Archangel's Prophecy (Page 58)
“Where is Jessamy?” He wanted to speak to her about Cassandra, see if she knew more than what Andromeda had imparted to Elena.
“Your consort has kidnapped her to parts unknown.” Galen ran his fingers through his hair, the amber amulet that hung from the metal band he wore around his upper-left arm aglow in the firelight that reached them. “I was told not to wait up.”
“They’re going to Sara’s!” Illium called out after catching their conversation. “A girls’ night, Ellie said, while we have a gathering here.”
Raphael’s hand curled into his palm, but this—having so many of his Seven together—was a rare gift. Elena was giving him a silent message: Enjoy this night, Archangel. With the Cascade unleashed once more, we can’t know when it’ll come again. The rest can wait a few more hours.
Putting a stranglehold on the fury of his worry, Raphael joined his men just as the rooftop door opened to admit Dmitri and Janvier. Also with them was Deacon, the weapons-maker husband of Elena’s best friend—and a mortal who reminded Raphael of the man Dmitri had been when they’d first met. The same quiet confidence, the same dedication to his family, the same way of interacting with Raphael—as a friend.
Raphael would mourn Deacon when he was gone.
So, he thought, would Galen. His weapons-master’s face had lit up more brilliant than the winter moon. “Deacon! Don’t say you have it already?”
Dark-haired, with eyes of dark green, Deacon reached into the scabbard he wore across his back and, giving a slow smile, pulled out a heavy broadsword that gleamed with the colors of the lights ringing the roof.
Galen, hard as granite and not known for emotional displays, looked near to tears. Taking the broadsword with reverent hands, he moved away from the main group and began to put the blade through its paces. It sang like music in the air, the balance so tuned to Galen’s hand that it would never sing as well for another.
“Well,” Janvier drawled, “I guess that puts me in my place.” Hands on his hips. “I’m never entering a room with you again, mon ami,” he said to Deacon.
The weapons-maker removed the scabbard from his body. “Give Galen the scabbard when he’s done, and he might realize he’s not imagining a Cajun accent near me.”
Laughter filled the air, along with insults and rejoinders.
“We’re only missing Naasir and Aodhan,” Dmitri murmured to him.
Raphael nodded. It was difficult to gather all his Seven in one place at one time. The last time had been just under a year prior to Aodhan’s departure, when Raphael had taken advantage of the peace to send Andreas to the Refuge, alongside Trace, Janvier and Ashwini, and Nimra and Noel.
Galen and Naasir had helped Andreas and his caretaker team settle in then left to spend time in New York with the others of the Seven. It had been a necessary and important month—an archangel could rule with his power alone, but an archangel bonded to such strong vampires and angels as Raphael’s Seven had a critical advantage. More, Raphael valued his bonds with his men, and if he’d learned one thing from watching his mother, it was that such loyalty was a treasure not to be squandered and taken for granted.
There was a reason Eli looked to her in respect to this day.
It was also good for Andreas, Janvier, and the other strong vampires and angels in his territory to have a taste of what it meant to run his Refuge stronghold. Andreas, in particular, was old and powerful enough—and now had enough experience at the task—that he’d need less of a team the next time Raphael asked him to step in.
The trust Raphael had shown in assigning him the critical duty had further solidified the strong angel’s loyalty. As for Nimra, she was both powerful and one of his calmest angels, and Andreas valued her counsel. Even Nazarach had been known to speak to her when he needed advice. Janvier, Trace, and Noel had skills to back up Andreas and Nimra, and all were blood-loyal to his territory.
Technically, Ashwini was much too young to have been shown the secret of the Refuge that protected angelic young and held the histories of angelkind. But Janvier’s wife was a most unique vampire. She had the third eye, could glimpse the future—though, thankfully, her gift was not a thing of madness as Cassandra’s had been.
While in the Refuge, she’d been a popular guest invited to many homes. All of whom were hoping to be bestowed a glimpse of what was to come. And every so often, Ashwini would let something drop. It was never on purpose, Raphael knew. That was what made her so very likable—she was swayed neither by power nor by wealth, and when the words came, you knew they were honest.
She’d visited the home of Aodhan’s sister, Imalia, at some point—and halfway through the cake she’d been served, had said, “Your lover should really start building that crib. It takes time, you know, even for people gifted with their hands. And he’s such a perfectionist.”
That prophecy had been politely ignored—especially after Ashwini told another angelic couple to fit out a nursery, and a third angel to learn to play music because his daughter wouldn’t go to sleep without it. Everyone had thought she’d made an embarrassing mistake.
Angelic births were rare. Three in close proximity? Ludicrous.
Yet today, Aodhan cradled his nephew’s fragile body in his arms, while two other babes slept in the Refuge. Needless to say, Ashwini had an open invitation to any territory she wished to visit.
Galen finally came to a stop. His hair windblown and his face flushed, he moved to shake Deacon’s hand. “It’s even better than I imagined. Are you sure you don’t want to become a vampire? I have connections.”
“I am quite sure,” Deacon said with the smile of a man deeply content with his life. “I’ll create to the end of my days, then I will sleep in peace.”
Illium hefted a bottle of champagne over his head. “We have this stuff for those of you whose taste buds can stand it,” he said with a shudder. “There’s also fancy blood from Elena’s café, beer, and a bottle of truly excellent Scotch.” He held up the latter with a grin. “What’s your poison?”
The drinks were poured, conversation began, and Raphael sat down to spend the evening with a group of men he’d trust at his back no matter what the battle. However, not thinking about Elena and the changes wracking her body? An impossibility.
On the Tower floor directly below the roof, Elena called her grandfather while Jessamy went to get her cloak. The historian had long come to accept her wing malformation, but as with Laric, she took care never to reveal it to ordinary mortals.
Angels could not be seen as fallible.
For angels were not like mortals and never would be.
“Better that I wear a cloak than be the cause of a reign of blood,” Jessamy had once said when discussing her reasoning. “Let the world believe me so haughty an angel that I do not think mortals deserve a glimpse of my wings.”
Those wings were startlingly lovely, a luxuriant magenta that flowed into blush then purest cream. Jessamy wore her wings openly in the Refuge, and when the sunlight fell on the fine filaments, they lit up from within exactly like the glow of Jessamy’s soul. The historian and teacher of angelic young was the kindest, gentlest angel Elena had ever met.
“Beth is fine,” Jean-Baptiste told her after picking up the call. “She’s reading stories to Maggie.”