Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Wanting To Be His

In the corner of the room, Helena bit her nails as Ben clutched Maya’s hand and muttered things in German. Maya’s body thrashed uncontrollably on the bed, and Ben acted as an anchor, keeping her in place. The sight made Helena’s heart clench like a fist. She knew well the nightmares Lazarus was willing to enforce on them to reach his goal.

Ben lifted Maya’s sleeves. Multiple bracelets with black stones dangled from her wrist. He took them off, one at the time, and eyed Helena as he set the bracelets on the carpet.

“Do you have some purification salts?” he demanded.

Helena dropped her hands to her sides. “No. Do you know where we can get some?”

“Witches. We need a witch, a siren, or a warlock. Since you have a grimoire, there must be a spell you can cast on natural salt,” Ben said.

She raised her hands in defence. “I don’t know anything about magic.”

Ben barked something in a foreign language, and his eyes settled on Helena’s neck. “That’s a protection charm. Give it to me.”

Lucious stepped in front of Helena, blocking her view. “She will do no such thing. Without a working charm, she may be taken by the demon as well.”

Helena’s hand clasped the amber stone around her neck. The colour of it was becoming clouded or maybe it was her imagination. She circled Lucious and gathered the bracelets on the floor. Each of the stones used to be a clear amber stone like hers.

“Why did they turn black?” she asked.

“The demonic energy is trapped in the amber stone of the marked one. Now that you know, give me the one you’re wearing.” He whipped his gun out, pointing it at her head.

The blood in her veins chilled, and her face paled. Helena could tell by the death stare he gave her that he would shoot her if she didn’t hand over the witch’s jewellery. Using slow, steady movements, she pulled the necklace over her head and handed it to him.

Ben mouthed a ‘thank you’ and wrapped it around Maya’s hand, touching the stone to her bare skin.

Almost immediately, Maya’s expression became more relaxed, and Helena let out a sigh of relief.

“What are you pleased about, my dear? He stole your final layer of protection. Unless you want me touching you all day, you are exposed to the demon because of it.”

Helena turned her head and gave Lucious a sheepish smile. “It’s alright. She needed it more than me.”

“Your charity will lead you to an early grave,” Lucious said in a clipped tone and stormed out of the room.

Helena studied Ben. He had his gun pointing at the ground now, his fingers loose around the weapon while he clutched Maya’s hand, pressing it to his forehead.

“I can see that you care about your friend,” Helena said.

Ben’s eyes flicked open, and he sat back on his haunches. “We’ve been partners for nine years. I am not willing to lose her to a single demon without a fight.”

Helena took in his words. When she looked at him again, he seemed preoccupied with fixing Maya’s pillows. She collected the bracelets off the floor and headed downstairs where she placed them on the counter next to the grimoire. Her eyes settled on the cover. Would there be a spell in that journal to purify these bracelets?

“You are not truly intending to cast a spell, are you?” Lucious asked behind her, making her jump.

She glared at him over her shoulder. “What if I am?”

“Children should not play with forces they cannot understand or control.”

Helena’s temper sparked. “You have kissed this child one too many times to complain about my age.”

Lucious cast his eyes downwards and combed his hand through his hair, stretching the T-shirt he was wearing over his chest. “I beg of you, please do not take everything I say to heart. It was a mere observation, not an intended insult.”

“And that’s your cue to stop talking,” she said, feeling her neck aching from the tenseness in her shoulders.

Oddly enough, he waved for her to continue as he relaxed against the counter behind him.

Helena pulled the grimoire close to her and opened it. Once again, she was met with a list of names written in different handwritings. Instead of skimming through the contents, she worked her way from the list of names on the first page, attempting to read the writing as she went along. Most of the handwriting of the early owners of the journal had faded, and she couldn’t read the majority of the words. She could only hope that those entries were not where the purification spell was.

Her eyes darted from one line to the next, from one drawing to another. Some were simple sketches of leaves with charcoal, others were pentagrams with odd writing at the corners.

“You should get Alexander to have a look at it,” Lucious suggested.

Helena rolled her eyes. “What happened to not talking?”

“I am not your dog, Helena. Please remember that I can, at any time, lock you away in one of Alexander’s properties.”

Her hand froze on the page she was scanning. She knew he meant every word without having to look at him. Lucious held all the cards. He entertained her by creating the illusion of her freedom. If he wanted to, he could easily do as he threatened, and she wouldn’t be able to put up a fight against him.

“Noted,” she said.

After a few more pages, she found the Russian text that spoke of protection and purification. She scanned the page, confirming it was the correct spell before her eyes ran through the list of ingredients.

“I need natural salt gathered from the mountains. Er…normal salt? It’s above your head in the cupboard.” She pointed behind her. “…five flames. Candles? A crystal chalice blessed by the angel’s servant, and tears of a virgin?” Helena burst into nervous laughter. “What a list…”

Lucious set the bag of salt on the counter and assessed her with newfound interest. “Virgin’s tears? Do you happen to know any?”

A blush stained her cheeks. She undid her hair-tie, letting her hair fall around her face to hide her embarrassment.

“You have not had sex yet?” Lucious asked in disbelief. “Women in this day and age tend to be much more adventurous.”

Her wave of discomfort turned to annoyance. Was he mocking her because she hadn’t given her virginity to some guy she met at a bar or during a school trip abroad? When she faced him, there was no humour in his expression, only curiosity. Her anger fizzled out.

Defeated, she said, “Yes, I guess I’m not a typical woman for this day and age.”

“It pleases me that you are picky about your partner.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. You’re not getting into my pants,” she countered and returned to the book. Where was she supposed to get a crystal chalice blessed by a servant of an angel? Did Nadine count as someone who could bless things? It wouldn’t make sense since Madeline made this for her. Surely, she wouldn’t know about Helena’s connection to a saint. What did that mean? Did they need a priest? A nun? A holy spirit? She scratched her head in frustration.

“You mustn’t forget, witches like to over-complicate things. Most of the time, they had to use the things they had lying around instead of fancy relics from sacred tombs,” Lucious added.

She turned and selected a striped blue-and-green cereal bowl from the cupboard and placed it next to the salt. “I guess this will have to do.”

Helena remembered Laura always had a few scented candles in her room. She scaled the stairs and burst into the messy bedroom for the second time. As her eyes scanned for the candles, they were also seeking anything unusual like guns or maybe ingredients for spells. When she didn’t find anything of the sort at a first glance, she gathered five vanilla scented candles from the windowsill and fled the room. She had to call Laura again once the spell worked or failed. At this point, she wasn’t sure she was doing the right thing by playing with magic and a grimoire.

She brought the candles downstairs and arranged them around the bowl, with equal spaces between the candles, at the points of a pentagram. The next line she read aloud in Russian before translating it. “Strike a match at the witching hour, lighting the North flame…”

One look at the clock on the wall told her it was 11:45 p.m. There were fifteen minutes left before midnight. She searched the drawers and found the lighter Andrew suggested they keep in case of an emergency. Obviously, he didn’t foresee a magical one.

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