Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Friend Or Foe?

Lucious left Helena in her room once she fell asleep. As he descended the stairs, he gripped the railing to stop from falling. The healing was taking longer than usual and because he was feeding every day, his thirst was spinning out of control. Seeing her sleeping on the bed, vulnerable and open for him to take, he struggled not to bite into her neck. Without realising it, he was already pushing her hair away from her jugular, obsessed with the sweet taste that ran through her veins. That was when he knew it was dangerous to remain with her for long.

He entered the living area and found Alexander sitting there alone. Alexander had dismissed his women while Lucious went to check on Helena. Perhaps it was for the best. His control was waning.

Alexander pointed to the seat across from him. “Sit. We have much to discuss, my friend.”

Lucious abandoned the pretence of being fine and lumbered over to the sofa where he collapsed into a seat and let the back of the furniture keep his head upright. He found his situation to be quite amusing. Here he was, unable to defend a single human while the hunters were on their way back to this apartment. Should I bring her to Alexander’s warehouse?

“Why must you do this to yourself?” Alexander asked, concern shining in his eyes.

Lucious managed to lift his shoulder in a form of a shrug. “I find this misery hilarious, perhaps?”

“This isn’t the time for jokes. You were lucky they didn’t kill you last night.”

Lucious’ false humour dispersed. “Indeed, I would have been dead if it weren’t for her.”

“She is the reason you are in this mess! Can you not see that?” Alexander shouted. His shoulders shook and his hands fisted in his lap.

Raising his brow, Lucious assessed his friend’s outburst. Alexander was a man of logic and quick judgement. He never let his emotions control him. Yet, here he was, breaking his own rules.

“I would not have survived had it not been for her. She is the reason I can walk in the sunlight, Alexander. I have felt the UV rays of the lamp on me and their effect was minimal,” Lucious explained. “The bond we share may be a burden, but I must admit, there are many perks of being tied to this woman.”

Alexander massaged his temples, and his frown deepened. “Are you telling me you are enjoying this? You? The man who slaughtered half of the hunters in London while on your rampage?” He shook his head. “She had to have brainwashed you. That is the only explanation for this tomfoolery.”

“You must realise that times change, and we must change with them. Anna is alive and well. I cannot ask for more.”

“She is Eliza’s slave, Lucious, or have you forgotten that titbit?”

Lucious disliked the idea of his sire being restricted by Eliza’s schemes. Yet, Anna assured him she was treated well and that he should return to Helena’s side. In a way, protecting Helena was a direct order from his sire—an order he would not defy.

“I didn’t mean to say that, I’m sorry,” Alexander added and ran his hand through his short platinum locks. “That human irks me for some reason. Every time I see her, I want to snap her neck.”

As Lucious sat up properly, the muscles in his gut screamed their agony with every ripple. He grimaced but managed to give his undivided attention to his friend. “You would be snapping my neck at the same time if you act on your desires.”

“I know. You don’t have to remind me. She is just…” Alexander searched for a word as he tapped his index finger against his thigh. “…a nuisance.”

“You may be right or you may be wrong. I do not see her as such. I see a young woman who has survived through a stay with two Council members. I see a girl who desperately clings to life while battling against powers she doesn’t understand. Don’t you find that commendable?”

Alexander pressed his lips into a grim line as he stared at his hands. “You are right. I did not think of her like that.”

“You two have a lot in common. It may be the reason why you clash to this extent.” For his words, Lucious received another glare.

“Do not compare me to that human! And by God, put on a shirt, Lucious. How long do you plan to walk around like a homeless man?”

Lucious chuckled and studied his torn jeans, or what was left of them. He liked his shirt until the hunters ripped it to shreds. “I will search for something suitable in my childe’s room. Although his clothes are close-fitting, they will have to do for the time being.”

“Ah, that’s another matter I wanted to discuss with you. Andrew is coming back next Friday. That gives you…” Alexander mumbled the numbers under his breath. “Nine more days to play with the human.”

It was Lucious’ turn to run his hand through his hair in frustration. He did not get along with his childe. It was a miracle both of them could be in the same room and not try to kill one another. Even if Andrew wished to do it, he wouldn’t be able to. The childe-sire bond would prevent him from harming Lucious.

“Don’t look so distraught, but he will want to see her. He asks me about her well-being every time we speak on the phone.”

“You know me, Alexander. I dislike dealing with him. This whole ‘siring a newborn’ business was a mistake I made to force her to cooperate with me. I did not have enough time to consider the consequences.”

Alexander sighed. “You reap what you sow. Deal with your childe when he returns. If you are available, I suggest collecting him at the airport and having a pleasant meal together. You could give Helena to him to build your friendship further.”

“Out of the question!” Lucious snapped. “She is mine.”

“What is the point of keeping such a weak human at your side when you can have Zafira?”

“Zafira will never love me. We are merely partners in bed upon occasion.”

Alexander’s brow arched. “You are as blind as a bat, my friend. And, I do hope you are not planning on falling for this mortal anytime soon.”

“I am not falling for her. She is a tool I must tame.”

Alexander pointed at him. “As blind as a bat.”

“Enough with the pointless chatter, I must rest to heal. Please look into the weapon I mentioned over the phone,” Lucious said, rising. He ignored the piercing sensation shooting through his kneecaps and focused on his friend, awaiting an answer.

“I will look into it, as long as you keep searching for a way to break the bond with her. Since she is close with Vincent, you could try pushing her in that direction. I heard his library on supernatural matters is a dream come true for many scholars.”

“I will do what I can.”

Alexander stood and planted a hand on Lucious’ shoulder. “Take better care of yourself. You are one of the few friends I have left in this world.”

“And you as well,” Lucious replied and stumbled over to the staircase.

He did not wait for Alexander to leave before climbing the steps at a human’s pace. At the top, he wandered into Andrew’s room where he opened the wardrobe and selected a grey T-shirt from the middle shelf as well as a pair of jeans. Lucious undid the buttons on his shredded jeans and peeled off the material stuck to his skin via patches of dried blood. After a quick shower, he changed into the new, ill-fitting clothes.

The hunters hadn’t returned, and he entered Helena’s room. The link sent a tremor of longing through him, tickling his gut as he drew close to her. With his thirst back under control, he sat on the edge of the bed, studying her sleeping face. She seemed too exposed, and he wanted to hide her somewhere where only he could control her movements. What stopped him was an unsettling fear of seeing her hateful expression directed towards him.

He ran his hands through her messy hair, brushing it away from her face. Her brows knitted together in discomfort, and he removed his hand. Once her face relaxed again, he bent over her and planted a chaste kiss on her forehead. He knew he lied to Alexander when he said he was using her. This alien emotion residing in him—a strong willingness to protect her and an urge to hold her in his arms—was different to the brief bursts of lust he had when he was with Zafira. Yet, he would never admit this to anyone.

Lucious settled in behind her. He gently rolled her onto her side and pressed her back against his chest. Peace flooded through him—the kind he craved every time he was apart from her. Be it emotions induced by the link between them or his own; he no longer cared. He simply wanted to have her.

Inhaling her scent, he enjoyed her lavender shampoo that helped lull him to sleep.

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