When Mafia princess Ariana Nichols-Delgado’s world is turned upside down at the age of fifteen, she moves in with her grandmother on the other side of the country. Ten years later, she’s built her own little empire, separate from the one run by her father. When her two worlds collide, Ariana must figure out who, and what, is most important in her life. Watch as Ariana finds her way to becoming a fierce Mafia queen, accompanied by the man she has always been destined to love.
Age Rating: 18+
Finding My Way by C.B. Rose 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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My name is Ariana Nichols, but everyone calls me Ari. I’m twenty-five years old and a successful entrepreneur living just outside of Atlanta.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles with my father Elias Delgado, king of the Delgado Mafia, and my mother Juliana, their queen. That’s right, I’m a Mafia princess.
I’m an only child. There was a complication during my birth that required my mother to have a hysterectomy.
My dad was never sad about not being able to have a son though. He said I was his princess and that my mom and I were all he needed to be happy.
He made up for not having a son by teaching me all types of things he normally would have taught his son. Like how to fight, use a gun, and once I was old enough, how to run his businesses and the Mafia.
My mother was a fierce queen. Everyone respected her, and those who didn’t feared her as much as they feared my father, if not more. She was my everything…and when I lost her, my world came crumbling down.
TEN YEARS AGO
“Winter break cannot get here fast enough!” I sigh as I walk down the hallway with my two best friends, Vivianne and Rianne.
“No kidding!” Vivianne lets out an exasperated groan. “Why can’t they just let us off starting from Thanksgiving? Nobody is paying attention in class during this time anyway.”
“Um…you don’t normally pay attention in class, Viv. What’s the difference?” Rianne teases causing me to burst out laughing.
“Shut up!” Vivianne scowls then reaches over and swats Rianne’s arm.
We continue laughing as we walk down the hallway to the school cafeteria for lunch. We grab our food and head toward our normal lunch tables with the rest of the Mafia kids.
As we approach, I see Vivianne’s twin brother, Vince, her older brother, Romeo, his best friends, Liam and Aaron, and Amber, the only other girl around our age.
None of us can stand Amber though. She’s so clingy and a complete bitch. She and her merry band of dingbats are always hanging around the guys, especially Romeo.
I’ll admit, the guys are all pretty good-looking, Romeo especially with his inviting eyes and warm smile.
The problem with them is they know how good-looking they are and have no problem exploiting that gift to build their harem.
“Ugh…these barbies again.” Rianne snorts and rolls her eyes. “Can we sit somewhere else? I’d like to not lose my appetite hearing them fawn all over the guys the entire lunch period.”
“Ari, why can’t you just use your Mafia princess powers and shoo them away?” Vivianne asks softly so that only Rianne and I can hear her.
“There’s no such thing as Mafia princess powers.” I giggle.
“Uh…yes there are, and you have them. You just don’t use them.” Rianne’s tone is a mixture of sarcasm and annoyance. I roll my eyes and shake my head at her.
“Let’s just sit here.” I lead them to an empty table across from where we normally sit. I see Vivianne glaring hard at the girls around them. “Let it go, Viv. It’s not a big deal.”
“Can’t you scare them a little Ari? Just enough so they’ll stay away from them during lunch, and we can sit at our normal table?” Rianne pleads with me as she starts eating her lunch.
“I’m pretty sure they would hate it if I interfered in their love life like that. And besides, why would I want to do that anyway?”
“To save them of course. Those girls are like vultures attacking their prey.” Vivianne growls as she continues to glare in the direction of her brothers.
I glance over in the same direction and see two girls hanging all over Romeo. One is on his lap feeding him his lunch and the other is leaning against him running her hand through his hair.
I don’t know why, but I suddenly get the urge to pull them off him by their hair. I quickly turn back to Vivianne and Rianne.
“It doesn’t look like your brother needs saving.”
Vivianne leans around Rianne to look at Romeo and fakes gagging on her food. Rianne and I laugh at her and resume eating our lunch without giving them another thought.
At the end of the school day, the three of us meet up at our lockers to put our books away before going home. Vivianne slams her locker door and lets out a groan.
“Don’t look now. Barbie mob approaching at three o’clock.” She whispers to us as she watches them approach us.
I turn my head and see the same group of girls who were draped over our friends at lunch, led by Amber, of course, heading our way.
I’m sure the guys are mixed in there somewhere, but I can’t see them in the sea of airheads. Amber stops just in front of me and smirks.
“Excuse you. You’re in our way.” She scowled at me. I continue to put my books away when I answer, not even bothering to look at her.
“It’s a big hallway Amber. I’m sure there’s enough room for us and your big, bloated ass.”
“Damn!” Vivianne and Rianne bring their hands to their mouths to cover up their laughter. Amber’s face starts to turn red as she’s glaring at me.
“What did you just say?!”
Why is she still talking to me?
I close my locker and let out an exaggerated sigh of frustration.
“I didn’t stutter,” I tell her coldly as I cross my arms across my chest.
“You better take that back you insignificant little shit! I will beat you down and wipe the floor with you!” All her little barbie minions are snickering behind her.
I turn around and give Vivianne my backpack to hold. I reach into the side pocket and pull out my pistol. I whip around and point it right between Amber’s eyes.
“Holy fuck!” Vivianne gasps as all the girls standing behind Amber jump back. I keep eye contact with Amber, but I can see Romeo and the guys pushing their way toward us from behind her.
“Could you repeat that, Amber? I want to make sure I heard you correctly before I shoot you.”
My voice was surprisingly calm and steady as I held the gun in front of me and issued my threat. Amber tries to hide her fear, but I can see her body start to shake.
“Y-You don’t have the balls to shoot me, Ari.”
I cock back the trigger.
“You think so?” I take a small step toward her as I give her an evil smirk. Suddenly, Principal Matthews’s voice is heard booming in the hallway.
“Ariana Delgado! Put that away!”
Amber lets out a breath and gets a smug look on her face. I put the gun down but continue staring Amber down.
“What is going on here?” he asks as he puts himself between Amber and me.
“She threatened to beat me up and wipe the floor with me. I’m just protecting myself, sir,” I tell him as politely as I can. He turns to Amber, who is still glaring at me.
“Amber, go to my office.”
“What?! She pulled a gun out on me!” Principal Matthews turns back to me and lets out a small sigh.
“Ariana, put the gun away and don’t pull it out while on school property again or I will confiscate it.”
“Yes, sir.” I get my bag back from Vivianne and put my gun back inside.
“All right, everyone…show’s over…move along.” He ushers the rest of the students, who were standing around watching the showdown, down the hall and away from us.
All of Amber’s mindless followers leave without making eye contact with me. We started walking to the exit when Romeo and the guys stepped in our path blocking us.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, ARI?!”
I know Romeo is not yelling at me right now. I look at him innocently and put on my sweetest voice.
“What was what?” I can see him getting more annoyed with me. If he wasn’t such a man-whore and Vivianne’s brother, I might actually think he looked hot being this angry.
Who am I kidding? I always thought he looked hot no matter if he was angry or not. He runs a hand over his face to try to calm himself down before he speaks to me again.
“Have you lost your mind? You could have been expelled. Amber’s harmless, Ari. She’s not worth risking getting kicked out of school.”
Do I detect a hint of concern in his voice?
“Yeah, well my gun’s harmless too. It wasn’t even loaded.” I stand there smirking at him. Idiot.
“Wait, you weren’t going to shoot her?” Liam asks me.
“Did Principal Matthews know that?” Aaron asks, looking just as confused as the others. I let out a frustrated sigh letting them know how much I’m enjoying this interrogation of theirs.
“Yes. He knows my gun isn’t loaded. That’s the condition for allowing me to carry it around in school in case I needed it.”
Romeo stares at me harder and I can tell he was getting angrier by the minute. When he opened his mouth, I could hear his blood boiling.
“Needed it for what?”
Oh, my lord is he nosy!
I roll my eyes at him and let out another sigh.
“None of your business! Now if you’ll excuse us, my mom is waiting outside.”
I push my way past them with Vivianne and Rianne in tow. I glance back and can see confusion and anger on their faces, especially Romeo’s.
I’m walking down the hallway headed to the parking lot with Liam, Aaron, and my brother, Vince. As we turn the corner we’re greeted by Amber and her merry band of idiot followers.
Ugh! I wonder if bug repellent will work on them.
Most boys my age would love all the attention these girls give us. They do anything we want, whenever we want. But that’s all they’re good for.
You can’t hold a decent conversation with them because their heads are filled with nothing but rocks.
Then there are girls like my sister, Vivianne, and her friends, Rianne and Ariana. They’re smart, beautiful, and tough as nails. They don’t put up with anyone’s shit, especially ours.
Ariana’s the tiniest but the toughest of the bunch which makes her the most attractive.
Every guy in school wants her but they’re too scared to approach her because of who her dad is. Which is good for me because I don’t want anyone near her.
I’ve been in love with her since middle school, but she only sees me as Vivianne’s older brother and I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a playboy, so she won’t give me the time of day.
But I know in my heart, we belong together.
Amber is walking a little bit ahead of us down the hall. The guys and I are trying our hardest to separate ourselves from this mob when I hear shouting up ahead.
“It’s a big hallway, Amber. I’m sure there’s enough room for us and your big, bloated ass.”
I know that voice and flavor of sarcasm. The guys know it too and we just chuckle. That’s my Ari.
“We’d better get up there before a cat fight breaks out,” Liam says as he shakes his head.
We push our way forward, and as we get closer, I see Ari holding a gun to Amber’s head. That escalated fast.
I was about to step in when the principal comes toward us. He sends Amber to his office and lets Ari off with a warning. Weird.
After everyone clears the hall the guys and I step in front of Ariana, Vivianne, and Rianne so they can’t leave.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, ARI?!” That came out louder than I wanted.
“What was what?” She looks at me so innocently, like what just happened between her, and Amber was completely normal.
If I wasn’t so angry with her right now, I’d grab her and kiss that sarcastic tone out of her voice. I try to calm myself down. I don’t want to get into an argument with her right now.
“Amber’s harmless, Ari. She’s not worth getting kicked out of school.”
“Yeah, well my gun’s harmless too. It wasn’t even loaded.”
Wait. Her gun wasn’t even loaded? Damn. She’s a good actress.
“That’s the condition for allowing me to carry it around in school in case I needed it.”
I look at her confused. The principal let her keep her gun in case she needed it. Needed it for what?
She doesn’t answer me when I ask her what she needs the gun for and just pushes her way past us and out the door.
Liam then turns to me, breathing heavily. I can tell he was just as angry as I was about the whole situation.
“What the hell does she need a gun at school for?”
That’s a good question. I shrug and shake my head at him. If I find out someone’s been bothering her at school, I’m going to kill them.
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We follow the girls out to the parking lot and watch as they get into their car and drive off. We head over to Liam’s car and pile in.
“What the hell was that back there?” Liam asks as he starts up his car.
“Hey, did you guys notice something off about Ari when she was talking to Amber?” Aaron asks us as soon as he shuts his door.
“Her breathing was off,” I tell them, ignoring both their questions.
“You noticed that too?” Liam asks me, now looking more concerned for Ariana than angry. I think we all noticed the change in her breathing as she was talking with Amber and Principal Matthews.
“Vivianne’s been extra motherly with her lately,” Vince chimes in. “She checks on her every five minutes throughout the school day when they’re not together.”
Of course, my sister knows what is going on with Ariana, and I’m going to make her tell me everything when I get home.
Liam drops me and Vince off at our house and I practically sprint up to Vivianne’s bedroom. I don’t even bother knocking and just walk in.
“What the hell?!” She yells as she jumps in her seat.
“Why the hell is Ari carrying around her gun at school?” I ask her sternly. My sister just looks at me defiantly and crosses her arms.
“She told you it’s none of your business, didn’t she?”
Yes, I heard…I was there…I don’t care right now.
“It is my business, Viv. Now tell me what the hell is going on with her!” My sister gets up from her chair and stands tall in front of me. She’s feeling brave today.
“You’re not king yet, dear brother, so stop acting like it. If Ari doesn’t want to tell you, there’s no way in hell I’m saying anything to you either.”
She tries to stare me down which is a waste of time. She’s never beat me in a staredown yet. I move closer to her, so our faces are only an inch apart.
“I’m only going to say this one more time, Viv. Tell me what’s going on with Ari or so help me you will know what it’s like to cross the future king, relative or not.”
I see her swallow hard. She knows she is toast if she doesn’t start talking. My sister talks tough, but she is kind of a wimp.
“She’s being bullied by some girls at school.”
“I know Ari can handle herself around a bunch of dumbass girls. Try again, Viv.”
“Okay. Okay. Just promise you’ll stay calm.”
That’s not how you want to start a conversation with me if you want me to stay calm.
“There are two guys who have been trying to get with Ari for a few months now. One day, they cornered her in the girls’ locker room after gym class.”
I knew it! My blood is starting to boil and I’m dreading what could come out of my sister’s mouth next.
“They started touching her and trying to kiss her, but a teacher walked in on them before they could get very far.”
SON OF A B*TCH!! When I find out who these two are they’re dead!
“She started having a panic attack, so they brought her to the nurse and called Aunt Julie and Uncle Elias to the school.
“They sat with Principal Matthews, and he agreed to allow Ari to bring her gun to school as long as it wasn’t loaded just so she can scare them with it if they tried it again.
“It was either that or Uncle Elias was going to send her to school with a bunch of security.”
“Who were two guys?”
“I don’t know.”
“WHO ARE THEY, VIV?!!!”
“I don’t know!! I swear! Ari doesn’t know who they are, but we think they’re Seniors.”
These fuckers are in my grade? Well, at least that narrows down the list of assholes I need to look at. Between me, Liam, and Aaron we should be able to hunt them down.
I run my hand over my face to try and calm myself.
“How often does she get these panic attacks?”
My sister looks away from me. I don’t think I was supposed to know about Ariana having panic attacks. I grab my sister’s chin and force her to look at my face.
“How often, Viv?!”
“It happens when someone tries to bully her or when a group of boys is nearby, and Ria and I are not with her.”
“So just about all day when she’s at school.”
“Pretty much. That’s why Ria and I are always checking on her throughout the day, and we never leave her side if we can help it.”
I let go of her chin and sit on the edge of her bed.
“You should have told me, Viv!” I say as I let out a sigh.
Did she really just ask me that?
“Because we’re family. We look out for each other.”
“Ria and I had it handled. There was no need to bring you into this.”
“Bring him into what?”
My brother is standing in the doorway looking at the both of us. He walks in and takes a seat next to me on the bed. I tell him everything Vivianne just told me and his face contorts with anger.
Vince, Vivianne, and Ariana are the same age and had been inseparable since birth. My mom always jokes that she has triplets and not twins.
“Jesus, Viv! Why didn’t you say something to me?!”
“Again…Ria and I are handling it!”
“Not anymore,” I tell her as I get up from the bed.
“Vince, call Liam and Aaron and tell them to meet me here. And I want her class schedule. Find out who we know that’s in all her classes. She’s not going anywhere in this school alone from now on.”
“Don’t you think you’re going a little overboard?”
“Overboard? Hell no! There’s no such thing when it comes to Ari. Not for me. You know that.”
She sighs and shakes her head at me.
“I know that, and you know that, but she doesn’t. She won’t be happy about this when she finds out what you’re planning.”
She’s right. Ariana might actually hate me for doing this, but she’s our Mafia’s princess, my future queen.
“I don’t fucking care if she’s not happy about this Viv! I’m going to protect her no matter what!”
“What is going on in here?!” My mom shouts as she walks into Vivianne’s room scowling at the three of us.
“Ari pulled her gun out on Amber today at school,” Vivianne tells her.
My mom’s eyes go wide.
“Is Ari okay? She didn’t have a panic attack, did she?”
“You know about her panic attacks?” I ask her. How does everyone know about this except me?
“Well of course I did.” She said looking at me like that was the dumbest question I could have asked her.
“I need to call her mother and check on her.” My mom says as she rushes out of the room and I turn back to my sister.
“How is it all of you know about this except us?”
“Pfft! Again…we were handling it! Not everything that goes on in our families needs to be handled by you men.”
Like hell! If it has to do with Ari, I’m going to handle it! She walks out of her room shaking her head at us. We follow her out and head downstairs and hear my mom talking on the phone.
“Okay…we’ll be there.”
She hangs up her phone and looks at the three of us.
“You guys need to change your clothes. We’re going over to the Delgado’s for dinner.”
When I get home from school I head straight for my room and put my things away. I change into more comfortable clothes and plop down on my bed.
I’m lying there thinking back to what happened with Amber and what Romeo said about being expelled for pulling out my gun.
If he only knew the truth.
I can feel my chest start to tighten as I think back to that incident that started this whole thing. I close my eyes and take slow, deep breaths.
As I’m starting to relax, my phone buzzes with a group chat from Vivianne and Rianne.
I roll my eyes. Romeo can be so dramatic!
For heaven’s sake!! Canaries have nothing on this woman when it comes to singing!
I hear my mom calling for me from downstairs.
I head down to the living room where my mom is sitting on the couch.
She looks up at me and smiles.
“I know Christmas is a few weeks away, but I wanted to give you one of your gifts right now.”
“Aww, mom. You don’t have to do that. I can wait until Christmas.”
“I know but I thought you could use this right now.”
I look at her confused.
“Principal Matthews called and told me what happened in school today with Amber.”
Of course he did.
“It was nothing mom, really.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I promise.”
“You didn’t have another panic attack because of it did you?”
“Just a small one at school and one when I got home, but I got them under control quickly,” I tell her trying to reassure her that I’m okay.
She pats the space next to her for me to take a seat. She hands me a small box with a ribbon around it.
“This is for you to help calm you when you start to feel anxious.”
I remove the ribbon and open the box. In the middle of the box is a necklace with a purple crystal charm.
“Oh, mom! It’s beautiful!”
“It’s an amethyst crystal. When you feel your anxiety building just hold on to the crystal and take deep breaths. It will help you focus and give you strength.”
Tears start to well up in my eyes. I throw my hands around her and hug her tight. She helps put the necklace around my neck and already I feel stronger.
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