Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter #9)(9)

by Nalini Singh

“Funny, Archangel.” Laughing because he was guilty of feeding her addiction to the most beautiful blades, she said, “We’re holding hands. I never held hands with anyone before you, and when we first got together, I never thought we ever would.” He’d been so hard, so dangerous.

“In this, Elena, I, too, was a virgin.” His fingers tightened on hers, his wings outlined with a glow that would’ve terrified her once.

And she realized he was exactly as hard and even deadlier than he’d been when he made her close her hand over a blade, when he made her bleed—but she was no longer a mortal hunter meeting one of the Cadre. Nor was she the new consort still learning the man she loved beyond life, beyond reason. Oh, he’d keep surprising her for centuries, millennia, of that she had no doubt. But the one thing she no longer had any question about was that they were an impregnable unit.

The world might attempt to tear them apart, but the only way it would ever succeed would be through death.

If this is death, Guild Hunter, then I will see you on the other side.

Her heart squeezed.

No, not even death would separate them. “I like holding hands,” she declared, moving their clasped hands slightly back and forth as they walked down the wide hallway in which Dmitri had his office, the walls newly painted an elegant gray, the thick carpet beneath their feet a darker gray.

Raphael’s response was silent, his wing brushing hers as he . . .


The damn archangel had dusted her.

Glittering, sparkly stuff stuck to her, delicious beyond compare when she parted her mouth and it licked onto her tongue. Her thighs clenched. “This is not funny!” She glared at him even as arousal flooded her system, but he was laughing too hard to care.

Her heart, it just stopped.

Even now, the Archangel of New York rarely laughed and never like this. Until she could see the youth he must’ve once been, with eyes of a wild, astonishing blue that asked a woman to laugh with him. She’d never before seen him as truly young. How could she? He had so much power that it pulsed in his every touch, burned in his skin.

Hauling him close to her with her hands fisted in the cream linen of his shirt, she took a kiss, took him. He sank into her, his wings sweeping up to wrap around her until all she could sense was Raphael, all she could taste was him. And angel dust. The special blend he’d created just for her.

He pushed one hand into her hair, fisting it as he wrapped his other arm around her waist and backed her up against a wall. Something fell with a dull thud. Maybe the vivid painting of wildflowers that had just been put up, all the art having been taken down during the repainting.

Elena loved that simple piece Honor had found in a thrift shop, but right now, it could’ve been a priceless artwork by the Hummingbird and she wouldn’t have cared. She was far too happy to be pressed up against the hard warmth of her archangel tip to toe after spending the previous night on watch. No time for shenanigans with Dmitri away and Illium off-shift, Aodhan assigned to patrol the sea border, and Raphael dealing with the overall security situation.

She’d flown a proper defense grid, both to stay in practice and because none of them could afford to be blasé with the Cascade an unpredictable foe that could unleash itself at any moment, smashing the world back into chaos and, possibly, war.

Today, however, the others were on-shift and she could kiss her lover. He burned hot, Raphael, but he was a crashing sea in her mind, a tumultuous, passionate storm that swept her up and thundered through her veins.

We can talk to Dmitri later, she sent to Raphael, sliding her hands up the ridges and valleys of his chest. Let’s go upstairs to our suite.


She tried to ignore that pointed cough that held a biting amusement.

Raphael’s lips smiled against hers. I think my second has other ideas. Pulling away with a kiss that promised more to come, he folded back his wings to reveal the vampire who leaned against the wall about ten feet down the corridor, beside an open door.

Dmitri was dressed in black jeans and a black T-shirt, his arms crossed to reveal well-defined biceps. His only ornamentation was the gold wedding band on his left ring finger; he never took off that ring, no matter what. And sometimes, Elena almost liked him because of that. The rest of the time, she thought him a pain in the ass—especially as he still liked to jerk her chain with his scent games.

Hunter-born were highly sensitive to scents, particularly vampiric scents; that was what made them such good trackers. The flip side was a vulnerability to those same scents that certain vampires could exploit. Just her damn luck that Raphael’s second was one of them.

Now the vampire, his sensually handsome face carved in strong lines overlaid with skin of bronze, his eyes a rich brown, and his natural scent as darkly seductive as chocolate and champagne and all things sinful, raised an eyebrow. “I knew she was going to be a bad influence from the first.”

Elena gave him the finger.

He grinned, and suddenly, she was drowning in the chocolate and champagne of him while fur rubbed over her skin. Gritting her teeth, she’d pulled a blade from her forearm sheath and thrown it at him before she consciously thought about what she was going to do.


Dmitri moved just barely in time.

The blade thudded home in the wall on which he’d been leaning, would’ve pinned his ear to it if he hadn’t shifted. As it was, he rubbed his jaw, then reached up to remove the blade and throw it back to her in an easy spin she caught without issue. “You’re faster.”

Raphael nodded. “Yes.” He moved down the corridor until they were about fifteen feet apart. “Throw blades at me,” he said. “As fast as you can.”

Elena didn’t hesitate—Raphael was more than strong enough that even if he didn’t dodge in time, he’d heal from a knife wound in a heartbeat. But she didn’t think he wouldn’t be able to dodge. She’d sparred with him enough to know he moved like lightning. The only angel who was faster was Illium.

Bluebell could outdodge even his sire’s blades if he tried hard enough.

She threw every one of her blades one after the other in a blur of metal, aware of Dmitri watching with dark-eyed focus as Raphael dodged or simply caught the weapons in the air. Honor poked out her head from her office across from Dmitri’s, realized what was going on, and stayed safely out of the line of fire. She, too, would heal from a knife wound, but she was a baby vampire. It would take time—though not as much as it should.