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Broken Queen

He killed my enemies, so I made him my king.

As the self-proclaimed heiress of a twisted secret society, I vowed to make my enemies pay in blood. To claim my crown, I followed my family's tradition by manipulating others to do my dirty work for me.

Except my father never wanted me to rule over the Marked Blooms Syndicate. He expects me to be the silent wife, obeying the husband he chose for me.

Then Hazard infiltrates the Syndicate and sees down to the deepest, darkest corners of my violent soul. Each time he kills for me, he unravels another thread of my composure, showing me just how much chaos and bloodlust lurk within my cruel heart.

He even gives me my first kill.


But that doesn’t mean I’ll tell Hazard all of my secrets. He wants his sister’s killer, but that information is how I control him.


I will be the queen of the Marked Blooms Syndicate, and no one will stop me.


Not even him.

Author’s Note: Broken Queen is a standalone dark romance. It contains disturbing content and a gruesome secret society. Reader discretion is advised.

Content Warnings

Triggers: trauma, sexual assault (of the heroine by secondary characters, when she was a minor), rape (of the heroine by a secondary characters, when she was a minor), graphic violence, mass murder, cheating (a secondary character cheats on the heroine), irredeemable main characters, dubious consent

Kinks: backdoor action, blood play, breath play, dubious consent, fear play, water torture

Interconnected Standalone: The couple gets their HEA, but the secret society plot concludes with this book.

Chapter 1

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.


“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.” 

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