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Authors: Kate Hewitt

Lone Wolfe

BOOK: Lone Wolfe
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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.

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.

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.

loves to hear from readers—you can contact her through her website:



To my fellow writers in this
continuity: thanks for making it such a fun journey!





MANOR was no more than a darkened hulk in the distance when Mollie Parker’s cab
pulled up to its gates.

to now, luv?’ the driver called over his shoulder. ‘The gates are locked.’

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.’

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.

sure, luv?’ he asked, and Mollie smiled.

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

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.

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.

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

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
And she would make it happen.

straightened the smart, tailored jacket she’d bought at a market in Rome, and
tugged a bit selfconsciously 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.

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

land felt like it was hers.

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.

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 it had
become. She’d left in midwinter, when everything had been barren and stark,
rimed in frozen mud, but from the heady fragrance of roses perfuming the air
she knew the garden—her father’s garden—had sprung to life once more.

lump, unbidden, rose to her throat. Even in the velvety darkness she could
picture her father bent over his beloved roses, trowel in hand, gazing blankly
around him. The world had shifted and changed and moved on and Henry Parker had
stayed in the crumbling confines of his own mind until the very end … seven
months ago.

swallowed past that treacherous lump and reached for her key. Starting over,
she reminded herself.
New plans, new life.

the cottage smelled musty and unused; it was the smell of loneliness. She
should have asked a friend from the village to open the windows, Mollie thought
with a sigh, but communication with anyone had been difficult. Now she reached
for the light switch and flipped it on.


blinked in the darkness, wondering if the bulb had gone out. Had she left the
lights on six months ago by accident? Yet as she gazed through the gloom she
realised there was not one sign of electric life in the cottage. The clock on
the stove was ominously blank, the refrigerator wasn’t humming in its familiar,
laboured way; everything was still, silent, dark.

electricity had been turned off.

groaned aloud. Had she forgotten to pay a bill? She must have, even though
she’d paid in advance in preparation for her trip. Perhaps there had been a
mixup. Something must have happened, some annoying piece of bureaucratic red
tape that left her fumbling in the darkness when all she wanted to do was have
a cup of tea and go to bed.

Mollie kicked her suitcases away from the door and reached for the torch she
kept in the old pine dresser. She found it easily, and flicking the switch,
gave a grateful sigh of relief as the narrow beam of light cut a swath through
the darkness.

her sigh ended on something sadder as she shone the torch around her home.
Everything was as it should be: the table tucked into the corner, the sagging
sofa, the old range and ancient refrigerator. Her father’s boots were still
caked in mud, lined up by the door. The sight was so familiar, so dear, so
, that she couldn’t imagine them
not being there, and yet.

around her the house was silent. Empty. At that moment Mollie was conscious of
how alone she was, alone on the Wolfe estate, with the huge manor house vacant
and violated a few hundred metres away, the cottage empty save her.
Alone in the world, as the only child of parents who had both died.


Wolfe couldn’t sleep.
He was used to this,
welcomed insomnia because at least it was better than dreaming. Dreams were one
of the few things he couldn’t control. They came unbidden, seeped into his
sleeping mind and poisoned it with memories. At least his active, conscious
brain was under his own authority.

left his bedroom, left the manor house, not wanting to dwell in the rooms that
held so much pain and regret. No, he corrected himself, refusing to shy away
from the truth even in the privacy of his own mind. Not wanting—not
. Living at Wolfe Manor for the past
six months as he oversaw its renovation and sale had been the most harrowing
test of his own endurance.

now, as sleep eluded him and memories threatened to claim him once more, he
feared he was failing.

stalked past his siblings’ bedrooms, empty and abandoned, forcing himself to
walk down the curving staircase that was one of Wolfe Manor’s showpieces, past
the study where nineteen years ago he’d made the decision to leave the manor,
leave his family,

Except you couldn’t run away from your very self.
You could
only control it.

the air was fresher, soft with night, and he took a few deep cleansing breaths
as he reached for the torch in the pocket of his jeans. The memories of the
manor still echoed in his mind:
Here is
where my brother cried himself to sleep. Here is where I nearly hit my sister.
Here is where I killed my father

Jacob said the single word aloud, cold and final. It
was a warning to
. In the nineteen years since
he’d left Wolfe Manor, he’d learned control over both his body and brain. The
body had been far easier—a test of physical strength and endurance, laughably
simple compared to the mind. Control over the sly mind with its seductive
whispers and cruel taunts was difficult, torturous, and no more so than here,
where his old demons—his old self—rose up and howled at him to escape once

BOOK: Lone Wolfe
2.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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