Axil Moon broke my heart when I was fifteen and I’ve dreamed of getting revenge ever since. So when he becomes the king of all Wolven and summons me to compete for his hand in marriage in the deadly Queen Trials, I gladly accept. I want nothing more than to defeat the competition and leave him cold and alone when I slam the bedroom door in his face every night. Axil Moon will regret the day he thought he could discard me and get away with it.
But the Axil I expect isn’t the one waiting for me. This grown Axil is different from the teenage boy I loved. This Axil begs me to believe it was never his choice to leave me, and my heart is torn.
Now I have to try and stay alive in order to see what could be between us, but all the while there is an enemy in our midst and war on our border that could overturn the world as I know it, and all I can do is fight to keep that world alive.
The Forbidden Wolf King is book FOUR of FOUR in the Kings of Avalier series. It’s a full-length standalone fantasy romance about the Wolf King Axil Moon.
“You don’t have to do this,” my elder brother Cyrus said as he paced the floor of the home I shared with my younger brother Oslo. Our parents were long gone, and now it was just me and my two brothers. Cyrus was married off with two pups of his own and little Oslo lived with me.
I looked up at him. “Yes I do. It’s mandatory, Cy; the summons says that the most dominant female—”
Cyrus cut me off, looming over me with his towering height. “I don’t care about the summons! The king will have plenty of wives to choose from, no need to get killed trying to—”
“Excuse me?” I stood on my tiptoes and poked him in the chest; now it was my turn to cut him off. “You don’t think I can win?”
Cyrus looked slightly ashamed. “Zara, I trained you myself, I know you are a powerful warrior, but to go against all of the most dominant females in Fallenmoore just to win the king’s hand?”
Silence descended on the room. I didn’t want this opportunity, especially not with Axil Moon. We had a history, one that I tried to forget every summer. Cyrus knew that. But we had received a mandatory order and I was no coward.
“To enter the Queen Trials means death,” my little brother said from his spot on the couch, looking up at me like a scared little boy. At twelve years old he could fend for himself if I died, but I was like a mother figure to him. He’d have no one to tuck him in at night or show him the ways of the wolf.
“What about the status this would bring to our family?” I asked them. “The positions of power you and Oslo would get if I won?”
My brothers were dominant—but not dominant enough to be alpha of our pack, and yet not submissive enough to be taken care of by its members either. They fought over resources and had to fend for themselves, like most midpack wolves. If I entered the trials and won, not only would I become queen of our people, but it would also launch both of my brothers into a place where they were paid dues simply for breathing.
The family of the queen wanted for nothing. New furs every winter, food and lodging that was all gifted by the king, and they were given places of honor in the royal wolven army.
My elder brother crossed his arms and assessed me with his gaze. I was twenty summers old now; he could not deny that I had grown into a woman. I could hold the stare of even the strongest male members of my pack without cowering and my muscles looked like they’d been carved from stone. I was no longer the little scrappy girl he’d taught to fight by the riverbank. I was third in command of this pack, just under the alpha and his second. That was no small feat for a female.
“Zara, if you win, you would have to marry King Axil. You’re okay with that? After your history together?” he asked.
“What history?” my little brother piped up
“You don’t need to know,” Cyrus and I both shot back.
I swore I could still feel Axil’s lips on mine when I closed my eyes at night and thought about those two summer months at the dominant wolves training camp when we were fifteen.
My first love. Or what I’d thought was love when I was just a little pup. I was basically a mother to my little brother even then, constantly weighed down with the responsibilities of household duties. Axil had been a breath of fresh air. I hadn’t known he was the prince at the time; I lived in a tiny village far from Death Mountain, where the royal court resided. We’d laughed and talked for hours. Kissed under the moonlight and danced until our feet felt like they were going to fall off. For two months straight I ate, drank and breathed Axil Moon. It was only when his elder brother caught us making out that last day of camp that I realized who he was, and everything came crashing to a halt.
I could still remember the fight they’d had right in front of me.
“I love her,” Axil had told his brother.
“You don’t love women like that, Axil; you bed them and move on to someone more suitable from Death Mountain. You’re a prince, start acting like one. Let’s go, before someone sees you.”
I’d been crushed. Axil had spoken of a future together, of wanting to visit me and me him, of one day wanting to marry me. I’d expected him to tell his brother to eat dirt but instead he’d lowered his head and walked away without another word.
He just left. Throwing me away like villager trash. It’s not like I had any idea he was Prince Axil, brother of King Ansel, or that I’d just had a fling with royalty that would never happen again. I was beneath him.
“Zara.” Cyrus brought me back to the moment.
I looked my brother in the eyes, holding his gaze easily. “Yes, I would marry him. To prove that a villager from the Mud Flats can make a queen,” I snarled, a growl building deep in my throat. And to prove to Axil Moon and his brother that I was good enough. Status did not make a queen in Fallenmoore. Brute force, dominance, cunning and power in battle did. The trials were a literal fight to the death—or forfeit, but no one with any self-respect did that. You would be torn apart by your pack and bring your family shame for three generations.
My brother appraised me differently now, walking around me in a slow circle. “That’s the attitude you would need to win this.”
We were back in our roles of coach and student. I’d been sparring with Cyrus since I was three years old and barely learning to shift into my wolf form.
“Dorian would be sad to lose you. You will need his permission.” My brother spoke of our alpha. Cyrus was right. As the most dominant female member of our pack I would be a loss to the Mud Flat pack. I kept all of the other dominant women in line but if I did this, if I won the trials, I would bring great honor to Dorian and all of my packmates. I was still holding my brother’s gaze, waiting for his approval. In our weird little family, he was like a father to me and I wouldn’t enter without his okay.
The summons came in as a mandatory invitation, but if the alpha of the pack didn’t want to let that specific female go, or she was already spoken for romantically, another could be sent in her stead. Morgan could go in my place; she was the next in line of succession where dominance was concerned.
“Go ask him. If he says yes, I’ll train you,” my brother finally said, breaking eye contact with me.
Cyrus was a well-sought-after battle trainer. He might not have been dominant enough to be an alpha, but his cunning and strategy in fights was unmatched in our area. He’d even traveled to Death Mountain to train some of the Royal Guard. What he lacked in muscle he made up for in intelligence.
“I’ll tell him. Not ask.” I corrected my brother’s submissive thinking.
Cyrus chuckled. “Good luck with that.”
Dorian was a fair alpha, tough at times, but fair. The term ‘tough love’ must have been coined for him. When I was thirteen, I stole some extra food from the community storeroom because I was bored and he starved me for four days and nights with water only. I never stole food again. Dorian earned respect; he didn’t ask for it blindly.
Nodding to my brother, I grasped the summons that had come from Death Mountain. It had gone out to all cities and villages in Fallenmoore and this one had my name on it. I wondered if Axil even knew that I’d be coming or if his advisors had sent this to me. It had been five years since I saw him, a boy who was now king.