Archangel's Prophecy (Page 72)
Elena believed him. If there was one thing she knew about her brother-in-law, it was that he loved Maggie. He wouldn’t take her name lightly. And hell, if that was his connection to it all, it was too thin a thread to justify attempted murder. “You’re sure this is linked to Lucy? Anything else that could’ve come back on you?”
“He whispered it in my ear after he cut my throat. ‘For Lucy. Why should you have your Beth and Maggie when Lucy’s gone? Think of them rotting in the earth as you die.’” Coughs shook his body.
Bones aching from deep within and her wings crushingly heavy on her back, Elena waited for him to find his breath again before she said, “Do you know Lucy’s last name?”
But Harrison was lost in his own need to prove his innocence. “The next time I saw her was at a party they invited me to at Simon’s—it was that weekend you and Beth and the others went out of town. I asked Jean-Baptiste and Majda to babysit Maggie so I could drop by the party for an hour.”
It seemed a mirage now, those two days filled with laughter in a private hotel that provided spa treatments, manicures, mimosas, pretty much anything a bunch of women blowing off steam might need. “Go on,” she nudged Harrison when he stopped.
“Lucy had tattoos all over, weighed half of what she did before, and that smile was gone. I asked Nish what the f**k was going on, and he called me a loser, said I needed to learn to have a good time. Terry was feeding off her at the time.”
“Did you try to help her?” Elena asked.
“I told Lucy if she wanted out, I’d get her out.” Shivers wracked his body. “I figured I could talk to you, and you’d make sure Nish and Terry didn’t cause me trouble over losing Lucy.”
“But she wouldn’t come.” Harrison’s voice was anguished. “In spite of how Simon let Nish and Terry use her even after they got together, he had her convinced he loved her. I knew she’d die if I didn’t get her out, that they’d use her up and break her, but she refused to come. I was desperate, so . . .”
The world hung in the air, a thin glass bauble.
“So I called her father,” Harrison finished softly.
Elena went motionless. “You know the identity of Lucy’s father?”
“She’d said a few things about him at the bar, kind of offhand, even a little angry—but I remembered, because I thought it must make for interesting family dynamics with her wanting a vampire boyfriend. I put the pieces together and tracked him down. He was out of his mind with worry. I told him where he could find her.”
“You didn’t wonder when Nishant Kumar and Terence Lee were murdered?”
“That was ten months after her father took her back. I stopped hanging with them after Lucy, but I heard they were mixed up in the designer-drug trade by then. I figured it must’ve been a gang hit.”
Ten months was a long time between action and reaction. It spoke of patience, of justice served cold. “Did you ever hear from Lucy’s father again?”
“He sent me a funeral card in the mail nine months ago,” Harrison said, tears clogging his voice. “Lucy died. Drug overdose two months after she got out of rehab.”
Wishing she were wrong about Lucy’s identity and knowing she wasn’t, Elena carried it through. “You go to her funeral?”
“No, I was in Alaska that week to gather data for a small business deal Andreas was considering, but I called with my condolences,” Harrison said. “He thanked me for giving him three more months with his daughter, said she’d been his sweet girl again for weeks, that they’d cried together and figured out their problems.”
Elena frowned. What could’ve pushed Lucy’s father from gratitude to wanting to murder Harrison?
Then her brother-in-law said, “I told him I was so sorry I’d ever introduced Lucy to Nish and Terry.”
The hammer fell. “What’s her father’s name, Harrison?” she asked on a whisper, because she knew and she wished she didn’t. Hunting a friend was the worst thing that could be asked of a person. It was why Slayers walked the periphery of the world. It was why Archer had only become her friend after she was beyond the Guild’s reach.
Her eyes stung.
Sara went silent on the other end of the line when Elena told her what Harrison had confirmed. “Archer’s dead,” her friend finally said.
“I sent Santiago a message before I called you. He’s rechecking the file.” She was so tired, her back screaming from the weight of her wings—and her mind reaching out to Raphael’s only to hit a blank wall over and over again. “Lucy must’ve been her street name.”
“No, that’s what Archer called his wife. First name was Sabrina, so I always thought Lucy must be her second name.”
A grieving daughter taking her mother’s name to hold on to her? It made an awful, sad kind of sense. “There’re no missing pieces, then, Sara, no facts that don’t fit. It all leads back to Archer.”
“It could be another one of us.”
Sara’s words were a punch to the solar plexus. “Was he close to anyone else in the Guild?” Elena asked, well able to see one hunter taking vengeance for another who hadn’t been able to survive his grief.
“You know how it is with Slayers.” Sara’s voice was thick with withheld emotion. “Deacon and he went out for a beer now and then, and I invited him over for dinner as much as I could without it rubbing him the wrong way. I’d say we were his closest friends in the Guild.”
Deacon was very much capable of taking vengeance on his friend’s behalf, but he would’ve never slit Harrison’s throat where Maggie could’ve found him. Deacon was father to a little girl of his own—more, the last time Elena had brought her niece over, he and Zoe had given an ecstatic Maggie the plastic tools Zoe had outgrown, spent long minutes showing her how to use them.
Maggie idolized her “big sister” Zoe.
Had Deacon been hunting Harrison, he’d have taken Harrison in some dark street where no children would stumble on his body.
“Since I know it wasn’t you or Deacon, we’re looking for a dead man,” Elena said flatly, just as a message lit up her phone. “Hold on a sec. It’s V.”
I contacted Najat about security footage of the night Harrison says he met Lucy. It was a shot in the dark—nearly all businesses wipe footage after a couple of days. But you have the luck of the Irish, Ellie.
They had a big bar fight there the same night—it was hours later, but they had to keep the entire day’s footage because one of the participants decided to sue the bar. Link will take you to it. It’s cued to the right place, and I’ve speeded up a few sections so you can watch it quicker.
“Sara, I’ll call you back.”
“I’m going to call Santiago, ask him to pull up everything he has on Archer’s death,” her best friend said before hanging up.
Elena clicked on the link, and there was Harrison waiting at the bar, dressed in jeans and a casual navy shirt. Lucy walked into frame seconds later. She was wearing a cute sparkly dress of gold that came to her upper thighs, her hair healthy and shiny, and her body language welcoming. She could’ve been any young woman on a night out who’d spotted a man who interested her.
Elena saw Harrison flush at Lucy’s greeting and get that look men got when they couldn’t believe a pretty woman was hitting on them, but credit to her brother-in-law, he kept it to conversation. At one point, Lucy touched his arm, but he pulled off her hand in a gentle but firm way, and she actually saw his mouth form the words: I love my wife.