Angels' Blood

By: Nalini Singh


“I didn’t think a hunter would be so disturbed at the sight of the just-Made.” Raphael’s face appeared oddly shadowed, until she realized he’d raised his wings slightly.

Wondering if that implied focus or anger, she put down the glass. “I’m not, not really.” True enough now that that first, instinctive flash of disgust had passed. “It’s the smell—like a coating of fur on your tongue. No matter how hard you scrape, you can’t get it off.”

Open interest showed on his face. “The feeling is that intense?”

She shivered and looked around the table for something else to take the edge off. When he pushed a cut grapefruit in her direction, she dug into it with relish. “Uh-huh.” The citrus fruit’s acidic juices dampened the reek a little. At least enough that she could think.

“If I asked you to track Erik, could you?”

She shivered at the memory of those almost-dead/ not-quite-alive eyes. No wonder people believed those stories about vampires being the walking dead. “No. I think he’s too young.”

“What about Bernal?”

“He’s on the bottom floor of the building right now.” The barely Made vampire’s odor was so noxious, it permeated the building. “In the lobby.”

Golden-tipped wings spread to shadow the table as Raphael put his hands together in a slow clap. “Well done, Elena. Well done.”

She looked up from the grapefruit, belatedly aware she’d just proven how good she was when she should’ve flubbed it and gotten out of this, whatever “this” was. Shit. But at least he’d given her some idea of the job. “Do you want me to track a rogue?”

He rose from his chair in a sudden, liquid movement. “Wait a moment.”


She watched, transfixed, as he walked to the edge of the roof. He was a being of such incredible splendor that simply seeing him move made her heart squeeze. It didn’t matter that she knew it was a mirage, that he was as deadly as the filleting knife she carried strapped to her thigh. No one, not even she, could deny that Raphael the Archangel was a man made to be admired. To be worshipped.

That utterly wrong thought snapped her out of her dazed state. Pushing back her chair, she stared hard at his back. Had he been messing with her head? Right then, he turned and she met the agonizing blue of his eyes. For a second, she thought he was answering her question. Then he looked away . . . and walked off the roof.

She jumped up. Only to sit back down, blush reddening her cheeks, when he winged upward to meet an angel she hadn’t seen until that moment. Michaela. The female equivalent of Raphael, her beauty so intense that Elena could feel the force of it even from this distance. She had the startling realization that she was looking on at a midair meeting between two archangels.

“Sara’s never going to believe this.” She forgot the stench of young vampire for the moment, her attention hijacked. She’d seen photos of Michaela, but they came nowhere close to the reality of her.

The other archangel had skin the color of the most exquisite, fine milk chocolate and a shining fall of hair that cascaded to her waist in a wild mass. Her body was quintessentially female, slender and curvy at the same time, her wings a delicate bronze that shimmered against the richness of her skin. Her face . . . “Wow.” Even from this distance, Michaela’s face was perfection given form. Elena fancied she could see her eyes—a bright, impossible green—but knew she had to be imagining it. They were too far away.

It made little difference. The female archangel had a face that would not only stop traffic, it would cause a few pileups in the process.

Elena frowned. Despite her appreciation for Michaela’s looks, she was having no trouble thinking straight. Which meant the damn arrogant blue-eyed bastard had been fucking with her mind. He wanted her to worship him? They’d see about that.

No one, not even an archangel, was going to turn her into a puppet.

As if he’d heard her, Raphael said something to his fellow archangel and winged back down to the roof. His landing was a lot more showy this time. She was sure he paused to display the pattern on the inside surface of his wings. It was as if a brush dipped in gold had started at the top edge of each wing and then stroked downward, fading to white as it neared the bottom. In spite of her fury, she had to face the truth: If the devil—or an archangel—came to her and offered her wings, she might just sell him her soul.

But the angels didn’t Make other angels. They only made blood-drinking vampires. Where angels came from, no one knew. Elena guessed they were born to angelic parents, though, come to think of it, she’d never actually seen a baby angel.

Her thoughts derailed again as she watched the fluid grace of Raphael’s walk, so seductive, so—

Rising to her feet, she sent her chair crashing to the tiles. “Get. Out. Of. My. Head!”

Raphael came to a standstill. “Do you intend to use that knife?” His words were ice. Blood scented the air, and she realized it was her own.

Looking down, she found her hand clenching on the blade of the knife she’d drawn instinctively from the sheath at her ankle. She’d never have made such a mistake. He was forcing her to hurt herself, showing her she was nothing but a toy for him to play with. Instead of fighting, she squeezed harder. “If you want me to do a job for you, fine. But I won’t be manipulated.”