Home > Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5)

Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5)
Author: Ilona Andrews

Prologue

Nevada

All families have odd moments. Our family just has them more often than others.

I sat at our family kitchen table and stuffed my face with pancakes.

Arabella, my youngest sister, peered at me from across the table. “Why are you here? You don’t even live here anymore, Nevada.”

I had officially moved out yesterday. I’d spent the last nine years of my life in the second-floor suite of the warehouse that served as both our home and our business. Given that I now spent most of my time with Connor, otherwise known as Mad Rogan, and we recently became officially engaged, I decided to move out. There was surprisingly little fanfare. I hadn’t accumulated much, and it took me less than a day to pack my belongings into boxes. Rogan’s people got them last night and delivered them to his house, on the outskirts of Houston. Grandma Frida cried a little bit and Mom made a lot of grumpy noises, so I’d stayed the night in Rogan’s HQ across the street just in case they decided to have a nervous breakdown about it.

I shouldn’t have worried.

“Leave her alone,” Mom told Arabella. “That’s her third pancake.”

“So?” Arabella glanced at me.

I stuck my tongue out at her and cut another piece of pancake with my fork.

“She’s stress eating,” Grandma Frida volunteered. “Rogan’s picking her up in five minutes. She’s scared to meet his mother.”

Thank you, Grandma. I choked on my pancake and gulped my coffee. “I’m not scared.”

I was totally scared. He’d wanted to take me to see her right after the trials, but I begged off for three days. There was no escape now. I had to meet my future mother-in-law.

Arabella squinted at me. Grandma Frida was past seventy and Arabella was still fifteen, but in that moment, they looked remarkably alike: both blue eyed, both pale haired—although Grandma Frida’s curls were white because of her age—and both wearing identical sly expressions.

“You’re wearing a pair of new jeans and your favorite green blouse,” Arabella said.

“So?”

My sister dipped her blond head under the table. “And pretty, strappy sandals. And your toenails have polish.”

“I can have polish on my toenails.” Usually I wore sneakers because I occasionally needed to run in the course of my job, but I owned three pairs of sandals too.

“You better brush your teeth,” Grandma Frida said. “You don’t want coffee breath.”

My toothbrush was at Rogan’s HQ. Damn it.

“Stop it, the two of you,” Mom growled and turned to me. “You’ll be fine.”

After Dad died, Mom became an unmovable rock in our turbulent sea. No matter what happened, she would be there, fixing it. It took me a long time to learn to look past that armor. The last year made that especially clear. But today I needed that rock and so I grabbed on to it.

“Mom says I’ll be fine,” I told them. “You’ve met her, Arabella. You could just tell me what she’s like.”

Arabella smiled. “I like watching you squirm.”

My phone chimed. A text from Rogan. “You’re missing the show.”

“What show?”

“Come outside.”

I really wanted to run upstairs to my old room and lock the door. I couldn’t do that for two reasons. One, I was an adult, and two, my other sister, Catalina, moved into my room, so it wasn’t technically mine anymore.

It was absurd. I was a trained private investigator with almost ten years of experience. Baylor Investigative Agency existed today because I took it over when Dad got sick and made it successful against all odds. Not only that, but I was a Prime, the highest level of magic user one could reach. My paternal grandmother had the same talent, and people cringed when they heard her name. I had stood up to her and to a dozen other Primes. In the past year I’ve been shot at, hit with a car, burned, teleported, and frozen nearly to death. I had a bus almost dropped on me, I faced a psionic who nearly destroyed my mind, and I told Connor Rogan, the Scourge of Mexico, “no” repeatedly and stood my ground. I should be able to meet my fiancé’s mother.

I could do this.

I got up, put my plate into the sink, hugged my mom, and went to the door.

A gunmetal grey Range Rover waited in front of our warehouse. Unless you looked closely and knew what you were looking for, you would never guess that the car was armored.

Rogan leaned against the vehicle. I’ve seen him in a twenty-thousand-dollar suit and in dirt-stained jeans and a T-shirt. No matter what he wore, he always had a kind of rugged masculinity about him. You got a sense that nothing would knock him off his stride. Whatever came up, he would handle it and he wouldn’t panic. The fact that he was huge—over six feet tall and built like he fought people for a living—only added to it. Today he wore a pair of jeans and an olive T-shirt. With his bronze skin and dark hair, he looked like some sort of jungle explorer.

Oh no.

I stopped.

“What?” he asked.

“We match,” I ground out.

“So?”

“I’m going to go change.”

He caught my hand and drew me to him. His dark blue eyes were laughing as he leaned down and kissed me. He tasted of mint and coffee and the touch of his lips anchored me. You know what, it would be fine.

“You look great. Also, if you leave, you’ll miss the best part.”

He nodded to my left. I glanced in that direction.

A sapphire-blue Maserati GranCabrio was parked at the curb. Next to it, directly under my—no, my sister’s—window stood Alessandro Sagredo.

When I first saw Alessandro’s picture shortly before the trials, I thought he looked like the son of a gladiator ready for his first match. That impression was even stronger in person. His face still had traces of softness, but they were quickly disappearing. The lines of his face were becoming hard and precise, but whichever form they would take, one thing remained certain—Alessandro was cursed to spend his life being ridiculously handsome.

My shy quiet sister was leaning out of her window and seemed clearly agitated.

“No!” Catalina declared.

“Why not?” Alessandro’s voice held just the slightest trace of an Italian accent.

“Because what you’re feeling for me isn’t real.”

“Who says I’m feeling anything? I’m just suggesting we go for a drive.” Alessandro nodded at the Maserati gleaming bright blue in the sunlight. “I have the car right here.”

“No.”

Only a few days ago, our family had to undergo the trials to prove that we possessed at least two Primes and therefore could be declared a House. We needed the protections granted to the emerging houses desperately, which meant that I and my sisters had to demonstrate our magical abilities before a panel of Prime judges. Alessandro was Catalina’s test. A powerful Antistasi Prime, he could nullify others’ magic, while my sister possessed the ability to make people love her. They had stood facing each other, with a white line between them. Then Catalina told him a story about our vacation in Florida and by the end of it, Alessandro crossed the line and fought the four people who tried to stop him. He’d shrugged it off in seconds, but my sister was declared a Prime.

“I thought Catalina’s magic wore off with time,” Rogan said quietly.

“It does. I don’t think he’s here because of her magic. He followed her on Instagram before the trials.”

Rogan’s dark eyebrows crept up a fraction of an inch. “And that’s significant why?”

“He is a teenage heartthrob and Herald’s darling with a couple million followers. He followed three people and Catalina. She became Instagram-famous overnight and deleted her account.”

In our world Primes were the most prominent of celebrities. There was an entire social network dedicated to the obsession—the Herald, where members posted speculation, rumors, and fan fic. Alessandro Sagredo, being young, unmarried, and devastatingly handsome, was Prime groupie magnet, and Catalina hated attention of any sort. She had good reasons for it. I would’ve given anything to make it easier on her, but all magic came with a price and my sister had drawn the short stick.

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