Ariel is a twenty-year-old werewolf with dreams of becoming a pack warrior. At least, that was until she was kidnapped by Hunters two years ago and used as the test subject of horrible experiments. With the help of the Moon Goddess, Ariel finally gains her freedom. But finding her mate and picking up life where she left off may be even harder than she imagined.
Age Rating: 18+
Broken Queen by Danni D is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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“Come on Ariel, show me what you’ve got.”
Xavier’s muscular arms wrap around me, and he pushes my back against the wall.
His earthy scent is making me feel lightheaded, and it’s hard to breathe when his broad chest is pressed against mine.
I’m losing my focus, but I can’t let that happen.
I can’t give in.
I have to prove what I’m capable of.
Swiftly, I grab Xavier’s wrist, pull it over my shoulder, then twist my body—flipping the guy flat on his back.
I smirk. “Is that what you wanted to see?”
The crowd goes wild—yeah, the crowd. Because I’m in the middle of the hardest test of my life, and everyone is waiting to see if I’ll rise to the occasion, or fall on my face.
All my squadmates are cheering me on from the sidelines, hoping I pass my final test to become a full-fledged pack warrior.
Suddenly, I feel my legs sweep out from under me, and I land on my back, hard.
Within seconds, Xavier is on top of me—like really on top of me.
I’m just wearing a sports bra, and our sweat-slicked bodies stick together as he pins me down.
He leans over and whispers in my ear. “Just give in, Ariel. Don’t fight it.”
My heart is thumping, threatening to burst from my chest.
Xavier’s breath is hot on my neck. “Maybe later we can do this without clothes.”
His hand slides down my stomach to my thigh, gripping it tightly, hungrily.
My body squirms underneath him, craving his touch, surrendering to the heat.
Giving in is an enticing proposition, especially given how hot Xavier is, but right now I’ve got more important things on my mind…
I savor the look of shock on Xavier’s face as I swing my legs upward and wrap them around his neck, putting him in a triangle chokehold.
More important things—like kicking his ass.
“Looks like I’m the one on top now,” I whisper.
I squeeze my thighs as tight as I can, making sure Xavier won’t be able to break free.
Moments later Xavier taps the ground, signaling his surrender.
The crowd erupts in cheers, and my squadmates swarm the arena, jumping, shouting, spraying sports drinks in every direction.
I fall back on the floor, dazed. Did I really just beat Xavier? Did I actually win?
Xavier gets up before I do and extends his hand. I take it and he pulls me up, then straight into his chest.
“Well done, Ariel. Today, you proved yourself a true warrior.”
He leans down, and for a moment I think he’s going to kiss me, but then—
Xavier growls softly in my ear. “And tonight, you’ll prove yourself worthy of an alpha in other ways.”
My heart leaps into my throat and I’m left utterly speechless.
Oh, my Goddess—Xavier wants ME?
I sit down next to the serene lake, shaded by the canopy of trees above me, and pull my boots off, chucking them to the side.
I dip my feet into the water and breathe a sigh of relief.
My feet are killing me. Training is always excruciating, but it has definitely toughened me up, and today, it’s all finally paid off.
I’m no longer just a trainee…
Today, I’m officially a member of the pack warriors.
I gaze proudly at the crescent moon tattoo on the inside of my arm—the mark of a warrior.
My pack, the Crescent Moon Pack, has one of the best warrior training programs around and my squadron has become like my second family.
We call ourselves the “X-Squad” in honor of our fearless team leader, Xavier.
Well, in fairness, he came up with the name, but I actually think it’s quite catchy.
The sound of grunts and guttural growling suddenly draws my attention to the nearby docks.
Speak of the devil…
Xavier is sparring with our squad mate, James.
He sends lightning-fast punches in James’s direction, keeping him off balance, then jumps in the air and lands a sailing kick right into his stomach, knocking him on his ass.
Xavier slowly pulls off his shirt to reveal his toned torso and rippling muscles as he wipes the sweat from his glistening body.
Goddess, he’s so fit…
Xavier flashes James a cocky smile. “You may have gotten your moon mark, but you’re still no match for me, Jamesy-boy.”
Xavier starts flexing, and as I lean forward to get a better look, I almost fall face-first in the lake.
I manage to catch my balance just in time, finding myself staring at my reflection in the water.
My chestnut-colored hair is an absolute mess, but my dark yellow eyes stand out from the dirt all over my face.
When I was young, dad always said my eyes looked like sunflowers, so he started calling me his little sunflower until I protested such a girlie nickname.
I’m not a flower, I’m a warrior! I would shout, indignantly.
So he started calling me his little warrior instead, and that one stuck.
Out of everyone, I can’t wait to tell him the news about my acceptance into the warrior program first.
I know he’ll be so proud of me.
My mother, on the other hand…
She thinks that it’s distasteful for girls to be warriors. She always tells me I should be more like my sister, Natalia.
Natalia would never be caught dead with tangled hair and a dirty face—always so preened and proper.
When I look up, I notice that Xavier is staring at me from the docks. I instantly become self-conscious, trying to smooth the knots in my hair.
Xavier’s proposition is still fresh in my mind, but I’m not sure what I’ll do.
We’re not confirmed mates yet, and part of me wants to wait…
But Goddess, he sure is hot. He shoots me a smirk, and I quickly turn away, embarrassed.
Ugh, why do I look like such a damn mess right now?
I always thought Xavier liked the prissy types like my sister. I never would have thought that I was his type.
I’m really regretting not hitting the showers after my training session, but I was just so excited to get my warriors’ mark.
“What the hell are you fussing about,” an arrogant, but assuring voice says from behind me.
“You always look like you’ve just fought off a pack of wolves—combing your fingers through your hair isn’t going to change that.”
Oh Amy, never change.
My best friend, Amy, sits down next to me and nudges me in the shoulder.
I’m surprised we’re such good friends, given that she’s more Natalia’s speed than mine, but we’ve been inseparable since childhood.
“I heard the news! We need to go out and celebrate, bitch!” she says, kicking her feet into the water, next to mine.
“Honestly, I’m exhausted,” I say. “We might have to save the celebration for another night.”
Plus, I may have plans with Xavier tonight…
“You do look redder than a blood moon,” she says as she suddenly notices Xavier parading around the dock, shirtless. “Is it because of the training or because of him.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, my face growing warm.
“Pleeeease tell me you don’t have a crush on that muscle-bound moron,” Amy says, shaking her head. “You know he only got that team leader role because he’s next in line to be the Alpha.”
“He’s also a really good fighter,” I retort, defensively.
“Oh my Goddess, you want him to be your mate!” Amy says, teasing. “You want to have his pups, don’t you?”
“I do not!” I shout, splashing water on her. “I don’t think about him like that at all! The only kind of mates we are is squad mates.”
Sure, just keep telling yourself that.
“I guess you’ll know for sure when you turn eighteen in a few months,” she replies, raising her eyebrows.
Werewolves can only recognize their mates when they both turn eighteen, so potentially she’s right; my mate could’ve been right under my nose all this time.
But some wolves never find their destined mates…and end up mating with other wolves in the same position.
It makes me sad to think about not waiting for your true mate.
“Just think—your destined mate could be anyone in this pack,” Amy says, sighing.
“Or another pack,” I reply, correcting her. “Our destined mates aren’t always so close to home. Though Goddess willing, we won’t have to search too far.”
“If my mate is in some remote pack, halfway across the world, I think I might convert to a new religion,” Amy says with a smirk.
We both burst into laughter and fall back, lying on the grass. As the sky darkens, the crescent-shaped moon becomes clear.
“I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what destiny has in store for me,” I say, smiling.
TWO YEARS LATER
I feel the chains pulling tighter, and I fight back the urge to cry out in pain. The silver shackles bite into my raw wrists.
You would think that I would be used to the pain after two years of being treated like a worthless animal, a science experiment, but sometimes it becomes unbearable.
The first year was the worst…
The experiments—injecting microdoses of liquid wolfsbane into my veins and analyzing the effects on my body. And my wolf.
I learned in the beginning that the burning feeling coursing through my veins was the wolfsbane as it weakened and cut off my connection to my wolf.
I’ve been a whole year without my wolf. Only feeling her faintly in the far corners of my mind, whimpering in pain and sadness.
Never in my life have I ever felt so overwhelmingly alone.
They took my family…
And my wolf.
My eyes start to flutter shut as the pain becomes too much.
I feel a sharp smack across my already bruised cheek.
“Don’t go passing out on me yet, bitch. We’ve only barely started today.” Curt, the leader of the hunters, digs his dirty fingernails into my shoulder.
“Go to hell,” I say, mustering up what little fight I have left.
Curt’s cold, gray eyes—as strange as it sounds—are the only thing that has kept me going. The thought of ripping them from his head…
I think often about the first time I saw those eyes—the same night I’d been accepted into warrior training.
I’d fallen asleep by the lake, and when I woke up, those eyes were hovering over me, glaring at me with absolute malice.
Our pack had never done anything violent to humankind, but that didn’t matter to hunters.
All they want is the complete eradication of werewolves.
But what they want with me—why they’ve kept me alive to experiment on me for two years—I have no idea.
“I think you need to be reminded of your place, mutt,” Curt says as he picks up a syringe filled with silver liquid.
“No…NO!” I scream as he punctures my skin.
My spine begins to stretch and, a horrible cracking noise echoes throughout the room as my bones break.
He’s forcing my wolf out somehow, but the silver is keeping my body from healing during the transformation.
The pain is unreal.
I feel my ribs puncture my lungs and blood spills out of my mouth.
In fact, it’s spilling out of several places in my body as my bones penetrate my skin like a mangled mess.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Curt shouts. “I think I gave her too much! Medic! Get the fuck over here!”
I want to howl so badly from the pain, but all I can muster is a pathetic raspy wheeze.
The room is beginning to blur and close in around me.
“Get her fucking stable!” Curt yells. “We can’t lose our best test subject. She’s almost perfected!”
As the darkness settles in, I hear a soft and ethereal voice…
“Don’t give up, my child.”
I’m sitting at the edge of the lake again, just like two years ago, but this time it isn’t Amy sitting next to me, but a woman I’ve never seen before.
She’s beautiful in every way—pale blue eyes, long silver hair running down her back, and milky smooth skin that almost seems to glow.
Who is this captivating woman?
“Hello, Ariel. I wish we were meeting under better circumstances,” the woman says warmly.
“Who…who are you? And how do you know me?” I ask, confused.
“My name is Selene, though some call me the Moon Goddess,” she replies with a soft laugh.
Oh my Goddess, THE Moon Goddess. Holy…
“Don’t be nervous, my child. I must apologize to you.”
The Moon Goddess apologize to me? I guess I haven’t exactly felt her presence for quite some time.
“You were never supposed to be taken by the hunters,” she says calmly, her warm smile never leaving her face.
“But my sister, Fate, can be quite vengeful and she had another plan in mind. We don’t often see eye-to-eye.”
“I know the feeling,” I say, thinking of my own sister.
“In order to right these wrongs, I’m bestowing upon you a gift—the gift of healing.”
Selene leans forward and kisses me on the forehead. “May you heal both your own pain…and the pain of others. Be a light unto those who need it most.”
As Selene sits back, she places her palm against my cheek and her eyes sparkle.
“One more thing, Ariel. This is not the life I have planned for you. You must escape this place—and find your mate.”
“My mate? Wait, who is my mate?”
I feel a warmth surge through my body as the Goddess begins to fade away.
“Find him, Ariel. Only you can heal him.”
I jolt awake, still shackled to the operating table, although the room is empty.
Was that just some weird fever dream?
As the haze of the dream begins to wear off, one thing becomes clear.
I should be dead.
Before passing out, my entire body was broken, my bones were jutting out of my body, I was losing so much blood…
So imagine my surprise when I crane my neck to look at my battered body to find that…
All my wounds have been healed.
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I feel a strength inside me that I haven’t felt in a long, long time. Is this what she meant by the gift of healing?
Thank you, Selene. But that wasn’t all she said…
She told me that I have to escape…
And that I have to find my mate.
I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking, but he sure as hell isn’t here.
I struggle with my chains, but even though the silver isn’t irritating my skin like before, it still stings.
I hear a door open at the top of the stairs and uneven footsteps as someone stumbles down them.
That will probably be Curt, drunk again. He loves to torment me when he’s wasted.
But he doesn’t know that I’ve regained my strength. I can use this to my advantage.
“You’re finally awake, mutt. Good. We’re gonna play a little game,” he says, slurring his speech.
Curt grabs a silver collar and clamps it around my neck, undoing the chains around my arms.
He yanks the chain attached to the collar on my neck, forcing me to my knees.
“We have some guests upstairs, and you’re going to entertain them,” he says with an unnerving smile.
Guests? So, there are more hunters upstairs then. I’ll have to be careful. I might have my strength back, but I’m still outnumbered.
Curt stumbles as he starts climbing the stairs, pulling me behind him.
If they’re anywhere near as drunk as Curt, then I might actually have a chance…
“Get a move on, bitch! I want to show off my finest specimen. You’re proof that you really can teach a filthy mutt new tricks,” he says, tightening his grip on the chain.
Good. Hold tight, you hateful bastard.
Growling, my wolf comes to the surface, and I yank the chain as hard as I can muster.
Curt loses his footing and flies backward, tumbling down the staircase like a rag doll.
At the bottom, I hear a loud crack as his back snaps from the impact.
I calmly walk to the bottom of the stairs and stand over his body, as he looks up at me, pleading for mercy.
I dig into his pocket and find the key to my collar. I unlock it, letting it fall to the floor.
I stare into his cold, gray eyes. The eyes I’ve seen every day for the past two years as he’s experimented on me.
The eyes that have kept me going. If only that one day, I’d rip them from his head.
My claws lengthen from my fingertips.
“Filthy wolf. I’ll kill you. I’ll kill all of you,” he mutters, as blood trickles out of his mouth.
I plunge my claws into his face and rip them back out in one swift motion.
“You won’t be hurting anyone else ever again,” I say, wiping his blood on the thin rag of a dress that I’m wearing.
I feel something inside me, but it’s not the strength of the Goddess. No, this is something different…
I’m seeing red. My mind is hazy. I’m losing control.
Each step that I take up the stairs, I feel more and more unbridled rage.
What…what’s happening to me?
I don’t just open the door at the top of the stairs…
…I tear it off its hinges.
I walk down an empty, sterile hallway until I get to a closed door.
Party music is blaring on the other side, and I can hear several men—at least five—drunkenly dancing and carrying on.
I kick through the door and snarl, raging and feral, ready to kill.
The men look up at me, stunned, as my eyes flicker from one hunter to the next.
“Who’s first?” I growl, drawing my claws.
One of the hunters pulls a gun from his holster, but he’s too slow, and I knock it out of his hand before I tackle him and start ripping through his flesh with my claws.
I’m double-teamed by two of them as they jump on my back, but I swing around and slice both of their necks open.
They grasp their throats as the blood seeps through their fingers, and they crumple to the ground next to their companion.
The fourth hunter grabs a knife from his boot and charges at me, screaming. He stabs at my face and the blade breaks my skin, producing a small cut.
As the blood rolls down my face like a lone teardrop, I touch the spot where he cut me and feel it already closing up.
His eyes widen with disbelief. “H-how d-did you?”
I wrench the knife from his hand and plunge it into his chest. He falls to the floor, his eyes still bulging out of his head.
I want to stop and take a breath, but my body won’t let me. I’m running on pure adrenaline…or something else, but I don’t feel in control.
As I turn around to look for the exit, I see a young hunter holding a gun. His hand is shaking as he points it directly at me.
Fuck. Five. I forgot there were five.
I feel a silver bullet rip through my thigh, but it doesn’t leave the other side, instead remaining lodged in my leg.
Without a moment of hesitation, I pounce on the young hunter and break his neck, but a searing pain shoots through my body as I stand up.
Shit, how does this healing thing work? This is the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life!
As I look around at the carnage that I’ve caused, I can’t help but wonder what the Goddess would think. She told me to escape, not to murder everyone in the building.
Is that why my healing isn’t working now?
I grab a nearby lantern and limp toward a ladder that leads to a hatch, and climb up it, through a dark tunnel.
As I emerge, I hold up my lantern to find myself in what looks like an old barn.
So they were hiding in a secret facility underground this whole time. No wonder no one ever found me…
I’m about to push through the massive barn doors and leave this hellhole forever when I spot several kerosene containers in the corner.
I can’t let this place be used for evil again…
I dump the kerosene oil all over the barn and smash the lantern onto it, creating an instantaneous and raging inferno.
As the fire spreads, I feel triumphant, but that feeling immediately turns to dread when I see the fire moving toward something covered by a tarp in the corner—a pickup truck.
My feet lift off the ground, and I fly backward through the splintering wood barn doors.
I land on my back, and a searing pain shoots through my body. The twinkling stars in the night sky begin to turn into blurry black spots.
As smoke billows into the clearing and the scent of burning oil overwhelms my senses, I feel myself slipping away.
The cool night air feels perfect as I sip my beer on top of the old water tower, overlooking the woods.
Technically, it’s outside of pack borders, but it really is the best place to get away from it all—the politics, the pack business, the pressure.
I glance to my right and see that Dominic has already finished off four beers, and he’s starting on his fifth.
Damn, I need to catch up.
“Since when did you become such a lightweight?” Dom asks teasingly.
“You know, all that beer is giving you a beer belly. Maybe that’s why you’re still unmated,” I shoot back, nudging him in the ribs. “Your destined mate took one look at that gut and went running for the hills.”
“It’s called a dad bod, Alex. They’re totally in. She-wolves love them,” he responds, grinning.
Dom has been my best friend since we were pups, but as much as I enjoy teasing him, I can’t help but think that I’m holding him back.
“You know you’re free to go look for your mate whenever you want. I can hold down the fort just fine on my own,” I say, in a serious tone. “Don’t stick around on my account.”
“Alex, we’ve been over this, and my answer is still the same. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Look, man, I know that I’ve been in a bad place for a while, but I promise that I’m okay now,” I say, trying to sound convincing.
“The grieving period has passed. It’s been six months since Olivia…since she…” My voice trails off as my throat goes dry.
Just saying her name aloud makes me feel like someone dropped a load of silver bricks on my heart.
“Really, I’m fine,” I say, turning and wiping away the tears welling up in my eyes.
“Real convincing,” Dominic says, sighing as he puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Alex, you lost your destined mate. It was sudden, and you didn’t even get to say goodbye. You don’t just bounce back from that, and that’s okay. It’s not a fucking race.”
I know he’s right. Olivia’s death has created a hole in me. It’s like my very core has been ripped from my body, and now I have a dark void that can’t be filled.
No amount of healing can close up a gaping wound like that.
“Look, Dom, I appreciate that you’re trying to be here for me, but if it’s at the expense of your own—”
I spill my beer all over myself as a massive explosion rocks the already rickety water tower.
A pillar of black smoke billows out of the forest in the distance as the embers of a fire tint the sky red.
I turn to Dom. He looks just as shocked as me.
“I’m going,” I say suddenly.
Maybe it’s the beer, or maybe it’s all this talk about Olivia, but for some reason, I feel like I need to do this.
“Alex, are you crazy? That’s way outside of pack borders. I can’t allow you to do that,” he says, grabbing my arm.
“You can’t allow me?” I ask in a tone that reminds him exactly who gives the orders around here.
Dom growls in submission. “Shit, why do I even try? Alright, if you’re going to insist on being an idiot, I’m going with you.”
“No, go get backup and bring a squadron of warriors. Someone needs to alert the pack.”
Dom growls again and leaps over the railing, hanging from the side of the tower. “Fine, just don’t do anything stupid,” he says, before disappearing into the treetops.
I’m nearly out of breath as I reach the clearing where the explosion happened. It’s easy to track the burning scent, but there’s something else…definitely a wolf.
I crouch down in the bushes bordering the clearing, looking for any sign of rogues, but this wolf doesn’t smell like a rogue.
The scent is a pleasant one, honey mixed with blackberries.
Through the heavy screen of smoke, I see someone lying on the ground.
I leave my hiding spot to get a closer look and my eyes widen at the sight in front of me…
A girl, covered in blood and ash, lies completely still, broken and bruised. A ray of moonlight cuts through the smoke, lighting her like a fallen angel.
As I step closer, only one thought crosses my mind…
Who is this beautiful she-wolf?
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