Archangel's Prophecy (Page 64)
All three immortals in the room froze.
Jessamy turned to stare at her. Her eyes were dark hollows in her face, pain a purple bruise under them, and her bones striking. “Physiotherapist?” So much disbelief it was gray fog in the air. “Such practitioners are not used by angelkind.”
“Um, we’re not exactly in a normal situation.” Honestly, angels could be aggravating at times. “Vivek goes to physiotherapy every single day, sometimes twice a day. We’re talking about exactly the same thing here, bringing to life part of your body that hasn’t been used your entire lifetime. Being an angel might mean your process moves faster, I don’t know, but given your pain and the way your wing looks to the naked eye, no way can it be immediate.”
“Elena is right.” Gripping the back of Jessamy’s neck on those surprising words, Galen pressed a kiss to her temple. “I know you are impatient, my love. But we must take this slowly.”
Jessamy nodded at last, pressing her face into Galen’s chest. “I can feel it,” she whispered again, her voice wet. “As if I could open it if only I tried hard enough.”
Galen ran his hand over her hair and tenderly across the painful wing, before looking to Raphael. “Sire . . .”
Raphael shook his head. “If you had caused Elena pain, Galen, I would’ve taken off your head too.”
And that was that.
Elena had taken those moments to call the physiotherapist, a honey-skinned and gently muscled vampire who’d been born in what was now Vietnam four hundred years ago. As a senior member of the Tower team, Nga was fully aware of Jessamy’s wing. Elena had also deliberately called her rather than her male counterpart. Galen was already at the limit of his patience—and she didn’t think Jessamy would be as comfortable with a male, especially since the treatment would mean hands-on contact.
When the physiotherapist arrived—dressed in sweatpants and a fitted tank top—she listened to Elena’s breakdown of the situation before speaking. “First, we need scans of your wing,” she said directly to Jessamy. “Are there previous scans for comparison?”
Jessamy, more in control of herself, said, “Yes.”
No one was going to be sleeping tonight, and no one was going to be waiting another day for the scan. They tracked down a qualified vampire technician and began. The machine had been modified to accommodate an angel, but even so, it couldn’t do Jessamy’s entire wing in one go.
Two hours later, they had a full scan.
Elena was no medical genius, but even she could see the change.
In the original scan, done prior to Raphael’s first attempt, the muscles and tendons and even bone of Jessamy’s wing had been locked together in what Jessamy called a knot. It must’ve happened at a very early stage of growth—everything had merged instead of separating out.
In the current scan, Elena could see the fine bones of Jessamy’s wing as separate pieces. Everything remained bunched in, and her muscles were undoubtedly too short after lack of use, but there were tiny particles of light in certain areas, as if those parts of the wing were attempting to stretch out.
Nga took over at that point, guiding Jessamy through a range of test exercises to judge her current capacity for motion. Jessamy gritted her teeth and got through the gentle set, but she was sweating by the time it ended. Galen managed not to intervene, though Elena could see the muscle jumping in his jaw as he fought not to break poor Nga in half.
“I think we can get that wing to open out, but it’ll take considerable time,” the physiotherapist said in her practical way. “You risk tearing things if you rush it—then it’ll be a long recovery and we’d be starting from scratch again.”
“She’s saying you can’t pick up a sword before you’ve learned to handle a knife, Jess,” Galen murmured against Jessamy’s temple, his body her anchor.
One arm around his waist, Jessamy swallowed. “I can’t stay in New York. Vivek—”
“My partner will continue to work with him—Vivek will not begrudge you my shift in allegiance,” Nga interrupted. “In fact, he has been known to call me the chief servant of Satan, so he may celebrate my departure.” She turned and bowed deeply to Raphael. “If the sire authorizes it, I will return to the Refuge with Jessamy and begin to torture her instead of Vivek.”
Raphael resettled his wings, but he didn’t smile. “Stay as long as you need.”
Galen looked at Jessamy. “Are you happy to fly a passenger?”
She smiled, though pain webbed her eyes. “This passenger, I will fly as many times as she wishes.”
After Nga had left the room to put together her bag, Jessamy moved to stand in front of Raphael. “When you were a boy who would not listen to me in school, and who ran off laughing when I attempted to chastise you, I couldn’t imagine that you would one day give me this gift beyond price.”
Her fingers brushed his hair with the maternal gentleness of a woman who’d taught him as a child, and who saw him not only as the archangel he’d become but as the laughing boy he’d once been. “I was deeply happy with my life when I entered your suite, but this adventure will take me to new places. I wish the same wonder for you, Raphael.”
Raphael gathered her into his arms, the moment poignant with a thousand unspoken emotions—and a relief to Elena. He was acting like her archangel, compassion in his heart no matter how huge his power.
She caught the feather about to slide free from her wing, slipped it into a pocket before anyone could see. This was a moment full of light. She wouldn’t mar it with shadows.
Galen and Jessamy left at dawn—as soon as Jessamy was certain the pain in her wing wouldn’t hamper her ability to pilot her craft. The couple planned to stop a number of times so Jessamy could stretch out her wing according to Nga’s instructions, but their goal remained to get to the Refuge as fast as safely possible.
It might take years for Jessamy’s wing to fully straighten out, but as Jessamy herself had remarked, even a decade was but a moment in the span of her thousands of years of life.
“Show me,” Raphael said to his consort after Galen, Jessamy, and Nga had left. He and Elena stood on the Tower roof under the painted sky of dawn, the orange-hued light coloring Elena’s hair like a watercolor.
Face solemn, his consort reached into a pocket and pulled out a feather of deepest blue with the merest hint of indigo. It lay against her palm, a silent witness to her descent into mortality. Again, she angled her hand downward and let the feather dance away on the air currents.
“Spread your wings so I can assess their status.” Rage continued to burn in him, a black cauldron, but it was also oddly distant, leaving his mind crystalline.
“It is not patchy,” he said after a close examination, “but there are places where you now only have a single layer of feathers, with no overlap.”
“Let’s hope I don’t lose more there. I don’t want to look like a plucked chicken.” Shutting her wings, she turned to face him with a ferocious expression on her face. “That power, it’s doing something to you. You’re letting it manipulate you.”
“Nothing manipulates me,” Raphael reiterated. “I allow it freedom because it gives me clarity.” Else, he was nothing but anger under the skin, constantly fighting the urge to demolish the world.