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Archangel's Heart(Guild Hunter,book 9)(14) by Nalini Singh

5
 
Raphael and Illium landed on the lawn of the Enclave home just in front of Elena. The two had come back to ensure she wasn’t alone in the sky. On their faces, she saw the same realization she’d just reached.
 
Illium had parted his lips to speak when the earth began to shake under their feet.
 
Illium and Raphael both lifted off instinctively. Elena couldn’t react that fast, her ability to pull off a vertical takeoff not a thing of speed. But in this case, that didn’t matter. Raphael had taken one of her arms, Illium the other, raising her off the ground with them as it bucked and rolled. Below the cliffs of the Enclave, the river churned, waves smashing against those cliffs with brutal force.
 
When she turned to look at Manhattan over her shoulder, she saw the buildings swaying in the smudged post-sunset light. Her gut twisted. There were so many people in those buildings, so many of her friends.
 
But even as her heart was wrenching itself into a tangled knot, the Hudson calmed, the shaking over as abruptly as it had begun. Releasing the breath locked tight in her lungs, she said, “We have to go back, survey the damage.”
 
“Illium.”
 
Illium released his grip on her and then Raphael had her in his arms and was winging up high. He had no need to tell her what to do. She folded in her wings to reduce drag until they were high enough up that he could release her. Spreading out her wings as she fell, she swept out and toward Manhattan at a lower elevation than her archangel, Illium already a blue dot far in the distance.
 
Don’t land, Elena, Raphael told her. Dmitri has people out checking for land damage. We must do an aerial survey.
 
Got it. She went left as he went right, fellow angels doing sweeps in other areas of the city. No collapsed buildings on this side, a couple of shattered windows.
 
I have the same.
 
They flew for an hour, found their city had weathered the quake with only minor damage. A few fender-benders, more smashed windows, but no buildings had collapsed, no trains derailed. The worst damage appeared to be to a large ship in port that had smashed into the side of its mooring. Raphael had also received similar reports of minor-damage-only from other parts of the territory.
 
But, of course, it wasn’t about harm to property.
 
Elena had managed to send a one-word text to Sara while in the air—OK?—received a message that her best friend and her family, as well as all hunters in the area, were safe. Beth called right as Elena was about to call her. She was hyperventilating.
 
“Shh, Bethie,” Elena said, so much love and pain inside her. “I’m fine.” She knew it was what Beth needed to hear—her baby sister had such a sunny personality, but of late, she tended to panic when she couldn’t get hold of Elena, the nightmare of their past rising up to suffocate her without warning.
 
As if with the birth of her daughter had come a fear Beth couldn’t shake.
 
Calming once she knew Elena was all right, Beth told her that she hadn’t heard from Jeffrey yet, but that everyone else in their family was fine.
 
Elena hung up to see Raphael dropping to fly at her wing.
 
“No reports of fatalities,” he told her, easing her concern about Jeffrey.
 
Elena and her father might have a broken relationship, but he would always be her father. “Does the quake change our plans for tomorrow?”
 
“It would take a major disaster to cause the Luminata to call off a meeting. We cannot know until we hear what has happened in other parts of the world.”
 
Because, with the Cascade in full effect, the New York quake was highly unlikely to have been an isolated incident.
 
“Homeward, then?” Dmitri appeared to have the situation under control here, and if there was a chance of a dawn departure for Lumia, the two of them had to rest up.
 
Nodding, Raphael did a wide turn so she’d have more room to maneuver, and they flew back in a straight line across the river rippling quietly under the first edge of night. Montgomery was waiting for them, the butler’s black suit and white shirt as pristine as always and his features quietly handsome. “Sire.” He inclined his head in a respectful bow. “Dmitri is on the device in the library.”
 
The “device in the library” was a wall screen. Elena sometimes forgot Montgomery was a vampire centuries old, then he’d slip up and use terms like that and the facts would snap sharply back into focus: though vampirism had effectively frozen his body and face in time—his appearance that of a man in his early thirties—he’d lived for far longer.
 
“Thank you, Montgomery,” Raphael said. “Illium and Aodhan will be joining us for dinner.”