Dark Hunger


Page 39



Elena and the other three players exchanged looks and silently retired from the game, their chests heaving as they took a seat on the edge of the nearest roof, happy to watch Aodhan and Illium showcase their extraordinary skills in the air. “Have you seen them do anything like this before?” she said to the angel beside her, an older squadron commander she’d never seen laugh before today.


“Not for two centuries.” The solemnity of his response was erased by his roar of approval when Aodhan scooped up the ball as it actually hit the water and fired it back over his shoulder without looking, his body and wings turning him into a living diamond under the piercing winter sunlight.


Stunning, Elena thought, just as her phone vibrated with an incoming message from Sara. Illium caught the ball before it would’ve hit the roof of a car crossing a nearby bridge, but his body appeared to be on a collision course with a bus. Someone screamed, but the blue-winged angel executed a perfect turn through the girders of the bridge to launch a throw that sent Aodhan flying backward with the might of it.


Ransom is taking bets on which of the two “pretty boys” loses the ball first.


Elena grinned and messaged back: Put me down as backing Illium to win. Aodhan’s too well behaved to expect Bluebell’s more sneaky moves.


Turned out she was wrong. Aodhan seemed to know Illium’s tricks inside out and vice versa. By the time it ended in a draw caused by the recall of both players to the Tower, the city had well and truly awakened to the fact that there was an extraordinary new angel in their midst. The horrifying news of a bloodred Hudson had been relegated to a secondary news item, the entire city—heck, the entire country—in fascinated discussion about Aodhan and, of course, the game.


Every single channel had roped in a baseball commentator to discuss the angels’ technique, and speculation was rife about a possible rematch, with the Manhattan-based reporters smug as cats in the cream as they said, “Watch this space for further news about our angels.”


“I’d say Illium’s ploy was a success,” she said to Raphael later that night, in the privacy of the large bath in their Tower suite. “Aodhan’s appearance topped it off.”


“He surprised all of us.” Raphael no longer looked as “other” as he had after the river ran red, but every so often she’d hear a hint of those strange whispers in his voice. “Why are you sitting so far?” he asked now, his arms spread along the tiled edge of the tub the size of a small pool. “I assure you, I haven’t been overcome by the urge to make the dead walk.”


Floating across to him, she rested her hands on his thighs below the waterline. “The power, it’s holding?” No matter if it freaked her out, he needed to grow stronger if he was to stand against the others.


A darkness in the cerulean blue, shadows shifting under the sea. “No. It filled me to overflowing, but it has drained away ever since. I will return to myself by dawn.”


“Damn.”


He raised an eyebrow. “Yes, quite. If I need to wait for another extraordinary event to taste such strength, we may, as you put it, be screwed. Especially given the other factor.”


Eyes going to his right temple, she said, “Show me,” having kept her silence in Amanat for fear his enemies would get wind of what might be a sign of fatal weakness.


Raphael removed the mask of glamour to reveal the speck, except it was no longer a speck. It had spread in a fine line over the bone, become about an inch long. And—“Raphael.” Heart stuttering, she touched her finger to his skin. “It’s turned a deep, deep red.”


Terror sought to squeeze the breath out of her chest. Fighting it, she found her voice again. “It doesn’t look swollen or infected, though, more like ink beneath your skin.” Except, unlike his spymaster, Raphael didn’t have a facial tattoo. “Do you feel anything?”


“There is no weakness, no sense of sickness.” He ran the back of his hand over her breast, his knuckle touching her nipple. “It’s done no harm thus far.” Both hands sliding down her rib cage to her waist, he brought her over his thighs, his erection rubbing against her, the blunt steel making her nails dig into his shoulders.


Molten heat in her navel. “God, how can I be so ready for you so quickly?”


“Because you’re mine.” With those stark words of possession, he lifted her, then brought her down so the head of his cock pushed at the slick heat of her opening. “Fuck me, Elena.”


Even as she took him with a moan of exquisite pleasure, part of her scrabbled to fight the rising passion, to think. That was near impossible when Raphael hauled her lips to his, one hand fisted in her hair, the other molding her breast in a caress both bold and possessive as his tongue thrust deep into her mouth.


It wasn’t the roughness that had her brain scrambling. Raphael was often raw, and she loved it, loved that he didn’t hold back, but this, today . . . That was when she felt it, the “cold” in his kiss, the ice that penetrated her own blood through their intimate physical link. Even at his most sexually demanding, Raphael always made her feel unbearably cherished. Tonight his touch felt remote, for lack of a better word, and when she opened her eyes, she saw he watched her even as he played her body.


No way in hell.

She bit down hard on his lower lip, and when his hands dug into her flesh, his wings beginning to glow, she licked her tongue over the hurt and ran her lips down his throat, squeezing him with her internal muscles at the same time. His body went taut, his cock pulsing inside her.


Oh yeah, she knew exactly which buttons to press, too.


The instant she felt his hand fisting in her hair again in preparation for taking back the reins, she gripped the tendons along his neck between her teeth. A growl, the glow off his wings intensifying, but he let her control their next kiss, his tongue dueling with hers as she pressed her breasts to his chest, well aware he loved the feel of her aroused nipples rubbing against his flesh.


Flexing his hips, he urged her to go faster, harder. When she resisted, he tipped her back over his arm without warning and sucked one of her nipples into his mouth, rolling the taut little nub over his tongue like a succulent berry. The stab of sensation went straight to her womb. Pulling at his hair, she tried to stop the erotic torment, take back control.


The touch of teeth on her sensitive flesh.


She tightened around the thickness of him and was rewarded by a lavish lick, his mouth releasing her nipple only to brand the other with the scalding heat of his kiss. It was near impossible to think now, but she needed to know this was her Raphael. Clamping down hard on his cock, she held him possessively as he released her nipple to throw back his head, his jaw a brutal line.


Dangerous man. Gorgeous man. Her man.


Easing her sexual hold on him, she used her internal muscles to caress him again as she leaned in to kiss his throat, one hand on his chest, the fingers of the other rubbing at the highly sensitive inner edge of his wing. It was the final straw. Raphael gripped her jaw, bringing her in for a kiss that might as well have been sex, it was so untamed, so deep, so fucking hot.


Then there was no more strategy, no more battling for the reins, only a passionate engagement that had her screaming soundlessly as she orgasmed around the heated steel of his possession, her eyes locked with those of heartbreaking, unshadowed blue.


27


Raphael patted Elena’s wings dry, his consort having wrapped her body in a fluffy blue towel as she stood in the bathroom glaring at him via the mirror. “You were weird,” she said, succinct and to the point. “Like that time when you went Quiet.”


Raphael didn’t like who he became in the Quiet, that state of being where he acted with a cruelty driven by cold reason untempered by emotion. In the last and what he’d decided would be his final period of Quiet, he, who had once watched over angelic nurseries, had threatened a babe in pursuit of his goal. “Did I cause you harm?” he asked, dropping the towel to clasp his hand around her nape.


“Of course not.” An irritated scowl that to him was a kiss. “You did fuck my brains out, but since I did the same to you, I’m not complaining.”


Her temper the ultimate reassurance, he released her. As she walked out into the bedroom and found a robe, he followed to pull on a pair of black pants. He wouldn’t sleep this night; there was too much to do—the reason they were at the Tower, not the house—but he’d work from the bedroom until she was past the first problematic hours of sleep.


“I go into the Quiet when I expend a certain level and kind of power,” he said, “but this felt like something outside myself.” As if he stood in the deepest ocean, insulated from the world.


“An assault?” Curling tendrils of near white around her face where the strands had escaped the knot at the back of her head, Elena closed the short distance between them.


“One that drenched me with power? No.” He had a feeling it had been something far more dangerous. “If I am coming into my power, it appears it has the potential to fundamentally change me.”


“Never going to happen.” A stubborn glint in his hunter’s eye. “I’m not gonna lose my man.”


“I know.” Even in the strange cold, he’d tasted her fury, her passion, the searing depth of her love, and it had wrenched him back into her arms, all distance erased. “Now it’s time for my woman to go to bed.” She had circles under her eyes from the string of tension-filled days and interrupted sleep. “If you do not argue, I shall send you into slumber with bedtime tales of blood and death and annihilation from the last Cascade.”


“Yippee.” Slipping off the robe to reveal a body lithe and golden, she snuggled under the blankets.


He lay on his side atop those same blankets, tugging her hair from its knot to play with the wild silk of it. “Have you heard of the lost city of Atlantis?”


“Of course.” Her eyes widened, soft wonder in the silver-gray. “It was real?”


“My mother says the legend springs from a water city that existed millennia upon millennia ago—a city of remarkable artistry created by an archangel who had abilities such as those we now believe Astaad to have, except this archangel’s powers were at their height at the time.”



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