The Lone Wolfe. Кейт Хьюит
How did you tell someone about the blackness of your soul?
How did you seek absolution from the one person who could never give it: yourself?
Jacob whirled around, blinking several times before he could focus properly on the vision in front of him. Mollie frowned.
“Jacob?” she asked, hesitation in his name. “Are you all right?”
Too late Jacob realised he was still in thrall to his memories. “Sorry, I was a million miles away.”
She took a step forward. “It wasn’t a nice place, wherever it was.”
“No,” Jacob agreed quietly. “It wasn’t.” He gazed down at her, taking in her slender frame swathed in lavender silk. “You look beautiful, Mollie.” The dress clung to her curves and her skin was pale and covered with a shimmering of golden freckles. He wanted to touch her, brush her mouth with his lips. He took a step away.
Jacob knew he would need every lesson he’d learned in order to resist the greatest temptation he’d ever faced, far more than a whisky bottle or a clenched fist: the intoxicating sweetness of Mollie Parker.
ALL ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
KATE HEWITT discovered her first Mills & Boon® romance on a trip to England when she was thirteen, and she’s continued to read them ever since. She wrote her first story at the age of five, simply because her older brother had written one and she thought she could do it too. That story was one sentence long—fortunately they’ve become a bit more detailed as she’s grown older.
She has written plays, short stories, and magazine serials for many years, but writing romance remains her first love. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, travelling, and learning to knit.
After marrying the man of her dreams—her older brother’s childhood friend—she lived in England for six years and now resides in Connecticut, with her husband, her three young children, and the possibility of one day getting a dog.
Kate loves to hear from readers—you can contact her through her website:www.kate-hewitt.com.
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To my fellow writers in this continuity: thanks for making it such a fun journey!
WOLFE MANOR was no more than a darkened hulk in the distance when Mollie Parker’s cab pulled up to its gates.
‘Where to now, luv?’ the driver called over his shoulder. ‘The gates are locked.’
‘They are?’ Mollie struggled to a straighter position. She’d been slumped against her bags, the fatigue from her flight catching up with her, making her content to doze gently in the warm fug of the taxi. ‘Strange, they haven’t been locked in ages.’ She shrugged, too tired to consider the conundrum now. Perhaps some local youths had been wreaking havoc up at the old manor house yet again, throwing stones at the remaining windows or breaking in for a lark or a dare. The police might have needed to take matters a step further than they usually did. ‘Never mind,’ Mollie told the cabbie. She reached into her handbag for a couple of notes. ‘You can just drop me here. I’ll walk the rest of the way.’
The cabbie looked sceptical; not a single light twinkled in the distance. Still, he shrugged and accepted the money Mollie handed him before helping her take her two battered cases out of the cab.
‘You sure, luv?’ he asked, and Mollie smiled.
‘Yes, my cottage is over there.’ She pointed to the forbiddingly tall hedge that ran alongside the gates. ‘Don’t worry. I could find the way with my eyes closed.’ She’d walked the route between the gardener’s cottage and the manor many times, when Annabelle had been living there. Her friend had rarely left the estate, and Mollie, the gardener’s tear-away daughter, had been one of her only friends.
But now Annabelle was long gone, along with her many brothers; Jacob, the oldest, had started the exodus when he’d turned his back on his family at only eighteen years old. He’d left the manor house to slowly moulder and ruin without a single thought of who might age along with it.
Mollie shrugged these thoughts away. She was only thinking this way because she was tired; the flight from Rome had been delayed several hours. Yet as the cab drove off and she was left alone in the dark without even the moon to cheer her or light her way, she realised it was more than mere fatigue that was making her rake up old memories, old feelings.
After six months travelling through Europe, six months she’d put aside, selfishly, just for herself and her own pleasure, coming home was hard. Coming home was lonely. There was nobody—had been nobody for so long—living at Wolfe Manor except her.
And she wouldn’t be here very long, Mollie told herself firmly. She’d pack up the last of her father’s things and find a place in the village or perhaps even the nearby market town, somewhere small and clean and bright, without memories or regrets. She thought of the notebook in her case with all of her new landscaping ideas, a lifetime of energy and thought just waiting to be given wings. Roots. And she would make it happen. Soon.
She straightened the smart, tailored jacket she’d bought at a market in Rome, and tugged a bit self-consciously on the skinny jeans she wasn’t used to wearing. Her knee-length boots of soft Italian leather still felt new and strange; she generally wore wellies. The clothes, along with the notebook of ideas, were all part of her new life. Her new self. Mollie Parker was looking forward.
Smiling with newfound determination, dragging her cases behind her, Mollie made her way along the high stone wall that separated the manor from the rest of the world. The high hedge met the wall at a right angle, and although it was dense and prickly Mollie knew every inch of it; she knew every acre of the Wolfe estate, even if none of it belonged to her. She’d only been in the house a handful of times—it had always been an unhappy place, and Annabelle had preferred the cluttered warmth of the cottage—but the land she knew like her hand, or her heart.
The land felt like it was hers.
Halfway down the hedge Mollie found the opening that had always been her secret. No one, not even the boys from the village who snuck up here on dares, knew about this hidden little entrance. She slipped through the gap in the hedge, and headed towards home.
The gardener’s cottage was hidden behind yet another high hedge, so that it was completely separate from the manor house. The small garden surrounding it was cloaked in darkness, yet Mollie wondered just how overgrown and weedy