Home > Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6)(12)

Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6)(12)
Author: Nalini Singh

“Oh, Eve.” Chest aching for her sister’s hurt, she went around the table to kneel beside Eve’s chair.

Sobbing in earnest now, Eve threw her arms around Elena, her face wet against Elena’s neck. Elena said nothing, simply stroked her sister’s back, let her cry out the pain. It was better this way. As a child, Elena had swallowed her own pain again and again until it had become a knot inside her she wasn’t sure anything could unravel.

Some wounds were inflicted too young, scarred too deep.

It took time, but Eve finally cried herself out. Wiping her sister’s cheeks with a napkin she dampened using water from the small jug Montgomery had left on the table, Elena kissed each in turn. “Jeffrey hurt you, and he has no right to do that, no matter if he’s your father.” Even as she spoke, she knew she had to tread carefully, make sure her scars didn’t color Eve’s view of Jeffrey.

Because notwithstanding the bastard he’d become as far as Elena was concerned, he’d apparently been a good if remote father to Eve and Amy. Not the same man who’d thrown Elena into the air as a child and danced with his first wife in the rain—that part of him was buried in the same grave as Marguerite—but a father Eve and Amy could rely on nonetheless.

Elena would never do anything to damage that bond, not when she knew what it did to a child to be estranged from the man who was meant to protect her at her most innocent and vulnerable. “The truth is,” she said gently, her wings spread on the greenhouse floor as she continued to kneel beside Eve’s chair, “Jeffrey’s not rational on this one thing.”

I have no desire to house an abomination under my roof.

Words Jeffrey had thrown at her during the final, ugly fight that had destroyed the last, brittle threads of the bond that had once tied them together.

“But why?” Eve fisted her hands, jaw jutting out as she asked the one question Elena had never been able to answer. “If I’m hunter-born and you’re hunter-born, doesn’t that mean that Father must be hunter-born, too?”

5

“No,” Elena said, answering the question she could, “it means someone in his family was, and he carries the genes for it.” A fact he’d consciously hidden from Elena until the emergence of Eve’s ability had thrown a grenade onto that particular secret. “But the ability isn’t active in him, like it is in me and you. Do you understand?”

A thoughtful nod, frown lines marring the creamy skin Eve had inherited from Jeffrey’s second wife, Gwendolyn. “Like he’s asleep and we’re awake.”

“Yes.” Elena got to her feet, spreading her wings in a light stretch that had the white-gold primaries grazing a pot of chrysanthemums in bloom. “I think that’s a good way to put it.” However, their father couldn’t keep on being asleep, continue his willful, damaging blindness. Elena would not allow him to hurt Eve as he’d hurt her.

“He might never understand, right, Ellie?” Eve said with her customary openness of nature a few minutes later, as they got ready to leave. “That’s why he’s always so mad at you.”

Elena squeezed her sister’s hand, her calluses encountering the ones just beginning to form on Eve’s soft palms. “Jeffrey and I,” she said, “have other problems.”

Slater Patalis had been drawn to their suburban home because of Elena. Until that awful, cruel day a lifetime ago, they’d been a family of six. Jeffrey, Marguerite, and their four girls. Mirabelle, with her hot blood and wild affection. Ariel, even tempered and bossy and protective. Elena, who wanted to do everything her older sisters did, and Beth, too young to truly remember now who they’d been together before Slater Patalis walked through the kitchen door.

Where the murderous vampire had butchered Ari and Belle in a horrifying reign of blood, tortured their mother over and over . . . tortured the woman who was, and would always be, Jeffrey’s greatest love. Beth hadn’t been home, but Elena had. And though it was all her fault, she was the one who’d survived.

“He loves you,” Elena said, as the memories bruised her from within, hoping she wasn’t about to lie to her sister. “It might take him time, but he’ll accept your hunting.”

Dropping Eve back at school and taking responsibility for her absence, Elena flew straight to the tony brownstone Jeffrey used as a private office, only to find it closed, his assistant nowhere in evidence. Figuring her father would call her soon enough, Elena didn’t bother to slide a note under the door and headed toward Guild HQ. Once again, her phone rang before she made it there. Answering in the air, she found Sara on the other end.

“Ellie, I know you probably can’t take this with what happened yesterday, but—”

“I’m actually on my way to see you, wanted to ask if you had a hunt for me.”

“Good, because we have a serious problem.” Taking an audible breath, she said, “One of our hunters has gone off the rails. We might be talking murder if we don’t stop him.”

Elena landed on a nearby roof, her pulse suddenly in her mouth, her palms clammy, Sara’s words having unlocked a hidden vault: Bill James had been a celebrated hunter, Elena’s mentor . . . and a serial killer. One so good at hiding his crumbling psyche that none of his friends had realized what was happening until the first dead child. “Who?” she asked, throat raw.

“Darrell Vance.” Relief that it wasn’t a friend had Elena lifting a trembling hand to her face. Perhaps it wasn’t fair or right to feel this way, but she’d already had to execute one friend, would never forget the look of betrayal in Bill’s eyes as he died in her arms, his blood hot on her skin.

 

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