Archangel's Prophecy (Page 54)
“I don’t care about the silver or the mental speech.” Raphael cupped her face. “I care about what they say about your immortality.” No matter how they worked it, how they justified it as a part of her development, she was steadily going backward.
“No signs of forward momentum, huh?” she said, as if they’d spoken mind to mind after all.
Elena had always understood him, even as a mortal with too much courage and not enough self-protective instincts. At times, he thought he’d fallen for her that first day on the roof, when she’d closed her hand defiantly over a blade, her blood dripping to the floor.
“I have asked Keir to journey to New York. You will cooperate with him and Nisia.” It came out an order.
Rather that bristling, his fiercely independent warrior shook her head. “I don’t think they’ll be able to do much. Right now, with all records of previous angels-Made lost, I may as well be one of a kind.”
Unique beyond compare.
Words spoken by a fascinated Alexander. The Ancient still had trouble with the concept of a mortal turned angel, though he, too, had heard the legend of ambrosia.
“Come on, let’s go find out about the lint before I run down Jade.” Firm resolve in Elena’s voice.
No, his warrior would not sit and wait for events to overtake her. “We’ll speak to Lucius on the way, get him to run tests on your blood.”
“Yes, good plan. Maybe he can figure out what the ambrosia’s doing to my insides.” She held up another strand of the gossamer “lint.” “Just saw this on my wrist. No idea when it appeared or if it was caught in my clothes already and got shaken loose when I put them back on.”
Raphael said nothing, but three minutes later, he watched Lucius draw Elena’s blood, and he told the angel with wings of softest yellow exactly what he wanted him to check. “Focus on any changes. You have the results from Elena’s blood over the years.” Taken by the healers as part of routine checkups to monitor the progress of her immortality. “Find out if anything has altered.”
Lucius bowed his head. “Sire.”
“Compare my blood against mortal, vampire, and angel exemplars, too,” Elena said, her jaw set. “No point avoiding the truth if I’m regressing.”
Their next stop was Nisia’s office.
“I’ve just received the results,” the senior Tower physician said when Elena held out the gossamer strands in a wordless question. “It is a natural byproduct of some process in your body.”
“Like hair or nails?” Elena dropped the strands into a sample receptacle Nisia held out.
“Yes. Its structure comes closest to hair, though its tensile strength is far weaker.”
“Am I going to turn into Elena Haireaux?”
“At this stage, there are no indications the material is adhering to your skin. My working theory is that it is a waste product—your body discarding that which it does not need. But it’s a theory only, with no proof.”
“That is not a satisfactory answer, Nisia.” Crackling with ice, Raphael’s voice created frost in the air.
Elena shot him a scowl, her thoughts written on her face. Stop bullying Nisia for what she can’t control.
Clenching his jaw, Raphael wrenched himself back from the edge. Elena was right; Nisia had done nothing to earn his anger. “You have the apology of your archangel, Nisia.”
A wideness to the healer’s eyes he’d rarely seen, she was so competent and self-assured. “There is no need, sire. I am as frustrated as you.” Picking up a medical device, she pressed it to Elena’s heart.
It was merely the first test.
Heart, lungs, muscles, bones, Nisia ran Elena through the gamut.
“Can I fly safely?” Elena asked that question in a calm tone, but Raphael could feel her need to fly as a second heartbeat.
“Your wings are in perfect condition and your bones no longer have the tunnels,” Nisia said. “I see no reason to ground you.”
Leaving Nisia to continue her work, Raphael’s hunter walked with him to the privacy of the balcony outside the infirmary. “Do you have more archangel business today?”
He couldn’t smile at her reference to their earlier play. “Partway through your tests, Dmitri informed me of a kiss of vampires in an area some distance from here who appear to believe they are out of the Tower’s sights.” He could send Illium or Dmitri to remind the vampires of the fallacy of their thinking, but an archangelic reminder would undulate through the entire territory, nipping any other such erroneous thoughts in the bud.
“Go,” Elena whispered.
“I know. I’ll land if I feel the merest twinge.” Elena placed her hands on his chest, her expression strong and her words a promise. “I would never make you watch me fall out of the sky.”
Closing his hand over her wrist, Raphael bent his head so their foreheads touched. There they stood for long minutes even as the snow began to fall and the Legion landed all around them.
Elena watched Raphael soar into the sky, the snow melting against her skin. She knew exactly how hard it had been for him to leave her; she fought the urge to fly to him, stick close. Never, as an adult, had she been so deeply afraid. Not even when she fell the first time.
Then, she hadn’t understood what she and Raphael could be together, hadn’t tasted the full glory of a love that was her breath and the reason for her being. Hadn’t lived with an archangel who loved her more than eternity.
Her eyes burned.
A flutter of snow and silence, vast numbers of the Legion rising from this balcony and from rooftops across the city to fly in the same direction as Raphael, an eerie gray wave whose voices no longer whispered in her head. The Primary, however, still waited for her—and she wasn’t so arrogant as to shrug off the escort. “I have to check on my brother-in-law, then I’ll be out and we’ll fly.”
No movement, the living gargoyle waiting patiently.
She checked her phone as she made her way quickly to Harrison’s bed in the infirmary and saw a message from Ashwini. The hunter and Janvier were in the Quarter, running down the exact depth of the relationship between Lee and Kumar, Blakely and Acosta. We’re also taking another stab at the drug angle, talking to people in the gangs to see if there are rumors of a hit.
The pragmatic nature of it all, the banal predictability of evil, was an antidote to the mystery of her transition. I’m going to chase down Jade, she wrote back, then made herself add, Dig about Harrison, too, in connection with the others. It made her sick to her stomach to consider that Beth’s husband might’ve been a party to rape, drugs, death, but the questions couldn’t be left unasked.
Her brother-in-law himself could tell her nothing; he remained unconscious.
Your sister was here earlier today, Laric shared in the silent tongue, his hands flowing with subtle grace. She said she told their little girl that her father had gone away for a while for business.
“Good on Beth. No point in Maggie seeing him like this.” Elena placed her hands on her hips. “She’ll be mad at him for leaving without saying good-bye, but she won’t be afraid.” And Maggie was secure enough in her father’s love that she wouldn’t consider it an abandonment.
I think so, too, Laric said. I know little of children, but I believe, once he wakes, it will not be a hard thing for him to mend the small anger. To root out fear is sometimes impossible.