Archangel's Shadows(6)

By: Nalini Singh



“Ash.” Janvier touched his hand to her lower back.

“No touching.” Gritting her teeth against the impact of him, she reached out to push the button to summon the elevator.

Janvier used his body to block her. “I’m coming with you.”

Her mind flashed back to the last time he’d said something similar, to the first mission they’d worked together. Back then, they’d been antagonists who’d declared a temporary truce, and the problem had been a clusterfuck in Atlanta. Now, he was openly attached to the Tower, which technically put them on the same side. They’d worked like a well-honed partnership in Atlanta, fallen back into the same flawless rhythm during the battle. As if they had always been meant to be a pair.

And that just sucked.

“Fine.” Refusing to face the awful, painful grief that lurked beneath her anger, she stepped into the elevator when it opened to disgorge one of her neighbors.

Janvier waited until after the other woman was out of earshot to say, “I don’t trust it when you cooperate.” Narrowed eyes.

“Don’t come, then.”

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily, cher.” Slamming out one hand to block the closing door, he got in.

The first time he’d called her cher, it had been a wicked flirt. Somehow, the term had become more in the years since, an endearment reserved for her. Never did she hear him use it with anyone else.

Today, he stood too close to her on the ride down, his scent a sexy, infuriating bite against her senses. A great big part of her wanted to haul him down to her mouth. She knew full well that seconds after she did, he’d have her slammed against the wall, her legs wrapped around his waist as he pounded his cock into her, their hands and mouths greedy to touch, to possess, to taste.

Her and Janvier’s chemistry had never been in question.

When he walked out the elevator in front of her, she couldn’t help but admire the sleek danger of him. Built long and lean, his muscles that of a runner or a swimmer, he moved with a sensual grace that fooled people into thinking he wasn’t a threat.

Ashwini knew different.

Just under a year prior, he’d sent in three decapitated heads to the Tower to signal the end of an execution order. Those heads had belonged to vampires who’d sliced Ashwini up after cornering her in a pack. She’d killed two of the cowards, wounded the others, and it was the others Janvier had delivered.

Of course, he’d never claimed responsibility for the act; most everyone thought the vampires had been executed by their angel. Ashwini knew the truth only because Sara had had it direct from Dmitri, second to the archangel Raphael and the most powerful vampire in the country.

One eyebrow raised, the Guild Director had repeated Dmitri’s response to her notice that the Guild was sending in a team to capture the rogue vamps. “No need. The Cajun’s taken care of it. The dead morons touched his hunter.”

That was when Ashwani had first tried to put distance between them, first tried to cut off the connection that could not be permitted to grow. Janvier had made that an impossible task. He’d tracked her down in remote corners of the world, aggravated her to the point where she’d once tied him up and emptied a large pot of honey on his head, before pretending to leave him for the insects.

He’d laughed in delight and cut himself free using a hidden blade, then chased her through the trees, threatening to make her lick every drop of the sweet, sticky stuff off his body. The interaction had left her feeling more alive than she had in all the weeks since she’d decided to walk away from him. And so she’d been selfish, continued to play with him without telling him their flirtation could never be anything permanent.

Her wishes didn’t matter. His didn’t, either. There was no choice.





3


Straddling the hot red of his motorcycle, parked illegally in front of her building and gilded by the rays of dense orange that shot out of the winter sky, Janvier lifted up the helmet he’d left hooked on the handlebar and held it out to her.

“You realize this is Manhattan?” she asked with a pointed look at the foot traffic, not sure it was a good idea to get that close to him. The fact was, Ashwini didn’t trust herself around Janvier. Not anymore. Not when the angry part of her wanted to steal time with him any way it could.

Strangling the voice that said it’d be much more fun to ride him and not the bike, she folded her arms. “Did you leave the key in the ignition, too?”

He shrugged, lips curving but eyes sharp, watchful. “This bike doesn’t need a key, my khoobsurat Ash. Hop on and I’ll show you my darling’s fancy electronics.”

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