Home > White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)(7)

White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)(7)
Author: Ilona Andrews

“I can hear you!” I climbed the ladder and pulled it back up after me. My little loft apartment greeted me—a large bedroom and a bathroom. When we’d originally moved into the warehouse, I really wanted my privacy, and the older I grew, the more I treasured it. I took off my suit, carefully put it in the garment bag, and hung it up in the back of my closet.

I wasn’t over Rogan.

When I kissed him inside the null space, I’d almost seen into him. For a few brief moments he wasn’t Mad Rogan. He wasn’t even a Prime. He was just . . . Connor. A man. And I wanted to know that man so badly. But he’d slammed that door shut as soon as he noticed it was cracked open.

I turned on the shower to let the water warm up, and stripped. Obsessing over something that would never be did me no good. Shower, clean clothes, sleep. I had a big day tomorrow and I’d need to do some research for it before bed.



Chapter 2


The morning brought rain and Cornelius, who arrived at exactly 6:55 a.m. in a silver BMW i8. The hybrid vehicle, sleek and ultramodern, looked slightly odd, its lines varying just enough from the established norms of the gasoline cars to draw attention.

Of course he would drive a hybrid car. He likely never bought bottled water either. Bern had run all of the usual checks on him yesterday. Aside from that new mortgage, Cornelius was debt-free. He had excellent credit history and no criminal record, and he generously donated to an animal charity. He also had been right about House Forsberg’s involvement in his wife’s death. The story was getting no press. Even with Garza’s murder flooding all available news channels, a brutal slaying of four people in a hotel downtown was at least worth a quick mention. It hadn’t received one, which meant someone somewhere was actively suppressing it. If House Forsberg truly had nothing to do with it, they’d have no reason to keep it quiet.

Cornelius stepped out of the car. He wore a white dress shirt open at the collar, with sleeves rolled up, dark brown pants, and scuffed-up brown shoes that looked ancient. Comfort clothes, I realized. He must’ve chosen the outfit on autopilot and his subconscious made him reach for something old and familiar.

A large reddish bird swooped down from the overcast sky and landed on the branch of a big oak tree across the parking lot.

“This is Talon,” Cornelius said. “He’s a red-tailed hawk, commonly known as a chicken hawk, although really it’s a misnomer. They hardly ever target adult chickens. The Assembly won’t permit me to bring in a dog. It won’t permit you to bring in a gun either. However, on the fourth floor there is a bathroom where the window has been altered so it doesn’t trip the security system. It’s frequently left open.”

“Is it the secret smoking bathroom?” I guessed.

Cornelius nodded. “It’s just far enough from the smoke detector that an open window lets them get away with it. Are you armed?”

“Yes.” Before Adam Pierce, I got away with carrying a Taser 90 percent of the time. Now I didn’t leave the house without a firearm and I practiced with my guns every week. My overtime at the gun range was making my mother very happy.

“Can I see it?”

I pulled my Glock 26 out of the holster under my jacket. It was accurate, relatively light weight, and made for concealed carry. I’d opted for one of my cheap pantsuits primarily because I could get away with the kind of shoes that let me run and because the jacket was loose enough to obscure my firearm. Besides, I seriously doubted they would let me into the Assembly building in my typical attire of old jeans, running shoes, and whatever top wasn’t too wrinkled after one of my sisters dumped my laundry on my bed to make space for her own load in the dryer. I’d have to clear an X-ray and a metal detector as well.

Cornelius examined the gun. “Why does it have this bright blue paint on this part?”

“It’s matte fingernail polish. The black on black sight makes it harder to hit dark targets and the fingernail polish fixes that problem and cuts down on the glare.”

“How much does it weigh?”

“About twenty-six ounces.” I’d stuck with the standard 10 round magazine, hollow point. And I carried a lot of extra ammo. My adventures with Rogan made me paranoid.

“Talon can carry it through the bathroom window for you.”

Okay, I had to nip this in the bud. It’s not that the idea of walking into a building filled with the top crust of Houston’s magic users unarmed wasn’t giving me anxiety. It was. My favorite strategy when confronted with danger was to run away. People who ran away survived and avoided costly medical bills, loss of work hours, and increases in insurance premiums. They also escaped being lectured by their entire family about taking unnecessary risks. I used a gun only when I had no choice. Confronting a Prime inside a building filled with other Primes would make running away very difficult, so going in armed was tempting. But bringing a firearm into the Texas Assembly was suicide. Might as well pin a target to my chest with the words Terrorist. Shoot Me.

“Why would I need to bring a gun into that building?”

“It might be useful,” Cornelius said quietly.

Right. “Cornelius, if we’re going to work together, we have to agree on full disclosure. You want me to bring the gun into the Assembly because you’re convinced that Forsberg killed your wife and you want me to shoot him.”

“When I talked to them yesterday before coming to see you, one of his security people suggested that Nari may have been having an affair with one or both of the other two lawyers. When I told him it was unlikely, his exact words were, ‘We don’t always know the people we marry. Who knows what the investigation will uncover? I’ve seen it all, embezzlement, sex addicts, drugs. Terrible what sometimes comes to light.’ They’re not simply content to ignore her death. They’re now actively distancing themselves from her and, if I keep making noise, they’re threatening to smear her name.”

“That’s awful of them. But it doesn’t tell us that Matthias Forsberg is guilty. It only indicates that Forsberg Investigative Services employs scumbags and they’re trying to cover their asses.”

Cornelius looked away.

“You came to me for the truth. I’ll get the truth for you. When I point out the guilty person to you, it won’t be because of a hunch or a feeling. It will be because I’ll present you with the evidence of their guilt, because accusing someone of murder should never be done lightly. You want to be sure, right?”


“Good. We need evidence. We’ll search for this evidence together and we’ll do it as safely and carefully as possible, so you can come home to Matilda. According to my research, the security at the Assembly is very tight. You can’t even get into the Allen Parkway parking lot without showing ID and having a reason to be there. If we were to follow your plan, and someone discovered that I carried a firearm into that building, the security wouldn’t detain me. They would shoot me and whoever I was with.”

His face told me he didn’t like it.

“What happens if Forsberg attacks?” he asked.

“On a crowded Assembly floor? In plain view of his peers, while we’re unarmed?”

Cornelius grimaced.

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