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THE DUKE SERIES, Book 6
How do you tempt a sinner?—Offer him a saint!
Dark, dangerous, brooding and, in his opinion, unredeemable, Radolf, Duke of Wolferton, doesn't fear death but welcomes it. Guilt-ridden because of his sinful past, the tormented hero of the Waterloo wars, honor-bound, believes he is undeserving of any woman's love and closely guards his black heart.
Powerfully drawn to him, Jaclyn Moreux, his ward, cannot deny his allure and the sizzling attraction that grows. She is lured by his seductive charm and the danger and passion in his embrace. But a treacherous villain sets about disparaging the duke to Jaclyn with lies and half-truths.
Jaclyn vows to help Radolf conquer his demons and accept the supernatural powers that destines their love.
Page Count: 426
Word Count: 101811
PROLOGUE — THE LEGEND
Radolf Wolferton, Duke of Wolferton
Dukedom of Wolferton
The Eleventh Century
Under a moonlit sky, a comet flashed, and a legend was born.
For on this night, the mournful howls of the mother red wolf, kept inside the castle walls by the Duke of Wolferton’s decree, were answered. A full-throated wolf’s call outside the gates exerted a supernatural power over the gamekeeper. Against the duke’s—his master—commands, he lifted the heavy bar and swung open the massive entrance. A huge, male red wolf entered to the obvious joy of his mate.
That reunion, preordained in history, sealed the fortunes of the family for eternity.
The dynasty flourished under the tutelage of the eleventh duke. Its magnificence stood by itself to challenge the stormy sky, for it would continue to exist forever, to hold light and darkness within its keep. More than brick and mortar, with soaring walls, parapets, and steel-clad doors, its presence defied time and embraced the legend.
In honor of the ancestor’s good fortune, a stained-glass artist was commissioned to produce a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot piece depicting a red wolf—a rare, almost extinct species with amber eyes and an armor-clad golden-eyed warrior with massive white-tinged wings. He wore gladiator metal boots and wielded a mighty sword high above his golden locks. The face of the archangel held a fearless, stern expression, and his gaze looked into the distance at a vanquished enemy. Thunderbolts flashed from the beveled blade.
Would the Wolferton family name have such brilliance if in the hunt the duke had not found a wounded mother red wolf and her two pups? Though weak, she snarled protection of her hungry young. A voice whispered through the tall trees. Superstitious, he knew fate had decreed they were extraordinary animals with special powers. He nodded to the wind, their lives fated. As head of the Wolferton family, the Saxon name, Radolf, was synonymous with the red wolf. His family’s mascot was the red wolf. His family’s coat of arms emblazoned with a red wolf. When he raised his voice, it wasn’t to direct his game beater to kill the wolves. It was to save them. Upon his command, the beater trapped the fatherless family and brought them to the estate.
Housed in a temporary wooden pole cage tied with rope square knots to secure it, the duke visited them as they recovered. Afterward, ten acres were devoted to a compound for their continued survival since he regarded them as destined to live on his property.
Poachers would not dare risk death by the fiery-tempered gamekeeper who resided in a guarded cabin on the estate. It was love at first sight for the old man.
Strange visions danced in the ancestor duke’s fitful dreams. He saw a tall, blue-eyed copper-haired duke, with a family resemblance, who held in his left hand a black heart with a cross above the beating organ. In some visions, the blue-eyed image smiled. In others, his scowl menaced. The predecessor duke of the eleventh century considered it an omen for the dynasty. It awakened him many times, but not with consistency. When he believed the visions had faded forever, they returned to remind him there was darkness in their family that would transcend to the light, but how, and through whom?
In subsequent years, one of the red wolves mated with a white outsider female, which led to the integration and extinction of the red wolves. As the myth unfolded, the Wolferton clan believed only one worthy, honorable duke and his true love would be able to invoke the supernatural powers to grant a special request, but the guardians would forever protect the family.
London 1825 – Ten Years Later
The Present Danger
Radolf Wolferton, Fourteenth Duke of Wolferton, stood at the open Palladian window of his London townhouse. His brain hammered to summon control. The footmen assisted his older sister, Camille, out of the conveyance. A young woman waited to descend next. Her hooded cape concealed her hair, but nothing worldly could obscure the violet color of her eyes. The hairs on his arms and neck lifted in response. Miss Jaclyn Moreux arrived at his request, but he never expected the sight before him.
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