Historical

Taming the Wicked Wulfe by Tammy Jo Burns

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Excerpt

April 1811…


“Theodore Wulfe, I will not do it! I don’t care that you are a bloody duke! Nothing you can say could make me ever want to tie myself to that man. I cannot believe you even have the nerve to ask such a question of me,” Rebekah stormed to the window and looked through it, unseeing.

“Rebekah,” the man behind her said in a gentle tone, much like one would use when attempting to calm a wild horse. “Do you see those children out there?”

“Yes,” she whispered, letting her forehead fall against the glass, welcoming the coolness. She knew what he would say next, and Lord help her, she could not hate him as much as she wanted to.

“They are my life. They are the best of both Sarah and me, as you well know. You have helped care for them since they entered this world. Do you want them sent to an orphanage? Hell, Rebekah, do you want them sent to Sarah’s parents? Do you want them deciding the future of this dukedom?” the Duke of Wulfcrest queried.

“No!” Rebekah exclaimed, horrified, looking at him over her shoulder. “Teddy, I have a wonderful idea,” her face lit up as she turned to look at him. Once more composed, he looked at her expectantly. “Why don’t you and I marry? It would be a marriage of convenience. I could care for you. Why are you shaking your head no?”

“I will be taking myself off to London at the end of this week. I don’t want the children to see me decline. It will not be pretty and if I can spare them, I will. That was one blessing in regards to Sarah’s accident, she did not linger. And besides, if I know my in-laws, they will fight you for the twins regardless. Knowing that Zachary will rule a dukedom, Hezekiah will want to have him close so that he can attempt to turn him into a pious monster. No, Rebekah, you need Thorn’s strength to help you. The two of you will have to provide a united front to fight the Reverend and his wife.”

“That is going to be most difficult when I want to kill him myself.”

“Rebekah, I have told you on many occasions that he has excellent reasons for everything you accuse him of,” Teddy sounded as if he were attempting to patiently talk to a small child.

“So you say. I still reserve the right to despise him. Even now, he needs to be here and where is he? Or should I say whose bed is he in? He is single-handedly destroying your family name, and all you do is make excuses for him. It sickens me.” She turned once more to stare out the window. The children were playing tag with the dogs. Squeals, laughter, and barks filtered into the room.

“On this we will just have to agree to disagree.”

“Teddy, he runs one of London’s most notorious gaming hells! How can you excuse that?”

“I have said all that I will say on the matter.”

“And marrying your wastrel brother is the solution?” she asked incredulously, spinning around to face him once more.

“Regardless of what you think, family is very important to Thorn. He loved Sarah like a sister for most of his life. He loves his niece and nephew. He tolerates you,” he tried to tease.

“I loathe him.”

“Please, Rebekah.”

Those two words were like a death knell sounding over the valley. Suddenly she felt as if someone had put the last nail in her coffin and she could not take in enough air. “Do what you must,” she said, rising to her feet.

“Thank you. You don’t know how this eases my mind.” He took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

***

June 1811

“Good afternoon, Director,” Thorn Wulfe greeted Mack in the obscure coffee house.
“Wulfe, have a seat,” Mack nodded at the waiter, and the man brought over two cups. “I have some news to share with you.”

“What is it?” Wulfe asked, noting the solemn tone that had entered the man’s voice.

“There is no easy way to say this. Your brother was in London to see you. We were on our way to the Lady Luck and someone took a shot at me. Your brother saved my life.”

“Where is he?”

“He didn’t make it. He told me he was dying and had some things he needed to tell you. He went very quickly.”

“Teddy’s dead?”

“I’m sorry.”

“I see.”

“Take a drink of your coffee. I had them put something a bit stronger in it.”

Wulfe mechanically took a drink of the coffee, welcoming the whisky he could taste in it. He just as quickly put the cup down. “The twins. I have to get to the twins. Sarah’s parents will be like vultures,” he knew he was rambling, but could not stop.

“The children are being well cared for at the moment by your wife.”

“I’m sorry, Director, but I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you say they were being looked after by my wife? And before you answer, please remember that I am very much single and have a beautiful mistress that is very demanding of my attention.”

“The children are being cared for by your wife,” Mack repeated.

“And just who the hell is this wife?”

“Your brother said the name ‘Bekah’.”

“Bloody hell! How in the hell am I married to that waspish woman when I am in London and she is at Wulfecrest Manor?”

“Proxy marriage.”

Wulfe dropped back on the chair. “Damn, damn, damn,” he muttered before pounding his fist on the table. His head began to pound.