In many ways, his actions would rebalance the scales. He and Syre had both proven unworthy of their leadership. Both the Fallen and the Sentinels deserved captains above reproach, individuals who could lead by example.

His cell phone rang. Pulling it out of his pocket, Adrian saw it was Jason. He apologized for the need to take the call, but Lindsay just shooed him off and continued on without him.

“Mitchell,” he answered.

“Damien’s flight is about to take off. He’ll be home in a couple hours.”

Adrian knew everyone was moving as swiftly as possible, but that did little to temper his impatience. Phineas’s death demanded swift retaliation, but he needed detailed information to begin his hunt. Damien had been the first Sentinel on the scene and he would have the surviving lycan in tow. They would be his starting point. “I have Shadoe.”

A pause. Then a whistle. “The timing is perfect. Gives us some leverage if Syre’s finally decided to go rogue.”

“Yes.” Adrian’s spine rippled with tension. As distasteful as it was to use Lindsay as a lure to gain access to Syre, there was no denying that she was the best means of manipulating her vampire father into a vulnerable position. “We’re in public now.”

“Should I tell Damien to report to your office in the morning?”

“I want to see him the minute he comes in. This is our primary focus until we find the one responsible.”


“And the pilot? Do we know what happened there?”

“He was thrown off the roof just before we cleared the stairs. It’s all over the local news in Phoenix now.”

Shit. Adrian rolled his shoulders back. “Have HR send me his file; I want his family well taken care of. And get PR on damage control. His loved ones don’t need to be hounded by the media now.”

“I’m on it, Captain. Catch you in a bit.”

Goaded to get Lindsay back to Angels’ Point as soon as possible, he returned his attention to her and found her gone from the produce section. He approached the second lycan. “Why is she out of your sight?”

“Elijah’s with her.”

“Get the car and wait out front.”

The lycan nodded and left. Adrian walked the length of the front of the store, looking down each aisle for short golden curls and a svelte figure. He spotted Elijah standing at the back wall, a formidable sight with his wide stance and crossed arms. Lindsay wasn’t with him.

Closing the distance between them in less time than it took to blink, Adrian asked, “Where is she?”

“Bathroom. Where’s Trent?”

Adrian was struck again by the confidence and command with which the lycan carried himself, an innate self-assurance that had enabled Elijah to swan dive out of a plummeting helicopter despite his terror of heights. It was also responsible for drawing attention to him as a possible Alpha in the lycan ranks.

Deliberately testing him, Adrian replied with provocative disregard and vagueness. “Obeying orders.”

Elijah nodded curtly, hiding any adverse reaction he might have had to the nonanswer. “There’s a demon in the store. One of the night clerks.”

“Not our problem.” North America was Raguel Gadara’s territory. It was the seven archangels’ responsibility to police demons. Adrian had been created solely to hunt renegade angels. Aside from Sammael—or Satan, as he’d become known to mortals—most demons were unworthy prey for a Sentinel.

“I think this one might be a concern. He was trailing the woman around the store.”

“Keep an eye on him. And escort Lindsay to me the moment she comes out.”

“You want me to watch her? What about you?”

Stopping when they were shoulder to shoulder, Adrian turned his head and met the lycan’s gaze. He knew Elijah wasn’t concerned about his well-being so much as curious about Lindsay’s importance. “I can manage on my own for a few minutes.”

He continued on, stopping in the Asian food section before rounding the endcap. He was halfway through the baking supplies aisle when Lindsay appeared at the end. Elijah was directly behind her.

“We have everything we need,” Adrian told her, “unless you have some requests.”

She paused midstep. Although her pose appeared casual and relaxed on the surface, he felt the razor-sharp tension in her. An inexplicable breeze ruffled the thickest blond curl draping over her brow.

He sensed the demon behind him before Lindsay spoke.

Her brown eyes turned as dark and hard as black onyx. “Back away from him, asshole.”

Power rippled down Adrian’s spine and spread outward, disabling the security cameras in the store with an electrical surge. Elijah bared his canines in a savage snarl.

“Call off your dog and bitch, seraph,” the demon hissed behind him. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“Bullshit,” Lindsay snapped. “I can feel the evil in you.”

Adrian made a quarter turn, affording him a simultaneous view of both Lindsay and the creature she was bristling at—a dragon whose hands flexed beside his thighs, preparing to expel the not inconsiderable firepower Adrian sensed in him. As far as demons went, he was merely a nuisance to a being of Adrian’s age and power, but the rapaciousness with which he regarded Lindsay and the disrespect he showed her was intolerable.

“If you apologize to the lady for your rudeness,” Adrian said softly, “I might refrain from eviscerating you.”

“Fuck.” The dragon held up both hands, his eyes darting. “I’m sorry, lady. Just tell her to stand down, seraph, and I’ll walk out of here.”

The demon’s mortal guise was that of a sandy-haired, ponytailed teenager with baggy clothing and a name badge that read SAM, but there was a reptilian coldness to his gaze that betrayed a far darker interior. Dragons were a nasty class of demon, prone to terrorizing mortals for sport before making a snack of them. But this guy was Raguel’s problem; Adrian had bigger game to hunt.

Adrian flicked his wrist dismissively, already bored with the delay. “Go.”

“I think not,” Lindsay growled.

A streak of silver raced past Adrian’s eyes. His gaze followed with equal speed.

For an instant, the dragon swayed with a throwing dagger protruding from his forehead and his mouth agape in a frozen look of disbelief. Then his body disintegrated into embers, falling into a pile of ash half the height of the man. The suddenly anchorless blade cut through the debris and clattered to the floor amid a stunned silence.

Adrian crouched and picked up the small knife, which shouldn’t have been able to wipe out a dragon; the breed had an impenetrable hide. If “Sam” had suspected for even an instant that he was under attack, he would have shifted to protect himself. But Lindsay had blindsided him as well as Adrian.

A hot surge of desire rocked Adrian back on his heels, followed swiftly by the fury of a man who’d just watched his reason for breathing put herself in incalculable danger. He stood and looked at her.

She returned his gaze with a tight smile. “Looks like we both have some explaining to do.”


“Are you planning on using that?”

Lindsay fingered one of the throwing knives she carried in her messenger bag and made no apologies. When they’d deplaned at John Wayne Airport, she’d met Adrian’s guards and had realized they weren’t human. They also weren’t inhuman or evil, because she would have felt it if they were—just as the clerk at the grocery store had caught her eye like a neon sign. To be safe, she’d grabbed her arsenal sack the moment her suitcase appeared on the luggage carousel.

She shrugged, deliberately affecting a nonchalance that mirrored his. “It calms me to have it in hand.”

She’d been slaying malevolent nonhuman . . . beings since she was sixteen and had long since stopped losing sleep over it. What was eating at her now was Adrian. That heinous thing in the grocery store had known him—had deferred to him—had shown fear when Adrian threatened him. While she, batshit crazy as she was, found herself feeling safer around Adrian than she had at any time since she was five years old.

God . . . She knew how to look away, how to wait for prime opportunities. She knew where Sam worked; she could have gone back at a better time and taken him down in privacy. Instead, she had exposed herself as completely as if she’d ripped off her clothes.

She had done it because she couldn’t not do it. She’d been too young to save her mother, but in the years since, she had sworn she would never stand by and watch another innocent die. The look in Sam’s eyes as he backed up was one she knew: he was spoiling for trouble. No way in hell could she let him leave in that frame of mind. She’d never stop wondering who ended up bearing the brunt of his humiliation and frustration, and whether she could have prevented the consequences.

“It calms you to carry a weapon,” Adrian repeated, studying her from his seat beside her. His sleek black Maybach purred up the side of a hill, following a winding road that left the city behind.

“What are you?” Her heart was beating too fast, forcing her to acknowledge how wound up she was. With rigid focus, she made her brain stop spinning around what she didn’t understand.

She couldn’t slide back toward that dark precipice in her mind, that place where insanity whispered along her subconscious like a lover. Her childhood therapist considered her one of his greatest successes. He thought she was remarkably well adjusted for a woman who’d witnessed the brutal murder of her mother at the tender age of five. He didn’t know that when the foundation of her reality had been torn from her, she’d forged a new one. An existence where creatures with inexplicable powers worked in grocery stores and ripped open the throats of parents in front of their children. She’d become a warrior in that world of black and white, that world of humans and vicious inhumans.

Yet Adrian and his bullet catchers made a lie of what she’d come to accept as the truth. What was he? What was she? Where did she fit in a construct where beings who weren’t inhuman also weren’t evil?

Lindsay swallowed past the lump of uncertainty and confusion clogging her throat.

Adrian’s lips pursed so slightly the action was almost imperceptible. The hot, pulsing energy charging the air around him was totally at odds with his insolently apathetic demeanor. He sprawled elegantly in the bucket seat, sleekly graceful and inherently lethal. When Adrian had issued that softly voiced threat to Sam, she hadn’t blamed the whatever-the-fuck-he-was for looking like he was going to piss himself. While there hadn’t been even the tiniest fissure in Adrian’s composure, he had felt like a tornado to her, a violent and sweeping unstoppable force of destruction.

If death had a face, it was Adrian’s when he was pissed: a terror made more horrifying by its impossible beauty.

“You don’t know what I am,” he said, the unique resonance of his voice even more pronounced, “but you knew what the store clerk was?”

“The only time I like showing my hand first is when there’s a knife flying out of it.”

He moved so swiftly. One instant, he was arm’s distance away; the next, he’d immobilized her. Her hand holding the knife was pinned at the wrist to the leather seat, while the other was locked to the seatback in an iron grip. His blue eyes were aflame, literally glowing in the darkness.

Her heart raced in awe and mad fear. She had no idea what he was, but she knew he could break her far too easily. Power radiated from him like a heat wave, flushing her skin and stinging her eyes. “Let me go.”

Adrian’s gaze was hot with rage and sex. “You’ll find me to be amazingly lenient with you, Lindsay. I’ll concede and bend for you in ways I won’t for anyone else. But when it comes to your safety, there can be no games or evasion. You just took out a dragon who didn’t attack you first. Why?”

“A dragon?” Shock stuttered her breathing. “Are you kidding?”

“You didn’t even know what he was before you killed him?”

Realizing he was serious, Lindsay deflated into the seatback, all fight and resistance leaving her in a rush. “I knew he was evil. And not human.”

Just as she knew Adrian wasn’t, either. Not human but not vile. Capable of being terrifying, yet he didn’t incite the chilling and paralyzing fear that had afflicted her when her mother was killed. Lindsay searched for it, waited for it to rise and choke her with sick dread. But the anxiety never came. The tempest she sensed in him lacked violence, but even that—his effect on her inner radar—was unique. She read him as she would the weather, as if he was one with the wind that had spoken to her for as long as she could remember. There was a familiarity about him that she couldn’t explain or deny. And though he subdued her, he did so with an unbreakable but gentle grip, the look on his face filled with longing and torment . . . Everything about the way he dealt with her humanized him.

Whatever he was, she saw him as a man. Not a monster.

Adrian stared at her, his jaw taut. Above them, the panoramic glass roof afforded a backdrop of black sky and stars. The moment lengthened into two, then three, with neither of them capable of looking away. Finally, he whispered in a language she didn’t recognize, his voice throbbing with an emotion that elicited a quiver of warm surprise. His head bowed. His temple touched hers, nuzzling. His lips brushed against her ear, his hair drifting like thick silk against her brow. His scent—the earthy, wild fragrance of the air after a storm—enveloped her. Her lips parted on gasping breaths and she sought his mouth blindly, overcome by an inexplicable hunger for the taste of him.

He shoved back, reclaiming his seat. His head was turned away from her as he asked in too calm a tone, “How did you know?”

Lindsay sat unmoving, devastated by that moment of tenderness and yearning so fleeting she wondered if she’d imagined it. She struggled to pull herself together, swallowing hard to find her voice. “I can feel it. I know you’re not human, either.”