Archangel's Prophecy (Page 41)
Raphael could open her brother-in-law’s mind without effort, discover what it was Harrison Ling had done that had made him a target. Except that would cut Elena to the quick. She would feel complicit in his violation of Harrison’s mind—because that was how she’d see it: as a violation.
If Raphael acted now, he did so knowing it would bruise her and cause a fissure in their relationship. Such a fissure might heal over time, but enough fissures and the whole thing would break apart.
“Love,” he said to his warrior, “is a most inconvenient thing.” She stirred, a soft smile curving her lips . . . and he saw a small feather of darkest blue detach from her wing to lie orphaned against the white of the sheets.
Raphael watched his consort dress after breakfast; she’d slept a bare three hours before waking. He hadn’t pushed her to attempt more rest—he knew Elena. She wouldn’t truly rest until she’d nullified the threat to her sister and niece. As it was, she’d eaten and drunk five times what she normally would, but her facial bones were starting to become more obvious nevertheless, her clothes a fraction looser on her frame.
Her body was burning fuel at a phenomenal rate.
“Where do you go this morning, Elena?”
She strapped on her crossbow. “To talk to Andreas—I’m going to see if I can track down some sketchy friends of Harrison’s.”
He settled slightly; the senior angel was loyal to the core. “Pass on my greetings to him.”
“You know I don’t like him.” Scowling, she slid her long blade home in its spine sheath. “He’s got a streak of cruelty in him that’s disturbing.”
“So did I.” Raphael had once broken every bone in a vampire’s body to the size of small pebbles, turned the vamp into nothing but a fleshy sack incapable of conscious movement—and he’d made sure the male stayed awake through all of it. “Perhaps Andreas needs to fall madly in love with a hunter.”
Elena shuddered. “I wouldn’t wish that on any hunter—and no, he’s way worse than you.” A pause, then grudgingly, “Though I guess my perspective is skewed since I’m passionately in love with you.” She watched him put on leathers of gunmetal gray with an appreciative gleam in her eye. “I mean, Honor’s a sane woman with advanced degrees, and she married Dmitri, of all people, so maybe being part whackadoodle is a prerequisite to falling in love.”
He clasped on wrist gauntlets of beaten steel not because he needed them today but because Elena had given them to him. “Such romance you give me, hbeebti.”
Laughing, she zipped up her jacket, a lethal black-clad woman who took no prisoners. “What are you doing today dressed up like the sexiest warrior I’ve ever seen?”
Her eyes danced at his deliberately arrogant tone. Closing the distance between them, she rose on tiptoe, her hands gripping his bare biceps to demand a kiss that held naked need. Raphael gave and he took and they broke apart on a rasp of breaths.
“Will you be in the city?” his consort asked, her fingertips tracing the lines of the Legion mark.
“No.” Much as he wished to keep Elena in his sights so he could catch her if she fell, such suffocating protectiveness would be a small death for her, and he did in fact have archangel business to which to attend. “I go to meet Elijah. I want to ensure he’s heard about Favashi’s recent actions and that he’s willing for us to work together to protect our territories—and such discussions between archangels are a thing better done in person.”
The Archangel of South America had once been a general in Caliane’s army, and even after he ascended to become an archangel, he hadn’t forgotten that old loyalty. He treated Raphael’s mother with a deference unusual among archangels, and he treated Caliane’s son with the warmth of an older brother who wished to see his sibling succeed.
Raphael didn’t always know what to make of that, but he trusted Eli. While friendship was a complicated thing between archangels, they had the beginnings of it, a foundation on which their relationship over the centuries to come could be built.
“Tell him to say hi to Hannah for me.” Elena’s phone buzzed with an incoming message on the edge of her words. “It’s been a while since we’ve had dinner together.” Digging out her phone, she quickly checked the message before securing the phone back in a pocket. “Maybe we should organize something before the Cascade causes even more chaos.”
“I leave that in my consort’s hands.”
“Don’t think that I don’t see you laughing.” She pointed a finger at him. “But Andreas’s secretary just confirmed he’s home and willing to meet me, so I’ll deal with you later.”
He walked her to the balcony, running his hand down her spine one more time as they stepped out into the frosty morning air. His healing energy was limited, merely what had regenerated while she slept, but she gave him a grateful look. His jaw hardened. “Your wings are worse?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s just morning stiffness.” She scratched at her chest.
Catching her hand, he stared at the spot. “Elena.”
“Damn, was I scratching again?” A grimace. “You saw me naked in the shower—did you spot anything? I didn’t.”
“No, I saw nothing.”
“Then we keep on living.” A fierce vow. “We do not let the Cascade manipulate us into limbo.”
“Fear will not ruin us,” he vowed in turn.
Elena’s smile was of a warrior, full of teeth.
He took both himself and his consort into the air before dropping her so she could glide into flight. She swept out in a wide curve then back in to head deeper into the Enclave, while he flew toward the Tower to speak to Dmitri before he left for his meeting with Elijah. When he glanced back, he saw that a number of the Legion must’ve been crouching in the trees around their home. They rose into the air to join Elena, providing a silent escort as she flew toward Andreas’s property.
Raphael smiled grimly and flew on.
In his hand was a piece of lint he’d brushed off Elena’s shoulder when he took off her robe after breakfast. Gossamer soft, it was the color of her hair.
Elena looked to the Primary, who flew next to her on silent wings. “Why are you shadowing me?”
“We want to.”
Elena narrowed her eyes; sometimes she thought the Primary was deliberately using inscrutable language to perplex and confound, but then she’d remember the Legion weren’t human in any way, shape, or form. They weren’t angels or vampires, either. They were other, and their minds didn’t walk known paths.
“You’re here because Raphael wants you to be here.” Her archangel’s protective urges were riding a dangerous edge, but he hadn’t tried to chain her. No, he’d taken her to the sky and set her free. But the Legion were so much his that they acted on his emotions.
The Primary cocked his head to one side. “You also want us here.”
Elena went to say no she didn’t—then realized she didn’t actually mind her Legion followers. She liked them whereas she didn’t like Andreas all that much. “Did you spend the night in the trees? Why didn’t you go inside the greenhouse?” She often walked in there to find one of the Legion among her plants, exotic garden statues who woke at the sight of her.