Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5)- Ilona Andrews Page 0,1
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.
“What?” he asked.
“We match,” I ground out.
“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.”
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.
“You need distance,” Catalina declared. “It will wear off with time and distance.”
Alessandro hung his head, his longish brown hair falling over his face. “Per l’amor del cielo !”
I turned to Rogan. “What did he say?”
“I’m not under the influence of your magic. I’m not climbing the walls to get to you. I’m just here to invite you to go for a quick drive.”
A long pause ensued.
Alessandro tilted his head and gazed at the window. Modern-day Romeo in luxury jeans next to his one-hundred-and-seventy-thousand-dollar steed.
“Is there going to be an answer?” Rogan asked me.
“She’s just going to leave him standing there?”
“No, I meant that the answer will be no.” I smiled at him. “Let’s go. This is hard enough for Catalina as is, and we’re not helping.”
“I hate that window,” Rogan said, as we got into his car.
Across the street, a heavy crate rose a few inches off the ground.
“Don’t you dare,” I told him. The