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Excerpt: The Lone Wolfe

‘You made it.’ Jacob turned around and in the dim light Mollie thought she saw his teeth flash white in a smile. ‘I hope you didn’t get lost.’

‘Almost.’ She smiled back. ‘Actually, I just had a good long soak in the tub. It felt amazing. She gestured to the clothes she wore. ‘Thank you. This was very thoughtful.’

‘I realized Annabelle’s clothes were undoubtedly musty. They haven’t been worn or even aired in years.’

‘It’s strange,’ Mollie murmured, ‘how forgotten everything is. I haven’t been inside the house in years. I didn’t realise how much had been left.’

Jacob stilled, and Mollie could feel his tension. She knew the exact moment when he released it and simply shrugged. ‘Everyone made their own lives away from here.’

‘I know.’

He reached for two plates, sliding her a sideways glance. ‘Yes, you must know better than anyone, Mollie. You watched it all happen. You were the one who was left last of all, weren’t you?’ He spoke quietly, without mockery, and yet his words stung because she knew how true they were. She’d felt it, year after year, labouring alone.

‘Yes,’ she said quietly. ‘I was.’

‘Have you stayed here the whole time?’ Jacob asked. He laid the plates on the breakfast bar in the centre of the kitchen. ‘Did you never go anywhere, except for Italy?’

He made it sound as if she’d just been waiting, a prisoner of time and fate. Even if it had felt that way sometimes, to her own shame, she didn’t like Jacob Wolfe remarking on it.

Yes, I was waiting. Waiting for my father to die.

‘I went to university,’ she told him stiffly. ‘To study horticulture.’

‘Of course. But other than that… you waited. You stayed.’ He glanced at her, his eyes dark and fathomless, revealing nothing, but she felt his words like an accusation. A judgment.

‘Yes,’ she said in little more than a whisper. ‘I stayed.’ Even if I didn’t want to. Even if sometimes... She swallowed and looked away. ‘Something smells delicious,’ she said, trying to keep her voice light and bright and airy. Trying desperately to change the subject.

Jacob opened the oven and removed a foil pan. ‘I’m afraid I’m not much of a cook. It’s just an Indian takeaway, but at least I warmed it through before the electricity went off.’

‘Thank you,’ she replied, her voice still stiff. ‘It’s very generous of you to share your meal.’ As Jacob pried off the foil lid from the chicken dish, Mollie realized she was starving. She’d been so involved in going through her father’s things that she’d completely forgotten about dinner.

Jacob ladled the fragrant chicken and rice onto the two plates and then gestured to one of the high bar stools. ‘Come and eat.’

Sliding on a stool opposite of him, Mollie was conscious of how intimate this felt. Was. All around them the kitchen flickered and glimmered with candlelight. The house yawned emptily in several acres in every direction; they were completely alone.

Excerpt From: THE LONE WOLF by Kate Hewitt
Copyright © 2011 by Kate Hewitt
Permission granted by Harlequin Books S.A. All rights reserved.

January 2008