Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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A Bird In A Cage pt. 3

Maya didn’t go easy on her today either. Helena half-ran, half-shuffled for three kilometres before returning to the apartment where she had to lift weights, training different muscle groups she didn’t know existed. The only reason Maya stopped was because Helena couldn’t lift anymore. Her arms felt like they were made of lead. Her legs were in agony. She was hungry and nauseated at the same time. Amidst the screaming muscles, every meal she ate had chicken in it. If she were to become what she ate, she would sprout wings at a moment’s notice. Drained, she sat on the floor.

“I guess you can take a break for the rest of the day,” Maya said, lifting the dumbbells.

Helena placed her hands in her lap. “I don’t believe I learned anything useful yet.”

Maya rolled her eyes. “If you’d kept your body in great condition, you wouldn’t have to do most of this. We could move on to the defence and sensory training.”

Helena opened her mouth when the doorbell sounded. She eyed Maya. Is she expecting someone?

Maya shook her head.

Ben came downstairs, too, his pistol already drawn and at his side.

Helena frowned as she stood with difficulty. She pushed past the pain in her muscles as she stumbled towards the door. Did they expect trouble?

She arrived at the door and called out, “Who is it?”

“Open the door,” Alexander grumbled from the other side.

Helena breath caught in anticipation. Lucious might by here with him. She unlocked the door, and Alexander barged in. To her dismay, he was alone.

He made his way to the sofa where he sat and pointed to the seats across from him. “I can see your finger twitching on the trigger, hunter. I suggest you refrain.” Alexander glared at Ben whose eyes narrowed in response.

Maya lowered the dumbbells. Resting her back against the wall, she nodded to Ben.

Her partner took Helena’s hand and pulled her towards the sofa where he pushed her into a seat. He remained standing.

“I dislike repeating myself,” Alexander said. “I suggest you sit.”

Helena bit her lip and glanced at Alexander’s guarded expression. “Is he alright? Is Lucious doing better?”

Alexander crossed his legs. “I have come here to discuss Reaver, not Lucious.”

“We are listening,” Ben said. “And we’ll stand.”

Helena’s heart deflated at Alexander’s response. She knew he wouldn’t be here if Lucious wasn’t doing well, but the fact that she couldn’t see or talk to him bothered her. It was as if half of her was missing.

Alexander observed the hunters with his steely gaze. “I have arranged a meeting with Reaver four days from now in Vienna. He is not too keen on leaving his territory.”

“Why would we trust a parasite?” Ben asked.

The vampire chuckled and a hint of Russian accent seeped into his words. “I’m not here to make friends. I came to notify you of the possibility to get close to the weapon. If, for some reason, you do not wish to partake in the retrieval of it, please, be so kind and get lost. I see no reason for you to remain here otherwise.”

Ben’s hand twitched, and Maya glared at Alexander, yet it did not faze the vampire. If it did, Alexander didn’t show it.

The tension in the room was almost palpable. Helena stood abruptly, silently cursing her screaming muscles. “Alexander has a point. We need that weapon.”

Maya glanced at her, and her stern gaze returned to Alexander. “I don’t trust him. Give us the details of where the meeting will happen. We can go by ourselves.”

With a smirk, Alexander faced her. “You wish to meet with a warlock by yourself?”

“Reaver isn’t human?” Ben asked.

“Not in the slightest. The man stays away from Wiccan Circles which keeps him hidden from your kind.”

“What’s a warlock?” Helena asked, frowning.

“Same thing as a siren or a witch only they are more powerful and are not part of any Circle. Or am I mistaken?” Alexander replied, glancing at Ben.

“If he is a warlock,” Ben said, “we need to contact the local clan…”

“If any hunters surface near him, he will disappear along with his collection of relics,” Alexander added.

Ben seemed torn between duty and the task at hand. His shoulders shook, and she noticed his fingers were curled into fists at his sides.

“Ben, we can’t tell the others. We will lose this chance,” Maya said.

“I know. But I’ve been a hunter since I was born, Maya. Breaking one rule is a punishment we can take, breaking more is death.”

Helena was taken aback by his words. “Why death?”

“I don’t have time to explain,” he snapped and focused his attention on Alexander. “When and where is the meet-up?”

Alexander smiled and reached into the inner pocket of his suit jacket.

Ben tensed, and Maya’s expression hardened.

Alexander withdrew a small envelope and tossed it on the coffee table. “That’s the details about the meeting. I expect to see you in Vienna at the time and place instructed.”

Ben took the envelope and handed it to Helena. “Open it.”

She did as she was told and passed him the papers inside without a word.

Alexander’s steady gaze settled on her. “It seems you’ve become accustomed to them ordering you around.”

In return, her anger spiked, and she glowered at him. He was mocking her. She had no idea why he was so against her every action. It seemed the more she tried to be civil around him, the more he pushed her buttons. Her shoulders shook, and she pressed her mouth shut. If she spoke, she knew she would say things that could drive them further apart, and she couldn’t let that happen. Not until she knew if Lucious was alright.

“It seems your job here is done. Now you can get out before we shoot you full of holes,” Maya hissed. She was already holding her pistol in her hand, and Helena tried to remember when she had the time to draw it.

Alexander rose from his seat. “As always, a pleasure to converse with your kind.”

Likewise,” Ben said with enough venom in that one word to kill a man.

Alexander chuckled and fleeted out of the room faster than Helena could comprehend.

Ben scanned the documents, and Helena asked, “What’s in there?”

He glanced at her. “It would be best if you go to bed early. There is a lot for you to do tomorrow.”

“I want to see them.”

“Helena, if Ben says it’s best to rest, he is doing so because it will help your body heal faster,” Maya said.

“I am not here to listen to Ben’s orders. This is my home, and I want to know what’s in those papers.”

Ben shoved the documents into his back pocket and crossed his arms. “Rest.”

“Ben, maybe we shouldn’t—” When he glared at Maya, she shut her mouth and didn’t say another word.

“You should rest as well, Maya.”

Helena didn’t like the way he was behaving. What was in those papers that made him want to hide it from her? She could call Alexander and ask, but she knew he would ignore her and say she was wasting his time. She sighed in defeat. There was no way she could fight against Ben or Maya in her current state. For the time being, she had no choice but to comply with their demands.

She stormed past the hunters and, with heavy footsteps, marched upstairs. Entering her room, she locked the door behind her. Her chest felt restricted and her head hurt. They were supposed to work together. Why wouldn’t they let her in? Was it because she wasn’t human anymore?

The apartment was becoming suffocating—a cage just for her. She made her way to the window and opened it, letting the cool evening breeze brush against her skin.

From one trouble to the next. She rested her elbows on the windowsill and buried her face in her hands. Helena fought the tears that marched to the surface. As much as she wanted to release her repressed emotions, she wouldn’t cry. She lowered her hands and gazed at the bracelets on her wrist. The amber stones were almost as black as night. She had to get them cleansed soon. They only lasted up to three days before becoming useless. It unnerved her how persistent the demon had become in his pursuit of their souls.

She made her way to her bed and lifted her grandmother’s grimoire from under the pillow. She settled it on her lap and read the entries as she had done before in this room six months ago, searching for more answers and hidden meanings.

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