Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Wanting To Be His pt. 2

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.

She poured the salt into the bowl and recalled the saddest thing she could—Andrew’s death. No tears surfaced.

“Are you trying to induce tears?” Lucious asked with a hint of a smile.

“Is it that obvious?”

He chuckled. “You look like someone stole your favourite teddy bear.”

Helena pursed her lips together. “Do you have a better way to make me cry?”

“Is that a challenge?” he inquired, getting closer.

She raised her hands in the air. “No. No, it’s not!”

Lucious smirked. Grabbing her wrists, he propelled her into his solid chest. Her hands were trapped between their bodies, and warmth pervaded through his clothing.

Desperate to not enjoy his touch, she focused her busy mind on anything other than the way he felt against her body. The longer he held her, the more she relaxed and, eventually, she closed her eyes. A stinging pain in her side alerted her, and she tried to tear away from him.

“What are you doing?” she yelled.

“I believe I’m pinching you,” he replied smartly.

Tears rushed to the surface, and he finally let her go. She glared at him with watering eyes.

“Well, do not waste my efforts by glaring at me for the rest of the night. Put those tears to good use.”

Although she wanted to smack him with everything she had, she abandoned the idea after checking the time. Five minutes left.

She sniffled, rubbing her pulsating side to soothe the ache. She lowered her head above the bowl of salt.

“I’ll pay you back for this,” she whispered.

“And I will be looking forward to it.”

Two drops fell onto the salt crystals, and she wiped the rest away once the pain in her side faded. She lifted her shirt, seeing a lot of red skin where he had pinched her. It would certainly bruise later. Murmuring a curse, she picked up the lighter and pressed the button, rousing a tiny flame to spring to life at the metal opening. She moved the lighter to the candle she thought was closest to the north, and Lucious caught her hand.

“Not that one.” He indicated to the candle above the bowl. “Simple terms, remember?”

Helena followed his suggestion, and, once the clock ticked over midnight, she lit the first candle above the bowl. One at a time, she lit the rest in a clockwise manner. With five flames dancing, Helena lifted the grimoire and read the incantation.

She read it once, twice, thrice, yet nothing magical happened. No wind appeared out of nowhere. No fireworks sounded in the distance. Hollywood gave her way too many expectations. Checking the clock again informed her it was already 12:10 a.m.

Am I too late?Did the spell not work?

Lucious quietly observed everything from the side. “Are you finished playing around?”

She shot him a glare worth a million daggers and crossed her arms. “Seriously? You are not helping.”

He pointed at the bracelets. “The only way to test it is to drop an amber stone into the salt.”

Helena gingerly took one of the bracelets and let it fall onto the pile of salt while her heart rate soared to new heights. A second later, the salt began to smoke, and Helena stumbled backwards. She stared in awe and horror as black smoke rose from the bowl then faded into thin air.

“Hum, looks like you really are a virgin.”

Helena prayed for patience when she faced him. In an instant, his lips were pressed against hers. She moaned her pleasure and cursed inwardly at her weak will. Her hand flew up in an attempt to push his face away, but he caught her wrist and deepened the kiss.

She nipped his lower lip, and he finally drew away.

“That was uncalled for,” he said with blood running down his chin.

“What’s uncalled for is you making a move on me.”

He wiped the blood and licked it off the pad of his thumb. “I got too excited about the results. It would seem there is a dash of Wiccan in your veins. Yet, you do not smell like a witch. Curious, indeed.”

“Witches have a distinct smell to vampires?”

“Only the well-practiced ones. White witches have a tendency to reek of herbs and blood witches stink of rotten meat.”

“Why rotten meat?”

He leant in close. “Because they use a lot of sacrifices and the smell of burning flesh clings to them.”

Her stomach lurched at the image her mind conjured. She wrinkled her nose and swatted him on the shoulder.

Once he moved back, Helena assessed her handiwork. The bracelet was restored and the amber stones attached regained their orange colour. She selected the next bracelet and repeated the procedure until she ran out of them.

After she was done, she slipped two bracelets on her left wrist, leaving the rest on the counter.

“See, I’m protected again.” She showed off the magical jewellery to him.

Lucious rubbed his eyes. “I am pleased you have found your calling in life. You may now work for the hunters, creating their charms to help them eliminate more vampires.”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“Believe me, my dear, once they find out what you can do, the hunters will give you a choice. You can work for them or be cremated. Or, better yet, dismembered.”

She cringed. “You’re kidding—”

Lucious shook his head, his expression serious. “I do not joke about such matters. Your safety is my priority. I had hoped you would fail in the ritual, but now that you have succeeded, it appears you may need to sleep with one eye open.”

A loud growl escaped her and her hands covered her stomach.

Lucious gave her a look of disapproval. “I told you to eat something earlier. Why did you ignore my words?”

“I forgot…” Helena opened the fridge door and her heart sank at the same time her stomach produced another vocal complaint. “It’s pretty empty in here.”

“What are you doing walking around?” The sternness in Lucious’ voice startled her.

Helena turned on the spot, seeing Maya standing there with a pleased smile on her face.

“Looks like you will be useful,” Maya said.

Lucious’ body tensed, and Helena knew he was ready to defend her if the need arose.

“Maya, are you sure you should be moving around?” Helena asked.

The hunter shrugged. “I despise being bedridden. Plus, I wanted to apologise for Ben stealing your charm. He is a bit overprotective of his trainees.”

“A bit…” Lucious grumbled loud enough for Helena to hear.

“Since we’re both starving, how about we go shopping?” Maya suggested.

Helena spared a look at the clock. “I doubt anything will be open.”

“Don’t you guys have 24-hour supermarkets around?”

“Er—there are a few scattered around the city. Most are, at least, ten kilometres away, though,” Helena explained.

The hunter waved for her to follow. “No worries, I’ve got a car.”

Lucious captured Helena’s upper arm in a vice-like grip. “She is not going with you alone.”

“I must agree with the vampire. You are not going with her, Maya,” Ben added and descended the rest of the stairs with the sound of his heavy boots hitting the metal steps. He strode into the living area, studying everyone with an intense stare.

Maya grinned at him. “You’re so bossy, Ben. It’s time to make friends with them since we’ve already decided to work together.”

“Maya, I still—”

Her expression fell, and she hugged him. Ben seemed taken aback by Maya’s action as he didn’t know where to put his arms, so they hovered around her in the air.

“Please, can I go food shopping with Helena?” Maya pleaded with a perfectly crafted pair of puppy-dog eyes.

Lucious and Helena glanced at one another with an unspoken question hanging in the air.

Through the link, she said, “Are all hunters like this?”

“Only the ones who belong in Bedlam, my dear.”

“Ah…” Helena glanced back to the hugging hunters. She had bad luck when it came to making friends. After all, not a single one of them turned out to be a normal human.

“Are you coming?” Maya asked triumphantly.

“Sure,” she replied. Not like she had much to lose at this point.

Maya took her hand and led her upstairs.

In silence, the hunter rummaged through Helena’s closet. She found a pair of grey skinny jeans and a red sweater. Maya pulled her top over her head, and Helena gasped at the numerous scars covering her small back.

“Not a pretty sight?” Maya asked over her shoulder and pulled on the sweater.

“No, it’s fine.”

Maya changed into jeans, too. Once finished, she twirled on the spot like a little girl. “These feel super nice!”

“Do you usually not wear normal clothes?”

“The order doesn’t allow you to have possessions. You are like a monk, wearing what they give you, eating what they shove your way. Kinda boring really. The first time I managed to get my hands on a slice of chocolate cake was on a hunt for a Class 2 vampire. It was there, sitting on the table in the victim’s home. And while Ben wasn’t looking, I requisitioned it.”

“Why did you become a hunter?”

Maya fussed over her sleeves, straightening and then rolling them up. She groaned and pushed them to her elbows.

Helena was about to change the topic when Maya said, “Vampires killed my family. I was away on a school trip the day they were taken from me. When I didn’t get collected, I knew something was wrong. I called my mum, but she didn’t answer. Dad didn’t take my calls either. So, I took a taxi home. And what did I find there? Corpses and blood.” Maya’s hands folded into quivering fists. Her knuckles paled as she recited her story. “My two younger brothers were drained by those monsters and my parents were left to bleed out in the bathtub.”

Her voice cracked, and she turned away from Helena. “I found my twin sisters hanging from the ceiling in their room.” She hunched over and wrapped her arms around her middle. “I hate them! Vampires should be eradicated. They shouldn’t exist! If I slay them, my family will be able to rest in peace.”

Helena’s words failed her. There was nothing she could add to soothe or reduce the rage and torment this girl went through. She imagined her family being separated from her in such a cruel way, and tears stung her eyes. Helena covered her mouth and willed the horrid images out of her mind. Would she become like Maya if they perished? Would she seek vengeance against the undead to go on living?

Relaxing her posture, Maya turned with fire blazing in her eyes. “Don’t pity me, Helena. I will kill each and every one of them if I get the chance.”

Without another word, Helena followed Maya out of the apartment and into the lift. Maya pressed the button for the underground car park and the lift jerked into motion after the doors closed.

Once they arrived on the underground level, Maya headed for a black Range Rover. She unlocked the doors, and Helena climbed into the passenger’s seat.

“Buckle up,” Maya instructed.

Helena put on her seatbelt. Maya’s way of talking bugged her, so she asked, “Why do you talk like an American?”

“It’s ’cause I spent my training years there. My instructor was an ass, never let me sleep more than three hours a night, always complaining that I would die every time I let my guard down.”

“Sounds rough.”

“Yeah, Ben is an asshole when it comes to training.” Maya started the engine.

As they left the car park, Maya steered the car with one hand and searched the dashboard for something with the other. She came upon a packet of chewing gum and offered it to Helena. “Want some? It’s strawberry flavoured.”

Helena shook her head.

Maya withdrew the offer and popped a stick of gum into her mouth. She grinned. “You’re too stiff, Helena. You only get to live once.”

“I don’t believe living in the moment is my cup of tea.”

The hunter raised a brow. “You sleep with a vampire. You have vampires in your apartment day and night. You feed them, too! Your cup of tea is very specific.”

Helena shifted in her seat and folded her arms. “I get that you don’t like vampires, but I don’t sleep with Lucious. He has a tendency to climb into my bed.”

“Oh, right. That could be because you haven’t told him to stop.”

Helena opened her mouth to protest, but she realised that she hadn’t once told Lucious not to join her. She had simply accepted his presence because it brought her comfort and peace. He even kept the demon away with his energy. For that, she was grateful.

“I’m right, aren’t I?” Maya asked.

“He’s not that bad. Lucious saved me more times than he tried to use me.”

“Uhuh. Keep thinking that way and one day you might end up like my family.”

Helena stared out the window at the empty motorway. The grey stretch of the M50 was illuminated with bright orange lights that followed the curving road and was surrounded on both ends with hills and tall buildings beyond.

“Look, I didn’t mean to upset you or pull you out of your idealistic world, but vampires are not pets. They are monsters who feed on others. They’re no different to the demons that enter our world and gather souls. You have to stop trusting them. Once you fall into their trap, they will take you into their cold arms and suck you dry.”

“You are such a romantic,” Helena muttered sarcastically.

Maya’s lips formed into another smile. “I am, aren’t I? Ben doesn’t believe it. Every time I tried watching a romantic comedy, he would turn it off and make me run for ten miles.” She sighed. “I will never understand men.”

Helena recalled the way Ben protectively gathered Maya in his arms and carried her off. He had pointed a gun at her to get Maya the protection charm. Her eyes wandered to the bracelets she wore on her wrist. The stones were already getting clouded, and it had only been an hour. How much power did Lazarus have?

Maya turned off at the slip road and drove around a roundabout, taking the second exit.

Helena didn’t recognise the area they were driving into. “Do you know where you’re going?”

“Nope. But, if we spin this in a positive light, we’ll eventually get somewhere. Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier. We’re sort of related. We are both descendants of a woman named Eva Valerijevna. Thought that might be important. So, from now on, I’ll call you ‘sis’, yeah?”

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