Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6)(10)

Written By: Nalini Singh

“You were in such a deep sleep, I thought I’d give you a few extra minutes.” It was the only gift she could give; to protect an archangel was an impossibility. “It’s barely dawn.” Watching him get to his feet, this magnificent and lethal male who was her own, she rose and pulled on her robe. “You had an angry look on your face at the end. Bad dream?”

“Not bad so much as strange.” He didn’t speak again until they’d both showered and begun to dress, their bedroom drenched in dawn sunshine from the skylight and open balcony doors. “I dreamed of the field where I fought Caliane.”

Tying off her braid, she busied herself checking her crossbow, though she saw nothing of the weapon, every ounce of her being concentrated on Raphael. He spoke rarely about that agonizing day, and she hadn’t pushed him, because the whole “time heals all wounds” thing? It was a load of bullshit. “Was your mother in the dream?”

“No.” Walking to the balcony, his upper body bare, he spread his wings as if soaking in the sun’s rays, the golden filaments hidden in the white sparking with a fire so brilliant, Elena found herself brushing her fingers along the living silk.

“What do you see, Elena?”

“There’s a kind of fire in your feathers now.” She almost expected to capture a piece of piercing white flame in her hand. “It’s incredibly beautiful.”

Raphael glanced at his wing, shrugged. “So long as they work.” Folding them in, he turned to pick up one of her throwing blades and slid it into the sheath on her left arm. “The dream was not . . . what it should be,” he said, as she made a minor fix to one of the sheath straps. “Of course, yesterday was no ordinary day. It’s not inexplicable that I should dream of violence.”

“It could be that simple.” Elena held out her right forearm, sheath in place, so he could slide in the other throwing blade. “But I’ve seen way too much freaky stuff since you first summoned me to do your bidding to take anything at face value.”

“You were abysmal at doing my bidding.” It was a cool reminder. “I thought you the most fascinating creature I had ever met.”

“You did not.” She pointed a gleaming knife at him before slotting it into a thigh sheath strapped over her slimline black leather pants, her clothing designed to reduce drag in the air. “You thought I was a nuisance you might have to throw off the side of the building in order to teach me manners.” As it was, he’d made her close her hand over a blade, her blood dripping to stain the roof, a being so terrifying she’d seen nothing of humanity in him. “You were kind of a bastard, if we’re being brutally honest.”

Lips curving, he picked up the long, thin blade she wore hidden along her back in a sheath built into her long-sleeved black top, the fabric tough enough to take the demands of a hunter’s life. “You,” he said, sliding the blade into place when she turned, “are the only individual who would ever say that to my face.”

“Remind me to tell you sometime about how I decided I should get Big Idiot tattooed on my forehead.” Facing him once more, she smoothed her hands over his gorgeous shoulders. “And what does it say about me that I thought you were fascinating and sexier than sin, even after you made me cut myself?”

“That you’re a warrior who knew she’d finally met her match.”

Elena snorted. “It says I’m a dumbo who doesn’t know when to be meek and subservient and save my ass, that’s what it says.”

Smile deepening until his cheeks creased with it, Raphael curved one hand around her nape, using the fingers of his other to caress the sensitive upper arch of her wing with long, firm strokes. “Had you been meek and subservient,” he murmured as her knees threatened to melt, “I would’ve never summoned you to do my bidding.”

His kiss threatened to finish what his strokes had begun. Licking her tongue against his, her breasts crushed against the hard muscle of his chest, Elena wanted nothing more than to stay in this stolen minute, to forget the outside world, but the ugly reality that awaited couldn’t be ignored.

“I’ve been away from the Tower for over six hours,” Raphael said when they drew apart, his expression shifting in a way that reminded her he wasn’t simply her lover, wasn’t simply the man who wore her ring on his finger. No, he was an archangel, responsible for the lives of millions, mortals and immortals alike.

“Finish dressing.” Releasing him, she headed for the door. “I’ll bring up some food. You need to refuel after all the healing you did.”

By the time she returned, the transformation was complete, the Archangel of New York a grim-eyed power beside her as they ate standing on the balcony. He’d chosen to wear a simple black shirt and pants, the cut pristine, rather than the leather combat gear he often chose. All part of the illusion, she realized, an elegant “f*ck you” to whoever had dared attack his city and harm his people.

Elena watched him slice through the biting cold of the wind only minutes later, the early morning sunlight sparking white fire off the altered filaments in his wings, and felt her heart tighten in a deep, chill fear. Never had she expected to find him, to fall so deeply, wildly, insanely in love—and sometimes, her soul-deep joy in their passionate entanglement terrified her, the fear of losing him as she’d lost her sisters, her mother, a stealthy intruder in her mind.