Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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The Quinns

Helena sighed for the dozenth time at the gaping hole in her heart that was created by the distance with Lucious. Like it had been for the five months they spent apart, the link between them showed no signs of life.

She shook her head as the group ascended in the lift to her apartment. Ben was holding Maya up. She had a pallid complexion, and she hadn’t complained once about her suffering.

Alexander kept tapping his foot.

When she stole a peek at Maya, Helena’s lips stretched into an apologetic smile.

Maya rolled her eyes. “Stop it, sis. It’ll be fine. I haven’t died yet.”

Yet being the key word,” Ben chided.

Maya swatted his chest and winced. “Stop making me hurt myself.”

“I could help by knocking you out cold,” Ben retorted.

She scowled at her partner, and Helena struggled to contain a smile that threatened to escape. Despite what they suffered or underwent, those two always remain lively. They were like a ray of hope in a dark tunnel.

“I liked them more when they talked less,” Alexander complained as the doors glided open.

Helena followed him out and waited until the hunters caught up.

Alexander stuck his hand out in front of Helena. “Your key card?”

“Oh, right.” Helena rummaged through the outer pocket of her duffel bag and handed it to him.

Outside of her front door, Alexander lifted his hand, halting everyone mid-step. “Someone is in there.”

Helena’s mind raced. “It could be Laura. She may have returned—”

He shook his head. “Your human friend is not two people, is she?”

She pressed her lips together as Ben separated from Maya, resting her against the wall.

“The vampire and I will look into it. You two stay here,” Ben ordered.

Alexander raised a brow. “Why would I listen to you?”

“I don’t trust you to watch my back either, but we have the same goals for now. I suggest we put our differences aside,” Ben said, screwing on a silencer onto his pistol.

With an unreadable face, Alexander took a step towards the door lock and scanned the key card.

Helena closed her eyes. This had to be some kind of mix-up. Maybe it was Laura with a friend? Yet, with everything going on, that seemed like an improbability to her. She looked at Maya who shot her a weak smile.

“It’ll be alright,” Helena said.

Angry shouts and a female scream came out of the apartment and, unable to stop, Helena snuck in to see what was going on. She came to a halt in the living area where two bodies bled out onto the hardwood flooring. One of their faces stared ahead with glassy eyes.

Helena fell to her knees and covered her mouth with her hands, muffling her apologies as life faded from their bodies. She knew these people.

“What have you done?” Helena whispered.

Ben stepped over the bodies, eyeing her with an intense stare. “Did you know them?”

“They’re Laura’s parents…” she forced out, unable to believe the words had left her mouth.

“They were hunters,” Alexander said in distaste.

The crimson stain expanded under their bodies and memories of her time with the Quinn family at their vacation home barged in. Helena couldn’t rid herself of the images of a loving couple. She tried getting closer to the bodies, but Ben grasped her by the shoulder and pulled her back.

“It is not a good idea to go near them. We must be certain they’re dead,” Ben added.

“Are you serious? We should call for an ambulance in case they’re alive.”

“Enough drama. I’ll take care of the bodies. It would seem the local hunters already know about this place. You will have to come to my home,” Alexander said and glanced at Ben. “Your friends, I suppose?”

“I did not inform the local clan. If anything, we tried to keep our presence under the radar.”

“We need to clean this up and move to a different location,” Alexander said.

“You can’t do whatever you want,” Helena shouted and slapped Ben’s hand away. She dragged her feet to where the bodies lay and searched for a pulse on their necks. Nothing. Not a single beat pushed against the pressure of her fingers.

“They’re gone,” Maya called out from the entrance. “Let the vampire take care of their bodies, Helena. It’s for the best.”

Helena glared at everyone. How could they suggest getting rid of Laura’s parents? These people deserved a proper burial. Slowly, she stood and clenched her shaking fists. “Laura needs to know.”

“It’s not a good idea,” Ben said. “If she knows, the local hunters will arrange a manhunt for you and anyone involved. We would be at a disadvantage.”

“This isn’t about advantages or disadvantages. It’s about doing what’s right, and Laura would never hurt anyone!”

Alexander snorted. “You know nothing about hunters’ children. They learn the craft from birth, or am I wrong?”

Ben shook his head, and Alexander added, “This means that your friend has been lying to you the whole time. Accept it and move on.”

“Listen to me,” Helena said.

Maya grasped her shoulders and shook her. “Helena! You can’t do anything for these people. They’re like us. They would have killed you and the vampires. Your friend was most likely planted here as a spy to keep an eye on things in case they got out of hand.”

“No. There has to be another reason…”

“Think about it. Why did Laura have your grimoire? Why did her parents come here? Why did they bring weapons?”

Helena’s lower lip quivered, and Maya drew her into a warm hug. She rubbed Helena’s back while her eyes watered.

“It’ll be alright. Let the vampire take care of this mess,” Maya murmured.

She wrapped her arms around Maya and buried her face in her shoulder. Her chest ached and her eyes stung as she heard the bodies being lifted off the ground. She didn’t dare to look. Another sight of the Quinns would force her to argue again when she knew it was hopeless. They had a point. She couldn’t turn back the clock and be like everyone else. As the people around her changed, she was forced to change with them.

The fire in her wouldn’t relent, and Helena wiped away the tears. She pushed Maya aside, careful not to hurt her.

“Wait!” she called out after them.

Alexander and Ben both turned, with a body each on their shoulders.

“What is it now?” Alexander demanded.

Helena squared her shoulders and steeled her nerves. “Leave the bodies here. I’m going to call Laura. She needs to know.”

“We have already covered this,” Alexander hissed.

“I said leave the bodies!” she yelled, and the air in the room thickened with her pent-up energy.

Alexander’s eyes narrowed, and Ben stared at her in what appeared to be disbelief.

“What’re you doing?” Maya asked.

Helena’s attention was solely on the men. The energy in the room shifted once Alexander released his shields. Her nails dug into her palms as she struggled not to back down. She returned his sharp glare. “Leave them here, Alexander.”

His energy drew near before slamming into her weakened shields. Copper aftertaste filled her mouth, and she realised she had bitten her lower lip. The stinging didn’t stop her from fighting against the vampire’s power with everything she had left. If she let everyone make decisions for her for the rest of her life, she may as well be in a cell. And, no matter the outcome, she could no longer stand by and watch it happen. After what seemed like an eternity, sweat beaded on her forehead and a rivulet rolled down her face.

Alexander was powerful, she had to give it to him, but Lucious was stronger. She placed her hands over her soul’s string and concentrated on the link between them, drawing more power from it and letting it flow into her.

The string became agitated, and she knew Lucious would contact her about the anomaly with the link sooner or later. Once the prickling energy gathered in her, she could no longer contain it. She let it out as she hit the floor with her knees, using her arms to keep her face from kissing the ground.

Alexander cursed and collapsed on one knee. The body of Mr Quinn tumbled out of his hold and hit the ground with a thud.

“Do not play games with me, witch!” Alexander’s booming voice spread throughout the apartment. “I will dump in a dungeon if you continue to fight me.”

Helena drew back the energy into her weak body and squinted to be able to make out the blurry shapes of people on the other end of the living area.

“Alexander, please…let them be,” she said between heaving breaths.

The vampire sighed and appeared in front of her. He grasped her jaw, forcing her to her feet and to look at him. “I shall entertain your idiocy this once. Whatever comes from it, you will have to shoulder by yourself because I will not be a part of it.”

Helena tore her face out of his painful hold. “That’s fine with me.”

He shook his head. “It seems we have decided to leave the incriminating evidence here. I do hope you’ll take a page from a hunter’s book and sleep with a gun under your pillow as I fear for the future my friend will have with you by his side.”

“Don’t drag Lucious into this.”

“You are right. He’s not here to defend you. It would be too easy this way,” Alexander added and walked to the door. “Let us leave this place. It is no longer safe.”

Helena glared at his leisurely retreat. She hadn’t recovered from the expense of energy she had used to fight him. The only reason she remained upright on her legs was due to pure willpower.

Ben lowered Mrs Quinn beside her husband. Then, he stopped a foot away from Maya and picked her up, carrying her in his arms like he would a princess.

“Ben, put me down. This is embarrassing,” Maya complained, but her cheeks reddened and her lips curved at the edges when he ignored her and followed Alexander.

Left alone in the apartment, Helena ran upstairs into her room and found the spare bracelets she had left on the nightstand. She slipped them on her wrist and knelt to collect her grandmother’s grimoire which she had taped to the inner frame of the bed. With everything going on, she couldn’t take it to Vienna. She didn’t want someone waltzing in and taking it away.

She checked her phone. It had ten percent of battery left—enough to make a call…

After drawing in a lungful of air, she dialled Laura’s number. No one answered, and the call went to voicemail. She breathed a sigh of relief. With how things turned out, she couldn’t talk to Laura directly. She wouldn’t be able to listen to her upbeat voice and tell her best friend that her parents were killed.

She pressed the phone to hear ear and said, “Hey Laura, this is Helena… I’ve got something to tell you. Your parents they—” Her voice cracked, and she stifled a sob. “They’re dead…at the apartment. It was—No. We didn’t know it was them until it was too late. I’m sorry. I’m—”

Helena slowly sat on the mattress as she mumbled her apologies and the recording ended. Even then, she clutched the phone in her hand. Hot tears burned her cheeks. How would I ever face Laura again? Does it matter? She had become too preoccupied with the demon to spare the time to see to her family and friends.

The phone on in her hands vibrated, and she jumped. Helena read the caller ID and wiped away her tears. “Hey, Mum.”

“It’s been a while since we last talked. I wanted to check up on you,” her mother said. “I’m thinking of painting the spare room pink, but Richard says it’s going to be a boy. How about you? Any input on the matter?”

Helena furrowed her brow as she tried to piece together what her mother was talking about. “I’m sorry, what?”

“For the baby, Helena. We are planning on redecorating your old room. So, Pink or blue?”

Helena ran her hand through her hair as a bitter-sweet smile spread across her lips. “How about green? Everyone wins then, right?”

Sasha hummed, making Helena’s smile stretch further. “Good idea. I’ll see what Richard thinks once he returns.” Sasha’s excitement vanished, and her motherly concern shone through. “Is everything alright? You don’t sound too good.”

“Fine. I’m great. I’ve been cutting onions since Laura wants to make a curry,” Helena replied with manufactured cheerfulness.

“That’s great. You two are almost like sisters. I’m glad you are getting along.”

“Yeah, me too. Look, I best go, she’s getting that grumpy look on her face.”

Sasha laughed and said her goodbye, leaving Helena alone.

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