After years lying neglected, the walls of Wolfe Manor tremble as Jacob Wolfe returns--the master is back!
Gardener's daughter Mollie Parker has lived amidst the secret, overgrown garden in her little cottage--waiting...for what, she wasn't sure...until now.
Reputation in tatters, Jacob licks his wounds alone in the shadows. Mollie knows his ferocious bark is worse than his bite and as she takes her tentative steps across the threshold, she brings with her the light missing from his darkened soul. The lone Wolfe will never be tamed--but she knows that once he loves, he loves for life.
Wolfe Manor was no more than a darkened hulk in the distance when Mollie Parker's cab pulled up to its gates.
'Where to now, luv?' the driver called over his shoulder. 'The gates are locked.'
'They are?' Mollie struggled to a straighter position. She'd been slumped against her bags, the fatigue from her flight catching up with her, making her content to doze gently in the warm fug of the taxi. 'Strange, they haven't been locked in ages.' She shrugged, too tired to consider the conundrum now. Perhaps some local youths had been wreaking havoc up at the old manor house yet again, throwing stones at the remaining windows or breaking in for a lark or a dare. The police might have needed to take matters a step further than they usually did. 'Never mind,' Mollie told the cabbie. She reached into her handbag for a couple of notes. 'You can just drop me here. I'll walk the rest of the way.'
The cabbie looked sceptical; not a single light twinkled in the distance. Still, he shrugged and accepted the money Mollie handed him before helping her take her two battered cases out of the cab.
'You sure, luv?' he asked, and Mollie smiled.
'Yes, my cottage is over there.' She pointed to the forbiddingly tall hedge that ran alongside the gates. 'Don't worry. I could find the way with my eyes closed.' She'd walked the route between the gardener's cottage and the manor many times, when Annabelle had been living there. Her friend had rarely left the estate, and Mollie, the gardener's tearaway daughter, had been one of her only friends.
But now Annabelle was long gone, along with her many brothers; Jacob, the oldest, had started the exodus when he'd turned his back on his family at only eighteen years old. He'd left the manor house to slowly moulder and ruin without a single thought of who might age along with it.
Mollie shrugged these thoughts away. She was only thinking this way because she was tired; the flight from Rome had been delayed several hours. Yet as the cab drove off and she was left alone in the dark without even the moon to cheer her or light her way, she realised it was more than mere fatigue that was making her rake up old memories, old feelings.
After six months travelling through Europe, six months she'd put aside, selfishly, just for herself and her own pleasure, coming home was hard. Coming home was lonely. There was nobody--had been nobody for so long--living at Wolfe Manor except her.
And she wouldn't be here very long, Mollie told herself firmly. She'd pack up the last of her father's things and find a place in the village or perhaps even the nearby market town, somewhere small and clean and bright, without memories or regrets. She thought of the notebook in her case with all of her new landscaping ideas, a lifetime of energy and thought just waiting to be given wings. Roots. And she would make it happen. Soon.
She straightened the smart, tailored jacket she'd bought at a market in Rome, and tugged a bit self-consciously on the skinny jeans she wasn't used to wearing. Her knee-length boots of soft Italian leather still felt new and strange; she generally wore wellies. The clothes, along with the notebook of ideas, were all part of her new life. Her new self. Mollie Parker was looking forward.
Smiling with newfound determination, dragging her cases behind her, Mollie made her way along the high stone wall that separated the manor from the rest of the world. The high hedge met the wall at a right angle, and although it was dense and prickly...