An Outlaw’s Tender Promise – Extended Epilogue


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Three years later

“Tilly, can you set the table, please?” Essie called up the stairs, blowing a tendril of hair from her face, as she leaned over a large pot, full to the brim of a delicious smelling stew, almost ready to take off the heat.

As with this type of dish, the fat rose to the top to be skimmed off, but as she did so, Essie felt her stomach roil, and decided to leave it as it was for the moment. She hoped it was as good as it smelt as she was really hungry, and her stomach now rumbled in appreciation. 

Tilly clomped down the stairs from her bedroom, as Nicholas came in through the back door, wiping his boots as he entered. Now a teenager, he was almost as tall as Essie, and had his sights on being as tall as Amos one of these days. 

“How many places, Essie? Are we expecting Jonas home today or tomorrow?” Tilly had also grown, and could now reach the plates from the dresser without having to stand on a chair, which pleased her no end. 

“Eight, Tilly, please. I thought he’d be home by now, perhaps he’s catching up with Amos at the barn?” Essie glanced at Nicholas, who shook his head as he washed up. 

“No, Amos was talking to John, just before he left for town.”

John, their beloved charge hand, was heading into Harper’s Point on his night off to have dinner with Miss Taylor. The two of them had hit it off within weeks of John and his nephew’s arrival at the farm, and John, or Smokey Joe, as Miss Taylor used as his nickname, was as happy as a pig in mud. 

“Nicholas, can you please make sure there’s enough wood for the fire. I’m sure you and Amos will be cold from working outdoors all afternoon, and Maggie will want to warm up after the ride over.”

The back door opened again, and Essie, Tilly and Nicholas looked round to see Amos enter quickly, and shut the door to keep the heat in. 

Essie gave him a warm smile, as he kissed her cheek and held her waist gently. 

“Dinner will be ready as soon as Maggie and Drew arrive,” she told him. “There’s hot water in the kettle if you need it.” 

Amos pulled a face at Tilly, who giggled. 

“That’s your sister’s way of telling me she wants to me to clean up and get changed before dinner.”

Essie laughed, and carried on with the preparation of their meal. Amos was back out within a matter of minutes, just as Essie was lifting the heavy pan of stew from the range and moving it to sit on the table. 

“Let me do that, Essie,” Amos’ voice was urgent, as he moved quickly to her side and tried to take the pan from her with his bare hands, but soon let go as he felt the heat from it. 

“I can manage,” Essie replied, putting it in the center of the table, and pointedly shooed him away. 


“Amos.” There was a gentle warning in Essie’s tone, and she tilted her head a little as she looked at him, raising her eyebrows. 

He continued to hover, until she laughingly flapped a cloth at him, and told him to get out from under her feet. The back door opened for a third time, and this time it was Jonas, back from a visit to San Antonio, which had kept him away for almost a week. 

The family welcomed him back like he’d been gone for a year, and Jonas took great pleasure in giving each of them a carefully chosen gift. For Tilly, silk ribbons in myriad colors as she was obsessed with putting her hair up now she was growing up. For Nicholas, a microscope, such was his interest in flora and fauna these days. For Amos, a new Bowie knife, and for Essie, an envelope, which he told her she was not allowed to open yet, as he had an announcement to make. 

Maggie and Drew arrived shortly with their daughter, Flora bounding through the front door as soon as Amos opened it, and the little girl, who was nearly four, but going on 14, headed straight for Tilly who she admired so much. 

Maggie, her stomach tightly rounded, was due to have her second shortly, waddled in and collapsed onto the sofa, constantly exhausted.

“If I can have my dinner here, Essie dear, I’d be eternally grateful,” Maggie called over her shoulder to the kitchen.

Essie smiled and brought a footstool for her friend, as Drew and Amos shook hands heartily. Over the years, they had grown to be great friends, and enjoyed spending time with each other. 

“Jonas is back from the big city,” Maggie observed, as Essie sat next to her. “Any idea what he was doing there?”

“No, but he’s got an announcement to make, so we’ll find out soon. How are you, Maggie?” Essie asked, taking her hand. 

“Grouchy, uncomfortable, ready to get this baby out.” Maggie grinned as she fondly stroked her belly. “When’s it going to be your turn?”

Maggie asked her every time they got together, but Essie could answer, Jonas called for everyone’s attention, just as Maggie’s baby kicked her hard in the ribs, causing her to gasp in pain. 


Drew flew to her side, and Essie squeezed her hand, and they both looked closely at Maggie’s face, as she struggled for breath for a moment. 

“Are you having the baby?” Tilly hung over the back of the sofa, with interest. 

“Not yet, Tilly,” Maggie said, as she opened her eyes. “Forgive me, Jonas. Please tell us your news.”

Jonas gathered them all in the lounge, and spoke. 

“While I was in San Antonio on business—” Essie and Amos exchanged a look, as they thought Jonas was just going to visit and sightsee. “I learned something as a happy coincidence.”

He paused for effect, enjoying the anticipation on everyone’s face. 

“Archie Oldham died a month since from tuberculosis, in the prison infirmary.”

Amos looked satisfied at the news, and Maggie’s eyes filled with tears, so emotionally charged was she as her body got ready to give birth. Essie felt a little saddened at the news, not because she had any feelings for Archie, but tuberculosis was something she would not wish on her worst enemy. 

Three years ago, when Amos returned to Harper’s Point and asked for Jonas’ help in seeking out the U.S. Marshal, Cleveland Tanner, the lawman took statements from Jonas and Amos, lodged the forged documentation as evidence and conducted an investigation into Archie’s activities. 

It seemed out it wasn’t the first time that Archie had used blackmail to get what he wanted, and as the U.S. Marshal spoke with not only Essie, but other inhabitants of Harper’s Point, he learned of the breadth and depth of Archie’s underhanded tactics. Archie was arrested shortly after, and sentenced to five years at a prison between Big Bend and San Antonio.

Archie’s ranch hands, still loyal to their boss, continued to work the ranch for a few months after his incarceration, but when it became clear he had made no contingency plans for them to be paid, they soon left. The ranch had fallen on hard times and into near ruin in the intervening years. 

“Essie, would you care to open the envelope I gave you. What’s inside is a gift for the whole family, but I feel you especially deserve what’s inside.” Jonas was beaming as he spoke, and everyone turned their attention to Essie. 

She fumbled opening the envelope, and carefully took out a large piece of parchment that had been folded several times to fit in its container. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she took in the wording at the top of the document. It was the deed to the Oldham ranch. 

She turned it around to show everyone, and there was a mixture of surprise and joy in their expressions. 

“Jonas, how on earth did you come by this?” 

The first thought that came into her mind was that he’d obtained it by illegal purposes, because it made no sense who he could have it in his possession, but he quickly disabused her of that idea. 

“I found out that Mr. Harold Oldham, Archie’s belated father, had a brother back East, who was supposed to make sure that Archie took care of the ranch once he inherited it. I wrote to him to let him know about Archie, and the state of the ranch. I offered to buy it from him, but he told me his hands were tied as long as Archie was alive. When I learned of Archie’s demise, I approached the uncle again.”

“You own the ranch?” Amos asked, taking the deed and looking it over. 

“No. The uncle is not well himself, and so cannot work the ranch in his condition. I proposed a partnership, much like the one Essie struck with Sam—” He glanced at his sister, and then at Amos, keen to make sure he didn’t upset them, but they both viewed Sam as the catalyst who brought them together. “A partnership where we, as a family, work the ranch at the same time as our farm. We can remove the fences and increase the herd over time. We’ll share the profits proportionally with the uncle, until the current value of the ranch is paid off, or until the brother’s death. At which time, the ranch officially transfers to our ownership.”

“Can we assume the value of the ranch is much less than when it was being farmed?” Amos asked, and Drew nodded in interest. 

“The land appraiser valued the ranch last month, and given the damage caused by the herd left to roam freely after the staff left, the tansy mustard and other weeds, which left unattended, spread over a large part of the land, it was valued well under the market value. We got it for a steal, and should be able to pay it off within ten years, if the uncle lasts that long.”

He named the valuation figure and Amos whooped in delight. 

“Jonas, brother, you would make a much better bandit than I ever did,” Amos laughed, as Jonas grinned. 

Essie smiled, and was pleased that Jonas and Amos had maintained their close bond over the years and this could only bring them closer together. 

The two families celebrated Jonas’ news, and enjoyed the meal that Essie had prepared for them. It was only when Flora fell asleep in front of the fire, resting her head on the dog’s side, and Maggie started to yawn that the evening came to a comfortable end. 

Essie bid a fond farewell to Maggie, and asked her to send news as soon as the baby was born, so that she could come visit. 

Maggie pulled a face, and looked over her shoulder at Drew, as he helped her on with her heavy winter coat. 

“I’ve eaten so much of your lovely food, Essie, that I’ll probably have the baby on the way home, and he’ll come out complaining there’s not enough room in there.”

Essie laughed, as she and Amos stood on the porch to wave the Ramsey’s goodbye. 

The winter air was chilly, and as she shivered, Amos wrapped his arm around her shoulder and guided her inside, locking the door behind him.

As they retired to bed, Essie sat on the edge of their bed, brushing her hair, and Amos watched her for a long moment. 

“I’m very proud of Jonas, you know that. When I first arrived, he reminded me of myself at that age, and I really didn’t want him to turn out like me.”

Essie paused, mid-brush stroke. 

“I like the way you turned out, Amos,” she told him. 

“Why didn’t you share our good news with our friends and family?” He sat down beside her on the bed, and laid his hand gently on her stomach. 

“I didn’t want to take any attention away from Jonas. He had clearly been planning this for some time, and he deserved the chance to celebrate.”

“We’ll just have to have the Ramsey’s over again to celebrate.”

Essie smiled, and lifted her face slightly to look at him. 

“I think we’ll be celebrating the arrival of Maggie and Drew’s new baby first, my love.”

Amos opened his mouth to answer her, but she pressed her hands to his chest, pressed a loving kiss to his lips, and whispered to him. 

“We have all the time in the world. The rest of our lives.”


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Grab my new series, "Brides of the Untamed Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

31 thoughts on “An Outlaw’s Tender Promise – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I enjoyed this story immensely. Each time I read one of your books, I think this is your best but you come up with another keeper. Amos and Essies story is great . Essie and her siblings really needed someone like Amos and his transformation was a result of their love for him. Outstanding extended episode.

    2. You outdone yourself with this wonderful and amazing book! You are fast becoming one of my favorite Authors. There are so many that I love! I thank you, and all of you for your writing abilities and ask that you continue doing so! My sincere appreciation goes out to you!
      . ………….Shirley Frost

    3. Wonderful storyline of Love, Intrigue and wrong made right! The Extended Ending made it end even better! Thank you so much!

  1. Read it in one sitting couldn’t put it down! The so-beautifully drawn characters stole my heart, especially the complex and evolving Amos. I fell in love with him, his metamorphosis, and the combination of innocence and strength in Essie. Their story deserved to be told, and you did not disappoint. This is one I will definitely save for re-reading, maybe more than once! There were some typos that the proofreader missed, but the plot was well paced and flowed smoothly and swiftly to a most satisfying conclusion. Maybe one day you will revisit Amos and Essie and tell the tales of the then grown up younger Hales? Please?

  2. Enjoyed reading this story immensely. The slow transformation of Amos from self-contained, uncompassionate to caring was a study in itself. Lot of events and perimeter characters to hold the reader’s interest.

    Thank you Ms Aurora Hanson

  3. Another delightful and juicy story that grabs the attention from page one and ends with the lively extended epilogue. It was great to see Amos emerge from a cocoon of misery in an environment of a bad gang to a loving friend, husband and brother-in-law. I loved it.

  4. A very enjoyable story of a couple coming together to make a loving family. Its a story that once you start reading you’ll not be able to put it down. By read this story you’ll become a part of it.

  5. This was a great story and I enjoyed it very much. The theme w was really good and to see how Amos transformed from a self centered person into a man who took to family life, though a little reluctant in the beginning, to the answers to Eddie’s prayers, her brothers and little sister. Loved it.

  6. A really good story of suspense and romance. I Enjoyed the book very much. Amos was prone to cuss a little too much, but overall it was a 5 star book.

  7. I really enjoyed essie and Amos story. In fact I read half and waited till I had time to finish it
    I’m so glad essie found out the truth but I’m also Glad Amos got the gold to sly so he would be rid of him but not that he closed
    Him up in the mine,thankfully the miner saw was able to help him get out.
    He was able to get essie to change her mind and take him back
    and the extension was marvelous ending .🤗

  8. As usual, you never disappoint me and you are my favorite western author of the bygone days. It was difficult not to be able to read the story in its entirety as it was so captivating. I aways enjoy the Extended Epilogue and hope you continue them.

  9. Thank you so much for allowing us to enjoy another Aurora Hanson book! I loved how you weaved the story of hope bringing through adventure, misdeeds, sadness romance and joy and not in that order!
    I look forward to enjoying the next time spent with your writings.

  10. The struggles that your characters go through, there’s strength and they’re bonding and their support of each other and family is amazing. All your stories have beautiful meanings

  11. I loved your book and the characters were so real. They worked together when faced with life’s challengers and learned that hope can see through most problems.

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