Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Unstable pt. 3

Lucious’ body felt heavy as he lay on the hard cobbled ground. He groaned as he sat up, taking in the strange sight of old London from the late nineteenth century. Smoky clouds swirled above his head and dark carriages sped through the night with the metal horseshoes clinking against the paved roads.

He climbed to his full height. One look at his clothes made him frown. He was wearing a gentleman’s attire—everything from a black frock coat to the beautifully embroidered burgundy vest. This has to be a dream, he thought. Although, until now, none of the dreams he had were as vivid. Even the stench of piss and burned coal remained the same.

A tap on his shoulder forced him to face the person in question. His eyes widened. “Anna, what are you doing here?”

“What else should I be doing? Isn’t it time for you to escort me for our evening stroll?”

On instinct, Lucious offered her his arm, and she spared him a half smile. Once she looped her arm through his, she walked on.

“This is a dream,” Lucious mumbled. It must be. There was no other explanation for his presence in the past. The last thing he remembered was falling asleep after having a conversation with Alexander in Vienna.

“It is not a dream, my son. We always stroll through London at this time of night or is there something else on your mind?”

They paused on the street’s corner. Lucious checked for traffic and directed them to cross the road. Everything here was familiar from the grey terraced houses to the orange street lamps. The way the tiny droplets of rain commenced their journey from the clouds and onto their clothes was also the same.

Anna’s presence brought about peace in him. She never shouted, argued, or fought against life. What she did was simply taking it as it came, one ordeal at a time. For that, she had his respect.

She stopped in her tracks. “Lucious, what is the matter? Do you not love me anymore?”

He froze. The vision his heart wished to paint shattered once she said such an uncharacteristic line. Anna never sought his love nor did she speak of it. She, too, never mistook his love for her as anything romantic.

“Who are you?” he asked, recoiling from her.

Anna’s mouth stretched into a sly smile. “And here I thought I was playing the part perfectly.”

Lucious grasped her by the throat and lifted her off the ground. His fingers squeezed her neck, but, instead of panicking, she burst into mirthful laughter.

“This may be the first time we meet, but not the last, Lucious,” she said, unaffected by his actions. “I came here to make a deal with you.”

His hand fell away, and he eyed her with suspicion. “What kind of deal?”

“Oh, do not look so worried. I am not here for a soul of a blood-drinker. My goal is someone else.”

Dark wisps of energy grew from Anna’s body and covered her whole being.

The fine hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention, and he shuddered as the creatures energy coiled around his mental shields.

Soon, the shape before him was that of a man, rivalling Lucious in height, with long tar-coloured hair that had raven feathers tangled in it. Blood-red eyes watched Lucious with interest. The demon’s smile never faltered.

It didn’t take long for the tendrils to wiggle towards him.

He stumbled away from her. “Are you the demon who’s been after Helena?”

The creature studied his claws and sighed. “Shall we discuss what I can offer you first?”

“Whatever it is, I am not interested in making deals with you.”

“Do not be so hasty to turn away a good deal. I am certain that it’s what your good friend, Alexander, would tell you.” The demon reappeared closer to Lucious, blocking his way. He grasped Lucious by the coat and pulled him in close till their faces were inches apart.

Dark energy engulfed Lucious, and his head ached as the pressure on his shields intensified tenfold. He glared at the demon, willing the beast to release him and, to his surprise, he did.

“You are stronger than I thought. Not for long, I assure you. You are drowning in urges you cannot control. The girl is your weakest point. She is not someone you can save or keep, and she will kill youblood-drinkers—when she gets a chance.” The demon offered his hand with a single tarnished penny nestled on his chalk-white palm. “Helena is like this ancient coin, she is no longer needed by the world in which she lives, and I have been contracted to claim her. If you help me, I will break the link between you two and let you go free. What I want from you is to give her to me when the time is right.”

“Why would I accept such terms?”

The penny vanished from the demon’s hand, and he circled Lucious with graceful, measured strides. “You may not believe this, but soul-eaters are noble creatures. Only if there is an obstacle do we tend to…improvise and remove it. As you have done tonight, think of your sire. If you’re not careful enough, a soul-eater within her will take over.” The demon caught Lucious’ shoulder and leant in to whisper, “She just needs a little push.”

Lucious jerked into a sitting position and slammed his fist into the cushions. “That demonic spawn!”

“What is the matter? Weren’t you resting?” Alexander asked, carefully studying him from across the living room.

“The demon visited me,” Lucious blurted out. He set his feet on the ground as his fears played on his mind. Anna was in danger. Saving her meant sacrificing the only other woman he wanted to protect.

Alexander moved to stand by his side. “What did he say?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Lucious snapped, looking away. He couldn’t tell Alexander the truth. He already knew what he would say. His friend would try to reach the demon and make the contract on his behalf if it meant ridding Lucious of the link.

“It obviously does if it has gotten you so riled up.”

He shook his head. “What did you want? I am guessing you did not come here to watch me sleep.”

Alexander sighed. “Tanya called, said she had contact with the saint. As you may have guessed, the girl wasn’t ecstatic about vampires visiting her home.”

“What happened?”

“It took two of my men and Tanya’s torched limited edition Gucci stilettos to get a message to that monster. My childe is determined not to talk to me until I replace them.”

Lucious’ brows arched. “The saint’s that powerful?”

“Seems like the real deal. I cannot refute that.”

“And? What is her response?”

Alexander shook his head. “First, care to tell me what went on in that dream of yours? You seem rattled.”

Lucious avoided Alexander’s intense stare. “If that’s everything, I will continue questioning our guest.”

Without waiting for a reply, he fleeted past Alexander and entered the basement where the smell of blood bombarded his senses. In response, the back of his throat burned and a dull ache spread along his jaw. He grabbed the railing and covered his nose and mouth with his hand, willing the thirst to subside. Yet, hearing the vampire below, struggling in his seat was the last straw. It stripped Lucious of his final barriers and, the next thing he knew, his mouth was full of sweet, metallic vampire blood.

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