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A Romance Novel That Has Seduced Millions Of Women Around The World

Marked by Tori R. Hayes is now available to read on Galatea, a reading app recognized by BBC, Forbes and The Guardian for being the go-to place for explosive new romance novels. Keep scrolling to read the first chapters or download the app for the full version.

From the day of her birth, Rieka has been locked away at night by her family, unable to fulfill her one wish: to look at the stars at night. Now, twenty years later, she’s concocted a plan to sneak out with her friends, but she doesn’t know that this simple act of rebellion will change her life forever and put her in the sights of an alpha who won’t let her go.

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Chapter Six: The Alpha Gene

Was I in my bed? I was lying comfortably, but a bright light prevented me from opening my eyes and seeing for myself.

I could feel someone sitting beside me. “Mom?” I asked.

But I was answered by a masculine voice. “I certainly hope not.”

No. I knew that voice. That voice had been rude to me yesterday.

“How?” I opened my eyes and saw Shay sitting at my bedside. I sat up and covered myself with the sheets. “What are you doing here!” I shouted.

His face turned into a grin. “Why do you think I’m here?” He smiled and crawled closer.

My heart started to pound uncontrollably fast. He was so close I could feel the heat from his body. I was already pressed toward the headboard as far as I could. I couldn’t get farther away.

My whole body tensed up, and I closed my eyes, fearing what was going to happen next.

He went past my face and buried his nose in my neck. Then he took a deep breath.

What the hxll! I pushed him away. “What do you think you’re doing!?” I shouted.

He smiled and backed away. “I see that the transformation changed your hair back to its original color,” he said.

The transformation? The white locks were resting on my shoulders enough for me to see it clearly. It was white again.

Then it all came back. Archer, the white wolf, the mystery man. Shay! He was the black wolf?

“You’re up?” I heard a voice saying from the door. Mom. “Thank you for bringing her back here safely, Shay.”

“No problem,” he answered with the smile of an angel. Fake like the plant in my window, but my mom didn’t see through it. She just returned a smile.

“Could I have a moment with her alone?” she asked.

“Sure,” he answered and took one last glance back at me. He touched my thigh on top of the sheets, and it left a burning sensation. A feeling I didn’t know what to make of.

He saw my expression and smiled self-consciously before disappearing behind the door.

“Darling, are you okay?” My mother came closer.

“Mom? What really happened yesterday?” I asked. “You know something. You said so last night.” She nodded, and I felt a ball drop in my stomach. She had been keeping secrets from me.

“Rieka, I have something to tell you. Something I should have told you long ago, but I thought we had it under control. I didn’t think it would ever come to this.” She looked distressed but serious.

“You have to promise me that you will listen to every word that I say before you start questioning it.”

“I don’t really think you can do worse than how I already feel.” I snorted.

“Promise me, Rieka.” She was dead serious. My smile disappeared, and I nodded.

She took a deep breath before she began.

“We are not alone in this world. Humans. We live side by side with the mythical creatures you only hear about in stories. What is connected to you…” She paused. “…to me, is the gene of the dire wolf.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Mom too?

“When I was born, my father was the leader of our pack. The Alpha. I was an only child and the only one to follow in his footsteps.

“But I fell in love with your father, a human, which meant that I could never be the Alpha. I was pregnant with you, so I resigned from the position and my place among the pack.

“The pack was without an heir, so my dad made a deal with his best friend. That his son would be the next Alpha after him when he was ready. That child was Shay.”

That was why everyone in town was acting so modest around him. Like he was some kind of authority figure. That he acted out when I questioned that authority. He was the Alpha of this pack. This town.

“This is where I need you to listen, Rieka.” I had many questions, but I had promised to wait.

“Any person with the werewolf gene is born on the night of a full moon. To activate the gene, the baby has to be born under the light of this full moon.

“We tried to make it to the hospital, to a closed department, but the car broke down, and you couldn’t wait for the ambulance. You were born the way we wanted to avoid.”

I couldn’t wait for her to finish. “But why did I first turn now?”

“I will come to that, Rieka.” She sighed.

“Werewolves aren’t ready to transform into their wolves before their bodies are developed for it. Typically, that is on their sixteenth birthday.

“To activate the transformation, we are once again to bathe in the light of the moon.” She paused.

“Back in the day, the pack would meet once every month on a full moon. If any children were ready for the transformation, we would celebrate and trigger their transformation under the moon.

“Within three days, the transformation would be complete, and they would be able to convert into their wolf.”

She looked at me. “That is why we have been trying to keep you away from the moonlight.”

“But why before my sixteenth birthday?”

She sighed again.

“You were born under the light of a supermoon. Only wolves with the Alpha gene, or the potential to be an Alpha, are born during a supermoon. That gene is unpredictable, and we didn’t want to risk anything.”

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“But what about my hair?” I asked. “Does that have anything to do with the supermoon?”

She smiled. “It is rare to see one with your color. The color of our hair is a reflection of our soul.

“Your white hair signifies that you are pure as the color itself. It is very rare and extremely powerful. We were very proud when you were born,” she said and brushed my hair away from my face.

Then she looked down. “I just don’t understand how you could have activated your transformation. You were never exposed to the light of the moon.” I felt a wave of guilt flooding me.

“Mom…? I think I know why…” I hesitated.


“Do you remember the day of my eighteenth birthday?” She nodded. “I snuck out… To meet Archer and Everly.” Her eyes widened.

“What were you thinking, Rieka? There was a reason for those rules!” Was she putting this on me?

“How was I supposed to know that?! You just keep me inside, away from all the fun, without ever giving me a proper reason!”

“We are your parents, young lady. You are supposed to listen to us and do as we say without questions.”

“Oh yeah, like you did. I’m guessing that your parents didn’t exactly approve of your relationship with Dad.” She got quiet, and I stopped shouting.

“It’s not like you could have kept me inside forever anyway,” I mumbled.

“Your father is exactly the reason we hoped never to see you going through the transformation.” I looked at her again.

“What? What is so bad about being a werewolf?” I asked.

“I have experienced the life of a human. I have experienced the life of a werewolf, and the life of a human is without obligations.” She chuckled before she continued.

“Sure, the life of a wolf is about being one with Nature. Sharpened senses and the feeling of the wind through your fur when you are on four legs. Letting your instincts control your every move.”

And then she looked at me.

“But those instincts are also what makes it unbearable to be a wolf. To be in a pack is a huge responsibility. It’s like a family but much bigger, and you are responsible for every last one of them.

“Not just as an Alpha, but as a member of the pack.”

“Can’t I just not be?” I asked.

She sighed. “That’s worse, Rieka. Some humans are aware of our existence.”

“Like Dad?” I asked.

“No, not like Dad. Your father understands that we are no threat, but these people… These people hunt our kind. ‘Chasseur de Loups,’ Hunter of Wolves. Like us, they are everywhere. Hidden.”

My mother took my hands.

“Now that you have gone through the transformation, you have the right to know everything. We made a deal with the Hunters from our area. If we don’t bother them, they don’t bother us.

“There are parts of the forest you can’t be in, Rieka, and I need you to understand that. We have shared territories, like the school and the grocery store, and we have peace on common grounds.”

I nodded.

If I wanted to live, there were certain areas that I should stay away from.

Then it hit me. I saw Archer with a crossbow last night. Could he be… No… He wouldn’t.

“Mom?” I asked.

“Yes, honey?”

“How do we know if we’re dealing with a Hunter?”

“Every Hunter has been marked. A tattoo on the left shoulder consisting of three black swirls,” she explained.

Archer wasn’t the person who liked to take off his shirt randomly. So, I didn’t know if he had the mark. “I just saw Archer yesterday…” She cut me off.

“About Archer. This is one of the worst and best parts of being a werewolf.” I looked at her bewildered. The worst part? Worse than Hunters?

“As a werewolf, the moon has chosen a partner for you. A lover. A mate. There is one for you too. There has always been, but the bond is now sealed. Archer is not a werewolf and cannot be your mate.”

“What?” I asked. “How can that just be decided? How can I not get to decide for myself? What about you and Dad?”

“Your father and I are a special case. I found my mate, but we agreed, after some time, that the right thing to do was to sever the bond. It is the only way, and I was lucky.”

“Is that really possible?” I asked.

“Yes, but it’s very rare, and both partners have to agree and perform the separation ritual. When you find your mate, you will understand how difficult that is.”

Another question went through my mind. “How will I know? How will I know when I meet my mate?”

She smiled.

“Most werewolves know right away, but you are carrying the Alpha gene. We are more in control of our emotions, of our lxst. You’ll know when you get close enough, and that can take some time.”

Shay entered the room. “Mrs. Cooper, may I steal your daughter for a minute?”

I looked at my mother, begging for her to stay, but she ignored me.

“Rieka, since Shay is the Alpha of the pack, he’s going to teach you how to be a werewolf.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Can’t you do it?” I asked.

“I have been suppressing my wolf for eighteen years. Kept away from the moonlight. I don’t have the same control anymore. You need someone who knows what it’s like to have the Alpha gene. To control it.”

With no further words, she walked out and closed the door behind her. I was left with Shay. Alone, in my room.

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