The wind screeched across the vacant plain, making the fine hairs on her arms stand up. Then all hell broke loose.

Glass shattered as angels exploded out of draped windows in unison, followed by a veritable horde of vampires.

“Holy fucking shit!”

The flood of vamps poured toward her, surging over the short wall. Lindsay tossed the blade in her hand, nailing a foaming-mouthed vampire right between the eyes. She kept on throwing, one right after the other, retreating as the lycans lunged forward, forming a barrier to protect her.

She looked for Adrian over the writhing mass of limbs. Oh man . . .

He was cutting a swath through the throng . . . literally. Had she thought his wings were vulnerable? They were deadly. He wielded them like blades, slicing through limbs and torsos, spinning with lethal precision. The sight of him and the other two angels was riveting. Their wings flared like capes, snapping wide, then curving fluidly around their bodies. The burning embers of vanquished vamps spiraled around them in glittering clouds. She couldn’t take her eyes off their eerily graceful, macabre dances.

A high-pitched yelp yanked her attention back to the lycans, and the suicidal vampress who’d latched on to the back of Elijah’s neck. Resisting his violent efforts to shake her off, the wild-eyed bitch held on even as Elijah threw himself to his back and writhed, grinding her into the ground beneath him.

Lindsay looked frantically for the other two lycans and found them with their jaws full. Steeling her courage, she leaped into the fray. A male vampire darted toward her head-on, playing chicken. Knowing that changing course would only weaken her footing, she charged ahead with a dagger in hand. She staked him in the heart, then used the protruding hilt for leverage to flip over his shoulder and land on the other side.

She continued without breaking her stride, diving forward as Elijah straightened. Her fist collided with the vampress’s jaw and it gave way with a sickening crack. Dislodged from her hold, the vampress hit the dirt on her back. Elijah rounded on her with a roar, grabbing her by the throat and ripping the flesh to the spine. Lindsay finished her off with a throwing knife to the forehead.

A gunshot echoed off the hillside, followed by the unmistakable whine of a ricochet.

She pivoted. A woman stood on the steps of the house with a shotgun, pumping another round into the chamber. She took aim at Adrian and pulled the trigger. As the report reverberated through her, Lindsay’s lungs seized, preventing her from screaming the warning that howled inside her horrified mind.

Adrian whipped one wing around, deflecting the bullet with the harsh ping of metal on metal.

The gun disappeared from the vampress’s hands and appeared at Lindsay’s feet.

It took a half minute for Lindsay’s brain to lurch into full understanding. Then she caught up the weapon and pumped the fore-end, firing at a vampire charging one of the wolves. She got off six more shots, providing cover for the lycans. When the last chamber was spent, she wielded the shotgun like a club, whacking a vamp attempting to get up from where he’d been sprawled on the ground.

Risking a glance at the house, she searched for Adrian.

He was surrounded on all sides and kicking some serious ass. But the chick on the porch had retrieved another shotgun—a sawed-off one this time—and was lifting it to aim . . .

Lindsay darted through the opening in the fence, dodging flying bodies and barreling through ash piles. A vamp flew at her from the right and she ducked beneath his sailing body, startling herself with her own agility. She grabbed the last throwing knife from her bag and prepared to hurl it.

The barrel of the gun swung toward her.

Lindsay caught the nearest vampire and hauled him in front of her. The shotgun discharged with a deafening boom.

The vamp jerked against her. Agonizing pain radiated through the forearm she had wrapped around his waist. She dropped to her knees in an exploding cloud of ash, the vampire disintegrating from the fatal shot.

The three lycans tore up the stairs and attacked the shooter.

Lindsay gulped in air but couldn’t breathe past the pain. She kept her gaze averted, afraid to look at her arm.

A vamp galloped on all fours out of the black pit of the front door and leaped toward Adrian. She took him out with the final blade still clutched in her uninjured hand. His ashes billowed over the yellowed, weed-infested lawn just as Adrian slammed his fist into the frothing maw of a snarling vamp.

The vampire hit the ground, unconscious. A second later, Lindsay joined him.


Lindsay woke in a shadowed room. She blinked the sleep out of her eyes, her head turning to figure out where she was.

Her cheek touched the cool cotton of the pillowcase and she saw Adrian. He sat to the left of her in a round low-backed chair covered in silver damask. He was bare except for a pair of loose-fitting white pajama bottoms and whatever he might be wearing underneath them. He watched her with a searing intensity, his mouth straightened into a dangerous line. Although he didn’t move a muscle aside from blinking, she felt a tornado churning inside him.

“Hi,” she croaked past a dry throat. She must have pushed her body too far; she always felt like hammered shit when she exerted herself beyond her limits.

He reached for the clear glass pitcher of water on the bedside table and poured a large ration into a waiting tumbler. Then he stood and helped her sit up, propping her back with some pillows before handing her the drink.

She accepted with a grateful smile. There was a thick cushion of white gauze bandages on her left forearm. Beneath them, pain throbbed dully. She downed the entire contents of her glass and passed it back.

He picked up the phone beside her and punched a button, ordering room service. They were in a hotel, she realized. The windows to the right of the bed were at least two stories tall and had Tiffany Blue drapes drawn across them. There was a large sitting area beside her and a massive entertainment center at the foot of the bed. Considering the size and opulence of the room and the grand piano she saw through the open living room doorway, they were in . . .

“Las Vegas?” she queried.

Setting the phone down, he nodded. He poured her a refill and returned the tumbler to her.

She blew out her breath. “How long have I been out?”

“We were in Hurricane the day before yesterday.”

Yikes. “Is everyone okay?”

His gaze bored into her. “You were the only one seriously hurt.”

“That’s good.”

“The hell it is,” he growled, his voice rumbling through the room like thunder, rattling every loose object. “I told you to stay put.”

Here we go. “That was my plan, too. Until the vampire on the porch aimed a shotgun at you. Then I couldn’t stand still.”

“Why the fuck not?”

God, he was sexy when riled. She’d never seen him show anything besides total self-possession, but he was visibly seething now. “Because you needed someone at your back. Everyone else had their hands full. I couldn’t take the risk that you’d be spread too thin and leave an opening.”

“I could survive it.”

“You don’t know that! You told me yourself that you’ve had casualties. You’re not indestructible. I wasn’t going to stand around and watch you die.”

If there was any mercy in the world, she’d never have to watch another person she cared about die.

“So you decided to make me watch you die?” Again . . .

The unspoken word slid insidiously and inexplicably through Lindsay’s mind. She winced and pressed her palm against a suddenly throbbing temple. Adrian took the glass from her other hand—the hand that should have been too weak to hold it—and bent to press his lips to her forehead. The pain left her like a receding tide.

“If only you could bottle that talent,” she murmured.

Remembering the ninja/Matrix vault she’d done over the vampire, she freaked herself out with her own coolness. How the hell had she known how to do that?

“You’re going to drive me insane.” Although his voice was once again smooth as silk, the turbulence inside him hadn’t abated. He straightened.

“Can you open the curtains?”

Adrian hit a button on the nightstand and the drapes parted, revealing an overcast sky and drizzle. In Las Vegas. Not that it never rained in the desert city, but at this time of year . . . ?

She looked at him, knowing his mood was once again affecting the weather, which affected her in turn. “You were really worried.”

His hands went to his lean hips, exposing the entirety of his perfect torso and delicious biceps. His wings materialized, extending with a sinuous grace. He was so damn beautiful. So fierce and proud. He was like catnip to her. She wanted to roll around with him in a blissful stupor, breathing in that scent of his that drove her wild.

“When you fell to the ground—” He exhaled harshly, his lashes lowering to hide the sudden flaring of his brilliant eyes. His arms crossed his chest and his feathers ruffled, giving so much away with his restless movements. “Yes, I was worried.”

“You shouldn’t care so much. You don’t know me.”

“Speak for yourself. You risked your life for me.”

He was right. A hard-driving fear of losing him had spurred her into charging a vampire holding a shotgun. It had been a suicide run for anyone, especially for a weak human. But he was . . . Well, he was invaluable to her.

In such a short time, he’d given her a sense of belonging. He knew the worst and best of what she was, and passed no judgment. As much as her father loved her, Eddie Gibson didn’t know the truth of what she’d seen the day her mother died or how she hunted because of it.

Lindsay tossed the covers back and swung her legs off the side of the bed. Her bare legs. She froze, realizing she was wearing only a ribbed tank top and boy-shorts underwear. Although she was decently covered, she was suddenly conscious of her need to shower, brush her teeth, and shave her legs. “I have to freshen—”

The clicking of the door latch told her Adrian had already left the room.

Vash raced through the forest, darting through dappled sunlight and around bald cypress. Ahead of her, she could hear the harsh and heavy breathing of the lycans she pursued. Flanking her, three of her Fallen captains gave chase with the same penetrating focus she did. The underbrush rustled beneath their feet as they traversed miles in minutes, the fire of vengeance scorching their veins.

I need only one . . .

One of them would tell her what she needed to know about Nikki’s death.

She heard one stumble, then fall. The lycan’s roar of frustration brought a smile to her lips. Reaching over her shoulder, she gripped the hilt of her katana and slid it free of the scabbard slung across her back. The whisper of the blade against the sheath was thunderous to her ears, as she knew it would be for the lycan. The sudden kick of his heartbeat made her fangs extend in anticipation.

Leaping over a fallen pine tree, she closed the distance between them—close enough to smell the fear underlying the lycan’s natural scent. It was her favorite fragrance, sweeter even than the smell of their blood.

The charge from the left caught her completely unawares.

Vash was tackled into the trunk of a nearby tree, her blade flying from her hand to spin madly through the debris of vegetation littering the forest floor. The massive old-growth pine shuddered in protest, leaves falling around her like rain.

Dazed by the ambush, it took her a moment to register the threat. The red wolf was lunging toward her again before she even had a chance to summon her blade.

She could only tense for the blow and pray it didn’t kill her.

Then she’d be able to kick his ass.

Adrian stood at the window overlooking the Las Vegas Strip and struggled with the roiling emotions he shouldn’t be feeling. When the door opened behind him, he turned, expecting Lindsay. Instead he found Raguel Gadara entering the penthouse suite as if he owned the place—which he did. The world-famous Mondego Hotel and Resort was the archangel’s property. Regardless, Raguel ranked far below Adrian’s station in the angelic hierarchy. He should show more respect.


“Adrian. I expect you are comfortable.”

“You would know if I wasn’t.”

The archangel hesitated a moment, then dipped his head with the expected deference. His smile was dazzlingly white within the framework of skin as smooth and rich as the finest milk chocolate. There was a smattering of tight gray curls at Raguel’s temples, but that telltale sign of aging was an affectation to disguise his immortality. Unlike Adrian, the archangel embraced the media attention that came his way.

Raguel withdrew a cigar from his pocket and offered it to Adrian.


The archangel’s grin widened. He was dressed in a loose guayabera and linen pants, but the man-of-leisure appearance was as much of a guise as his gray hair. Like the other six archangels, Raguel was intensely and ruthlessly ambitious. “That minion you brought along with you . . . He is sick.”

Foaming mouth. Reddened eyes. Nearly mindless. The infected were like zombies. The nest had been partially filled with them—the diseased living alongside the healthy. Adrian had interrogated the vampress with the shotgun, questioning her about who was responsible for the attack on Phineas the day before. How many of the Fallen were feeding them? Only a few of the members of the nest had been photosensitive. The rest of the group—a rough guesstimate of nearly one hundred minions—had been able to charge into the light of day.

The woman had laughed for long minutes, gasping for breath. Then, with her amber eyes bright with malice, she’d hissed, “How does it feel to be hunted, Sentinel? You’d better get used to it.”

In the end, she’d revealed nothing at all. He’d severed her head with frustration eating at him and fear for Lindsay still riding him hard. The sight of her crumpling to the ground had broken something inside him. He remembered nothing of what he’d done between her collapse and the moment he determined she would live. If Lindsay Gibson died before Syre, the cycle of Shadoe’s reincarnation would continue—another round of waiting for her return and the numbness that accompanied it. But more than that, watching Lindsay fall had elicited a different kind of horror. He’d just discovered her, just begun getting to know her, just started envisioning a few years of hunting with her at his side. Faced with losing the myriad possibilities that lay between them, he’d found a unique hell.