Angels' Blood

By: Nalini Singh

Yeah, and she was the Tooth Fairy. “Let me guess, you expected me to carry a big sword and have eyes that glow red?” Elena shook her head. “You’re a vampire. You know none of that is true.”

Suhani’s expression slipped to reveal a cooler darkness. “You sound very certain of my vampirism. Most people never guess.”

Elena decided now was not the time for a lesson in hunter biology. “I’ve had a lot of experience.” She shrugged, as if it didn’t matter. “Shall we go on up?”

Suhani was suddenly, and, it seemed, honestly, flustered. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ve kept you waiting. Please follow me.”

“Don’t worry. It was only a minute.” And she was grateful for the chance it had given her to settle her thoughts. If this elegant but sensitive vampire could deal with Raphael, then so could she. “What’s he like?”

Suhani’s stride faltered for a second before she caught herself. “He is . . . an archangel.” The awe in her voice was mixed with equal parts fear.

Elena’s confidence took a nosedive. “Do you see him often?”

“No, why should I?” The receptionist gave her a puzzled smile. “He has no need to pass through the lobby. He can fly.”

Elena could’ve slapped herself. “Right.” She came to a standstill in front of the elevator doors. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Suhani began to key in a security code on the touch screen mounted on a small plinth beside the elevator. “This car will take you straight up to the roof.”

Elena paused. “The roof?”

“He’ll meet you there.”

Startled, but knowing a delay would gain her nothing, Elena entered the large, mirror-paneled car and turned to face Suhani. As the doors shut, she was uncomfortably reminded of the vampire she’d locked into a crate less than twelve hours ago. Now she knew what it felt like to be on the other side. If she hadn’t been so certain she was under surveillance, she might have given in to the urge to drop her professional facade and start pacing like a crazy woman.

Or a rat stuck in a maze.

The elevator began to rise in a smooth movement that shrieked money. The glowing numerals on the LCD panel ticked over in a stomach-curdling sequence. She decided to stop counting after the car passed floor number seventy-five. Instead, she made use of the mirrors to ostensibly smooth down the twisted strap of her purse . . . while actually ensuring her weapons remained well hidden.

No one had ordered her to come in unarmed.

The elevator whispered to a smooth stop. The doors opened. Not giving herself a chance to hesitate, she headed out and into a small glass enclosure. It was immediately obvious that the glass cage was nothing more than the shell that housed the elevator. The roof lay beyond . . . and it had not even a token railing to stop an accidental plunge.

The archangel clearly didn’t believe in putting his guests at ease.

But Elena wouldn’t call him a bad host—a table set with croissants, coffee, and orange juice sat in solitary splendor in the middle of the wide open space. Another look and she saw that the roof wasn’t bare concrete. It had been paved with dark gray tiles that glimmered silver under the sun’s rays. The tiles were beautiful and unquestionably expensive. An extravagant waste, she thought, then realized that to a being with wings, a roof was assuredly not a useless space.

Raphael was nowhere to be seen.

Putting her hand on the doorknob, she pulled open the glass door and walked out. To her relief, the tiles proved to have a rough surface—the wind was soft right now but she knew that this high, it could turn cutting without warning, and heels weren’t exactly stable at the best of times. She wondered if the tablecloth was bolted to the table. Otherwise, it would probably fly off and take the food with it sooner rather than later.

Then again, that might be a good thing. Nerves didn’t make for easy digestion.

Leaving her purse on the table, she walked carefully to the nearest edge . . . and looked down. Exhilaration raced through her at the incredible view of angels flying in and out of the Tower. They seemed almost close enough to touch, the temptation of their powerful wings a siren song.

“Careful.” The word was soft, the tone amused.

She didn’t jump, having felt the push of wind engendered by his near-silent landing. “Would they catch me if I fell?” she asked, without looking his way.

“If they were in the mood for it.” He came to stand beside her, his wings filling her peripheral vision. “You don’t suffer from vertigo.”

“Never have,” she admitted, so terrified of the sheer power of him that she sounded absolutely normal. It was either that or start screaming. “I’ve never been up this high before.”

“What do you think?”

She took a deep breath and a step backward before turning to face him. The impact hit her like a physical blow. He was . . . “Beautiful.” Eyes of such pure undiluted blue it was as if some heavenly artist had crushed sapphires into his paints and then colored in the irises with the finest of brushes.

She was still reeling from the visual shock when a sudden wind swept across the rooftop, lifting up strands of his black hair. But black was too tame a word for it. It was so pure it held echoes of the night, vivid and passionate. Cut in careless layers that stopped at the nape of his neck, it bared the sharp angles of his face and made her fingers curl with the urge to stroke.