Archangel's Prophecy (Page 39)
Eternity, Elena, that is what you promised me. His mental voice was ragged, his body possessive and primal in her, around her. I will never release you from that promise.
They clung, two lovers in freefall.
The waters of the river closed over their heads, a dark blanket.
Wrapped around him in every way, Elena whispered, Knhebek, Archangel, and the words of love held her every fear, her every hope, her very soul . . . even as her forearm began to burn and the vein at her left temple felt as if it would burst.
Raphael sensed his consort’s excruciating pain even as their bodies rocked with pleasure. It was instinct to drench her in his healing energy. Paltry though it was after his earlier usage, more a false promise than a truth, Elena trembled around him on a shudder of relief before she surrendered to the incandescent energy between them.
Her eyes glowed at the end, the rim of silver dazzling . . . only for it to flicker and fade out like a candle extinguished by a sudden wind.
Back bowing as his own pleasure broke on a cresting wave, Raphael couldn’t hold onto the image, and when he looked at his hunter again, she was smiling softly, her body languid and her eyes boasting the rim of silver that spoke of her growing immortality. He ran his hand over her back, kissed her temple, used his free arm to hold her close to his warmth.
Hair wild silk against his skin, she made a near purring sound, so strong and alive and vibrant in his arms.
And being hunted by forces Raphael wanted to annihilate out of existence. “Home?”
“Mmm.” A nod, followed by the grumble of her stomach.
No annoyed huff this time, his consort too lazy-limbed in the aftermath of their loving. Bringing them out of the river, he carried her to the clifftop on which stood their home.
“Hey, wait!” Jolting out of her heavy-lidded laziness when he strode past the pile of their clothing, she said, “My crossbow! My knives!”
Taut as he was with a worry that went down to the immortal cells of his body, Raphael felt his lips kick up. “Ah, now I see your priorities.”
“No funning, Raphael.” A heavy scowl as she twisted to look over his shoulder at the pile retreating into the distance. “Archangel.”
Placing her on her feet inside the doorway of the study entrance, he said, “Stay out of the snow. I’ll retrieve your precious jewels.”
She was dancing on her feet and rubbing at her arms and legs by the time he returned. “Glamour, quick,” she ordered. “I don’t want to flash Montgomery.” A shudder of horror.
Raphael was an archangel, feared no man, far less his own butler. But there was an innocence in sneaking out of the study like misbehaving youths, the laughing glance Elena threw him over her shoulder stirring a part of him that awakened only for her.
The house was warmly lit at this pitch-dark time before dawn, but of Montgomery, there was no sign.
“He has a wife now,” Raphael murmured with a stroke of his hand up Elena’s bare flank. “I’m sure he’s engaged in far more pleasurable matters than in rising pre-dawn to wait for us.”
“Hush.” Elena threw him a quelling look. “I can’t think about Montgomery that way. As far as I’m concerned he sleeps in his suit.”
“Sivya may have some disagreement with a husband who is never naked.”
Elena put her fingers in her ears. “La-la-la, I can’t hear you.”
Holding onto the simple joy of this instant when they’d set aside the problem of the dangerous changes in Elena, Raphael teased her with heavy strokes of his palm across her wings as they went up the stairs. His warrior threatened to kick him. He pressed a kiss to the dimple at the base of her spine.
She pounced on him the instant they were behind the closed doors to their suite.
Weapons and clothes dropping to the floor, they tumbled onto the bed in a warm tangle of limbs, their wings wrapped around each other.
“I love you too much,” she said without warning, her smile wiped away. “What if one day something happens to you like what almost happened to Harrison yesterday?”
He brushed back the strands of her hair that stuck to her cheeks, living pieces of gossamer crackling with life. The strands clung to him. “I am difficult to hurt.” He didn’t have to say the rest, didn’t have to point out that she was the one who threatened to break him.
Swallowing hard, she caressed her fingers down his cheek then gave him a concise summary of what had happened to her while they’d been apart. The watching owls, the horrific pain in her left temple, the continued problems with her wings . . . and the voice in her head. “Describe it to me again,” he ordered.
She twisted up her face. “Old, old, old. Older than Caliane. Than Alexander.” Biting down on her lower lip, she considered it. “A female energy. No sense of overt threat, but the words she says, Raphael. ‘You must end for the other to live.’ That’s not exactly a warm and fluffy bedtime story.”
Shifting so that he was braced over her, his wings blocking out the night and offering her a canvas for fingers that painted affection over him, Raphael forced his brain to think. Raw archangelic power was no use against a foe unknown and unseen. He must be intelligent, fight with will and knowledge. “We will speak to Jessamy. The words are in the pattern of a prophecy. It could be that such a prophecy was recorded in our histories.”
“But if the speaker is an Ancient among Ancients . . . Age and time eats away at even great civilizations. Libraries are lost, entire histories erased.”
“Yes, but angelkind has living histories, whose memories simply need to be mined.” Even then, the task might be impossible—he knew of no angel older than five hundred thousand years who was awake. Their forebears Slept an endless night, immortals who wished no more to walk the earth. “We must ask.”
Elena nodded. “Never know what someone’s great-uncle Bert might remember.”
The joke fell flat, both their hearts beating too fast. Raphael almost wished Lijuan would rise again. She, even in her deadly and dreadful “evolution,” was a foe he understood and could battle.
Having his hands tied while Elena hurt . . .
“Enough of this.” His consort placed her palms against his glowing wings. “You don’t have to save me, Archangel. We are us. That’s how we fight this. Together.” One hand against his heart. “You’re a little bit mortal and I’m a tiny bit immortal. We did that to each other. We created the wildfire. We beat Lijuan. We’ll beat this together. The one thing we won’t do is surrender who we are to this menace.”
Yes, she was magnificent, his warrior consort. She was also right. All their greatest successes had come when they acted as one. He would do well to remember that. “As you say.”
“I do so say.” She poked a finger to his chest. “Also, we’re both covered in angel dust.”
Bending his head, he licked the tip of one breast. She shivered.
The result was inevitable.
Afterward, her skin gleaming with a layer of perspiration mingled with angel dust and sleep not yet on her mind even now so close to dawn, she rose from the bed to raid the table on which Montgomery and Sivya had laid out a feast of covered dishes before they retired the previous day.
One of the two had also placed a heating device on the table. A microwave, he recalled, that was what it was termed. On the microwave was a note in Sivya’s hand that she’d be happy to rise to prepare fresh foods whenever Raphael and Elena returned home, but Raphael knew his hunter would never think of intruding on the couple’s sleep for such a small matter.