Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Friend Or Foe pt. 3

Straight out of the shower, she brushed her teeth and tied her wet hair into a messy bun on top of her head. She searched her room for her phone and remembered that Maya had smashed the communication devices they had on them after tying everyone up.

Helena rushed into Laura’s room, mumbling an apology to no one in particular as she set foot over the threshold. Clothes and underwear were scattered on every available surface. A colourful array of bras hung from the full-length mirror in the corner of the room next to the built-in wardrobe. How could a Psychology student be this messy?

She waded through the minefield of clothes to a chest of drawers where she was pretty sure Laura kept a spare phone. The top drawer was bursting with more underwear, so she pulled out the next one. Her eyes settled on her grandmother’s leather-bound journal. What’s it doing in Laura’s room? Helena had been searching for it since she returned from London. She had asked Laura about its possible whereabouts, but her friend declared she knew nothing about it before she and her family went on a holiday abroad.

A spare smartphone lay next to it. She took them both out of the drawer. Although Laura took the journal, she couldn’t read it, right?

Helena went downstairs and gathered the remains of her old phone near the bin in the kitchen. She peeled off the casing and the battery until she rescued her intact sim card. When she was done, she slotted it into the new device and turned it on. Ever since she got involved with vampires, she decided to keep her contacts on her sim card. Technology around them didn’t seem to last long.

Looking past the kitchen island, she found Lucious laying on the sofa with his arm over his eyes, completely relaxed in her presence. She scanned the living area. Everything was back to normal, no loose ropes, UV lamps, or puke lying around that she could complain about. Did he clean while she slept?

Her phone buzzed in her hand, stating it was finally turned on. She skimmed through her contacts till she found Perri’s name. She pressed the call button and waited for Perri’s loud voice to assault her eardrums. “Helena, thank God you called. Are you alright? Did they do anything else to you? Should we come back?”

Helena had to move the phone away from her ear to not go deaf.

When Perri took in a deep breath, Helena used this intermission and said, “Perri, I’m fine. The hunters have not returned since they left.”

“Oh, that may be for the best,” Perri replied, sounding relieved.

“I think Michael called them here to help fight the demon. He would not endanger me otherwise.”

“Hum, I don’t know. I’ve never met this ‘Michael’, but if you think he is a good person, I believe you. Wait, Hans has something he wants to tell you,” Perry added, and his gruff voice replaced hers.

“Helena, after conversing with Master Vincent, we have received orders to return to Scotland. He believes it is too dangerous for Perri to remain here due to the development of such unfortunate events.”

Helena’s expression fell, and she clutched the journal to her chest. More people were leaving her side. “I get it.”

“In the meantime, I urge you to find a different place to reside at. The hunters may not have returned yet, but that does not mean that they will not.”

“I will deal with them. Don’t worry.”

Hans sighed. “As you wish. I bid you farewell.”

“Look after her,” Helena added.

“I always do.” Hans ended the call.

Helena clutched the smartphone in her hand. Would everyone eventually leave her? She glanced at Lucious who was studying her from the sofa. Once the bond was broken between them, would he also abandon her?

“What is it you’re holding?” Lucious asked.

“My grandmother’s journal.”

He made his way to her, and his eyes narrowed on the cover. “That is a witch’s grimoire.”

“How do you know what it is if you haven’t seen the contents?”

“I can sense powerful protection spells on it. They are like ants crawling under my skin,” he said with distaste.

She rested the journal on the counter and stroked the carved outlines of the fern leaves. “I don’t feel anything from it.”

“Because you are permitted to use it. Are you practising magic?”

She assessed his sudden interest. “I’m not. I found it in Laura’s room.”

“Protected magical objects such as this cannot be seen by humans without certain charms. Unless she is of Wiccan origin, your friend may be someone else.”

Helena folded her arms. “Laura is not a witch, and what do you mean by someone else?”

“Hunters carry charms, allowing them to see magical items. Select hunter clans work with converted witches to seek out and eliminate other beings. They cast spells of protection and sight on charms or weapons instead of being directly involved in the fighting.”

Her hands fell to her sides and her eyes were drawn to the journal. “Laura could see it from the beginning… But, isn’t there another explanation for this?”

Lucious grasped her shoulder. “Hunter or a witch, my dear, no one else could have touched that journal of yours. Just like I cannot hold it without your express permission.”

He seemed to be telling the truth. Helena looked at her phone again. She selected Laura’s number in the contacts and separated from him. The repetitive beeping was constant until the voicemail kicked in. Helena tried calling three more times, but Laura didn’t pick up. She always picked up her phone, even in the middle of her Pilates class.

“I can’t reach her,” Helena said as she put the phone next to the grimoire.

“Could you give me permission to have a look at it?”

She licked her lower lip. The sting of her cut from earlier hurt. With her permission, what would he do with it? The grimoire was important to her and somewhere in there was information about her missing father. She had to uncover it.

“No.” She gathered the journal into her arms.

Lucious raised a brow. “Why not?”

“Because I said so. Now, let me through. I need to hide it before—”

“Before we show up?” Maya’s voice came from behind Lucious.

He turned at an inhuman speed. With a guarded expression, he assessed the two hunters standing at the entrance to the living area. “You’ve masked your heartbeats.”

Maya smirked. “For a vampire who slaughtered my brothers and sisters, you are a bit slow.”

“What are you talking about?” Helena asked, her attention darting between the two of them.

Maya lifted a small dictaphone from her pocket and pressed the ‘play’ button on the side.

Alexander’s voice came first. “Are you telling me you are enjoying this? You? The man who slaughtered half of the hunters in London while on your rampage?

Maya’s smirk turned into a sneer. “He talked about you as well.” She pressed another button to fast forward.

As the seconds ticked by, Helena’s stomach sank.

Next, Lucious’ annoyed voice came from the tiny speaker. “I am not falling for her. She is a tool I must tame.”

Betrayal stung Helena’s heart. Her mind replayed his words like a frenzied chant, telling her she was wrong from the get-go. She could never trust him. As per usual, he was trying to use her. Her hands gripped the journal.

Lucious reached for her. “I can explain.”

“Don’t. Touch. Me,” she spat out every word.

Lucious dropped his hand as a brief flash of hurt crossed his features. He glared at the hunters. “Are you pleased with your machinations?”

“Very!” Maya announced with a smile. “Don’t worry, Helena, we only bugged the living room.”

Helena glided to the kitchen island in an attempt to put some distance between her and everyone else. She grabbed the phone and slid it into the back pocket of her jeans. “Are we going to talk without guns being pointed at us this time?”

Maya nodded. “Of course. As long as your friend here keeps his distance.”

Lucious let out a faint snarl, and Helena caught him by the wrist. Although she didn’t want to touch him, she couldn’t ruin their chance of getting these hunters to help their cause.

He glared at her and tore his hand out of her grasp. Folding his arms across his chest, he rested his hip against the counter. “If you harm her, these pleasantries are over.”

“Looks like we have an agreement,” Ben said next to Maya. He took off his coat and tossed it on the sofa. “But first, why do you have a grimoire.”

Helena swallowed loudly. Hunters could see the grimoire. Her eyes searched both of them for anything that could be called a ‘charm’ and came up with nothing. Their black clothes covered every inch of their skin except for their faces and hands.

Ben smiled knowingly at Helena. “You are searching for a charm, yes? Sorry, we were listening in to your enlightening conversations. We had to know if we could trust you.”

“And?” Helena asked.

“It would seem that we—” Ben’s attention darted to Maya who doubled over in pain.

Maya clutched her stomach and tumbled to her knees. Her partner was instantly at her side, and Helena heard Lucious’ voice seeping into her head.

“I can eliminate them. This is our chance…”

Helena stepped in front of him, getting the full brunt of his scorching glare.

“You won’t touch them.”

“Do you not know how dangerous they are?”

Her eyes narrowed. “They may be dangerous, but they’re upfront about their intentions!”

“I told you, I did not mean it like that.”

“Enough,” Helena spoke aloud. She tossed the journal on the counter and darted to Maya’s side.

Maya’s forehead was covered in sweat. Her fringe stuck to her skin. Ben brushed away her damp hair and gathered her in his arms.

“Where is the nearest bed?” Ben yelled.

Helena pointed at the ceiling. “You can use my room. It’s the second of the left.”

“Thanks.” He rushed up the staircase, taking two steps at the time.

Helena turned to follow suit, but Lucious caught her shoulder. His sullen words tugged at her heart. “Is this cooperation what you truly want?”

She recognised his uncertainty through the link and did her best to ignore it. “Yes. I’m sure. Now let me go. I need to check on Maya.”

His grip on her shoulder turned painful. “I did not mean the words I said in that recording.”

She fought not to look over her shoulder to see his expression. It shouldn’t matter what his excuses were. She should have learned by now that it was wrong to trust vampires because they always had hidden agendas. In the end, they would always betray or hurt her.

“It doesn’t matter.” She shrugged him off and stopped short of the staircase. In a tired voice, she said, “Don’t touch me as you please anymore.”

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