The release date is almost upon us. I am super nervous about this one, which is nothing new. It’s always a gamble when you start a book with a new protagonist. If I could, I would just hide the entire release, but that wouldn’t be any fun for anyone.
Hidden Legacy has taken over the front page of this website. If you want to see it, click Home in the top menu.
We are doing two appearances for this release.
8/26 Murder By The Book, Houston TX.
Murder by the Book ships internationally, so if you want a signed copy, this is your best chance to preorder. Let them know exactly how you want it signed in the Other Comments field when you order and we will write whatever you want in it. But maybe no poems this time. 😀 They take too long. Click here for more information and to preorder.
8/29 Barnes & Noble, Austin , 7:00 pm.
The last time you guys complained that we didn’t do a local Austin signing, so here we go. This will be held in B&N at Arboretum, 10000 Research Blvd #158, Austin, TX 78759. This store is a lot easier to get to and parking is abundant. More information here.
If you can’t make either of these two appearances, we will be doing two online events on Friday, 8/30/2019.
There will two Q&A sessions available to live stream through Twitch. Information regarding these sessions is listed below. Click the session you are interested in and you will be redirected to the page where that particular session will go live.
Twitch is a streaming platform, which allows you to ask us questions in real time and have us answer them via video. You can watch the Q&A session without creating an account, but if you want to ask something, you will have to sign up. It’s free.
This is the link to our Twitch account: Ilona Andrews Twitch.
To sign up for Twitch, click Sign Up in purple in the left upper corner or in the right upper corner on the menu. You can also sign in with your Facebook account by selecting that option after clicking sign up.
There will be two Twitch sessions on Friday 8/30/2019. They will both be recorded, so you can watch the video at your convenience.
US: 12:00 pm EST, 11:00 am CST, 9:00 am PST.
Europe: Berlin 6:00 pm, London 5:00 pm.
Australia: Sydney 2:00 am.
US: 8:00 pm EST, 7:00 pm CST, 6:00 pm PST.
Europe: Berlin 2:00 am, London 1:00 am.
Australia: Sydney: 10:00 am (Sunday!)
And now for the deleted scene. Technically this was cut from the next book, not SAPPHIRE FLAMES, but it’s not spoilery and we think you might enjoy it anyway.
I walked into the mansion of House Piney wearing my best “Pay Me” pant suit. Powder pink and slightly oversized yet still obviously tailored, it draped my body in an elegant way, complimented my tan skin, and hid the bruises on my arms. My dark hair rested in a conservative bun at the nape of my neck, my makeup was understated but expertly applied, and my shoes, plum-red Dior pumps, completed the look. My outfit said, “I don’t need your money, but I collect what’s owed to me. Take me seriously.”
The outfit lied. We needed their money. Every cent of it.
Behind me, Arabella wore a similar ensemble in pale grey with a turquoise blouse that contrasted nicely with her blonde hair. Nobody would ever guess that only a couple of hours ago my sister and I come home covered in blood and dirt.
I’d learned this trick from my older sister. Like Nevada, I spent most of my business hours in jeans and a T-shirt, while my small but expensive wardrobe hung in the closet safely wrapped in plastic. Usually I only pulled it out twice during a case: first, when meeting the client and the second when collecting the payment. I’d come here once before and dressing up proved to be the right choice. House Piney was a second-generation House, practically a brand-new family by the standards of Houston magical elite. They were clearly insecure and deviation from the status-quo made them nervous. They would expect the Head of another House to flaunt their status, so I met and exceeded their expectations.
The foyer of Piney home had that generically luxurious quality particular to newer Texas mansions: travertine tile sheathing the floor, spotless white walls, and an iron-railed staircase leading to the second floor. A safe decorating choice, uncomplicated by personal style and taste.
A middle-aged white man stood guard by the staircase. He wore a three-piece black suit, white shirt, and a black tie and stood in a classic pose, one arm bent behind him, the other in front, with a white-gloved hand resting across his waist. Arabella’s eyebrows crept up. I shot her a warning look.
The man gave me a short nod. “Good morning, Ms. Baylor.”
“Good morning, Mr. Walt. This is my sister, Arabella Baylor,” I told him.
“Very good, ma’am. Please wait in the sitting room.” He indicated a living room on our right with a swipe of his hand.
We walked into the living room filled with ornate furniture. I’d sit down, but I’d fallen off the armored vehicle last night and my butt hurt. If I sat, I’d need help getting up.
“A butler,” my sister murmured under her breath. “Do we have brandy and cigars now or after they pay us?”
“They would probably serve us tea and cucumber sandwiches. You can have brandy and cigars when you go to visit Linus next weekend.”
Unlike the Pineys, Linus Duncan was a fourth-generation Prime and for reasons I didn’t understand, he doted on us like we were his grandchildren. Arabella took shameless advantage of that.
The sound of light feminine giggling drifted from deeper within the house. Four people emerged from the other room. Two young women in late teens, both Caucasian, one in a white dress, the other in a pink. Two men in their early twenties, one white and blond and the other dark-haired and Latino, accompanied them.
The woman in white was Brittney Pine, the youngest child of House Piney. The blond guy next to her was Robert Taylor, House Taylor, Lux mage. Robert created fluorescence, anything from a gentle colored glow to a blinding light, and could attach it to inanimate objects. The other man and the girl in pink didn’t look familiar. All four had that polished House brat look. Life had been kind to them so far and they had no fear she would change her mind.
The girls glanced at us and giggled.
Arabella rolled her eyes.
The foursome landed on the couches at the other end of the room and spoke in hushed voices. We were an oddity. Arabella was their age, I was only a couple of years older, and we were members of the magic elite, but while they lived a carefree existence wrapped in luxury, we worked, and their parents took us seriously. Furthermore, our records had been sealed by our request. Both Arabella and I were Primes, the highest rank of magic user, but the exact nature of our magic remained hidden.
A faint tendril of magic brushed against my mind. Brittney turned away quickly and snickered.
House Piney were telepaths. They could communicate with each other over great distances and they could scan hundreds of people at once, picking up surface thoughts. They specialized in providing confidential communication to large corporations. They couldn’t penetrate one’s mind and pull a secret out, however, which was why they now owed us money.
Another feather-light touch. Strong but clumsy. Compared to what I grew up with, this was amateur hour.
“Handle her,” Arabella ground out. “Handle her, or I will.”
Another touch. This was a huge breach of etiquette. If she did it to the wrong mental mage, she would start a war with another House. As a Prime, I was expected to react. I had to cut this short.
I lowered my mental defenses and remembered the first person I ever killed. The man’s dark silhouette in a ballistic vest loomed in front of me, his head turned away.
I lunged. The blade of my sword sliced his throat, cutting the jugular and the carotid. Blood gushed, dark and hot. The metallic smell of it lanced my senses.
I tasted acid on my tongue.
The man choked, exhaling bloody mist out of his mouth…
I yanked myself back to reality. Across the room, Brittney stared at me, wide-eyed. Her girlfriend pulled on her hand. “Hey?”
I walked over to them, slowly, the sound of my heels measured on the travertine tile. My face had iced over. When I took over as Head of the House, this expression didn’t come naturally to me. It’d been six months and now it required no effort.
Brittney shrank from me.
“Would you like to see what’s in my head?” I asked quietly.
Brittney shook her head.
“It’s impolite to trespass in other people’s minds,” Arabella said, studying her nails. “Pull that stunt with the wrong person, and you’ll end up wearing diapers for the rest of your life, blissfully unaware that you are the sole survivor of House Piney.”
Harsh but true.
Brittney’s girlfriend opened her mouth. I looked at her, loading enough derision into my gaze to make a whole ballroom of debutantes wither. She clamped her teeth shut.
A quick staccato of steps running down the stairs came from above. “Brittney!” A sharp male voice cracked like a whip.
Arabella smiled. “Uh oh.”
John Piney, Brittney’s older brother, charged into the room.
Robert turned to him. “Hi John…”
“Shut the fuck up, Bob. Why are you here?”
Bob recoiled, stunned.
John pivoted to his sister. “Are you high or have you lost your mind?”
“Don’t talk to her like that!” the other girl piped up.
John glared at her. “Leave. Now.”
Bob finally snapped out of his shocked stupor. “I have to go do something.”
John turned to him. “Are you still here?”
The three friends took off for the front door. John stared at his sister.
Brittney turned red, then white. Clearly, a telepathic chewing out was taking place.
“Sorry,” she said in a small voice.
“It’s fine,” I told her.
“Please accept our sincere apologies,” John said. “My parents will see you now.”
Arabella and I followed him up the stairs into a study lined with mahogany shelves. Mr. Piney, a slender white man in his early fifties, sat in an overstuffed red chair that very much wanted to be a throne. Mrs. Piney, naturally pale with blonde hair and a generous figure, waited next to him, on her feet. John stood to the side.
I unzipped the black leather folder I was carrying, opened it, and put it on the desk in front of them, revealing a printout with columns of numbers.
“You’re right. Your nephew is stealing from you. He’s been doing it for the last three years. He occasionally issues bogus payments to your legitimate contractors. They refund him, and he then transfers the money into one of the private accounts. However, the main source of his embezzling is Raptor, Inc. It’s a shell corporation, no actual physical address, no assets. It’s presented as your subsidiary in the paperwork.”
“I’ve never heard of it,” Mrs. Piney said.
“What does this Raptor do?” Mr. Piney asked.
“Currently it’s billing the Department of Defense for bogus expenses associated with your military contracts,” Arabella said.
“I’m going to kill him,” John said, his voice disturbingly casual.
In his place, I would try to kill his cousin too. Once the DoD discovered the fraud, House Piney could lose the entirety of their military contracts. Civilian jobs would follow. They would be ruined.
I pointed at the paper inside the folder. “These are the twelve accounts he maintains, with current balances and passwords. You’ll find the digital copy on the usb in the pocket of the folder.”
“How did you get this?” Mrs. Piney murmured, scanning the data.
Her nephew had told it to me yesterday over dinner. He’d practically dislocated his fingers logging into his accounting software trying to impress me with his cleverness and wealth.
“This is what we do,” I said. “Your nephew is unaware that we have this information. If you move quickly, you should be able to seize the assets before he liquidates them.
Mr. Piney raised his head. “Who have you told about this?”
Oh no, you don’t. “Our contract guarantees confidentiality. We do not disclose the information we obtain in the course of our investigations unless compelled to do so in a court of law.”
Mr. Piney was still staring at me.
I met his gaze. Pay us and walk us to the front door, and you will live another day.
I was looking straight at him and I saw the exact moment his confidence faltered.
Arabella stepped forward and held up her cell phone. “I’m ready for your transfer.”