Archangel's Prophecy (Page 75)
Exiting the narrow space, she found herself confronted by a street buzzing with traffic. She stepped out onto it and held out a hand. Cars screeched to a stop around her as she ran across the road. Then cameras flashed as quick-thinking people stuck their heads and arms out of car windows to take snapshots of her and Ash before they disappeared between the buildings on the other side.
If anyone had caught her dragging wings . . . Well, Dmitri would think of some explanation. A bad injury sustained during the hunt, maybe. As an angel-Made, humans, vampires, and angels expected her to be a little mortal. She was allowed to be flawed in a way Jessamy would never be. The Tower could use that to conceal what was happening to her until . . . until her wings were gone.
She blinked back her pain and thought of Raphael. And she knew one way to f**k with destiny would be to bring him in when events seemed to be conspiring to keep them apart. And if she died and she hadn’t reached out to him . . .
I will become a monster without you.
She grabbed her phone to make a call as she ran. It was dead. “I don’t f*****g believe it!” She’d charged it this morning. “G*****n Cascade!” Turning on her heels, she said. “I need your phone!”
Ashwini held it out. And a massive wind slammed into her hand. It grabbed the phone and crashed it against a neighboring wall. Into f*****g pieces.
Looked like the Cascade didn’t want her to make the call. Teeth gritted, she ran and she thought. She couldn’t send one of the Legion without leaving her and Ash vulnerable. Right now, the three flew escort above, a deadly squadron focused on keeping her alive.
There was one other way, she realized. One being in the world who could still hear her mental voice.
Send your owls to Raphael, she ordered the old voice in her head. Tell him where I am and that I need help.
I cannot interfere with what is written in—
Who made that f*****g rule? Elena exited the narrow space to cross another road. Do you like being helpless to stop what you see? Wouldn’t the nightmares go away if you could use your sight to help save those who’ve never done you harm? Weren’t your owls trying to stop me from chasing Archer?
A long pause before the old voice stirred, rising to a brighter wakefulness. You seek to fracture destiny, child of mortals.
Seek. So she hadn’t yet succeeded. It was getting difficult to run, her heart working brutally hard. She was now weaker than she’d been as a mortal. So, how about it? How about taking control of what you see?
No answer, but the owls in front of her faded with stark suddenness.
Elena bared her teeth as she pounded into another narrow space between buildings, an area littered with broken glass that bit at her badly damaged wings. “Screw the Cascade and its hard-on to shape our lives,” she vowed. “We’re going to write our own future.”
It was darker here, especially with the clouds settling heavy and bloated with snow over the space. There were no windows looking down into it, and though it was tempting to call it an alleyway, it wasn’t quite that narrow. Possibly a service entrance or a maintenance road. Running down it, she saw lingering piles of slushy, dirty snow on the sides.
The first snowflake hit her cheek. Others brushed cool over her wings as her feathers slipped away one after the other. Ignoring the fall and the awful loss that made her want to scream her grief, she continued to run, chasing a quarry who was strong and determined and mad with a darker, more horrifying grief.
Archer would never surrender. Not when he’d lost everyone who’d ever mattered to him. He had nothing for which to live. The only thing that remained was vengeance.
Coming to a corner, she hesitated, torn between two directions.
“He chucked his coat into the trash can,” Ashwini pointed out, her breath jagged, the same as Elena’s.
Spotting the black triangle of fabric hanging over the edge of the trash can on the right, Elena went left. The scent was weak here, far stronger in the direction of the trash can. She hesitated. “Check if he threw his sweater in there as well.”
Ashwini ran over and dug in, lifting both pieces of clothing above her head. “Damn.”
Pausing, Elena took a number of deep breaths in an attempt to make the right call.
Flicking open her eyelashes, she saw a large man, his fat carried all over his stocky body and a bloody apron around his waist, leaning out the door of a butcher shop. “Crazy hombre who stripped off his clothes in the middle of winter, he went that way.” The butcher pointed left. “Had a big-a*s sword.”
“Go get him! I got children! I don’t want some whacked a*****e running around with a sword!” he called from behind her.
She caught the scent of sugared doughnuts and icy rain on the air currents two minutes later. It was fresh, and it was coming back to her from someone up ahead, though it was far fainter than when they’d started. Most of the blood must’ve got on his sweater, but Archer had enough on him and his weapon that she could track it.
She pushed herself, aware she was slowing down. She couldn’t, however, tell Ashwini to go ahead. Archer could turn at any point, and she didn’t want the other hunter to get ambushed alone. The Legion wouldn’t leave Elena even if she ordered it. Not now.
“Ellie, your wings are bleeding!” Ashwini said from beside her.
“I can’t feel it.” Couldn’t feel any part of her wings.
The snow kept on falling, a soft whisper that covered the dirt and the garbage and the stains of this dark corner of the city.
“Ellie!” A shove that sent her to the left.
The bullet passed between her and Ash to slam into a light pole. Ashwini couldn’t have seen the bullet coming—they didn’t have a line of sight around the corner. See? she said to Cassandra. Foresight kicks a*s when it’s used to change death to life. She reached for the gun she’d shoved into an ankle holster and strapped on at the last minute, swung it up in a smooth motion, and pressed the trigger. It jammed. Again and again.
No, g*****n it!
Three more shots aimed in their direction.
Two bodies falling from the sky, one slamming her in the side as he went down. Jesus, Archer had hit two of the Legion. Headshots. Having managed to keep her feet, Elena re-holstered her useless gun and fought the instinct to stop. The Legion would regenerate, but it’d take several minutes.
She began to run again.
Archer had the instincts of a predator. Lose him now and she might never catch him again.
Another turn and she and Ashwini found themselves in an area of dead silence, a part of the Quarter that only came to life after dark. It looked to be the back of a row of restaurants and clubs, a single lane just big enough to retrieve the Dumpsters that lined the sides, a couple of them overflowing with garbage.
Elena stopped at the mouth of the accessway.
At least the cold weather meant there was no smell and no bugs. Only large clumps of dirty snow and ice pushed to the sides by the wind. A lot of it had collected against the dented and scratched trash containers.
The hulking objects provided plenty of hiding space, and the shadowy dimness fostered by the clouds didn’t exactly help. Elena squinted past it all and saw the accessway came to an end at a brick wall about twenty yards forward. A b***h for the drivers of the trucks that collected the trash, but a perfect place for a Slayer armed with a sword to make his stand against a woman with useless wings. She’d be clumsy, unable to move as well in the comparatively tight space.