Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6)(9)

Written By: Nalini Singh



Raphael understood that his mother hadn’t been in her right mind when she sent him plummeting to the earth, his wings shredded, but some part of him was still that broken boy who’d lain bleeding on the dew-drenched grass—as her feet danced away over the green blades speckled with viscous red. “I cannot forget.”

“I know,” Elena said, that painful understanding binding them on a level no one else would ever comprehend. “I know.” Her mother had loved her, too, but Elena’s most enduring memory of Marguerite was of her high-heeled shoe lying on its side on designer black and white tile.

Strange, how the memory of that shoe made her skin chill, her lungs struggle for air. But that was how it was. Some memories dug deeper, held on tighter.

“What happens now?”

“This city, my Tower, cannot be seen to be weak.”

“Of course.” Anything else might be taken as an invitation to conquer by certain others in the Cadre. “We have to convince them the Falling did far less damage than it actually did.” Almost half of the Tower’s defensive force was down for the foreseeable future: a staggering deficit.

“Yes.” Raphael reached between them to tug open the tie of her robe, slide his hands inside. “As part of that,” he said to her responsive shiver, “my consort must be seen to be indulging in her strange fetish for hunting vampires.”

“Ha-ha.” Undoing the buttons of the shirt he’d pulled on for the call, she pressed a kiss to the firm muscle of his chest. “I’ll tell Sara not to strike me from the roster.” Chasing delinquent vamps hardly seemed important in the wake of the tragedy that had befallen the city, but if it would help create the illusion of a Manhattan undamaged by the horror that had taken place in a few short minutes, then that was what she’d do.

She knew angelkind in general remained fascinated with her, the first angel Made in living memory and one who continued to hunt. According to what she’d heard from Illium, there were as many angels glued to news reports about her as there were humans and vampires. So why not use that notoriety to the city’s advantage?

Raphael’s hands stroked off her robe to leave her naked, her skin igniting under his touch. “You need to rest,” she argued halfheartedly, a clawing need inside her to taste life in its most primal form. “You pushed your new ability to the limit in the infirmary.”

Lips on hers, his mouth claiming everything she had. “There are,” he said, backing her against the wall, “other ways of revitalizing the self.”

Elena gasped as he lifted her, her legs locking around his waist to leave her intimately exposed.

He was hard and demanding that night, her archangel, his fury at the attack on his city a rage in his blood—but she was no fragile bird. Giving back kiss for passionate kiss, she took the pounding thrusts of his cock and demanded more, until there was no more thought, only the most beautiful firestorm of sensation.

? ? ?


Raphael had thought only to hold Elena close as she slept on the thick carpet in front of the study fireplace, their bodies and wings entangled, but he must have been more tired than he’d understood, because all at once, he realized he wasn’t awake. Instead, he found himself on the forgotten field where Caliane had left him more than a thousand years ago, when he’d been a boy at the dawn of his existence.

A boy who’d thought to kill his mother before she became an even bigger monster than the one who had orchestrated the death of two thriving cities, the adults drowned, the children broken in ways even Keir, their greatest healer, couldn’t repair. No immortal would go to the ancient ruins of those cities even now. There was too piercing a silence, created of the pain of thousands of souls, such silence as Raphael would never forget, the pain of it an icy wind.

Today, as he stood draped in a quiet heavy with the echo of memory, he saw blood on the grass, the crimson liquid that had dripped out of him as he lay splintered on the earth underneath a crystalline sky so blue it hurt. Yet he wasn’t on his face on the grass as he’d been then, his wings torn and heavy on his body, parts of him missing. No, he stood on his feet and he was a man, an archangel, not that scared, determined, heartbroken boy.

Flexing his hands as if in readiness for battle, he took a step forward . . . and walked into a wall of whispers. Hundreds of voices, each one raspy and somehow unused, the words interlaced and incomprehensible. They came from every side, yet when he rose up into that sky of cutting clarity, he saw nothing but the gnarled bodies of the trees that surrounded the field, sentinels of such age that they had stood through eternity.

And still the voices whispered and murmured, pushing at him in waves that ebbed and flowed, until at last, he heard a single strong voice slice through the chaos. The other whispers died away, but did not fade altogether as that one voice asked him a question. “Who are you?”

Feet touching the grass once more, the dew wet on the very tips of his wings, he felt a roaring surge of anger. “Who are you to ask questions of an archangel?”

The murmurs rose again, the volume rising to a thunderous crescendo.

Archangel. Archangel. Archangel!





4





“Archangel.” Elena gripped Raphael’s shoulder, his skin strangely cool under her fingertips. “It’s time to get up.”

He always woke at her first touch, but today she had to call him a second time before his lashes lifted, the relentless blue of his eyes shadowed by a darkness that muted their vivid hue. “It’s daylight,” was the first thing he said, his gaze taking in the lacy streamers of light coming in through the study windows.