Archangel's Prophecy (Page 25)
“Izzy,” she murmured with a smile.
She made the call, then went in to ice cookies with Maggie and Majda while she waited.
“Elena”—Jean-Baptiste poked his head into the kitchen, a frown on his features—“your very young friend has just landed in the drive. You’re sure the boy is over a hundred? He looks ten.”
Elena laughed and kissed Maggie’s cheek in good-bye then hugged a worried Majda before going to join her grandfather. “Izzy’s one of Galen’s protégés. Trust me, he knows what he’s doing.”
Jean-Baptiste walked her to the front door. “Your wing,” he said quietly. “There is a problem? Young Izak is here to act as your escort?”
No surprise that he’d figured it out; he was a senior vampire who’d worked with two archangels and was trusted enough to be on a first-name basis with both those archangels. “Yes. I’ll tell you more when I know.”
Eyes solemn, he touched his hand to the side of her face. “Take care of yourself, Elena. My Majda’s heart cannot bear another loss.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead as he’d done with Eve. “If Majda reminds Jeffrey of his wife, you are the living embodiment of our daughter.”
Elena made no promises as she walked out.
“Izzy,” she said when she reached the baby-faced angel with a tumble of blond curls and a painfully earnest heart. “Thanks for coming.”
“I’m part of your Guard, Ellie.” His brow wrinkled. “Of course I would come.”
She smiled—it was difficult to do otherwise when with Izak. “Let’s walk around to the back of the property.” Majda and Jean-Baptiste had a private fenced-in garden there, and thanks to the tall trees that edged the garden, none of the neighboring houses looked down on it.
Once there, she double-checked to confirm no neighbors would see what was about to happen. It didn’t matter if they saw her and Izzy linked—a lift from one angel to another wasn’t uncommon, especially among friends who might be playing games in the sky. But strangers couldn’t be permitted to see the initial lift in case the problem with her wings was obvious.
Only when she was satisfied of their privacy did she turn to Izak and tell him what she needed and why. His face turning solemn, he nodded. Izzy, she knew, would do anything for her—even if what she asked would get him in trouble with Dmitri or Raphael himself. She just hoped she’d always be worthy of his devotion.
Putting his hands on her waist, because he wasn’t yet strong enough to pull her off the ground using her hands, he waited for her to tighten her wings to her back then rose into the air. A small face pressed to the kitchen window waved excitedly at her as they left the ground.
Elena waved back at Maggie . . . while the owls perched on the branches of a dormant tree watched on with eyes of luminous gold.
Seconds later, they hit the gunmetal gray sky and Izzy said, “Shall I let go?”
“Yes.” Elena spread out her wings the instant he released her, not snapping them out as she normally would, but unfurling with more care.
She didn’t fall.
Breath shuddering from her lungs, she was conscious of Izzy dropping slightly below her. The position would make it easier for him to halt her descent should she suffer a midair wing failure. But they made it across the snow-dusted landscape and over the jagged height of the skyscrapers to land on the balcony outside the infirmary.
She waved Izzy off to his other duties, then escorted Beth—who’d just arrived—to Harrison’s side. Her next stop was Nisia’s office. The healer’s expression darkened when Elena described her inability to hold her wings off the ground without conscious effort. “How did your wings feel once you were in the air?” the healer asked, going around to Elena’s back to examine her wings.
Elena stood still for the slow and thorough inspection. “I had all the normal controls, but I felt . . . weaker.” She frowned, trying to narrow down the reason for the feeling. “As if each wingbeat took more effort than usual.”
“We will go into an empty training room,” Nisia announced. “I need to take you through some tests.”
Urgency pounded at her, the need to eliminate the threat to Beth and Maggie overwhelming, but she’d be no use to her sister and niece if she fell out of the sky to splatter onto the streets of Manhattan.
The tests took two hours.
Somewhere in the midst of it, Elena took off her jacket and shoved up the sleeves of her long-sleeved thermal T-shirt. Nisia’s eyes went immediately to the Band-Aid on her forearm. “Elena?”
“S**t. I forgot about that.” Hard to keep a scratch in mind when Beth’s lounge looked like the site of a massacre. “The cut broke open again.” Holding her breath, she peeled off the Band-Aid. “Hey, it’s looking much better.”
“No, this is not good.” Nisia’s cheekbones jutted sharply against her skin as she stared at the small wound. “Such a cut should’ve been nothing for your body to repair. Your current level of healing is close to a mortal’s.”
Okay, yeah, put that way, they had a problem—but her wings were the bigger one, so she and Nisia returned to the tests.
Elena, I’m almost home. Dmitri informed me about Harrison—have there been further developments?
Archangel. A hot rush of blood through her veins. I haven’t had much of a chance to follow up—I’m with Nisia in the internal sparring ring. It had been free when Nisia enquired, and the better space for testing the range of her wings. More issues with my wings.
I am on my way.
He walked into the ring only a few minutes later, an archangel dressed once again in the worn softness of warrior’s leathers, with his hair tumbled by the wind and his expression dangerously calm. And his wings . . . they were rippling white fire. Wings of pure silence that he could summon at will but that appeared most often when his emotions were running high.
“What has happened?” Liquid blue flame danced in his irises.
A stab of fear deep in Elena’s heart; she couldn’t help it when he got like this. So very other that she feared he’d evolve onto a level of existence where she wasn’t welcome, where she couldn’t follow.
“Elena’s wings show evidence of further degeneration,” Nisia said without stopping her most recent examination of Elena’s flexed left wing. “You can continue to fly,” she said directly to Elena, “but I’ll need to keep a close eye on things.” The healer came around to face her. “We’ll begin with an examination each morning and night.”
Stomach dropping, Elena didn’t even try to stop herself from shifting so that Raphael’s wing overlapped her own. Though the white fire felt like him, she was glad when his wings solidified, the warm weight of bone and tendon and feathers pressing against her wounded wing.
“Is this damage a result of the original strain?”
“It doesn’t matter if it is.” Nisia unfurled then folded in her own wings. “You should be healing.” A thoughtful pause. “Have you been eating enough? We know from previous growth spurts that you require a prodigious amount of energy at such times.”
“You saw me inhale the food we had sent down here.” Elena shoved a hand through her hair, remembering too late that it was in a braid. Pale strands of near-white fell around her face when she pulled her fingers out. “Do I need even more fuel? I might as well just get a stomach tube and pour things in.”