Once she managed to get some alone time, Helena pressed her back to the door of her new room. She closed her eyes, fighting the stinging tears. How long do I have to pretend everything’s fine and that I am strong? The world around her was constantly changing and evolving into something frightening. Some days, she struggled to get out of bed in the morning. She couldn’t show her weakness to Alexander and Maya. They would judge her, and it would prove their fears right—that she was weak.
She stifled a sob with a palm of her hand and slid to the ground, hugging her knees closer to her chest. Although she was relieved to see Andrew, it had been too long without a single word shared between them. When she looked at him now, guilt invaded her strangled heart for putting him through the torment of becoming one of the undead. At the same time, she was relieved. He was alive and well. But, the fact he seemed to get along with Alexander baffled her.
Her thoughts returned to the reason her chest was stuffy since she had returned to Dublin. She had promised to give Lucious a second chance, but he ruined it by keeping her and Andrew apart. How can I place the same trust in him?
The sensation of his touch, his lips, and their passionate embrace in Vienna broke her mist of doubts and fears. An illusion, that’s all it was. She wouldn’t let it rule her. He hadn’t contacted her once when she drained some of his energy to find out what happened. Maybe being by his sire’s side was more important to him.
She sighed and buried her face in her knees. Why did he have to be the one I gave myself to?
“Helena, are you in there?” Ben’s muffled voice came from the other side of the door.
She climbed to her full height and wiped her tear-streaked face. With a steadying breath and a false reassurance that she was alright, she unlocked the door.
“I ha—” Ben paused long enough for his eyes to study her face in-depth. “Is this a bad time?”
Helena shook her head and waved for him to come in, but Ben didn’t move an inch. “I’m not here to exchange pleasantries. I have to get some medical supplies for Maya, and I want you to keep an eye on her while I’m gone.”
Her lips curved at the strong concern showing on his face. “Is she rebelling against staying in bed?”
Ben snorted. “I swear she has more energy when she’s sick than when she’s not. If she didn’t move around so much, she wouldn’t repeatedly open her stitches.”
“Alright. I’ll make sure she stays in bed while you’re gone.”
Ben scanned her face for something.
“I hope one day you’ll come to see vampires for what they are and not for what they want you to see.”
Helena’s brows drew together as Ben strode out of sight by turning the corner. She wanted to ask what he meant but fought the urge to do so.
She yawned and looked at the window. The weak rays of the rising sun crept into the room, fighting the strength of the fluorescent bedroom lights. Helena flicked the switch on her way out and ambled to the other end of the corridor. Alexander was adamant the hunters stayed as far away from his office as possible. So, he managed to put them seven doors down. She found his logic to be strange since Maya and Ben—if they wanted to—would invade his privacy regardless of the distance. Nonetheless, she stopped in front of the hunters’ room and knocked.
Maya invited her in, and Helena pushed the door open. The hunter stood by the window with the sun bathing her neon-red hair, making it seem like it was on fire.
“Don’t say anything about this to Ben,” Maya pleaded. “All he tells me to do is rest.” She let out a groan. “I swear when I’m hurt he turns into a mother hen.”
Helena closed the door behind her and leant on it. “Is that a bad thing?”
Without looking, Maya touched her bandaged side under her sports bra and shook her head. “I’m worried about the training he’ll put me through once I recover. Technically speaking, if I move around now, it won’t feel so bad later.”
“Solid logic right there,” Helena pushed away from the door and sat on the edge of the bed. “You should lie down, anyway.”
Maya studied her with a raised brow. “Oh, not you too! I swear, any more fussing about me and I’ll turn into a princess. I might start wearing dresses and begin to like shopping.”
“You didn’t look half-bad in a dress in Vienna.”
Maya rolled her eyes and lay on the bed, clutching her side. The colour seemed to be returning to her pale complexion. “Do you know how hard it was to fight two vampires in a dress? Never again will I be that unprepared!”
Helena’s smile faded when she remembered Reaver’s ‘present’. She was glad everyone managed to make it out alive along with the weapon to kill the demon. At the same time, the way Reaver let her go confused her. Whatever happened in the time she wasn’t conscious, scared her.
Helena shook her head, breaking away from the endless worries. “Nothing. I was contemplating some things.”
“Do you want to share? Not like you have a vast choice in human friends from what I can see,” Maya said, and Helena diverted her gaze to her interlocked fingers in her lap.
“I don’t know why Reaver released me.”
“What do you mean? Did the siren let you go without any explanation with one of the rarest weapons on the planet?” Maya asked, chuckling.
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Maya grasped her shoulders. “Hang on. Have you sold your soul to the demon already or something?”
She looked at Maya’s concerned face. “I don’t know. They did something—a ritual of some sort—and, when I woke up, Reaver was more than happy to let me go, no questions asked and no explanations given.”
Maya’s hands fell away, and she cursed. “What about the vampires? Do they know about this?”
Helena hugged her sides. She couldn’t tell Lucious when they were together. He was suffering alone, and her adding more to his plate didn’t appeal to her in the slightest. “No, they don’t.”
“Good. Don’t tell them. Never know what they’ll do to you.”
A nervous laugh broke past Helena’s lips. “Vampires and hunters have more in common than you think, Maya. I swear each side keeps telling me the same thing.”
“Are you keeping things from me?” Maya paused and smacked herself on the forehead. “Of course, you are. It would be weird if you didn’t.” She wrapped her hands around Helena’s chilled fingers. “How about we get some rest?”
Helena followed Maya’s lead and climbed on the bed with her. They lay there, side by side, their shoulders brushing. For some reason, it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable.
As Helena stared above, she asked, “Any plans for when this nightmare ends?”
Maya intertwined their fingers and squeezed Helena’s hand. “Lots. I want to get to know you better before we return to Berlin. It may take some ass kissing and punishments from the clan, but I hope they’ll let us back in. Then—” She stopped to refill her lungs. “I’ll tell Ben how I feel.”
Helena’s head snapped to one side to find Maya’s bright red face. “Really?”
“We’ve been near death too many times, and it’s not uncommon for partners to get into a relationship. I may be rejected. I don’t know. But, I would have tried. I mean, he saved me when I was in trouble and taught me how to fight and survive in this world. I don’t know if I can ask for more.”
Helena rolled onto her side. “What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?”
“If it doesn’t work out, I’ll be waiting with a few tubs of that.”
The hunter’s lips tugged into a full-blown grin. “It’s a win-win for me, I guess. I either get to spend time with a great sister or get a hunky boyfriend.”
“Exactly. So, don’t be discouraged. I’m always here for you if you need me.”
Maya’s green eyes watered, and she wiped the stray tear away. “Thanks. Now, let’s get some sleep.” She rolled away from Helena and added, “Your vampire, Lucious, he’s not all bad. He’s a terrifying man when he tortures people, though he did give me blood at Staatsoper. In his own demented way, I guess he cares about you more than I originally thought was possible.”
Helena’s lips parted, but no words came out. The possibility of Lucious caring about her made her heart leap and soar above the clouds. Her mind squashed the brief sensation of joy. If only he was forthright with her, then her heart wouldn’t be so confused.
She spooned Maya’s small back and closed her eyes. Only time will reveal what the future holds.