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Queen Mecca (NYC Mecca #4)
Author:Leia Stone & Jaymin Eve

Queen Mecca (NYC Mecca #4)

Leia Stone & Jaymin Eve



DEDICATION



To the Kings and Queens who rule our hearts.






Chapter One


Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fae-est of them all?


A pair of startling turquoise eyes stared back at me, eyes that should have been familiar considering I had been seeing them in my reflection for twenty years. Except they weren’t. They had changed.

I had changed.

“You look even more beautiful, Ari. Don’t let this throw you.” Violet sat cross-legged on my right, Blaine on my left, the three of our knees touching, just like when we were kids, as we all stared into the huge and ornate mirror hanging in the foyer of Kade’s mansion.

The fae side of me unlocked when I was in the Otherworld. I had known that I was affected by this — senses much sharper, powers increased — but I hadn’t really had the time to focus on the physical change, to truly see myself as I was now.

“I just … I don’t look like me,” I finally murmured, leaning forward, observing the way my eyes were now shot through with gilded sparks. Around my iris was a thin circle of gold, and the green almost looked shimmery, if that was possible. The shape was also a little different, larger and more catlike.

On top of the altered eyes, there were my new fae ears, slightly pointed at the tip — not as much as a full highborn fae, but enough that if you were looking closely you would notice. My hair was still white-blond and long, waves giving it a slightly unruly look when it was let loose, but just like my eyes, it seemed more shimmery now. Same with my skin — still a golden color, but that gold was brighter. Shiny.

I’d thought my darker coloring, including eyebrows and lashes, was courtesy of my Polynesian father’s ancestry. But that father was completely made up, a lie. My true biological father was the evil fae prince of the Winter Court, a man whom had unfortunately passed on quite a few physical traits. And hopefully, no psychological ones.

Blaine stood, reached down and pulled me up and away from the mirror. Blaine and Violet had remained behind with me on Staten Island, on queen protection duty. Not that I really needed them anymore. I was powerful now. Extremely powerful. But it was a relief to have my two childhood best friends with me today. They had been with me through most of my big changes in life. So this felt right.

“Getting closer to the mirror won’t change your new look, Princess,” Blaine said.

I had to swallow hard as I tilted my head back to see his face. His eyes were generally a light green, darkening when he was angry. Thankfully, they were their normal calm color, which actually helped me push down some of my panic. “And Violet is right, you’re even more beautiful. Plus, as a double bonus, you now have the sort of power the rest of us could only dream of. You’re going to be the one to bring us together. To save us from the dark fae.”

No pressure there. The tightness in my chest increased to the point I could barely breathe, but a few calming meditative thoughts and I managed to relax myself again.

It had been two weeks since Dalia fell through the portal on the Island and died in my arms. Two weeks since she had declared that the Winter Court was coming for us all. At first, there had been a huge sense of urgency. Bear and wolf shifters from all around the East Coast had converged on the five boroughs, no one allowed to leave until the threat came to pass, or we were all safe. The weaker members, children, pregnant shifters, and elderly were being hidden away in the human world, in California, far from the mecca and boroughs. It had been a very hard decision for us to make, but we knew the fae wanted our mecca, so we hoped they would focus their attack on the boroughs and leave the outer world alone. Kade and I were staking a lot of lives on that, so I was praying we were right. The second wave of people, the young queen heirs, nonessential staff, and not-combat-ready shifters, were leaving for California tomorrow.

Speaking of children. “Excuse me, Your Highness…” The soft voice interrupted my heavy thoughts, and I turned to find Jane, one of the bear shifters who helped keep an eye on Winnie. I gave her a smile. Jane ran a nervous hand through her long strands of honey-brown hair. No matter how much time she spent in my presence, she remained nervous. But I liked her, for the soft way she spoke to the children, the caring little hugs she gave them when they were hurt. She was one of my sister’s favorite companions. Winnie seemed to love bears much more than wolves; she had really found her place here in Kade’s home.

Violet and Blaine moved on either side of me as the three of us stepped forward. The young bear shifter continued in a rush: “Your cub is demanding to speak with you. She’s refusing to leave.”

Winnie, my baby sister, or truthfully more like my daughter, was supposed to be leaving now in the last of the first wave, heading to stay in the home of a Californian alpha wolf that I trusted.

“Thank you, I’ll go find her now,” I said, striding past Jane and toward the back door of Kade’s house. Even though I was queen again, the ceremony having taken place last week, I had refused to return permanently to live in the Manhattan royal estate. Too many bad memories there. Too much history. I remained with Kade, my bonded mate, on Staten Island. Once this war was over, we would figure out a compromise with ruling together.

Stepping through the back door, I crossed the porch and went down the stairs. My sister would be in the garden. She basically lived out there. A love of nature was something she shared with Kade. I had spent many hours in the last two weeks watching those two play, and garden, and bond. It was pretty much the most perfect thing I had ever seen, and I would not let the Tuatha take it away from me. Now that I had a taste, I was hooked.

“How many shifters did you send to protect the children?” Blaine asked me as we started to cross through Kade’s stunning landscaped yard. “Are you sure they will be safe?”

We were all extra-protective of Winnie — all the children really. It was so hard letting them go, not being there in person to ensure they were safe.

“I sent a dozen of my best fighters. Kade also sent a dozen of his. On top of that, there are a few hundred elders and pregnant women. I’m also sending Seamus and Jesabele, since we have Nikoli and Violet. The children will be well cared for, but nothing is definite.”

It was a hard decision to send away two of our magic born. There weren’t many in the pack, and I would no doubt need all the firepower I could get. But if we perished in this war, I needed to know someone with magic remained behind to protect the rest of our people. I would not let shifters fall to extinction.