Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Not So Happy Birthday pt. 4

Helena found Perri and Hans, playing cards in the living room when they returned. She shrugged out of her coat, and Lucious took it from her without a word.

“Who’s winning?” Helena asked.

Perri turned her head and grinned. By the look on Hans’ relaxed face, he was losing on purpose.

Helena smirked, warmed by the notion of how Hans always wanted to please Perri. Approaching them, she sat next to her friend on the sofa.

Perri put the cards on the glass coffee table, her smile slowly fading. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m coping, I guess. I do need more painkillers, though.”

“Master Vincent believes it would be wise to remain at your side until the danger passes,” Hans said, folding his arms.

Perri’s eyes searched Helena’s face for some kind of reaction.

“Does Eliza know?” Lucious cut in, holding a glass of water and two pills. He offered them to Helena, and she took them after mouthing her thanks.

“Master Vincent said it’s a personal matter and has nothing to do with vampires. Therefore, there is no need to notify her of this development,” Hans stated.

Helena was grateful Vincent was in charge of looking after her and not Xi Yi or Eliza. They would find joy in seeing her locked up in some underground dungeon.

“You two don’t need to remain here. I will look after her,” Lucious said.

Hans eyed Helena as if silently asking for her permission. Staying alone with Lucious would be a mistake. Who knows what would happen if they were together without a chaperone? The effect of being close to each other had already kept her on edge. She had to stay away from seeking his comfort because a single brush of their skin caused her heart to flutter. And that interaction at the park left her aching for more physical contact.

She swallowed her pills and sipped her water before setting the glass on the coffee table. “They are staying. You, on the other hand, are not.” She strolled into the kitchen and made herself some tea.

Lucious moved to stand behind her. “I am not leaving.”

Helena was tired. She needed to get some caffeine in her system or she would collapse in front of everyone. There were too many things to worry about. What she wanted was to hide under her covers and ignore the outside world. But, that was not one of the options. “I don’t have time to argue with you. I have more than enough bodyguards.”

Although his expression remained impassive, the link trembled with his anger. He was losing control over his shields and leaking his emotions into their connection. His eyes tightened around the edges as he forced the words out of his mouth. “Those two may not be enough.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. Realising she brushed her wound, she dropped them right away. “I will make do. Leave.”

Instantly, Hans was standing next to her, his hand clamped on Lucious’ shoulder. “The lady has made her decision.”

Lucious stepped out of his hold. “Alright, I will go. If anything so much as smells wrong, contact me immediately.”

Helena stood in the middle of a wasteland. The sky above her was covered in ominous clouds, swirling in unpredictable patterns. The only light came from a huge dome over a dozen miles ahead of her. It encapsulated tall golden skyscrapers she had never seen on Earth.

Here, there was no wind to brush her hair and no life sprung from the dusted ground. The whole place felt wrong as if someone took everything that gave life and eliminated it.

Unease grew inside of her. The air around her was different than at home. It was sticky and humid as she walked on the lifeless cracked dirt. With every step, the air grew thicker.

In the distance, mountains stood tall, spreading more shadows on the ground. Pained screams reached her ears. The agony of many men and women swarmed her senses. Her hands shot to her ears to block them out, but they got louder like someone was playing with the volume button on their stereo.

She fell to the ground. Cradling her knees closer to her chest, she rocked back and forth, praying for the cries and begging to stop. And, once they did, she looked up at the sudden silence. She was no longer alone.

Horrid creatures surrounded her. Some had humanoid shapes with claws spanning to their ankles. Others were closer to large dogs. Their misshapen ebony bodies were covered in fur, scales, and even spikes you would find on a hedgehog. Each creature’s eyes glowed bright red with anticipation.

Anticipation of what?

Helena gasped and stumbled backwards, kicking up dust into the air with her feet. Her heart hammered in her ribcage. She fought for control—something to halt her panicked mind and reclaim rational thought.

“Just breathe!” She sucked in a lungful of air and let it out slowly. These creatures were too much like the ones Nadine showed her.

Their claws reached for her.

She focused on the figure behind the monstrosities. “Lazarus

His body was mostly human apart from the elongated fingernails and ivory horns protruding from his skull which was covered with long blue-black hair. Those predator-like red eyes locked on her, and he smiled.

“I can smell your fear, my flower. Soon you will be drowning in it.” He burst into laughter, shaking the world around her. The pain in her shoulder subsided and her vision blurred.

She shot upright in her bed with her clothes drenched in cold sweat. Lazarus was coming back for her, and it was sooner than she expected.

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