Archangel's Prophecy (Page 57)
Even as Jade turned to walk her back to the front door, Elena pulled herself over the side of the railing, spreading out her wings as she fell. Five gargoyles detached from the building to join her. She caught Jade’s startled face looking down at her as she angled up, and she raised one hand in good-bye.
Smile bright and as happy as she figured someone that cold-blooded ever got, he waved back with something in his hand. It glimmered white-gold with a hint of another color.
That was one of her primaries.
Stomach falling and face going scalding hot before chilling to a shiver, she told herself losing another primary feather wasn’t a problem. Molting then growing new feathers could be part of the process. Birds did that, didn’t they?
She felt Jade’s eyes of stone track her in the air. And she thought that if she was ever powerless, he’d have no compunction in ripping off her feathers to sell to the highest bidder. As for his success, it didn’t eliminate the black mark against his name. No invites to big angelic events for Jade, she bet. A self-confessed “big man” would be enraged by the insult.
If he proved innocent of the murders, she’d have to make it clear to him that Harrison and his family were off-limits forever. Jade would never forget what Harrison had done, but he was also too clever to set himself up against an archangel. Beth, Maggie, and Harrison would be safe.
Calling the Soho blood boutique, she asked the manager to check the security files to confirm Jade’s alibi. “No need,” the manager said. “I remember him because he ordered our most expensive bottle. The five thousand dollar Blood Noir.”
“Christ, what the hell are we selling, liquid gold?”
“Almost. Marcia talked an older angel into donating a cup of his blood—each bottle has a droplet. Most vamps will never get near angelic blood, so . . .”
“Do I want to know how Marcia convinced this angel?”
“She traded looking over his business plan.”
“Then the angel got a good deal.” Marcia was still more diffident than she should be, but that woman’s brain. “No mistake on Jade’s attendance at that time?”
“None. We also had a proposal in the café that day. Made my cynical heart go pitter-patter.”
Ending the conversation, Elena was about to put away her phone when a message from Vivek pinged onto the screen: Order from Nisia on threat of her wrath—you need to eat regardless of the earlier situation. Montgomery’s been alerted.
Elena didn’t feel hungry, but with her feathers falling off, she wasn’t about to chance fate. She landed at the Enclave home minutes later. While the Legion went to poke around in her greenhouse, she scratched at the spot on her chest that continued to itch. “It’s probably a mosquito bite,” she muttered to the white owl that had landed with her. “The original vampires.”
The owl yawned, looking very real and not a ghost of Cassandra’s cherished birds.
After eating the meal Sivya had prepared, she checked to ensure she hadn’t lost any more primaries. Only when she’d confirmed that did she take off in a glide across the Hudson. Before she did anything else, she had to see Beth; she knew regardless of who else was around Beth, her sister would be waiting for her. Always, in the end, she would look to her big sister.
A quick exchange of messages told her the entire family was at a small neighborhood park.
Reaching the park, she spotted Maggie running around in the churned-up snow with two other children. Sparks glinted off her favorite pink woolen hat with woven silver threads, and her little body was clad in the pink coat with big glittery buttons that she loved almost as much as the hat. She was also wearing her matching snow boots, the perfect little pink princess.
Elena wondered if she’d grow up that way, or if she’d rebel in her teenage years, and drive Beth to distraction. Her lips quirked at imagining a goth Maggie, complete with a pierced lip and a tattoo designed to infuriate Mom and Dad. Elena looked forward to watching her niece’s journey, and seeing who she became. One thing was certain—no matter where Maggie chose to go or the path she decided to follow, Beth’s love would remain a fierce force of nature. She would never abandon her baby.
Elena’s landing caused squeals of glee, with Maggie running up to hug her legs. “Tag!” she cried out. “You’re it, Auntie Ellie!”
Making a growling face, Elena said, “Run!” The children took off while she pretended to chase them as fast as she could. She saw one of the other parents take photos, and, after the game was over and the children went back to playing on the available equipment, she asked the woman if she could see the images.
As she looked through them, she quietly deleted the ones that featured Maggie, leaving the woman with only those that showed her own child with Elena. It was unlikely the beaming woman would even notice, she’d taken so many shots.
That done, she went over to where Beth sat in a child-sized swing, her feet dragging heavily on the ground.
“Afraid I can’t push you on that one, Bethie.”
Her sister rose to lean into her. Elena wrapped her up in her arms . . . and she hoped to hell that she’d be there for Beth as time continued its inexorable march. As Maggie grew. As Harrison healed.
Because she’d just seen another feather float to the ground.
Night was a black cloak around him as Raphael flew home, the city winter-dark though it was only early evening. It had taken teeth-gritted control on his part not to check in on Elena every ten minutes after he left her—and then she’d messaged him, his hunter who knew him well enough to understand his need.
The contact had held him through his time dealing with the vampire kiss that had been flexing their muscles. It had been the wrong time for them to act out—and for the area’s angel to fail in his duties to keep the vampires in check. Raphael had been in no mood to go easy on anyone.
When he spotted lights on the Tower roof, he headed that way in case Elena had chosen to wait for him up there as she did at times—most often in the company of one or more of the Legion, or Illium. Once in a blue moon, it would be Dmitri or Venom—and they’d usually be throwing verbal knives at one another.
He often thought the three had come to enjoy their barbed interactions too much to ever be any friendlier.
Closer now, he saw colored lights strung all along the sides of the roof; the snow had also been brushed to the edges of the large space to leave a clean area in the center. Chairs surrounded a brazier that burned hot . . . lighting up a face he hadn’t seen for far too long.
His wings sending up a flurry of snow as he landed on one edge, he closed them back then stalked across to meet his weapons-master halfway. “Galen.” He clasped the other man’s opposite forearm in the way of warriors, their other arms coming around each other’s shoulders, the embrace warmed by centuries of loyalty and of battle beside one another. “This is a surprise.” His weapons-master was based in the angelic stronghold of the Refuge and ran all of Raphael’s interests there.
“We thought we’d take advantage of Aodhan being in the Refuge.” Galen’s pale green eyes were bright even in the night, though his hair appeared brown rather than the true red it was under sunlight. “He’s happy to handle my duties while I make this visit.”
“I am glad to see you.” He looked past Galen’s shoulder to spot Illium, Venom, and even Jason on the roof. The others must’ve called his spymaster when Galen landed in New York.