17 Overcoming

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The ride to Duxbury left Hannibal with too much time to think about the reasons why he had never been back, not since Melinda had been buried. He found himself reluctant to go there despite his provoking, pressing need to find Will, as if the ghosts of his neglected family might hold him accountable for his absence.

Now, with no company other than his own thoughts and the surety of seeing her final resting place at last, Hannibal found himself thinking about her. Their childhood friendship was still one of his fondest recollections of his time at Hartford House. She had taken the place of his lost little sister at first, being so close to Mischa in age. Hannibal had been besotted the moment they met, taking the role of her protector, much to the amusement of her parents. His middling years had passed in a blur of exploration, climbing trees, being carefree and happy, always with Melinda next to him. His grandfather had tried to discourage their association, but Hannibal had found ways around that, as children often would. Even then he’d known he would have to marry well when he was of age. He’d been told time after time by Grandfather that someone was already picked out for him, that it was settled and contracted, that he would have no choice in the matter.

Those warnings had fallen on deaf ears, slamming up against the wall of youthful surety that he knew what was best for himself. He’d been determined to marry Melinda when they both were old enough, the four years of difference between them seeming to stretch forever, long enough that his feelings for her had altered from brotherly to something else entirely.

And then she’d finally caught up to him and everything had fallen apart… Continue reading


16 Overcoming

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It took several hours to reach the village and, once there, Will had no idea where he was going. Duxbury was not as large as the town that had sprung up south of Hartford House, but it was large enough to have a main street with a proper cobbled road and several fine little shops doing brisk business. Deciding not to risk getting lost, Will carefully swung down from his mare’s back and looped her reins over a hitching ring at the least busy storefront, which looked to be some kind of dress shop.

Holding his basket half behind him, Will pushed the door open, wincing at the merry jangle of bells above which got the attention of a bright-eyed, plump-cheeked blonde woman behind the counter.

“Well, good morning!” she said, her voice pleasantly raspy and warm. She came around the counter with a wide smile, so delighted to see him that Will actually looked behind him to see if there was someone there. “Can I help you?”

“Ah, yes, sorry,” he said, flushing a little. “I’m… I’m afraid I’m a bit lost.”

Her brows rose. “Now, that is a surprise,” she said, chuckling. “Considering what a large and confusing town we are.”

Will smiled at that, her friendliness putting him at ease.

“Maybe I can help you find your way, Mr…?”

“Graham,” Will said, offering his free hand, which she shook with the same sure confidence of a beta male. “Will Graham.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Graham,” she said. “You can call me Molly. Or Miss Foster if you like, but I prefer Molly. We’re not much for formalities around here. So, where are you trying to get that you find yourself stranded in my dress shop?” Continue reading

15 Overcoming

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Hannibal wound up riding the reluctant Dimmond nag all the way back to Hartford House, having long ago left behind the possibility that Will had missed catching the ducal coach and been left stranded. Indeed, upon his arrival, Mr. Hawkes informed him that Will had already gone upstairs to bed.

Hannibal grimly strode up the stairs and down the hallway to Will’s suite, rapping sharply on the door only once before twisting the knob and letting himself in.

Will’s blue eyes flashed with annoyance as he slid from his bed and turned his back, still attempting to pull on a robe to cover his nightclothes, his book tumbling from his lap to the floor.

“Is there some emergency, Lord Clarges?” he asked, head dipping as he belted his robe, giving Hannibal a decidedly pleasant view of his narrow waist and straight shoulders. “Or are you mistaking rooms once more?” Continue reading

14 Overcoming

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Dripping wet and entirely disheveled, Hannibal and Will made their way back up to Fernhill Manor. Luckily for them, the majority of partygoers were still enjoying their games on the lawn, though people were beginning to drift back towards the other, smaller activities so thoughtfully provided by the Dimmonds.

“Well,” Hannibal said, seeing Will shiver slightly in his layers of wet clothing, the book held carefully away from him so as not to ruin it. “I don’t suppose that did much for your nerves?”

Will laughed softly, flicking a glance up at him, and admitted, “I was too worried we would drown to worry about the crowd, Lord Clarges. It was an unorthodox therapy, but not entirely unsuccessful.”

Hannibal smiled at that, and took Will around the side of the manor, managing to catch a passing servant’s eye. When they were approached, he said, “Please inform Lady Du Maurier that my spouse and I are in a predicament and need to speak with her.”

The man nodded and made as if to leave, but stopped when Will abruptly thrust the book out and said, “Please return this to the library as well. I will replace it if there has been any damage.”

“If that is the title I am thinking of, a fire would not be damage enough,” Bedelia said, drawn from the crowd by the oddity of a servant suddenly darting out of view. She looked at them both from head to toe, taking in their wet clothing and cautious expressions. “Explanations can wait, I believe.”

She took the book and sent the servant on his way, murmuring, “Come with me, please, both of you.” Continue reading

Let’s Have A Baby

lets have a baby


The word escaped Margot without even a thought, a soft exhale of shocked surprise as she stared at Alana.

“They found him,” Alana said again, standing statue still, cautious, watchful, her cane planted firmly on the ground, roots of stability reaching deep that Margot desperately needed in the wake of this announcement.

All she could do was stare, her brain skipping so many directions.

“I think you should sit down,” Alana said, and Margot dropped where she was, managing to land on the gilded chair she’d just risen from. Continue reading

09 Overcoming

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Thanks to the chaos downstairs and the unexpected arrival of the Dimmond clan, luncheon was forfeited and Will found he was not at all sorry. He was in no state to be in company, not while he was still trembling in the aftermath of his clash with Hannibal.

Will suppressed a shiver at the memory of Hannibal’s warm fingertips pressing along his jaw, seeking the sensitive little scent glands that Will had worked so hard to render useless. His fingers had felt like coals on his skin, searingly hot and frightening, but Will’s heart had hammered in something like excitement, with a keen kind of terrified pleasure in being pinned down and helpless beneath the weight of his bonded Alpha. Hannibal had been surprisingly rapt in his attention, his amber eyes half-shuttered and his mouth slightly parted as he’d stared down at Will, intent on seeking the source of his scent. He had worried Will even moreso in that moment because he’d felt nothing more than an eager, aching desire to allow Hannibal to do anything he wanted, anything at all, as much a product of his father’s abuse as it was the response of touch-starved instincts.

Hannibal would be appalled to know it, no doubt, repulsed into turning his noble nose up so he could glare at Will down its length, haughty and secure in his confidence.

“It’s too dangerous,” Will said, leveling a glare at his own reflection. If Hannibal was to find out about the bond Will had to him, then he would use that knowledge, that power he had over Will, to his own advantage. Certainly too dangerous to risk it. Continue reading

A Bitter Taste (21)

A Bitter Taste

Ugh! I hate odd numbers! Oh well. Finished at long last.

They did not speak of it, not that day or the next. In fact, Hannibal was most insistent that Will not mention what he’d seen for fear of his automatically rejecting details they would require to fully understand what the Ravenstag had done to him.

But Will was certain now that he knew, or knew well enough.

It was a process, a ceaseless test of assent—the question must always be answered with honest assurance, the answer must always be sealed with a kiss and the sharing of blood. Life before death and the death that followed must be consumed, death to make life. An ouroboros of deliberate choice knitted together to create life eternal. At some point, the blood in his veins had become the Ravenstag’s. At some point, the final step he had taken to complete the transformation had been enough to render the Ravenstag unresponsive and vulnerable in their bed.

Should he work the same alchemy on Hannibal as the Ravenstag had done in him, that would be when Hannibal would turn on him, preying on his vulnerability in that silent space between deaths. Continue reading