Authors: Rachel Van Dyken
Tags: #romance, #funny, #regency, #clean romance, #spy, #sweet romance, #napoleonic war
The Wolf's Pursuit
London Fairy Tales Book 3
Published by Astraea Press
Copyright © 2013 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters,
and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to
actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.
Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are
assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used
only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these
terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of
this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically,
constitutes a copyright violation.
THE WOLF'S PURSUIT
Copyright © 2013 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
Cover Art Designed by For the Muse
To Donald Charles Lainhart (192?-2012)
the best grandpa a girl could ask for. You
lived life as a true hero. You fought bravely through WWII and
lived life to the fullest. I was so blessed to be able to share
this story with you a few hours before you took your last breath.
Thank you for allowing me to use your name in this book. Thank you
for allowing me to keep your legacy alive, as you have no living
sons to carry on your family name. Even though you weren't a Duke,
to me, you really were, the Duke of Lainhart. I love you grandpa!
She loved flowers — the pink frilly ones that
made a man roll his eyes in disgust. Yet Hunter could not bring
himself to deny her anything. She was his soul mate, his love. And
after being married for a year, he could no longer manage being
apart from her. The life of a spy was unapologetic. Hunter would be
gone for weeks at a time, spending many sleepless nights tossing
and turning, aching for Lucy, the Royal Duchess of Haverstone.
Knowing he lacked the maturity of romance,
given his young age of one-and-twenty, he had poured countless
hours into this meeting, into her surprise.
He crossed the street and smiled, thinking of
the way she would throw her head back in laughter and leap into his
arms. Never a conventional bride, she didn't care a whit about
propriety and often kissed him in public, much to the ton's
He wanted one of her kisses now. Needed to
taste her lips.
Hunter pulled out his pocketwatch and
examined the numbers. A tad late. He had spent a ridiculous amount
of time picking out her favorite flowers and daydreaming on the way
to their meeting place.
As he crossed the final street to Gunther's,
he watched as Lucy waved wildly in the other direction. She raised
both hands high above her head, frantically aiming for someone's
attention. He picked up his pace. Anticipation overtook him as he
watched his tiny wife begin to jump up and down. Something must be
truly exciting for her to be acting so rashly. Truthfully, her
behavior was reminiscent of when she saw him for the first time
after being away for weeks.
And then, she stomped her tiny foot and began
marching across the street.
Alarmed, he began to run.
But it was too late.
The carriage was moving too fast. She looked
to her left just in time to see the carriage jolting out of the
way, but not enough.
She fell to the ground.
Hunter swore. His legs felt like lead as he
screamed and ran to her side. Blood trickled from her mouth. Her
petite body was bent in an unnatural angle. Tears streamed down his
face into his mouth. The taste of salt was revolting, for it reeked
of her death.
"Lucy, love, can you hear me? Everything is
going to be fine, just fine." He grasped her lifeless hand. She
tried to shake her head. "Don't move, just lie still. I love you. I
love you so much."
A single tear ran down her face. "I l-love
you." Voice hoarse and weak, her lips trembled as she tried again
to speak. Breath came out in short gasps.
"No, stay with me, you can't leave me, Lucy!
Do you understand? You can't! You just can't." Hunter's tears
clouded his vision but not enough, for the last thing he saw was
her blue eyes turn lifeless as her chest heaved its last
"No, no!" Hunter wailed, not caring that he
was still in the middle of the street. His body trembled. Surely
this was a nightmare that he would wake up from! The flowers in his
hand, the anniversary flowers, were never meant to cover her
Strong hands grasped his chest, pulling him
away from the street. He heard a voice barking orders and looked up
into the eyes of his twin brother.
Eyes that held guilt, shame, and remorse.
"She thought I was you. I didn't know, I didn't…" Ash's eyes held
unshed tears. "I was too late. I didn't know. Oh, what have I
done?" Ash's face was pale and haunted as he embraced his
Hunter was unable to say anything. No words
would come, nothing. He felt lifeless, an empty void. And he knew,
without a doubt, that he would forever remember this day, not
purely because the love of his life had died in his arms, but
because in her death she had taken his very soul with her.
Never would he be the same.
The Office would like you to please hand over
the information you obtained from Napoleon. Failure to do so will
result in the end of your life. I would love nothing more than to
wrap my claws around the neck of the one woman able to best me.
Nine years later
February 1815, Belgium, 30 miles away from
Hunter Wolfbane, Royal Duke of Haverstone,
was in a foul mood. His horse had run off after yet another gunshot
had narrowly missed Hunter's head, leaving him with no food, no
drink, and worst of all, no whiskey.
How was he to make his way around the frigid
countryside without his whiskey? It had taken him two days tramping
through the melting snow to reach the village near Dominique
Maksylov's estate, where he was staying.
As a spy for the Crown, Hunter had felt it
his duty to notify Wellington that French soldiers were still in
the vicinity and openly attacking civilians. His horse had done the
job of getting him to Wellington's camp in record time and then
promptly ran off the next morning when Hunter had stopped to
stretch his legs. Blasted Russian horses.
Duty done. All he wanted was a hot bath, a
supple wench, and new boots so his feet could get some respite.
After all, without his horse he had resorted to trudging through
the melting snow like some common criminal.
The inn was only a few more steps. Already he
could taste the warm bread on his tongue, the ale pouring down his
throat, the soft willing woman beneath him—
And then something struck him.
Not a thought, though it may have been
equally shocking to have logical thought after being so
No. It was something smaller.
And then another one hit.
"What the devil?" Who in the blazes was
pelting him with rocks! His eyes adjusted to the glaring landscape
as the sun peeked through the branches of the trees.
There was no one within his vicinity.
So, this was what it was like to go mad?
Truthfully, he'd known that one day his past would catch up with
him. After all, one could only lie and manipulate so many times in
the name of His Majesty before he forgot the truth of his
Resigned to his fate, he continued his walk
toward the inn.
A rock sailed into the side of his face.
He hadn't expected madness to hurt this much.
Nor for it to be as realistic as the blood currently trickling down
He muttered a curse and took another look
around him. All he saw was melting snow, dingy buildings, a woman
Wait. His eyes went back to the woman. A
smile curved his lips as he stuffed his hands in his pockets and
walked over to where she was digging. Bum in the air, and curse
words escaping her mouth quite like a sailor at war. He smugly
Finally, as rocks and dirt continued to soar,
she stopped and kicked the ground.
"Looking for something?"
Your mind perhaps
— you've lost it?
The woman ceased her incessant digging and
paused only momentarily to glare at him. To be fair, he deserved
that and far worse, considering his eyes were naturally trained on
her bum as it was in the air at that precise moment.
Blushing profusely, the girl put her hands on
her hips, dirt clumps making her dress all the more blemished, and
sighed. "What do you want?"
"What do I want?" Hunter repeated. "Well,
that all depends, I guess. You see, it's been a while since I've
answered such an open-ended question, but considering my lack of
food or drink, I think I shall start with the biggest desire." He
cleared his throat. "You see that inn over there? I want to find
myself smothered beneath a buxom lady, preferably while inebriated
with whiskey, and perhaps if I am being particularly selfish, I
want to eat bread, lots and lots of warm bread. But firstly, what I
want, nay what I desire, is that you stop pelting me with
"The only lady residing at the inn will not
only smother you within an inch of your life, but dribble meat on
your person while doing so, but by all means, experience it for
yourself." She smiled sweetly, managed a curtsy, and continued her
Another rock hit his boot. The chit spoke in
perfect German, which should have been frightening, considering it
had been a great while since Hunter had spoken the language. He
cleared his throat again and tried, "Perhaps if you tell me what
you're digging for? I can be of service and be on my way."
"Or you can just be on your way now," she
said through gritted teeth.
"Allow me this small boon. After all, now my
curiosity is piqued."
As well as my lust
, his brain added as
he was again given quite a nice view of her feminine curves.
"My pistol." Her hands dug deeper into the
earth. "I buried it last night, and now I cannot find it!"
Several thoughts went through Hunter's head
at that moment, the first and most obvious being what the devil she
was doing with a pistol? The second, why, if she needed the pistol
so desperately, was she set on burying it?
"Did it die? Was it in need of a proper
burial then? It seems you buried it at least a foot down. How can
the poor thing breathe with that much earth hovering above it?"
She stopped. "If I tell you, will you leave
Well, that was rude. "Perhaps."
"I'm going to rescue my sister. She's trapped
in that dratted castle by the Beast, and I need my pistol in order
to retrieve her!"
"So why the devil did you bury it?" Hunter
ignored the information, thinking it nothing but an exaggeration.
The only woman Dominique had been successful in capturing was
Isabelle, and she was by no means trapped, nor was she German.
Obviously this raven-haired beauty was a touch mad.
"I couldn't very well conceal it, not when
all my belongings were stolen, and it cannot fit in my corset. As
you can well see, considering you've been staring at my body like a
dog in heat for the past five minutes!"
Blast, she was beautiful when provoked. Her
soft white skin had a touch of pink on her cheeks that perfectly
matched her cherry red lips.
"Am I to understand that you are here, in
this place, trying to find your pistol, so you can shoot the Beast
and rescue your sister?"
"Yes, I believe that is what I just
"Well, this day has just gotten brighter. I
say!" Hunter clapped his hands in amusement. "Allow me to accompany
you to the castle. I would love nothing more than to see the look
on the Beast's face while he stares down the barrel of a pistol.
Been meaning to challenge the fellow to a duel for years now!"
Hunter couldn't believe his good luck. He had needed something to
amuse him after such a long journey. Perhaps he could keep her, as
a sort of... pet. He smiled at the thought.