This is so weird! Kelly Meade has been on my radar since 2009 when Three Days to Dead was released under her ‘other’ author name, Kelly Meding. What a unique and fascinating story! Since then, I check out as much of her works as I can. So there was never any question that I would check out her newest series, even though she wrote it under a different name. It’s still very Kelly.
The weird thing is that even though I have been a fan for years, I have never interviewed her about her books before! Heck, I even met her in NOLA for AAD in 2012! We shared a cab to the airport for goodness sake! What the hell have I been waiting for?!
Apparently, I have been waiting until now. I am very pleased to have Kelly here on the blog today. Welcome to the blog Kelly!
Hi Julie! I’m so happy to be here for the first time! Which is totally cool, since we’ve had the chance to meet in person at a con. This is like a belated follow-up.
Belated follow-up. I like that.
Let us start with the most obvious question, the one I’m sure many have or will ask you. Why the name change? You have written under Kelly Meding for years so why now write under Kelly Meade? And why Meade? Why not Johnson or Zackman?
I have two reasons for the name change. The first of which is that this is a genre change for me. My Dreg City and Metawars series are very much urban fantasy, with a little bit of romance on the side. The Cornerstone Run trilogy is meant to be paranormal romance, with one couple central to each book. I wanted to differentiate this series from my other books. The other reason was that I wanted a “fresh” start for these books. Both of my Kelly Meding series have been canceled due to poor sales, but Kelly Meade is brand new. She doesn’t have a sales record, and maybe a new name will draw in new readers unfamiliar with my previous works (which will then hopefully turn them onto my previous works).
And I did actually consider Johnson, which is my mom’s maiden name. But I chose Meade because it’s close to my real last name, and it rolled off the tongue nicely.
Let’s talk about your new series. The first book in your Cornerstone Run trilogy released yesterday! It focuses primarily around McQueen, a father who also happens to be the loup garou Alpha of the Cornerstone Run and his three sons, Rook, Bishop and Knight. Tell us a bit more about the series.
I had a lot of fun coming up with this series. I love writing about shifters, so it’s been a blast creating my own loup garou (wolf shifter) mythology, and then weaving in two other paranormal creatures (vampires and Magi). In this world, wolf packs are called runs, and they live together in small sanctuary towns scattered across the USA. Vampires are extremely rare. Many were killed off two generations ago during a major conflict with the loup garou, so they stick to the shadows. The Magi are a powerful and very secret sect of magic users who hate everything about the loup garou. They consider them mindless animals. The two species live with an uneasy truce and generally stay away from each other.
The main setting for these books is the sanctuary town of Cornerstone, Pennsylvania—a remote town in Central PA where loup have lived for more than two hundred years. Their Alpha is Thomas McQueen, and each book in the series focuses on one of his three sons, and the heroine who steals his heart.
Black Rook is the title for the first installment. What can readers expect when reading it?
You can absolutely expect typical Kelly Meding action and snark. Rook and Brynn are nowhere near as sarcastic as Evy Stone, but they have some good lines. You can also expect some twists that shake up the game board. Not everything is as it seems. Plus, you know, some romance.
I think now would be a good time to talk about the boys’ names. Rook, Bishop and Knight. Where did they come from?
About two years ago, I was watching an independent film and one of the characters was named Rook. I thought that was a really cool name, so I tucked it away. When I started developing Cornerstone Run, I decided to name one of the heroes Rook. For the fun of it, I thought about other chess pieces that might make good names. Bishop was a given. I almost chose King for the third name, but Knight just fit better. Plus I got to have a “White Knight.” Gotta love word play.
Your shifters are “loup garou” and not werewolves. Why?
Because everyone else writes about werewolves. Even in my Dreg City series, I initially wasn’t going to have wolf shifters of any kind (and that obviously changed by book four). But I wanted to write wolf shifters, so I did some research. Loup garou is the French myth of a man who can shift into a wolf at will, and I liked the idea of playing with a European legend. It’s also common in werewolf mythology that a man can become a werewolf by being bitten—not so my loup garou. You are born one, you can’t be made into one.
Writing any sort of shifter these days can’t be easy. There are so many twists and qualities that exist already in published works! Are there any traits that you wanted to give to your loup garou that you eventually thought twice about because it felt overdone?
Besides being wolf shifters? LOL. Some of the traits made me squirm a little bit, but while they can seem overdone, they’re also things that readers of those books expect. They want the men to be strong, Alpha males. They want them to be possessive of their women, and to be badass fighters. Sometimes you just have to embrace the trope, you know?
One trait that I absolutely adored about your loup garous was how the color of the wolf determined his status in the run. Black, Gray and White means something very different. Such a neat idea! Tell us a little bit about this.
The idea of giving each color different traits came out of the need for conflict between the brothers. I always knew Rook would be the first book, and I wanted him to have some kind of conflict with his oldest brother Bishop. The color thing gave that to me. Gray Wolves are the most common, average loup. Black Wolves are about a quarter of the population. They’re the biggest, strongest, fiercest fighters, and they are typically the Alpha male and female. White Wolves are incredibly rare, and they are empathic. They can soothe tensions and manipulate the emotions of other loup in order to keep the peace and prevent fights.
The big conflict of Black Rook is that Bishop is Gray. He’s also ten years older than Rook, and he’s been training to be Alpha his entire life. And then Rook comes along, and he’s a Black Wolf, so by run tradition, he has every right to take Alpha from Bishop if he wants it. Rook isn’t sure he does, but when his attempt at a professional music career goes bust, it seems like the only future for him—but that requires taking Bishop’s future from him.
Is there one brother that tugs on your heart strings a little more than the others? I bet it’s Knight. It’s Knight, right?
It is totally Knight. You know me so well! He’s the sensitive one, the loup responsible for the mental well-being an entire town. He spends so much time minding others that he doesn’t really take care of himself.
Okay, enough about the men. Let’s talk about Brynn, the heroine in Black Rook. She is a Magus. For those who have not read the book yet (and you better all get on that right away), explain what that is.
A Magus is a magic user. They are a race of people who live close together in a secret society, and their abilities range from illusions to fire-starting to healing. All sorts of magic. They are also very political. Marriages are arranged based on suitability of magical powers, and how the combination will affect their future children. The first-born child of any Magi couple is the strongest, so often they only have one. Brynn is, unfortunately, her father’s second child (her twin sister, older by a few minutes, died right after birth). She has precognitive visions, but she can’t control what she sees or how she sees them. The lack of control makes her a disappointment to her father, and she’s lived her life in his very dark shadow.
I found Brynn to seem meek and uneasy on the surface but there is quite a strength to her. You could have made it easy on yourself and write an all out I’ll-kick-your-head-in-if-you-look-at-me-funny heroine but you went the strong and silent route. Do you pre-plan your characters or do they present themselves to you on paper as you are writing?
For Brynn it was a little bit of both. In figuring out her background as a disappointment, that really colored her view of herself. She wasn’t trained to fight or to stand up for herself. She finds that strength deep inside of herself. In some ways, I did plan that. I didn’t want to write a kick-ass heroine right out of the gate (wait for Bishop’s book for that one). I wanted a heroine who was strong in a different way.
In that way, some character traits are pre-planned. Other traits do tend to appear as the writing process goes along. The character of Shay Butler was a discovery process for me. We meet in her Black Rook and she sticks around for the trilogy, getting a much bigger role in White Knight. By the time the last book rolled around, she was surprising me left and right.
Is there a chance of writing more books featuring other characters that we meet in the series after the main trilogy is finished. For example Devlin…unless you plan on killing him off which, after having read your books in the past, I would not put past you 😉
Any future books depend on how well this trilogy is received. There is absolutely room to write about some of the secondary characters, and the cast will continue to expand (and shrink) in Bishop’s book. Plus there are other sanctuary towns out there besides Cornerstone. I’d love to play more in this world. So I guess the vague answer is “we’ll see.”
Did anything surprise you while writing this series. Such as, while writing, did you suddenly find yourself typing “then Bishop suddenly started spewing fire” and think to yourself “Whoa, where did that come from?!”
There is definitely a moment in White Knight (the last book) in which I killed off a character that I’d outlined to be there to the end. It just kind of happened, and I was very “Um…is this a good idea? Are people going to hate me?” But I did it, because it really worked with the direction of the story. I didn’t have too many surprises while writing, because I had all three books fairly well outlined before I even sold the trilogy. I needed to know I had an ending. But there were a handful of unexpected moments.
The next release in this series is Gray Bishop. It’s due out October 21st 2014. Tell us about this one.
This is, obviously, Bishop’s book. Black Rook establishes the beginning of the major, three-book arc, and it continues into Gray Bishop. It also takes a deeper look into the future of the run’s next Alpha (which is decided in the previous book and I’m not telling), as well as the politics of the loup garou runs. Plus Bishop totally meets his match in the one woman he’s not allowed to be with, but totally wants anyway.
Okay, flash four time.
Flash four questions about books and writing ~
How long, from start to end, did it take you to write “Black Rook”?
I honestly could not tell you. I think I write it while working on other projects at the same time, so probably a couple of months.
Did you see yourself being a writer as you were growing up?
No. For a long time I wanted to work in film. First in visual effects, and then as a screenwriter. The idea of being a novelist didn’t really hit me until college.
In what room of your house do you write from?
I used to have an office dedicated to that, but circumstances changed so now my desk is in my bedroom. Once in a while I’ll write on the living room couch.
Do you tend to come up with the title for your book before you start writing it, while you’re writing it or when it’s all done?
Depends. For Cornerstone Run, I had all of the titles before I began. Some of the Dreg City books I didn’t title until after I’d begun writing, or even after I’d finished.
Flash four questions about random things ~
Sweet or salty snacks?
Lately, definitely salty.
What color is your toothbrush?
White and blue.
Your high school experience: good or bad?
Blah. Not bad, but not altogether noteworthy or terribly exciting.
What do you like on your pizza?
Spinach, mushrooms, bacon, pineapple, ham, broccoli and cauliflower (not necessarily all at the same time, though).
Thank you Kelly for answering my many questions today. You rock and your book rock too.
I’ve included some fun stuff that was sent to me to share with you today. There is an excerpt of Black Rook, info on where to find Kelly and a ballot to enter a pretty nifty giveaway. If you fill out the Rafflecopter ballot below, you could win a whole bunch of nifty stuff. Good luck to you if you decide to enter!
Excerpt – Chapter 1
Brynn Atwood observed the entrance to McQueen?s Auction House, as she had done for the past few minutes while she gathered the courage she needed to leave the safety of her rental car. A steady stream of vehicles entered the parking lot and ejected browsers and buyers, all eager to view today?s auction and visit with acquaintances seen only during these once-a-week sales. Not Brynn. She was certainly the only person who?d showed up today intending to prevent a murder.
Walking alone into a town populated with and run by loup garou wasn?t the smartest thing she had ever done in her twenty-four years, but it certainly counted as the bravest. If she managed to achieve her goal, even her father would have to admit to her courage and to the validity of her visions. He didn?t trust in her seer ability, nor did he believe that her vision of him being murdered by a loup garou would come true.
?Surely you know I would never put myself into a situation that would result in such a calamitous outcome,? her father, Archimedes Atwood, had said the previous day. And as with every chilly encounter between them in the last few months, he?d spoken with the impatience of a strict teacher correcting a belligerent child. ?Perhaps some of your visions have come true on occasion, but do not use me to distract attention from your own disgrace. I have no more time for this nonsense.?
Her visions were always nonsense.
Archimedes was a Prime Magus in the Congress of Magi, one of four, as well as a powerful practitioner of elemental magic. He?d never hidden his disappointment over Brynn?s uncontrollable precognitive powers?powers he had yet to acknowledge were real?or her inability to one day claim his spot on the Congress. She was too weak, a failure as a Magus. She couldn?t even manage to keep her job as a Congress tutor for more than two years. All she had left were her infrequent visions, in whatever time or manner they chose to come.
And worse yet, he had all but accused her of fabricating this vision and the need to save him in order to make up for the shame she?d brought to their name when she was fired. She didn?t want the vision to be true. She wanted her father alive for many years to come.
She would figure out how to save him on her own. She would prove her value.
Brynn climbed out of her car and surveyed the quickly filling parking lot. In any new situation, her best first step was to observe her surroundings, study others, and discover the way to best fit in. She had never before attended a public auction of any sort; she knew only that antiques and other goods were bid upon and purchased, sometimes at outrageous prices. Some patrons walked into the building carrying their own boxes, clearly expecting to purchase items. Others entered carrying only cups of coffee or soda, or small children.
The variety of patrons surprised her: young and old, scruffy and well-kempt, couples and singles and large groups, and families. Some drove up with pickups and vans; some parked expensive cars in the narrow, crowded lot. Everyone seemed at ease.
I must stick out like a smoking vampire in daylight.
Standing there like a fool would only garner her unwanted attention. Subtlety was the route to accomplishing her task. Brynn forced her feet to carry her forward, past other vehicles, toward the main entrance. Everyone seemed to be entering the large, barnlike building through those glass double doors. A few people came back to the parking lot from the side of the building, which indicated a back entrance/exit, as well. She?d tried to find blueprints of the layout before her arrival, but getting any sort of in-depth information on Cornerstone, Pennsylvania, was next to impossible.
The town had a small population of six hundred forty-one residents, and Brynn could guess that about ten percent were human. Cornerstone was founded by a run of loup garou nearly two centuries ago, and was one of a dozen similar safe havens around the country. Much like the Congress of Magi and a few surviving nests of vampires, loup garou runs required secrecy and anonymity to survive in the modern world. The weekly auctions at McQueen?s brought outside income to the town without the interference of tourism or industry, and it kept them from appearing too insular to the outside world.
Her father stubbornly refused to have any faith in her abilities, but Brynn?s visions of the future came true without fail, and the most recent had led her here to McQueen?s Auction House. Led her to the loup garou she?d seen standing over her father?s broken body. The man her careful research told her was named Rook McQueen.
The boy, she corrected.
As a general rule, her people did not trust technology. The Magi trusted tradition and magic above all else. Growing up an only child with few friends, Brynn spent hundreds of hours on her computer?a gift awarded by her father on her twelfth birthday, as a means to keep her mind occupied beyond the limited resources of their home?s physical library. Only weeks before, she had spoken to him of her first vision. In the middle of reading a book, she had seen a clear image of a baby bird falling from a nest. It disturbed her so much that she?d fled into the backyard in time to see it happen. She scooped the tiny robin up and climbed the tree where she spotted the nest, returning the lost baby to its siblings.
She was so proud when she told her father about it that night?not only the bird, but the premonition. Her very first display of a Magus power. ?Manifestations of a child?s overactive imagination,? he had scoffed. ?Do not bother me with these small things, daughter.?
The computer became her gateway to the outside world, a link to knowledge far beyond the borders of her home in Chestnut Hill. And like the young sleuths in the slim novels she?d loved so much, Brynn taught herself how to research and investigate?skills that had served her well these last few days as she raced to identify her father?s killer.
One of three sons of Thomas McQueen, the auction house?s owner, Rook was two years younger than herself, a recent college graduate, and the former lead singer of a popular local rock band?not exactly the portrait of a killer, loup garou or otherwise. And yet the brief glimpse of him in her vision, skin marked with tattoos, human teeth bared, and hands covered in her father?s blood, showed him capable of violence, as all loup garou inevitably were.
She would not allow her father to become Rook McQueen?s victim. Archimedes Atwood was too important, not only to herself but to the Congress of Magi. The Magi were small in number, and they relied on their leaders to protect them from their enemies, including the volatile, deadly loup garou. And as an elemental Magi, he was among the most powerful. Few others shared his ability to manipulate fire. Their people needed him, so Brynn needed to protect him. She had to find a way to prevent her father?s murder before it occurred.
The biggest blank in her research was Rook?s relationship to the run?s Alpha. Brynn had no access to the Congress?s files on the loup garou, and she couldn?t directly ask her father for the name of Cornerstone?s Alpha?her father had no idea she?d identified his would-be assassin, or that she was in central Pennsylvania doing reconnaissance on said assassin, instead of at the family home wallowing in her professional disgrace.
A random loup killing her father carried a very different meaning than a loup from within the higher ranks of the run?s Alpha family?the latter could easily be considered an act of war against the Congress of Magi. A foolishly begun war, as the Magi and loup had maintained an uneasy peace for the last sixty years.
Concentrate, foolish girl, before you get yourself killed. This isn?t one of your novels, this is real.
Brynn smoothed her palms down the front of her green t-shirt and tugged at the hem. She stopped, recognizing the nervous gesture, a habit from the two years she?d worked as a Congress tutor, which required skirts and blouses and high heels. The t-shirt, denim shorts, and Keds combination she?d chosen for today?s mission had been partly for comfort in the August heat and partly to blend in. The final piece of her costume was the Magus pendant hidden behind the t-shirt, which would act as a sensory mirror and hide her natural scent?any loup sniffing her for signs of ?other? would smell a common human female, instead of a Magus. The auction attracted dozens of human buyers, but the people who ran it and worked there were still loup. The pendant was her only real protection against their sense of smell.
The stolen pendant, you fool. Plucking it from her father?s office had nearly given her fits, and her father would be apoplectic when he discovered it was missing?yet another reason to finish her task and return home posthaste. Maybe, just maybe, she could prevent this vision from coming true. She had to try.
Nerves twisted her stomach into a tight ball that nearly squeezed the air from her lungs. The thump of music and drone of voices greeted her as Brynn pushed open the door and stepped inside McQueen?s Auction House.
Avesta, protect me, your loyal daughter.
Plea to the Magi?s patron sent, Brynn forced her anxiety into the background and paid closer attention to her surroundings. The entrance was spacious, with a short hallway and a brightly painted ?Restrooms? sign on her immediate right. On the left was a bulletin board covered in layers of posters and flyers advertising yard sales and on-site auctions. Past it was a roped-off stairwell going up to parts unknown. A handsome young man in cowboy boots and a matching leather hat leaned near the stairwell, sipping from a Styrofoam cup, as though he lived solely to hold up that particular wall.
His intent gaze landed on her, and she didn?t have to search for the copper flecks in his brown eyes to know he was loup garou. Brynn?s insides froze, but she forced out a calm, flirty smile. She knew she was attractive enough to gather a few second glances, and he was what she might hesitantly call beautiful?if a man could be considered so?with a slim nose and perfectly symmetrical features. However beautiful, this man was also her enemy. His body was fit, impeccably toned, and even at ease he thrummed with the power of his caged beast. He also wasn?t Rook McQueen, so although he was quite pleasant to look at, he did not hold her interest.
He tilted his head in a friendly gesture, then winked. Brynn blushed and ducked her head, a reaction she did not have to fake. Male attention of any sort nowadays left her insides squirrely, a sense of bitter panic residing where her confidence had once dwelled. She also needed to remain inconspicuous while here, and flirting with a local cowboy was not the way to stay alive.
Brynn followed an elderly couple out into the main room. She slipped over to her left, out of the flow of traffic, and absorbed the scene of orderly chaos. An elevated pair of cash registers stood near the entrance, with lines on each side. The customers in line traded personal information for a large index card with a number written in black marker. Cards in hand, the customers went to one of many places in the cavernous room.
Dozens of tables of merchandise were set up along the perimeter of the room, three rows deep, and at the center of it all was a dais, two stools, and a microphone. Directly behind the dais was a long row of antique furniture and four glass cases. Rows of mismatched chairs covered the rest of the floor space, facing the dais. At least half the chairs were marked by either sitting bodies or empty boxes waiting for their owners. In the far back of the room, close to Brynn?s position, was a food counter advertising sandwiches and chips and cold sodas, and it produced the bitter scent of over-brewed coffee. Opposite Brynn was another set of propped-open double doors, and a steady stream of people moved in and out of a second room that seemed crowded with boxes.
Someone jostled past on a waft of coffee-scented air, alerting Brynn to the competing odors in the room. The food counter fought with the tang of human body odor, as well as the musty stink of old paper and leather. A damp smell, like rain, hung over everything else, reminding her that even though she was surrounded by human beings, nonhumans also mingled. Every loup in the room posed a threat to her safety.
Brynn walked along the back wall, out of the heavier flow of people, alert for her prey. She spotted three other men who set off her loup alarms. Each wore a black t-shirt and jeans, just like the man outside in the cowboy boots.
McQueen employees. They must be.
One of them lingered near the dais, chatting with an older woman in a purple caftan, giving her his full attention while still managing to observe the room. He had a strong facial resemblance to the loup in the entrance, and a stronger resemblance to the photo she?d found of Rook. Each could easily be one of Rook?s two brothers. Brynn swallowed hard, mouth dry. If two of the three McQueen brothers worked here, maybe Rook did, as well. He could appear at any moment.
Your brother may one day murder my father.
The thought saddened her. Rook wasn?t just a potential murderer. He was also a brother and a son, and his family would miss him if he were gone. They would also fight to protect him the moment they considered her a threat.
You can?t think about that now, foolish girl.
Brynn inhaled a steadying breath. She palmed her right hand in her left, the fingers of her left hand smoothing over the gold band of the ring she wore on her right index finger. The top of the ring appeared to be a piece of costume jewelry, a blue gem the size of a nickel. A blue gem filled with a paralytic poison, developed decades ago to specifically target the loup garou?s nervous system. One tap of the ring would send a dose of poison down the ring?s band to her hand, and one firm handshake with any loup would put enough on his skin to kill him within an hour. No one would suspect such an innocuous item to be a deadly weapon, which was exactly the reason she?d stolen it from her father?s study.
As a small child, she had once overheard him boasting to another Magus of using the ring to drug an unsuspecting loup garou, and they were none the wiser. She had thought this made her father particularly clever, and the moment had stayed with her. Brynn Atwood might walk alone into a loup sanctuary town, but she wouldn?t walk in unarmed.
She had a single dose of the antidote hidden in her car in case she accidentally poisoned someone?no sense in leaving that to chance. She might be willing to kill to protect her father and she would defend herself if attacked, but she would not hurt an innocent loup.
If loup could be considered innocent. Her father would scoff at the notion.
She had considered her plan a dozen different ways before engaging. She didn?t rush blindly ahead. She rarely undertook any sort of action without having first clearly considered the potential outcomes. The only action guaranteeing her vision never came true was her removing Rook from the equation. Murdering him first. That was, however, a last resort action that almost guaranteed her own death at loup garou hands, as well as bringing the full power of her father?s anger down on their run.
She preferred the plan where she observed, gathered information, possibly discovered who the run Alpha was so she could introduce herself, and then took steps to prevent her vision that left all involved happy and healthy?her father especially.
Awareness prickled up her spine just as a male voice said, ?You look a bit lost, miss.?
Brynn turned, not terribly surprised to find the cowboy from the entrance watching her. The cup was gone, but he still wore the silly leather hat, which cast a shadow over his eyes. It didn?t hide his beauty, though.
?I was supposed to meet someone here, but I don?t see them yet,? she said, the rehearsed lie falling easily from her lips.
?That explains it, then.? His tone was light, his voice lyrical and calming, but it still held a hint of danger. And challenge.
?Why you looked like you were casing the place.?
She laughed without forcing it, finding actual humor in the comment. ?Do you often have problems with armed robbers staging stickups here??
?No, but we?ve caught a few thieves over the years, trying to break in and steal items before they go up for sale.?
?Are you saying I look like a thief??
?You just looked a little lost, that?s all. This your first time here??
?It?s that obvious??
He lifted his left shoulder in a shrug. ?My father owns the place, and I?ve worked for him since I was a kid. I know all of the regulars, and most of the semi-regulars. New faces are easy to spot, especially faces as pretty as yours.?
Two things solidified for Brynn then: this man was definitely one of the McQueen brothers, and he was definitely flirting with her. Inbred disgust at the loup?s attention seized her, and she barely managed to stall a physical reaction.
He jumped, then his hand went to his jeans pocket. Brynn?s rising alarm calmed when he whipped out a vibrating cell phone and checked a message. ?Damn,? he said as he tucked the phone away again. ?Work calls.?
?Don?t let me keep you.?
?I hope your friend shows soon. In the meantime, take a look around. We?ve got a lot of great stuff today.?
He eased past her and walked straight up the center aisle of chairs to the dais, directly to the other man she suspected of being a McQueen. She watched them from the corner of her eye, but the other man gestured at the furniture behind the dais. They didn?t seem to be talking about her. She?d just had a conversation with her target?s brother and no one suspected a thing.
Don?t get cocky. Things could still go badly in a moment?s time.
She pushed away the voice of reason. A little more confident now, Brynn gave herself permission to look around. It was her first auction, after all. She wandered to the other side of the room, as much to make a show of belonging as to check out some of the items for sale. She?d always assumed auctions were full of dirty antiques and shiny glass baubles, but the table nearest her was covered with books. Boxes and boxes of books?hardcovers, paperbacks, textbooks, in all genres and on all subjects. The reams of knowledge in those boxes made her chest ache for the satisfaction she used to get from teaching.
Until last month, when she was fired from her tutor position and found herself with zero standing among her people, and with no hope for her future.
Maybe after this you?ll find a new calling as a Congress investigator.
Smiling at the ridiculous notion, she picked up a thick copy of the annotated works of Homer and smoothed back the torn corner of its dust jacket. Nostalgia for school and learning settled heavily in her chest, so heavily it tried to force up tears. She?d briefly considered returning to school and earning a new degree, since history and education hadn?t served her very well. Briefly. If the Alpha reacted badly to her presence in his town, or Rook took issue with her allegations, she?d never get the chance to reconsider her education more thoroughly.
She?d never get the chance to do a lot of things. Her father once said that loup justice was swift and merciless.
She put the book down and pinched the bridge of her nose, damming the tears and steeling her nerves. She would not cry, not here in public. Not when she needed to accomplish a job that required her full attention.
A flash of movement caught her attention, and Brynn turned her head toward the entrance. Her gaze drifted up. Above the entrance, probably accessible from that roped-off staircase, was a large window and a room behind. Two men stood at the window, talking and gesturing, in what looked like an office. Probably the manager?s office, which gave him a bird?s-eye view of his business.
The shorter of the two men captured and held her attention. Hints of a tattoo peeked out from beneath the sleeve of his black t-shirt. Metal glinted in his right earlobe, and another tattoo?or possibly the same?crept down his ear to his neck and disappeared into the collar of his shirt.
Even in profile, Brynn knew him. Fear and rage collided in a storm of cold and heat, and she clenched her hands into tight fists.
Rook McQueen. Her father?s future killer.
Blood rushed hot in her veins, and her heart thumped harder. He wasn?t just a face in a vision any longer. He was real.
?Ma?am?? The strange male voice alarmed Brynn into spinning around too fast. Her elbow clipped the voice owner in the chest and he grunted. Brynn?s stomach bottomed out. The man from the front of the room, her second McQueen brother suspect, frowned darkly, and she saw her own death there.
?I?m so sorry,? Brynn said. ?Are you all right??
?Fine. I?m sorry to bother you, but do you drive a white Dodge Neon??
She blinked at the odd question about her rental car. ?Yes, I do.?
?Someone reported that they backed into your car. You may want to come with me and exchange insurance information.?
?Oh for Av?God?s sake.? Brynn mentally slapped herself for the near slip. Using ?Avesta?s sake? in the presence of a loup garou was as obvious as wearing a t-shirt that said ?Yes, I?m a Magus Spy. Kill Me.?
?Small lot, so it happens once in a while,? the man said. Up close, she better saw the resemblance to the cowboy-wannabe in his narrow nose and hooded eyes. However, the slight roundness in his cheekbones and higher forehead showed a more pronounced similarity to Rook. And he was definitely older than the other two. ?The auction doesn?t start for another forty minutes, if you?re worried about missing something.?
?No, it?s fine,? Brynn said, even though it wasn?t. The coincidence unnerved her, but she had no choice except to see how this played out.
He stepped to the side. ?After you.?
She walked to the end of the row of chairs and made her way back toward the auction house entrance, keenly aware of her shadow?s presence, and that she?d just turned her back on one of her people?s greatest enemies.
|About Kelly Meade
||Raised on a steady diet of Star Wars, Freddy Krueger and “Fear Street” novels, Kelly Meade developed a love for all things paranormal at a very young age. The stealthy adolescent theft of a tattered paperback from her grandmother’s collection of Harlequins sparked an interest in romance that has continued to this day.
Black Rook is the first novel in her Cornerstone Run series, a paranormal romance trilogy from Berkley Intermix that also includes Gray Bishop and White Knight. It follows three loup garou brothers who will do anything to protect their town, their family, and the secret of their existence?and maybe fall in love in the process.
|Writing as Kelly Meding, Three Days to Dead is the first book in her Dreg City urban fantasy series. The series follows Evangeline Stone, a paranormal hunter who is resurrected into the body of a stranger and has only three days to solve her own murder and stop a war between the city’s goblins and vampires. Additional books in the series, As Lie the Dead, Another Kind of Dead, and Wrong Side of Dead, are available in both digital format and mass market paperback from Bantam. Book five, Requiem for the Dead, is available digitally through all platforms.
Trance begins the story of the grown-up children of the world’s slaughtered superheroes who receive their superpowers back after a mysterious fifteen-year absence, and who now face not only a fearful public, but also a vengeful villain who wants all of them dead. Trance and Changeling are available now in both digital format and mass market paperback from Pocket Books. Tempest and Chimera are available in digital format only via Pocket Star. All four MetaWars books can also be purchased as a digital bundle.
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