All hunters were sketchy. That was just the nature of the beast. They lived on the edges of society, hunting things that would prey on the weak and unaware. Ellen Harvelle was used to the idea that most of her associates could be viewed as criminal and damaged. She could deal just fine with that.
Connor Angel was an entirely different bag of psychosis and issues. He arrived on the hunter scene in the midst of The End of Days, whispers of Other in his heritage and the Council at his back. The combination of the three, a coincidence and two rumors, made him extremely unpopular with most hunters.
Ellen didn’t particularly care. Oh, she probably should have but he put himself between Joanna Beth and danger the first time he met them, kept doing it over the months they traveled together, and fought for the right side with a zeal that said it came natural.
Besides, he might heal a little quicker than normal but he bled just like a human.
“We should get inside!” she yelled, trying to get an arm under him, to get him to his feet and moving and out of the mud and rain as Jo hovered around them.
He grabbed her shirt instead of helping her, seams on the old thing threatening to give in to his too strong grasp, and he coughed, blood speckling his lips.
“Do you trust me?” he gasped, vivid blue eyes lit up as lightning struck the ground not too far away. Desperation etched his face as he gasped, “Ellen?”
Out here, under the rain and angry sky, wasn’t the place to take stock of the Harvelle women’s relationship with one Connor Angel; not while he was trying to bleed to death in her arms, anyway. But the corners of his eyes crinkled in pain and not laughter and she blurted, “Yes.”
Which, if she considered, she did because she trusted him alone with Jo, whose life was more important to her than her own.
Connor’s hand shook around the key ring of tiny amulets with green gems he always carried in his pocket as Jo set a hand on Ellen’s shoulder, leaning into them and asked, “Connor?”
“Trust me,” he said and crushed one of the amulets.
A wash of green blinded her and she blinked her eyes clear as a girl gasped, “Goddess!,” slapped something and said, panicked, “Medic!” The girl was kneeling in front of them, hands wavering around them as she said uncertainly, “Connor?”
“Trust me,” he murmured, hand tightening in her shirt as he gasped and spasmed with the pain. Ellen wasn’t sure which of them he was talking to but it didn’t matter. She’d trusted him this far.
The girl’s hand steadied and she pressed it softly to Connor’s forehead as she murmured something in Latin. (‘Painless sleep
,’ that voice in her head that always sounded like Ash after a bender told her.) Jo’s grip on her rifle shifted purposefully but the girl paid her no heed, stripping off what looked to be a pricey jacket and pressing it into Connor’s gaping chest. Ellen hadn’t realized, with the rain and moonless night around them, the extent of the damage.
The medics, three women and a man, came at them and, while they didn’t look worried per se, they were certainly in a hurry. They packed him off, barely glancing at Jo and Ellen, leaving them with the unnamed girl who was some kind of magical.
The girl looked at them, suddenly weary and older than anyone Ellen had ever met, and said, “Welcome to the Council.”
Ellen looked around the three-tiered, well stocked library as the girl went back to her long table that was heavily laden with scrolls and books. She took a deep breath, hand on Jo’s elbow, breathed out slow, and decided to trust.