DESTINED RADIANCE EXCERPT
NEPHILIM’S DESTINY: BOOK 5
The worry in my hospital room at Operations dropped the temperature. All my guys stared at Sebastian standing in the doorway, his posture casual, his hands in the pockets of his slacks, as if he hadn’t just reminded us that there could be a powerful goddess out there determined to finish Michael’s war and kill all humans and supers.
“You’ve already lost a day,” he said, leveling his pale, exhausted gaze on me. Even the soft blue-white glow that usually emanated from his translucent skin was dimmed. He didn’t look like he was made from tissue paper any more, not like he had after pouring all his magic into the glyph witch’s power-leaching spell to save us, but he didn’t look close to being recovered, either.
Marcus, who lay behind me in the bed — my back against his bare chest — tightened his grip around my waist, shifting my hospital gown under the blankets a little higher up my thighs, and growled low in his throat. “Not Essie’s fault.”
“Hey.” Sebastian raised his hands in defense. “Not saying everyone didn’t need a day, but you don’t even know the true extent of the source of the glyph witches’ worship magic. How many followers are there? How many witches have access to the source?”
“Not to mention whether their goddess is awake or merely a catatonic vessel for the worship magic spell,” I said, fighting a shudder.
I didn’t want to think about the source of the glyph witches’ power. We’d barely managed to survive stopping them from assassinating Ambassador Hollaway, and God, couldn’t I just get a day with my guys when nothing happened?
But that wasn’t how the team worked and the angel half — or rather, my angel entirety — couldn’t ignore the danger.
And yeah, I still wasn’t sure what I thought about being a full angel. Learning the truth had happened so fast and during so much chaos that I hadn’t had time to let that really sink in. And it seemed I still wasn’t going to have the time.
Jeez, I didn’t even have time to give in to the need thrumming through all my soul bonds. A need that was still so strong, I ached for them. Especially Gideon. Yes, we’d solidified our bond yesterday, and the pieces of my soul bound to his were no longer fractured, but I needed more, needed to give myself over to the magic binding us together. I needed to give myself over to the magic binding me to all my guys. The urge was overwhelming, and it took everything I had not to turn in the bed and start making out with Marcus. Especially since I could tell I was in a hospital gown and nothing else.
Angels said the mating brand was beautiful and sacred, and while I had to agree — I was still in awe at how amazing having my guys felt — it was also a pain in the ass right now. How was I supposed to do my job when all I wanted was to take my guys to bed and stay there?
As a JP agent.
Which was another thing that shocked me… and was possibly uncertain… since I’d been assigned to the team as their required human agent.
I pulled my gaze from Sebastian and slid it over to Kol. Much to my surprise, he was actually making eye contact with me.
The hellfire in his eyes flared for a second, sending a thrill of desire mixed with hope through me. Maybe we could work things out, get our friendship back… get more. But realization slid over his breathtaking features and his hellfire snapped to barely-there pinpricks, his magic and emotions grasped tight as he pulled his attention back to Sebastian.
My hope wavered. Yesterday’s issues hadn’t been forgotten. Thinking I was a nephilim had still triggered horrible memories, and I’d still lied to him. And really, it was too soon. Shock and betrayal, especially around what had to be PTSD, wasn’t something that someone just got over.
But God damn it, I just wanted to grab him and scream at him. Sure, we didn’t have a soul bond, but I couldn’t help feeling like we were supposed to have something more, like he was as much mine as Marcus and Jacob and Gideon.
And that wasn’t just a human— er, woman craving an incubus.
But screaming at him wouldn’t help. As much as I wanted everything to go back to the way it had been, that wasn’t going to happen right away… if ever.
Jacob shifted from his position sitting at my feet, sliding his hand on top of the blanket higher up my calf and drawing my attention. His vampiric intensity sent a shiver of desire racing over me and made my pulse pick up, which made Marcus release a soft, sensual growl that vibrated through my back and shot heat to my core. Gideon, who sat in the chair beside the bed, squeezed my fingers, a mix of yearning and worry in his summer-sky eyes, clearly torn between protecting innocents and giving in to the urge of our bond.
I was just as torn. My guys weren’t seriously injured, we weren’t fighting for our lives, and I finally felt good. Yeah, my inner magical channels were still a little raw, but I didn’t feel like my magic was going to explode and take out the building, and my buzz was gone. Gone! It had been years since I hadn’t felt like I was holding a low voltage electric fence. In fact, I felt powerful, like a light had been turned on inside me and it radiated heat and strength and magic through every cell in my being.
And those cells wanted my guys. Now.
“So,” I forced out, my voice embarrassingly breathy, “what’s the plan?”
“You’re going to take care of that.” Kol gestured at the three of us, his whole body tense. “And I’m going to take a walk on the other side of the Quarter.”
Gideon’s gaze captured mine, and my pulse stuttered at his heated desire, then the muscles in his jaw flexed and he yanked his gaze away. “What we need is to figure out how to find the source of the witches’ power.”
Sebastian sighed. “I can help with that.”
“And how much is that going to cost us?” Marcus asked.
“You’re not helping with anything,” Amiah said as she stormed into the doorway, her voice sharp. “You’re going back to bed.”
“I’m fine,” Sebastian said.
“Oh, don’t tell her you’re fine,” Kol warned. He’d told Sebastian that Amiah would be upset seeing him walking around, and… well… as predicted—
She grabbed Sebastian’s elbow. “You’re not fine, and I don’t even need my magic to see that. Your essence is still low and your magical channels are raw. Do I need to sedate you?”
Sebastian glared at her. “I’m not an agent, so I’m not a patient.”
“You’re in my hospital.”
“I’m visiting a friend.” He jerked his chin at me.
Amiah followed his motion and glared at me, probably because I was in Marcus’s embrace. A strange, honest-to-goodness emotion, not a temperature change, whispered through me, but it came and went so fast I had no idea what it meant, even if I could clearly tell — how, I didn’t know — that it was Amiah’s emotion.
She yanked on Sebastian’s arm with enough force to make him stumble a step into the hall. “You came in on a gurney. That makes you a patient.”
He jerked his elbow free. “I’m fine enough to do this.”
“No, you’re not.”
“I am. Especially if Esther is going to supply the juice.” He flashed his wicked smile, the sexual invitation clear. All of my guys — including Kol — shifted and the temperature rose to ever-so-slightly too warm.
“What are you proposing?” Gideon asked, his tone edged with ice.
Sebastian’s smile deepened — as if his invitation hadn’t been clear before — and his eyes filled with mischief. “Well…”
“Bane,” Marcus snarled.
Sebastian laughed and Amiah huffed.
He rolled his eyes at her. “I propose casting a spell to locate the source of the witches’ magic.”
“No doubt the source is hidden. You’re going to need to channel too much magic.” Amiah grabbed his elbow again. “No one is burning up in Operations on my watch.”
“That’s why Esther is going to do most of the hard work,” he said.
Marcus’s snarl turned into an outright growl and a whisper of his cold fear swept over me. “I don’t think so.”
“She’s not a spellcaster,” Jacob added.
“But she’s got power and she’s magically sensitive,” Sebastian said.
“Her sensitivity hasn’t been trained.” Gideon frowned. It was clear he was weighing the pros and cons of going ahead with the plan.
And I couldn’t blame him. If it was the fastest way to find the source of the witches’ power and it stopped them from killing any more people, the angel in me was going to agree to it no matter how dangerous. Of course, it was also better to know exactly what I was getting into. Jacob’s vampiric claim on me being a perfect case in point. I hadn’t known exactly what being claimed by a vampire meant, and now Jacob’s hunger was focused entirely on me and I was bite-locked.
“How dangerous is it?” I asked.
“Very,” Jacob said as he turned his attention to Kol. “Unless you have help.”
“But I’ve never assisted with a tracking spell before,” he said.
“You know how to hone in on a magic source?” Sebastian pursed his lips, his gaze going unfocused. “I can make that work. I’ll link the three of us and—”
“That’s a terrible idea.” The muscles in Kol’s jaw flexed and the air around me chilled.
“No, it’s perfect,” Sebastian said. “I cast the spell and you guide her. The danger will be minimal.”
“To her,” Amiah said. She leveled a hard glare on Sebastian. “You’re still going to need to manipulate raw energy and risk burning up or draining your essence to unconsciousness. Neither is acceptable in your condition.”
“You saw what three of those witches could do,” Gideon said. “We need to move on this.” He stood, the yearning in his gaze deepening, making my pulse stutter, and glanced at his phone. “The team from head office is just about to leave. I’ll tell them to stick around.”
“Just great,” Marcus said. “We’re never going to hear the end of it from them.”
“Put your pride and ego aside. We need all the help we can get.” Gideon shoved his phone back into his pocket. “Essie? Kol? You up for this?”
“Yes,” I said. We had to know if there were more of those glyph witches out there.
But resignation tightened in my chest.
What the hell was I resigned about?
Then Kol shifted and I realized the emotion wasn’t mine.
“Fine.” His gaze started to slide back to mine, but he jerked it to Gideon instead, his body so tense it hurt to look at him. “But I can’t do it until the four of you release some energy.”
“We don’t have the time for that,” Gideon said.
A whisper of Kol’s seductive magic slipped over my skin. He shuddered, which made me shudder, which make Marcus’s breath pick up and his hands slide down to my hips.
“If you want me to be able to concentrate enough to guide Essie during the spell, make time. I’ll be back in an hour.” Kol rushed out of the room and down the hall.
“I need to pick up a few things from my apartment,” Sebastian said, shooting Amiah a just-try-and-stop-me look, and followed Kol out the door.
“Idiot,” Amiah huffed, and she headed down the hall in the opposite direction, leaving me with Marcus, Jacob, and Gideon.
The temperature rose and Marcus’s breath didn’t relax. Gideon and Jacob turned their attention to me, one bright and filled with light, the other dark and filled with intensity. Both blazing with need.
My pulse stalled and heat pooled low within me. These were my guys and they wanted me as much as I wanted them.
“We shouldn’t do this here,” Marcus said, his voice husky.
His hot breath feathered across the back of my neck, sending a tremor of desire racing down my back, and I bit back a moan.
“We have an hour. How do we want to work this out?” We hadn’t had a chance to talk about our situation, or how sex with the four of us was going to work. What were everyone’s boundaries? Had the moment yesterday with Marcus and Jacob been a one-time thing?
If I was being honest with myself, I hoped it wasn’t. I didn’t want to have to pick, or keep a schedule. I wanted my guys, now, all of them. And I really wanted more than just an hour.
The guys glanced at each other, and a flicker of uncertainty cut through my desire. They’d had a conversation without me. But what had they decided on?
“Was the threesome yesterday because of extenuating circumstances?” Gideon asked me.
Jacob’s intense stillness billowed, radiating through his brand, and Marcus stiffened behind me. The temperature in the room rose a few more degrees with their desire, but their uncertainty grew stronger.
“I won’t ask any of you to do something you’re not comfortable with,” I said.
“For fuck’s sake. Be more direct, Gideon. We’re wasting time,” Marcus growled. “Essie, I’m taking you up to have a shower. I’m sure Gideon and Jacob would like to join us. Are you comfortable with that?”
The temperature jumped to sweltering and a need as strong as mine, a mix from all my guys, rushed into me. I gasped and bit back a groan. “What are we waiting for?”
“Finally.” Marcus climbed out of bed, dressed only in his jeans — since he’d just come back from a run in his wolf form — looking sexy as hell, and picked me up, cradling me against his firm muscular chest.
“I’ll go tell the head office team to meet us in the cafeteria in an hour,” Gideon said.
“Meet us in my room,” Jacob said. “My shower is bigger.”
“And your bed,” I added.
Marcus’s piercing green eyes darkened, his wolf rising to the surface, and he released a low, sensual growl. God, I loved that sound, loved his ferocity. I slid my hand along his jaw, savoring the rasp of his sexy scruff on my skin, and captured his lips with mine. His grip on me tightened and he raked his tongue into my mouth, fueling my desire, kissing me with a breathtaking kiss that left me panting.
“Jesus, Essie,” he gasped. “If you keep that up, we’re not going to leave the room.”
“The bed isn’t big enough for the four of us.” I sucked on his lower lip, drawing a throaty moan from him.
“And it doesn’t have a shower.” Jacob pulled me out of Marcus’s arms and strode out of the room.
With a groan, Gideon ran a hand over his buzzed blond hair and marched in the opposite direction. Marcus, his T-shirt clutched in his hand, hurried after us as we took the smaller halls to the elevator and hit the call button. Thankfully the halls were empty. Gideon had said I’d been unconscious for a full day. That meant it had to be after nine at night.
Jacob’s grip on me tightened as we waited, his breath coming a little too fast. If he’d had a pulse, it would have been racing. The air around me simmered, hot and muggy, slicking my skin with sweat, and flickers of electricity from Gideon’s brand nipped up my right arm into Jacob’s brand and swirled with his powerful stillness.
“I can walk, you know.” I pressed a hand against his chest and his gaze, his eyes intense black pools, captured mine.
“I need to do more than just hold your hand,” he said, his voice a low rumble that sent my essence into glorious resonance with his.
The door opened and he carried me into the elevator, his attention still locked on me. My pulse picked up, pounding in a chest overflowing with desire, mine and theirs.
“I need more, too,” I said, and he dipped in and kissed me, the kiss slow, sensual, lingering. It flooded heat through my body, ratcheting up the temperature even more, and left me just as breathless as one of Marcus’s ferocious kisses.
The elevator door slid open and we hurried past my assigned room to Jacob’s suite. He unlocked his door with his thumbprint and opened it without barely shifting my weight, and carried me straight to his cream-and-gray bathroom with his large standup shower.
Something flashed at the corner of my eye and I jerked my attention to my reflection in the mirror. My thoughts stalled. Brilliant white light with gold flecks radiated from my eyes, and I had no idea if the glow was at its usual bright state or brighter because of my heightened emotions.
The stunned, scared nephilim I’d seen in the mirror the last few weeks no longer looked back at me. In her place was an angel radiating tremendous power. I brushed a finger over the scar along my cheek where I’d almost been shot, then slid it over the ugly ragged scar on my neck where I’d been bitten.
A lot had happened in a little while and so much had changed.
“Amiah might be able to remove those,” Jacob said, sitting me on the counter. He cupped his massive hand over my neck, capturing my hand and covering the feral vampire bite. A whisper of regret and worry slid through me. He thought my scars upset me, made me think I was less attractive. But it wasn’t the scars bothering me. My whole life had been turned upside down, ripped to shreds, and set on fire.
And I had the scars to prove it.
I also had the soul bonds.