Rosalind Rutherford knows full well the scandal she courts when she attempts to seduce the notorious Armond Wulf--in fact, she's counting on it as a means to escape her sadistic stepbrother's control. Unfortunately, Lord Wulf's better instincts prevail...although not before he gives Rosalind a tantalizing taste of what she's missing. And when the opportunity arises to rescue Armond from a grim fate while changing her own, Rosalind knows she must seize it...
Armond can no more ignore the Rutherford woman than his ancestor could resist the temptress who cursed the Wulf men with a terrifying transformation that occurs at the appearance of the full moon--and is set in motion by love. Now, to save her reputation and his freedom, Armond must marry Rosalind. But he vows that while they may share the pleasures of the marriage bed, she will never have his heart...
Yet as strange and mysterious events bring them closer in body and soul, Armond finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings for his new wife locked away. Especially when the reality of unquenchable desire--and certain danger--burn stronger than ever by the light of a full moon...
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October 31, 2005
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Excerpt from The Dark One by Ronda Thompson
His heart was the deepest, darkest chasm of hell. A cold, bitter place where dreams and hopes had long since been laid to rest. And without dreams, without hope, why did he bother? Armond Wulf, The Marquess of Wulfglen, Earl of Bumont, moved freely among society, but only as a ghost---a dark presence who haunted the shadows of the living---waiting, always waiting, for the sins of the past to catch up with him.
Although titled and wealthy, the Wulf family was cursed, their futures bleak. Men were born to take chances, to test the limits of their strengths and their weaknesses. He could do neither. A normal existence for him was out of the question. Survival alone kept him shuffling along. One foot in front of the other. Trudging mindlessly forward to no particular destination. Oh, to hell with it, even he was not in the mood for his dark thoughts.
Nor was he enthused to find himself standing alone at the Greenleys' first ball of the season, forced out among society by boredom---no, not boredom, he admitted, but a simple need to feel life teeming around him. No one dared approach him. He was a man cloaked in mystery, murder, and madness. But still only a man . . . at least for the time being.
The sound of feminine giggles reached Armond's oversensitive ears. That he was the object of several women's attention did not go unnoticed by him. He couldn't ignore the scent of their attraction, the earthy smell of woman's musk hidden from most by a liberal dousing of rose water.
If he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could hear the excited flutter of their hearts, the blood that rushed through their veins. But Armond did not torture himself with his strange gifts. He'd accepted his lot in life, his position among society, or, rather, his lack of it.
Regardless of his dark appeal to the ladies, none were brave enough to approach him. He supposed it was another curse he must suffer . . . or perhaps simply a consequence of the one that already rested upon his head. The family curse. A Wulf's curse.
"Lord Wulf, good to see you, my boy. But why are you here alone sulking about? You should be chasing young women or at least in one of the back rooms playing cards with the older gentlemen."
A rare smile shaped Armond's lips. He glanced down into the Dowager Duchess of Brayberry's faded eyes. The lady was an old family friend and the only blue-blooded woman in London who wasn't too leery to approach him. She enjoyed causing a stir among society by refusing to shun him as everyone else did. And for that he was grateful.
"The trouble with chasing young women these days, Your Grace, is that they simply refuse to run," he teased. "The old men in the back rooms are even less sport. They might as well hand me their money and be done with it."
Her cackling laugh rose above the din of conversation, and she swatted him with her fan. "You are the devil, Armond, my boy. Even if you do look like an angel. It's the contrast, I think," she added, running her faded eyes over him, "that the ladies find fascinating."
It was his indifference, and Armond well knew it. All he had to do was act truly interested in a society miss and she'd run for the hills. His family background, the rumors, the mystery, the intrigue of it all, was what drew women to him like a moth to flame---but also kept them at a safe distance.
"Have you met your new neighbor?" the dowager cut into his thoughts. Her hair was thinning, he noticed from his superior height above her. He saw her scalp beneath the thin gray strands scraped back from her face.
Armond wasn't aware that he had a new neighbor. He didn't even know the last one. Chapman, he believed his name was, and neither had spoken one word to each other since the man and his mother first took up residence at the townhome ten years prior.
"Has Chapman sold the house?"
She shook her balding head. "It isn't his to sell. His mother, the duchess, was given the house by her late husband, the Duke of Montrose.