Archangel's Prophecy (Page 43)
“My father is enamored of growing things.” Andreas’s voice broke into her gloomy thoughts. “He often laments at having a warrior for a son.”
“I didn’t know your father visited New York.” A sudden sinking feeling in her stomach. “Oh God, was I supposed to know that as Raphael’s consort?”
Andreas threw back his head, his laughter deep and resonant and clashing with what she knew of his pitiless methods to break the insubordinate. “You are safe,” he said afterward. “My mother and father both visit but have said they wish to give you time to settle in before expecting an invitation.”
Elena winced. “Were they being sarcastic?”
“No. In their mind, you have but met Raphael.” He used his boot to nudge aside a small branch that had fallen on the path. “My parents are both over a hundred thousand years old. Their sense of time is not ours.”
Andreas, Elena recalled, was older than Raphael, but by a matter of hundreds of years rather than millennia. “Your parents had you late in life.”
“Not in immortal terms.”
“Wow. No wonder everyone’s lost their minds over Aodhan’s sister having a baby.” Imalia was only twelve hundred years old, give or take.
“An infant having an infant,” Andreas agreed, and she didn’t think he was joking.
Shuddering within as she recalled Nisia’s talk of super-parasites and pregnancy, she said, “I promise to invite your folks to dinner the next time they’re in town—but help me out and give me warning of their next visit.”
An incline of his head. “Mother and Father will be most astonished that you are already so well organized.” That glint in his eye returned. “I should warn you, my parents are . . . dedicated, and they remain uncertain Raphael isn’t a bad influence.”
Elena didn’t know which thread to follow first, went for the most fascinating. “I didn’t realize Raphael had a reputation.”
“He went wild in the two centuries after Caliane’s madness. It was to be expected, but my parents worried I would be led astray.”
At nineteen, Elena had once gone after a vampire with only a single throwing blade and no other weapons. Yes, she understood the wildness engendered by grief and anger. “You can reassure your parents I’m being a good influence on him,” she lied.
Andreas’s lips curved. “I admit I am but teasing you. Their worries have long been laid to rest, and they will be honored to be welcomed into your home.”
Elena had the strange feeling she’d successfully navigated the social necessities that came with being an archangel’s consort. “As I said when I contacted your secretary about speaking to you,” she began, returning to the reason for her visit, “I need to ask you about one of your vampires.”
Her left wing threatened to drop. Catching the movement out of the corner of her eye, she pulled it back into the correct position . . . just as her left forearm began to burn.
It took every ounce of strength she had not to scream.
Elena. Aeclari. Elena. Aeclari. Seven hundred and seventy-seven echoes in her head, a wall of noise drowning out the pain.
Snow that absorbed all sound.
The pain a low and bearable thread, she realized she’d stopped on the path and Andreas was looking at her with a puzzled expression on his face. “All is well?”
“Sorry,” she said through the roar of blood in her ears. “Legion were talking to me.” The spot on her chest itched unbearably.
“Ah.” A glance up at the roof but he asked no more questions before they resumed their walk. “You wish to ask about Harrison, I presume?”
Elena forcibly shoved aside what had just occurred to focus on why she’d come to Andreas’s home. “You’ve heard?”
“Dmitri briefed me as Harrison is one of mine.” He frowned. “I was surprised to hear of such violence visited on him, given his recent conduct. He has learned the wisdom of holding to contracts made.” A hardness to his tone as he spoke the latter words; they held nothing of the charm he’d displayed only minutes earlier. “Harsh methods were necessary, but they have borne fruit.”
Elena told herself to keep her mouth shut, failed. “There’s harsh and then there’s cruel.”
“True.” No insult in his expression. “I often cross that line, but I would rather cross it than go too far in the other direction. Vampires who do not fear and respect their masters create carnage far more vile than the worst of my cruelties.” A whisper of wings as he settled his. “You are a hunter. You’ve seen how the blood-maddened feed, how they defile the bodies of their victims. Better I whip them into line prior to that.”
Now she was beginning to agree with the man. S**t. “I’m looking at Harrison’s past,” she said rather than continuing down that rabbit hole. “Illium said he used to have deadbeat friends.”
“Yes.” Andreas narrowed his eyes, his arms held loosely behind his back. “I cannot recall their names, but there are records.” Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved a phone. “I now appreciate such devices, but I recall my consternation when I was first given one—a gift from Illium.”
“I am shocked.” Bluebell appeared to be on a one-man crusade to get holdout angels into the twenty-first century.
“It is a trial having young friends,” Andreas said with a hint of a smile on his lips. “Perhaps I will order similar devices for my parents. They will think I have run mad.”
As she watched, he made the call. Putting away the phone after a short conversation, he said, “My record keeper will come meet us in the gardens.”
The two of them continued to walk through the peaceful snow-draped landscape, while the Legion gargoyles looked on from the rooftop. Thank you, she said to them. Whatever you did, it worked.
We are . . . A pause, whispers at the back of her head. Energy. We are energy. The Cascade is energy.
So they’d fought primal energy with primal energy. But she knew they could help her only in limited ways. This Cascade was a world-devouring beast, too big for even seven hundred and seventy-seven Legion hearts.
“Should I be worried the sire no longer trusts me?” Andreas had his eyes on the Legion as he spoke.
“Every so often, they like to follow me around.” Elena had learned enough about immortal politics to have picked up the subtle but real tension in the question; her words were one truth and the only one Andreas needed to know. “They tell me I’m different, and they like to be with those who are different.” She scowled. “I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.”
“It is,” Andreas said solemnly. “When you live hundreds upon hundreds of years, anything different and unique is a treasure to be cherished.” His disturbingly penetrating eyes lingered on her. “Had I met you before Raphael, I would’ve seen only a mortal and dismissed you as that—and that would’ve been my loss.”
“You did see me,” Elena said, and had the pleasure of watching him start. “Back when I was a wet-behind-the-ears hunter-trainee, my mentor and I retrieved a vampire for you.”
“And so,” Andreas murmured, “I could’ve been the one who won a woman so unique that she charms beings old beyond time.”