Originally Published in the anthology “Mountain Magic”. Baen October 1, 2004
Clint Slade is nervous. First, because he’s bringing his very New York City fiancée Jodi Goldman home to meet his very rural Kentucky family. Mostly, though, his anxiety stems from a different source. How—if he should do it at all—can he explain to his wife-to-be the secret behind the Slade family’s wealth and secluded lifestyle, which they’ve kept for almost two centuries. A secret involving diamonds, an extensive system of caverns… and a race of very inhuman beings who guard the treasures below.
But when Jodi and Clint arrive, he discovers that his anxiety was pointless. The secret can’t be kept any longer. Something has stirred up the denizens of the underground world and made them hostile. And even if Jodi, Clint, and the Slade family can find a way to stop the hostility from turning into violence, there is another, deeper secret waiting in the cavernous depths—one that could spell doom for millions of people!