumped into his mind, overriding his matching passion.
“Honey, I can think of nothing I’d like more, and I think your mum was giving us the green light, but you do realise that I have to go back to the States in a couple of weeks, and …”
Tears ran down Amanda’s cheeks. “Oh Dan, I’ve only just found you, now you have to leave me. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Sonia returned and Amanda looked wistfully at Dan, but said no more in front of her mum. Dan decided he needed to act and repeated his love for Amanda, then made what sounded even to him, a weak excuse and headed back to his hotel.
Dan had been gradually formulating a plan in his mind. He had paid a few visits to his company’s UK operation at nearby Basildon, with some very positive outcomes. And suddenly, he smacked his head. ‘I know how to make this work. They liked me in Basildon, and mentioned a five year contract over here, but … wow, I can’t tell Amanda unless it is absolutely certain. I know I’m going to cause her some short-term pain.
He was up early the following morning and drove to Heathrow airport where he was able to book flights to San Francisco via New York. He slept for most of the flights, and on arrival in California, drove straight home where he was welcomed ecstatically by his family. That ecstasy became muted when he told them of his plans, which included a five year stay in England and other ideas that sent the whole family into a spin. Dan had a long talk with his mother who gave him a small blue box to take back with him.
Dan discovered that his manager already knew about his plans.
“Dan, we don’t want to lose you. We can’t afford to do without your sort of smarts. But I’m not going to stand in the way of true love, and you’ll still be part of the team even if it is in England. Bring your true love over here one day and let us see how you could be lured away from us,” he finished with a smile.
“Thanks, Glenn, I appreciate your generosity, and I’ll still be going flat out for the business.”
Dan found tying up loose ends and saying farewell to colleagues and friends drained him emotionally. He had a number of close friends, and some wondered about his motives and how well he would cope. On more than one occasion, he wondered if he was doing the right thing, but then he looked at a photo of Amanda, and knew she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
Dan lost as little time as possible, but it was a fortnight before he returned to England, highly apprehensive about the sort of welcome he would receive from Amanda and Sonia. He hired a car at the airport and drove to Woodham Ferrers, stopping on the way to buy two dozen red roses as a peace offering.
With his heart in his mouth, Dan knocked on the door of Sonia’s house. She opened the door and screamed when she saw who it was. But the scream was not at all welcoming.
“Where have you been, you rotten sneaking rat. Do you have any idea how upset Amanda has been? Do you have any idea how much she has cried over the past two weeks? Do you have any idea how much pain you caused by walking out without a word? And you have the nerve to come back here with arms full of roses, thinking that will get you off the hook!”
“The answer to all your questions is ‘no’, Sonia, but I would like the opportunity to just have a few words with Amanda to try to put my side of the story.”
“Piss off,” was the terse reply as Sonia started to close the door.
“Who is it, mum?” came the query from inside the house.
Sonia sighed deeply. “I suppose you’d better come and see for yourself.”
Amanda appeared in the doorway. Dan was shocked at how pale and drawn she looked, with black circles round her eyes, and guilt rose fast and powerful inside him.
“You,” she shouted. “What are you doing here? Isn’t it enough that you walk out on me without a word after professing your undying love? And now you land on my doorstep as if nothing has happened. So just what are you doing here?”
“Can you both please give me just five minutes to explain? Then if it doesn’t work, I’ll back out of your lives as if I’d never returned.”
“Okay, five minutes,” Amanda crossed her arms and tapped a foot. “This better be good.” Her voice was controlled but tense, even though there was just a faint hint of hope.
“Remember I told you I was crazy in love with you? Well, that was and still is the absolute truth. But I knew I had to return to the States, and that wasn’t good news. So I took a chance, a hell of a risk, really. I had talked to our people at Basildon about the possibility of working there; they were unexpectedly enthusiastic, and suggested a five year contract for starters. It seems I have something of a reputation in the company.”
“So that was okay, but I had to square this with my managers back in California, and even more importantly, with my family. They were expecting me back any moment.”
Amanda spread her hands as if making an appeal. “But why didn’t you say anything to me, to us,” Amanda was now less aggressive, more pleading.
“Honey, I desperately wanted to because I knew how much my absence might hurt you. But I didn’t want to create any false expectations. Anything might have gone wrong; my managers might have refused, my family might have put all sorts of obstacles in my way, and I wanted to be sure that I could live with any decision I made along those lines involving leaving my home and coming back here full time.”
Amanda turned to her mother. “Well, his five minutes is up, what do you think, Mum? Do we forgive him?”
“I guess so, love, after all, you wouldn’t want to waste two dozen red roses, now would you?”
“No you’re probably right, mum,” and, so saying, Amanda sashayed up to Dan—and slapped him hard across the face. “Don’t you ever do that to me again. Now, kiss me you rat, and if it’s good enough, I might, just might forgive you.”
Dan took Amanda in his arms and kissed her, electricity flowing through them both as first Amanda then Dan hummed with delight and held each other so close that Sonia thought she’d need a crowbar to separate them.
“I love you so much, Amanda, but it’s not quite the end of the story.”
“Uh-oh, here comes the catch,” she murmured.
Yes, right—sit down, please, Amanda.”
She did so with a puzzled look, made even more so by the mile-wide grin appearing on her mother’s face. She had predicted what was about to happen. Her prediction was confirmed when Dan went down on one knee; “Amanda, my love, will you be really brave and marry me. Please?”
“Oh God, Dan, yes, yes of course I will. Even if you are a sneaky rat, I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. So saying, she grabbed his shirt and pulled him into her arms. “I love you and I’m never letting you go away again.”
“Well, I guess I covered all the right bases, then?”
Dan had a dinner date to fulfil, and they all enjoyed a great meal, wrapped in warmth and laughter. After a toast to the happy news, Dan raised the subject of where to from here. He gave Amanda the small blue box, explaining that this was an heirloom that had belonged to his mother’s grandmother and she had asked him if Amanda would accept it as an engagement ring. Amanda was awestruck and tears of happiness ran down her face as Dan slipped the ring onto her finger.
“There’s another issue, Amanda; would you be prepared to honeymoon in California?”
“Prepared to?” she asked in amazement. “That would be wonderful; oh, I guess that would mean staying with your family?”
“Yeah, but don’t worry. We would have the guest wing and be quite separate from the rest of the house.”
“Guest wing? You make it sound like a mansion.”
“Well, yes, it is, really, but I can tell you this. My family is absolutely over the moon about meeting you, so I’ve got another suggestion. How about we have a small family wedding here to deal with the formalities and give your family a taste of the wedding celebrations. I know you don’t have many close relatives, but my family is a big sprawling one. We could go to San Francisco, and mum so wants to set up a big, BIG ceremony for us with all the trimmings.”
“That sounds magical, Dan, but …”
Dan had noticed that Sonia was a little subdued, a little downcast. He crossed to her and kissed her gently on the cheek.
“Sonia, I’m about to say something that I doubt a son-in-law has ever said to his mother-in-law in the history of the world. With Amanda’s agreement, would you please join us on our honeymoon, all expenses paid? And after all, we can’t have a wedding without the mother of the bride. Mum very much wants to meet you, and I think you’ll have a lot in common. And my nineteen year old twin sisters are salivating at the idea of being bridesmaids. So what do you both say?”
He was answered with a simultaneous, resounding “YES!” from both Amanda and Sonia.
The original Daniel and Amanda were reunited through the love of their descendants.