Unchained nr-1, page 11part #1 of Nephilim Rising Series
Moving past that room, he glanced into a couple more. There were students of all ages, and some seemed near graduation age. This level had its own cafeteria, playground, and what he guessed was a basketball court by the sounds echoing from behind closed doors. The second and third floors were housing levels for the students, and one looked like a giant Toys R Us store. He quickly backed out of there. Sighing, he moved onto the fourth level, and it was like finding Heaven.
The amount of weapons stored there would have made the militia’s mouth water. Michael slowly made his way down the hallway. Each room was the size of a gymnasium and had a theme. In one room, guns of all sizes lined the walls. All of them had cryptic writing engraved into their handles or on their barrels. Some were models he had never seen before.
Another room was littered with explosives and detonating devices. Michael didn’t like the looks of it and found another room housing razor-sharp knives and swords ranging from samurai to the small daggers Lily carried. All were polished and, like the guns, had strange images carved into them. He wanted to touch them—all of them—but the sound of sparring drew his attention.
At the end of the hallway, he found several large training rooms. Inside one, he immediately recognized Remy sparring with a younger Nephilim. He clearly outskilled the deeply tanned teenager, but he was patient as the boy fumbled over his feet or dropped his sword.
In another corner, several older Nephilim were teaching Brazilian jujitsu to a rapt audience. Farther back, men were grappling. At first glance, Michael thought they were really fighting because of the intensity in the way they went after one another and the hard falls some were taking. He was surprised when a brown-haired Nephilim stood up and laughed as he used the back of his hand to wipe blood off his split lip.
The swarthy-skinned Nephilim grinned. “Your twin fights better than you.”
“Whatever.” The other man laughed again. “I’m better than him on all other levels. Ones that count outside the training room.”
Both men grinned, falling back into defensive stances.
Michael backed away, heading for the next level before he could be spotted. On the fifth floor were additional housing quarters, each one under lock and key. The key to his was securely in his pocket.
Knowing there was only one more level to investigate, he was curious when he found guards posted at the sixth level. Apparently he didn’t have clearance for that floor and was turned away. He returned to the seventh level, where his room was, and decided to poke around there. He knew it held chambers meant for housing, a library, and a large computer lab.
Drifting through the library, he scanned the stacks. Several of the books were in languages he couldn’t read. There were many bibles of various ages and versions. On the bottom shelf, way in the back, he found some volumes of mythology. One in particular caught his eye.
“The Book of Enoch,” he said, and crouched down. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
Sliding out the ancient book, he cracked the spine. A plume of dust hit the air. He thumbed through some of the aged pages. “And they became pregnant, and they bore great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. They began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood.” Whoa. Michael shook his head, but he was morbidly fascinated by it all.
Just as he read a verse about God, Uriel, and Noah—as in Noah’s Ark—someone cleared his throat behind him. He looked up, finding Nathaniel standing between the two stacks.
“I see you’ve discovered the library,” Nathaniel said.
He nodded. “I haven’t heard of half of these books. And this?” He waved the dusty volume around. “Crazy.”
Nathaniel smiled. “No, you wouldn’t have.”
“Of course not…” He glanced around the room. “So you’re Nathaniel?”
“I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to introduce myself. I’ve been extremely busy and was hoping Luke would keep you occupied.”
“He has been, but I guess he thought I needed a break.”
Nathaniel smiled. “Sensory overload, I take it?”
He laughed, but it sounded rough. “You have no idea.” He watched Nathaniel slowly come to a halt before him and was struck by how tall he was. Michael was by no means short, but standing next to Nathaniel he felt like an ant. An old accent he couldn’t place clung to the man’s words. Maybe Mediterranean by the look of his naturally tanned skin and the russet color of his hair. “How is Lily?”
“She’s fine. No need to worry about her. She is a very strong girl.”
Michael could think of numerous words to describe her. Not one of them was the word girl. “You run this place?”
One fine brow arched. “As much as I can. Although I find it runs me more often than not.”
Michael was growing more uncomfortable by the moment. The man’s stare made him feel as if Nathaniel could see into his very soul and flip through all his secrets. Not that he had any secrets that rivaled what the Sanctuary held. He shifted, folding his arms over his chest.
Nathaniel cocked his head to the side. “May I ask you a question?” When Michael nodded, he continued. “All these years you have slipped past us and the Fallen unnoticed. It’s a very curious situation. Have you ever sensed one of us before?”
“I don’t think so,” he answered truthfully. “If I had, I would have ignored it or chalked it up to some bad food. Now, I can’t explain it. I can…feel them…the other Nephilim.”
“I’m assuming that side of you has lain dormant. However, I’ve been advised that you have worked closely with Danyal. I’m at a loss to explain how he did not sense what you are and vice versa.”
“Well, wasn’t my name in that book? I guess someone dropped the ball.” Looking back, Michael would’ve been grateful if Nathaniel’s crew had found him. Living here would have been a lot easier than being shuffled from one foster home to another.
A strange shadow flickered over Nathaniel’s face. “That’s the mystery, Michael. Your name never appeared in the Book.”
He wasn’t sure how to take that. The idea that there was a book where names of Nephilim would randomly appear seemed preposterous to him. Then again, all of this would have struck him that way a week ago.
Nathaniel tilted his head as if he heard something. “I do believe Remy is calling for you. You have a lot to learn ahead.” He paused and smiled slightly. “Your training will be intense. But I have faith in you. You will struggle like all Nephilim do at the beginning, but you’ll pull through. You see, Michael, you’re very special.”
“Special?” he repeated, not sure if it was an insult or not. But Nathaniel had already left him alone. Sighing, he glanced down at the book. It was probably the lamest reading material he could’ve ever found, but he tucked it under his arm and left the library.
Lily checked out her reflection in the window of the Sanctuary. Smoothing down the wild waves, she studied her expression. She looked normal, not like she had spent the night having mind-blowing orgasms. It wasn’t like “I fooled around with Julian” was stamped across her face. God, she hoped not—she’d be mortified. Okay, not mortified. Strangely, she wasn’t ashamed by what she did. She knew she should be but couldn’t find an ounce of regret in her.
Maybe orgasms wiped out common sense.
If that was the case, then she had none left considering how many she’d had over the last twelve hours. She was surprised the muscles in her legs still worked. After falling asleep in Julian’s arms, she had been awakened by a deep kiss directed at a very private place. She had protested at first, but he had coaxed her through it.
A rush of heated memories forced her eyes closed. She had things she needed to do, but the way his tongue had teased her…and he had done it over and over. Never once did he enter her, not even when she
Sighing, she rushed through the reception hall and greeted Sandy. “Hey, girl.”
“How is your arm?”
Lily glanced down at the bandage. “Ah, it’s doing great.”
Sandy smiled, murmuring her relief. After asking Sandy about her latest boyfriend, she left the reception hall and waited for the underground elevator, not paying attention to the tingle that shifted down her spine. At the Sanctuary, you learned to ignore that feeling since the place was teeming with Nephilim.
Once in the elevator, her nerves made her fidget. She pressed the button for level five, exhaling loudly. Nathaniel wasn’t going to be happy with her disappearing all day, especially since she kind of dumped Michael on Luke. Trying to forget about that, she wondered how his first day at the Sanctuary had been. Hopefully, he believed them now.
If not, she was going to drop-kick him in the face.
The elevator came to a stop, and the heavy doors slid open to reveal Luke. Lily gave a little yelp of surprise and stepped back. “Jeez, Luke.”
“Where have you been all day?” he demanded.
“Aw, did you miss me?”
He snickered. “Nathaniel isn’t too pleased with you.”
Her shoulders slumped. “Like that’s anything new.”
He made a face as he stepped into the small elevator with her. “You’re coming with me.”
She crossed her arms. “Where am I going?”
He pushed the button for the bottom level that led to the subway systems, studying her closely. “We’re going to Michael’s to retrieve some of his personal crap. Micah will be meeting us there.” He stopped, squinting. “You look different. Did you do something with your hair?”
Eyes wide, she self-consciously ran a hand over the loose hair. “No.”
He shrugged. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”
She bit back a sigh of relief, happy with the change of subject. “What?”
Luke placed a finger to his lips. She rolled her eyes but remained silent as the elevator doors opened once more. They quickly made their way down the corridor where two guards waited. The door was unlocked, and they stepped into the dimly lit tunnel.
“So what have you been doing that was so important you weren’t here to help us with your cop?”
Her eyes narrowed dangerously. “First off, he’s not my cop. I just punched him. That’s all I lay claim to. Secondly, it’s really not any of your freaking business.”
Luke stopped, turning so suddenly that Lily crashed into him. He placed his hands on her shoulders and dipped his head, peering down at her. “I just don’t want to see you do anything stupid.”
She opened her mouth to bite off a scathing remark but stopped. What she had done was stupid, and she had a sinking suspicion Luke somehow knew she didn’t go home and rest all day in bed. Feeling exposed and a little bit like a liar, a burn crawled up her chest as her temper flared. “Luke.”
“I don’t want you to get hurt.”
She let out an exasperated sound. “Everyone keeps saying that, like I’m two. Damn it! I’m stronger than half of the Nephilim here, and I can take care of myself. I’m not that little girl, anymore. You and Nathaniel both need to remember that.”
“We worry about you! You run off half-cocked. Do you remember what happened the last time you disappeared all day?”
She flinched at the reminder of her first run-in with Baal. “Luke, don’t go there. I went back to my place. I needed some time alone.”
“You needed some time to yourself? Did you think about anyone else? Do you want to know what I thought today?” He didn’t give her a chance to respond. “That day eight years ago when the son of a bitch Julian brought you back to us. I kept seeing you lying there, lifeless. And every other night you run off, telling no one where you’re going? I fear I’m going to see you like that again. Half-cocked, Lily. It’s what you are.” He broke off, taking an unsteady breath. “I can’t lose you, too.”
Her shoulders slumped as her anger evaporated, and her heart ached. No. She hadn’t thought of any of that this morning. It didn’t once cross her mind as she lay in Julian’s arms. Guilt gnawed at her stomach. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “You won’t lose me. I’m not her, Luke.”
“Say you won’t do anything stupid, Lily.” His eyes closed briefly, hands dropping to his sides. “I want you to promise me that.”
She heard the strife in his tone, the discord evident all over his handsome face. Knowing she was lying—because she couldn’t take back what she’d done—Lily promised him. Then she stood on the tips of her toes, wrapping her arms around him. Inhaling his familiar scent, she rested her head against his chest. “What would I do without you?” she murmured into the cotton shirt he wore.
He relaxed, holding her close. “I don’t know. Either you’d be running amok through the streets of DC or you’d have Nathaniel eating out of your little hand.”
She pulled back, smiling. “I don’t see anything wrong with either of those.”
“Yeah, you already have Nathaniel eating out of your hand. The damn man is getting too old to fall for your games.” He lightly cuffed her chin. “You trust me, right?”
That was an odd and incredibly stupid question. “With my life,” she affirmed fiercely. “What’s that about?”
He walked to the exit that led to the subway. She stared at his back for a moment, puzzled. Why would he ask that? Glancing around, she hurried after him. “Luke?”
“I know Nathaniel has shared his fear with you,” he said quietly.
She cringed. “Did he tell you?”
He nodded, looking up the empty tunnel that could only be accessed by the Sanctuary. “That’s why I didn’t want to talk about this in the Sanctuary. If Nathaniel is correct, it could be anyone.”
Lily wrapped her arms against the sudden chill of the dark, damp tunnel, wishing she had worn something more than a pair of 5.11 Tactical pants and a thin shirt. “Do you have any idea who it could be?” She followed him down another tunnel. She hated using the tunnel systems. Sure, they were useful and connected to just about every subway platform in the city, but they reminded her of one long cell. Never one to like closed and confined places, she found it difficult to get enough air in her lungs.
“No,” he said. “Who knows if we ever will?” Luke stopped, entering in a pass code on the thick, round door. “Micah has discovered something potentially big.” The door swung open smoothly, and he peered through to make sure the platform was empty. “He spotted a major player with a senator’s aide a few days ago—a Senator Sharpe.”
She followed him through and shut the door behind her. Once in the open area of the subway, she breathed a little better. “Who did he see?”
“Asmodeus,” he answered quietly.
Lily nearly tripped over her feet. “What?” Baal was back and now this? Christ.
Luke surveyed the empty platform. “The aide is now recently deceased due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
“Of course,” she muttered. “Do you think whoever is sending the Fallen names is actually working with Asmodeus?” When he nodded, she cursed again. “Oh God, that is not good.” She wanted nothing more than to beat the living crap out of whoever that was. “Why would someone do this? Everyone is like family here.”
He stared down the tracks, a far-off look in his pale eyes. “Someone who hates the Sanctuary,” he said quietly. “Maybe someone who hates Nate.”
“Hates Nate?” she questioned.
Luke shrugged. “He’s the boss. Could be a vendetta against him, someone who wants to ca
None of those were a good enough reason for her. The Nephilim were already sorely outnumbered by the Fallen and minions. To lose any more to the Fallen would hurt them severely. “We need to find out who this person is, because God only knows what Asmodeus is doing with those young Nephilim…or if it has anything to do with the senator.”
Her gaze followed Luke’s, and the bright lights of the approaching train cast them both in an eerie yellowish glow. As the train slowed, she felt a sudden flicker of unease. She stepped closer, wrapping her arm around Luke. “I don’t want to believe that one of us would shack up with Asmodeus.”
He glanced down at her. “Me, neither, but we need to make it a priority—you and I.”
The train came to a stop in front of her. As the door creaked open, she wrinkled her nose against the smell of body odor and disinfectant. She looked up at Luke, half of his face shadowed. The unease grew. “Like old times?” she whispered.
“Like old times.”
It didn’t take them long to make it to Michael’s apartment. Lily balked at the door to the stairwell. The idea of getting cornered in there again twisted her stomach. With a disgruntled glance at her bandaged arm, she pushed Luke toward the elevator.
“What? You have post-traumatic stress now?” he joked.
Like old times apparently meant making fun of her.
Luke relented when she threatened to push him down the elevator shaft and took a hefty swing at his head.
He fished out a key from his pocket.
Lily raised her brows. “Does Michael know you have that?”
He shrugged, slipping inside. “No.”
She rolled her eyes, following him and then closing the door behind her. They stood in the dark, empty apartment. Having been too pissed off the last time she’d been in here, she really hadn’t looked at anything. Now she roamed over to his coffee table and picked up a small picture frame. “I have no idea what he would want. Do you?”
Luke headed straight to the small kitchen, throwing open cabinets until he found a box of garbage bags. “Just grab clothes and anything you think is personal.” He handed her several bags, shuffling past to a tiny matchbox-sized bathroom.