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The Wolf and the Sheep (Wolf #1)
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Till death do us part.
My father married me off to one of the most powerful men in Italy.
Maverick DeVille. But I call him the wolf.
He calls me his sheep.
The arranged marriage was detested by us both, but we had to make sacrifices for the right reasons. He needed to avenge his mother and I needed protection from the mobs that want to torture me.
He’s not what I pictured for my husband. He’s ruthless, calloused, and cold. His walls are higher than mine. He possesses cruelty that makes him feared.
But it doesn’t take long for me to respect him…even like him.
I rely on my husband more than anyone else in the world. He provides for me, protects me, and chases away all my fears.
He lets me graze in the meadow…not a care in the world.
Because the wolf is always watching.
“When people look in the darkness, they see shadows. I see monsters. And I kill the monsters that hunt my sheep.”
I hated this marriage in the beginning, but now I realize how lucky I am.
How lucky I am to be the sheep the wolf protects…and doesn’t eat.
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As a young boy, I used to stand in this very spot.
Right in the doorway, neither in the bedroom or outside it, I used to blend in with the shadows and stare at my father’s back. He’d been taller than me most of my life, so I looked up to him—literally.
He always had the same routine as he stood in front of his vanity. First, he folded his sleeves back and buttoned them. Then the cuff links were added—one of the many pairs he owned. My mother always gifted him a new set on his birthday, finding something sleek he would be proud to wear.
Once the cuff links were secured, he pulled the watch onto his wrist. White gold and flashy, it contrasted against the dark colors he usually wore. His suits were always black or blue, never tan or silver. His change in wardrobe seemed to occur after the worst day of his life came to pass.
His silver wedding ring sat on the vanity where it’d been every day for a year. He always stared at it for a long time, as if he were considering putting it on again.
When I was a child, it was something he never put on—because he’d always been wearing it.
But now he didn’t know what to do with it.
He straightened in front of the mirror and admired himself, his shirt still tight on his muscular arms. Sunlight had made his skin tanned and slightly weathered like worn-out leather, but he still possessed the resilience of a young man. Veins stretched from the tops of his hands and up his arms, protruding from the tight skin. He was tall, a mountain in my eyes, but he’d shrunk down as gravity worked against him all these decades.
Now I was taller than him.
Stronger than him.
But not smarter than him.
Our lives had never been the same since that terrible day one year ago.
We had never been the same.
He lifted his gaze and met mine in the mirror. “Yes?”
When I was a child, he never noticed me because I was too short. But I was a man now…and I’d been a man a long time. Made in his likeness, I possessed his strength, his might. And unfortunately, I inherited all of his flaws—his coldness and his cruelty.
His deep voice reverberated against the wall, filling every room in the old castle like he was the original king who’d ruled it centuries ago. Life hadn’t been kind to him, so he’d gradually darkened like the stone that comprised the walls of this enormous keep. It’d been the perfect playground for a family of four. But now that he was just a man of one…it was a large coffin.
I stepped out of the darkness of the hallway and entered his bedroom, the air reeking of solitude. I could feel the loneliness he never showed, the tears he never shed. “You asked for me.” Like a good son, I obeyed my father even as a grown man. His lack of affection always disappointed me, but I respected him all the same.
After his watch was secured, he rolled down his sleeves and eyed his wedding ring once again, as if he were tempted to put it on and travel back in time, to fix the mistakes it was too late to correct.
He turned around, his chin up and his shoulders strong. “I have a meeting—and you’re coming with me.”
The car stopped at the black iron gates, an image of a stallion carved into the bars. Once the security detail allowed us through, we drove up the gravel and approached the three-story estate that sat on prime Tuscan land. Summer was just around the corner, so dusk came late. It was almost eight o’clock, and the sky was still tinted with hues of pink and purple.
The car circled the large fountain in the center, and I admired the ancient cobblestone that made up the walls of the mansion. With curved archways for the windows and ivy that grew up along the sides, it was clearly a family legacy. Homes like this were passed down through generations, starting with ancient ancestral royalty until the present time. It was unlikely this property had been purchased in the last five years.
I tilted my face toward my father, keeping my eyes on our surroundings at the same time. “What are we doing here?”
My father glanced at his watch. “Your guess is as good as mine.” His door was opened, and he stepped out.
I got out as well, and we were escorted inside, entering an enormous archway with a stunning chandelier. Artwork from the 1800s was on the walls, mostly landscapes of lilies and ponds.
The men guided us farther inside, bringing us into an enormous dining room lined with more historical paintings and sculptures. I’d grown up with money, so I knew what different levels existed. My family made their fortune through legal and illegal means. But judging from this magnitude, this family was aristocracy.