Archangel's Prophecy (Page 9)
Elena would never know all of Deacon’s demons, but she could imagine the toll being Slayer took on a man. “I could act as his backup once my wing heals,” she offered.
“Ellie. That’s not why I wanted to talk—I just need to vent, and Deacon’s already handling so much.” A sense of Sara pausing. “I’d never ask you to go after another hunter.”
History was a whisper of evil and a race against time between them.
“It’s all right, Sara. I did what was needed.” Or Bill James would’ve gone on killing young boys. “I’ve made my peace with it—and if you appoint me Slayer, the Guild will never have to worry about appointing another one.”
The idea of executing rogue hunters through time had her stomach twisting violently, but evil had to be stopped. Even when it came from your own family. “I’m stronger than anyone else in the Guild,” she pointed out. “Less liable to get wounded during the hunt.”
But Sara wasn’t open to accepting her offer. What she wanted was Elena’s input on creating a shortlist. Elena gave it without withdrawing her candidacy for the difficult position. She also forced herself to continue eating. Her pants were already loose—if she kept losing weight at this rate, one of these days she’d flash all of New York when her pants fell right off.
She’d just ended the conversation with Sara when a hint of movement made her glance toward the windows. Snow had begun to fall again, soft and light, Manhattan a shimmering mirage through it. A snow globe world sparkling with tiny stars. But that wasn’t what caught Elena’s attention.
Rising, she walked to the doors that led out onto their balcony, wonder unfurling inside her. Raphael, do we have white owls in New York?
What do you see?
Owls gliding through the falling snow. She opened the doors, walking out to stand in the freezing cold just so she could watch the exquisite, unearthly creatures move silently through the air. A hundred of them, maybe more. They’re like living ghosts.
Graceful beyond compare, their feathers sleek and perfect, and their eyes huge orbs that burned a luminous gold. Her fingers curled into her palms, but she felt no fear, only endless wonder that such beauty could exist in the world. Their eyes are glowing golden. She reached out a hand to touch one that seemed a bare hairsbreadth away, but her fingers met only the snow.
And the cold, it was searing her bones.
The sea crashed violently against her senses. ELENA.
Shuddering, she stepped back from the snow, from the night, from the f*****g voice in her head that had held her captive with musical words about the owls, and slammed shut the balcony doors. There are no owls, Raphael. She stared at the falling snow from behind the glass, her heart thunder inside her chest. Someone is messing with my mind.
That was when she noticed the owl sitting quietly on her vanity, watching her with eyes so haunting in their clarity and beauty that her soul ached.
Raphael scythed through the snow-laden blackness of the skies above his territory, his jaw a grim line and his mind only on getting to his hunter. When he neared their home, however, he was drawn not to the house but to the greenhouse that sat a short distance from it.
It glowed from within, a beacon through the falling strokes of white.
Landing outside the glass structure, he saw her silhouette within, his dangerous warrior mate who was so gentle with the plants she nurtured. When he walked in, he brought with him a breath of winter air, but it was soon overwhelmed by the warmth that held sway here.
“Archangel.” There was a tightness around her eyes as his consort walked, tall and strong, toward him. She’d taken off her jacket and her larger weapons as well as her forearm sheaths but was otherwise dressed as she’d been earlier, her garments sleek and black. Sliding one hand around the back of his neck, her other on his chest, she kissed him in welcome, her warm lips thawing his cold ones and her fingers on his face a caress. “Am I glad to see you.”
Raphael curved his wings around her. “Any other incursions into your mind?”
A shake of her head. “Not after the owl on the vanity flew through the balcony doors.” She paused before adding, “I keep telling myself there was nothing scary or threatening about the experience—the owls were astonishingly beautiful, and I actually felt privileged to have seen them.” The rim of silver around her eyes glittered. “And aside from the whole predicting-my-death thing, the voice hasn’t harmed me.”
“Do not joke about your death.” He cupped the side of her face, felt the life of her burn him with its fire. “I have spoken to the Legion.” The last time the birds had begun to act strangely, the voices had been in Raphael’s head; it had turned out the birds had been acting as the Legion’s eyes and ears.
“I don’t suppose they sent the owls?”
“No.” The Primary says they remember white owls with golden eyes from long ago, but they do not know why they remember.
Elena ran her fingers through his hair, dusting off stubborn particles of snow. “No point wasting our time obsessing about it.” Words that held a resolute decisiveness. “We’ll find out when the Cascade is ready to let us know.”
I do not do well with such a lack of control, hbeebti. Especially when it involved her. His hunter whose mortal heart had permanently altered his own and in so doing, saved him from an eternity of numbness and ice.
She patted his chest. “We all have crosses to bear. My most annoying one right now isn’t the voice that waxes rhapsodical about owls, but this.” She pointed to the wing she continued to hold stiffly. “Nisia says it’s a toddler’s injury.” A sulky look to her that would’ve made him smile at any other time. “She did what healers do, but she couldn’t repair the entire tear.”
Raphael ran his hand down the wing, sending healing energy into her before she could stop him. That energy was more potent than anything possessed by even angelkind’s most senior healer, but it remained stuck at a frustratingly low level in terms of capacity. Raphael’s body only ever contained a trivial amount, and once utilized, it took time to rebuild it.
But it was enough to further Nisia’s work and ease his consort’s pain.
She sighed, moving her wing more naturally after he was done. “Next time I get all noble and turn down your ability to heal”—she pointed a finger at him—“ignore me and do that.”
“Next time you will not have a chance to argue with me. I will do what must be done to care for my consort.”
“Come, Your Archangelness.” Laughter in the curve of her lips as she teased him, a fading of the lines around her eyes. “Montgomery brought me more goodies to feed my bottomless pit of a stomach.” Scrunching up her nose at the demands her body placed on her as it grew deeper into immortality, she said, “I haven’t got any alcohol out here, so I’ll fix you a coffee and you can tell me about what’s happening at the sinkhole.”
“As in the old movie we saw where the wife waits for her husband with a hot meal and perfectly groomed hair?”
“Don’t forget the pink frilly apron,” said the woman whose hair was escaping her braid in curling tendrils around a face that bore a smudge of dirt—and whose body generally bristled with knives.
Far more at home with such a welcome, Raphael ran his hand down the glory of her wing as she moved to the part of her workbench that held the trays of food and drink. “We’ve finished erecting the fence around the sinkhole.” Raphael had assisted in shifting the necessary building materials—an archangel could fly with considerably more than even his most senior angels.