A Hidden Legacy Novel
By Ilona Andrews
Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career-a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.
Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan-a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.
Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.
All men are liars. All women are liars, too. I learned that fact when I was two years old and my grandmother told me that if I was a good girl and sat still, the shot the doctor was about to give me wouldn’t hurt. It was the first time my young brain connected the unsettling feel-
ing of my magic talent detecting a lie to the actions of other people.
People lie for many reasons: to save themselves, to get out of trouble, to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Manipulators lie to get what they want. Narcissists lie to make themselves seem grand to others and themselves. Recovering alcoholics lie to safeguard their tattered repu- tations. And those who love us most lie to us most of all, because life is a bumpy ride and they want to smooth it out as much as possible.
John Rutger lied because he was a scumbag.
Nothing about his appearance said, Hey, I’m a despi- cable human being. As he stepped out of the hotel eleva- tor, he seemed like a perfectly pleasant man. Tall and fit, he had brown, slightly wavy hair with just enough grey on
his temples to make him look distinguished. His face was the kind of face you would expect a successful, athletic man in his forties to have: masculine, clean-shaven, and confident. He was that handsome, well-dressed dad at the junior football league yelling encouragements at his kid. He was the trusted stockbroker who would never steer his clients wrong. Smart, successful, solid as a rock. And the beautiful redhead holding hands with him was not his wife.
John’s wife was named Liz, and two days ago she hired me to find out if he was cheating on her. She had caught him cheating before, ten months ago, and she’d told him that his next one would be his last.
John and the redhead drifted across the hotel lobby.
I sat in the lobby’s lounge area, half hidden behind a bushy plant, and pretended to be absorbed in my cell phone, while the small digital camera hidden in my black crocheted purse recorded the lovebirds. The purse had been chosen precisely for its decorative holes.
Rutger and his date stopped a few feet away from me. I furiously shot birds at the snide green pigs on my screen. Move along, nothing to see here, just a young blond woman playing with her phone by some shrubbery.
“I love you,” the redhead said. True. Deluded fool.
The pigs laughed at me. I really sucked at this game. “I love you too,” he told her, looking into her eyes.
A familiar irritation built inside me, as if an invisible fly was buzzing around my head. My magic clicked. John was lying. Surprise, surprise.
I felt so sorry for Liz. They had been married for nine years, with two children, an eight-year-old boy and a four- year-old girl. She showed me the pictures when she hired
Now their marriage was about to sink like the Ti- tanic, and I was watching the iceberg approach.
“Do you mean that?” the redhead asked, looking at him with complete adoration.
“Yes. You know I do.” Magic buzzed again. Lie.
Most people found lying stressful. Distorting the truth and coming up with a plausible alternative version of re- ality required a good memory and an agile mind. When John Rutger lied, he did it to your face, looking straight into your eyes. And he seemed really convincing.
“I wish we could be together,” the redhead said. “I’m tired of hiding.”
“I know. But now isn’t the right time. I’m working on it. Don’t worry.”
My cousins had run his lineage. John wasn’t connected to any of the important magical families whose corpora- tions owned Houston. He had no criminal history, but still something about the way he carried himself set me on edge. My instincts said he was dangerous, and I trusted my instincts.
We also ran a credit check. John couldn’t afford a di- vorce. His record as a stockbroker was acceptable but not stellar. He was mortgaged up to the gills. What wealth he had was tied up in stocks, and divvying them up would be expensive. He knew it too and took pains to cover his tracks. He and the redhead had arrived in separate cars twenty minutes apart. He’d probably let her leave first, and, judging by the tense line of his back, this open dis- play of affection in the lobby wasn’t part of his plan.
The redhead opened her mouth, and John bent down and dutifully kissed her.
Liz would pay us a thousand dollars when I brought her
the proof. It was all she could get her hands on without John knowing about it. It wasn’t much, but we weren’t in a position to turn down work, and as far as jobs went, this one was simple. Once they walked out of the hotel, I’d leave through the side exit, notify Liz, and collect our fee.
The hotel doors swung open and Liz Rutger walked into the lobby.
All my nerves came to attention. Why? Why don’t people ever listen to me? We had expressly agreed that she wouldn’t do any sleuthing on her own. Nothing good ever came of it.
Liz saw them kissing and went white as a sheet. John let go of his mistress, his face shocked. The redhead stared at Liz, horrified.
“This isn’t what it looks like,” John said. It was exactly what it looked like.
“Hi!” Liz said, shockingly loud, her voice brittle. “Who are you? Because I’m his wife!”
The redhead turned and fled into the depths of the hotel. Liz turned to her husband. “You.”
“Let’s not do this here.”
“Now you’re concerned with appearances? Now?” “Elizabeth.” His voice vibrated with command. Uh-oh. “You ruined us. You ruined everything.”
“Listen . . .”
She opened her mouth. The words took a second to come out, as if she had to force them. “I want a divorce.” I’ve been working for the family business since I was seventeen, and I saw the precise moment adrenaline hit John’s system. Some guys get red-faced and start scream- ing. Some might freeze—those are your fear biters. Push too far and they will go crazy. John Rutger went flat. All emotions drained from his face. His eyes opened wide,
and behind them a hard, calculating mind evaluated the situation with icy precision.
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 Times and USA Today bestselling series, the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and the romantic urban fantasy of The Edge and are working on the next volumes for both.
They live in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.
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