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Beauty & Rage (Broken Crowns #1)
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An abomination came in the middle of the night.
Death and destruction followed in his wake.
The sun fell from the sky and has yet to return.
Now trapped in a world where the savage and corrupt rule, my life has been compromised.
He stole my crown with bloodstained hands and claimed me as his queen.
Reyes Straykova is seductively cruel.
Volatile and ruthless, a vicious beast.
His sinister game has just begun.
Bow to the king and watch chaos reign.
Beauty & Rage is the first book in the Broken Crowns series. It’s PNR (the main characters are not vampires, shifters, or fae) & contains varying triggers.
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Last night, I dreamed of my death again.
I felt the sharpness of doubled-edged teeth digging into my flesh and excruciating pain as my throat was torn open.
Blood ran in thick rivulets over my naked body, staining the forest floor crimson. My heart ceased to beat in the arms of a faceless killer, and then it was over. Everything faded to black.
I awoke as I usually did with perspiration coating my skin, fingers grasping at my neck as if I could fix what had been shredded.
Off and on for the past six months, I’d been having this same dream. I never saw my murderer’s face, and my brain still hadn’t caught on to the fact that it was merely a dream.
None of it was real, yet terror and a deep sense of sadness always remained in the hollows of my chest long after I woke up.
Swiping strands of hair from my sweaty forehead, I clumsily reached for the cup of water I kept on my nightstand, sighing the second the cool glass touched my fingertips.
I’d barely lifted it when a bang on the other side of my door made me jump, sending the cylinder dish straight to the floor where it shattered.
Another bang—more forceful—and someone yelling my name cleared away all lingering drowsiness. The hands of time came to a near stand-still and reality slowly began to seep in.
Something was burning.
It was quiet. While not unusual for such an hour, it wasn’t the kind of quiet that came on the heels of peaceful slumber.
It was unnerving, the type of silence that sent blind panic and blood-curdling dread to the pit of one’s stomach.
That’s what ultimately sent me stumbling from my bed, feet sliding into slippers, just missing the shards of glass scattered across the hardwood.
I undid the heavy lock barring me in and everyone else out, and then pulled the door open.
“Duve!” Toby’s worried face briefly melted in relief. A rushed, “We need to go,” flew from his mouth as his hand shot out to grab my wrist and pull me into an empty hall.
Two guards should have been stationed on either end while I slept, but both were missing.
“What’s on fire?” I asked, settling into a speedy jog to match his pace. The further we went from my bedroom, the stronger the acidic stench in the air became.
“Everything but this castle.”
“Everything?” I struggled to keep my voice level. “Where is the king?”
He stopped abruptly, using a gentle hand to prevent me from slamming into his back.
His head turned to the left and then to the right before he looked at me with a somber expression and unmistakable pity in his dark blue eyes.
“We no longer have a king. We have a queen.”
“What do you mean, we…?” I trailed off as he pulled me forward again, blinking dumbly at the back of his curly blonde head.
I didn’t ask for clarification or elaboration. I knew exactly what he meant.
Without a king, I was to ascend the throne.
Without a king meant my father was dead. My stomach plummeted, heart splitting right down the center.
I’d been raised, educated, and sculpted to be queen, but it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
I staved off the overwhelming urge to fall apart and become deadweight .
As terrible and painful as it was, I had neither the luxury or time to grieve.
“The other supes?” I inquired.
“Scattered or dead.”
That had me drawing up short, pulling my wrist free from his grasp.
“You need to tell me what is going on.”
“I will tell you everything the moment you are safe. Jacinda and Scarlett have already been escorted to safety. The longer we stay here, the more danger you’re in.”
Catching myself before I reacted uncouthly, I nodded as if the news regarding my two closest friends didn’t mean more to me than the well-being of my newly acquired kingdom.
I didn’t like the idea of fleeing. It went against everything I’d been taught, but I knew Toby was loyal and would risk his life to save mine.
If I needed to evacuate, then I trusted no one more than him to ensure I did so.
Stiffly nodding again, I said, “Then let’s go,” allowing him to lead me once more.
Wordlessly, he set off at a rapid pace.
“How are we able to move so freely?”
“The very reason the palace is near empty. Your father’s last order was to protect you by all means necessary. Your subjects took it upon themselves to serve as a…distraction. The ones that haven’t fled ,that is.”
Fled to where? I wanted to ask but knew my energy needed to be solely focused on escaping my burning castle.
My silken slippers fell in rhythm with Toby’s boots as we passed through the emergency exit that led directly to the woodland.
The moment we stepped outside, I sensed an immeasurable amount of death. The stench of burning bodies was in the air, along with the sound of a losing battle.