“Join the Austin Public Library for an exclusive, intimate evening with New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews! This 18 and older event will feature a reading from her novel White Hot, a Q & A and a book signing. The doors will open at 6:45 PM with the program starting at 7 PM. Meet the Author events provide an opportunity to hear a writer read their work aloud and discuss it with an audience. ” Read more.
On with the story.
“The House is everything,” Bern said quietly. “She needs you and the girls to qualify as Primes so she can keep her House alive.”
“Question!” Leon said. “If she is the only Prime, how can she still be a House?”
“Every time a new Prime is registered, the Office of Records checks to see if the family has two Primes,” Catalina said. “If there are two living Primes, the family is recertified as a House. They don’t take away the family’s rank until the last Prime alive at the last certification dies.”
My sister had been reading up on Houses. “You know what I can do,” I said.
I could do plenty. Being able to detect a lie was the least of my talents. I could crack a human mind like a walnut and pull whatever knowledge I needed out of it. And I didn’t have to leave the mind intact.
“Victoria can do everything I do and much more, and she does it better. I’m just now figuring out the extent of my power. She’s been trained in the use of magic since she could hold chalk in her hand. She has power, money, and troops we don’t. She’ll do whatever she has to do to gain control of me and Catalina at the very least.”
Grandma Frida put her hand over her mouth. Bernard was usually calm and steady, like a rock in a storm. But right now his eyes were full of fear.
“She can do things with Catalina’s talent.” Unspeakable, ugly things. Things that would make my thoughtful, kind sister hate herself. “And if Arabella’s magic is discovered . . .”
I didn’t finish. I didn’t even want to go there. They would lock her away and keep her sedated for the rest of her life. She would never get to see the sun. She’d never laugh again, never love, never live. My grandmother wouldn’t get her claws on my sisters. I wouldn’t let it happen.
Catalina leaned forward, her eyes defiant. “What are our options?”
I checked my mother’s face. She was sitting still, her expression grim.
“We can roll over,” I said. “That will likely mean that you and I will have to do whatever Victoria says. We’ll have to walk away from our business.”
Catalina winced. Our parents built Baylor Investigative Agency, and I spent seven years growing it. It wasn’t just a business. It was the future and the core of our family.
I had to keep going. “We probably won’t see Mom, Grandma Frida, or Bern and Leon again for a while.”
That got me a look of pure horror.
“We’d have to obey her and do whatever she wanted. I would be doing interrogations and lobotomizing people.”
I kept my voice even. They didn’t need emotion from me right now.
“Eventually Victoria will die. She’s old.” And that didn’t sound morbid. Not at all. I forged on. “Eventually we’d inherit House Tremaine.”
“How long?” Leon asked.
“I don’t know. She’s in her seventies. Ten years, maybe twenty.”
“Door number two, please,” Arabella said.
Part 3 will be coming in a couple of days.