Wanton for the Wolven King
Wanton for the Wolven King
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Phillipa Willoughby already had one successful Season, betrothed to Wesley, Duke of Chelmsford. But after her kind and gentle husband mysteriously disappears on their wedding night, she finds polite society intolerable and withdraws to the woodlands. With her hands happily in the dirt, she is delighted to learn the ways of the herbs and crystals she’s found in the forest, and the traditions of the fae who call the woodlands home.
But all is not peaceful in this newly found sanctuary. The woodland creatures are being terrorized by a Wolven King.
When Her Majesty demands she attend The Monsters Ball, a three-day affair at a remote gothic estate, her family threatens to shun her if she attends. But Phillipa welcomes the invite. She plans to seduce the noblest members of this monstrous society to get information on the fearsome Wolven King.
Few have seen the beastly royal with their own eyes, but she’ll stop at nothing for the chance to confront him. To make life better for the residents of the woodlands she loves.
But the Wolven King is on a mission too. He refuses to believe his condition is permanent, or to give up on his bride. He’s been watching over her while attempting to steal magic from the woodland fae to regain his humanity. When he's given a chance to reveal himself to Phillipa in his wolven form at the ball, he’s reluctant. He’s feral. And he’s determined to reclaim the love of his life, even if the lady has vowed to destroy him.
Wanton for the Wolven King is a spicy monster romance with ballgowns, pleasure gardens, and redemption. If you like grumpy sunshine with a side of feral and awkward, and lovers to enemies to lovers, you’re in the right place.
This story is part of The Monsters Ball collection and Wesley will stay in his wolven form for the entire story.
- Growly, protective wolven
- He's feral
- Second chance romance
- Fabulous Monsters Ball
- Pleasure Garden
- Chase Scene
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter One
“We have received a letter from the Queen.”
Phillipa could hardly be bothered to look up from her botany book when her sister Bernadette rushed into the sitting room of Woodhaven Manor and made the announcement. She was fresh from a successful Season and was enthusiastically planning, in her words, the wedding of the year.
Everything had been of utmost excitement to her. It had become exhausting. But even Phillipa had to admit, a letter from Her Majesty herself was quite impressive.
Her mother gasped. “Oh, how impressive. What would be the reason for such an important letter?” Mother was almost as excited as Bernadette about her impending nuptials. As a widow, it was very important that all three of her daughters married well.
If the Queen was involved, that was even better.
Bernadette pouted. “I’m not sure yet. Margaret wouldn’t give it to me. She said it should be read in the presence of everyone in the house,” she said.
Phillipa looked up from her book and grinned. She wasn’t surprised to find Bernadette’s cheeks were flushed from the cool, damp air on this rainy day, and she had on her favorite yellow dress, just back from her visits. She’d been insufferable since being promised to the Count of Cornwall. Everyone in the house had taken to giving in to her every whim, and Phillipa was proud of Margaret for making her wait to hear the news with the rest of the family. As the family nursemaid, she had always been more of a disciplinary figure in their lives than their mother. Mother had been very involved in the church, even more so since her husband had passed away and sometimes, Phillipa felt like she took more after Margaret than her actual mother.
Regardless of the excitement over the letter, the possibility of the letter being for Phillipa was nonexistent. She’d ignored all her letter writing since her wedding, which she’d politely asked everyone at Woodhaven Manor to kindly stop talking about. A pile of congratulatory cards from the cursed event sat untouched on her desk, since Lord Andrew Wesley, the Duke of Chelmsford, disappeared on their wedding night.
Now she preferred to spend her days working in her garden, reading botany books, and waiting for news of the duke’s return.
“It must be about my upcoming wedding.” Bernadette reached for the letter and gasped. “What if the Queen plans to attend my wedding? We must start planning accordingly.”
Margaret tucked the letter close to her body. “It is addressed to Phillipa.”
Bernadette and Mother gasped.
Phillipa couldn’t have heard Margaret right. Her heart pounded in her chest as she put the book down carefully, making sure none of the leaves or dried flowers she used as placeholders fell out, and rose from the worn velvet chair that had become her favorite since she’d returned home. It was right by the window and overlooked the garden, the only place that offered her any peace in the bustling home.
Phillipa didn’t miss the way her mother winced. She could practically read her mind. Why would the Queen send Phillipa, of all people, a letter?
“It must be a mistake,” Bernadette said. “I can’t imagine that Her Majesty would confuse me with Phillipa.”
“It’s for the Duchess.” Margaret beamed at her as she held the letter out. She was the only person, besides Phillipa, who believed that Wesley could still be alive. She’d comforted her on those first awful days when she’d returned to Woodhaven, staying with her in her room, and received all the updates, which never delivered the news Philippa had hoped for. And when Mother had insisted that Phillipa go to London with her and her sister for this year’s marriage Season, or get sent to the Royal Hospital, it was Margaret who stood up for her, staying behind so Phillipa would not have to attend a second Season amidst scandal and mystery.
It’s time to move on, Mother had said when Phillipa refused to go. If he was alive, he would come for you.
Oh, how that had stung. But Phillipa couldn’t shake the feeling that it was much more complicated than that. If he was able to come for her, he most certainly would.
Her mother wanted to see her married, and taken care of. She understood that. But the hostility she faced in the midst of her morning broke her heart. She needed time. She was not ready to give up on her husband yet.
Margaret had put her job on the line many times, standing up for Phillipa. For that, she would do anything for this woman.
“What if it’s about Wesley?” Phillipa’s hands shook as she held the letter. “Perhaps he’s been found.”
Her mind raced with the possibilities. Where could he have been? Was he well? Maybe she was being brought to him. She could imagine running into his arms and never letting him go.
“Phillipa,” Mother sighed. “Wesley is not coming back.”
Tears pricked Phillipa’s eyes. Ever since she’d come back to Woodhaven without her husband, she’d done nothing but disappoint her mother. She thought the books were foolish, the garden was beneath her—filthy work for servants, she said.
Phillipa felt like she no longer belonged in her family home.
The letter was crisply folded, the finest parchment. The weight of it, with its impressive royal seal, confirmed it was indeed a message from Her Majesty. Phillipa’s fingers shook as she slid the letter opener under the fold, holding her breath as she passed under the seal, hoping to keep it intact.
The Queen wanted to speak to her. The Duchess of Chelmsford.
So many emotions flowed through her veins. If Wesley had been found, this would not be the way they told her. He’d been pulled away on their wedding night before they had a chance to share a bed. To consummate their marriage. It was a technicality her mother and sister used to insist that she wasn’t really married. That she should have participated in the latest Season.
“What does it say?” Margaret clasped her hands together.
“Dear Miss Phillipa Willoughby—” The Queen did not refer to her as Duchess. That wasn’t a good sign. Her voice trailed off, her heart sinking into her stomach as she read the rest.
She blinked rapidly, hoping it would change the words on the parchment. Make them mean something else.
“What does the Queen say?” Mother asked as she approached. “Is it news about Wesley?” It was the softest her voice had sounded in months.
Phillipa shook her head, how she wished she could say yes. Even if it was bad news. Closure would have been better than this message from Her Majesty.
Bernadette snatched the letter from her.
Her sister’s eyes widened as she read the letter, and she cleared her throat before reading. “Dear Miss Phillipa Willoughby, on account of your preference for plants and stones over people, your unconsummated marriage, and your complete withdrawal from society, Her Majesty has deemed your Season a failure.”
“What Season? I’m married,” Phillipa cried. “I already have a husband.”
“Your marriage is incomplete in the Crown’s eyes,” Mother said. “It’s been a year, Phillipa. He’s not coming back. If his family wants to retain the fantasy that he’s still alive, they are welcome to do so. But the longer you agree with them, the more complicated things will become for you. I again urge you to consider an annulment.”
Phillipa shuddered. If she refused the annulment again, it would most definitely be followed by a threat to admit her to the Royal Hospital.
She wasn’t crazy. Just heartbroken and hopeful.
“That’s not all,” Bernadette continued. “It says, ‘Considering your utter defiance for all proposals, you are hereby ordered to attend The Monsters Ball.’”
Phillipa and her mother gasped in unison. It was the first time they had agreed on anything in far too long. It was on the tip of Phillipa’s tongue to protest, to remind them of poor Wesley one more time, but she knew it would not help.
“You cannot go to that Ball,” Mother rose from her seat. She began pacing the parlor. “You’ll be ruined. Ruined!”
“The Queen has ordered Phillipa to attend.” Bernadette gave her sister a smug smile. “She cannot defy Her Majesty.”
Her younger sister was enjoying this far too much. She’d always been in a one-sided competition with her Phillipa. Not sharing a Season with Bernadette had been a relief.
She needed answers about what happened to Wesley. Her own family had been no help, only encouraging her to move on. His family had not provided much information, either.
They simply had told her that they hadn’t heard from him since he’d disappeared that night.
But no one had confirmed he was dead. There had been no services to mourn him. No answers to Phillipa’s questions. Only that they were very concerned, and they would let her know if there was any word. For a few days, she’d stayed in the house they were meant to share for the rest of their lives, but without Wesley, the house was overwhelming, and she was not prepared to receive the visitors who wanted to offer their condolences on his disappearance.
Again, she would send a letter to his family, requesting an update. This time she would stress the urgency of the matter. But for the first time since Wesley’s disappearance, she had a sense of purpose.
Phillipa tipped her chin up. “If Her Majesty wants me at the Monsters Ball, then I will be in attendance.”
“You can’t—” Mother cried.
“Phillipa!” Margaret pleaded. “Think about what you’re saying.”
She slipped the letter carefully into her pocket, ignoring the protests. She needed air. She needed peace from the only place that had granted it to her since Wesley’s disappearance.
Once she reached her outdoor haven, she sank to her knees, relishing the cool feeling as the damp earth seeped into her dress. Margaret would lovingly scold her when she came back to the house dirty, but Mother and Bernadette wouldn’t be so kind about her soiled dress or the dirt that would inevitably lodge itself under her fingernails. Emotion rushed through her, but she wouldn’t cry. Weakness was a luxury she couldn’t afford.
Acanthus and Delphiniums bloomed around her, but even their beauty couldn’t hide her concern. Her brow furrowed as she studied the rock formation that had been carefully laid at the edge of the path. Common smooth stones, topaz, and tourmaline had become their own language, and message delivery system even more powerful than the letter in her pocket from the Queen herself.
Fae lived in the woods that bordered the garden. Fae who had become dear friends of hers. They’d sat with her while she’d cried under the trees they called home, and taught her everything she knew about gardening and the beautiful stones they used as currency and medicine.
And they’d been under attack by a ruthless wolven that had declared himself king of the forest. Phillipa felt so helpless every time she heard the news of another attack, and had daydreamed many times of confronting this wolven, to make him pay for his heartlessness.
Now, she would be ready if the opportunity arose.
The formation warned that Wolven had been seen in the area.
Phillipa steeled herself, scanning the garden to make sure she was alone. As far as she knew, the wolven had never come this close to the garden. Most of the attacks had taken place deep in the forest, a place that the fae urged her not to go. It wasn’t safe for anyone.
This news made the invite even more crucial. She picked up two of the prettiest stones—one clear, and one mauve, and rubbed them together. Most mere mortals wouldn’t hear the sound, but the last thing she hoped to attract was a mortal.
She needed magic.
A breeze blew through the garden, and the hidden door in the bark of the tree at the end of the path opened. A faerie fluttered out, and as much as Phillipa was relieved to see her friend, her confidante, and her guide in this new world, something was wrong. Very, very wrong.
Ainslee landed in Phillipa’s open palm. The fairy was as tall as the human’s forearm, as light as a whisper, with energy that never stayed still. Her wings, sparkling pink and iridescent under the best of circumstances were drab and brown, drooping, and camouflaged to the color of the bark of her home. Her skin was the color of bathwater instead of the pearlescent that it usually was on a bright, sunny day.
Phillipa gasped at her friend’s appearance. “Are you well, Ainslee? Did something happen to you?”
“As well as I can be. There was another attack last night. Three fae did not survive. Two more are fighting for their lives,” she said.
“No!” Phillipa exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?”
“You should go back to your home. It’s not safe for you to be here, Phillipa. The Wolven King is getting bolder. Fae are an easy target, and our magic cannot hold him off. We may flee. If we are not here, there’s no telling who he might attack next.”
“No! You must stay,” Phillipa said quickly, and guilt rushed in when her friend’s appearance darkened to the color of mud. “This is your forest. This horrible wolven, who’s arrived and declared himself king, has no right to drive you away.”
“I agree, but the Wolven King, unfortunately, thinks otherwise.” Ainslee’s wings fluttered and she did a perfunctory check of the flowers, which rose to greet her, no matter how dire her appearance. “There are only so many more fae we can let him sacrifice to make our statement.”
“Why fae?” A giant wolven—at least by Ainslee’s possibly unreliable account—couldn’t possibly sustain himself with the tiny creatures. It would much more efficient if he attacked larger animals, even humans, unless he was lame. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“Some of the elders theorize that he wants our magic. That he needs our powers for something he cannot achieve himself.” She shook her head with disgust.
Phillipa had heard all the old tales of how fae magic could be borrowed to solve a host of human problems, but the wolven wasn’t interested in giving it back. He was stealing, and he had to be stopped. “I have a solution.”
“Just give him our magic?” Ainslee scoffed, and folded her tiny arms over her chest. “That’s what the elders suggest. I, for one, refuse. This…beast…doesn’t deserve our power. It’s the first time in history that some of us are willing to defy our elders. This wolven will tear us apart if he doesn’t kill us all first.”
“That will not happen.”
“Then what is your solution?” Ainslee flew closer. “Poison? Perhaps a trap? Dark magic? Those are the things I proposed. But the more he strikes fear in the heart of the woodland fae, the weaker our magic becomes. We’re using so much energy simply to hide from him. Hiding! The shame. But those who’ve tried to stop him have paid with their life. He’s drained them down to nothing. He’s too big, too strong for us to fight. Too feral.”
“Phillipa!” Margaret’s voice rang out in the distance.
Time was running out before she was summoned back to the house, and asked to dress for dinner. Even if she’d ignored the Season, she wouldn’t be able to ignore the pomp and circumstance of Bernadette’s upcoming wedding. There would be a dinner tonight with the Count’s family and plans to be made.
So many plans.
Phillipa had no idea how she would get through it without seeing the ghost of her beloved everywhere.
But now she had plans of her own.
Often, she thought about what Wesley would want her to do. Home and family were of utmost importance to him. Would he want her to smile and nod through this painful dinner, or would he want her to help her new woodland friends, the ones who’d offered her comfort in his absence?
He would want her to stop The Wolven King, even if it meant defying her mother. How dare this beast take over this beautiful forest and destroy at will?
“Tell me about the Wolven King,” Phillipa said. She needed as many details as the fae could give her before Margaret intervened. “What does he look like? Why is he so angry?”
Ainslee furrowed her little brow. “I’ve told you about him. He’s huge and horrible and his teeth are bigger than a fae child. Those fangs are sharp and deadly and he’s an abomination to this forest. He wants our magic, and when he can’t get it, he destroys whatever he can get his hands on, in a big wolf tantrum.”
“I know that. But what does he look like?”
Ainslee tipped her head. “Why do you want to know?”
Phillipa pulled the letter out of her pocket, carefully. The invite didn’t feel real to her yet, and neither did this plan.
“Is that from the Queen?” Ainslee gasped, her gaze was fixed on the royal seal, still beautiful even though it was broken. “Did you get news about Wesley? Do you think that maybe he succumbed to the Wolven King?”
Ainslee never had a chance to meet Wesley, but she loved listening to all the stories about their courtship, and ton society. The little fae was in love with love. To say she had an overactive imagination would be an understatement.
“Phillipa!” Margaret was coming closer. She knew exactly where to find her.
“It’s a summons to the Monsters Ball.”
“Oh, what a great honor!” Ainslee clasped her hands together. Her color brightened as she hovered over the letter, reading Her Majesty’s demand.
“It is?” Phillipa hadn’t been expecting that response, especially after her mother had made her feel shame over the invite.
“Absolutely. These creatures are nobility, recognized by the Queen. I would love an invite…but why would you go? You’re married.”
“Phillipa! Get out of the dirt, my lady. Your mother will have a fit when she sees that dress,” Margaret exclaimed once she reached the garden.
“My sentiments exactly,” Phillipa spoke in a hushed tone, so only the fae could hear her. “It doesn’t matter that I’m married. I’m going to that Ball, and I’ll help you take the woodlands back.”
Ainslee’s mouth dropped. “How?”
Phillipa rose from her knees, wiping dirt away from her dress, but the damage was already done by the damp earth that had soaked into the fabric. No matter, she was done putting on airs for anyone, and she would concentrate on protecting what was important to her. “I’m not going to the Ball to find a mate. I’ll be there to get the information I need to kill the Wolven King.”