Archangel's Prophecy (Page 62)
No, came the storm of voices. The mirror should not be dark. This mirror is wrong. Agitation in the Legion mind. This becoming is wrong.
Elena’s face stilled when he repeated that unequivocal response. “A mirror,” she whispered. “To reflect power back to you, maybe magnify it?”
He thought of how the wildfire came from both of them, and said, “Perhaps.”
“It explains why all my problems are concentrated on the left.” She touched her fingers to his right temple. “Mirror images.”
Raphael wasn’t thinking with enough clarity to have seen that. His head rang with the Legion’s cry that this mirror was wrong, Elena’s becoming was wrong.
“But this mirror absorbs light,” she said, her brain working better than his. “And my body isn’t magnifying your power, it’s just rejecting it. It makes no sense.”
Comprehension cut through the chaos and he understood what the Legion were telling him. “This mark”—he ran his fingers over the lightless black of it—“is a brand. Mine on your flesh.”
Scowling, Elena tugged and zipped her clothing back into place. “F*****g Cascade needs to learn I’m not a cow, to be branded. And what’s the point anyway, if I’m mortal?”
“This isn’t over yet.” Raphael kissed her hard. “I will find a way to erase the brand.”
A smile full of teeth, followed by a kiss as possessive as his own. “On the other hand, I suppose it’s fair, since you wear mine.” Her gaze went to the starburst pattern on his left wing, where she’d shot him once. “And look, we screwed up the mirror image thing there.”
In her wild smile, he found reality again, the Cascade-born power no longer swamping his senses. He had it held tightly in his fist now, under his control and beyond the Cascade’s ability to shape. “I suppose you will say you shot me in preparation for this moment.”
She laughed, the rising night winds whipping her hair from its braid to stream around them. And in her face, he saw bones too close to the surface once more, saw too the small break in the skin of her neck that hadn’t been there when she first flew to him.
And when Elena fell from his arms with a sound of joy to flare out her wings, two feathers of indigo blue fluttered silently to the earth.
“Will you tell me what you saw up in the sky with Raphael?” Jessamy asked Elena as they rode up in the Tower elevator. “I won’t put it down in any official record until you tell me it’s time.”
“Yes,” Elena said, her throat rough. She’d never forget the heartbreaking rage in Raphael’s eyes when he realized he couldn’t heal her. F**k fate! She refused to sit back and let the Cascade screw up her archangel into some twisted bitterness haunted by watching his consort die mortal and wingless.
It is foretold, child, whispered the old, old voice in her head. One must die for the other to live.
Elena stared into the endless golden eyes of the owl that hovered in front of her. Why can you talk to me when Raphael can’t? Is it because this is a waking dream?
He is altered, as you are altered. You must . . . A deep stirring. But you do not have time. One must die. You must die.
Yeah, well, I’m not convinced on the whole predestination thing. Forget one to die for one to live. I and this unknown other will both live.
The owl tilted its head to the side. Child of change. You alter the fabric of the universe. A sense of waking in the voice that was Cassandra’s, an old being disturbed in her Sleep. You rewrite time.
The doors opened and the owl flew out, to disappear into the distance.
Elena smiled deeply within. So, she could rewrite what was foretold. Good to f*****g know—because she had no plans of being a meek lamb led to the slaughter. She walked through the open door of her and Raphael’s suite on that vow. Her archangel was overflowing with golden energy—though it wasn’t as obvious as it had been in the cold night sky. The lightning-bolt cracks were thinner, the energy a shimmer of light against his skin and wings rather than an inferno.
Galen stood with his hands on his hips, talking to Raphael. The weapons-master’s expression changed the instant he spotted Jessamy. It didn’t go soft—Galen was too rough and tough, but it turned gentle in a way that it only ever did for Jessamy. He held out his hand, and she walked across to take it.
The first thing he did was unhook her cape and throw it aside.
The pale blue of Jessamy’s simple but elegant gown skimmed her slender form to froth at her ankles, soft waves crashing to shore. The historian pressed a tender kiss to Galen’s cheek. Her twisted wing overlapped by his, she looked at Raphael with eyes soft in wonder. “May I?” She lifted a hand.
At Raphael’s nod, she released Galen’s hand to reach over and brush her fingers over part of Raphael’s forearm. Curious, Elena watched. But when Jessamy raised her fingers, no light came with her.
“Ellie,” she said. “You do it.”
Elena stroked the same part of his arm, the warmth and heat and strength of him sinking into her and making her smile even in the midst of the continuing madness. Her fingertips glowed when they lifted off his skin. Pursing her lips, she blew the light back into him. The flickers flew like fireflies to become a part of him once more.
Raphael stroked his hand over the arch of her wing. “It knows who you are to me.” Unsaid was the angry coda: it didn’t matter if his power accepted her if it couldn’t help her.
God, he was so angry. This could ruin him if they didn’t figure out a way through it. She hoped he was able to help Jessamy—that might take the edge off his rage. “Jess,” she said quietly. “Raphael is overflowing with power.”
A moment of incomprehension before Jessamy’s face went still.
Galen strode forward at the same instant. “Sire.” His hands were fisted, his shoulders rigid. “The decision has been made.”
Elena didn’t try to get in the middle of that conversation—this was between an archangel and one of his loyal Seven. Raphael had attempted, if not to heal then at least to ease Jessamy’s twisted wing before. However, his healing power hadn’t been able to affect the malformation that kept Jessamy bound to the ground except when she flew up in the plane or in Galen’s arms.
“I will honor that wish.” Raphael closed his hand over Galen’s shoulder and squeezed. “But I would not be your archangel if I did not offer you this chance.”
Jessamy spoke for the first time since Elena’s words. “Laric?”
“He was caught in the energy released by the death of an archangel,” Raphael said. “According to Keir’s tests, his cells have altered in unusual ways that make those cells unlike ordinary angelic cells. It has also made them unrecognizable to my power—that may change as he grows older and his own healing processes restart, but for now, I can do nothing for him.”
Raphael’s eyes began to glow. Not only the cerulean blue that was his own but a ring of golden light that hadn’t existed prior to the energy surge. “The choice is yours.”
Jessamy ran her hand down Galen’s arm to his bunched hand. Unfurling it at her touch, he locked his fingers with hers. “What will happen to the power if I say no?”
“I do not know. It doesn’t feel too much for me, so it may simply stay until I use it. Or it may dissipate.”