Alpha_ An Urban Fantasy Novel (War of the Alphas Book 3) - SM Reine


A yellow moon crested over New York City.

Moonrise was an event so predictable that it could be used to set watches, though it hadn’t always been that way. The moon used to rise during the day, sometimes. The hours that it appeared had varied based on season and geography. There had been formulas that allowed astronomers to calculate when and where it would appear.

Then Genesis had struck.

Now moonrise occurred whenever the sun went down, and moonset preceded sunrise by mere moments. This event, against all rational scientific expectation, seemed to occur in exactly the same fashion regardless of where the observer stood on the Earth.

It was magic, no doubt about it, and that magic extended beyond the illusion of the turgid moon’s clockwork arrival. It reached to the surface of the Earth, influencing spells cast by witches, government policy, and, most frightening of all, the shapeshifters who lived predominantly in North America.

Now that full moonlight touched New York City, the change was coming.

“Crap,” breathed Mallory Reilly, hurrying to finish her paperwork.

There were still three shifters waiting to check into her safe house, and those were three more shifters than she had space to hold. She had an overflow room where all of them would be able to shift together, but she had to run it through the registration program to make sure that their species were compatible first.

The software—and the overflow rooms—were very new, implemented in response to an incident at another safe house. Two shapeshifters had killed each other in the parking lot overnight because there hadn’t been enough rooms to lock them away.

Obviously the software hadn’t been tested enough. Mallory’s computer was crapping out on her.

“What’s taking so long?” asked one of the werewolves.

“I’m so sorry.” Mallory banged on her keyboard. “I want to get you guys in, I do, but—”

“There’s no time,” said Ember Bane, another werewolf. His flesh rippled, sweat slicked his forehead, his eyes glowed.

He was already starting to transform.

They were out of time.

“Two werewolves and a cougar shifter,” Mallory murmured.

What harm could come out of sticking them in a room together?

They were going to have to find out.

This had only become a problem very recently. The fact that three shifters—three of them!—were seeking shelter for the transformation meant that they’d rejected Rylie Gresham as their Alpha. If they didn’t acknowledge her as their leader, then she couldn’t gentle their transformations on the full and new moons.

More and more shifters were rejecting Rylie Gresham now, especially since she had announced that she was putting her position as Alpha up for election.

Mallory had never seen so many people in need of shelter at her safe house.

And the damn computer wasn’t working.

She slapped the button to unlock the stairwell. “The overflow room is on the right as soon as you get downstairs,” Mallory said. “Don’t worry about check-in. I’ll lock up behind you.”

“Thank the gods,” Ember breathed.

He moved from the window, allowing Mallory to see that another woman—someone who wasn’t a shifter—had entered the secure parking lot. The newcomer strode toward the registration window.

January Lazar was a famous reporter, and famously difficult. She had made a name for herself by interviewing Rylie Gresham, then became notorious by giving air time to Rylie Gresham’s worst enemy. A terrorist who wanted the Alpha dead. Everton Stark.

If January Lazar was at Mallory’s safe house, then it could only mean bad things were about to happen. Mallory needed to protect the charges she had already checked into the safe house. She hit the button to lock down the stairwell even though the three shifters hadn’t gotten inside yet.

“What are you doing?” Ember shouted. His werewolf friend, Dolf, slammed his fists against the door.

“Great question,” January said. Her heeled pumps rapped against the parking lot as she strode up to the window. “What are you doing?”

“We only allow shapeshifters here, ma’am,” Mallory said. “No press within the perimeter of the fence. You have to leave.”

“Are you going to make me leave?” January asked.

It was a tempting thought. Mallory fingered the charms dangling next to her window as she considered it. She had a few rudimentary spells that could be used to knock down an escaping shifter, but January Lazar was human. The spells might kill her.

“If I have to,” Mallory said.

Ember Bane cried out, and it sounded like a howl. His cry was echoed by the cougar shifter’s a moment later.

They were changing.

“Unlock the door, don’t unlock the door, it’s up to you,” January Lazar said. “I can do my piece here as