Archangel's Prophecy (Page 51)
Elena’s own brain snagged on something. As if she had a crucial bit of the puzzle and didn’t know it. But when she tried to follow up on the thought, it vanished without a trace. Frustrated, she said, “When did they die?” Santiago had spoken to them a bare two months ago.
“Been five weeks for Red, four weeks for Monique,” Ashwini said.
The timeline didn’t work to answer the questions of this confusion of a case. “Any hint of other victims?”
Ash nodded. “One other—her friend that told us about her said she’d ask the victim to call.” A frown. “It’d be good if she did that now.”
They all stared at her when her phone rang from where it sat at the side of the sparring circle.
“You are not sending telepathic messages now.” Elena scowled.
A grin. “Just playing with you.” Ashwini grabbed her phone. “She messaged before to say she’d call when she was on break from her shift at the strip club. I got lucky with my timing.”
“Lucky as only your wife gets,” Dmitri murmured to Janvier under the cover of her conversation.
The vampire grinned. “My Ashblade is always lucky—she has me for a husband.”
“You, on the other hand, won’t be getting lucky anytime soon, if you keep that up,” Ashwini threatened after hanging up. “Our third victim didn’t black out, but she did get hazy after drinking a glass of blood offered to her by her date. Her memories of the hour that followed are patchy, but she’s sure she was sexually assaulted.” Voice a blade, she continued. “Date was Simon Blakely.”
Silence as they absorbed that information.
“Accidental lower dose . . . or a purposeful one because Blakely fancied himself a ladies’ man?” Elena thought aloud. “A comatose ‘lover’ wouldn’t feed his ego.” She was starting to feel more and more in harmony with the man who’d amputated Blakely’s genitals. “Maybe Blakely figured a lower dose would mean a compliant, semiconscious woman.”
“We must get this woman medical assistance.” No humor in Janvier’s voice or expression now. “We don’t know when the two dead victims were raped, which means there’s no way to work out the time it takes for the aneurysm to strike.”
“Lower dose, she might survive.” Dmitri’s face was dangerous. “Tell her the Tower will cover her costs.”
Yes, Dmitri could act human at times.
“A rape drug that kills down the road is one hell of a motive.” The only problem was Harrison—either Elena didn’t know him at all and he was hiding an ugly secret, or they were missing a critical piece.
And what was it that she couldn’t remember?
“Is the drug widespread?” Dmitri asked, all deadly power and taut control.
Ashwini shook her head. “Low-level vamps have heard of it, but the only people we know to have had personal contact with it are the three rape victims—and the men who gave it to them.”
Running his hand through the dark chestnut strands of his hair, Janvier picked up the thread. “Our Holly and Venom know a fixer who works in the higher levels of the city, with the richer vampires and angels, and he says none of them are using it. No one wants to risk it after you came down so hard with the umber situation.”
“Blakely, Kumar, and Lee didn’t care about the risk to their victims.” Elena wanted to stab the rapists herself. “It’s possible Acosta didn’t, either.” Though the amputated hand made her think he hadn’t been involved in the sexual abuse. “It was about control, about power.” Same as rapists everywhere. “This drug, it only works on vampires?”
“Yes,” Ashwini confirmed. “But two human pros who work the Quarter”—a tap on her neck to indicate they offered honey feeds—“said Kumar picked them up a time or two, and they came out of it without memories.” Her eyes flashed. “Only reason they kept going back was because he paid them in cocaine.”
“He chose his targets well.” Dmitri’s voice was like ice, so cold it burned. “Your brother-in-law,” he said to Elena, dark eyes flat. “You think he’s capable of this crime?”
“As far as I know, Harrison isn’t into rape or drugs.” She clenched her jaw. “If I find out different, I’ll execute him myself.” It’d break Beth to discover that kind of evil in the man she loved. “He has a wife, a child, both of them innocent of any wrongdoing—we give him the benefit of the doubt until we have proof either way.”
Dmitri gave a curt nod.
“As for suspects—a well-trained human could’ve taken out Nishant Kumar and Terence Lee.” Elena could’ve done it as a young hunter. “Per the police report, they were small, not particularly strong, and had no real combat training. Did admin work during their Contracts.”
“I examined Blakely and Acosta,” Ashwini said, “and they were flabby for vampires. Strong because of the vampirism, but not old enough for that to be a serious advantage against a skilled opponent.”
Elena went to reply when her forearm cramped again, giant screws twisting her muscles tight enough to snap. Raphael! An instinctive call as the pain threatened to bring her to tears, the agony in her arm joined by the throbbing vein on her temple. Archangel, I really need you. It was a desperate mental whisper even though she knew he was too far away to hear her.
She nearly staggered at the faint echo of water crashing against rock, the sea winds in her mind. Excusing herself from the group with a mumbled statement that probably didn’t make sense, she made her way to the elevator. Raphael? Where are you?
Two hours from home. His voice was stronger now . . . and it held strange echoes.
Swallowing hard, Elena clamped her hand down on her cramping forearm and tried to breathe. You sound like the Legion. Sweat broke out along her forehead, the vein in her temple a hammer ringing down beat by beat. I’m not doing so good.
I am sending Nisia to you. Where are you?
Why hadn’t she gone to the infirmary herself or told the others to call a healer? She didn’t know. Her thoughts weren’t running in straight lines. It was difficult to think past the wall of pain.
ELENA. Where are you?
Corridor outside our suite. Stumbling out of the elevator, she just barely made it inside their suite before collapsing on the plush white carpet. It felt so soft against the side of her cheek, almost like a cocoon.
She curled up on it, a sleeping cat, her eyes fluttering.
I’m so tired, Raphael. It took too much effort to speak.
The doors from the balcony shoved open to admit a whip of icy air; the power that swept in with it was violent and familiar. I’m hallucinating you now.
“Guild Hunter.” Raphael’s arms scooping her up, his wings burning white fire, the glow coming off him so blinding that she had to squint her eyes to see through it.
When she put her hand on his chest, his heart pounded in a beat that was far too fast for an archangel of his power. “Your skin burns.” Her brain struggled to comprehend what was happening. “Two hours . . .”
Elena went limp in Raphael’s arms on those confused words. But he felt the pulse of life in her veins, the rise and fall of the air in her chest. Taking her through to their bedroom, he put her down on the bed just as Nisia ran inside. The healer was flushed from her headlong flight . . . and came to a jagged halt at spotting Raphael.