Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Donors Not Hookers pt. 3

Helena groaned. A headache was killing her, so she massaged her forehead. She blinked a few times, trying to grasp her surroundings. She was at home or, more correctly, her parents’ place. Across the dining table sat Richard and her mother. They had unsettling, blank expressions on their faces. Their eyes stared into space.

She reached across the table and prodded her mother’s hand. “Mum?”

Sasha didn’t respond, remaining motionless like a mannequin.

Helena withdrew and scanned the room. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Everything was in the same place. The light seemed less intense, creating shadows in the corners of the room. Her heart resonated in her head, giving her headache more life. She tried her best to ignore it and ran around the table to her mother’s side.

“Wake up, Mum. Mum?” She shook Sasha by the shoulders.

Her mother’s expression remained the same.

Helena’s skin prickled, and Lazarus’ energy swarmed the dining room. He appeared behind Richard, resting his hand on her step-father’s shoulder.

“It is so nice to see you and your family, my flower.”

Helena backed away, her attention fully focused on the demon. “What do you want?”

“That question is getting old.”

She gripped the table’s edge with her left hand which gave her weak limbs some support. Her eyes scanned the room in search of a way out. She could run outside, but she would be abandoning her parents. Her knuckles grew pale from her grip on the wood.

Lazarus advanced a step. His hand landed on Sasha’s head, and he stroked her platinum hair with a gentleness Helena didn’t expect from a demon.

Helena pushed away from the table and balled her hands. She didn’t care if her nails were digging into her skin. Anger heated her from within, pushing back the fear he was masterfully inducing.

“Don’t touch her!”

“Do you believe I care for your orders? You are a young soul with next to no potential energy. Because of your entanglement with the undead in your realm, your lifespan isn’t very promising either. Yet, instead of surrendering your soul and sparing your family the torment, you try to fight a losing battle. Where is the logic in that?”

He grasped Sasha’s hair, yanking her head back with an audible crack so that her empty, hollow eyes were staring at him. “Have you ever wondered why only daughters are born in your family tree?” he asked and smirked. “By your expression, I can tell that you did not.”

Helena hated herself for remaining where she was. Every fibre in her wanted to dive forwards and kick him where it would hurt any man, but logic—or fear—kept her feet cemented in one place.

“What are you talking about?”

“Not a single male was born in your family line for the past two centuries. Why do you think that is?”

Helena frowned. Although she hadn’t paid much attention to her family tree, she was certain only women were born as descendants. Even statistically speaking, it was an anomaly. “Why do you care what I think? You just want to take my soul, right?”

“It’s not your soul, in particular, I’m after. Your soul is mundane at best and wouldn’t be enough for what I wish to achieve.” He let go of Sasha’s head and took a step closer. Helena automatically took one back. He kept advancing until her back hit the wall and her breath was knocked out of her lungs.

Pale-faced, she stared into his crimson and black eyes. “What are you after?”

Lazarus grinned. His razor-sharp teeth looked like they could bite through bone. “You’ll figure it out.”

She tried to move, but her body ignored her commands. It was as if the wall behind her had merged with her, keeping her in place.

His long curving claw ran the length of her cheek, scratching her skin.

She tried to swallow the knot that kept her from speaking. Her body was paralysed. She could do nothing as he leant in and hissed into her ear. “I won’t take your soul yet, my flower. I only want you to know that I can do so whenever I please.”

Her shoulder burned again and her vision faded. As her headache dissipated, she peeled open her eyes in a hospital ward with Perri, Hans, and Lucious staring at her. She clutched the hospital gown over her sweaty chest. Her breathing came in uneven pants.

Lucious was already at her side. His hand wrapped around her neck, and he slammed her back into the pillow hard enough for the air to wheeze out of her.

“You dim-witted woman!”

Hans tried to pry him off of her, but Lucious released his energy and Hans stumbled backwards.

Perri’s hands shot to her neck. The shock was painted on her face as it reddened. She was suffocating.

“I told you not to go alone!” Lucious roared. “I said I would protect you, yet you ignore my words and go off to see a saint and get taken by the demon. I should throttle you right here and be done with it.” His fingers tightened on her throat.

She looked up at him, her eyes welling up as she struggled to take a breath. “I—I’m…sorry.”

Lucious’ hand shook, and he withdrew it. “Perhaps I should heed Alexander’s suggestion and keep you under lock and key. That way, you will remain where I can see you.”

Helena gasped for air. Grateful it was finally flowing freely into her lungs, she glanced at Perri whose face was returning to its normal shade. She tried sitting up and swayed.

Lucious caught her. Unlike a second ago, his touch was gentle and the rest of his energy retreated.

The door to the private room swung open. Helena’s mother’s hair was dishevelled, and Richard still had his lab coat on when they entered. Their eyes found her straight away, and her mother launched to her side.

“Are you alright? What happened?” Richard asked, and Sasha hugged her.

Helena forced a smile. “I’m okay.”

“It seems she was a little anaemic and fainted in the street after visiting a friend,” Hans said.

Sasha drew back and pinched Helena’s cheeks. “What did I tell you about skipping meals? Do you want me to come and feed you every day?”

“We must be going,” Hans took Perri’s hand and led her out of the room.

Helena was thankful they wouldn’t witness the further embarrassment she was about to undergo. And, by her mother’s expression, she had a lot more in store.

“Sowry. ’is won’t ’appen again, I ’omise,” Helena mumbled.

Her mother let her aching cheeks go and looked at Lucious. He was holding on to Helena’s hand, providing her with subtle warmth.

“Since you look well, we should take you home,” Richard suggested.

Lucious smiled. “No need. I will take her back and make certain she is well.”

Sasha and her husband exchanged some silent words with their eyes that Helena wasn’t privy to. She never understood how couples could, with one look, tell what their partner was thinking.

Her mother kissed her on the forehead and gave Lucious her Hollywood smile. “We will fill out the paperwork and be on our way if you promise to take good care of her. Make sure she eats her meals.”

“Of course, Mrs Hawthorn. You have my word.”

Richard’s eyes lingered on her as if trying to ascertain if she was alright, and her parents filed out of the room.

Lucious pulled up a chair next to her and sighed. It was the only sound that disturbed the silence between them.

Helena touched his hand. “Lucious, Nadine mentioned something about a way to kill a demon. We have to find a weapon created by the gods. She called it an ’Arcanae Mortum’ blade.”

He pushed her hand aside. “I will look into it after I return you to the apartment. But first, you must answer me this. Do you trust her?”

Did she trust Nadine? Her personality had changed dramatically ever since she found out Helena was soul-bound to Lucious. Nadine was a saint—a being she knew nothing about. Yet, she wanted to believe the girl and be her friend. Nadine hadn’t once hurt Helena. On the contrary, she wanted to protect her by getting rid of Lucious and, in turn, revealed what she was to everyone.

“I think she is a good person.”

“Be cautious of her. We don’t know what her goals may be.” Lucious collected her clothes from the small chest of drawers in the corner of the room and placed them on the bed. “Get changed.”

She reached for her clothes and winced. Her elbow ached. She lifted her sleeve to find it bandaged. “When did I get hurt?”

“Must have been when you collapsed. Do you want me to help you?”

Helena’s cheeks heated, and she glared at him. “No! Go outside. I’ll be out in a few.”

Lucious shook his head. “That is not going to happen, my dear. I will turn around, but you must change in my presence. Leaving you alone is too dangerous.”

Regardless of his point, the embarrassment didn’t lessen. She gathered her clothes to her chest and climbed out of her bed.

When he didn’t move, she raised a brow. “Didn’t you say you would turn around?”

He sighed and faced the wall. His broad back gave her some reassurance. Gingerly, she lifted her gown and folded it on the bed. She was glad the nurse was kind enough to leave her underwear on. She picked up her T-shirt with her good hand and straightened it out on the bed. With great care, she pushed both of her arms into the cloth and let out a pained cry. Raising her arms, the material slid over her face, blocking her vision. Soon, it became a fight to find a way out. Her throbbing elbow repeatedly brushed the sides, causing it to hurt more. She cursed.

Lucious appeared at her side. His hands held on to her bare waist, and he spoke next to her ear, “What’s the matter?”

Helena struggled to find words amidst her embarrassing state. Her body heated up. Could he hear her nervous heartbeat? She untangled her good arm and pushed his hands away from her bare skin where they burned holes in her.

“Fine. Just fine. I got stuck and hurt my arm.”

Lucious’ hands returned to where they were. They glided along her sides, and she swayed on her heels.

He guided her take a seat on the bed. “I’ll help you.”

Helena’s face was buried in her T-shirt, but she knew he was close. He lifted the material, revealing her chest and her flushed face. He helped her pull each arm through the sleeves with an unnecessary slowness that was driving her mad. She couldn’t deny the fact that the string between them was dancing to the tune of her heart, representing her nerves.

Lucious grabbed her jeans and guided each foot in, carefully lifting the material up her leg while caressing her skin with his thumbs. She bit her lip and squeezed her eyes shut, praying this sensual torment would be over soon, and he would be out of her personal space. The intimate distance was breeding the need to be closer. It was something she hadn’t experienced before—an addiction she was beginning to enjoy.

When the jeans were around her knees, he helped her stand. In one swift movement, he tugged them up and buttoned them. “There, all done.”

Helena peered at his handsome face. He wore a blank expression, and her heart sank. Just as she expected, this incident meant nothing to him. “Thanks.”

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