Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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A Bird In A Cage pt. 2

They had jogged for two kilometres around the half-empty backstreets of Dublin in broad daylight. It didn’t take long for Helena to run out of breath. She gasped for air as she trailed behind Maya for the duration of the torment.

As the final feat, Maya dragged her back to the apartment. The girl didn’t break a sweat, and Helena concluded that running from vampires or any other creatures was impossible for her. It was as if all the water in her body decided to abandon her through her pores. Helena was dehydrated, sweaty, and scrambling for the tap once they were in the vicinity of the kitchen sink.

She greedily swallowed the cool liquid and straightened on her aching legs. If this was beginner level training, what did an upgrade to Spartan entail? She prayed it had nothing to do with running or jogging or moving...

Helena returned to her room where she took a quick shower, grabbed her mobile phone, and dialled Alexander.

He picked up on the third ring and snapped, “What?”

Ignoring his outburst, she clutched the phone closer. “How is he doing?”

“As well as any savage beast in a cage.”

“Can I see him? If we’re together, he could calm down.”

Alexander sighed. “You cannot see him until he overcomes this ordeal.”

“Can I, at least, talk to him?”

“Forget about Lucious. For now, try not to get yourself killed while he’s imprisoned. Also, when I have time, I shall come by to discuss matters regarding Reaver. I suggest you do not get too friendly with the hunters in your home.”

A chill ran through her. “Why not?”

“You will know in due time.” He ended the call.

She tossed the phone on the bed and collapsed next to it on the soft sheets. Without Lucious lying next to her, the double bed seemed too spacious and cold. She closed her eyes, breathing in a mixture of his sandalwood, rum, and amber cologne that lingered on the pillow he used.

It stirred her memory of their kiss, the way he talked about his past, and the pleasure she experienced from his bite. When he held her in his arms, draining her life away, she wanted him to take as much as he wanted so the pleasure would continue. Were those her thoughts or something induced by whatever vampiric magic he used?

Helena rolled over to one side and concentrated on the link between them. He kept his shields shut tighter than ever. Not one emotion or word travelled through it. She tried to connect with him many times, but nothing happened. It was like the time he left for England and did not wish for her to contact him.

Taking that as he did not want to see or speak with her, Helena pulled his pillow to her chest and settled in for the night.


The next morning, Helena awoke in agony. Every muscle in her body screamed—especially her thighs and calves.

As if sensing her stirring, Maya burst into her bedroom. She already wore Laura’s shorts and a red T-shirt that seemed too big on her.

Helena groaned and tried sitting up. She winced as the muscles in her legs and abdomen complained.

“Hurry up, Helena. We are on a schedule here.”

“I’m getting up, or trying to.”

Maya folded her arms. “Try harder and get that ass out of bed.”

Shaking her head, Helena shifted and fell out of bed. Once she was able to stand, Maya pointed to the bathroom. “You’ve got five minutes.”

A groan escaped Helena as she shuffled to the bathroom like a zombie. The idea amused her, but when she saw Maya’s scowling face, her smile faded, and she moved faster.

After she brushed her teeth, washed her face, and relieved her bladder, she found Maya in her room.

Maya grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her downstairs. She lifted two glasses from the counter—both containing suspicious green liquid—and handed one to Helena.

“Bottoms up,” Maya ordered.

Helena raised it to her nose and sniffed it. An overbearing smell of celery and herbs rose from the drink. She wrinkled her nose. “Is this safe to drink?”

“Perfectly.”

She scanned the room for Ben. He wasn’t there. While she was asleep, someone pushed the sofas and the coffee table closer to the far wall, creating more space in the middle of the living area.

Maya, as if reading her mind, smirked. “Ben won’t be back until later. He’s gone to buy some weights we can use, and, while you were asleep, I rearranged the room so we can practice.” She rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t look so freaked out!”

Helena assessed the drink, the room, and Maya again before she sighed. If it wasn’t vampires who controlled her life, it was hunters and their odd regimes and training schedules. Pinching her nose with her fingers, she consumed the liquid in the glass, causing her ears to pop. It tasted like shredded grass. She did her best not to let the contents return from whence they came by imagining it being a peach smoothie. Too bad her imagination wasn’t enough to counter the awful aftertaste.

When she swallowed the last mouthful, she glanced at Maya. Her glass was already empty.

Maya grinned. “That was one of the nice shakes Ben makes. Enjoy it while you can.”

Helena made a face and washed the glasses in the sink. “I won’t ask what’s in it. I just hope I don’t have to drink it every day.”

“Being a hunter isn’t bad,” Maya said, resting her hip against the counter. “Think of the lives you could save by killing the undead.”

Cold water pinched her skin as Helena froze. “I don’t want to be a hunter, Maya. I’ve agreed to this because I wanted to be able to defend myself. There’s nothing more to it.”

“Potato, pohtato.” Maya rubbed the back of her neck. “Your vampire must’ve told you that if you’re a witch, and you don’t work for us, we consider you to be a siren and have to hunt you. To hunters, you are an asset. If you don’t want to be one, you are our enemy.”

Helena turned the tap off. Icy water dripped from her fingers onto the tiled flooring as a chill wrapped its greedy fingers around her. “Is that what you see me as, an asset?”

Maya’s expression betrayed her caution. “Like I said last night, we are already breaking the rules by being in this area without informing the locals. After separating from our clan, I don’t see a road that leads us back into their good graces.”

“You won’t try to force me to become a hunter?”

“We make our own decisions in life.” Maya’s features softened. “I can’t force you to become a hunter and I don’t want to hunt someone I consider to be family.”

“But you don’t know the first thing about me…”

Maya shrugged. “I don’t have to know you to see that you want to protect those you care about. I’m the same as you.”

Her words sank in, and Helena relaxed.

When she did so, a sigh escaped Maya. “You know what your problem is? It’s that you trust what people say too easily. You should expect people to betray you and plan ahead.”

The relief from earlier vanished. “I can’t distrust someone who never deceived me. It’s wrong to do that.”

“Being like this is why you have leeches around you.” Maya motioned for her to follow. “Let’s get on with our morning jog.”

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