Archangel's Prophecy (Page 28)
Elena had already considered that particular question. “I’ll ask her.” But she wasn’t hopeful of a positive outcome. Beth and Harrison had a different relationship to Ashwini and Janvier—and Elena and her archangel. Beth was the homemaker and Harrison the man of the house, the one who handled finances and everything else outside of Beth’s domain of family and children.
Elena didn’t know if Harrison spoke to Beth about the more dangerous aspects of being a vampire, or if Beth would even want to know those facts. Everyone dealt with tragedy and loss in a different way; Beth had done so by insulating herself in a happy routine with defined lines. Elena just hoped her questions wouldn’t bring her sister’s fragile construction tumbling down.
It will begin in liquid fire
In sand that flows
In ice sharp as knives
In the death of one
—Archangel Cassandra, Ancient among Ancients, lost to an eons-long Sleep
Ashwini and Janvier left first, off to prowl the Vampire Quarter for new leads.
Desperate inside in a way she couldn’t explain, Elena was about to drag her archangel out for a kiss before she went to Beth, when Dmitri got a call from Naasir.
“Ice?” Dmitri wasn’t a vampire who often betrayed surprise, but that one word was spiky with it. “How bad?”
The answer had his skin going tight over the bones of his face. “I will inform the sire.” A short pause. “If he requests it. Otherwise, head back to the Refuge.” Hanging up, Dmitri looked to Raphael. “Naasir and Andromeda decided to make a short trip to Alexander’s territory.”
That territory was Persia. Elena had no details of how Naasir, a wild and unique member of Raphael’s Seven, was tied to Alexander, but she was aware that Naasir had an open welcome to the Ancient’s territory—and, technically, Naasir’s mate, Andromeda, belonged to Alexander’s court.
“Ice in Alexander’s sun-filled lands?” The Legion mark burned almost too bright on Raphael’s temple.
“Not only ice. An ice storm in Qatar.”
Elena sucked in a breath. “Those poor people won’t have the clothes, the heating . . .” She knew parts of Alexander’s territory could get frigid, but Qatar was warm even in the winter months. “Are Naasir and Andi safe?”
“Yes. I’ve told Naasir to assist if asked but to return to the Refuge otherwise.” Dmitri’s features were grim. “There is little we can do quickly.”
“I will speak to Alexander.” Eyes of deep Prussian blue held Elena’s. Go to your sister, hbeebti, I will tell you the outcome.
Filled with a raw need for him at this moment when life drew them in different directions, she blew him a mental kiss, but his eyes didn’t lighten, his features set in lines so perfect they were brutal.
Drink, Elena. A hard order. You must not get any weaker.
Elena stopped in the corridor to rub her fingers over the spot under her heart, her wings slumping for a moment. I’m a fighter, Raphael. A reminder to herself as much as him. Even if the weapon involved is some weird healer mixture that tastes like chocolate blueberries and ripe apples.
Raphael’s response was a sea storm inside her mind, the lightning flashes within it incandescent. Letting the searing power of him sweep through her, she finished the drink she had in the bottle then detoured to refill it. That done, she ate three energy bars . . . while considering the new cut on her left arm.
She’d absently shoved up her sleeve while mixing up more of the drink and there it was. Higher up than the first, the cut was a fine line she could’ve gotten anywhere.
The problem was that it was paper-cut thin but an angry red. She checked both arms then pushed down her sleeves. She’d examine it again in a couple of hours. Right now, her priority was Beth. Elena had sat with her after Nisia finished the tests on Elena’s wings, only leaving her to attend the meeting. Holly had arrived at the same time to return a book she’d borrowed from Laric and somehow ended up chatting to Beth.
Elena’s sister had immediately warmed up to her. Maybe because Holly looked so very young and human, with her playful hair and bright clothes. Beth could have no idea of the murderous alien power that had once run through Holly’s veins.
Holly would never be an ordinary vampire. Her reaction times were dangerously fast, as fast as Venom’s—and he was hundreds of years older. She also had the ability to turn liquid in a way that was difficult to describe, but that meant she could avoid broken bones even if thrown against a wall at great force.
Elena could’ve never predicted that the two women would hit it off so well. Holly was as tough as Beth was soft . . . but Holly did love fashion as much as Beth, and Holly, too, had once been a far softer creature.
However, when Elena walked into the infirmary, it was to find Beth alone. She sat beside Harrison’s bed with a steaming mug in her hands and a fashion magazine on her lap. A small plate of cakes lay on the side table, the plate itself decorated with gold foil and hand-painted feathers.
“I see we’re looking after you.” Elena leaned down to press a kiss to her sister’s hair, her chest squeezing; some part of her would always see in Beth the lost little girl who’d clung to Elena’s hand beside far too many fresh graves.
“The magazine’s Holly’s,” Beth confided. “And she just raided a kitchen somewhere and brought me the tea and cake. She had to leave to do her shift at the sinkhole, but I knew you were in the Tower.”
“You two spent a lot of time talking.”
“I like her. We’re going to go shopping at that new mall after Harrison is better.” Smile fading, Beth put down the tea. Her fingers trembled as she brushed her husband’s hair off his forehead.
Harrison’s face remained too pale, his throat swathed in bandages. Elena knew Laric had stitched up the wound to hold it together. It wasn’t the standard procedure with vampires, but with Harrison being so young and his throat so badly cut, Nisia had made the unusual call and supervised Laric in its implementation. There was zero risk of Harrison healing around the stitches.
He was recovering too slowly for that.
“The senior healer was here a few minutes ago.” Beth tugged the finely woven blanket higher up Harrison’s body. “She said it’s going to take time, but that Harrison will wake up. I just have to be patient.” She leaned her head against Elena’s thigh. “I can be patient, Ellie. I waited all that time while Harrison was being Made. I trusted that he’d come back to me.”
Elena ran her fingers through the rough silk of her sister’s hair. “I know you can be patient, Beth. I see how you are with Maggie.” Beth never yelled at her daughter, always spoke with a sweet gentleness. It was at those moments that Elena most saw pieces of their mother in Beth. Marguerite had never yelled at her children, either, and yet even rebellious Belle had listened when she’d spoken.
Maggie minded Beth the same way, a piercing echo of memory and family.
Beth looked up with a smile before putting her head back against Elena. “I’ll have to work out certain times when I can come see Harrison. I can’t sit with him twenty-four hours a day, no matter how much it hurts to leave him here. I have to look after Maggie’s heart.”
“Harrison would agree with you. You’re the two most important people in his life.” That, too, was true; regret was an emotion with which Harrison Ling had plenty of familiarity.