Broken Queen: A Dark Revenge Romance, Sample Chapters
ten years earlier
Ever since I was a little girl, violence was a warm blanket to me. My father was the director of a brutal secret society of rich men, and so, since the day I was born, I was expected to attend the Masquerades. During these events, initiates and members demonstrated their loyalty to the Marked Blooms Syndicate by sacrificing the people they loved. At age five, I saw a man bleed out while a crowd of men laughed. At age seven, I watched a woman hung by her hair while the men took turns using a nightstick against her thighs. At age ten, I witnessed my mother’s head falling into a basket. There was nothing hidden behind violence; above all else, it was reliable, and that comforted me.
And right then, at age eighteen, I was on my hands and knees, strapped to a bench, completely frozen in place, while ‘the Dentist’ twirled his forceps through his fingers. But I never let fear control me. This was exactly what I expected, and a low heat buzzed in my stomach at that familiarity.
Because I felt nothing.
The forceps clamped down on my canine. Then, to tease me, the pincers released my tooth. The Dentist’s lips pulled back to reveal his natural, white teeth. His head was soft and round like a balloon, and completely hairless. A black mask circled his eyes, and his breath stunk of mouthwash and cigarettes.
What exactly do you do when you’re a billionaire real estate developer with a tooth extraction fetish? You find a secret society that will let you indulge your desires with their loved ones, so long as you give the best sales to your fellow members.
“You ready, darling?” he purred. “Tell me, how much do you think this will hurt on a scale of one to ten?”
A dental gag pried my jaw open, my tongue flailing around like a fish flopping on a dock. The Dentist knew I couldn’t speak, and because of that, he loved asking questions like this.
On a scale of one to ten, tell me, Dentist, how much do you think it’s going to hurt when I kill you? I thought, a viciousness taking hold of me. I’m going to pry your teeth from your mouth and make you swallow them.
But my stomach hardened, a memory swirling inside of me. Pretend like you like it, my mother’s words echoed in my mind. Pretend like you love it. Like it’s exactly what you want to do.
I tried to smile over the gag, pretending like none of this bothered me. That was why I was his favorite; I was a challenge to break.
He ran his hand over my back, his brittle fingers running down my slit.
“Such a little lover of pain,” he said, the forceps gripping my canine again.
With that sharp pull, pain seared through my jaw, white stars filling my vision, knives stabbing through my skull and crawling to the back of my head. A wail fled my body through that dental gag, the sound full of emptiness. My jaw throbbed, each tendril of sharp pain curling toward my mouth, spreading its grip around my head. The Dentist locked eyes with me, a grin on his lips.
“Did you like that, darling?” he asked.
Pretend like you’re devoted to the Syndicate more than your father. More than anyone else in the world, my mother’s advice kept screaming in my mind. They’ll like you too much. That’s how you avoid getting killed.
I forced my lips into a smile over that metal gag, like a clown with an eerily wide grin painted on its face. Blood dripped over my dry lips, and conversation muttered in the background like faint music. My father stood with a group of members, every person dressed completely in black. Every year, my father insisted that he proved to the secret society—a secret society that our family led—that he was dedicated to the prosperity of the organization, even if that meant repeatedly sacrificing his ‘loved’ ones.
And because my mother was gone, that left me.
My father’s eyes flickered over me, then his nose twitched, and he continued his discussion, angling himself away from me.
The Dentist held up the forceps, the canine gripped in its claws. The root of the tooth was like a fat finger pointing down, reprimanding me for breaking some unspoken rule. I let my chin drop; blood gushed onto the ground, an achingly bitter taste on my tongue. The Dentist dropped my tooth and I stared at it, like it was a target.
“You think you can give me one or two more tonight?” he asked. His hands wrapped around my hips, his nubby fingertips crawling up my spine. He rounded my back, then stroked a clammy finger down my slit. “I’m waiting, darling.”
“Juss uh,” I slurred. Just one. His hands left my skin and I froze. Metal clamps pinched the skin between my thighs, gripping onto my slit, a jolt of tension running through me.
“We could do this if you prefer,” he said.
“Naaaa,” I grunted. He chuckled as he circled, then knelt down in front of me. He clamped the forceps down on my other canine.
“Won’t have much bite after this, will you?” he laughed, then he pulled the forceps, wrenching my tooth out.
Sometimes, pain is so unreal that you lose consciousness. There’s nothing in your brain that will help you survive it, knowing that the best way to keep going, is to force yourself out of the experience completely. But there’s also a moment when your brain learns to become accustomed to it. Even as I screamed, I could leave my body, seeing the world around me shift like a kaleidoscope. The twisting images of the Dentist. My father lecturing on world domination to his colleagues. My fiancé in the corner with his head in his hands, knowing that neither of us could do anything to stop the Dentist. This was my fate.
“That’s enough for tonight,” my fiancé said, bringing me back to earth. “Give her a rest. She’s done enough.”
Relief flowed through me. My fiancé, Logan, tall and statuesque as ever, pushed his father out of the way, then began untying me from the bench. A white suit flattered his fit physique. Like me, he had blond hair and blue eyes. He kept his hair short and styled, and was permanently blushing like he was constantly embarrassed. Like he didn’t know why he had to follow his father’s footsteps, but he knew he had to. I could relate to that.
He was the only person who had shown me kindness between these walls.
Once my hands were free, Logan removed the dental gag while the Dentist—Logan’s father—removed the bindings from my legs. My jaw ached, my mouth sore, my lips chapped. Easing myself to a sitting position on the floor, I slumped my shoulders, too tired to do anything. Logan grabbed a handful of gauze and eased it into my mouth.
My two canines laid on the floor like two little chips of glass. A thick, grubby hand picked them up; the Dentist liked his souvenirs. Logan glared at him, then turned to me. He rubbed my back methodically, like it hurt him to watch me suffer.
“You’re so brave,” he said calmly. “I don’t know how you do it. You’re so incredible, babe.”
I rolled my eyes—his father was already a member; therefore, Logan would never have to be a sacrifice, unless his father wanted to prove something—but inside, I flushed with heat. Logan was praising me, like he saw how much I was capable of. And I almost believed him. I mean, I wanted to believe him. He was one of the few people who looked at me like a person and not like an object everyone had dipped their hands inside.
“When we get married, you won’t have to worry about this,” he said, repeating the same soothing words he said every time. “Everything will be perfect. We’ll be members and you will never have to submit to this cruelty again.”
I blinked my eyes, trying to imagine that fate, but after nights like this, it seemed like a fantasy that would never come true.
But I still couldn’t lose sight of it.
“By then, you can get your own revenge,” Logan said. “You can extract other people’s teeth. And it’ll be fun. Delightful. A way for us to pass the time. And this will just be a bad, bad memory.” He leaned on me. “Zira Bloom, the heiress to the Marked Blooms Syndicate, and me, your faithful husband.”
I cocked a brow at him, holding the gauze to my face.
“Revenge—” I paused, the tenderness swelling through my jaw, my tongue lisping with the loss of teeth. I swallowed, then tried again: “Revenge would be doing all of that to your father,” I said.
Logan put a finger to his lips. “Don’t even think of my father. Think of everything you can do when you have that power. When you’re in charge.”
Sometimes, I thought that if I went willingly to these sacrifices like my mother had said, my father would see that I was as dedicated as he was. But something inside of me always knew that it might not be enough. I had to do more. I had to get on the board of the Syndicate somehow. And Logan was the key.
“I’ll protect you, Zira,” Logan said, cutting through my spiraling thoughts. “I’m not like your father. I won’t force you to be my sacrifice. I know my worth, and so will the Syndicate.”
My forehead furrowed, but the pain settled on my brow, so I forced myself to relax. It almost sounded like Logan was insulting my father’s decisions. And though I may not have liked having my teeth removed, I understood why my father did it. I was the last person, still living, that he technically ‘loved.’ I was the only one he could use to prove his dedication.
I started, “If not me, then your father will use another woman—”
He put a finger to his lips again, then delicately pressed the gauze back into my mouth, silencing me.
“It’ll be a much different secret society one day,” he murmured. “We’ll change it. Together.”
I latched onto that word: Together. Even as he held me in his arms, it seemed so foreign. Our marriage had been arranged when I was an infant and Logan was five years old. There was something off about him, but I always held onto his sweet words, like a candy-coated poison. For once, I wanted to hold on to someone who would actually fight with me.
I pulled out my blood-soaked gauze.
“To—” I stopped, the nerves in my mouth searing with tension. I closed my eyes slowly, then tried again. “Together, Logan?”
“Of course,” he said, the response flowing out of him with ease.
A woman’s scream hurled through the hallway, and I glanced behind us.
The tooth extraction had finished, so the audience had lost interest, and we were now alone. The woman screamed again, and my body tightened and my throat closed up. I hated when they screamed like that. It was like the pain was worse for me when it was other sacrifices. It always made me think of my mother.
“She doesn’t matter,” Logan said, stroking my hair. “Focus on yourself, babe.”
I pressed my lips together to keep the gauze in my mouth as I pushed myself up.
“Zira?” Logan asked.
I waved at him, silently telling him not to worry about me. Then I followed the screams down the corridor. Each room glowed in different shades of color, and that kaleidoscope shifted again, and again, like I was drifting deeper into madness. In the pink room, a woman hung from her wrists as the members took turns beating her stomach like a pinata. In the blue room, a woman was lying on a leather bench while a man took her dark hole and carved bloody designs into her back. But those women were silent.
Then the screams faded.
I ran forward, trying to find her. In the last room, my father stood with his back to the door, a sword in his hand, blood pooling on the floor. A woman lay on the ground, a gash on the side of her neck, her eyelids fluttering. I raced past my father, kneeling down and scooping her into my arms. Her blood was warm against my skin, and we were both bare and completely helpless, like most women at the Masquerades.
But she wasn’t supposed to die. The sacrifices were about testing limits.
I glared back at my father. He shrugged dismissively.
“I was having fun,” he said. “It’s not like I can take you here.”
Acid curled in my throat. You’d think that being a sacrifice would be enough, but once my mother died, there were other needs my father had to fill, and I clutched my mother’s words.
Act like you like it, she said, That’s how you make it stop. That’s how you survive, Zira.
I twisted my head, but there was no one else in the room, just my father, me, and this woman. Blood soaked her hair, light freckles painting her neck, a dullness to her brown eyes.
Whoever had sacrificed her wasn’t in the room.
“You must never tell anyone about this,” my father said. “Ernest cannot be my enemy.”
I blinked, and my father’s footsteps clicked away, wandering to the hallway, leaving us women alone. She was so fragile in my arms, like a small bird with a broken wing. But she didn’t have a chance.
My father had killed her.
My chest warmed as I considered exposing him, throwing him into the snake pit for once. But I had to show my father that I was trustworthy. That I could be a board member too, one day, like him. I might have been a woman, but I was still as capable as any man.
The cut on the woman’s neck was a third of the way into her, veins like tendrils of hair spilling over the edge, her tissue exposed. Almost like my father had tried to decapitate her and had changed his mind halfway there.
Had my father done this to somehow cope with how my mother—his wife—had died?
I shouldn’t have cared about this woman. And maybe I didn’t. Maybe I just pretended to feel things, so that I could feel human again. But whenever I saw a woman like this, I thought of my mother. Her head falling into a basket. How I had hoped, above all else, that it had been painless.
Footsteps crashed into the room. A man with inky black hair, cut short, adjusted the black mask over his face.
“Is she dead?” he gawked.
The blood pooled like a crimson gulf between my legs, as if I was a follower of Bacchus, bathing in wine. The answer was obvious, but the man wanted confirmation. Almost like he was hoping she was dead. He crouched to the side of me, the scent of cloves forcing its way through the metallic fragrance in the air.
“Who killed her?” he asked quietly, as if suddenly realizing his own lack of empathy. I lifted my shoulders, letting my body language speak for me.
I would never tell. I obeyed my father when it came to things like this to prove that he could trust me.
And I could use that information against him.
“She was stealing from me, you know,” he whispered. “That’s why I took her here. But I just wanted to teach her a lesson. I didn’t want her to die.”
I rolled my eyes. If the situation had been switched, and he was stealing from her, he would never be sacrificed. That’s not how the Marked Blooms Syndicate worked. The men were respected and favored; the women were objects to play with.
But the women weren’t supposed to die here.
He reached over, touching her knee. Perhaps he had some sort of ‘feeling’ for her. But as he raised his hand, he inched closer to me, resting his hand on my shoulder, almost like he wanted to pull me into his arms. I put up a hand, pushing him away from me. I let the gauze drop out of my mouth.
“I am done being a sacrifice tonight. You will not touch me.”
The words came out with force, even as they rasped through those new gaps in my teeth. The man jolted, taken aback by my words. His eyes narrowed at my bare chest, then traveled back up to my face.
“A haughty little bitch, aren’t we?” he said. “It’s a shame that Bloom couldn’t make a son.”
I scowled. “I am Zira Bloom, the—”
“No one will take you seriously no matter how hard you try.”
“I am Zira Bloom,” I said again, forcing myself to ignore him, “the heiress of—”
“You know you’ll never be the director, right?”
I wanted to scream. Of course, I’ll be the director. I’ve given up half of my adult teeth and will give up more. I’ve given myself to countless men just to make sure the secret society always stays ahead. I will be the queen, even if I need to kill you and every person in this goddamned building.
But there was a nagging truth to his words that bit inside of me, feasting on my insides like a grumble of maggots.
Maybe he was right. Maybe this was all I would ever be. Holding these women while they died. Wondering when I was going to have enough power to do something about it.
“Heiress or not,” the man chuckled, “it doesn’t take a genius to see that your father will never let you be a member.”
I clenched my jaw, every nerve inside of my mouth strained with rage and pain. But Logan appeared in the doorway, motioning for me to come with him. I gently laid the nameless woman on the floor. Then I stood up, wiping my bloody hands on my sides.
“Leave her alone,” I ordered the black-haired man.
“Or what?” the man asked.
Logan cleared his throat. “Obey the heiress or the director will find out.”
The man adjusted his black shirt, streaked with blood, then stood up too, facing us. “What will happen to my wife?”
“She’ll be added to the catacombs,” I said.
The black-haired man curtly bowed his head, then dashed forward, eager to get past us. But before he could, I put a hand on his shoulder, just like he had done to me. He stilled, tension brewing in his eyes.
“You may have shown your dedication tonight,” I said. My mouth throbbed, but I continued: “But we are watching you. The board. The other members. And me. The only reason my fiancé hasn’t killed you is because you’re obviously valuable to the Syndicate.”
Logan stiffened beside me. He wasn’t a sadist like his father, but perhaps one day, he would learn to like it, as I had. The black-haired man’s eyes glazed over, a flash of anger rumbling through his posture.
“All hail the heiress,” the black-haired man said.
Anger shot through me. At that moment, I made a promise to myself: one day, I was going to kill him. He would bleed out while I laughed.
But I had to wait until I had more power on my side. Revenge was sweetest when it was unexpected. I’d give this black-haired man time to forget me.
Before that, I wanted to indulge in a little fun.
“Say it again, but on your knees this time,” I ordered.
“Zira,” Logan warned, putting a hand on my shoulder.
I kept my eyes on the black-haired man and put up a hand, silencing Logan. “Get on your knees and say it again, or I will have you killed,” I said to the man. “On. Your. Knees.”
The man hesitated. He peeked over at Logan, then, realizing that Logan was truly on my side, he turned back to me. He bowed his head and knelt down.
“All hail the heiress,” he said.
My cheeks hurt, my whole mouth swollen and tender, but I smiled.
“Carry on now,” I said.
He walked past us, leaving his late wife on the floor. I made a mental note to oversee her burial, but right then, I needed to clear my head. Logan put an arm around me, his posture awkward, but soothing too. He was so unlike his father; he must have been a replica of his mother. Soft and kind. Protective too.
“Disgusting prick,” Logan muttered. “She was his wife. Who does that?”
Warmth swelled inside of me. I leaned my head on Logan’s shoulder. I didn’t care what happened to other people—not really, anyway. But I wanted to cling to that small part inside of Logan that wanted to protect his future wife.
We were so disposable here. Easily discarded. And that imbalance dug itself deeper into my skin each time I was sacrificed, like a splinter I could never quite get out. I saw my mother in every powerless woman I passed.
And sometimes, I saw myself too.
“Let’s find you a real dentist,” Logan said. “The implants will be easier to manage.”
I glanced back at the dead woman, but Logan wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, using it to physically angle me away from the room.
“Don’t worry, babe,” he said, guiding me down the hallway. “Once we’re married, you’ll never have to be sacrificed again.”
The neck hole was loose, giving me just enough room to jut back and forth with each thrust as I laid on the bench. Logan plowed me from behind, his grunts loud and emphatic, a performance unlike anything he had ever done while we were alone together. A head lay in the basket in front of me, painted in red light. I wasn’t the first sacrifice in the guillotine that night, and I certainly wasn’t going to be the last. But at least it was a man’s head this time—some initiate’s brother. Even though women were the main source of entertainment, it was a recent Marked Blooms Syndicate rule to make sure that only the men died publicly at the Masquerades. Go ahead and kill as many women as you want in private, just not at our parties.
“Come and play with us,” Logan said, ushering another member over. “Try the game! Press the button!”
A man dressed in black smiled as he took the remote. His white, spiky hair puffed around his head like a halo. Simon, one of the Syndicate’s long-time members. Like a true gentleman, he bent down to grope me, twisting my nipple like a key in the ignition. A buzzing sensation rolled through me, as if his white hairs on his scalp were worms burrowing into my spine. He gripped me like he could squeeze out some milk, and I rolled my eyes. How typical. He lowered himself farther to get a better grip on me, and his spiked hair flooded my vision, reminding me of tiny blades, ready to butcher me, but only after he got a handle on the meat.
Finally, he straightened, fixed his white hair, then pressed the button.
A murmur of disappointment ran through the crowd. One down, nine to go. The game was ten completely randomized clicks, which might or might not trigger the guillotine. A high tech bluetooth setup was integrated with the blade, making it a convenient party game for the Syndicate. There was a chance I would lose my head, but I wasn’t afraid. I had watched the first sacrifice’s decapitation minutes ago, just like I had watched my mother’s. I had survived the Marked Blooms Syndicate for twenty-eight years now, and I had been a sacrifice countless times since her death. If this was my time, then let that warm blanket of death smother me.
Another man stepped forward, a black mask covering his full face and neck. The men in black were already members of the Marked Blooms Syndicate and had gone through the initiation process, but the men in white—like Logan, my husband—were still initiates. Logan handed him the remote. The member’s gaze leered down through the eyeholes at me.
Nothing, again. So much for the excitement.
As part of Logan’s initiation, he was sacrificing me. Ever since my mother had died, my father had been obsessed with guillotines and beheadings. And now, to impress his father-in-law, Logan wanted to do the same by potentially beheading someone he loved. Obviously, Logan’s mother was dead, and his father wouldn’t agree to be his sacrifice, so that left me, the jaded heiress, as his only option. But it was the last time I was going to go through this.
The crowd erupted in laughter as a member made a crass joke—something about the view of my ass being covered by Logan’s bad form—and I forced a smile too. At the next Masquerade, it would be Logan’s turn, and after that, we would both be on the board.
Silence fell over the crowd as heavy footsteps entered the room. The crowd of men parted, and Logan’s mechanical thrusting stopped. A tall man, his body flexing with each step, his chest chiseled and rippling with strength, came forward, each step forceful. Wrinkled black pants on his legs. A bull skull resting on his head, the horns painted black. Light freckles painted the man’s shoulders, and though he was beautiful like a work of art, it was his mask that hypnotized me. The horns stretched wider than an arm span; he must have had to enter the room sideways to get through the doorway.
I glanced around as much as I could in that head hole. Every single member and initiate in the room had fallen to silence, kowtowed by this man.
Who was he?
Logan offered the skull mask man the remote without a word. The skull mask man clutched it in his grasp, then unbuttoned his pants. His length sprang forward in front of me, long and proud, the pale skin tinted pink with blood. Thick black barbed wires were tattooed around his shaft, covering his head, like a symbolic warning. Even in pleasure, he would tear you apart.
He shoved himself inside of my mouth quicker than I could blink, penetrating my throat to the hilt. My eyes watered, the air taken from my body as I choked on his length. His horns pierced the sides of my vision. The shadows of the mask covered his face. His thickness swelled in my throat, then he thrust. Hard. I gurgled in response.
He pulled himself out, letting the head of his length rest on my lips. He circled his hips, letting his head play with my tongue. The stench of saliva and sweat filled my nostrils. I kept my eyes peeled wide, afraid he might disappear.
His neck twitched, then he shoved his length down my throat. As if remembering that he was supposed to be performing too, Logan thrust from behind, but I couldn’t feel him anymore. The stranger shoved himself inside of me until my nose was flat against his skin. I could barely breathe.
Everyone silently watched as the stranger tore my mouth apart. Black tears ran down my cheeks. Maybe those tattoos weren’t barbed wires at all, but the tears of women he used like this. I could barely see, but everything inside of me twitched in a sudden frenzy. It wasn’t random members taking turns with the remote anymore. It was just the skull mask man, absorbing every opportunity to behead me.
The skull mask man bent down, grabbing my face with his hands, the remote sliding against my wet cheek. Then he dug his fingers into my scalp with so much force, it was like he considered my head already detached.
He smacked the side of my cheeks, silently ordering me to open up and take more of his length. I complied.
Click, click, click.
He pulled out, his shaft still hard and twisting with veins. His pale skin had deepened with color, the blood threatening to burst out of his length. Red lipstick painted the base of his shaft.
He wasn’t going to come for me.
Why was I disappointed?
The remote clattered to the floor like a pen in an empty hall. The skull mask man kneeled down in front of me. Two caverns opened in the front of the skull, hollowed out for his eyes. Shadows swarmed over his irises, but his gaze burned deep inside of me.
He gave me a slight nod of his head, as if to tell me it was over now, and he was still by my side. Chills ran down my spine.
And with that, the skull mask man moved toward the door. His boots sent tremors through the room, marking his exit. The crowd silently parted again.
Logan pulled out from behind me. He hadn’t come either, but that was to be expected; he was too uptight for this sort of experience. He zipped his pants, then quickly unlatched the top lunette of the guillotine, removing me from its grasp.
“You made it,” he breathed. The crowd murmured back to life again, now that the skull mask man was gone.
I pursed my lips. “You’re surprised?”
“Relieved,” he gasped. As if this wasn’t his idea.
The members conversed with each other, while several came over to congratulate Logan on his new membership. I pulled on my white dress, pleased that I didn’t have to wash off any blood this time, then I took my place by his side, congratulating him like the others.
Once we were alone, walking toward the main ballroom, I held Logan’s hand lazily. A server came by with a tray of champagne, and we each took a glass. I tossed mine back immediately. Logan took a small sip, watching me over the side of his flute with amusement.
“Next Masquerade, I promise not to put you in the guillotine,” I said.
“What if your father wants it?” he asked.
“He already got his show with you. How about the rack instead? It’s easy, right? And as an official member, they’ll be nice to you,” I winked. “I promise I won’t let them kill you. Just a little caning on your balls.”
Another server passed us, and Logan settled his half-empty flute on her tray.
“I’m not going to be a sacrifice at the next Masquerade,” he said, his words stern, like the matter had already been decided.
But I hadn’t been part of that decision.
I furrowed my brows. “Yes, you are.”
“We talked about this,” he said calmly, brushing the hair out of my eyes. “Only one of us needs to be a member.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Yes, but we made a deal—”
“That one member was supposed to be me.”
I clutched the flute’s stem like a thin neck, ready to snap it in half. Logan was too soft for a life in the Marked Blooms Syndicate. If only one of us would officially join the secret society, it was supposed to be me. My lips curled, forcing my facial muscles into that look of satisfaction.
He was messing with me. He had to be messing with me.
Logan wrapped his hand around my shoulder. “Being in the Marked Blooms Syndicate is too dangerous for you. You’re high profile enough as it is, babe. And after everything you’ve been through, don’t you want to relax? Enjoy your life, for once?”
I chuckled darkly, then ran my thumb across the stem of the flute, wondering how much force it would take to break the damn thing with my hands. If I used that same pressure on Logan’s neck, how long would it take him to asphyxiate?
“Let me deal with the bureaucracy,” Logan murmured. “You do what you do best.”
I cocked my head to the side, ready for his flattery. “And what is that?”
“Being my wife.”
A vein engorged in my neck, making my throat pulse with anger. I held my chin high. The glass was like a small dagger in my hands, and once it had a broken, jagged edge, I’d be able to do some actual damage. God, I wanted to see him bleed right then, but I refused to get my hands dirty.
“You want me to sit back and be your wife?” I asked.
“Oh, come on,” he mumbled. “You know it’s not like that.”
Another member waved, coming toward us to congratulate Logan. Logan greeted the man. I tore myself away from them, knowing that if I stayed any longer, I might literally bite off my husband’s head.
Be his wife. Like that was the only job I was capable of.
If you get on the board, you can have all of your father’s power, my mother had said. You can change the lives of so many women that come after you.
I sure as hell wasn’t going to let my precious husband get in my way.
As I spun around, my heart pounded in my rib cage and I narrowed in on my father’s red face. His cheeks puffed as he saw me, and that pompous stomach hung over his belt. He dismissed the men he was speaking to as I came forward. His fingertips dragged across my back and a prickle of tension rolled down my spine, bringing back unwanted memories.
Bile in my throat. Bent over. Staring at the ground. Waiting for him to finish.
I swallowed and straightened myself. Now that I was married to Logan, he wouldn’t touch me like that anymore. He was loyal in a way; you had to respect that.
“Father,” I said. “There are two open seats on the board, correct?”
“Yes,” he said, a sneer in his voice. “Why?”
“Logan and I are your only logical choices,” I said, tipping my head to the side. A savannah dried the inside of my mouth as I tried to formulate my words. I couldn’t fail now. “I’ve done so much for the Syndicate. Secured partnerships. Found new members. Even got that deal with the pharmaceutical company—”
“And you meddle, Zira,” my father said. “Just like your mother.”
I gritted my teeth, a coldness sweeping through me. My father had probably arranged to have my mother killed; it was no sacrificial coincidence.
But that didn’t matter right then. I simply needed him on my side.
“Every action I’ve ever done has only put the Syndicate in a better position than before,” I said firmly. “And you know it.”
He flexed his fingers, one by one, then flattened his black shirt. His mask was plastered to his skin, making him the epitome of a has-been superhero.
“When I don’t keep a close eye on you, it’s chaos. And now I’ve got two board members’ spots to fill, and you helped make sure of that, Zira. You think I’m going to let you on the board?”
“I’m the only blood you have left in the family,” I snapped. “When you die, who’s going to watch over the Syndicate?”
“Give Logan a son and we won’t have to worry about that.”
It was always about the bloodline, but I refused to have a child. I wasn’t going to bring anyone—man or woman—into this world. Not unless there were some changes.
I reveled in violence. I needed the blood, the flesh smeared beneath my feet. It was what kept me going. But I needed power too.
“Or give me the next seat,” I said.
My father let out a deep sigh and rubbed his forehead. “I will consider it,” he said. My fingers twitched at my sides, my head aching. It was his way of dismissing the subject. It wasn’t a win, so much as a pass, for now.
I glared around the room, searching for some poor soul to be the victim of my angry outburst, to prove to the rest of the members that I did have it in me. I could hurt someone, just like they hurt me.
My father grabbed my wrist and every hair on my body stood on end.
“Don’t do something you’ll regret, Zira,” he said in a clipped tone, tightening his grasp. “If you want that seat on the board, you must behave.”
He dangled the seat in front of me like a treat in front of a dog, promising the greatest rewards. Was it simply a way to keep me in line?
Even if it was, I couldn’t let go of the chance. My blood boiled, veins throbbing all over my chest like a poisonous spider web. Desperate thoughts rang in my ears.
No one had ever been on my side. Not the Syndicate. Not my husband. Not even my father.
Broken Queen: A Dark Revenge Romance coming April 2022!