_This was how the world ended._
_The king of wolves, the mythic monster, the majestic man I’d grown to love and lust for with my every breath, he lay there…bleeding out beside his throne. Dying._
_Towering over him was a grinning demon…the Demon Lord. He pointed at me with a long, black, spindly finger…_
Mated to the Werewolf King by Alena Des 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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This was how the world ended.
The king of wolves, the mythic monster, the majestic man I’d grown to love and lust for with my every breath, he lay there…bleeding out beside his throne. Dying.
Towering over him was a grinning demon…the Demon Lord. He pointed at me with a long, black, spindly finger.
“You’re mine now,” he croaked, fire spitting from his mouth. “Annabelle…my princess of darkness…”
I fell to my knees and cried out in anguish. But as the tears trailed down my cheeks, I felt them…bubbling…boiling…melting through my skin. I shrieked, tearing at my face, trying to make it stop.
But there was no stopping what I was becoming now. I heard the Demon King’s cackling laugh as my tears became black scars, my eyes voids, my lips…that would never know the taste of his again…the Werewolf King I loved…
He was lost.
I was lost.
The world was lost… Only darkness ruled now…
I woke up with a start, shaking, hyperventilating, but the world was still dark.
“What?” I said, freaking out. “What’s happening?”
I realized I was wearing an eye mask, and as soon I pulled it off, I could see I was safe and sound in my chambers. Phew.
That damn dream again. It’d been recurring for weeks. But every time I woke up, I couldn’t remember a single detail. Only the terror, the dread, the feeling that something big was coming. But what?
A heavy knock at the door made me jump.
I turned to see my father. That was all. Get a grip, Belle, I scolded myself.
“What is it, Dad?”
“There’s something important we need to discuss.”
He came and sat down on my bed. My father was the alpha of our pack, built like a brick wall, but with a quiet kindness in his brown eyes that couldn’t be rivaled. He was fiercely devoted to his family, which is why what he said next shocked me to my core.
“Anabelle,” he said, eyes lowering. “I don’t know how to say this, but it’s time for you to leave the pack behind.”
My eyes widened. “What?”
“Your mother and I are sending you somewhere…safe. Warm. Far away from here.”
“What are you talking about?” I said, standing up, backing away. “This is my home! I can’t leave the pack. I belong—”
“You belong where I say you belong!” he bellowed, and I was struck quiet.
My father rarely raised his voice. That meant this was serious. It meant that he, the alpha of our pack, was scared of something. But…what?
“Why…why are you doing this?” I asked, and now tears filled my eyes.
I thought of my brother, Sean, my best friends, Joshua and Danny, and most of all, of Gregory, the man I believed I was destined to be with. How was I ever going to live without them? What was happening? My world was slipping from beneath my feet.
“I can’t explain,” Dad said. “But you must understand, Annabelle. It’s for your own protection.”
Protection from what? Was this related to that damn dream? If only I could remember the details. But I wasn’t scared of it…whatever it was. No. This was my home. And nothing, nobody, was going to take that away from me.
“Annabelle,” my father said, seeing the wheels turning in my head. “Don’t—”
“Try to stop me,” I said.
And before he knew what was happening, I ran from the room, out of the house, and into the woods as fast as my feet could take me.
I was running for my life. In the distance, I could hear my father’s booming voice. “Come back here, Annabelle!”
But no way was I stopping now. I shifted and felt the familiar warmth seep into my skin. My limbs stretching, a pelt of reddish fur emerging from my body, covering me like a thick blanket.
Now on all fours, I sped toward my secret spot in the forest. I discovered it when I was much younger. Sean, my big brother, had teased me relentlessly, leading me to flee into the forest in tears.
“You’re not my sister!” he shouted. “Go back where you came from!” He was five years my senior, and all I’d ever wanted was to be loved by him.
That night, I stumbled exhausted into the clearing, but the full moon looked down on me, blinding me with its fluorescent majesty. It spoke to me silently, soothing my worries. It was my secret friend when I was lost in the darkness.
I was running there now, hoping to find the same solace and comfort I first felt those thirteen years ago. Being sent away meant I would have to leave behind my special clearing, too. I couldn’t bear the thought.
Where could I turn? Where could I be alone? Oh, dear Moon Goddess, don’t let this be my fate. Don’t let my father send me away!
“Belle, stop! Wait for me,” hollered Sean. Time had done much to resolve our differences, making us close now. I knew he cared, but something inside me refused to let my legs stop running. I needed to be away from everyone.
I heard him shift behind me, his large six-foot-ten-inch frame morphing into a massive grey wolf that was just as quick as it was strong. He would catch up with my small, weak wolf at any moment.
When I first shifted at fifteen, I thought my wolf would get bigger, but it never did. Unlike the rest of my family, my wolf remained small and scrawny.
Which made me easier to catch.
Sean’s wolf jumped on my back, pinning me to the dirt. I tried to wriggle free, nipping at his legs, but it was no use. Sean snarled and dug his nails into my pelt.
Relenting under the pain, I morphed back to my human form and he let me get up. One upside to being an undersized wolf? I was the only one in the pack who could keep my clothes on while shifting.
“We need to talk”, Sean said, putting on his shirt.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I spat. “If Dad sent you after me—”
“You have to, Belle. It’s the only way.”
“I can’t believe you’re on his side,” I shot back. “For the Moon Goddess’s sake, will you tell me what the hell’s going on?”
Sean looked away. I knew it must be something serious. He wasn’t one to avoid confrontation. In fact, he had quite the reputation in the pack for knocking out anyone who looked at him wrong. Or any poor guy who looked at me, for that matter.
“He’s coming for you, Belle,” Sean said quietly. “He knows where you are. You can’t be here when you turn eighteen.”
“He? What are you talking about? Who’s he?”
“That’s not for me to say. If Dad didn’t think you should know…”
“It’s my life, Sean!” I shouted. “I deserve to know if someone’s after me. Please? Tell me. Who is it? Who’s coming for me? Is it another alpha?”
“No, he’s not a werewolf. He’s…he’s something else.”
“Something else? What do you mean? There isn’t anything else. Just humans and werewolves.”
“There’s a lot you don’t know, Belle…”
I felt like the world I knew and loved was falling apart and not even my secret clearing could protect me from what was coming next.
“Look, do you remember that day you ran away in the forest because I was taunting you, and no one could find you all day, and Mom went ballistic?”
“And then you were grounded for a week?” I replied. “Yes, of course. I hated you that day.”
“Sure, I would have, too,” Sean said impatiently, as if I was keeping him from making his point. “But, do you remember what I was saying before you took off?”
“You said…you said that no one loved me, and Mom and Dad were lying to me. You were a real jerk back then, you know that? You made my life a living hell.”
“I also said, you were found at the Pack border.”
“Whatever. That’s the same stupid joke every older brother makes. What does it matter?” But my body betrayed my true feelings. I could feel my heart pounding fiercely in my ribcage. A revelation was coming—I could feel it.
Sean looked at me with heavy eyes and let out a deep sigh. “That wasn’t a joke, Belle.”
I silently pleaded for him to smirk or wink, anything to indicate he was just pulling my leg. Instead, his face remained solemn.
“I remember one night, Dad came back with a bundle in his arms, and he and Mom argued. I had never heard them argue like that. So, I got closer and started to eavesdrop. Mom wanted to keep you, but Dad was worried.
“He kept saying, there must be more to the story. He said somebody was going to come back for you one day. I rushed downstairs to see what they were talking about. And that’s when I first saw you, bundled in that blanket. You were so small and fragile, Belle.
“That’s why I was angry for so long. I was scared to love you because I thought you might be taken from us, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my little sister. It took me a while to realize, it didn’t matter if someone came, because they weren’t your family. We were your family.”
It was too much to process all at once. I didn’t know where to begin. I looked at my brother, my protector, my friend. This was tearing him apart from the inside.
“That's why you’re so over-protective?” I asked.
“I can’t help it,” he said, nodding. “I promised I’d never let anything bad happen to you. That’s why you have to come back home with me, all right?”
“First, tell me,” I demanded. “Who is he? Who’s after me?”
Sean sighed, looking down. I knew the answers were imminent, though, I suspected, they weren’t going to make anything clearer.
“Last week, an ultimatum was issued to the King. It said to hand you over or else war would be declared on all werewolves.”
“The King? A war?” I stammered. “What could that possibly have to do with me?”
“Belle,” Sean said, holding me firmly. “We don’t know much. But we know he’s a ruler of all his kind. We know he’s called…the Demon Lord.”
A flash of horrifying imagery struck me silent. A black, spindly finger pointed right at me. A fiery, cackling mouth. The dream.
That was who I’d dreamt of. The Demon Lord.
“I wish I knew more,” Sean said. “All we know is, he’s incredibly dangerous. And he’s willing to go to war if it means getting you back.”
I choked for breath, my hands clammy. I felt like I was suffocating.
“Why? Why me? What could he want with me?”
“Belle…” Sean said, looking into my eyes. “I think you’re…I think that’s where you came from. You belong to him.”
I took a shaky step back, eyes widening, hyperventilating. Everything started to blur, and it felt like my body was weightless. I was falling.
And now, I could hear his voice again…the voice from my dream…
“Annabelle, my princess of darkness…”
Sean’s voice was screaming; he was trying to reach me. But he was too far. It was too late. My secret clearing, illuminated by the moon, was drowning in darkness, the stars blinking out, one by one.
And as all went black…as the world ended around me…all I could see was the other man from my dream, the Werewolf King, lying in a pool of his own blood.
“Belle,” I watched his lips silently mouth. “I love you.”
And then there was nothing but darkness.
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“Are you okay? Answer me, Belle!” I heard a distant voice that sounded like my brother’s. Was that Sean? My head was throbbing with such intensity, I could hardly think straight. But then, through the blur, I saw him peering down at me.
“What happened?” I asked.
Sean sighed. “When you backed away, you tripped and fell. You must have hit your head on a rock or something, because you were out cold.”
I tried to sit up, but I still felt woozy. I ran my fingers over the new tender bump on my head, remembering flashes of our conversation and the dream all over again.
The Demon Lord.
The Werewolf King.
The truth about who I really was.
I shook my head. It was still too much information to process all at once. I checked my surroundings and realized I was back in my bedroom, lying in my bed.
“You brought me back?”
Sean nodded. “Mom and Dad are waiting downstairs. Whenever you’re ready.”
“I don’t want to see them,” I said, tearing up. “I can’t believe…”
“I know,” Sean said, pulling me into a tight hug. “But, Belle, they’re still your parents. Even if it’s not biological. They love you.”
Love. Something about the word reminded me of the dream again…of the Werewolf King. Had he said something to me? It didn’t matter. What mattered was that everything I’d ever believed was a lie.
Who was I really, I wondered? I’d always thought of myself as the daughter of an alpha of a strong pack. Another typical she-wolf. Now, my wolf’s diminutive size made sense, I guess. It made sense why I didn’t resemble either my mother or my father.
But the idea that I…belonged…to the Demon Lord? That he was willing to wage war on all werewolves in order to get me back? I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
There was only one way to find out more. I took a deep breath, looked at Sean, and nodded.
“All right,” I said. “Let’s go see them.”
My parents were waiting in the living room for us downstairs. They both wore grave expressions as I threw myself into a chair.
“Honey, we’re so glad you’re all right,” my Dad began.
“You shouldn’t have run off like that,” Mom said sternly. “Not after—”
“The Demon Lord’s ultimatum?” I interrupted, watching both of their expressions ripple with shock. “Yeah, Sean told me everything.”
“Sean!” Mom exclaimed.
“I’m sorry, guys,” Sean said, looking aside. “But she has a right to know. She’s almost eighteen years old.”
“Which, apparently, is some sort of cut-off date?” I asked. “Do you mind explaining? Mom? Dad? Or should I call you by your first names now?”
Dad looked down, his eyes sadder than I’d ever seen them. I didn’t like hurting them like this, but after being kept in the dark for so long, I was angry and needed to lash out. At anything. Anyone. These two just happened to fit the bill.
“You have a right to be angry,” Mom said. “But know that we kept the way we found you a secret for a reason.”
“To protect me, I know. Dad already said that.”
“But not from the Demon Lord. We knew, one day…he would come back…one way or another. It was bound to happen.”
“Then, from what?”
Mom and Dad looked at each other with a hint of concern. Then, Dad leaned forward.
“The truth is, our King? He is not always the most benevolent man.”
“You’re saying…you were protecting me from the Werewolf King? Why?!”
“He would never have approved of your adoption,” Dad said. “He would have cast you out of the pack years ago, had he known.”
“That’s why we’re sending you away, Belle,” Mom said. “So he can’t get you first.”
“Do you think he would really turn me over? To the Demon Lord?”
“If it meant protecting every werewolf in the world?” Dad said, shaking his head. “I believe he would. That is King Keith’s way. The greater good.”
I shook my head with disbelief. And here I thought I’d only have to worry about one powerful enemy. My parents were saying both were bad?
Mom started tearing up, and Dad tenderly grabbed her hand. The look he gave her, it reminded me how much these two meant to me. To each other. After all these years, they were still madly in love.
Sometimes, I couldn’t believe their spark still remained so alive and strong. One day, I wanted to be in love like that. But none of my fairytales were going to come true if the Werewolf King and the Demon Lord were after me.
How was I ever supposed to find my mate when my life was falling apart?
“Pack your bags, Belle,” Dad finally broke the silence. “We leave first thing in the morning.”
“Won’t I have time to…to say goodbye? To my friends?”
They looked at each other again, then Mom shook her head.
“I don’t think so, Belle. Not this time.”
I could feel the tears welling up. The reality of my situation hadn’t kicked in until now. Mom leaned forward to hug me, and I recoiled.
“Don’t. Just…leave me alone.”
Mom and Dad both nodded, stood up, and left the room, leaving me and Sean in silence. He squeezed my shoulder.
“Hey,” he said. “You may get to say goodbye to one person, at least.”
“You? No offense, Sean, but I was thinking more like…”
“Not me.” He winked. Just then, there was a loud knock on the front door. My eyes widened, and Sean smirked.
“Relax,” Sean said, walking to answer it. “The Demon Lord doesn’t knock.”
Very funny, Sean.
He went to the door, and who should he come back with but Gregory…the boy I was madly in love with. The one I always imagined when I thought of who my mate might be.
“Hey, Belle,” he said, blushing and looking away.
Gregory was the son of the pack’s beta. He was shy but in a cute sort of way. He had curly black hair that fell down to his shoulders, and vivid green eyes with long lashes. I loved watching how he twirled the locks at the back of his nape, or how he chewed the inside of his cheek whenever he was nervous.
He had a killer body, which I had ogled on many occasions, but he carried it with the uncertainty of a lanky teenager, hunching his broad shoulders and keeping his chin down.
I never understood why he was so insecure with such amazing looks.
Sean knew we were close, but he didn’t know the way I really felt about Gregory. Or, so I thought, anyway. Something about his knowing smirk suggested otherwise.
“So,” I said. “What brings you here, Gregory?”
“I guess, uh, I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing… I heard about the, uh, the ultimatum.”
I stepped closer toward Gregory, to kiss his cheek, to show him how much his care meant to me—thinking, this could be my last chance—when we heard a commotion outside.
Wolves were howling. I could hear the scratching of their paws as they circled the house. Before I could ask what was going on, my father rushed downstairs and flew out the door. Sean and Gregory followed close behind.
“Where are you going?” I asked in vain. Then, I caught sight of my mother, her beautiful face riddled with worry.
“He’s here,” she said in a shaky whisper.
“Who? The Demon Lord?”
“No. The King.”
I didn’t like how spooked everyone was. The Werewolf King’s appearance at our home was highly unusual. After what my parents had told me, I knew it could only mean one thing.
I stepped outside, and my father held out an arm to stop me.
“We’re too late,” he said, helpless. I couldn’t bear to see this despair on his face. He was the pack’s alpha, and any emotion besides supreme confidence was cause for alarm.
I have to be strong for all of us. Even if I’m not this man’s real daughter, I was still raised as an alpha pup, and I know how to act like one.
“It’s okay, Dad. Take me to meet the King.”
“I won’t let him take you away from us. I swear to you, Belle.”
But this was one promise we both knew he couldn’t keep. The Werewolf King was the alpha of all the alphas, and no one, including my father, had the power to disobey him.
I took a deep breath and walked forward, past my father. My legs trembled as adrenaline surged through me.
Sean and Gregory had already shifted into their wolf forms, while other members of the Pack began to appear in small groups, working themselves into a frenzy, baring their teeth and nipping at each other. Their soulful howls rose to the heavens, paying tribute to the Moon Goddess, asking for strength and bravery.
When they saw me, they rushed to my side, forming a ferocious shield of fangs and vicious growls. They were a loyal pack of soldiers and would lay down their lives to protect me, the alpha’s daughter.
If only they knew the truth.
“This is all very noble, but I would stand down if I were you…”
The warning came from a voice with a deep timbre. Behind the shield of wolves, I couldn’t see the man it belonged to, but his voice alone was enough to make my heart tremble and my legs give out. I felt dizzy.
Is he doing this to me, or is it my own nerves?
“Please, my King,” my father growled. “She’s my daughter. We can’t—”
“Step aside!” shouted the King, this time issuing an alpha command that not even the strongest mind could withstand.
Within seconds, all the wolves except for Sean and my father submitted, bowing their heads.
My brother and father were resisting the order with all their might. They struggled to tolerate the explosive pain in their heads.
My father pressed his fingers to his temples, wrenching his head from side to side like his mind was being eaten from within.
I couldn’t bear to see my family like this. I pushed myself forward and threw up my hands.
“Stop it! Stop it, please! You can have me. Just don’t hurt them any more!” I cried out.
Sean howled, collapsing to the ground, finally free from whatever torture the King had made him endure. I looked to my father, who lay motionless in the dirt.
“He will be fine,” the King growled. “Now, come here, girl. Let me see you.”
I finally turned to see the King in all his colossal wonder.
He had daunting black eyes with such depth, it felt like you could fall and keep falling into them forever. His eyelashes were thick, his jaw chiseled as if from stone.
I found myself drawn to him by some mysterious pull, wanting to know him on every level. His broad shoulders, muscular chest, and ripped abs heaved with his every breath. I couldn’t stop staring, feeling, imagining…
Hold on. What the hell is happening to me?!
I shook myself out of my stupor. He was the enemy. Look what he’d done to my father and brother! He was here to take me away.
“So, you’re Belle, are you?” he asked.
All I could do was nod in response. There was a hint of a smile on his lips, a glint in his eyes, as if he knew something about me I didn’t.
For a second, I remembered the faraway dream in which the Werewolf King lay dying, whispering four words to me: “Belle, I love you.”
How could this man, this beast, this King ever love me? It was impossible. Without another word, he morphed into the largest wolf I had ever seen. Then, he threw me onto his back with one lethal paw.
I was powerless to resist him. I spun to see Sean and my father howling in heartbreak. But there was nothing I could do.
Suddenly, I felt myself flying through the air. The trees flashed by in a blur as I gripped desperately to the King’s fur.
I had no idea where he was taking me…but I knew, from here on forth, my life would never be the same.
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