Maddie is a pickpocket hustling on the mean and magical streets of Requiem City. When she steals from the uber-rich Dobrzycka twins, they force her to make a choice: domination—or destruction.
Age Rating: 18+
Warning: This story contains some dark and graphic scenes, including BDSM and sex-slavery. We do not believe that the sex scenes within this story are realistic or ideal.
Requiem City by C. Swallow 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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I breathed in the morning air as I perched on the ledge of an abandoned building in the skeleton quarter of Requiem City, a real honest-to-god shithole, but it was also my home—the only home I’d ever known.
This high up, the stagnant stench of the city was replaced by the scent of fresh pine needles that wafted in from the forest.
The view of the horizon was storybook perfect, straight out of a fairytale, but all it took was one glance downward to remember that the reality of my life was anything but a fairytale.
Some people held on to foolish legends from the past about magic and dragon deities, but the only power I believed in was my own. I determined my own destiny, no one else.
Some lunatics still spent their whole lives trying to convince themselves that dragons existed, hidden among us.
But me? I never had time for make-believe.
My life has always been ruled by one word: hustle, hustle, hustle.
Do or die.
Anything to make a little cheddar on the tough streets of Requiem City.
Why waste time imagining shit when reality was about to knock your teeth out?
No, I put those thoughts aside as I sat on the ledge, balanced precariously, kicking pieces of concrete to the street below.
Fantasies are short-lived when it comes to Requiem City…
My phone started buzzing wildly, and I pulled it out from my pocket with a sense of dread—I knew exactly who it’d be.
I could smell the gold before I could see it. One of the richest women in Requiem City was sitting there among the riffraff, sipping an espresso, showing off just how fearless she was.
Adara Dobrzycka of the Dobrzycka fortune.
The woman had balls to be out here in the Skeleton Quarter. Probably thought she could fit in with her half-buzzed purple spray of hair. Everything about Adara screamed wannabe punk.
Funny how the rich always liked to play poor. I guess we were pretty trendy, huh?
Even though Adara was trying to act all cool and nonchalant, I happened to know that in her bag was a brand-spanking-new Robishaw watch she’d just bought at 900 Jewelers.
Let’s just say I’d been tailing her for a while and the woman had good taste—expensive taste.
I wasn’t like most pickpockets. I was shorter, meaner, smarter.
And I liked to pick out my marks days in advance. Adara, for example? She’d been on my radar for a while. God, did I want to rub that smug little-bitch smile off her rich face.
That was the only downside to being a thief. You didn’t get to stick around to see ’em flip out once they’d realized they’d been fleeced.
Right now, I wanted to steal this billionaire bitch’s watch before she knew what hit her.
No, I needed to. Or else my two best friends, Darshan and Harry, and I were going to be slaves to Dominic, the bastard, forever.
That watch was our ticket to freedom.
So I was going to give Adara Dobrzycka a little taste of the real Requiem City she’d only pretended to be a part of.
I was the best friend of the rejects, the junkies, the fuck-ups on every corner.
I was the blood that kept the black market pumping.
I was a sixteen-year-old orphan named Madeline, and nothing in the world—not the 5-0, not the myths of “magic,” not even the one-percent Dobrzyckas could stop me.
Lucky for me, Adara didn’t pay much attention to the peasants around her. I’d use that to my advantage.
I hugged my coat close and walked briskly forward. I waited for a crowd of businessmen to swarm the sidewalk, slipped in among them, and then, pretending to look aside, carefully positioning my finger, I flicked over Adara’s cup.
“Oh, shit!” she yelled, jumping to her feet and wiping the espresso off her “vintage” coat.
This was my chance. I kneeled down to grab the fallen cup with one hand and then—lightning fast—slipped the other into her purse. I felt the tiny box surrounded by tissue paper and quickly snatched it.
I didn’t know how I was so fast. It was inhuman, people told me. Even if they were looking for it, they couldn’t see it. Like I had some magic up my sleeve.
Magic? Yeah, right.
Standing up, I handed Adara the cup. “Here,” I said with an apologetic look.
“If you didn’t notice, it’s fucking empty,” she spat, looking at the state of her jacket.
I just shrugged and continued along on my way, the watch already snuggly tucked in my bag.
Couldn’t have gone smoother if I tried.
A sudden urge to look back struck me—one I knew I was supposed to resist. But, dammit, I couldn’t help myself.
This kind of triumph deserved to be savored. Never had I gone after a mark so big and lived to tell the tale.
Chancing it, I looked over my shoulder and—
Adara was staring right at me.
I quickly snapped my head back and turned the corner, making sure I was at least twenty paces away or so before I started running.
So what if the bitch had seen me for a second?
Not like she could track me down. I knew the underbelly of this city like the back of my hand.
I’d just stolen from Adara fucking Dobrzycka.
Nothing scared me now.
“You promise this is legit, Mads?”
I was standing in front of Dominic, the wannabe mafioso who’d been terrorizing me and my friends for years.
When he’d gotten too old to live in Greensward, the community center for underprivileged kids, he moved on to great things, namely a little drug-and-gun-running operation in the lower haunts of Requiem City.
Dom was in the middle of examining the golden watch, his eyebrows furrowed.
“You better not be fuckin’ with me.”
“On my life,” I said. “Belonged to Adara Dobrzycka herself. Not for long. But still.”
He examined it a moment longer, looking like he might punch me just for the fun of it. As was customary when it came to Dom. Then his posture relaxed, and he laughed.
“Well fuck me, look at that,” Dominic said, throwing the watch to one of his thugs. “Has the inscription and everythin’. Y’know they say nobody can rob a Dobrzycka? How’d a little pipsqueak like you manage, huh?”
“Magic,” I replied, inwardly rolling my eyes. “So, Dom. We have a deal or what?”
If I could score big enough, I could get Dominic off my back for good. More importantly, off the backs of my two best friends, Darshan and Harry.
I was discarded into the trash heap excuse of a community center when I was just two years old, and Darshan and Harry were the only people that kept me from throwing myself off Requiem City’s tallest skyscraper.
We were all throwaways.
And Darshan, being blind, got picked on the most. Often by Dominic when he was still living at the center.
So we started sticking up for each other, doing whatever we could to make it through day to day. Without those two, I didn’t think I’d have survived up until now.
I could always trust Darshan to make me laugh and Harry to keep me straight. The two were the closest thing I had to family, and I’d do anything for them.
And for years, Dominic here had been fucking with my family. Kicking our asses, forcing us to pull odd jobs, making him scratch whichever way we could. And I was the best pickpocket in all of Requiem City.
When Dominic left the Greensward, I thought we’d finally be safe. Free.
Far from it.
Dom must’ve had a deal with the headmaster, Elle, a nasty piece of work who didn’t give a shit about our education or well-being.
With her fake tan, beady black eyes, and limp gray-streaked blonde hair, she had only one thing to live for: money.
Between the government handouts and some donations from the Dobrzyckas, Elle was still living way beyond her means. My guess? Dom had her in on the cut.
So he was allowed to keep coming into the center to fuck with us.
But, fingers crossed, those days were over. This one watch was worth more than all the thieving in my whole life combined.
It has to do the trick…right?
“The deal, Dom,” I said, reminding him. “We good or not?”
He stared at me for what felt like an eternity and then sighed.
“Gonna miss havin’ the best pickpocket in town in my pocket. But yeah, Mads. You did good. Get outta here. Before I change my mind or somethin’.”
I didn’t stick around to question it.
I burst out of that shithole, hoping I’d never have to see Dom’s ugly mug ever again, so excited to spill the news to my friends.
I’d done it.
We were finally free.
“You did WHAT?!”
Darshan couldn’t believe his ears. Funny, too, considering he was blind.
“You shoulda seen it.”
“Har har, Maddie. So original.”
“You know you love me.”
We were sitting on the rundown rooftop of the center, watching the sunset, descending slowly over the distant Requiem Mountains. I’d just filled in Darshan, and he wouldn’t stop pacing.
Weirdly, I felt more relaxed now than ever.
Zen or whatever they call it.
When Harry, the “responsible one” in our trio, walked over and Darshan started to recount the story to him, I zoned out.
Looking at the mountainside, I remembered the old stories they used to tell us—how the mountains were haunted.
I knew it was ridiculous, but I’d gone on a couple school trips and, damn, if I didn’t feel something weird in those catacombs. All that stale air and the weird reverberations.
It did feel haunted. But then, nobody believed in magic anymore.
Darshan and Harry sat beside me. Poor Harry was straight-up shook.
“For the love of this city, Madeline,” he said, “what were you thinking, robbing a Dobrzycka?”
He had a point. Hael and Loch Dobrzycka were the two most powerful businessmen in the city. Only in their early twenties, the two twin brothers had risen to the top by being absolutely ruthless.
And crossing their sister, Adara? It was absolutely unheard of.
But powerful or not, nobody scared me.
“I was thinking,” I responded, “we never have to worry about Dominic again. Guys. Think about it for a second. In two months, we’re out of this wretched place. And free. Really free. I did it for us.”
At that, Harry softened. He put his arm around me. And I put mine around Darshan.
Like I said. Family.
“Madeline, we owe you,” Darshan said. “We really do.”
“But…go on. Spit it out.”
“Have you considered what the Dobrzyckas will do when they find out that an orphan from one of the community centers that Req Enterprise funds stole from them?”
“Nah,” I said casually. “One little watch? I don’t think it’s a big enough deal. Not to them.”
That was the thing about being us versus being a Dobrzycka. What was small to them was life-changing for us. I didn’t like the rich, didn’t mind stealing from them. But deep down, it wasn’t about revenge on the one percent.
Tough as I talked, I’d done this for us.
The sun disappeared over the horizon as we sat there in silence, dark descending fast, this new reality still sinking in.
“Someone turn a light switch off?” Darshan asked.
We laughed. He’d always had a sense of humor about his own condition. One of his many terrific qualities.
I was about to retort when another source of light caught my eye.
A giant stretch limo pulled up in front of the community center, and an equally giant man stepped out of the backseat.
He was jaw-droppingly tall and muscular, and he ran his hands through his green-tinted hair as he looked up at the roof…
Hael flashed his emerald-green eyes at me with a mysterious recognition and gave me a chilling smirk.
Like I said before…
Fantasies are short-lived when it comes to Requiem City.
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It’s just a coincidence. It’s just a coincidence.
I repeated the words over and over again in my head after I saw Hael Dobrzycka entering the community center.
On the same day that I stole from his sister…
“Hael fucking Dobrzycka,” I muttered.
Just a coincidence. Right.
“Fuck, Maddie, you’re so busted,” Darshan said in a panicky voice.
“Shhhh, let me think,” I said harshly.
I was sweating like a damn pig. My mind felt hazy, and my stomach was twisting in knots.
I was never scared of anything…so why was the arrival of Hael Dobrzycka making me feel like I was stuck on a carnival ride that I couldn’t get off?
“Maddie, what’s wrong with you? You gotta run. We’ll cover for you,” Harry said, grabbing me by the shoulders.
He was right. The only rational thing to do was get the hell out of there, but I wasn’t thinking rationally.
I didn’t know if it was fate, or destiny, or whatever the fuck, but…
I felt drawn to Hael.
When he looked at me with those bewitching emerald-green eyes, it was like he was staring into my soul.
And that smug little smirk…
What the hell was he doing here?
I didn’t know, but I had to find out.
I propelled down the ladder that led to the front of the center and crept through the front, peeking through Elle’s office door, which was slightly ajar.
“Mr. Dobrzycka, this is such a pleasant surprise,” Elle said, flustered. “I…I didn’t expect such a late visit. I would’ve freshened up.”
“I don’t care about your appearance,” Hael said coldly. “I’m here on business.”
“About fun…funding?” Elle gulped. Without the Dobrzyckas’ money, she wouldn’t have anyone to pilfer from and feed her excessive lifestyle.
We sure as hell didn’t see any of that funding.
“I have an opportunity for one of your orphans,” Hael replied with an arrogant tone. “Someone to act as my new assistant. It would be an…internship, of sorts.”
“I could recommend several of our—”
“I’m looking for someone specific,” he said, cutting her off. “A young girl.”
“Oh,” Elle said, raising her eyebrow and smiling. “How young are we talking? Sixteen? Fifteen? Thirteen? There are plenty of girls here that might—satisfy your needs.”
My stomach wrenched tight, and I dug my nails into my palms.
That fucking bitch—she’d sell any one of us for a damn dime.
“You misunderstand,” Hael said, shooting Elle a disgusted look. “This is purely professional.”
“Oh, of course. I wouldn’t suggest otherwise,” she said, trying to backtrack. “Who are you looking for?”
“She goes by the name Maddie, I believe.”
In all my years of pickpocketing, I’d never once been caught. I didn’t think it was possible.
But a Dobrzycka was right here, looking for me.
How had that bitch Adara identified me? She only saw me for a split-second.
I was fast.
It didn’t make a lick of goddamn sense.
I thought of that engraving on the back of the watch. Making it stick out. Making it one-of-a-fucking-kind.
Dominic, you stupid sonofabitch.
He’d probably tried to pawn it off somewhere where they tracked that sort of thing. And the minute it popped…
I could put the rest of the pieces together:
The Dobrzyckas track down Dominic…
Dominic sells me out…
Yours truly is royally fucked.
Awesome. Just fucking great.
As I sat in the back of the limo that was sent to pick me up in the morning, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself.
I was heading to an unknown fate. I had no idea what the Dobrzyckas had in store for me, but it felt like I was heading to my execution.
Now I was probably going to spend who knew how many of my remaining years behind bars. Everything I’d been fighting for. Every side-hustle and scam. They were all for nothing.
And the worst part was I might never get to see Darshan or Harry again. The only family I’d ever had.
Nothing stung more right now.
It wasn’t like I’d ever had a real family.
My parents? All I knew was that, in the two years that they raised me, they’d left me with nothing but a name—Madeline.
They’d just abandoned me like I was nothing. Like I was no one.
When I was six, Darshan decided to start calling me Maddie because I was “mad” all the time, and it just stuck.
Cause that was what I was.
Willing to do what I had to do to survive.
Looked like I’d finally gone too far. I was done for.
When the car parked, I felt resigned. I knew any second the doors were going to open and the police were going to swarm me and throw me in the clink while news cameras captured the image of the dumbass thief who thought she could steal from the most powerful people in Requiem City.
So imagine my surprise when the doors opened and I wasn’t looking at the clink.
I was looking at a glass skyscraper that spiraled up into an open mouth, like that of a mythical animal. Instantly recognizable to anybody who’d grown up in Requiem City as Req Enterprises. As in the corporation run by the Dobrzyckas.
I didn’t know what fresh hell awaited me in that glistening building, but suddenly prison wasn’t sounding so bad.
The Dobrzycka brothers were known for being the most cruel, terrifying people in the city.
I didn’t even want to imagine it.
As I hesitantly stepped out of the limo, some private security escorted me inside. I’d never seen it from this perspective, and I had to admit, even though my life was probably doomed, the building was a thing of beauty.
We stepped into an elevator and rode all the way up to the 99th floor.
When the doors opened, all I could see was red. The wallpaper, the floors, even the ceilings of the hallway—all blood red.
The guards pushed me out into the corridor and then stood in the elevator as the doors closed, leaving me alone.
What the fuck am I supposed to do now?
I took a hesitant step forward, looking left and right.
“Hello?” I asked the empty hallway, feeling like an idiot.
There was only one door at the very end of the hall. I wondered what lay on the other side. Would it be Adara?
Her purple-haired wannabe-punk ass didn’t scare me for a second. Her twin brothers on the other hand…
Hael and Loch.
All I knew were the rumors. That, as CEOs of Req Enterprises, they’d stopped at nothing to build their empire. Stepping on whoever got in their way and flattening them.
They were giants in both business and the physical sense, towering over everyone at nearly seven feet tall.
I braced myself and opened the door.
What I saw inside was the most beautiful, enormous office imaginable. Why any human would need so much space made no sense to me.
The glass ceiling seemed to go on forever, spilling into the sky. A fireplace so large it took up an entire wall.
Other than that, only a long black granite desk and an empty chair occupied the office.
Minimalist would be putting it lightly.
I thought I was alone, but of course, I wasn’t.
“Well, if it isn’t the little thief…” I heard a voice drone. Slow, bored-sounding almost.
I spun to see a wall slide open and a man step inside. He wore designer sweatpants and a matching hoodie.
He smirked as smoke poured out of an ornate-looking dragon pipe.
I recognized him immediately from the billboards. That was the one and only Loch Dobrzycka.
To be honest, I wished I could say he was as appalling in person as in my imagination, but the chiseled chest peeking out of his unzipped hoodie and his perfect cheekbones certainly weren’t eyesores.
There was something about his slouching manner, his free-spirited way, his annoying smirk, that piqued my curiosity.
The man wasn’t even wearing shoes. A billionaire and this was how he chose to conduct himself?
All of a sudden, I wanted to know why.
It was easy to forget how terrible a human being he was, staring at him. His eyes were a brilliant emerald green, just like his brother’s.
As he got closer, I noticed that they were almost reptilian.
“What do you want from me?” I asked defiantly.
He walked past me, disinterested, to lean against the granite desk, still smoking.
There was something…unnatural about the smoke. No matter how long he puffed, he never had to light it. As if he had a fire within doing it for him.
“For someone who was able to steal from a Dobrzycka,” he said, eyes flicking to mine, “you’re quite slow.”
Any interest I’d felt, however fleetingly, instantly evaporated. I felt my nostrils flare with dislike.
I was a good liar, sure, but I’d never been able to hide it when I hate somebody. He seemed to be reading my mind because his smirk grew wider, revealing his sharp teeth.
Smoke poured from his mouth. “And quick to anger. Are there any good qualities I should be aware of?”
“Says the man who robs the people in this city blind and treats everyone like gum on the bottom of his shoe.”
I couldn’t believe my own ballsiness. I’d said it before I’d had a chance to think through the consequences and quickly ducked my head down.
Loch swiftly stepped over to me and placed his leg between mine, causing me to spread them apart and blush.
“You forget that I don’t have on any shoes, little street rat.”
“Don’t talk to me that way,” I said, fuming.
“Is that not what you are? You’re one to talk about robbing. I understand you took something that wasn’t yours. From my sister, in fact.”
“I don’t know what you’re—”
I didn’t get to finish my sentence. I froze as Loch leaned forward, snaked a finger through the strap of my shirt, and pulled me close. There was something wicked about the way he lassoed me toward him with only the slightest effort.
We were so close I could feel his hot breath, smell the smoke lingering upon his tongue. The scent of a forest fire…
“You’re a bold one, street rat, I’ll give you that.” He smirked. “But lie again and I’ll eat you alive.”
He couldn’t mean that literally…could he?
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