Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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A Real Partnership pt. 3

Even though she couldn’t feel a single shred of emotion through the link, she had to be blind to miss the longing with which he kissed her. Whatever had happened in the time she was with Nora, Lucious had suffered more than she had. She couldn’t possibly tell him what went on with Reaver and why Nora let her go. It would make him worry too much, and with the way his descent crept up on him, she couldn’t let it happen.

She pulled away to stock up on the much-needed oxygen. “How is Maya? Is she alright?”

“I have not checked on the hunters. I was…busy trying to get the saint to help us.”

Helena turned on her heel, ready to search for Maya, but Lucious whirled her on the spot and gathered her into an embrace. His body trembled, and she wrapped her arms around him in unspoken support.

“Lucious, I’m right here,” she mumbled into his shoulder. That was when she noticed the bloodstains on his shirt. She tried to move away, but he forced her closer to him.

“There’s blood on your clothes, and you’re hurting me,” Helena said.

Lucious kissed her forehead, her brows, her cheeks, and buried his face in her neck. As he spoke, his voice vibrated against her exposed flesh, slightly tickling her. “Do you trust me?”

She nodded.

He planted a chaste kiss on her neck and raised his face to whisper in her ear, “Do not trust me, my dear. Right now, I cannot trust myself with you. My body is holding you captive because I want to take every last drop of blood from you. What’s stopping me is your flowery scent.” He sighed and moved his face away. “It helps me distinguish you from the others.”

“So, if I was Maya, you would have killed me?”

“Precisely. It is why I do not wish to push myself past that limit and hurt you. That is also why I need to visit Anna. I must find a way to break out of this descent before it claims me.”

She assessed his troubled expression. “How did you break out of it before?”

Lucious released her and studied the ground. “It does not matter.”

“If I can help, I want to!”

“I have done things I am not proud of while consumed by the thirst, and I am certain you will not understand what I did to get to see you sooner, Helena.”

She forced him to look at her. “What happened?”

A brief flash of panic reflected in his eyes. His face hardened, and she knew he had constructed another barrier between them. “This is not the time for this conversation. I must find Alexander…”

She didn’t let go. “Don’t you dare walk away from me! Tell me what happened.”

“I slept with Zafira to burn the excess blood in my system. Did that answer your question? Are you pleased now?”

Helena’s chest hurt as if he drove a knife into it. Once her hands fell away, hot tears burned the corners of her eyes. Did he sleep with Zafira right before coming to me? No wonder she claimed they were dating.

“Do not be mistaken, I hold no feelings other than friendship for her. It was either a quick romp in that cell, or I would not be able to protect you while you went off with the hunters to see Reaver.”

“Well thank you for considering my situation,” she snapped.

“This is why I did not want to tell you this. You are still immature when it comes to relationships.”

Her tears forgotten, Helena’s eyes narrowed. “Obviously, when it comes to fucking, you’re as experienced as your best friend.”

Lucious’ eyes flashed dark blue, and he slammed her back against the wall, trapping her in place. She tried to wriggle out of his hold, but he grasped her wrists and pinned them above her head.

“Let go, Lucious…” she warned.

He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, they were back to normal. “Listen carefully as I will say this again. I do not love you. You are my drive to live, my need to protect, and I am willing to sacrifice myself for you without a second thought. So, please, forgive me for wishing to keep you safe, even if it means not sticking to monogamy.”

Another sharp pain resonated in her heart, and she thought it would shatter into tiny pieces. The words she feared and tried to block out were thrown at her. She had no response. Her mind rejected the idea of him not loving her while her chest burned as if she was suffocating. Tears overflowed, and she let them take over. Struggling seemed futile as was the need to be by his side. He did not want her. She was an object he had to protect until another task became his priority. That knowledge stung more than anything.

He wiped her wet cheeks with his free hand and lifted her chin. “Do not cry, I beg you.”

“What do you care?” She sniffled.

Lucious let go of her arms and drew her into a hug, resting his chin on top of her head. “I have warned you that I have never loved a woman in my life. Do not be upset by this knowledge.”

Helena hit his sides because they were the only part of him she could reach as images of Zafira and him kissing and sharing the same bed invaded her psyche. Her hands gripped the material of his bloodied shirt, and she looked at him with fragile resolution burning in her eyes.

“Did you kiss her?”

His brows drew together. “During the act? I have not.”

Blowing out a breath, Helena wiped away the rest of her tears with her sleeves. “Alright. It’s alright. I will try to forget it happened.”

Lucious raised a brow. “You believe kissing is more intimate than sex?”

“No. But, I consider it to be something you do with the one you love,” she said, pushing him away. “I’m going to find Maya and make sure she’s doing alright.”

“You are a strange woman.”

She gave him a lopsided smile, but, on the inside, struggled to come to terms with this new information. “Look who is talking.”

Helena couldn’t stay in the same room as him any longer. She rushed into the showroom as fast as her legs would take her in search of the hunters. Luckily, she didn’t have to go far. She found them in an office on the ground floor. Ben was sleeping, his back pressed against the wall, and Maya was loading bullets into her gun’s magazine.

One quick glance at Maya’s pale face told Helena she hadn’t recovered from the stab wound. Lowering her head in shame, she took a step forwards.

Maya pushed the loaded clip into her gun and pointed it at Helena. “Are you a zombie?”

Helena lifted her head and shook it. “Not quite. I am sorry I hurt you…”

“That’s good,” Maya interrupted her and grinned. “Wouldn’t want to get stabbed again.”

“I wasn’t in control.”

“I know.” Maya put her weapon on the desk. The movement caused her to wince, and she relaxed into the office chair she sat on. “It’s alright. I’ve been through worse. Heard your vampire boyfriend tortured the undead dude we brought back with us. I would be careful not to piss that one off if I were you. The agonised cries that kept me from counting sheep at night reminded me of South America.” She shuddered and rubbed her arms.

“It couldn’t have been that bad…”

Maya’s face turned serious. “That vampire by your side is dangerous. He seems to care about you right now, which is all fun and games, but I would sleep with a gun under my pillow and one eye open.”

“He won’t hurt me.”

“Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”

Helena rolled her eyes. “I got the demon slaying blade from Reaver.”

Maya’s eyes bulged out of their sockets. “How?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care anymore. I want Lazarus out of my life.”

Ben grunted. He opened his eyes and cursed. “Maya, you’re supposed to be lying down!”

The girl scowled at her partner. “I was, for an eternity. But I got bored, so I’m sitting.”

“Your stitches will come undone,” he said sternly.

“I was being very careful. It’s not bleeding, look—” She studied her wound. “Oh, shit. Well, forget I said anything.”

Ben shot up and gathered her in his arms. He laid her on the desk that had been pushed against the far wall. He used his tuxedo jacket as a pillow and shoved it under her head.

“Don’t move an inch from here,” he ordered.

Helena smiled at the sight. Regardless of Ben’s tough exterior, he cared a great deal about Maya. This display of affection was what a real partnership should be like. They may argue and fight at times, but when it counts they support one another. Helena’s smile faded as she recalled the scene with Lucious from earlier. Does he only see me as a partner?

“Helena, I’m glad you’ve returned unharmed. While you’re doing nothing, find me some bandages or clothes. I’ve run out,” Ben said.

“Sure.” Helena left the two of them in the office. She was about to go out and find a pharmacy when Lucious grasped her by the arm and pulled her to one side.

“Where are you going alone?”

“To get some bandages for Maya,” she replied. The warlock even gave her a few hundred euro spending money in case she needed a taxi to a different location. It was awkward taking money from Nico but having cash was better than relying on Alexander for everything.

“You’re not leaving this place unguarded,” he said, taking her hand.

She studied their intertwined fingers and lifted her eyes to meet his. “This does not weird you out?”

He opened the door for her and led the way. “It will keep you from getting too far away from me. I do not want a repeat of what happened at that bloody opera house.”

Helena eyed their linked hands. They were already soul-bound, being linked physically made her blush.

Lucious glanced over his shoulder at her. “You are getting slower. Is something the matter?”

Helena quickened her steps to keep up with his long strides and shook her head.

After the fighting, countless problems, and arguments, she wanted to remain by his side, even if it was only as a partner.

“We will be stopping off at Heathrow in fifteen minutes,” Alexander announced from the seat across from her and Lucious.

Helena’s head snapped in the direction of the infuriating man sitting next to her. “Are you going to see Anna?”

“I must do so soon, my dear,” he said and pushed the rest of the sentence through the link. “I cannot worry Alexander with my condition. He hates losing friends, and I already owe him too much.”

She let out a sigh and turned to stare out of the plane’s round window into the complete darkness.

“My sire may know what we must do to kill the demon now that we have the blade,” he added.

“Can’t you call or text her, instead?”

Lucious chuckled. “She detests technology.”

Alexander cleared his throat, drawing their attention. “I know you two can talk through that mind-boggling connection of yours, but it is quite irritating. And, if you two are going to date, tell me beforehand. I want to have my finger ready on the eject button.”

Helena was about to speak when Lucious interjected, “Do not fret, Alexander. We are not dating. We are saying our goodbyes. Or would you rather listen to them?”

Alexander leant back and picked up the laptop from the seat next to him. Opening the lid, he spared one last measuring stare at Helena. “I don’t get it, Lucious.”

She scowled, and Lucious let out another chuckle. Even when she desperately tried keeping pace with their conversations, they always found a way to confuse her.

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