Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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A Simple Threat

Lucious drifted in and out of consciousness. His jaw ached, his knees burned, and his stomach hadn’t stopped bleeding. The hunters had rested him against the kitchen island, next to Hans, with the damned UV lamps pointed at them. For some reason, he remained conscious while Vincent’s childe, who had a few centuries on him, was knocked out cold.

He squinted and studied his surroundings. Both of his arms and legs were bound with black plasma rope, crippling his movements. The same could be said about the Council’s lackey.

The sofa was turned towards the hallway. On it, Helena’s body was stretched out. Her messy chocolate-brown locks hung over the armrest. By the look on her pale face, he knew she was suffering because of him. He used what energy he had left to reinforce his mental shields. Her being weak was not a good idea, especially since the demon was able to break through her barriers today.

The two human females—Helena’s friends—were tied up on the other sofa. The hunters managed to tape their mouths shut. Their round eyes were locked on the pacing female hunter.

Lucious swallowed the battery acid scaling his throat and turned his attention to the vampire next to him. The Council’s spy had seen better days. They were both pale, but Hans looked pasty grey. How long would they last with silver bullets in them? By the amount of blood he had left in his body, he would not make it through the day.

The male hunter squatted in front of him, blocking the UV light from the lamp on the floor with his large frame. “It’s good you’re alive. It would cause trouble for the girl on the couch if you had died earlier.”

Lucious tried lifting his hand. Never had his limbs felt as heavy as lead. He gave up on the task. The attempt was draining him too fast.

“What are you after?” Lucious asked in a hoarse voice. He focused on the pulsating vein on the hunter’s throat and the thirst he sated yesterday reared its head. His eyes glowed bright blue, and the hunter smirked knowingly.

Lucious tore his gaze away from the spot and noted a tattoo of a snake wrapping around the hunter’s neck. It had to be the mark of the clan this man belonged to. Lucious frowned. He had seen that mark before on a hunter he interrogated in Berlin, over sixty years ago. He belonged to the Black Mamba clan, and they wouldn’t leave their territory unless there was a specific request for elimination of something powerful.

“The same thing you are after—the demon’s death,” the hunter replied.

“Then why are you doing this?” Lucious didn’t like having a hunter close to Helena. The others were dispensable, but not her.

The hunter grinned. “Because trusting a vampire to watch your back is like believing you won’t be burned if you play with fire.”

Beneath the tattoo, Lucious spied three long scars. They were larger than a palm of a human or a vampire. A werewolf attack? But, this man most definitely was not bitten. His scent differentiated him to be human. “I did not ask for your trust, hunter. My curiosity lies with why, instead of talking, you chose to shoot first.”

“No vampire would listen to a hunter. It’s why the first chance you got you pulled a gun on us.”

“A fair point,” Lucious admitted. His eyelids were getting heavier the longer he spoke. He tried pushing the sleep back, but his body rejected the idea.

“Don’t worry. If Maya decides this cooperation is pointless, I’ll take you out in the most humane way possible.”

Lucious chuckled and winced as the vibration in his chest caused the bullet to shift in his stomach. He sucked in a breath through his teeth. “That may be the best news I’ve heard today.”

“Glad you see it my way.”

“Come here, Ben. I think she’s coming around,” the redhead—Maya—announced. Her face hovered a few inches above Helena’s as she studied her with interest.

With a faint grunt, Helena peeled her eyes open. She let out an ear-piercing wail that made the female hunter jump back in surprise and point her gun at Helena’s face.

“Shit. She’s more energetic than I expected,” Maya said.

Ben arrived at Maya’s side, his gun already out of the holster. Judging by his stance, although he was looking at Helena and the girls, his attention was on Lucious and the other vampire.

Helena eyed both of them with suspicion. She scanned the room, and her eyes bulged when she saw Lucious and Hans. “What have you done? Who are you?”

Maya holstered her weapon and slid off her coat. Underneath, she wore a black tank top and a pair of cargo trousers. She showed her shoulder to Helena.

From where Lucious sat, it was hard to make out, but there seemed to be a tattoo similar to the flower Helena had on her shoulder.

Helena gasped. “You’re marked.”

“Before I bother introducing myself, what can you do to help us kill the bastard hunting us?” Maya asked.

Helena froze. She nibbled on her lip while her mind seemed to struggle with putting together an answer.

Past the pain, Lucious concentrated on the link. “Tell them there’s a weapon we can kill the demon with.”

“Alright,” she responded and looked at the two hunters. “There’s a weapon that can kill him.”

“And where is said weapon?” Maya asked.

Helena shrugged. “I found out about it yesterday before Lazarus dragged me into another nightmare.”

“Convenient…” Maya mumbled and shared a look with Ben. She sighed, and the male hunter lowered his weapon. He took a couple of steps back until he was propped up against the wall with the view of the entire living area.

The redhead ran her hand through her messy hair and eyed the vampires. “Alright. I may as well introduce myself. I am Maya, a hunter, and that’s Ben.” She pointed to her partner. “He is also a hunter. We kill those things.” She inclined her head in Lucious’ direction, and he fought the barrage of foul curses that threatened to escape him. “Your guardian said you’ll be useful, so here I am.”

Helena perked up at the mention of her angel. “Have you seen Michael? Is he alright? Is he with you?”

Maya shook her head. “He showed up two days ago and after we fired half a dozen silver bullets his way, which went through him by the way, we decided to listen to what he had to say.”

“Oh…” Helena’s face fell.

Lucious let out a groan as the bullet in his stomach shifted. He hissed out a cuss and doubled over in pain. His concentration on his shields broke, and Helena fell to the ground, clutching her stomach as she reflected his agony.

“Ah, shit. We should do something about the vampire linked to her,” Maya told Ben.

“We can’t trust the vampires,” her partner replied sternly.

“It’s either that or she dies. Turn off the lamp and get him on the table. We’ll have to cut him open right here,” Maya added and rushed to the kitchen island.

Lucious heard newspapers and magazines sliding off the countertop and falling on the floor a few feet away from him. The male hunter turned off the UV lamp, grabbed him under the armpits, and hauled him into a standing position.

Lucious’ vision blurred as his body was lifted off the ground. Searing pain shot through his system. His legs almost gave way, and he was begrudgingly thankful for the hunter’s support. He could hear Helena’s mental agony and willed his shields to remain strong, yet there was nothing he could do. The pain gnawed at his brain along with the burning in his system. Bloody silver…

Ben pushed him onto the table, and Maya handed him a pair of scissors. She grinned at Lucious. Not a hint of sympathy or remorse reflected in her dark-green eyes. For someone who couldn’t be older than twenty-two, she seemed like a woman who had slaughtered dozens of his kind and enjoyed every last second of it. Having a person like her near Helena caused his jaw to clench and a low growl escaped him.

“Don’t look so glum, big boy. Be thankful you won’t be turning to dust by my hand tonight,” she said while her partner cut open Lucious’ bloodstained shirt.

Maya lifted Lucious’ arms over his head and held on to the end of the rope. “You better endure this.”

Lucious warily watched the hunter spreading the material of his shirt apart.

“I never thought I’d have to save one of you,” the hunter mumbled.

Lucious glared at him. “And I never wanted to be saved by a bloody hunter.”

“Ah, cheer up and bite down on this.” Maya shoved a kitchen towel into his mouth.

The male hunter took one of the kitchen knives off the stand and sliced a line about three inches long where the bullet wound was located.

Lucious tried his best to control his body as his vision swam. He glanced at the white ceiling. It seemed to go from white to dark grey the longer he stared at it. In an attempt to distract himself further, he rolled his head to one side. Helena was already on the ground, clutching her stomach and panting into the rug. Perri appeared intent on scooting towards her while Helena’s roommate was nervously glancing at the exit.

As hunter’s hand peeled Lucious’ skin and muscle apart, Lucious sank his teeth into the gag. He willed every last piece of his energy into his shields before the pain became too much for his system to handle and his consciousness slipped away.

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