Title: Soul of the Wolf
Author: Judith Sterling
Genre: Medieval Romance
A Norman loyalist, Lady Jocelyn bristles when ordered to marry Wulfstan, a Saxon sorcerer. She nurses a painful secret and would rather bathe in a cesspit than be pawed by such a man...until her lifelong dream of motherhood rears its head.
A man of magic and mystery, Wulfstan has no time for wedded bliss. He fears that consummating their marriage will bind their souls and wrench his focus from the ancient riddle his dying mother begged him to solve. He's a lone wolf, salving old wounds with endless work. But Jocelyn stirs him as no woman ever has.
Their attraction is undeniable. Their fates are intertwined. Together, they must face their demons and bring light to a troubled land.
Wulfstan bounded out of bed and strode to the cold hearth.
“What are you doing?” Jocelyn asked.
He snatched his blue tunic from the chair. “Dressing.”
Silence magnified the space between them. Words unspoken hovered in the ether.
“It cannot be long past daybreak,” she said at last. “Won’t you come back to bed?”
He dared not look at her. Instead, he donned his boots. “Why?”
“’Tis warm, comfortable. A quiet place to forget your cares.”
And forget myself, he thought. The bulge in his braies was a stiff reminder, as if he needed one. He started toward the door.
She jumped out of bed. “Wulfstan.”
He stopped and turned to her. The morning breeze caught her hair and the hem of her smock. A prettier picture he’d never seen.
With furrowed brow, she stepped forward. “Have I offended you in some way?”
He shook his head. “Not in the least. But I have matters to attend to…as have you, I would imagine.”
“You imagine true. Raymond and I are overseeing the decoration of the hall and solar.”
“Bringing in the greens.”
Her bare feet crunched the rushes as she took another step toward him. “Will I see you later?”
She was riveting. Her tiny toes. Her billowing smock. Her fair face.
“Undoubtedly.” He ripped his gaze away and made a hasty exit.
Hours later, after the midday meal, Robert joined Wulfstan in the solar. They sat before the crackling fire, sipping mulled wine.
Robert sent him a sidelong glance. “I’ll warrant you slept well last night.”
Wulfstan’s eyes narrowed. “Why do you say that?”
Robert shrugged. “Yesterday, you were the definition of haggard. You seem more rested today.”
“That I am.”
“Tell me, did Lady Nihtscua sleep well too?”
Wulfstan shifted in his chair. “Shall I give you a moment-by-moment description of our night together?”
“Please do.” Robert’s grin told a tale.
“You were hoping I’d bed her.”
“I shan’t deny it.” Robert took a swig of wine. “Did you?”
Wulfstan sighed. “I didn’t.”
Robert rolled his eyes. “What in the name of all wassail are you waiting for?”
“The proper time.”
“When? On your deathbed?”
“Not that long.”
“I should hope not.”
Wulfstan frowned. “Can you talk about something else?”
Robert rubbed his jaw. “I can, but whether I will or I won’t is—”
“Then do it.”
“Fine. Let’s see…a suitable subject…I’ve got one. Freya seems much changed since last I visited.”
“Aye. Lady Nihtscua has had a remarkable effect on her.”
“On all of you, in my estimation.” Robert looked toward the archway. “Ah. Speak of an angel and she appears.”
Wulfstan followed his gaze. Jocelyn, Raymond, Edith, and Freya strolled into the room. An entourage of cats and bough-bearing servants trailed after them.
Bright and beautiful in red, Jocelyn led the group to the wall farthest from the fire and pointed. “I trow the holly will look best here, along the table.”
“I agree,” said Raymond. “And the fir?”
Jocelyn bent to pet Snow. “Wherever you like, Raymond. I trust your judgment.”
Taller than tall, the steward beamed down at her. “Thank you, my lady.”
Edith shuffled over to Wulfstan. “’Tis exciting, don’t you think? There will even be a Yule log and roasted boar as part of the feast.”
Her smile was contagious, and he found it impossible to suppress one of his own. “It gladdens me to see you so happy, Edith. Freya too.”
Edith returned to his sister, who grinned at Jocelyn as the three of them fawned over Snow. Freya was like a different girl, apart from her dead speech. His heart twisted as he watched her.
Jocelyn looked up and stared at Wulfstan. His stomach dropped. Her gaze held his captive.
Suddenly, she straightened. With a determined twinkle in her eyes, she advanced toward him.
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