Table of Contents
THIS ANGEL FOR HIRE
Trent smiled, reaching out a hand to her. “Detective. Good to meet you.”
Trent's hand closed over hers with a surge of power that jolted through her, searing every nerve, every fiber; flooding her with an energy that was not her own, but belonged to her in a way she did not understand. An energy that made her more aware in that instant of Jacob Trent than of life itself. That tried to repel her even as it drew her into its source.
And then . . . then she saw the wings. Rising from Jacob Trent's shoulders, spread in fiery, golden glory behind him. Wings, like those of a giant bird.
Or an angel.
She might never have seen this man before, but somehow she
him . . .
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhiâ110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
SINS OF THE ANGELS
An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author
Ace mass-market edition / October 2011
Copyright Â© 2011 by Linda Poitevin.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ISBN : 978-1-101-54440-2
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
For Mom and Dad.
Wish you could have been here for this . . .
and for so much more.
So very many people have made this book possible. These are the ones who deserve special mention.
My husband, Pat, for his love and unfailing belief in me. ChloÃ©, Emilie, and Mikhaila, for inspiring me to lead by example. Maureen Daly, for the wonderful kitchen chats that fanned a spark of imagination and inspired me to delve deeper into angel mythology. Paty Rutenberg, for being so much wiser than me and saving the one and only draft of a story that became the seed for this series. Isabelle Michaud, RCMP officer extraordinaire, for the enthusiasm and the many reads to make sure I had my details right. Karen Docter, for taking the time to write to an unknown contest entrant a letter of such encouragement that I carry it with me still. Isabelle and Lyne and the staff of their coffee shop, for allowing me to stake out a corner in which to write. My agent, Becca Stumpf, for raising the bar and then helping me reach it. My editor, Michelle Vega, for taking me under her wing and believing in me and my story.
See? Angels really do exist.
It was done.
There could be no turning back.
Caim stared down at the destruction he'd wrought and held back a shudder. They would come after him, of course, as they had the first time. They couldn't allow him to succeed. Couldn't risk him finding a way back and opening a door to the others. They would send someone to hunt him, try to imprison him in that place again.
His breath snared in his chest and for a moment the awfulness of the idea made him quail inside, made his mind go blank. An eternity of that awful, mind-hollowing emptiness, that nothingness. His belly clenched at the thought. It was a miracle he had escaped, and whatever happened, he couldn't go back. Could never go back.
He focused his thoughts, made himself calm. He could do this. He could find the right one and return to where he belonged; it was just a matter of time. A matter of numbers.
Caim gazed at the corpse by his feet. It was also a matter of being more careful than this. He crouched and touched a withered fingertip to the crimson that welled from the gash in the mortal's chest. He rubbed the viscous fluid between thumb and forefinger and studied his work, displeased at the lack of control he saw there. The haste.
He scowled at the frisson of remembered, wanton pleasure that even now edged down his spine, making his heart miss a beat. He so disliked that side of himself, the part that thrilled at the destruction. He had never wanted this, had tried so hard not to give in to what
had claimed to see. He wished he'd had another choice; that she'd given him another choice.
But whether he was here by choice or not, he would do well to maintain better control. If one of her hunters had been near just now, his search would have been over before it began. He'd been so caught up in his task, he wouldn't have felt an approach until it was too late.
No, to stay ahead of her, ahead of the hunter she sent for him, Caim needed to rein himself in, to contain the bloodlust that clouded his mind. To be disciplined. He lifted his head and breathed in the alley musk, scented with rain and death. He needed to be faster, too. Finding one of the few he could use among the billions that existed nowâthe task seemed nothing short of monumental.
He wiped his bloody, clawed fingers on the corpse's clothing, and then, on impulse, reached over and spread the corpse's arms straight out, perpendicular to the body, and crossed the ankles over one another.
Pushing to his feet, he surveyed his handiwork with bitter satisfaction. Perfect. Even if she never saw it herself, she would know of his contempt, know what he thought of the esteem in which her children still held her.
He drew a breath deep into his lungs and stretched his wings over his head, letting his body begin to fill out again, taking on flesh and warmth. He reveled in the fierce pleasure of his own aliveness; the pull of wet cotton against his skin; the remains of the fierce summer rain dripping from his hair; the thick, sullen night air, unrelieved by the storm that had proclaimed his return. The sheer gratification of
Then, folding his wings against his back and casting a last, dispassionate glance at the remains on the pavement, he turned and started down the alley toward the street. His mind moved beyond the kill to other matters. Matters such as finding a place to stay. Somewhere to hide, where a hunter wouldn't think to look for him.
Caim emerged from the alley onto the sidewalk and looked up the deserted pavement to his left, then his right. Somewhereâ
He paused. Stared across the street. Smiled.
Somewhere . . . interesting.
That was the thing about a murder scene, Alexandra Jarvis reflected. It would be difficult to drive past one and later claim that you couldn't find the right place. No matter how much you wanted to.
She wheeled her sedan into the space behind a Toronto Police Service car angled across the sidewalk. Alternating blue and red spilled from the cruiser's bar lights, splashing against the squat brick building beside it and announcing the hive of activity in the dank alley beyond. Powerful floodlights, brought in to combat the predawn hours, backlit the scene, and yellow crime-scene tape stretched across the alley's mouth.
And, just in case Alex needed further confirmation she'd found the right place, a mob of media looked to be in a feeding frenzy street-side of a wooden police barricade, their microphones and cameras thrust into the faces of the two impassive, uniformed officers holding them at bay. One of the uniforms glanced over as she killed her engine, acknowledging her arrival with a nod.
Alex took a gulp of lukewarm, oversugared coffee and balled up her fast-food breakfast wrapper. She'd bought the meal, if it could be called such, out of desperation on her way home, as a combined supper and bedtime snack. The nearest she could figure, it was the first food she'd had in almost twenty hours, and she hadn't made it past the first bite before she'd been called to this, another murder. Even knowing what she'd have to view when she arrived at the scene, she'd gone ahead and eaten it. Working Homicide had that effect after a while.
She dropped the wrapper into the empty paper bag, drained the remainder of her coffee, and tossed the cup in to join the wrapper. Then she slid out of the air-conditioned vehicle.
The early-August humidity slammed into her like a fist, rising from the damp pavement and the puddles that lined the uneven sidewalk. Alex grimaced. After a storm like the one that had raged from midnight until almost three, knocking out power to most of the city's core for the better part of an hour, surely they'd earned at least a
respite from the sauna-like weather.
She fished in her blazer pocket for a hair elastic, checked that her police shield was still clipped to her waistband, and raised her arms to scrape back her shoulder-length blonde hair as she kneed shut the car door and started toward the alley.
The media piranhas, scenting new prey, engulfed her.
“Detective, can you tell us whatâ?”