Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
Series Hidden Legacy Novella
Genre Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date November 6, 2018
Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.
Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan’s extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.
To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her sister’s happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.
I fought my way through the hallway of Mountain Rose house trying to dodge the children. Everything I ever read about my future brother-in-law on Herald suggested that Connor Rogan was a loner with no immediate family besides his mother and his cousin, Kelly Waller, who didn’t count.
The gaggle of children was coming right for me.
I clutched my tablet to my chest and braced myself.
They ran around me in circles, giggling, and dashed down the hallway, leaving a little girl holding a stuffed unicorn in their wake. I let out a breath.
Rogan had oodles of relatives, scattered all over the Mediterranean, and all of them descended on his mother’s house to attend the wedding. I liked kids, but there were somewhere between twenty and thirty children under the age of twelve on the premises and they traveled in packs. The last time I ran across this gang of preteens, they knocked the tablet out of my hands. Nothing could happen to the tablet. All of the wedding files were on there.
The little girl and I looked at each other. She was probably five and supercute, with brown hair and big dark eyes. She wore a pretty lavender dress decorated with tiny silk flowers. If Mom had put me into that dress when I was her age, it would be covered with mud and engine grease in about five minutes. When I was five, I either played outside or in Grandma Frida’s garage, while she repaired tanks and field artillery.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Catalina.”
“Mia Rosa García Ramírez Arroyo del Monte.”
I had seen her before, I realized. She always seemed to follow Mrs. Rogan around. She trailed her to the porch, to the study, to the media room. She even wanted to sit next to her in the dining room.
Mia Rosa thrust her unicorn up. It was almost as big as she was and decorated with blue and silver plastic jewels the size of grapes and way too many sparkles.
“This is Sapphire.”
“She is very pretty.”
“She lives in the midnight clouds and her horn glows with moonlight.”
Of course. Jewel Legends. It was a popular kid cartoon with mythical animals. I was too old for it, but Arabella, my younger sister, caught the very beginning of it. Everything had to be Jewel Legends for a while: notebooks, backpacks, phone cases . . . And then she went to high school and that was the end of that.
“I want a sparkly gun,” Mia Rosa announced in a slightly accented voice.
“There is a gun that lets you put more sparklies.”
“You want a bedazzler?”
Mia Rosa nodded several times. “Yes. My mommy said you were the go girl and I should ask you.”
Go girl. I hid a sigh. “I’ll see what I can do. What is your mommy’s name, so I know where to deliver the bedazzler?”
“Teresa Rosa Arroyo Roberto del Monte. Thank you. But don’t give it to mommy. Give it to me.”
Awww. She said thank you. “You’re welcome.”
She curtsied and ran after the kids, dragging her unicorn.
My phone chimed. I glanced at the text message. Arabella has written, “Where are you??? Get here!!!” and added a gif of a crying baby with photoshopped rivers of tears. I took off at a near run.
It all started with Nevada firing the wedding planner. The first wedding planner.
Usually my older sister was a perfectly reasonable person. Well, as reasonable as someone can be when she is a human lie detector. However, two weeks ago Simon Nightingale disappeared, and House Nightingale hired us to find him. Just three months ago our family registered as a House, and our small PI firm went from Baylor Investigative Agency to House Baylor Investigative Agency. The Nightingale case was our first investigation. The entire Houston elite was watching us, and it drove Nevada a little nuts. A lot nuts. She was pretty much a nutcase.
The first wedding planner was fired because she argued with Nevada. My sister would explain the way she wanted things done and the planner would tell why they couldn’t do it that way. Most of the time “couldn’t” meant “we won’t do it because it’s a Prime wedding and it’s not the way things are done.” Finally, the planner explained to Nevada that it wasn’t really her wedding, but a wedding of House Rogan and she needed to stop impeding it with “ridiculous demands,” such as serving queso as an appetizer at the rehearsal dinner. The planner was promptly escorted from the premises.
The second planner was fired, because she kept lying. Her approach to wedding planning was to pacify the bride by pretending that everything was under control even when it wasn’t. She didn’t want to be micromanaged. But, my sister was an epic control freak and her attention to detail was legendary within the family. Nevada would ask if something was a problem, and the planner would repeatedly assure her that things were fine, despite being warned that Nevada could sense her lies. Things came to a head when Nevada asked her point-blank if she and Mrs. Rogan had come to an agreement on the caterer. After being told for the tenth time to not worry about it, Nevada snapped. I realized that the second planner was let go when I saw her running to her car in five-inch heels with a look of pure panic on her face. My sister had burst onto the porch behind her, yelling, “Is it fine now? Is it still fine?”
We didn’t bother with a third wedding planner. Arabella and I took a weekend, armed ourselves with takeout, and after thirty odd episodes of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? and four seasons of Bridezilla, we decided to plan the wedding ourselves. It was that or there would be no wedding.
Unfortunately, while Rogan and his mother treated us with perfect courtesy, the rest of his family wasn’t quite sure about our status. Both Arabella and I were registered as Primes, but our records were sealed. Also, our family wasn’t wealthy, and Rogan was a billionaire. With me being eighteen and Arabella turning sixteen, they didn’t feel we had any authority. I had a feeling we ranked as “poor relatives who run errands,” somewhere just above hired help. Apparently, I was the go girl. I didn’t even want to know what Arabella was.
Just what I needed. I already felt like a clumsy trespasser in all of this beautiful luxury. This wasn’t my home. My home was in the loft of the warehouse. If there was any way to not be here, I would’ve taken it. But I loved my sister.
It would be a lot easier if we could do all this in Rogan’s house, but Rogan and Nevada declared Rogan’s home a wedding-free zone and hid there whenever they could.
I turned the corner and walked into a room where Nevada stood on a dais, wearing high-heeled shoes and the in-progress wedding dress, which currently was muslin marked with blue pencil lines. Two people crawled around her, pinning the hem.
Arabella stood in front of her, her arms crossed over her chest. Both Nevada and Arabella were blond, but Nevada’s hair was closer to clover honey, while Arabella’s resembled gold corn silk. I was the only brunette in the family, besides Mom. Right now the similarities between my two sisters were really apparent, and if you didn’t look at their faces, Arabella seemed like a shorter smaller copy of Nevada.
Ooo, I should tell her that next time we fought. She would hate that.
“What is it?” I asked.
“She wants lilacs in her wedding bouquet.”
“Okay . . .” Nevada had said she wanted carnations, but we could stuff some pretty pink lilacs in there. I didn’t see the problem.
“Blue,” Arabella squeezed out. “She wants blue lilacs.”
No and also no. “Nevada . . .”
“I had to hide in a bush of French lilacs yesterday and they were very pretty and smelled nice. The card on the tree said, ‘Wonder Blue: prolific in bloom and lush in perfume.’”
I googled French lilac, Wonder Blue. It was blue. Like in your face blue. “Why were you hiding in a bush?”
“She was being shot at,” Arabella said with a sour face.
“So you stopped to smell the lilacs while people were shooting at you?” I couldn’t even.
“Mmm. I was in a greenhouse and they made a lovely hiding spot.”
I decided to go with logic. My sister was a logical person. “You asked for a spring wedding. You chose pink, white, and very light sage green as your colors. There is no blue anywhere in the wedding.”
“Now there is.”
“Your bouquet has pink carnations, pink sweet pea flowers, white roses, and baby breath.” Three varieties of pink carnations, because she couldn’t pick one. And Nevada would never know the panic in the floral designer’s eyes when we told her it had to be a carnation bouquet. Apparently, carnations weren’t upscale enough for Mad Rogan’s wedding. Poor woman kept trying to suggest orchids.
“And blue lilacs,” Nevada said.
“It will clash,” Arabella growled.
I googled sage bridesmaid dress, held the tablet toward Nevada, and scrolled through images. “Look at the flowers. Pink and white. Pink. Pink. White. Pink and white.”
“I don’t care,” Nevada said. “I want blue lilacs.”
And I want to fly away from here, but that wouldn’t happen anytime soon, would it?
“Anyway, I have to get back to the office,” Nevada said. “Text me if anything.”
“The queen has dismissed us,” Arabella announced.
I dropped into a deep curtsy. “Your Majesty.”
“I hate you guys.”
“We hate you back,” Arabella told her.
“We hated you before the wedding.”
“Before it was cool to hate you.”
“Get out!” Nevada growled.
I walked out of the room.
Arabella caught up with me. “We can’t do lilacs. It ruins the theme.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Sleep on it,” I told her. “Let’s go home.”
“Catalina,” a woman called.
I turned toward the sound. Arrosa Rogan, Nevada’s future mother-in-law waved at me from the doorway, from her wheelchair.
“May I speak to you in private, dear?”
Oh-oh. This couldn’t be good. “Yes, ma’am.”
“I’ll wait for you outside,” Arabella said.
TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY
To celebrate the release of DIAMOND FIRE by Ilona Andrews, we’re giving away one paperback set of the Hidden Legacy trilogy!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a paperback set of the Hidden Legacy trilogy by Ilona Andrews. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 11/12/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted.
ABOUT ILONA ANDREWS
ILONA ANDREWS is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.) They have co-authored two New York Time sand USA Today bestselling series—the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and the romantic urban fantasy of The Edge. They live in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.