A Real Partnership pt. 2
A pair of hands helped Helena into a sitting position. She found Nora to her left, grinning at her.
“How are you feeling?” Nora asked.
Helena’s brows drew together. “You’re asking me how I’m feeling? What happened?”
Past the haziness, Helena felt fine. But, when her eyes noted the dead vampire remains on the ground, she gasped and covered her mouth.
“Oh, don’t look so shocked. They were going to die at one point or another. Dying by your hand must have been an honour.”
Helena’s mouth unhinged. “What did you do to me?”
“Nothing bad, I assure you.” Nora’s expression grew serious. “Nico, bring out the Arcanae Mortum.”
Nico, who stood on the other side of the table, bowed his head and left the room.
“The blade you wanted, you can have it. You’ve done your service to me,” Nora said.
Helena struggled to piece the events together. After everything went dark, she killed four vampires, and Nora was pleased? Her head hurt. By the time she came to a conclusion to leave the topic for another day, Nico returned with a small redwood case.
He handed it to Helena. “This is the only Arcanae Mortum we have found in this realm. Try not to lose it.”
Nora tapped Helena on the shoulder, drawing her attention. “Whenever you need my help, young lady, I will be glad to offer my services.”
“Young lady?” Helena asked, dumbfounded at the siren’s change of tone.
Nora beamed at her. “Papa is no longer in a doll. Papa is within me!”
“And I did that, too?”
Nora’s smile faded and one of her eyes changed colour, something she hadn’t noticed before. “Let’s not discuss this further. You have a demon to kill.”
Helena slid off the table, holding the dagger’s case in her hands. She lifted the lid, finding a curved blade with circular runes carved into the obsidian. The handle was wrapped in white leather which merged into intertwined tree roots. At the centre of the quillon, three yellow gemstones lazily reflected the halogen light in the room. She lifted her eyes from the weapon. “And I can leave, just like that?”
“Of course. There are much more important things for you to do in this world,” Nora assured her.
“My men have informed me that your friends have changed locations to the west side of Vienna. Would you like someone to drive you there?”
Helena forced a smile. “That would be nice. Thanks.”
“No need to mention it.” Nora met Nico’s stare. “Be certain to deliver this young lady in one piece to her destination.”
Nico bowed low. “Yes, Master Reaver.”
Helena had never seen Nico this way. Before, with Nora, he spoke as he would to a child. Now, he showed respect. Had she truly merged Nora’s and Reaver’s souls together while she was unconscious? As she deliberated the events, Nico led her through the maze that was the mansion where Nora lived. Most of it seemed to be underground, which was the reason why she didn’t see any windows.
Nico opened the car door for her, and Helena climbed in. Nothing about this scenario seemed logical to her. What exactly happened while I slept? Did something take control of my body or did I lose my memory of the event?
She hadn’t realised the car was moving until Nico spoke from the driver’s seat. “I am pleased to see Master Reaver has returned. He is a great man to study under and a good leader. Be sure to know, if you ever need any help or protection, come to Vienna.”
Helena’s fingers hurt from the grip she had on the wooden case. “Can you tell me what happened?”
“I’m not permitted to speak about the matter. Just know you have another ally,” Nico replied.
For the rest of the journey, she studied the dagger. When her fingertips brushed the obsidian, prickling energy tickled her palm. They finally had what they needed to kill Lazarus. She still had no idea how they were going to do that. But, it was the first step to free her, Lucious, and Maya from imminent danger.
Helena closed the case and stared out the car’s window. If the demon vanished, would Lucious no longer be by my side?
Lucious sat on the ground with his face buried in his hands. He had drained the vampire without meaning to. Drinking from another vampire was taboo among their kind. Now that he had done so, his body felt stronger, yet something was off. The thirst had not subsided as it should have. The burning in his throat was relentless, and he let out a frustrated growl.
Where is she? He needed to see her, to touch her, to taste her. Lucious pulled on his hair. The hunger in him was becoming insatiable. His stomach squeezed painfully. The moment it did so, he doubled over and heaved until the blood and acid spilt onto the dusty floor.
Lucious folded in half and hugged his sides. For the first time in his second life, he was experiencing the cold from the concrete ground that invaded through his skin and bones. He shivered until he felt her.
Helena’s end of the string came to life.
Warmth flooded into him, and he was already on his feet. He closed his eyes, concentrating on their connection. She was getting closer.
“Are you well, my dear?”
A second passed, and he heard the voice he had missed in his mind. “I’m fine. I’m coming back with the blade.”
Lucious shut off the connection between them and gripped the shelves for support. This was not the time for weakness. He had to keep her protected from the demon before they could kill it—the sooner the better. Unsteady on his feet, he staggered to the stairs and climbed the steps to the showroom.
He scanned the empty space for Alexander. His friend wasn’t there, and it didn’t surprise him. The sun had invaded the ground floor. He squinted as it reflected off the linoleum. To his right, he heard the heartbeats coming from one of the offices. His feet moved towards the sound, but Lucious managed to stop. He couldn’t be with Helena for long. Without a doubt, he was a greater danger to her than a newborn vampire.
“Damn it!” he grumbled and fleeted into the bathroom next to the staff break room. He didn’t want to admit it, but since he drank that vampire’s blood, things did not sit right, and now he knew why. When he looked at his reflection in the mirror, his eyes were bloodshot and red rings rimmed his irises.
Lucious’ fist collided with the smooth surface of the mirror, cracking it into dozens of pieces that clattered into the sink and onto the floor. “I cannot go through another descent.”
“Lucious? What’s the matter? I can sense your fear…” Helena’s voice reached his mind, and he berated himself for letting his guard crumble.
“I’m fine. Do not worry about me.”
The door behind him opened, and she walked in, holding a wooden case in her hands. Lucious’ hunger surged, and he knew his irises were glowing with an unnatural crimson.
“Your eyes…” She slowly set the case on the ground and came over. “Is it like before?”
Lucious wanted to take a step back, but he was trapped between the sink and her enchanting scent. Touching her was out of the question, especially when he was uncertain of the outcome. “Please leave, Helena. I may hurt you.”
Her sorrowful eyes met his. She cupped his cheek. The warmth of her palm prickled his skin, and he battled with the urge to lean into her touch.
“I am leaving for London tonight,” Lucious said.
Helena’s hand fell way. “Are you returning to your sire’s side?”
“It would be better for us to be apart for some time. Alexander and the hunters will look after you.”
She staggered backwards. “You didn’t trust them to look after me before and now you do? Is it because of your eyes? You seem to be in control.”
Even though it hurt him to say it, he pushed the words out with as much venom as he could muster. “No, it is because it was a mistake to get close to you. Alexander was right, you are my weakness, and you will be the death of me. I cannot operate when you are around and, while you were gone, lack of your presence has proven I am better off without you.”
Helena’s voice shook as she said, “You don’t mean it. Please, tell me that you don’t mean any of that.”
Lucious gazed into the pair of watering hazel eyes. Pain flooded through the link, and he concentrated on his shields to prevent her from seeking his emotions. She was his everything and the only way to protect her from him was to be away until he could contain his thirst. Anna would know what to do. She had the will of steel to keep a demon trapped within her body.
“You were merely a tool for me to use,” he replied.
She closed the distance between them, and he was taken aback when her lips pressed against his. His arms wound around her. He deepened the kiss, needing, seeking her warmth while making certain she was there with him and in one piece. The kiss began to have a salty aftertaste, and he drew back, seeing her tears.
“Never say that again, Lucious. You’re mine.”
The burning in his throat subsided, and he glanced over his shoulder at the mirror fragments remaining in the frame. His eyes were slowly returning to normal. With a shaky chuckle, he faced her and planted another kiss on her lips, claiming what was rightfully his.