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Home > Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter #2)(2)

Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter #2)(2)
Author: Nalini Singh

"Then teach me," she said, straightening. "I'm ready." The ache to fly was a fist in her throat, a ravaging need in her soul.

Raphael's expression didn't change. "You can't even walk to the balcony without help.

You're weaker than the fledglings."

She'd seen the smaller wings, smaller bodies, watched over by bigger ones. Not many, but enough.

"The Refuge," she asked, "is it a place of safety for your young?"

"It's everything we need it to be." Those eyes of purest sin shifted toward the door.

"Dmitri comes."

She sucked in a breath as she felt the temptation of Dmitri's scent wrap around her in a glide of fur and sex and wanton indulgence. Unfortunately, she hadn't gained immunity to that particular vampiric trick with her transformation. The flip side was also true. "One thing you can't argue with - I can still track vampires by scent." And that made her hunter-born.

"You have the potential to be of real use to us, Elena."

She wondered if Raphael even knew how arrogant he sounded. She didn't think so.

Being invincible for more years than she could imagine had made that arrogance part of his nature . . . But no, she thought. He could be hurt. When hell broke and an Angel of Blood tried to destroy New York, Raphael had chosen to die with Elena rather than abandon her broken body on that ledge high above Manhattan.

Her memories were cloudy, but she remembered shredded wings, a bleeding face, hands that had held her protectively as they descended to the adamantine hardness of the city streets below. Her heart clenched. "Tell me something, Raphael?"

He was already turning, heading to the door. "What is it you'd like to know, Guild Hunter?"

She hid her smile at his slip. "What do I call you? Husband? Mate? Boyfriend?"

Stopping with his hand on the doorknob, he shot her an inscrutable look. "You can call me 'Master.' "

Elena stared at the closed door, wondering if he'd been playing with her. She couldn't tell, didn't know him well enough to read his moods, his truths and lies. They'd come together in an agony of pain and fear, pushed by the specter of death into a union   that might have been years in the making had Uram not decided to turn bloodborn and tear a murderous path through the world.

Raphael had told her that according to legend, only true love allowed ambrosia to bloom on an archangel's tongue, to turn human to angel, but perhaps her metamorphosis owed nothing to the deepest of emotions and everything to a very rare biological symbiosis?

After all, vampires were Made by angels, and biological compatibility played an integral part in that transformation.

"Damn it." She rubbed the heel of one hand over her heart, trying to wipe away the sudden twist of pain.

"You intrigue me."

He'd said that at the start. So perhaps, there was a component of fascination. "Be honest, Elena," she whispered, running her fingers over the magnificent wings that were his gift to her, "you're the one who fell into fascination."

But she would not fall into slavery.

"Master, my ass." She stared at the foreign sky outside the balcony doors and felt her resolve turn iron-hard - no more waiting. Unlike if she'd still been human, the coma hadn't wasted away her muscles. But those muscles had gone through a transformation she couldn't imagine - everything felt weak, new. So while she didn't need rehab, she did need exercise. Especially when it came to her wings. "No time like the present." Lifting herself up into a proper sitting position, she took a deep, calming breath . . . and spread out her wings.

"Christ, that hurts!" Teeth gritted, tears leaking out of the corners of her eyes, she kept stretching the unused, unfamiliar muscles, folding her new-formed wings in slowly before expanding them outward. Three repetitions later and the tears had soaked into her lips until the salt of them was all she could taste, her skin covered by a layer of perspiration that shimmered in the sunlight streaming in through the glass.

That was when Raphael walked back in. She expected an explosion, but he just took a seat in a chair opposite the bed, his eyes never leaving her. As she watched, wary, he hooked one ankle over a knee, and began to tap a heavy white envelope bordered with gilt against the top of his boot.

She held his gaze, did another two stretches. Her back felt like jelly, her stomach muscles so tight they hurt. "What's" - a pause to draw breath - "in the envelope?"

Her wings snapped shut behind her, and she found herself leaning against the headboard.

It took her several seconds to realize what he'd done. Something cold unfurled within the core of her soul even as he got up and dropped a towel on the bed, then retook his seat.

No f**king way was this going to keep happening.

However, in spite of the turbulent fury of her anger, she wiped off her face and kept her mouth shut. Because he was right - she wasn't his equal, not by a long shot. And the coma had messed her up some. But as of now, she was going to work on those shields she'd started to develop back before becoming an angel. There was a chance that - given the changes in her - she could learn to hold them for longer.

Forcing her rigid shoulder muscles to loosen, she picked up a knife she'd left on the bedside table and began to clean the pristine blade with the edge of the towel. "Feeling better?"

"No." His mouth firmed. "You need to listen to me, Elena. I won't hurt you, but I can't have you acting in ways that bring my control over you in question."

What?"Exactly what kind of relationships do archangels have?" she asked, genuinely curious.

That made him pause for a minute. "I know of only one stable relationship now that Michaela and Uram's is broken."

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