Archangel's Lineage (Guild Hunter Series #16)

Archangel's Lineage (Guild Hunter Series #16)

by Nalini Singh
Archangel's Lineage (Guild Hunter Series #16)

Archangel's Lineage (Guild Hunter Series #16)

by Nalini Singh

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

The 16th installment in the Guild Hunter Series features the same darkly captivating archangels, vampires and hunters you love. As family tragedy strikes, Elena and Raphael have their own obstacles to face as the plot thickens with tangible danger.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s dangerous and beautiful world of archangels, vampires, and mortals has never faced a threat this cataclysmic…

Raphael and Elena are experiencing their first ever year of true peace. No war. No horrors of archangelic power. No nightmares given flesh. Until…the earth beneath the Refuge begins to tremble, endangering not only angelkind’s precious and fragile young, but the very place that has held their most innocent safe for eons.

Amid the chaos, Elena’s father suffers a violent heart attack that threatens to extinguish their last chance to heal the bonds between them and make sense of the ruins of their agonizing shared history.

Even as Elena battles grief, Raphael is torn from her side by the sudden disappearance of an archangel. But worse yet is to come. An Ancestor, an angel unlike any other, stirs from his Sleep to warn the Cadre of a darkness so terrible that it causes empires to fall and civilizations to vanish.

This time, even the Cadre itself may not be able to stop a ticking clock that is counting down at frightening speed…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593550014
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/23/2024
Series: Guild Hunter Series , #16
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 97
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Nalini Singh is the New York Times bestselling author of the Guild Hunter series, which includes most recently Archangel's Resurrection. She is also the author of the Psy-Changeling novels, including Resonance Surge, Storm Echo, Last Guard, Alpha Night, and Wolf Rain.

Read an Excerpt

1

Oh, you must not.

Your tears wound me, but there is no choice. I cannot go on. I have tried until I have no more breath in the shell of my body and no heart in the core of my self.

The river-

-is eternal. What falls will always rise. One civilization or another, what does it matter to me?

My love, you were never this heartless. You ever cared for your people. I saw you cradle newborn mortals in your arms and kiss their soft cheeks.

You see why I must do this, beloved. Do I not, I turn slowly into a monster cold and without sympathy for those who are smaller, weaker, my shell all that remains.

Ah, my heart. Come to me. We will lie inside my fire this day and the next and the next until eternity ends.

And in the heartbeats between lifetimes, I will look into your eyes and I will be whole.

2

Elena kicked out a booted foot to check the give in her opulent ball gown and grinned when the falls of fabric around her legs parted like they weren't there. "Montgomery strikes again," she said, then busied herself slipping her throwing knives into the decorative sheaths at her forearms.

At some point during her roughly two decades as Raphael's consort, she'd said to hell with it and decided to give herself a new trademark: arm sheaths. These days, no one blinked an eye at her preference for weapons as jewelry; it definitely took the edge off, not having to find places to secrete weapons.

Not that she didn't also always have hidden weapons.

Elena was never not going to have a concealed garrote or a dart that blew drug-laced needles somewhere on her person. The latter had been a joke birthday gift from her hunter friends, but she'd realized the real thing could pass as a decorative pendant in situations where other weapons might be seen as a sign of aggression.

Setting her personal style as including arm sheaths had ameliorated the latter threat. Who cared if the snooty old angels called it a "mortal affectation" with their condescending noses so far up in the air that it was a wonder they didn't unbalance and fall over backward. The idiots thought they were insulting her. Hah. Having a mortal heart, a mortal soul, was a gift she cherished in this world where so many frittered away entire centuries because they always had one more day.

What had taken her aback was when a cohort of "edgy" young courtiers began to copy her with jewel-encrusted monstrosities they dared call blades. Those insults of weapons couldn't fly a single foot in a straight line, much less actually hit a target, but per Illium, that's what she got for being a fashion "icon."

Their pretty Bluebell was going to get his feathers plucked one of these days.

The unbound near-white of her waist-length hair being brushed aside, a kiss pressed to the back of her neck that made a shiver ripple over her body as wings of white-gold opened in her peripheral vision.

Her stomach tumbled, as if this was the first time Raphael had ever touched her.

Leaning back into his warm and muscled form, his upper body yet bare, she groaned. "Does that mean you're agreeing to my idea of blowing off this deal and getting naked?"

Oceans ice-blue and windswept crashed into her mind, his laughter filling her world. "Alas, hbeebti, I must do my duty today. As must you." Another kiss, this one to the curve of her throat, as he placed one hand on her abdomen. "After it is done, however . . . I know a place where we can tangle wings far from the rest of the world."

Her thighs clenched, the need she had for him a potent addiction; knowing him, growing with him had made her fall ever deeper for the Archangel of New York.

Lifting her hand to slide it over the back of his neck without fully turning, she stroked the heat of his skin. "You have a deal and I'm holding you to it." Tired of the pageantry and politics, she needed what only he could give her.

"I like this dress," he murmured, their eyes meeting in the mirror.

His were twin blue flames, the color piercing and impossible in its violent purity, a punch to the heart every single time. The midnight of his hair was tumbled and damp from his quick shower, the planes of his face dangerously striking under skin kissed by the sun.

The Legion mark on his right temple-the shape a stylized dragon-flickered with light that was diamonds tumbling in the ocean. The renewed energy of the mark was a recent development. It had gone flat and lifeless after the Legion gave up their lives, and in time, like a tattoo held too long in the skin, had begun to fade.

It had hurt her to watch, and she knew it had hurt Raphael, too. They both honored the Legion for their sacrifice, but they also missed the otherworldly beings who'd emerged from the silent deep and become an integral part of New York.

The fade had, however, reversed itself over the past few months, until the two of them had begun to hope that the Legion would return. Or at the least, that the Legion still existed in some form in the cold embrace of the water from which they'd come.

"You look a goddess risen, Guild Hunter." Another kiss pressed to the curve of her neck.

Goose bumps over her skin, her nipples tight points. "You're the pretty one in this relationship," she teased, though pretty was definitely the wrong word for Raphael. His face, for all its beauty, held an innate hardness, a sense of the martial.

Her lover was a warrior before he was an archangel.

His lips curving, he plucked at the fabric of her gown. "What is this? It feels almost as good as your skin."

"I have no idea, but I love it." Unlike the current rage in the Refuge, the gown was no frou-frou cloth marshmallow. Instead, it flowed over her in a slide of liquid silver-blue, sinuous and cool. The shoulders were narrow, the neckline plunging before it cut away to reveal her abdomen-but that entire top part was also so securely fitted that she was in no danger of revealing more than she wanted to reveal.

From the waist, it fell in what Montgomery told her was an A-line.

Elena hadn't been sure about that-the sketch he'd shown her had looked far too prom gown-but as usual, the butler and his favorite tailor had been right. Constructed of seven separate panels, the skirt was higher in the front, the cut a sharp diagonal from the middle of her left thigh down to the calf of her right leg.

The design made movement easier-she could literally high-kick in this thing if required. They'd even worked with her penchant for wearing boots by giving her ones that matched the dress . . . while building hidden blade sheaths in both, then adding decorative touches in a deeper silver. Not only did the boots look badass striding out of the shorter front part of the dress, they were stable, wouldn't throw her off in a fight.

Her arm sheaths were a glittering black against the dark gold of skin that was a testament to the Moroccan part of her heritage. Not as good as her usual sheaths, but they worked fine. On her upper arm sat the jeweled dagger that Raphael had given her-jeweled but more than functional if she needed to stab a snobby angel in the eye, as she so often dreamed of doing at these events.

But tonight, the dagger wasn't the showpiece. Because from her neck down to her cleavage lived a black "tattoo" that Aodhan had painted onto her skin before she left New York. Again, it was a thing in vogue with angelkind and she had to admit it was more her style than the rest of current angelic fashion-especially since Aodhan had designed her ink to echo the mark on Raphael's temple.

Hers was more elongated, with lines that seemed to hint at a powerful creature in flight, but that the two markings were a pair was indisputable.

"It'll last a month," Aodhan had told her after the work was complete, the dragon's neck curving around her nape so that the creature lay with its head on her collarbone.

It was the closest she'd ever been to the angel whose entire body seemed to be composed of light, his breath brushing her skin as he leaned in to work. She'd wondered if it would feel odd even though they were friends. Then he'd started the piece and she'd realized that at that instant, she was nothing but a canvas to Aodhan.

"Canvases don't talk back," he'd muttered when she'd dared have an opinion, but his lips had quirked up.

Now, Raphael ran one finger down the lines of the tattoo, coming to a stop at the curve of her breast where it was exposed by the dress. "I do so enjoy how this looks when you are unclothed and wrapped around me."

His wings rose above his shoulders, hers pressed to his body so only the black arches were visible, and it was them in the mirror. Two people whose loyalty was set in stone, and whose love was a slumbering inferno, hot and languid, until they wanted it to burn.

She and her archangel, they'd weathered a psychotic archangel, then a megalomaniacal one, a Cascade of fucking Death, and oh, just for fun, a vampiric uprising in the aftermath of a war that had devastated the world.

All of it side by side.

Raphael traced the line of the tattoo in the opposite direction, then slid his finger back down with luxurious intent, his eyes heavy-lidded as he caressed her.

"I'll stab you if you don't stop that." She glared. "I have to put on my stupid be-polite-to-the-grand-poobahs face. Stop distracting me with thoughts of nakedness if you're not going to pay up."

His grin was wicked and young and one very few people ever saw. "I'll remind you that I am one of the grand poobahs."

Shifting her wing out of the way, she elbowed him in that rock-hard stomach, then pressed in with a blade without breaking the skin. "Right now, Mr. Grand Poobah Raphael, you're barely dressed. We'll be late if you don't get a move on-and I will absolutely stab you if we have to stay later to make up the time."

His grin didn't alter as he drew back, his mood making her entire body tighten. The urge to jump onto him, lock her legs around that delicious body, and put his hand properly on her breast while she kissed the life out of him made her mouth water and her pulse race.

"So bloodthirsty." Hot blue, his eyes made her a promise dark and decadent even as he kept his words light. "Truly, a woman I adore."

She watched him move to the wardrobe where the staff who ran their Refuge stronghold had hung up the formal leathers he planned to wear tonight. He'd already put on the black pants, now pulled on the sleeveless black top that showcased his toned biceps and those forearms that made her want to bite him.

Down, Elena, she told herself. Save that for when you have lots of time.

Collarless, his fitted top sealed to the left side with a black zip.

Clean, powerful, sexy enough to make her swallow her tongue.

Raphael's boots were the same shade, and, as she watched, he strapped on the pair of bracers she'd given him as a gift. Made of what appeared to be a single piece of black iron each, with intricate detailing carved into the metal, the bracers covered his wrists and forearms and were designed to ward off sword blows in battle.

Turning away before she attacked him in pure lust, she decided to pull her hair back into a high ponytail.

It revealed the handcrafted amber studs in her ears-one a miniature crossbow, the other the bolt. Created for her alone, and a quiet but clear sign that she was very much entangled with the Archangel of New York.

Having already done her makeup, she was ready when Raphael slid a sword into the sheath on his back. With her dress being backless, she hadn't needed anything to accommodate her wings, but his top had wing slits that he'd sealed using his power. The sheath was built into the top, his sword a ceremonial item given to him by his Seven approximately fifty years earlier for his one thousandth five hundredth birthday.

It bore a carved hilt embedded with seven polished black diamonds set in a vertical row to represent the seven men who called Raphael their liege and who would lay down their lives for him without hesitation.

"Consort." Hair brushed off his face in crisp lines, and expression set in what she called his "Archangel" look, he held out his hand.

"Consort." Grinning, she slid her hand into his.

And had to admit she felt beautiful and strong as she strode out of their suite. That their hand-holding would cause certain angels to have the vapors just made it better.

Why are you smiling that way, Elena-mine? His voice was a sword blade slicing through salt-laced water in her mind.

When she told him, he shot her a laughing look. Then lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed the back. Her heart, it stuttered. Always did. Always would. Because this deadly man she'd once feared and whose violent power had now become a familiar caress, was it for her.

However long their eternity lasted, they'd walk through it hand in hand.

The ground rumbled as they continued on down the hallway of the stronghold Raphael kept in the Refuge. Built of dark gray stone, it was too solid to move in a minor tremor, but the vibration was obvious.

His smile faded. "That's the third one today."

"How many does that make over the three days since we've been here? Ten?"

"Around that." Raphael's hair glinted in the light of the old-fashioned gas lamps that bracketed the front door, an echo of a past time left in place for its elaborate metal beauty.

"We've always had the odd rumble or earth shake in the Refuge," he added, "but nothing this sustained as far as I know-but I can't say for certain. I'm young in comparison to many others. I'm sure we'll find out tonight."

Because tonight, they were to mingle with the rest of the Cadre, the first time since the war that all nine archangels were to be present in one place. The reason for the gathering was a meeting of the Cadre, but of course, immortals couldn't keep it simple.

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