The flight was over too quickly. Adrian landed a few miles away, directly in front of a metal-sided building that sat unlit on a barren plateau.

“Where are we?” she asked breathlessly, her heartbeat still wild from exhilaration.

“One of the training camps. If you like, you’ll be enduring it tomorrow.”

He opened the door and the fluorescent lights flickered on automatically, revealing a large warehouse-type room with a half dozen bunk beds, two sofas, and walls covered in every weapon she knew of as well as several she’d never seen. It was like a giant man-cave great room, homicidal-style.

“Why,” she queried, “do lycans and Sentinels, who have such awesome natural defense mechanisms, need any of these things?”

“Because the vamps use them. We need to know how to fend off attacks made with these weapons and to improvise, if any of them should fall into our hands.”

Admiring a blade that looked somewhat like a scythe, Lindsay looked over her shoulder at him. “I’m worried about how the other Sentinels will deal with me training with them.”

Adrian stood nearby, watching her with heated pride. “Let me worry about them.”

“I don’t want to cause problems for you, Adrian. And that’s all I’m doing. I hate that.”

“I woke this morning praying for the end to come quickly. Now I have you, and the end is the last thing I want.”

Lindsay couldn’t stop the tear that ran down her cheek. She could be strong about a lot of things, but Adrian’s tenderness had been devastating her from the beginning. He made her feel as if she was precious to him. It killed her that he would try to give her all of himself, but she would still have only a portion. There was nothing she could do about that except offer him what comfort she could, and refrain from asking for anything in return. “Talk to me. Tell me why you were ready to give up.”

His wings flexed restlessly. The pearlescent backdrop showcased his dark beauty to breathtaking effect.

After her mother had died, she’d been so angry. She had railed at the entity other people believed in, the God others claimed was so generous and loving. She’d found little in life to redeem her lost faith in a benevolent higher power, but Adrian’s existence softened that skepticism. If the same being who’d allowed her mother to be brutally murdered was also responsible for creating Adrian, then there was something magical and praiseworthy in the world, even if none of it was ever shared willingly with her.

“The Sentinel I lost was a friend,” he said softly, inadvertently wounding her with his pain. “But more than that, she was a pristine example of what a seraph should be. She was pure of spirit and purpose, focused solely on our mission.”

She moved toward him, reaching for his hand and clasping it in her own. So much death. He’d dealt with too much of it. “Another vamp attack?”

“That would have been kinder than the reality.”

She stepped closer and he embraced her, settling his chin atop the crown of her head. Her connection to him in that moment rocked her. In a remote hillside warehouse, surrounded by implements of destruction and the arms of an angel, she felt at peace in a way she never had before. “You said you’d have to hurt someone you cared about.”

“She fell in love,” he murmured. “With a lycan.”

“That’s bad?”

“It’s impossible.”

“Why? Lycans aren’t mortals.”

He barked a humorless, bitter laugh. “Helena said the same thing, but seraphim aren’t designed to experience mortal love. We’re not supposed to have mates. She wanted my blessing. She hoped I would give it to her, because I have you. But it’s not my place to make that decision. It’s my responsibility to keep the Sentinels on the right path.”

Lindsay felt the progress she’d recently made in regard to having some faith backslide again. How could love, in any form, be wrong? “What did she do?”

As he explained the actions Helena had taken, Lindsay’s blood chilled and goose bumps spread across her skin. She relived the horror and agony of that night with him, her shoulders sagging under the growing weight of his despair. There was no greater proof of the impossibility of loving Adrian than the suicide of Helena and her beloved lycan.

“Jesus,” she whispered when he was done. “I can’t imagine.”

“I can.” His chest expanded with a deep inhalation. “I have.”

Her heart stopped, then lurched into a double-time rhythm. She pulled back and glared up at him.

“I swear to you—” Her voice cracked, forcing her to clear her throat before continuing. “If you ever try something like that, I’ll make you regret it.”

His lips pressed to her forehead. “You worry too much about me.”

“I’m serious.” Her fingers dug into his waist. “Whatever consequences we face for being together is out of our hands. We don’t need to borrow trouble on top of that.”

“And we won’t.” For a moment, he looked so resolute and somber, giving her the impression there was something more he needed to say. Instead he said, “We should head back. You have an early day tomorrow, and I have to look into how Elijah’s blood ended up in Louisiana.”

“Do you have any guesses?”

“We take and store blood from each lycan for identification and genetic purposes. If any of Elijah’s stored blood is missing, I have a traitor in my ranks. The alternative would be that someone collected his blood from a hunt at some point in the past and saved it, which would speak to lengthy premeditation. There’s really no good way to look at this. Someone out there has an ulterior motive that can only cause me a lot of trouble.” His thumb brushed over her cheekbone. “I know how you feel about the lycans, and I don’t disagree, but there’s no way one hundred and sixty-one Sentinels can contain the thousands of vampires in the world without their help.”

“Let me help you, brainstorm with you. I want to support you . . .”

“Yes, neshama. I look forward to it.” He urged her toward the door. “But first, you need to get some sleep.”

“That won’t be a problem.” She preceded him out of the building. “I haven’t slept well since Vegas, and it’s been a long day.”

His mouth lifted in a half smile that charmed her. “Your definition of a long day may change after training tomorrow.”

Lindsay looked at him through the lock of hair the evening wind blew across her cheek. “You can’t scare me.”

He turned off the lights and stepped outside with her. The wind kissed him, too, whispering across his wings. “You’re fearless. That’s one of the many reasons I want you.”

A quiver of sexual awareness moved through her, heating her blood.

When they got back to the house, she didn’t go inside, knowing it was best not to confront temptation directly. “I’m going to head back to the hotel. Is my stuff still out front?”

Adrian paused on the threshold of the sliding glass door leading back into his bedroom. “I want you to stay.”

“That’s not a good idea. Besides,” she rushed on, when his eyes took on the glitter of determination, “I need to give two weeks’ notice, and the sooner I do that, the better.”

He weighed that a moment. “Once you quit, you’ll stay here.”


He took a step toward her.

She knew what would happen if he touched her. “Can we talk about it later? I’m beat.”

After a brief hesitation, he nodded. “Tomorrow. Leave your suitcase here.”

“I have—”

“—no idea what it did to me to see you putting that in your car.” Catching her hand, he stroked his thumb over the back of it. “Leave it here.”

“Fine.” She squeezed his fingers, a faint echo of the constriction around her heart.

She couldn’t say the words, but she could show him. That would have to be enough for both of them.


“I knew they were going to have a hard time with this,” Lindsay muttered to Elijah, watching as more and more Sentinels began to land in the field by the training warehouse.

The sun had just risen. Adrian had insisted Elijah drive Lindsay back to the hotel the night before, arguing that she was too tired to be behind the wheel. Since her Prius was a bit small for a large lycan, they’d taken one of the Point’s Jeeps. She thought leaving her car behind might have been another way for Adrian to keep something of hers with him, something she’d have to come back for, so she’d refrained from arguing.

“Things have been the same for the Sentinels for a long time,” Elijah said. “It’s probably been a while since anything threw them a curveball.”

She pivoted to face him. “Are you going to be all right, El? With the whole Alpha business and now the blood thing yesterday . . . Is there something I can do?”

He looked down at her. With his green eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, she couldn’t get a read on what he might be thinking. “Just stick close to me. I’m supposed to keep you safe. If I fuck that up, I’m toast.”

“I can’t imagine you fucking anything up.”

He snorted.

“Wanna talk about it?” she offered.

“Don’t even want to think about it.”

“Okay. I’m here if you need me.”

Damien approached. While the morning was chilly and fog hugged the ground, he was dressed like the other Sentinels on the field: in loose pants and leather sandals. The women wore sports bras, but otherwise everyone sported bare torsos. Just looking at them made Lindsay shiver. She was wearing a lined jogging suit, but she was still just short of having chattering teeth.

“I’ve seen you with knives and a shotgun.” The Sentinel raked her with a clinical glance. “You were fairly skilled with both. How are you in hand-to-hand combat?”

Her brow lifted. “Seriously? I’m human. That’s what the knives and guns are for, to keep the inhumans from getting close enough to tear me to shreds. Plus knife throwing and marksmanship are solitary activities, so I taught myself—Whoa!”

Lindsay arched back and away from Damien’s fist flying toward her face. The smack of flesh meeting flesh rent the air. She hit the dirt on her ass and stared up with wide eyes.

Elijah had blocked Damien’s blow with the palm of his hand. The two men were in a standoff, their arms shaking with the force each exerted in a brutal sort of strong-arm competition.

“What the fuck?” she snapped.

The two men pushed away from each other, each taking a step back. They turned to her in unison, both extending a hand to help her up. She grabbed them both and let them haul her to her feet.

“Adrian said you were quick,” Damien said calmly, as if he hadn’t just struck out at her with a blow that would have shattered bone. “I didn’t get a chance to see you move in Hurricane, so I had to gauge your speed.”

Lindsay gaped at him, then shot a look at Elijah. A muscle was ticcing in the lycan’s jaw. Maybe the test hadn’t been just for her. Maybe they’d been testing him as well.

The rest of the Sentinels, about ten evenly divided between men and women, dotted the field around them, sizing her up. She felt like a raw slab of meat tossed to voracious raptors.

She rolled her shoulders back.

“If you get me squared away,” she said to Damien, “Adrian will worry less about me and more about the shit you’re dealing with. We all want that.”

The Sentinel held still for a moment, staring her down. She didn’t flinch.

Finally, he nodded. They might all want a pound of her flesh, but Damien would keep them focused on the big picture. Hopefully.

Elijah stepped closer to her. “I’m not going anywhere,” he promised, in a way that sounded like a threat. A gauntlet thrown down for the others.

Damien gestured for her to join the Sentinels on the field. “Let’s go.”

She realized Adrian hadn’t been kidding about revising her definition of a long day. This one was going to be endless, she knew. And it hadn’t even started yet.

“Elijah’s blood is missing from Navajo Lake.”

Adrian looked away from the view speeding by the Maybach’s rear passenger window and faced his lieutenant. “Fuck.”

“Yeah.” Jason returned his cell phone to his pocket. “Not the whole sample, just some of it. They had to weigh the bag to detect it.”

The sun glinted off the Sentinel’s golden hair through the panoramic glass roof, creating a halo effect. For a moment, homesickness was a deep ache in Adrian’s chest.

The longest they could store blood before the cryo-preservation affected the quality of the sample was ten years. Someone had accessed the blood, removed what they needed, and returned the sample.

“When we reach the airfield,” Adrian said, “I want you to head to Navajo Lake and find the one responsible. Only Sentinels are authorized to access the cryogenic storage facility.”

“You think it’s one of us?”

“After Helena . . . who can be certain? I need to know for sure.”

Jason sighed. “I never thought I’d have any sympathy for what Syre and the Watchers did. But it seems like the longer we’re here, the more human we become. We want things . . . feel things . . . Well, you know.”

Adrian studied his second for a long moment, looking at Jason with a thoroughness he hadn’t employed for quite some time. He’d stopped paying attention to a lot of things, it seemed. Too lost to the apathy fostered by his grief and guilt.

“Do you desire, Jason?”

“Not to the extent you do and not for sex. My restlessness stems from frustration. I’m tired of carrying a yoke that can never be put down.”