Home > Queen Alpha (NYC Mecca #2)

Queen Alpha (NYC Mecca #2)
Author: Jaymin Eve, Leia Stone

Chapter One

The first cut is the deepest.

There had been many times in my life I had mourned shifters I loved. I’d mourned the idea of a father since I was old enough to realize I would never know him. I dealt with it, moved on, and decided I’d never do the same thing to my children. But that didn’t mean the hole wasn’t still there. It always would be. I just learned how to accept and compartmentalize it.

Then my mother. Her death had stolen the last of my childhood innocence. Despite the fact she’d always been a bit cold and distant, she was there for advice, for support. That she had been taken before knowing Winnie, my sister, was a double blow, one I wasn’t sure I’d ever really recover from.

Kade had also made that list. The kiss we’d shared at the summer festival stayed with me for five years, and even though he was back in my life, there was still no chance of us ever having more than an alliance. We both ruled different shifter clans. We were allies now, but our people had been enemies for too many years for the animosity to turn into anything positive. Duty and protocol was my priority. My people would always be my focus, but that didn’t mean my heart wasn’t mourning for what was and what could have been. For now, I had Kade in my life as a friend, and I had to accept that was all it’d ever be.

One other death had resonated strongly with me: Jeremiah, the single father of two, who had turned to a life of crime to feed his young. I’d been an heir then, not yet the alpha of the Bronx. I’d seen his trial. The queen had him killed to prove her own strength, to show the other wolves that no one stole in her territory. I had to stand witness then, as I was coming of age. It was not an action any fifteen-year-old wanted to see, especially one who was fragile from the loss of her mother. After that I saw the Red Queen in a different light. I loved her no less, but I feared her a little more. She was brutal in a way I had no comprehension for.

That was also the day I wished to never be queen. I’d been happy being a queen heir with all of the benefits that came with it. Of course, fate had a different idea in store for me, and now I was ruler of the three boroughs in New York City, controlling the mecca, our energy and magic source.

The greatest leaders are forged in fire and trial, and this was going to be one hell of a fiery trial. I was a queen on the brink of a war, which didn’t surprise me in the slightest. But I would not worry on that today. Today I was in mourning again, this time for one of my friends, dominants, and former lovers.

Derek. He had been cut down by a dark fae during the battle at Kade’s home. Cut down protecting me, which he’d been doing for many years. Since becoming the alpha of the Bronx, I’d had six core dominants, the best of my people. My friends. Losing one of our own was a pain that sent roiling surges of mecca through my body. But I had to keep it contained. Mecca was powerful and dangerous; it could easily kill the shifters around me, and I was their queen. It was my duty to protect them.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Monica said beside me, her voice almost inaudible. She had run her hands through her ashy-blonde hair so many times it was literally standing on end, and her eyes were rimmed in red, her hands shaking as she stared out across the mass of shifters before us.

Monica was one of my inner six – well, five now, along with Blaine, Jen, Ben, and Victor – standing with me on the raised platform. Directly across from us, on the funeral pyre, our friend Derek was going out in full warrior fashion, to take his place with the gods. The council, on the other side of the platform, were performing the last rites.

“He went out as a warrior, protecting Ari. He would not have asked for more than that,” said Blaine, one of my oldest and best friends. “It is good that we honor him today, that we stand with all the shifters to honor his sacrifice.”

The rest of the shifter world did not know about the fae threat yet, but they would soon. I’d finally convinced the council that we were at war, and that Derek would only be the first of many. It had taken them quite some time to accept. We’d never had to deal with the fae, the Tuatha de Danann, as a threat. Heck, they had not been much more than a fable, a folk story from the origin of shifters. They’d disappeared from Earth around the time of the first shifters. And yet … they hadn’t disappeared at all. They’d gone into the Otherworld, the parallel land that shared mecca power with us, and now, since the death of the Red Queen, they’d stepped out of the shadows, and wanted control of the mecca energy.

Torine, the oldest of the council, raised his voice as he finished the death ceremony: “Dust to dust, ash to ashes. Derek of the yellow line will now take his place among his ancestors. He will rule in the next life as a warrior. We honor him.”

“We honor him,” was echoed back by the hundreds who were stationed around the expansive and private garden of the royal mansion. It was here that we would send my old friend to the gods.

The council turned to me then and I knew it was time for me to offer reassurance. The fact that Derek was killed in bear territory was not a great thing for our fragile new friendship. Rumors had been rife despite my initial press release about a new threat we were investigating. They thought I was covering for Kade because we were friends. Everyone wanted to blame the bears again for our troubles.

No more.

I stepped forward, my dominants remaining a respectful distance behind me as protocol dictated. “One of our own has been taken,” I said, my voice strong as it echoed across the gardens. “Brutally murdered by the same foe who killed our queen and many of our people on the night of the Summit. This was not the bears’ doing. If it hadn’t been for the bears, we would have lost many more that night. King Kade aided us. He forged a friendship between our people that I want to see grow and develop. For without it, we will have no chance against those who think they can threaten our people.”

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