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The halo hunter's shoulders hit the wall, the back of his skull thudding rather loudly from impact. Samandiriel held him with easeand one handabout the neck. The hard knob of an Adam's apple gulped against his palm. Mortals were startlingly delicate.
To the hunter's favor, he didn't kick at him, but merely hung calmly. The mortal's pulse banged beneath his palm. Quite a unique feeling. Samandiriel had no pulse.
"You're second seen "
"Stop mumbling, human," Samandiriel said. A leather messenger bag strapped over one of the hunter's shoulders revealed its contents. He sorted through the dozens of clanking halos in the bag, but couldn't resist asking, "Second?"
"Aangel," the hunter croaked.
"That you've seen? Well, aren't you lucky? Most mortals never get to see such a thing. Do you marvel over me?"
"Uh, sure. Mmarvel."
One halo glowed, but before Samandiriel could touch it, he felt a prickle of awareness, brought on by an intruder approaching from behind.
Turning, and keeping the halo hunter pinned to the wall, he thrust out a hand to stop the person who approached. The simple gesture slammed the intruder against the opposite wall. Apparently more willful than the halo hunter, this one dropped to her feet and came at him again. The tiny female flashed a sneer and wielded ineffectual fists before her.
"Vinny okay "
The woman stood straight, dropping her fists, evidently understanding the hunter's abbreviated reassurance.
Before she could dodge, Samandiriel placed the heel of his palm against her forehead. A flash of her memory assaulted his brain and he grasped a very pertinent detail about her.
"Vampire?" He made a fist to swing
"No!" The hunter squirmed and now he did kick, but only managed a knee to Samandiriel's thigh. "She's not dangerous!"
Bouncing on her fancy high heels as if ready for the next swing, the vampire in question quirked a brow and huffed, disagreeing with the assessment of her lacking danger. "Another angel?"
"Others have been here before me?" Samandiriel asked the hunter. "That's right, I'm the second." He loosened his grip to allow the man to slide to the floor and stand of his own volition. "Where is the other? What was his name?"
"Zaqiel. He's dead now. But the vampires"
"Are summoning the Fallen?" Samandiriel spoke the knowledge he'd pulled from the vampiress. "You can verify that is true?"
"Yes, tribe Anakim," said the hunter. "But she's not with the bad vampires. She's with me."
Samandiriel assessed the twosome. He read the mortal hunter's confidence, yet the man maintained a healthy respect for the divine. While the female, who seemed to match his cockiness, possessed an innate fear of him that held her at a distance. He did not fault her vampirism. Hate was not in his arsenal. But he would be cautious. He'd not dealt with a fanged one in the short time he'd walked the earth.
Shoving his hand into the messenger bag, Samandiriel claimed the one halo that glowed blue and held it before him. "This one is mine."
"I can see that."
"Luck in your quest, mortal. And you." He turned to the vampiress, who backed against the wall. He placed a palm against her forehead and strained the details of the angel summonings from her. She knew much. It was information he needed.
Vampires had summoned him to earth?
His original goal to stalk his fellow Fallen in order to win his return Above remained. However, with vampires in the mix, now he'd have to change tactics.
The harddriving rock anthem blasted a sexy, moaning chorus that enticed Cassandra onto the dance floor of club Schwarz. She didn't understand a lot of German, but the lyrics didn't matter. The beat thundered in her heart. Warm bodies dancing close by brushed her skin and, at times, matched her rhythm with a sexy rotation of hips.
The club decor was black, covering everything from the walls, tables, ceiling, glasses and goblets (including the drinks in clear glass) and bathrooms. The lighted floors flashed white squares and illuminated most, and the sparkles in the black paint shimmered as if it was a midnight sky.
She loved this club, and it had been too long since she'd been here. After completing the angel sculpture something had compelled her to get out of the flat and let loose. It was high time she kicked her lacking social life into gear.
She'd lost track of her date but wasn't overly concerned. Marcus wasn't exactly a date. The guy down the street had asked her out a dozen times and she'd finally succumbed. A little too tugthetie for herthough she did find his glasses sexyhe was probably at the bar nursing a vodka neat. He was a computer tech at MasterSysteme, yet it was apparent Marcus had no idea how to let loose after hours. He refused to dance, telling her to go off and enjoy herself.
Constantly on guard was her normal MO, had been since she was a teen, so learning to let loose once in a while had become a necessity to her survival.
Flipping her long black hair over her shoulders, she toyed with the redandwhite ribbons her hairdresser braided within the strands every other month. She didn't like the idea of dreads, so the ribbons added that something extra she wanted in the style.
Sashaying sideways, a gorgeous dancer with dark stubble that emphasized his square jaw followed her gyrations. They spun and bumped hips and shoulders in fun play. He had a sexy smile, but she'd seen him making out with a blonde earlier beneath a black steel nude bent over the archway that led to the private rooms. She couldn't abide doubledipping.
The beat changed, relaxing, and the dance floor sighed as couples paired up, while lone figures swayed to their own design.
Not ready for a break, Cassandra danced closer to the edge of the floor where the lighted tiles flashed. It was cooler here, and she knew she'd worked up a good sheen of perspiration, because she could smell her spearmint body lotion.
Smiling, because she smelled like a stick of spearmint gum, Cassandra realized this particular letloose night had been a long time coming. It felt amazing forgetting.everything.
There was so much to forget. Dark things. Evil things.
Impossible things. But only for the night. After a decade of training, she'd never completely let down her guard.
Casting her gaze about the shadows lining the dance floor, she stopped herself from surveillance with a mental slap to her wrist. Just dance. Enjoy some mindless fun! But her vision landed on a man who stared at her.
The hungry look wasn't new. She caught men staring at her all the time across the stacks or a research table in the library. So the Stevens sisters were hotas she'd often heard men commentso what? What she looked like on the outside was vastly different from her insides because, Glory Hallelujah, no one wanted to deal with her baggage.
Still, she'd never refuse interest. And tech guy would understand. Hell, Marcus was still nursing that vodka. And was that a bespectacled redhead with whom he was conversing animatedly?
"Ditched so soon?" It was difficult summoning irritation. They looked like a great couple. "Go for it, bloke."
Moving along the dance floor, she noted her observer continued his intense task. The man gave new meaning to chiseled features. Every part of his facesquare chin, straight long nose, smooth forehead, pale yet strong mouthcalled for notice, and then combined to form an overall captivating result.
Sexual allure spilled from his pores like pheromones she could actually see. The melting look in his eyes oozed over Cassandra's skin. All he was doing was standing there! Had to be a celebrity. The club was famous for them, though normally the celebs did not turn her head. She wasn't into paparazzi or the materialistic lifestyle.
A crisp white dress shirt strained across the man's chest like tight sheets on a bed. Cassandra imagined running her fingers across the white fabric and putting a few wrinkles in it for good measure. Wrinkled sheets sounded inviting tonight.
Because seriously, she'd known she and Marcus wouldn't mesh the moment he'd suggested the opera as his first choice for the evening.
Crooking her finger, she invited her mysterious observer to join her. He navigated the crowded dance floor with an ease that belonged to fictional characters, like the brooding vampire in a Gothic novel, and matched her slow, sensual dance moves as if trying to mirror her. A little awkward with the hips, but he was at least on the beat.
Obviously not a dancer, but she didn't care. His focused attention shimmied over her skin, feeling like warm rain. And he was all hers. No one else in the room stood in their air.
Mercy, but she'd been too deeply enmeshed in her own projects and worries lately. The world was putting out men who resembled Hollywood warrior gods? She'd been missing out.
But not any longer.
Turning and swaying before him, she invited his hand to her hip and held it there with hers. He leaned in to smell her hair. Vanilla shampoo, combined with her spearmint body lotion, mixed a sensual combination. He stroked her hair and drew out his hand, trailing a red ribbon along his forefinger. A tilt of his head and a sweet smile displayed his wonder over the decoration.
Cassandra shrugged and winked. She wanted to nuzzle her nose against his neck, divine his scent and whisper an invitation, but she wasn't pushy, and she wasn't a tease.
All right, so maybe a bit of a tease. But she'd come here with another man; she would not ditch him. That was just plain rude.
Unless Marcus and the redhead developed plans of their own.
Suddenly itchy, Cassandra rubbed the heel of her palm over her wrist. This new dress was some kind of wool blend, though very thin. It exposed her back to midspine. The short skirt dropped midthigh, and her thighhigh boots were tied up the backs with red ribbons to match those in her hair.
She touched her sexy dancer's forearm, clasping it. Too intimate, Cassandra. But she didn't heed her intuition. The dancer's arm was cool, and the difference in their temperatures increased his allure.
The music switched to a fast rocker beat, one of her favorite songs about dangerous beauty, snarled out by a sultry female singer. The guitar riff in this one was insane. Bouncing before him, she performed a sexy shimmy and hip shift while he observed. He'd catch the beat. He seemed to learn quickly.
"What's your name?" she asked over the blast of music.
She hadn't caught the last nameDarrel?but the first had sounded like Sam. She loved that name. Had dreamed about it.
Shimmying close to him, she spread a palm up the front of his crisp shirt and leaned up on tiptoe so he could hear, "You in town for the convention across the street or sightseeing on the Spree?"
Please don't be a mortician. There was a convention at the Radisson Blu across the street. She'd already talked to two body pokers since arriving at the Schwarz.
"I'm here for you, Cassandra."
Her? Well. That was some kind of all right. It wasn't every day a chick found her own personal
Wait. She hadn't given him her name.
"Rather a nice distraction," he said over the din. "Hadn't expected to meet you so quickly."
Cassandra stopped dancing. She also stopped midscratch. She tugged up the dress sleeve, dreading what she would see. The sigil on her wrist, which was normally a reddishbrown color and shaped like a spiral, glowed blue.
It had never done that beforeyet that didn't mean she didn't know exactly what it meant. "Oh, hell, no."
The sensual heat flushing Cassandra's face chilled faster than it would've stepping outside into the freezing winter weather.
Shaking her head, she moved away but was rudely bumped by a dancer. The man's eyesSamandiriel, now she remembered his name from a dreamwere bright and designed from many colors.
"Kaleidoscope," she whispered, choking on her breath.
Years of preparation, of knowing what her destiny would bring, sent her into action.
The time had come. Here stood danger.
Fisting her hands, she assumed a defensive stance. "Come on, buddy, I am so ready for you."
The man's dark eyebrow quirked and his perfectly sculpted lips compressed.
Amidst the ruckus of dancers and earthrumming music, Cassandra realized she didn't want this to go down in such a public place. Probably he didn't care, and would use the crowd to his advantage.
Protect the innocents, Granny Stevens had always warned. At all costs.
Darting off the dance floor like a banshee called to the grave, she pushed through the crowd of dancers, lovers and chatterers. A swing of her elbow spilled a drink, and someone swore at her in hearty German. She couldn't bother to apologize.
Without looking to see if the stranger would follow she headed down the dark hallway toward the back exit door. Pinpricks of light spattered the walls like a constellation, but did not serve illumination for any more than a careful stroll to find the restrooms.
She shoved a man out of the way. He called back, wondering if she was okay.
She'd worn her thighhigh boots today. The heels were only two inches, but slippery as hell on the tiled floor, which was wet from people entering with snow on their shoes. Grabbing the door, she swung it open and glanced back. The man followed.
It was him. Samandiriel. Her dream man. Her destiny. Her danger.
Her wrist would not itch were it any other man in the universe. And the sigil glowed! Granny Stevens had said it would. She'd always wondered how that would work.
There was only one reason a muse's sigil glowed: it was near another sigil that matched it. Playing angeltomuse sigil matchymatchy was not a game Cassandra had signed up for, but certainly, she was prepared.
"Right," she muttered to herself. "You went all kickass on him for two idiot seconds!"
Wishing she'd had the time to swing by the bar where her now exdate sat to put on her leather coat, Cassandra cursed the wicked cold air as she plunged into a wall of prickly snowflakes. A burgeoning storm swirled relentlessly. A drift consumed the bottom step and swallowed her boots ankle deep.
She kept another coat in the boot of her car, along with gloves, hat and other necessary items. No one drove around Berlin in December without the essentials.
The club door smashed outward, cracking the outer brick wall. The stranger marched down the steps, his pace determined. He wore no coat, and appeared unaffected as the bitter wind buffeted his chest and face.
Cassandra's teeth had already begun to chatter. Slipping her hand inside her boot, she claimed her car keys from the inner pocket. She'd parked five rows back and in the corner.