Home > Queen Heir (NYC Mecca #1)(14)

Queen Heir (NYC Mecca #1)(14)
Author: Jaymin Eve, Leia Stone

I remained behind for a few moments so the council could speak to me about my prize for winning the first trial. I was able to glimpse the small pile of gold, and the very valuable leather-bound magical tome before it was returned to the vault. The gold and spell book would remain in the royal safe until the end of the Summit. If I died, the gold would be handed over to the next alpha of the Bronx. The spell book would be given to Violet. I couldn’t wait to tell her. She’d be thrilled to get her hands on some new material.

I gave a nod, and Calista bowed deeply, before we were whisked off to our sleeping quarters. I knew Selene and Breanna were on the same floor as me, but the guards informed me I had been given the grandest of the three suites since I was the direct heir of the late Red Queen.

As we traversed the halls, I whispered under my breath to Calista: “What have you heard from Violet? I need her back here immediately.”

I wanted to get her in that library before those scents were gone, finding out who killed my queen was high on my list of priorities. Calista typed away on her tablet and pulled up an email. It was from Violet, addressed to me.

Oh my God, I felt her death all the way across the world. You will be called to Summit soon, I need to deal with a serious matter here and then I’m on the first flight home. I love you. Stay strong and kick Selene’s ass. We will avenge our beloved Red Queen. –V

I couldn’t help the grin that lit up my face. Even though I had never expected to be called to the Summit in my lifetime, Violet and I used to play Summit games as kids. Even then we’d hated Selene.

Calista saw my smile and gave me an eye roll. “Violet has never been politically correct.”

No she wasn’t, which was why I loved her. She gave it to you like it was and had the power to back up anything she said. No sugarcoating and no bull.

We reached the large double doors to my quarters. Half of my dominants went in first to make sure it was secure before I was allowed to step into what was basically a three-bedroom apartment. The royal home was even more massive than I’d expected.

As my eyes alighted on what would be my quarters for the next little while, I had to admit that despite my own lovely apartment building in the Bronx, there was absolutely no expense spared within the royal building. Glistening travertine floors, marble countertops and gold accents, decadent furnishings in shades of cream and bronze and rich reds. Everything was of the highest quality, and spaciously designed.

The residence took up some of the most prime real estate in Manhattan. It was priceless. Humans didn’t know about us, we used magic to keep our secrets, but we still ran their cities. We had the best real estate, people in all positions of power, and our fingers on the pulse of our boroughs. Even if humans outnumbered us, we had the magical mecca at our disposal, which more than evened the odds.

As I stepped further inside, a maid scurried along the hall. She wore the red emblem of the queen on her uniform, and her expression was neutral. Respectful. As she closed in on me, she gave a low bow, and when I returned that with a nod she hurried out of the open doorway. The queen staffed over a hundred people to keep her residence going, and as soon as time permitted I intended to interview every single one of them. Someone saw something last night or this morning, and I would find out who killed our queen.

Calista closed the door of my opulent suite then, and I was just about to beeline toward my bedroom when she called out to me.

“What?” I growled, the wolf rising in my voice. Generally I had better control, but I was tired and hungry. “The obligatory dinner isn’t for hours and I need sleep and food.”

The queen’s death had been very early this morning. It was about noon now. I was running on no coffee, no breakfast, and four hours of sleep because Blaine had talked me into playing poker with the guards last night and I had been up past midnight.

My heart clenched then as I realized that Damian and Marco were no longer with us. Their loss would stay with me for a long time, and I was scared that the loss of shifters I cared about was just one of those things I would have to continue to deal with.

Calista put one hand on her hip and stared me down. “I know you, Arianna, better than you know yourself. You think the bear king killed the queen, and the second you sit down to dinner you’ll lose your cool, accuse his representative, and lose the points you know they’ll be awarding for behavior tonight – and possibly throw the whole city into a war.”

I smirked, distracted at least from my grief. Calista was right; she did know me. “I’m not going to be the only one thinking that. Come on, Cal, who else is powerful enough to take down the queen of three boroughs in her own home, where she’s closest to the mecca? The only thing that throws me is the scene we witnessed in the library. That seemed like the sort of place she’d take someone she trusted, and no one would ever trust a bear.”

Calista stared off into space for a moment, her brilliant mind no doubt calculating. “It’s all a bit odd. In general, the Red Queen was not the trusting sort, and she was beyond intelligent and cunning. Somehow she always knew when someone was lying. I just don’t think the bears could easily get the drop on her. It didn’t even look as if she fought back in that room.”

Calista was right. There had been no signs of battle between a bear and wolf. Or even a minor struggle. No books out of place, nor shelves turned over, just massive amounts of blood.

“Maybe they somehow took her by surprise, drugged her or used magic?” I really wanted it to be the bears. I needed a place to release my fury.

   
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