Archangel's Shadows(2)

By: Nalini Singh



Iron scent, wet and dark, filled her nostrils, her breath coming in shallow pants.

The vampire laughed.

Conscious she couldn’t get out of this now, not with the heavy clamor of enemy boots only a floor below and the sword-wielding vampire in front of her, she managed to make her right hand work well enough to grab the gun from her thigh holster. Becoming a prisoner of war was not an option; never again would she let anyone lock her up. Of course, that was unlikely to be an issue given that Lijuan liked to eat people, the husk that remained after the Archangel of China fed turning to dust in the hand.

“Sorry, cher,” she whispered to the man on the other end of the comm device, the man who’d taught her to play long after the end of her farcical childhood, and fired. The blunt, hard sound of her gun spitting fire filled the stairwell, the bullets passing through her vampire assailant to ricochet off the walls. Grunting from the impact, the vamp staggered back. Only to recover to scream obscenities at her; in the flashes from the gun, she saw him lift his broadsword for a fatal strike.

That sword clattered to the floor before it ever reached her, blood spraying her face in a hot gush. She stopped firing . . . and heard the dull, wet thud of his head bouncing down the steps, knew it had been sliced off by a fluid steel blade that wasn’t a sword or a knife but something in between, as sharp as a scythe and even deadlier.

“No apologies between us, sugar,” Janvier said and, scooping her up in his arms, ran up the stairs.

No point in protesting. Wounded as badly as she was, she’d only slow them down if she insisted on moving under her own steam. Instead, she reached her bloody left hand around his side for the gun she knew he wore in a holster at his waist. It took a second to get a grip, his breath warm on her neck, and his muscles bunching and flexing against her as he pounded up the steps.

Trying not to think about the fact that her chest was all but sliced in half, she sat up and pointed both guns, his and hers, over his shoulders. “Your ears are going to take a beating.”

“I’ll live.”

She pressed the trigger on both guns.

Their pursuers fell back under the barrage, but she knew that wouldn’t last. Not only would she soon run out of bullets—and that was counting the two spare clips she had on her—she had to take out a vamp’s heart or the brain to kill with a gun. Even then, it depended on the age and strength of the vampire in question. Ashwini had once emptied an entire clip into a psychotic vamp’s brain only for him to lunge at her.

Janvier jerked at that instant, but didn’t slow his momentum.

She touched his shoulder, felt the warm slickness of fresh blood. Her stomach roiled. “You’ve been hit by a ricochet.”

“Don’t stop,” he ordered. “Keep them distracted.”

The scent of his blood igniting her deepest, most primal instincts, she did as he asked, mowing down a vampire about to leap up to them. Three bullets in the brain, her aim true thanks to the eerily staccato glimpse she caught in the split second of a muzzle flash, and he stayed down, giving his fellows pause. Her gun clicked on empty on the final shot. However, when she tried to use the breathing room to slot in a fresh clip, she almost dropped the gun to the floor.

“I’m getting fuzzy,” she said, her tongue thick in her mouth. “Leave me. Go.”

He could get out the same way he’d no doubt gotten in—by scaling the side of the high-rise. Janvier could climb even the sheerest wall without problem, his movements as beautiful as they were other, a reminder that he wasn’t human.

“You can drink my blood.” The words came out slurred, but she got off another shot when a clatter of sound betrayed an enemy vamp who’d poked up his head. It bought them a few more seconds. “For strength.”

“I would love to.” Pulse thudding against her as her face fell into his neck, the guns hanging limp from her fingers, he said, “But I’d rather you were sucking my cock at the time.”

She tried to snarl a response, but the words wouldn’t come.

“Don’t you go, Ash. Don’t you fucking go.” Harsh, unforgiving words as he came to a stop on the final landing, the same place where she’d placed the charges.

“’m here,” she managed to mumble, patting at his cheek with a bloody hand. He was so sinfully pretty, was Janvier, with his green eyes and dark brown hair that got all coppery under the summer sun. She wished she’d kissed him for real, wished she’d hauled him into bed and bitten him on that tight butt of his.

“We can rectify that later,” he said and shifted his grip to hold her full-length against him, one arm around her waist. “Arms around my neck. Come on, sugar. Don’t let me down now.”

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