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THE WOLF PRINCE

By Jaye Raymee


www.RoanePublishing.com

Copyright ©2017 Jaye Raymee



Editor: Lynne Street

Cover Artist: Rebecca Hart


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Prologue


On one side of the world, a young woman tossed and turned, caught in a confused dream of howling wolves, running, and the cold glow of moonlight on the pendant around her neck. She kept seeing the shadowy image of a man with glowing eyes, but she couldn’t tell if she was running toward him or escaping from him. Her heaving breaths could have been either fear or desire, and she twisted in her sleep as the distinction between the two blurred in her heated blood.

In the dream, she felt another’s own hot breath on her neck, and she shivered in arousal. She could smell the scent of something wild, something powerful, all around her—and her body seemed to respond to it, despite the unknown source. Unseen hands caressed her breasts, and held her when her knees gave way under the passion growing in her blood. Unseen lips brushed her skin, teeth nipping lightly at the sensitive flesh just above her spine, and she reached an arm back to feel the hard muscles of the arms that held her.

As the vision continued, she turned and still could not see who had her in his arms. The moonlight seemed to hide more than it showed, but the intensity of his kisses forced her to close her eyes anyway; and as happens in dreams, she felt her clothes dissolve around her. Everywhere the unknown lover’s skin touched hers seemed to turn to flame, and hands, both strong and gentle, bore her to the ground, demanding her body and her passion.

Surrendering herself to the power of the dream, she moved her trembling thighs apart, feeling the heat of her lover moving between them. When he entered her, it was as if the moonlight itself was filling her body, wrapping her inside and out with its silver radiance. Breathing faster as he moved within her, she felt the tide of her release growing ever-more irresistible with each breath. The very air seemed to be full of his scent, and with a last ragged gasp she shook in ecstasy and wonder at the wild nature of her imaginings.

On the other side of the world, the autumn leaves were thick on the ground as a couple walked arm and arm along the pathway that traversed a wide green area along a pool. In the water a variety of birds swam, keeping a distance from the couple but also maintaining a keen eye on them in case there were any bread crumbs forthcoming.

The woman, tall and well built, was at that age when springtime beauty mellows into attractive strength and wisdom and, far from dimming, transforms into confidence and grace visible in the eyes and movements. Her brown hair, liberally streaked now with grey, was held in place with silver combs.

The man was stocky, with ropy muscles clearly visible under his woolen sweater, and he sported a full beard of deep chestnut, with broad white streaks showing his age as well. Faded scars crossed his face, which enhanced rather than detracted from his looks. When he laughed at something his companion said, his strong white teeth flashed, showing elongated canines, but nothing to cause comment unless they were looked at closely.

He stopped laughing and pulled the woman into an embrace; she resisted with a grin and he growled at her in mock frustration. They kissed with the familiarity of a long-married, longer in love, couple. Then, with a playful nip to his lip the woman broke the embrace and turned to the pond by the path. Her mood grew somber as she addressed her husband.

“It must be soon,” she sighed, “Or it will be too late for Connor.” She leaned into the man for support.

“I know Fiona, I know.” The man wrapped her in an embrace from behind, this time a gesture of comfort, not just play. The two watched a flotilla of swans glide past in a stately array, and a keen observer would have seen each swan duck its head briefly to the pair as it went past their spot on the path. “If only we had more time. I’m sure he would be able to persuade the girl to accept him willingly.”

“I’m afraid his stubbornness will cost us all so much,” sighed Fiona, still gazing pensively into the water.

“But my love, if he doesn’t do the right thing as he sees it, it will cost him too much. We raised him to be true to his ideals.”

Behind the couple, there was a rustling in the undergrowth that lined the path opposite the pond. Fiona felt her husband tense slightly, a low growl coming from deep inside his chest. He relaxed as a man wearing a black and white suit stepped out onto the path, brushing feathers from his hair.

“My Lord,” Tom Marlay bowed to the man, “And my Lady.” He kissed the hand the woman offered him. “I met with the Princess; I made it just in time. I have her permission to make the arrangements. As far as I can do so,” He bowed again, “As far as any of us can.”

The King and Queen of the Marlay Dubh Sidhe shared a glance, and both smiled in pleasure, canines sparkling in the rising moonlight of the Irish night.


Chapter One


“Now Darling, you must promise me that you’ll never take it off until your wedding day.”

Claire’s grandmother’s voice still echoed in her head ten years after the woman had slipped the necklace around her neck on Claire’s 16th birthday.

“It’s protection against the sprites and the Fair Folk who are always stealing beautiful young girls such as yourself.”

Claire’s California upbringing had been “groovy” enough that she didn’t totally dismiss her grandmother's claims. It helped that the older woman’s brogue, though softened after more than 60 years in America, was still strong enough to give her words the authority of both age and her stubborn Irish character.

In fact, Claire had spent many hours in the company of her grandmother, hearing nothing but the fairy tales and legends of her home in The Emerald Isle. At times her grandmother told the stories of leprechauns, sprites and pixies as if they were nothing but legends. But at other times Claire had the distinct impression her grandmother was trying to teach her something, to give her knowledge of a world she would never learn about in school, but should understand. The Irishwoman’s inventions of a system of Courts and Laws and Clans had been outside anything else Claire ever read in her own books of myths and legends, but her grandmother didn’t try to reconcile her stories with Claire’s reading.

“Ah, darling,” she’d say, “Those Brothers Grimm were full of wondrous ideas, to be sure, but they weren’t Irish, now, were they? There are some things that only we with the true blood can see, much less put down into stories! The Fey don’t talk to just anybody, you know! Those boys wouldn’t have known that wolves lead the shape-shifters, nor who is allowed to speak for the Trees. No, they wouldn’t know the real fairy stories.”

Those stories had stopped when Claire had started having dreams of a strange man being chased by shadows, a man who she always felt she should be able to recognize, as if they were old friends. As she’d gotten older, the dreams had taken on a more charged and erotic quality that she’d only been able to share with one person: the old woman who raised her. After blushingly telling her grandmother about the feelings that rushed through her when she saw the man in her dreams, the woman had looked at her for a long moment. Claire recalled how she looked almost sad, and then resigned. That was when Claire's grandmother had taken the necklace from around her own graceful neck and put it around the younger woman’s throat.


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