Unchained nr-1, page 2part #1 of Nephilim Rising Series
He lifted his head, his lips hovering over hers. “Such a pretty little Lily.”
Her ears perked, and icy knots formed in her belly. A keening howl reverberated inside her skull. There was no mistaking that sound. Julian heard it, too. The air around them changed in an instant, but the sexual charge still thrummed through her blood. Craning her neck to the right, she pinpointed the exact location.
Several blocks over, in the part of town where tourists wouldn’t dare venture, she knew a freshly misled soul just crammed itself deep into the body of an unsuspecting human. Damn deadheads. She hated them as much as she hated fallen angels.
“Let me go,” she ordered.
Julian focused on her again. Lust hardened his eyes into brilliant blue chips. “Stay with me a little longer.”
If she stayed a second more, she was going to regret it. Big-time. Not to mention the mayhem that was about to take place once the soul latched its tentacles into a very alive body and got settled. It was sure to be epic. And she only had minutes before the once perfectly humane human went on a nut-jump killing spree.
She released her blade and pressed the wickedly sharp edge against the underside of his chin. “Let. Me. Go.”
For a second, she didn’t think he was going to, and there was a part—a teeny, tiny part of her body—that throbbed at the prospect.
“Why?” he asked.
His question gave her pause. Why? He was a Fallen—that’s why. Then again, Julian had always acted oddly when compared to other Fallen. The howl of a deadhead came again, causing a sharp pain to shoot through her temples.
He released her, taking a step back. “Busy little Nephilim. You better get going…before I change my mind.”
Her breath caught, but before she could respond or even flip him off, he disappeared. Just like that. With a disgusted sigh, she turned toward the Seventh District. Someone was about to get their unholy ass kicked.
“All available units, we have a ten-one-oh-three, possible ten-one-oh-three-M at Ritchie’s Liquors in the Seventh District.”
Sighing wearily, Officer Michael Cons radioed in. “This is unit seven-fifty. Please be advised I’m near that location.”
He waited for the endless crackle to clear. “Ten-four unit seven-fifty,” said the muffled voice. “Caller states he heard someone behind his business screaming prayers. He went outside but didn’t find anything. He’d like an officer to check out the area.”
Michael’s eyebrows rose. Great—just perfect. This night couldn’t get any better. “Ten-four.”
As soon as he put the microphone down his cell rang. He slid it out of the sun visor, not even checking to see who was calling. “What?”
“Sounds like you got yourself a crazy or a drunk, rookie.”
He flipped on the lights and turned the cruiser around. “My kind of luck, Cole. I’ve already had three drunk-and-disorderly calls, two domestics, and a woman claiming her cat had tapped her phones.”
Laughter sounded. “What?”
“I’m not fucking kidding you.” He glanced at the street signs. “The lady wanted the Pentagon Police since it was an issue of national security.”
“Man, tough night.”
“Yeah, it’s been one of those nights.”
Michael wasn’t joking, either. His partner, Rodriquez, called off the shift, claiming swine flu or mad cow disease—whatever. The damn calls had been coming in nonstop, and the nutcases were out in force. This was one of those nights when he seriously wished he’d stayed at his desk job, one that had been far away from the crazy public.
He squinted at the bright neon lights of Ritchie’s Liquors as he parked the cruiser. “I’ve gotta go check this shit out.”
“Sure man,” responded Cole. “Have fun with your praying drunk.”
“Screw you.” Michael shoved the cell back into the visor and unclipped the duty flashlight as he radioed in. “Ten-ninety-seven.”
Michael didn’t bother going into the liquor store. He skirted around the dilapidated building, entering the mouth of the narrow alley. Immediately the smell of rotting food and urine filled his nostrils. There went his appetite.
He moved the light over the numerous black garbage bags. “Hello? This is Officer Cons. Anybody here?”
The only sounds were the thugs from across the street and the passing cars behind him. Wishing he could somehow not breathe in the rank smell, he ventured deeper into the darkness and peered into one of the Dumpsters.
His hand dropped to his gun as his sensitive ears picked up a noise to his left. “This is the police. Show yourself now!”
Under the yellow glare of the light, the boxes wobbled before scattering across the dirty gravel. Several rats scurried out from the mess. He grimaced. Damn, he hated rats.
Slowly a bright orange shirt appeared, then dirtied blue jeans. Michael stepped back as the form staggered to its feet. The gray-tinted curls and the slack, wrinkled face of an old man came into view. His eyes held that glazed-over appearance drunks favored.
Michael relaxed. “Sir, this is the police. Are you doing okay?”
The old man glanced down at his shirt and let out a choked laugh. He ran his hands over the Washington Nats emblem. Part of Michael pitied the old man for various reasons.
“Sir”—he tried again—“how much have you had to drink tonight?”
After examining his own clothing, the old guy finally looked up at him. “Drink?” he asked, his voice gravelly with age.
Michael nodded as he placed the flashlight under his arm and took a step forward. “Sir, do you have any family I could call? Someone who could come get you?”
The old man eyed him strangely and then smiled. Flashing a row of yellowish teeth, he launched at him.
Unprepared for the sudden attack, Michael stumbled backward. Before he could recover, the old man was on him. Using shocking strength, the elderly male wrapped one bony hand around his throat and tossed him several feet.
Michael slammed into the brick wall and slid down. A brief surge of panic shot through him as he recalled the hours of training meant to prepare him for all the random shit one came into contact with on the street, but this…this was different. He struggled to his feet just as the old man backhanded him against the wall, cracking his head in the process. Dazed, he tasted blood on his lip.
The man bent down, a greasy lock of gray hair falling across his face. He picked Michael back up by the throat, dangling him several feet off the ground. “Officers of the peace are always my favorite to kill or turn.”
Gasping for air, Michael pried on the old man’s bony fingers. The pint-size grandfather held him, all six feet and then some, suspended in air. No amount of training at the academy could have prepared him for this. To be honest, he’d never been this scared shitless before. Not even when, at the age of six, he found his mother dead from self-inflicted slits to her wrists.
The man brought Michael’s head close to his and laughed. His heart slammed painfully against his ribs as the man brought his head close and laughed, the raw sewage and sulfur stench of his breath engulfed him. Week-old vomit or rotten meat smelled better than this.
Then he saw his eyes. A black, frothy liquid seeped from the corners and spread over the whites of his eyes, covering the dull blue irises. Terror turned Michael’s flesh cold. He knew he was going to die. Here, in a rat-infested alley in Anacostia, murdered by a deranged nursing-home patient. He reached for his gun, but it was too late. Just as he took what he knew would be his last breath, he heard something land softly behind the old man. Without warning, the grip on his throat was released.
Michael crumpled to the dirty alley, clutching his bruised throat. Even in his shocked state, he registered the silver dagger that pierced through the man’s chest, right through the heart. A wound like that should have been a bloody mess, but there was no blood. Not even a trickle.
The dagger retracted quickly, and the man slumped to the ground in a lifeless heap.
A young woman stood in front of him. She was a tiny thing, with snapping, angry green eyes and a head full of auburn waves that fell past her breasts.
“I just saved your ass, and you’re going to shoot me?”
For a moment he did nothing, and then he sputtered, “What the hell just happened?”
The woman glanced down at the body and then slowly back at him. “What does it look like?”
Michael shook his head as he reached for his handcuffs. “All right, you’re under arrest. Drop your weapon now, and put your hands up!”
The feisty little redhead snickered, holding up her hands. “What weapon?”
His gaze darted over her hands. They were empty. The only thing he noticed was two wide silver cuffs adorning both wrists. “Where’s the knife?” he demanded through clenched teeth. “The knife you used to kill the man!”
She dropped her hands to her hips. “You mean the man who was choking the life out of you?”
“Show me the weapon now.” He reached for his shoulder radio, needing to call this in. A would-be murderer and a murderer. There was going to be a crap-ton of paperwork to do tonight.
She simply scowled at him. “You know, I really don’t have time for this.”
His gun lowered a fraction of an inch. “What?”
That was all she needed. She moved lightning quick. Before he could squeeze off a round, she knocked the gun out of his hand with her forearm and punched him right in the jaw.
His head snapped back, but not before he caught the startled look on her face, and as he slipped into oblivion he heard her shout, “Crap!”
Lily stared down at the young officer, astonished and more than a little disturbed. Nervously wiping her hand across the front of her white tank, she stepped back. The minute her hand had connected with his flesh, she had known.
Damn it all to Hell. And she’d bet her rosy left butt cheek from the way he froze in front of the deadhead, he had no clue what he was. Cursing again, she pulled out her beat-up cell from her back pocket and dialed Luke.
He answered on the second ring. “What up?”
“We’ve got an epic problem in Anacostia. I need you and Remy now. You better call Nathaniel, too. This is going to involve the police.”
“Aw man, Lily. What the hell did you do now?”
Lily rolled her eyes, clicking the phone shut without answering. She nudged the cop with the tip of her boot. Yep, he was out cold and not coming around anytime soon. Squatting, she studied his lax face.
“Crap. Crap. Crap,” she hissed.
It wasn’t like she’d known when she punched him. She wouldn’t have if she did. On second thought, she probably would’ve still clocked him. But she may have softened the blow a little if she’d realized he was one of her kind.
“You knocked him out cold, Lily. Damn.”
She spared a wondrous smile for Luke. “He was going to shoot me.”
He frowned, glancing back at the softly snoring man sprawled across the bed tucked away in the Sanctuary. “I thought he was going to arrest you.”
“That was after he was going to shoot me,” she corrected.
His handsome face soured as he turned back to her. “I don’t think I like him.”
Ah, there was that dangerous undertone. Luke saw her as the little sister he probably never wanted. Hell, she grew up idolizing him while he spent time showing her the ropes. She still idolized him even when it was widely known that her skill surpassed his. Still, whenever anything seriously threatened her—which wasn’t often—his boyish charm and easy nature would disappear. Luke could be downright murderous when provoked, especially after Anna.
Wincing at the thought of the beautiful Nephilim Luke had most definitely loved, she patted his heavily muscled arm. “Nah, I don’t think he would have seriously shot me.”
That did nothing to erase the scowl. “Better wake up soon.”
Lily glanced back at the officer, reading his name tag. Officer M. Con? “I bet his first name is Michael.”
He snorted. “That’s what we call irony if so.”
The Archangel Michael, the patron saint of police officers, was probably rolling his eyes somewhere up there or having a chuckle. Or he was sharpening his righteous blade and taking aim at this young man’s neck. Archangels didn’t look too kindly on the Nephilim, although they fought on the same side of the big guy upstairs. Well, most of the time.
“He’s still out?”
They looked up as Remy entered the room with a broad smile spread across the deep chocolate hue of his face. His ropy dreads were tucked back. He cuffed Lily on the shoulder. “Damn, girl, always something.”
She shrugged dainty shoulders, glancing back at the officer. He’d been out since the moment he’d hit the ground. He hadn’t even made a sound as Remy and Luke carried him back to the Sanctuary. Her gaze flickered over her unblemished knuckles. Damn, I’m good.
He had to be young. Maybe late twenties. Kind of hot, too. All of the male Nephilim were attractive. They got good looks courtesy of their fathers.
This one had dark auburn hair and it was cropped short, a style favored by most police officers. At rest, his face held the youthful, innocent quality that alone proved he had no idea what he was. All Nephilim had a hardness about them, even her. The curve of his jaw was strong, and his cheeks chiseled. Thick lashes fanned those cheeks. He had the face of an angel.
Remy folded his arms across his broad chest as he inspected their newly acquired Nephilim. “Damn, can’t say I’m not surprised you knocked out another police officer.”
Luke stood beside Remy. Immediately, she shifted to the other side of the bed. She hated when they towered over her. The boys’ height was a characteristic of their kind that Lily had missed out on. All male Nephilim were well over six feet and counting, practically giants, while she was small enough to be thrown on their backs like a backpack.
“Do you really think he’s Nephilim?” Luke directed toward Remy.
Lily sighed. “Touch him and find out.”
“How could a Nephilim make it this long and not know what he is?” Luke asked. “Better yet, not get swayed by the Fallen?”
“How would I know? Go ahead and touch him,” she urged. “You’ll know.” Both Luke and Remy appeared doubtful. “Just touch him and get it over with.”
Remy sneered. “God, not when you say it like that.”
Lily flipped him off.
Muttering under his breath, Luke leaned over the man and slowly placed his hand against the guy’s forehead. Luke shot back as if jolted—a fine zap of electricity that fired when coming into contact with another Nephilim. “Damn it.”
She rocked back on her heels, grinning. “I told you he’s Nephilim.”
Remy shook his head in wonder. “Wow, he is one lucky SOB, then, that you knocked his lights out.”
Her smile grew to ridiculous proportions. She loved to be complimented. It was so few and far between these—
“Lillian Marks! Get your ass in here right now!”
Lily jumped, eyes widening. Two floors separating them and Nathaniel was that loud. Luke snickered, and she shot him a dirty look. “Thanks,” she muttered.
Remy at least had the decency to give her warning. “Nathaniel is pissed. You have no idea how many favors he had to call in tonight.”
Her shoulders slumped as she moved around the bed slowly. Luke patted her on top of the head when she passed. She swung at him, but he darted out of the way, laughing. “I hate you both.”
Remy shuffled closer to the bed as she headed to the door. “Do you know how hard it will be to train him at this age?”
She stopped in the doorway. It would be damn near impossible. They couldn’t train him. It was too late. The best thing they could do is put
But it was not her problem.
Lily walked down the dimly lit corridor of level five, a housing unit five floors underground the Sanctuary office building. Buried so deep under the third tallest building in DC, no one made it to this level uninvited. Taking the elevator, she descended to level seven where Nathaniel kept his real office and living quarters.
Nathaniel sat behind a large oval desk finished in a cherry stain that was polished to the point she could see her reflection in it. Lily was well familiar with that. She spent a lot of time staring at her own face in his desk as she was lectured over the latest stunt she’d pulled—or Julian, especially over him. He’d become quite the main theme of her most recent lectures.
She stumbled. She never stumbled. Unless it was about her not-so-angelic stalker Julian, and when it was, everything went to Hell.
Nathaniel set his phone down quietly, motioning her into his office. “Sit.”
It was like she was thirteen again, and she sat awkwardly, folding her hands in her lap like some misbehaving child. She was a full-grown woman who could take down an entire room of minions without breaking a single nail, but none of that mattered when she sat in front of Nathaniel.
He had this look when he was upset with her. It usually started with him absently brushing back his brown hair, then tucking the longer strands behind his ears. His lips would turn down, and he would pierce her with those pale blue eyes. Then fine lines would form around them, marring his otherwise youthful face.
She had no idea how old he was. No one she knew did.
He had to be at least several hundred years old, though he looked about thirty. The same as he had the night he’d pulled her, shrieking and crying, away from her mother’s corpse. She had been five.