Home > Queen Heir (NYC Mecca #1)(16)

Queen Heir (NYC Mecca #1)(16)
Author: Jaymin Eve, Leia Stone

Holy heck. This guy was huge.

What did he advise the king on, lifting weights? He was at least 250 pounds of solid muscle, with a full beard and a shaved head. He also had a neck tattoo which I couldn’t clearly make out from the photo. It looked like a crossed set of throwing axes in some sort of emblem.

Overall he looked exactly the way you’d expect a bear shifter to look. Huge, thick muscles, broad body, squinty eyes, and roughly hewn features. But I knew from personal experience not all bears were mass and brute strength. The guy I’d kissed on the Island that summer – a memory I did not like to think on, or talk about, it had been a moment of weakness – was kind of scrawny. Granted, who isn’t scrawny at fifteen, but I couldn’t believe he’d ever turn out to be as huge and imposing as this advisor to the king, even as a grown male.

“His name is Gerald and he’s the king’s war councilman. When we extended the dinner invite we said any one representative could come. The king has sent a message by sending this man.”

My hands stilled over the plate. Yes, he had definitely sent a message. “You know that our queen just died and you send a war council leader. The king intends to declare war.”

The waver in my voice startled me a bit. I was an alpha and an heir; fear was foreign to me. With our queen in power and four heirs, we were untouchable. Now we had three heirs and a dead queen and our magic was leaking out all over New York City. Fear was becoming very real to me.

“Maybe not.” Calista was trying to be diplomatic again, or at least keep me from losing my mind and trying to kill the muscled mountain of man who was the king’s representative.

“Hah! You think he intends to declare peace?”

Calista raised one eyebrow and shrugged.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about the bear king or his people. Our studies included them of course, but the truth was, there just wasn’t a lot of information out there about them. They kept their people locked down hard, and even though secret dalliances occurred at times between bear and wolf, pillow talk must be minimal, because no new info made its way to the leaders.

If I became queen, I would have to deal with the bear king from time to time. In the past the bear shifters had been a problem for us, but the dark war was over now and we had settled into a tenuous truce, a peace treaty that had held for over a century.

But nothing lasts forever.

I gripped the steak knife in my hand and met my advisor’s eyes.

“Mark my words, Calista, if the bear king declares war on our people, I will slit this man’s throat in front of the entire council, because he’ll be all but admitting to killing my queen.”

Calista shook her head, but not before I saw her smirk. She knew me well and she knew I would carry through on my words no matter what her personal advice was. I was honor bound to three of my people now, and I would see justice done.

Two hours later I was ready for the dinner. Dressed in a lace-up corset dress that was the color of blood, I had a knife strapped to my thigh, and another in my ankle boots. My hair had been expertly braided, and Calista had instructed the makeup artist to dramatically enhance my eyes with black smoky shadow. They looked larger, and their aqua color was bright and striking against the kohl. My lips, too, were covered in a bright red gloss. I finished off my outfit by donning golden arm cuffs, designed to protect my wrists in battle. I was mixing dining attire with my standard battle dress to send a message. I could be pretty and proper, but I could also kill.

As an heir, my appearance was examined closely, especially during the Summit. I would have to get used to it. It hadn’t been so bad before the Red Queen’s death, I could wear whatever I wanted – except on official duty days – but when I was queen I would have attendants waiting on my every need and would be expected to wear the finest clothes and have my makeup and hair ready at all times. It was my least favorite part of the job, but appearances were important when you were under the scrutiny of millions. Our NYC packs were only tens of thousands, but as a queen I would be linked to the entire wolf-shifter community. They no doubt were sitting with rapt attention at their computers now, waiting to hear word of a new queen. The power loss here affected them all too.

Just before we left, Calista pulled me in front of the mirror. “Say the phrases.”

I rolled my eyes. Not this crap again.

Her glare cut through me. “I’m serious. It works. Say them.”

Calista thought you could affect reality by being overly confident and saying positive statements. It was cute and she was my dearest ally, so I humored her.

“I am going to be the next queen. I will pass the Summit with grace and ease. I will win.” The words left my lips and I did feel a bit more in control, a bit surer. Maybe Calista wasn’t completely crazy, even if it was a placebo effect.

Calista smiled and we made our way to the dining hall with twenty guards at my back, a mix of royal house guards and my own.

I arrived a little early because I knew that would carry favor with the council; they were sticklers for punctuality. And sure enough, all eleven of them were already seated along the huge banquet table. As I strode across the room toward them, I was pleased to see Finn waiting for me, his huge body seated near my place at the table.

The dining room was huge, the large rectangular table in the center. The heirs would be at the head of the table with the bear councilman. The queen’s council and other important dignitaries were already seated along the rest of the length. Stepping further into the room, I sighed at the pure overindulgence here. There were three large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, each the size of a small car, and must have held a million glittery crystals to be sending off sparkles like that. The walls were lined with priceless pieces of art, and the floor was marble inlaid with gold.

   
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