With the attacks on their homes escalating and human half-breeds seeking sanctuary among them, the loup garou are reaching their breaking point. Two, in particular.
After failing to stop his little brother’s kidnapping years ago, Bishop McQueen angrily broods on his shame, though no one else blames him.
Jillian Reynolds is still dealing with a tragic accident that took everything she ever wanted from life. And her attraction to Bishop is only making things more difficult.
When word reaches them that Jillian's hometown is under attack, the Alpha takes Bishop, Jillian, and a group of enforcers to assist in the battle. And it is in this chaos that both Bishop and Jillian will have to face their pasts—and the true feelings they have for each other—if they are going to survive…
INCLUDES A PREVIEW OF THE NEXT TITLE IN THE CORNERSTONE TRILOGY, WHITE KNIGHT
“Kelly Meding is a real storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her work.”—Patricia Briggs, New York Times Bestselling Author
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. Writing as Kelly Meding, Meade is the author of the Dreg City urban fantasy and the MetaWars books. She is also the author of the first book of the Cornerstone Trilogy, Black Rook, and the conclusion, White Knight.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Two Years Ago
At the first thump of her husband’s boots on the front porch, Jillian rose carefully from the rocking chair she’d been favoring for the last month or so and walked toward the front door. Derek rushed inside on a wash of cool autumn air, his face already a mask of guilt and chagrin.
“I know we’re late, sweetheart,” he said, dropping a kiss onto her forehead. “Give me two minutes to change shirts and we can go.”
“I already called my father and said we’d be late, so feel free to take five,” Jillian replied with a tolerant smile.
“You’re too generous.”
Managing Daley Farms Market, the twenty-thousand-square-foot heart of income for the loup garou population of Springwell, Delaware, was a fifty-hour-a-week task that Derek took seriously and did well. He’d taken the position of general manager in January, only a week after they married, as a wedding gift from her father.
Joseph Reynolds had been managing the market for thirty years, after taking over from his own father. Stepping back and turning the market over to Derek was the first step in giving Derek leadership of the run as Alpha—a position he had married into, and that Jillian wholeheartedly believed he would excel at. She looked forward to being the run’s Alpha female and setting an example for her people the same way her late mother had.
Jillian slid a hand over her rounded belly, a smile quirking her lips as often happened when she thought of the little girl she was carrying. In four more months, Jillian would meet her own daughter, whom she’d already named Elizabeth after her mother.
“You two have a good day?” Derek asked. His hand covered hers, a warm pressure on her belly.
“We had a great day. I’ll tell you all about it on the walk to Dad’s. Now go change.”
She swatted his ass on his way by. The direct eyebrow raise she received warmed her insides. He got that look when he was planning how best to punish her—and by punish, she meant in the sexiest, most pleasurable way possible. Jillian couldn’t speak for humans, but a pregnant loup garou’s sex drive was amped up until about the eighth month.
So far, her husband was not objecting.
He was back in less than five minutes, his face washed, shirt changed from the Daley Farms polo to a crisp black button-down that accented his curly blond hair. Jillian put on her shoes, grabbed her purse, and then they were out the door.
Springwell was a small town, its four hundred and thirty-nine residents almost exclusively loup garou. Most sanctuary towns were set up so that loup garou could live peacefully among their own kind, without fear of discovery by humans. Springwell had three humans who lived with loup garou spouses, thanks to the generosity of their Alpha. Permission was needed for a loup to marry a human and bring him or her into the run—not only because of the huge secret they were revealing, but because that meant the loup would never have offspring. Half-breed children were forbidden, and with such small populations, offspring were critical.
The heart of town was a large wooded park where the residents met frequently for no reason other than to interact and be part of their community. Homes and a handful of small businesses were built around the park on tree-lined streets, with hundreds more trees dotting the yards. Jillian loved this time of year, strolling down the sidewalk beneath a canopy of yellowing leaves, occasionally kicking through a collected pile.
Derek slipped his hand in hers while they walked. She breathed him in, perfectly calmed by his scent and his very presence. Their home was only a block from her dad’s house, so the walk ended far too soon.
Dad was waiting for them on the front porch of his old Victorian, the same house she’d grown up in and had resided in until her marriage. She had never felt odd about living with her father until the age of twenty-eight. As the daughter of the Alpha, her place was at his side until she chose a husband. The choice had been a difficult one to make. Derek Fuller was not born into the Springwell run. He was the second son of the Songbird, Colorado, run’s Alpha, a Black Wolf, and as determined as he was ambitious. And Jillian had fallen for him during their first meeting last summer.
The difficulty with choosing him had been turning down a strong proposal from Mason Anderson, her childhood friend and her most likely match for a mate. She’d hated hurting his feelings. She loved him platonically, but she had quickly fallen in love with Derek. Her friendship with Mason had suffered, and she was taking steps to fix it. As a fellow Black Wolf and one of the Alpha’s trusted enforcers, she needed Mason on her side.
“There is my granddaughter,” Dad said as he rose from the porch swing.
Jillian resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the now-familiar greeting. Her father was beyond ecstatic to welcome his first grandchild. She walked up the steps and he folded her into a hug. “Hello, Dad.”
“My Jillian, how are you?”
“Same as always. Derek?”
Dad pulled away and shook Derek’s hand firmly. “Sir,” Derek said. “I apologize for making us late.”
“Don’t worry about it, son. I know how time can get away from you at that store. Supper’s ready, so let’s go eat while it’s hot.”
Dad had set the formal dining room table with three places, and the rich scent of braised short ribs and red wine tickled her senses before she spotted the red Dutch oven on a hot pad. She instantly began drooling, her stomach gurgling for the red meat and sweet sauce her father had perfected years ago.
“That smells amazing,” Jillian said.
“Then let’s not waste time,” Dad replied with a big smile. The kind of smile that often preceded some big announcement that he was incredibly pleased about making.
It made her a little nervous.
They sat around the table and Dad scooped out big helpings of meat and potatoes. Derek poured her a glass of cherry-flavored soda water. She’d been drinking the stuff like crazy since becoming pregnant. One of those bizarre cravings that had yet to go away.
Dad and Derek chatted about the market. Besides local produce, they also butchered and sold meat from a local cattle farm, and had a large bakery and a greenhouse full of potted plants and flowers. They’d been discussing adding a new wing for locally made crafts and home goods, and Derek brought that up again over the short ribs. Jillian listened, adding her thoughts when asked. Jillian had worked in the greenhouse until a few weeks ago, and she had grown up in the market. She loved that Dad still valued her opinion.
Jillian ate until she felt the first inkling of being full, then gave the leftovers a miserable look. She didn’t want to overdo it. Before she had a daughter to worry about, she would eat until she made herself sick and not regret a single bite. Not anymore.
Dad noticed her forlorn look and laughed. “Don’t worry, dear one. I’ll send the rest home for your lunch tomorrow.”
He put his own fork down, even though he hadn’t cleaned his plate. “As you may have suspected, I had an ulterior motive to tonight’s dinner.”
She quirked an eyebrow at him. “You don’t usually cook my favorite food unless there’s a good reason.”
“What’s going on?”
“I’ve made a New Year’s resolution that I wanted to share.”
“It’s the middle of September.”
“Yes, but this particular resolution requires a bit of planning on your parts.”
Jillian glanced to Derek, who was staring at her father with something like anticipation in his eyes. Her pulse jumped as she connected the dots.
Dad was grinning. “Beginning February first, I am officially stepping down as Springwell’s run Alpha, and I am turning over leadership to my very capable son-in-law Derek Fuller, and his beautiful mate.”
Jillian flushed with pride and excitement, not only for her husband but also for herself. She was eager to do more for her run, and to hold a higher position of authority. Derek was beaming at her, his joy tempered with love. She mouthed the words to him.
“I’m humbled by your decision to entrust the run to me, Alpha,” Derek said, using the appropriate term of respect. “I will strive to be worthy of your faith in me.”
“I wouldn’t have allowed you to marry my daughter if I didn’t believe you could lead these people,” Dad said. “You don’t always have to be the loudest or the strongest in order to be a good leader. You must be fair, attentive, and steadfast in your decisions.”
“And we have some months yet before the change.”
“Not to mention an impending birth,” Jillian added, pointing to her rounded belly.
“Of course.” Dad smiled warmly. “I realize that I am retiring quite closely after the birth of your child.”
“We’re up for the challenge.”
“I know you are. I’d only been Alpha for two years when you were born, and it was difficult balancing my duties to the run and my duties to my family. But I’m certain you will both find your balance. You’re a good match.”
“Thank you, Alpha,” Derek said.
The retirement announcement came at the end of dinner. They chatted a bit longer about inconsequential things. When she hugged her father good-bye, Jillian clung fiercely, grateful for his faith in herself and her mate. Her heart ached that her mother wasn’t there to share in the moment. Elizabeth Reynolds had died three years ago from pneumonia, one of the few human diseases that were extremely deadly to loup garou. Dad had been devastated by the loss, and Jillian missed her calm presence every single day.
Derek impressed her with his control by waiting until they were on their own front porch to sweep her into a hug. He buried his face in her neck and inhaled deeply, scenting her, his favorite thing to do when he was excited about something. Jillian laughed, the sound a joyous burble she couldn’t seem to stop. She knew this moment would come for them. Knowing the exact date made it real.
“I love you so much,” he said, his voice muffled by her throat. His breath hot on her skin.
“I love you, too.”
Derek straightened up, his eyes sparkling with excitement. “Let’s go out and celebrate. Anywhere you want.”
“Movie theater,” she said without pause. Derek worked so hard and so many hours that he was often too exhausted in the evening to do more than eat supper and have hot sex. Jillian would never complain about the sex, but she couldn’t turn down a chance to do something as old-fashioned and silly as seeing a movie with her mate.
“Done.” He grinned. “Should we check times before we leave, or wing it?”
“I say wing it. It’s been a great day so far, let’s see what shakes out.”
“Sounds like a good plan. Let me get my wallet and the keys.”
Derek slipped inside the house and was back by her side in under a minute. They hadn’t locked their front door since they moved in. No one in Springwell would dare enter their home without permission, and no one in town had ever been burgled by an outsider. He opened the passenger door for her, and Jillian slid carefully inside. Another month of expansion, and she’d need his help to get out of the bucket seat.
The nearest theater was a twenty-minute drive to Newark, so Jillian settled in for the drive. She leaned against the headrest and watched Derek, her heart filled with so much love for this man and the gifts he’d given her. She often marveled at his decision to pursue a mate so many miles from home, and she couldn’t imagine her life any differently.
A soft thump in her abdomen made Jillian gasp. She pressed her palm over the spot, hoping to feel it again.
“What is it?” Derek asked.
“She kicked.” The sensation was still rare enough to excite her when it happened. “Give me your hand.”
Derek held the wheel with his left, allowing Jillian to press his right against the side of her belly. Almost immediately, little Elizabeth kicked again. Derek made a noise, then laughed.
“Oh wow,” he said. “She’s going to be a soccer player.”
“Or a kick boxer. She’s already strong like her father.”
“And she’ll be beautiful like her mo—”
Lights flashed, blinding Jillian in the same moment a jarring crunch turned her entire world black.
Blood and adrenaline pulsed through his veins, speeding Bishop’s blind race through the forest on the north side of town. His muscles ached with exhaustion, his tongue lolled from thirst, but he didn’t stop or slow to drink from a nearby stream. He simply ran out his rage and helplessness on four legs, uncaring of the twigs that caught in his coat or the loose branches that tried to trip him.
Running in the forest alone was an impossibly bad decision, given the four insane half-breed women terrorizing his town and his family. Short of locking himself back inside the quarterly cage and shrieking until his voice broke, Bishop had shifted and allowed his beast to roam. To rage. To run himself into exhaustion.
An hour ago, his little brother had stood up and made the bravest, most self-sacrificing decision of his entire life, and Bishop had never been more proud. Knight understood the needs of the town and its people better than any Alpha, and he’d chosen their guaranteed safety over his own freedom. He’d made an Alpha’s decision, and Bishop had to find a way to accept that after tonight he may never see Knight again.
Staying in town and facing it would have ended in a fight, or worse, bloodshed. He was wound too tight, so he ran. From his responsibilities as the Alpha’s oldest son and from his responsibilities as Knight and Rook’s big brother.
He had failed Knight for the second time.
He jumped over a fallen log, but didn’t quite clear it. His back left leg scraped against rough bark, and he tripped, landing in a pained heap in a pile of dead leaves. He lay there panting, his chest heaving, and a long, low whine tore from his throat as the memories of his first failure crawled over him.
Rook had been an infant, Knight only three years old. An arrogant ten, Bishop had been babysitting with help from their housekeeper Mrs. Troost. His brothers were both asleep when a man and three shifted loup broke into the house. Bishop had tried to fight the black beasts, and his chest still bore the scars of that attempt. Knight was kidnapped from his bed, and Bishop had lain helpless on the hallway floor, bleeding while his brother screamed for him to help. The kidnappers didn’t get far, but the fight was fierce, and their mother died defending her son.
No one blamed Bishop for that failure. He was a kid and badly wounded. No, Bishop blamed himself. He’d also sworn, after losing their mother, to protect his brothers by any means necessary. And in the last three days, both of his brothers had been kidnapped and tortured.
At midnight tonight, Knight would go with a woman who meant to do him harm, on the promise that she would leave the town alone forever. A town that would never be the same.
His family would never be the same.
The ache in his chest surged upward and out in a low, mournful howl that did nothing to alleviate the burden of its weight. He howled again, a sound that became a whine and a whimper. He didn’t know how to say good-bye to his brother. He and Knight had always spoken a simple language. They told the truth, in as few words as possible, and managed to understand each other. Knight would look to Bishop for acceptance and calm, and damn it, that’s what Bishop would give him. He owed Knight nothing less.
He hauled his tired body out of the leaves and shook off. He scented the air, then turned toward town, making the trip slowly. His back leg hurt a bit from strain, and he didn’t want to aggravate the injury. He passed close to where Winston Burke was patrolling, and the pair shared soft yips in greeting.
The afternoon was waning into evening by the time he loped into the backyard. He’d left his clothes behind the shed in a relatively private area, and he began to shift back almost immediately. Bones snapped and popped into place. His skin prickled as the thick gray fur receded, replaced by tanned skin. His entire face rearranged itself, the transformation more painful than usual because of his exhaustion. He needed water and dinner, or his mood would only continue to sour. A loup garou’s metabolism required frequent large meals. Starvation could lead to insanity.
A newly familiar scent of apple blossoms and honey tickled his nose before he heard her footsteps on the grass. He stood up and stretched out the muscles in his back and arms, his entire body tingling from the transformation. Jillian Reynolds turned the corner behind the shed and stopped, hands on her hips, glaring in a way that made her angular face almost scary in its ferocity.
“Did you get that out of your system?” she snapped.
Bishop snagged his boxers off the ground and pulled them on, in no mood for a reproach from her. “I needed to run.”
“Oh good. You needed to run around the woods while there are four psychopathic women out there targeting your family. Glad to hear it.”
She sounded genuinely pissed off, and that surprised him. Granted they needed all available fighting loups on their best game, and loup physiology required a resting period after shifting, so he couldn’t shift again for at least two hours, but this felt . . . personal. More than a fellow future run leader concerned about a friend. It was also the first time she’d been so sarcastic with him.
“I feel better,” he said, which was a total lie. He’d burned off some of his rage, sure, but the rest of his churning emotions lingered right below the surface where they had to stay.
“I don’t care, Bishop. Going off alone like that was irresponsible. What the hell is wrong with you?”
Jillian didn’t know about Knight’s choice. She hadn’t been in the room. Only six people knew, including Knight, and it had to stay that way for everyone’s safety. He hated keeping Jillian out of the loop, because her insight had been invaluable thus far. But they could not risk another person knowing the plan. A version of the truth, then. “My brother is being targeted by four insane women who want to make more insane half-breed babies with him, that’s what’s wrong with me. I’m sorry I’m not handling the stress the way you’d prefer.”
She scowled. “Look, I know this has been hard on your family—”
“Hard?” He snorted.
“But Knight is fine. Rook is fine. We are watching the perimeter of the town, and we will know if they try to attack us. We have the advantage.”
“We have the illusion of an advantage.”
“What does that mean?” She stepped forward, her scent invading his personal space and making his beast take notice. His beast had noticed her from the moment they met, and he had worked hard to quell that pull. Father once told him that his beast would know his mate when they met, just as Father had known their mother was his. But Bishop and Jillian were an impossible match, so his beast needed to shut the hell up.
“I know Brynn went out of town, and I know she’s back,” Jillian continued. “What did she find out that has you so on edge?”
She snarled. “Fuck you, it’s classified. I have worked side by side with you and Alpha McQueen since the Stonehill attack. Don’t keep me in the dark about this.”
“It isn’t my call, Jillian.”
“It’s your father’s?”
“Yes. And don’t even think about going to him on this. He won’t tell you.”
Her dark, flecked eyes flashed with anger. “Don’t give me orders, Bishop. I’m not a member of your run.”
“No, but you should understand the very simple concept of an Alpha’s decree.” His frustration and helplessness was coming out in the worst way possible, goading Jillian into getting angry with him. He simply wanted her to leave him alone until tomorrow, when everything could be explained.
She bristled. “What is wrong with you? Are you trying to pick a fight?”
Hell yes, he was. “If I was, I’d have chosen a better-equipped opponent.”
She looked genuinely offended by that, and she had every right. Jillian was a Black Wolf, born stronger and faster than his common Gray Wolf. She automatically had a higher status than him, even though they were both firstborns of their run’s respective Alphas. He had been deliberately patronizing with his remark, and he couldn’t bring himself to care.
Jillian came forward until they were almost nose to nose, her very presence a live wire with this kind of proximity. His chest heaved, breathing a bit too difficult. Her cheeks were flushed, her hands fisted by her sides. She was shorter than him by a mere handful of inches, so she didn’t have to strain to glare at him right in the eyes. His beast shuddered, aroused by her anger.
He waited for a sharp retort, or even a challenge to a fight, which he’d have gladly accepted. Anything to get his mind off tonight.
“No one else has ever complained about my equipment,” Jillian said. Her voice was smoother, silkier, with a hint of a taunt there.
Was she fucking flirting with him?
Her gaze dropped to his bare torso, then flickered back up. She arched one slim eyebrow. “Can you say the same?” she asked.
Hell yes, she was flirting. He never considered it possible that she might feel the same draw to him as he felt to her. And even so, she must already have sifted through the reasons why they couldn’t be together. He would be Cornerstone’s Alpha one day. She would be the Alpha Female of Springwell’s run. Their paths had converged for a brief time, but their futures were not intertwined.
“Why don’t you try my equipment out and see for yourself?” Bishop replied.
Heat flared in her eyes, and it speared him in the gut. The tip of her tongue darted out, wetting her upper lip. He saw the battle waging inside of her, demanding she take a step back and not incite anything. The same war was happening inside of Bishop, because all he wanted to do was kiss her, and he knew it was the exact wrong thing to do. He prided himself on making good decisions. Fair decisions.
But he’d already made one bad decision tonight by losing himself in the forest. What was another?
She tilted her head to the side, a clear invitation—and challenge.
His mouth crashed into hers, and his beast roared with satisfaction. She opened for him with a soft growl, kissing him back with a ferocity born of need and loneliness. He thrust his tongue into her mouth, licking, tasting the sweet essence of her. He clasped the back of her neck and drew her closer, needing more. She clung to him, the growl deepening as their kiss did, and soon he joined her song.
He slipped his free arm around her waist and hauled her closer, her lean, toned body hot against him. His cock stirred as his beast demanded he stake his claim on this woman. This woman whose kisses woke him up in a way that no woman had before, whose very presence challenged him to be better. This woman whom he could never claim as his mate.
The unfairness of finding her and knowing he could never have her collided with his earlier rage, and he jerked away. Jillian stumbled backward two steps, her cheeks flushed and lips moist. Confusion flashed in her eyes and creased her brow. She was panting, her arousal a faint tang in the air between them.
“I’m sorry,” Bishop said, his voice hoarse, tight. “I can’t.”
“I’m a widow, Bishop, and you’re Gray. This isn’t a declaration for either of us.”
“This is nothing for either of us.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You felt the same thing I did.”
He felt that and more, and he hated himself for allowing a taste of her, because he wanted more. He had to make that impossible. Make her step back. “Are you sure?” he asked with a derisive sneer.
She faltered, uncertain for the first time since they’d met, and he’d done that. With time and distance between herself and this moment, she would understand that ending this before it began was the correct choice. Besides, he didn’t deserve something in his life that could make him happy, even if only temporarily. He wasn’t allowed that, not while Knight suffered.
He knew enough of her past to draw on the cruelest thing possible in order to drive her away. “This is a mistake.” Stone cold. Hateful. “I’m not really into a dead man’s leftovers.”
Fury darkened her expression, and her entire body coiled tight. He braced for a slap, a punch, some physical manifestation of her temper. She took a step toward him, rage rolling off of her in waves that tempted his Gray’s instinctive need to kneel beneath the weight of a Black’s fury. He forced himself to stay still. Not to apologize.
“You have no idea what I lost that night,” she said, her voice cold. Brittle.
She walked away.
Bishop leaned against the shed, sick at what he’d done. Sick over everything that had happened today, and certain he had just lost something very precious.
The situation seemed well in hand by the time Bishop made a necessary appearance at the old Flynn Boarding House, drawn there by a 411 text from his brother Rook. 411 was code for a nonemergency that required a strong reaction from Bishop, the oldest son of the run’s Alpha and his future replacement. And anything that happened at the boarding house demanded Bishop’s attention. The old building was housing the sixteen refugees from another run that been decimated two weeks ago, and not all had integrated well, causing the occasional fight to break out with Cornerstone residents.
A handful of curious bystanders scattered when Bishop hit the boarding house’s front porch, leaving four people waiting for his attention. Rook stood with his arms folded, his gaze steely, clearly put out by the whole incident. He was with Jonas Geary, the son of the refugee run’s dead Alpha, and the de facto Alpha for his people. Jonas was glaring at the two females standing at attention between him and Rook, the burn scars on Jonas’s face giving the expression more fury than he probably felt.
No one was bleeding, so Bishop put that into the plus column.
“What the hell happened?” Bishop snapped.
The Cornerstone loup looked up, keeping her gaze on Bishop’s chin as a sign of respect instead of looking him in the eye. Lila Smythe worked in Smythe’s Restaurant, the only big eating establishment the town had to offer, other than a small bakery and diner across the street. She was also young, headstrong, and seemed to share her family’s blatant dislike of the Potomac run refugees.
“A misunderstanding, sir,” Lila said.
“A misunderstanding that required two Blacks to break it up?” Bishop shifted his glare to the other woman, and it took a moment for her name to come. Rachel Kowalski, unmarried, human-loup half-breed, no surviving relatives. Potomac had been a rarity among runs, in that they allowed their loup to reproduce with humans. “Anything more constructive to add, Ms. Kowalski?”
Rachel blinked, probably surprised that he knew her name. “It was a personal matter, sir. It should not have escalated to the point where intervention was needed.”
“You’re right about that.” Since the women weren’t being very forthcoming, despite his presence, Bishop turned his impatience over to Rook. “What happened?”
“They were fighting over Devlin,” Rook replied.
Bishop couldn’t stop his eyebrows from shooting up in surprise. Devlin Burke was one of the Alpha’s enforcers, as well as one of Rook and Knight’s best friends. The three were close in age, and at twenty-five Devlin was one of the few unmarried enforcers in town. Bishop had never once seen Devlin with a girl on his arm, and now two were fighting over him? One of them a half-breed?
“Fighting about what regarding Devlin, exactly?” Bishop asked. The situation was slipping from irritating to slightly amusing.
Lila’s mouth flapped open, then snapped shut again.
“Oh no, Ms. Smythe, please say what you want to say,” Bishop said. “Or better yet, say what you said to Ms. Kowalski here?”
Her cheeks blazed, but she straightened her spine and spoke. “I said Devlin deserved better than some piece of half-breed river trash.”
Rachel flinched, her gaze dropping to the floor. Jonas shifted his weight, clearly more angry over the jibe than Rachel. “I came outside because I heard Lila taunting Rachel,” Jonas said. He hadn’t been asked for his input, which irked Bishop. “She said quite a few cruel things about my people, and when I told her to back off she spat at me.” His expression went black. “She said my father was a dirty traitor, which made all of us traitors and not worthy of Alpha McQueen’s hospitality.”
Bishop’s temper flared, and he turned the force of his glare onto Lila, who had the good sense to cower. Jonas’s father, Mitch Geary, had made a clandestine bargain with one of their enemies in order to ensure Jonas’s safety in the coming battle, and in turn, Geary followed her orders to murder Rook. He’d nearly succeeded, too, ripping Rook’s left shoulder and ear to shreds and nearly killing him before help could arrive.
Rook survived the wounds, but every time Bishop looked at his brother’s scars, his chest ached a little. Ached with the memory of the bloody mess Rook had been when Bishop charged into that barn, and with the knowledge that Bishop had been the one to rip Geary’s throat out. He’d killed a run Alpha, and even though the eleven other Alphas around the country had cleared him of wrongdoing in the two weeks since, the guilt had never gone away.
Jonas had been in the dark about his father’s machinations, and he’d been instrumental in saving lives that night, so Lila’s accusations had zero merit.
And they were pissing Bishop the fuck off.
“This isn’t the first time your family has stirred up trouble with our guests,” Bishop said to Lila. “They are here under the protection of the Alpha, and if you’re having trouble with what that concept means, I’m sure I can arrange a personal audience for you with Alpha McQueen so he can explain it further.”
Lila trembled, message received. A private meeting meant trouble, and no one wanted a dressing down from the Alpha. Bishop loved his father without reservation, but he could admit that Thomas McQueen was scary as hell when he was angry.
“I apologize for my behavior,” Lila said. “I wasn’t thinking clearly. Devlin and I have been friends for a long time, and I mistakenly thought I was looking out for him.”
“Devlin is a grown man who can make his own choices. I won’t stand for petty catfights over my enforcers, is that understood?”
He looked at Rachel, who seemed intent on melting into the floor. “Anything to add, Ms. Kowalski?”
She raised her head, her gaze stopping at his chin. “I slapped Lila, sir.”
Bishop blinked. “When?”
“After she made her remark about Jonas being a traitor. He’s looked out for us since the attack. He’s helping us through our losses, and to understand what our late Alpha did. Jonas is a good man, and he didn’t deserve what she said.”
“I agree with you. However, violence is not condoned in this town for any reason whatsoever. You owe Lila an apology.”
“Of course.” Rachel looked like she’d rather eat ground glass than apologize, but she turned to Lila and said, “My apologies. I shouldn’t have hit you.”
“Accepted,” Lila said. The smugness in her tone ground on Bishop’s nerves.
“Don’t forget what I said,” Bishop snapped. “One more word against our guests, and you’ll be explaining yourself to the Alpha.”
“Good. Now go away.”
Lila bolted off the porch and disappeared down Main Street.
“I’m so sorry for causing trouble,” Rachel said to Jonas.
“You didn’t start this, honey.” Jonas adopted a soothing tone Bishop wasn’t used to hearing from the gruff young man. “We all bear the cross of our Alpha’s actions, but we can’t allow others to goad us into violence. It’s something I struggle with every single day.”
Jonas had struggled with his temper from go, picking fights with other loup and swaggering through town. Some of the attitude had been from his father’s orders, some of it simply grief over what he’d lost. Bishop understood an unsteady temper. Hell, he’d experienced it firsthand when Jonas caused a fight that got Bishop hit by a car.
Damn but that had hurt.
Content to leave Jonas to soothe Rachel’s woes, Bishop flagged Rook and the pair walked toward the street. “They were seriously fighting over Devlin?”
Rook snorted. Sunlight glinted off the steel gauge in his right lobe and hit Bishop right in the eye. “Yeah, Lila’s pissed because Dev is into Rachel, instead of her,” Rook replied.
“Really? Devlin is actually interested in someone?”
“They hit it off the night Potomac was attacked, and they’ve been spending time together. Apparently this isn’t the first time Lila has been rude to Rachel over Dev.”
“And Devlin told you all this?”
“No, Brynn did.” Rook grinned at the mere mention of his half-Magus mate. “She’s been over to the boarding house a lot this last week or so, getting to know the Potomac refugees. I think she feels safer there because they know what it’s like to be an outsider here.”
“That makes sense.”
Brynn Atwood was a special kind of outsider—the only known living loup garou-Magus half-breed. She’d come to Cornerstone two and a half weeks ago on the faith of a vision in which she believed Rook would eventually murder her powerful Magus father. Her entire life had turned upside down thanks to that vision, and now she was happily engaged to Rook and learning what it was like to be part of a large loup garou community. Half-breeds were generally unaccepted in sanctuary towns like Cornerstone, but Brynn was Rook’s mate—soon to officially be his wife—and under the Alpha’s protection. Anyone who harmed her would face the wrath of the entire McQueen family.
“Where is Brynn?” Bishop asked, almost as an afterthought. He rarely saw one without the other, unless Rook was dealing with official run business.
“She went to talk to Father about a vision she had this morning. Then she said she’s visiting with Shay, eating lunch on the patio, I think.”
“A new vision?”
Brynn’s Magus side gave her a precognitive gift that she had no control over. She saw visions of the future, often brief flashes of a moment, with no idea if the vision would happen within minutes, or years later. Her visions had brought her to Cornerstone, and several of them had been incredibly useful in their battle against the vampire-loup half-breed triplets. She’d made it a habit to report each vision to their Father, because she never knew what might be relevant.
“Yeah. Not very much, just a flash of an old wooden cabin near a river somewhere.”
“That’s it? No people?”
“Nope. It’s probably nothing.”
Bishop didn’t respond to that. “Is Knight eating with Brynn and Shay?” He’d yet to see Knight that day.
“No idea. Could be.”
The idea of lunch made his stomach growl, which got Rook snickering. They angled in the direction of home without speaking a word. The McQueen house was a block off Main Street, on a narrow tree-lined street, with a wide yard and huge front porch. Bishop had so many good memories of growing up in that house, and as the oldest son and future Alpha, he would likely inherit it when Father passed. He still lived there with his two brothers, even though Rook and Brynn would move into their own place once they married.
Last week they had gained another resident in the house: Shay Butler. The same day Brynn showed up in town, Shay’s entire Connecticut town had been slaughtered by the trio of loup-vampire half-breeds that later would slaughter Potomac. Seriously wounded and traumatized, Shay was the only survivor of the Stonehill massacre thanks to a cruel twist of fate. Shay’s mother, a White Wolf who had gone missing twenty-five years ago, was also the mother of the vampire-loup half-breed monster triplets who had killed more than four hundred loup garou in a matter of hours.
Her murderous half-sisters had spared Shay’s life.
To further complicate their lives, the investigation into the half-breed triplets uncovered a shocking truth for Brynn, who’d spent her entire life believing she was a full-blooded Magus. She learned not only that she was half loup garou, but that the twin sister she’d been told had died at birth was alive, insane, and leading the triplets. Fiona had orchestrated the massacres, kidnapped Rook and demanded Knight in exchange, and made the deal with Geary that nearly got Rook killed.
Bishop’s gut tightened as it always did when his thoughts turned to Knight during that entire ordeal. Knight had been singled out by Fiona and the triplets because he was a White Wolf, the rarest kind of loup garou. Most loup were Gray, the common order, and about twenty-five percent were Black, the strongest and largest of the loup. Black Wolves, like Father, Rook, and Devlin, were either Alphas or they worked for the Alpha as enforcers and security—basically the human version of police officers. Only one in four hundred loup garou were White Wolves, making them both rare and special.
White Wolves were empathic by nature, and that empathy helped balance the basically violent nature of loup garou beasts. They could soothe an angry loup and sense emotional turmoil. And while all loup garou could accidentally impregnate or become impregnated by a human, Whites were the only loup garou that could procreate with a loup-human half-breed. Whites could also procreate with the only two known nonhuman species out there: vampires or a Magus. Shay’s mother was stolen from her run and forced to bear twins Brynn and Fiona, and several years later the vampire triplets, because she was White.
Fiona had targeted Knight as a means to increase the size of her insane half-breed army. She intended for her prize to act as a reluctant sperm donor and impregnate the triplets. Bishop had never felt more helpless or furious in his life than when he’d come out of his quarterly shift and discovered everything he had missed: the attack on the Potomac run, Rook’s kidnapping, and Knight’s willing trade of himself for Rook’s release. Rook and Knight had been held captive by Fiona and the triplets for several hours before their rescue.
The morning his brothers returned home from that ordeal, the haunted look in Knight’s eyes had shattered a part of Bishop that had promised to always protect his middle brother, like he’d failed to do when they were children. Bishop’s body bore the scars from his feeble attempts to prevent Knight from being kidnapped when he was a toddler, and his heart bore the burden of guilt because his failure had led to their mother’s death in pursuit of her missing child.
Bishop’s failure had taken their mother from a traumatized Knight and an infant Rook, and he had vowed to never fail his brothers again.
But every time he looked into Knight’s eyes, Bishop saw his latest failure in the shadows there. Father knew the specifics, because he had asked. As Alpha, he’d needed to know in case something happened that would affect the run. He hadn’t shared the information with Bishop, so Bishop felt certain the worst hadn’t happened. He just couldn’t bring himself to ask Knight directly and confirm it. That he needed to ask only added to his guilt.
He stopped walking, instantly alert by the tone of Rook’s voice. They were nearly at the gate to the yard, and Rook was staring at him oddly. “What?”
“You were growling and glaring at the sidewalk like it pissed you off. What were you thinking about?”
“A lot of different train cars were on that track.”
“Let me guess. The engine pulling them all along the track was the triplets?”
“Wondering when they’ll make another play for Knight?”
Rook was smarter than he gave himself credit for, and a lot more observant than Bishop used to think. They had never been particularly close, a distance created by the fact that Rook was ten years younger and could have taken the future position of Alpha away from Bishop simply by his nature as a Black Wolf. Even though he was the oldest, Bishop was Gray—a fact that had been a handicap for him his entire life, and had made him work his ass off to be the kind of man who could lead his run. The kind of man his father would not hesitate to leave in charge, Gray or not.
The distance between them had only widened during the four years Rook was away at college. Rook’s abbreviated attempt at a professional music career had ended in disaster and sent him back to Cornerstone seeking direction for his life—a direction that Bishop often feared included being Alpha. Instead, Rook had chosen Brynn and a life as Bishop’s right-hand enforcer. Bishop’s respect for Rook had doubled with that choice, and for the first time in a lifetime, they were actually friends.
“We’re overdue to hear from them,” Bishop added. The triplets had disappeared after Fiona’s death, but they were fanatical in their hatred of the loup garou as a species, and they were also unhinged. Their silence worried him—a fact he only shared with Father.
“Yeah.” Rook started walking again, and Bishop followed him toward the stone path to the house. “Every day I expect a call from another run, telling us about an attack.”
Bishop expected the same thing, which was why Father kept in constant contact with the other Alphas. So far, two of the three runs closest to Cornerstone had been massacred. Their next neighbor was Springwell, Delaware, a smaller sanctuary town of just over four hundred loup, lead by Joe Reynolds. Alpha Reynolds was a good friend of their father, and he’d sent his daughter Jillian and a squad of enforcers to help out during the Fiona debacle. All but Jillian and an enforcer named Mason Anderson had returned to Springwell. The pair were staying in town to help with the search for the triplets.
And, he suspected, so Jillian could continue to mess with his carefully measured control. The woman had thrown Bishop off balance from the instant they met, and she had continued to do so without even trying. She wasn’t beautiful, but she had an inner strength and determination that spoke to him. Or more important, spoke to his beast, who reacted to her instinctively in a way that drove him crazy on a regular basis.
The easy manner in which they used to work had been blown to hell the night Fiona was killed, and it was Bishop’s fault. He’d given in to his attraction, and then he’d been cruel to Jillian. He didn’t blame her for her frosty politeness toward him over the past few weeks.
He and Rook went inside and straight down the long hallway to the kitchen. Mrs. Troost, their housekeeper since before Bishop was born, had laid out a platter of sandwiches and a note that cold broccoli salad was in the fridge. Bishop and Rook helped themselves to food, then took their plates outside to the back patio.
Brynn and Shay were seated on opposite sides of the long picnic table, beneath the shade of an umbrella. They looked up at their arrival, Brynn’s face breaking into a wide grin. Shay simply watched them approach, her face blank, her eyes empty. Always empty. The girl’s spirit had been broken, and Bishop’s beast snarled with the unfairness of it all.
“Mind if we join you?” Rook asked.
Brynn deferred to Shay, who nodded slowly. Rook sat next to Brynn, such an odd contrast, the pair of them. Rook was a head taller than Brynn, his muscled arms decked out with tattoos and scars, with a ragged ear that made him look downright dangerous. Or like the alternative rock band star he’d tried to be. Brynn was small and pale-skinned with stick-straight black hair and big blue eyes. A true odd-couple in terms of physical appearance. Very much matched in every other way.
Bishop sat on the same side as Shay, keeping a solid arm’s reach of distance from the spooked girl. The only people she seemed to allow close proximity to her were Knight and Dr. Mike, the town’s physician. She was underweight, average height, with long, strawberry-blond hair and pale, gray eyes that had no life in them. She was also quite pretty. He imagined the girl had a heart-stopping smile, and he hoped one day to see it.
“Your ears must have been burning,” Brynn said to Rook. “Shay and I were just talking about you.”
“Oh?” Rook said. “Good things, I hope.”
“She asked about your ear. I was telling her about that night.”
Bishop paused before taking a big bite of his roast beef sandwich and studied Shay’s profile. She was staring at her half-eaten sandwich, hands clasped in her lap. Shay had been informed about the events that followed the attack on her town in bits and pieces over the last two weeks, mostly by Brynn and Knight. She’d been badly wounded and catatonic for a while, until Knight coaxed her back into the world. No one wanted to overwhelm her or frighten her with the reality that Cornerstone was still under attack by an unknown, unstable enemy. That she was showing curiosity about the people she lived with had to mean she was making progress in her recovery.
“I’m surprised Knight hasn’t told you about that yet,” Bishop said softly.
Her gaze flickered toward him. “I don’t ask.” Her voice was soft, melodic, and almost impossible to hear. “It hurts him to talk about it.”
It hurt all of them to talk about it. Bishop didn’t test her statement, though. He could be blunt to a fault, but he knew when to hold his tongue around grieving women—except when it came to Jillian.
He’d have deserved it if she had hit him for throwing her late husband in her face last month.
“Did Brynn tell you how she faced off against a Black Wolf with only a shovel?” Rook asked, levity in his voice.
Brynn had been down and on the ground when Bishop, Jillian, and Father arrived at the barn, but the mental image the description conjured up made Bishop smile. Brynn was small, but she was fierce when it came to Rook.
Shay glanced up at Rook. “She mentioned defending you until help arrived.”
“I was scared out of my wits,” Brynn said. She leaned against Rook’s arm and rested her chin on his shoulder. The picture was obnoxiously cute. Bishop attacked his sandwich so he didn’t have to see it.
“Where’s Knight, anyway?” Rook asked.
“I don’t know. He said he had to do something at the auction house, but that was over an hour ago.”
Bishop frowned at his food. Father had temporarily shut down the auction house until the triplets had been dealt with. Their weekly auctions were what kept outside cash flowing into Cornerstone without tempting humans to stay too long, or get any ideas about moving to town. They hadn’t had an auction these last two weeks, and they weren’t likely to have another one for the foreseeable future. They couldn’t risk the triplets attacking with so many clueless humans in the way, and the fewer outsiders around the better.
Father’s office was at the auction house, and he used it for both auction and run business, so it was possible Knight went to see him. Bishop sent a text to Knight’s phone anyway, asking for a location. Knight was the triplets’ primary target, and even though he was relatively safe within the confines of town, Father insisted he not wander around alone. No one wanted to risk losing him again.
“Paranoid much?” Knight said, his voice a welcome sound from the patio doors.
Four heads turned. He stepped outside with a glass of iced tea in hand, sunglasses on even though he’d just been inside.
“Who’s paranoid?” Rook asked.
Rook snickered, then shoved broccoli salad into his mouth without asking for clarification.
“I don’t like you walking around alone,” Bishop said. He didn’t give a damn if that made him paranoid. He preferred to think of it as smothering and overprotective.
“I went to the auction house and back,” Knight said. “I didn’t even stub my toe.” A month ago, his tone might have been light and teasing. Today it was bordering on hostile. Knight didn’t like being handled, but damn it, he’d been kidnapped twice in his life already. Bishop wasn’t going to allow that to happen a third time.
Instead of joining them at the table, Knight flopped into one of the patio’s lounge chairs, angled away. He seemed intent on ignoring them—something else he wouldn’t have done a month ago. Rook had twisted around to stare, and as he turned again to finish his meal, Bishop caught a stray emotion on his face that stirred up his gut.
Fear of what, he didn’t know and couldn’t ask, but fear all the same.
His phone buzzed. Rook jumped at the same moment. They retrieved their phones, to an identical message from Father: 911 Office.
Bishop got up without a word, barely listening to Rook explain their abrupt departure to the women. Knight wasn’t following them, which surprised him briefly until he realized Knight’s exclusion could mean they had a lead on the triplets.
The auction house was a five-minute walk, and a ninety-second run. Despite the late summer heat, Bishop jogged down their road to Main Street, made a sharp right, and pounded pavement to the end of the official town limits where McQueen Auction House had been built three generations ago. Rook stayed on his heels. Devlin and his cousin Winston met up with them at the front door, and they all followed Bishop inside.
Father was behind his desk, standing with his arms folded, agitation all over his face. “We’re waiting on two more,” he said in lieu of a greeting.
They fell into line around the room, waiting for their Alpha to begin the meeting. Bishop studied his father’s face, but found no hint as to their agenda in his set jaw or narrowed eyes. Moments later, two pairs of footsteps pounded up the stairs to the office. Jillian Reynolds came in first, Jonas right behind her. Bishop’s beast stirred at her appearance.
“This information stays in this room for now,” Father said. He picked up a folded sheet of paper with four sets of numbers printed in black marker. “I received this in today’s mail. No return address, no distinguishing scents attached. Postmarked from Welton, our nearest neighboring town.”
Bishop accepted the paper when handed to him. The numbers seemed familiar in some way. “Coordinates?”
“Correct. The coordinates are for a location just off Route 12, about six miles from here.”
“No indication of what we’re expected to find there?”
“None. That was the only thing in the envelope.”
“Feels like an ambush invitation.”
“My thought as well. I want you six to go there and see what we’re meant to find, if anything. Go in as pairs, one beast and one skin, from different directions so you can see from all sides. Keep in constant contact with each other.”
“With respect, Alpha, is six of us enough?” Jillian asked.
Father’s eyes flashed with annoyance. “Six is all I will risk sending. This could be an ambush, or it could be a tactic to draw my enforcers out of town and make us more vulnerable to an outside attack. Once you’ve left, I’ll inform the other patrols of what’s going on so everyone is on their toes.”
The plan was a good one. They didn’t know what they were going to find out there in the woods, and putting all of their strongest fighters in one place was a bad move.
“Understood,” Bishop said. “We’ll leave right away.”
“Good. Be careful, all of you.”
Verbal affirmatives rose up, and then the group filed out of the office and downstairs.
Bishop hung back. “Was Knight over here within the last hour?”
“No, I’ve been alone all morning,” Father said, concern furrowing his brow. “Why?”
“He told Brynn this was where he was heading.”
“Knight probably needed a few minutes to himself. I don’t like it, either, son, but he does need personal space in order to control his empathy. If your mother was around others for too long, too consistently, she became agitated. Especially when something was already bothering her.”
“Right.” Their mother had been a White Wolf, too, so Father had a unique perspective on the responsibilities and side effects of the burden. Balancing the emotional control of seven hundred-plus loup garou was a monumental task. “I’ll let you know when we’re close to our location.”
“Be careful, son.”
Jillian pulled onto the side of the road exactly one mile from the location she’d punched into the SUV’s GPS before leaving Cornerstone, then shut down the engine. They were on a side road off Route 12, and she hadn’t seen a car on it yet. Route 12 itself wasn’t a heavily traveled road, simply the most direct way to get from Cornerstone to Pennsylvania’s other major highways.
In the passenger seat, Winston Burke raised the walkie-talkie and said, “Three in position.” He handed the walkie over to Jillian, then got out so he could undress and shift. The process of shifting from skin to beast took a full minute if changing fast, and up to two if they took their time.
Moments later, Bishop’s irritating voice came over with, “One in position. Two?”
“Almost there, thirty seconds or so,” Rook replied.
The teams had been formed quickly by Bishop before they left the car lot, as had the skin versus beast assignments. She and the McQueens would go in on two feet, Jonas and the Burkes on four.
Jillian pocketed her key and cell phone, then joined a shifted Winston by the fender. He shook himself out like he was wet, re-acclimating to this form. Shifting was painful and only done when necessary—or when forced to during a quarterly. After their first shift as a child, every one hundred and one days, all loups endured a forced shift that left them at the mercy of their inner beasts from sunset to sunrise. It’s why most households had a quarterly cage in their basement.
The only time in her life Jillian had forgone a quarterly was during her pregnancy. Phantom pain stole through her abdomen at the thought, and a flash of old grief closed her throat. She had been frustratingly emotional about the loss of her mate and her unborn child these last two weeks, thanks to a spectacularly nasty comment by Bishop after what had been an intensely erotic kiss. She had tried to be understanding once she realized the secret he’d been carrying with him that night. He had been angry and grieving an impending loss. He had also seriously overreacted to their kiss, and she understood that. The passion in that kiss, the way her beast had reacted to it and to him, had scared her, too.
But the fact that he had yet to approach her and apologize for shitting on her late husband’s memory pissed her off.
I hope he gets ticks romping through the woods.
The silly, unkind thought was distracting her, so she focused on Rook’s announcement that he and Devlin were in place. Everyone was shifted and ready, so they headed into the woods. Jillian used her phone’s GPS this time to track their path, unfamiliar with these rolling mountains and the trees and animals in them. The wilderness was shadowed and spooky even in the middle of the afternoon.
After half a mile of silent walking, Winston froze, ears forward. Jillian stopped, deferring to his beast’s heightened senses. His nose was working, scenting the air. He moved forward again, more cautiously, and Jillian cursed his inability to speak and tell her what he smelled. She couldn’t ask the others if their beasts had scented anything. They were to be radio silent unless attacked.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I can't say much about the plot because being book 2 there will be spoilers, so all I'm going to say is that this is Bishops story. We still get the POVs from other characters but we get a more in debt look at the middle child. I loved book one of this trilogy, Black Rook and couldn't wait to read more from the McQueen brothers. Well I wasn't disappointed with this because wow this book was a rollercoaster. So many FEELS!!! It was nice to get to know Bishop more. In Black Rook he was the strong brother but here we get to see the real Bishop. He blames himself for what happened to Rook and Knight last time and finds it hard to forgive himself. He tends to take everything onto his own shoulders. When an immense tragedy befalls the Cornerstone Run, its up to Bishop to step up and try to protect everyone. With death and destruction at every turn can Bishop keep it together? We see more of Jillian in this as well. She is the daughter of an Alpha and was sent to help the Cornerstone run when Rook and Knight were kidnapped. She is a widower and is supposed to find herself another husband, one strong enough to take the Alpha spot when her father retires. Thing is though, Jillians' wolf has found her true mate in Bishop but both know that's its impossible for them to be together. He is set to become Alpha of Cornerstone and she is set to marry the next Alpha of her run. But with devastating losses all round, both take solace in each others arms one time but both know its an impossible situation. We don't see as much of the terrible triplets in Gray Bishop but what we do see is devastating. I know I'm using that word a lot but understand that in this book there is hundreds of lives lost at their hands and utter devastation all round!! We also get the answers to certain questions about what happened in book 1 with them. They are so evil and horrible!! Anyway, overall Gray Bishop was amazing. I don't know how many times I cried during reading this but I know it was a lot. It was so sad and my heart broke for the brothers. Poor Bishop has so much to deal with and then with what happens to Knight!! Every character grew so much from the previous book. I'm glad that Shay comes out of her shell and is more involved in this one. Rook is as fun as ever and I loved seeing him and Brynn together. Gray Bishop is an emotional, devastating and action packed read. Despite the deaths and destruction we still see some hope and love shine through. Kelly Meade has created a world I fell in love with and one that I don't want to leave. Gray Bishop has left me an emotional wreck and I know with the way the story is going that White Knight is going to be worse because the author, while handing out some happiness in one hand, snatches it away in the other. She knows how to grab her audience and twist their hearts ;) January can't come fast enough for me because after the ending of Gray Bishop, I need the last book NOW!!!!
The attacks are continuing on the loup garou, and the fear and the tension are rising. Bishop McQueen, feels like he is to blame for when his brother was kidnapped, tortured, and barely brought home alive. Bishop may be a gray wolf, but he is in line to be alpha. His brother, met his mate who was a half breed, and among their kind, that zeroes him out to take their father’s place. Jillian Reynold, is suffering from the ghosts of her own past. Jillian was in love, married and was pregnant. But then a horrible accident, ended with her a widow, and losing her child. The attraction between Bishop and Jillian is strong and hot, but they know they don’t have a chance for a future. Jillian is her father’s only child, and as he is alpha, the man she marries and mates next, will be the next alpha after her father dies. But when she hears of an attack on her home, she and a group of wolf enforcers head over to her hometown. But when they arrive, the effects are much worse they she hoped for. Now Bishop and Jillian are having to fight for the love they have and for the homes they are trying to protect…no matter the cost. The Hero Gray wolf, Bishop Mcqueen, has a lot of anger in him. Bishop even though has been training himself to take the alpha’s place in case of something happening to his brother or father, he never knew years ago, that he would be the next in line. Even though he is a Gray Wolf, considered to be weaker than the black wolf’s, he has his own strength, he has the added advantage of being the Alpha’s son. Bishop is dedicated to family and pack, and they always come first. But his attraction to Jillian is fierce and unfamiliar. Bishop is the type of hero, you cheer for. From the beginning of the series, I have admired him. I have enjoyed his connection to his brothers, and how their family always takes the pack’s safety and happiness first. Bishop loves the pack, and they are his family. Bishop is strong, a fighter, resilient and sexy as sin. He doesn’t take crap, and he knows how to handle himself in a fight. The Heroine Jillian, is a leader in her own right. She feels connected to Bishop, in a way, because she has always known she would be the female Alpha in the pack. Jillian is talented, strong, and passionate. She can handle herself in a fight, and knows how to protect her own. No matter the danger she doesn’t back down. She has a desire to help those around her, even when she is falling apart on the inside. Jillian was a heroine I admired greatly. You see how much pain she suffers from losing her husband and unborn child. No one from the McQueen Pack, even knows that she lost a child. As the attacks around them increase, her past starts to haunt her. Jillian was such a winning female in my book, she had everything you look for in a heroine. She has an inner strength, stubborn and tenacious, but provokes emotion. She has a heart of gold, and that is very evident in every chapter. I loved how loyal she is to not just her own but to the Mcqueens. To protecting all of their kind, and even those half breeds that have been targeted. Plot and Story Line Gray Bishop is the second book in this amazing trilogy, that so far has stunned me. This doesn’t happen very often, and with shifter romances, that can be hard to do. But I swear, thanks to a good blogger friend, I got introduced to this author. A author that stimulates the mind and body with her beautifully wrapped packages of sexy shifters. thrilling plots and engaging scenes. Gray Bishop, is of course Bishop’s story. All three sons of the Alpha, play a part in this series, and each have their own story. Each are a different kind of wolf. In the set up of the story, we see how it continues right off from where the first book left off. Which I loved. Sometimes when your reading a series, you start the next book in line, and it totally doesn’t seem to fit with the previous book. Not the case with Kelly Meade. She has a talented way of creating a story that weaves its way into your heart. It begins with the start of some gruesome and horrid attacks, small ones, but attacks that are leaving children orphans, children who are half breeds, and don’t fit anywhere. But the Mcqueen pack, are not known for kicking out those innocent of wrongdoing. We see a story that was so emotionally driven, that it brought my to tears. I had a difficult time with this one. Now those that have read this one, know exactly what I am talking about. I am going to try not to reveal too much about what happens in this story. But I do want to say you might want to get a few tissues before you begin with this story. It totally had me wrapped in tension and ragged emotions. My heart just broke for Bishop and Jillian. They both have pasts, they both have suffered in their own way, and they both need each other. They have a strong sexual connection, but their bond goes way deeper than just hot sexy (although that is great), but we also see how their relationship deepens and grows, and the love they share is what will win the battle at the end. It was quite fun seeing them work through issues, and not too delicately. They do have some mountains to climb, but the ending is satisfying and leaves you hanging (just bit ), so you want to read the next book. The villiain’s in the story, are very bad ass, and need to be taken down painfully and slowly. I just want to turn into a wolf myself and tear their throats out. I know a bit gruesome…but seriously, what they do is horrific and they totally deserve it for what they do and what they plan on doing. We do see some fun side characters that come into play, and a small small side romance as well. Cover This cover is so tantalizing, and just sends shivers down my spine. I mean this model, needs to be commended…because that eye searing look…totally has me. I probably would have bought this book for the cover alone. And at the bottom, I love that picture of the beautiful grey wolf, if I could I would want to pet the thing…if it was tamed and all. Overall View Gray Bishop is a thrilling paranormal romance, that is bound to have you on edge from beginning to end. A story of sacrifice, passion and danger. Guaranteed to keep you on your toes. So WATCH OUT or you might get bitten!
The Cornerstone Run Trilogy was a wonderful series. I enjoyed "Gray Bishop". I liked the relationship between the brothers as well as their relationship with the women in their life. I am waiting for the 3rd book and final book in the series.
Kelly Meade has a great trilogy going with A Cornerstone Run. Gray Bishop, the middle book, featuring the oldest son is non-stop action and romance. I will not spoil your read by telling the plot. However, if you enjoy strong characters female and male, romance that appears to be forbidden, mystery , excitement, then this is the series for you.
I was so impressed with this book. I haven't read the first book in the series but it didn't seem to be necessary to follow along with the current plot so I felt it would do well as a stand alone or a saga. Kelly Meade is a new author to me but I was glad when I got started reading that I was given the opportunity to read Gray Bishop. Its uniquely written, and the characters although full of plenty of angst are wonderful. I can really see this series going somewhere because it is super great. This novel made me want to cry on more than occasion, it had me cheering on more than one occasion and it got me hooked. I can't wait to read more by Kelly Meade in the future.
After being introduced to the Cornerstone world in the first book, Black Rook: the characters, the complicated plotting both for the suspenseful action and the near impossible romantic situations of the characters, I was ready for that heady, excitement for what I was reading to continue. This is an interesting trilogy in that most of the main players are introduced in the beginning and their stories all start at the same time and are tied together. Several even get narration roles in each book so that it’s not just the hero and heroine featured telling what's going on. There are three wolf shifter brothers all representing a different level of wolf hierarchy based on power and all getting the chance to be the lead protagonist in each book. This is the second book and is Bishop, the gray wolf's story. It needs to be read after book one because it’s really an ongoing segment of the same overall story. Bishop's life is in turmoil now after all that has come before and he's not the only one. Their whole community is still reeling from the enemy attack that brought sorrow, death and destruction down on them with the purpose of wiping his people from existence and using the uniqueness of his brother, Knight's white wolf nature to create a new super race of paranormals. The town is fearful and Knight is nearly ready to break. Bishop knows that something has to give. He, himself, is strung out from everything. It doesn't help that his wolf side recognizes Jillian Reynolds, the alpha female from another pack, as his mate. He's pretty sure she feels the pull too, but they are destined to lead their father's separate packs so cannot give in to the pull of their wolves. Jillian has come to Cornerstone at her father's orders not just to lend aid to the beleaguered pack, but also to look about and find a worthy mate to help her lead her home pack. She lost her husband and child and now she is just coming out of her grief to try again. Nobody from home attracted her in this way, but the minute she encounters Bishop McQueen everything in her sits up and takes notice like nothing she has felt before. The only man she wants it the one she can't have. She can't dwell on it though as much needs to be done and their enemies are still out there. Then the unthinkable happens and the attacks start again with this time the death and grief happening much closer to home for Bishop. Bishop is suddenly faced with trouble on all fronts and it is only Jillian beside him and the determination to hold what remains of his family and pack together keeping them as safe as he can that gets him through the horrors that come. Knight might be beyond aid and Rook is prepared to step in and put his life on the line too. The vampire hybrids have struck back with a vengeance and someone else with an ax to grind have Bishop and the others of Cornerstone backed into a really tough spot. What else to say...this was a true middle piece to the story. I knew what was coming when I saw the direction of the storyline, but I still bawled my eyes out nonetheless. My heart grieved for what these people had to deal with. Bishop was the one holding the point on it all as the natural leader, but it’s not just him that is pushed beyond what he should be able to take. It’s a family- a community that experiences it all. Knight has such personal demons to deal with that it was hard to see him struggle. The romance plot was one of those 'doomed before it starts' things for Bishop and Jillian, but it didn't get angsty. They are both strong, passionate people, but they are hemmed in by duty. I hope their story arc continues into the next one because I felt the need for a bit more even though the end of the book left them in a good place. Now the last big twist right at the end wasn't exactly a cliffhanger in that it was almost expected, but it still leaves me frustrated to have to wait for the final book. As to the characters, I really like them all. Well okay, I love to hate the bad guys, but the good guys are all characters I can really root for and care about their stories. They are all like family whether they are blood related or not and I love that camaraderie feeling. Bishop was actually a favorite from the beginning back in the other book. Maybe its the oldest child connection, but I totally got him and was glad to get his story. Unlike his brothers who are both gifted in ways he is not- Rook's power and position came from being born a black wolf and Knight's being a rare white wolf makes him absolutely integral and essential, Bishop is a gray wolf and forced to work twice as hard as the black wolves around him to establish his place as the alpha's oldest son and heir to the leadership of his people. Bishop has the heart and head of an alpha and the people respect and follow him, but with it comes such burdens and responsibilities. He also carries a personal guilt and grief over each instance he feels that he failed to protect others particularly his younger brothers. He wants to keep everyone safe and now he is faced with the fact that safety is an illusion at best. He knows Jillian Reynolds is his mate and he already respects her as a friend and fellow fighter, but in true alpha fashion he must set aside his own happiness for the good of his pack and hers. He must let her go. Now Jillian is basically Bishop's counterpart just female so it was easy to appreciate and like her too. She has had personal tragedy just pile up in her life too. It is being near Bishop that gives her the strength to keep it together and do what she has to do. Unfortunately part of what she has to do involves turning her back on what they could have had together. Jillian is a refreshing heroine. She is smart, strong, fiercely loyal, vulnerable at times and loving. She stands beside Bishop even through her own grief and she doesn't go weepy and wailing when faced with some pretty tough situations. In the end, this was a strong sequel that kept the story progressing forward as things get graver and the stakes get higher which is exactly where things need to be setting up for the grand finale. The romance is a balanced equally with the action and the characters are developed and engaging. I would recommend this series for paranormal romance lovers who like that sort of balance and a passionate, though understated romance between two strong characters. My thanks to Penguin Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for an honest review.
This would have been an easier book to read if I had access to the first book. Kelly has put a bit of a spin on her characters in this book. She developed Sanctuary Towns for her Loup Garou to live in. They are run by Alphas to lead the Shifters. There are a whole lot of bad guys-vampires, half breeds, and some genetic psychopaths. Now it is up to Bishop, his brothers Rook and Knight and Jillian. There are plenty of twists and turns so pay attention closely to follow this story. I did like this book. I would recommend this as a good Shifter book and series. I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.
Gray Bishop, Kelly Meade Genre: paranormal romance. Review from jeannie zelos book reviews I hadn’t realised this was the second book in a trilogy. I found myself thinking it seemed as if a prior level of knowledge about the characters was assumed and then on checking found I'd missed book one...my error. I’m human, it happens. I’d seen the description and it sounded good so I didn’t check further. Anyway I went back and read the amazon sample of book one and synopsis, and a few reviews to get a feel of the background then came back to Grey Bishop. I had a couple of troublesome concepts to cope with . First -the whole Black, Grey, White separation of werewolves seemed a bit odd to me, it seems like an attempt to add something new into an existing genre but TBH for me it was an unnecessary layer of separation. Its a small population already and with human/other supernatural pairings frowned upon I couldn’t see why add another bar to couples. Then the hybrid sisters killing so many werewolves, four of them and they killed hundreds? In one go it seems at times...I couldn’t see that, however fast and strong their vampire side made them. It was just too much to be realistic and even in fantasy I need realism, the idea that if the scene was real it could actually happen and four creatures taking out hundreds of trained, ultra strong werewolves – nope, doesn’t work for me. The romance side though... that worked. I liked Gillian and understood her grief, and her attraction to Bishop. Her husband was a good man, and she’d loved him, grieved deeply when he died but he wasn’t her Mate. Bishop feels as if he is, right from their first meeting they’ve felt a pull towards each other that's hard to ignore. How sad then that the colour issue is one of the bars against them... He was a strong potential leader too – very much aware of his duty to his family and the Pack as a whole, and I really felt for him when he thought he’d let his brothers down. Both times there really wasn’t anything more he could do, and yet he still felt responsible for their grief and pain. The battles are fierce and bloody, and the pain suffered by those left felt very real. I liked that the McQueen pack welcomed half breeds, unlike others that cast them out. They needed the strength that new blood brings, even if it isn’t pure werewolf. I did have trouble with how they kept everything away from human eyes, somehow I couldn’t see for instance, just the auction house providing work and finance for everyone, and yet their interaction with humans was minimal so how could they work with them? If they died how would the pack explain it? I couldn't quite see how that married up with modern technology that keeps track of everyone – they needed some way surely to explain how hundreds of them had died? It was a gap that kept coming back for me through the novel, how did a whole village ( several whole villages ) hide from humans? Might have been possible a couple of hundred years back, but with technology and travel today it wouldn’t work. I needed some answers, even if it was just some kind of witch spell that kept them hidden. The story as a whole was a mixed bag for me. I liked the premise and it could have been a 4-5 star read for me if not for those niggling questions that make it feel so unreal. Stars: Three, lots of potential, lots of action and good plots but too many unanswered questions for a higher rate from me. ARC supplied via Netgalley.