Archangel's Heart(3)

By: Nalini Singh



Even better, he was laughing again, was once more the playful angel who’d become her first friend in this immortal world. “Bluebell’s about to do a dive,” she predicted from the way Illium was soaring up into the crystalline sky.

And then he was turning and falling, a sleek bullet whose laughter she could almost hear.

“I bet you he’s planning to go low enough to freak out the pedestrians.” New Yorkers were used to angels in their city, turned up their noses at the tourists who gawped up at the sky, but angelic acrobatics could still make them jump. Especially acrobatics done by an angel as fast and as quick to maneuver as Illium.

“That is no bet,” Raphael answered. “He’s been playing such tricks as long as I’ve known him.”

And Raphael, Elena thought, had known Illium since the other angel was a child.

She reached up to close her hands over the arms he’d wrapped around her. Illium meant a great deal to her archangel; that was a truth most people didn’t comprehend. All of Raphael’s Seven meant far more to him than simply the positions they filled in his Tower or in his Refuge stronghold.

They weren’t just his most trusted warriors—the Seven were family.

Rubbing his jaw against her temple in a silent response to her touch, he said, “We are about to leave New York.”

Elena blinked; she couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d told her he wanted her to strip naked then and there and start chanting to invisible sky gods. “What happened to batten down the hatches and watch for an attack? All our enemies are still out there.”

“The Cadre has been called to meet.”

Rubbing at her face, Elena turned and took a step back so she could face Raphael, her wings a familiar weight at her back and the wind tugging lightly at her feathers as if in invitation for flight. The almost cruel masculine beauty of his face hit her hard, as it sometimes did when she looked at him after glancing away. All clean lines and skin brushed with finest gold, he had eyes so shatteringly blue they had no equal on this earth, his hair a black beyond midnight and his lips shaped with a sensuality that hinted at passion and power both, wings of white gold arching over his shoulders.

Already, he’d been magnificent, but the Legion mark on his right temple—the violent, vivid blue and hidden white fire of it shaped like the primal manifestation of a dragon—added a wildness to his beauty that made him beyond beautiful, beyond magnificent. He was Raphael, Archangel of New York, and the man she loved so much that sometimes she couldn’t breathe from the force of it.

And he loved her.

That truth she could never doubt, no matter if, at times, he crossed lines in their relationship that made her threaten to pull out a blade. Even if the Cascade messed with everything else, this one thing no one and nothing could ever mess up.

Lifting his hand, he cupped her cheek, brushed the pad of his thumb over her cheekbone. “Your eyes are even more luminous today.”

Elena scowled. “I don’t want luminous eyes,” she said. “I want normal gray eyes that let me blend in, not silver eyes that make it obvious I’m an immortal.”

Raphael’s lips curved. “A pity about the wings then.”

“Ha ha.” Putting her hands on her hips, she turned her head to press a kiss to his palm before facing him once more. “Which one of the archangels called for the meet?” It would tell her which ones were likely to go—and which ones would be salivating at the opportunity to attack other territories while the archangels to whom those territories belonged were occupied elsewhere.

“None.”

The single word fell like a gunshot between them.

Shaking her head, Elena reached up to tuck back a strand of hair that had whipped across her face. She’d left the near-white stuff unbound today since she wasn’t on a hunt and had been planning to hang out close to the Tower and the Legion skyscraper.

“I know I’ve only been an immortal a zillionth of a second according to angelic time,” she said dryly, “but I’m pretty sure there’s no one more powerful than an archangel. Unless it’s one of those Ancestor creatures Naasir told me about.” She’d taken those Sleeping beings to be myth, but maybe not.

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