Ever since their failed elopement years ago, Prisca Hawthorne has taunted, insulted, and in every way tried to push him away. If only her heart didn't break every time Lord William Westfield left her...
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June 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare
From Chapter 1 Langley Downs, Hampshire December 1816 Prisca Hawthorne was fairly certain Bedlam was in her future. Still, she couldn't help herself. She had to leave, to see if her wolf had returned. It was a foolish thing to do, Prisca well knew. How many nights had she gone in search of him, only to return home tired and disappointed? Still, something in her soul told her she'd be successful tonight. And she never questioned that feeling; it had always been correct in the past. She slipped into her long, wool coat as she padded across the cold marble floor. After all, it would be simply foolish to traipse around her property in the middle of night in only her flimsy nightrail. More foolish than searching for an elusive wolf. Prisca pushed open the double glass doors that led to the veranda. The frosty winter wind swirled around her, lifting the edge of her coat and making her shiver. This was surely madness. She quietly closed the doors behind her and rushed across the veranda, down the stone steps, and out toward her garden. The moon was full tonight, lighting her way, which made her smile. He only came to her when the moon was full. She sped up her pace. The garden was not in bloom this time of year, but the hedgerows and topiaries still kept their form. Prisca pressed forward down the path, first around one hedge and then around another. She spotted him and stopped in her tracks. He had come. Standing in a shaft of moonlight, the wolf seemed to be waiting for her. Prisca's heart pounded out a familiar beat, and anticipation coursed through her veins. He was still the most magnificent creature she'd ever seen, with his regal black coat, icy blue eyes, and proud stature. If anyone else had seen her approach the dangerous creature, her conveyance to Bedlam would have been summoned immediately. But she knew from their past encounters that he was, if not tame, of no risk to her. She was the only one who'd ever seen the wolf. At times, she doubted he was real. In fact, it seemed like a lifetime since she'd seem him last. Prisca smiled at the beast and stepped forward. "There you are. I didn't know if I'd see you again." She sat on a stone bench and patted the space beside her. The wolf appeared to heave a sigh, though that seemed an odd thing for him to do. Then he slowly walked toward her. He stopped before her feet, peered up at her with his cool blue eyes, and rested his head in her lap. Prisca stroked his coarse black fur and closed her eyes, reveling in the feel of him. There was something so familiar, so comforting in the animal. Which was why she could never tell anyone about him; they'd all think she had lost her mind. The wolf pressed closer to her, and Prisca laughed. "I missed you, too. You should visit me more often. You could even stay here," she suggested. Wouldn't all of Hampshire faint if they discovered she kept a wolf for a pet? "I'd take good care of you." The wolf closed his eyes, and Prisca scratched behind his ears. She told him all about her brothers and the goings-on around their village, just like she always had whenever he visited her. All the while, the wolf enjoyed her ministrations and seemed content to stay there forever. Suddenly, he lifted his head with a jolt, looked her straight in the eyes, and ran out of the garden and into a copse of trees at the edge of the property as though he'd been summoned by some invisible force. It happened so fast that Prisca couldn't even call out for him to wait. She sighed in defeat, wondering how long it would be until she saw him again.