Misguided Angel Page 29

She tried again and shook her head. Whatever was holding it was strong. It was like ramming into a cement wall. "It's jammed up hard," she grunted. She looked outside the window.

It was almost dark. The sky was the color of gray sand--the first hint of light on the horizon. The crescent moon would soon show its face.

"She's in there," Oliver urged, his shoulder pushing on the door as if that would help.

Mimi was about to answer, but before she could, from inside the room came a scream so terrible that she forgot everything she was doing. In an instant, she made her decision. There was no more time to waste. Victoria was going to burn.

She had to take the wards down. Now.

Azrael stepped into the glom, the mighty and terrible Angel of Death, a white queen wielding a dark sword flashing with the light of the heavens. Her six-foot wings stretched to their full span.

She said the words only Michael had said before her.

The wards fell, and in an instant the glom was filled with the spirits of every living vampire, and Mimi saw, through the jumble of souls, one particular girl screaming in the corner--a girl whose spirit had been, until now, hidden from the Coven--

Victoria!

In the glom, Mimi saw Sam and Ted Lennox moving toward Victoria, reaching for her--coming at her from the other side.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, the Venators looked up and turned away from Victoria and began running toward Mimi--their identical faces frozen in utter horror.

What are you doing? No . . . go back . . .Vix . . .

Mimi was so close, close enough to reach for Victoria's hand. Their fingers brushed against each other's in the twilight--

But before she could pull Victoria out into the real world, something hit Mimi with the magnitude of a firebomb, and it felt as though every atom in her body exploded out of existence.

TWENTY-FIVE

Crescent Moon

When Mimi blinked open her eyes, she was lying on the floor, covered in sawdust. A familiar face hovered above hers. She coughed. Whatever had hit her, it hurt. She felt as if she had cracked three ribs and inhaled a wall of asbestos. She was surprised to find she was still alive--she felt as if she had been pulled apart in a million pieces only to be stitched up again.

What was that? A blood spell? It had to be. What else would knock her out like that, and in the glom? But if it was a blood spell, how was she still here?

"What happened?" she choked, realizing she was now inside the attic bedroom. The door was lying open and broken on the floor next to her. She looked around--Oliver had been right: the room was plastered with the same wallpaper from the original video. The same intricate pattern. There was a chair in the middle of the room, and Venator rope was tangled at its feet. A video camera was set up right across from it. This was where Victoria had been filmed. But she wasn't here anymore. How had they been able to move her without unmasking her glom signature?

"Where is she? Where's Victoria?" she croaked.

In answer, Oliver shakily pointed to a flickering computer monitor on a desk in the middle of the empty room.

On the screen, Victoria Taylor was burning to death. Melting into the black flames. Her vampire skin was scorched and peeling, the blood turning obsidian as it was destroyed forever.

Victoria was in the Newport house. The Lennox brothers popped out of the glom, and they tried valiantly to fight the flames, but it was too late. Nothing could stop hellfire from burning once it began to consume the immortal spirit it was set to destroy.

"Goddamnit!" Sam Lennox cried, kicking at the burning chair, while his brother wept beside him.

Mimi fell to the floor, her knees buckling beneath her. She remembered: the glom, Victoria, the Venators. They had been so close. The Venators could have saved Victoria, but at the final second, the Lennoxes had turned away to try to save Mimi instead. They had seen the blood spell headed in her direction. Now they were too late. They were all too late. She had put the entire Coven in danger, she had almost been killed--and for what? She had been unable to save Victoria, just as she had been unable to save Kingsley. "Oh God."

In the end, there was nothing left of Victoria but a pile of ashes.

Mimi buried her face in her hands and sobbed. She had failed so wretchedly. She was useless. As good as a Silver Blood. Worse.

Oliver quietly shut down the computer.

Outside, the crescent moon was high in the sky, shining in its silver glory.

The Cardinal

Florence, 1452

If the Changeling was to be believed, Andreas had allowed a Silver Blood to take control of the human church. Surely Andreas could not have known. He would never allow such blasphemy. Unless . . . unless Andreas was not who Tomi thought he was. Unless he was not Michael. Unless he was not her beloved. Tomi did not know what or who to believe anymore.

This had never happened before. She could always recognize her twin in every incarnation, and every fiber of her being told her Michael was Andreas. How could she be so wrong? She could not understand it. There had to be another explanation. She could not accept it. And yet . . .

"Andreas is a traitor. I felt it, but I did not want to speak until I was sure," Gio said, articulating every doubt Tomi held in her mind.

It was midday, and the newly inducted Cardinal was receiving a line of visitors wishing to kiss his ring and congratulate him on his newly elevated position. As Venators, they skipped the line and were quickly escorted inside his private office by his secretary.

"My friends!" Savonarola greeted Gio and Tomi with open arms.

Gio wasted no time. As soon as they entered, he reached and grabbed the priest by the neck. He squeezed the Cardinal's throat until the man could not breathe. Savonarola's eyes turned silver with crimson pupils.

"Abomination!" Gio spat. "You were an angel once," he said, motioning to the view and

the world that the Blue Bloods had built--a glorious city of beauty, peace, love, and light. "We will not allow you to destroy what we have made."

"Where is your master? Where is he hiding?" Tomi demanded.

The Cardinal only cackled, but his secretary--a human Conduit hovering by the door--provided the answer. Trembling with fear, he told them, "He is in the highest tower, in the home of the Mistress--" But before he was able to finish his sentence, Savonarola burst away from the Venator's hold, grabbed a jeweled dagger from his desk, and stabbed the human to death.

"I was promised no harm would come to me!" the Cardinal cried, as Gio's sword slashed his neck, beheading the Silver Blood priest.

Prev Next