Similarities pt. 2
Helena was jolted out of sleep because of a sudden jerk of the mattress. She forced her eyes open to find Maya pointing her gun at Andrew who had his hands up in surrender.
“I am here to talk to Helena,” he said with a weak smile.
Helena grabbed Maya’s arm, tugging it down. “Don’t. He’s a friend.”
“But he’s undead,” Maya grumbled over her shoulder.
“He tried to save me and ended up getting hurt. I begged Lucious to turn him.”
Maya’s lips parted, and she tucked her weapon under the pillow. Reclining, she said, “By all means, enjoy your interaction with the undead.”
Helena scooted off the bed and propelled Andrew out of the room. “What were you thinking? She could have shot you.”
He stopped in his tracks. “Alexander told me more about these hunters. They’re not a good company to keep either. They kill my kind.”
“What else did Alexander tell you?”
“Enough to know you’re in over your head,” Andrew said, his expression turning cold.
Helena scanned the corridor they were in. It wasn’t the best place to talk about such matters. So, she grasped his hand and led him into the grand living room. She briskly walked to the bar Alexander had at the far end of the room.
She let go of his hand. “Is there a coffee machine here?”
“Try checking under the counter,” he replied, taking a seat on a barstool.
She opened the cupboards and found what she was looking for. From the bottom shelf, she lifted the coffee maker onto the lacquered mahogany counter and resumed her quest for ingredients.
Her hand froze on the bag of instant coffee. “No, I haven’t.”
Andrew rested his chin on his palm and watched her without another word.
She made them both coffee and sat on the neighbouring barstool, clamping her hands around the warming mug.
“Have I really changed?” she asked, uncertain this time.
Andrew took a sip of his drink. “You’ve made friends and you’re more assertive. What hasn’t changed is the fact you still spend more time in that big head of yours than in reality.”
Helena stared at the dark liquid in her mug. Externally, Andrew was the same, yet there was no hint of the youthful playfulness he always talked with. As the six months apart had changed her, he, too, underwent his troubles and fought his demons.
“Have you talked to your family?” she inquired, eager to change the subject.
“No. They think I’m studying abroad. I don’t know what to say to them. Once they notice I haven’t aged in five, ten years, what’ll I say? Not like I can tell them what I am and expect them to accept it.”
“You could try.”
“No. I can’t,” he said in a strained voice. “You may not treat me like I am a monster, but they’re devout Catholics. I doubt they’ll see past the fact that I’m dead and drink blood to survive.”
“But your dad loves you so much.”
Andrew hid his face in his hands. “I know he does,” he mumbled. “I’ve missed my family, my friends. It has been hell trying to get a hold of the thirst that’s always there, pushing me to the limits of sanity.”
Helena hugged him. Whatever had happened to her best friend who relentlessly teased her and cracked more jokes than there were hours in the day? Was this what it meant to be involved with the supernatural? Happiness had drained away from their lives, and they could do nothing to stop it. And now, it was too late to fix what was already broken.
He pulled her close and buried his face in her shoulder.
“Andrew, you should see your parents, even if it’s for a short while.”
He drew away, giving her another half-smile. “I’ll try.”
“Good. I also need you to find out if Laura is alright.”
“Why? Is she hurt?”
She shook her head. “She’s fine, as far as I know, but her parents are gone. They were in our apartment, and Alexander and Ben took them out. They thought the Quinns were a threat.”
Andrew shot out of his seat and grasped her shoulders. “Why would they harm them? They’re not involved in this!”
“They were hunters.”
Andrew’s hands slowly slid away. “That can’t be right. Laura and her family seemed so normal. There’s no way they would go out and kill anyone.”
Someone cleared their throat, and they both diverted their attention to a small brunette in a charcoal pencil skirt and a navy blouse.
“You have an appointment in the boardroom in an hour, Mr Keane,” the young woman said with a bleached smile.
Helena raised a brow as she looked at her best friend. “Mr Keane?”
Andrew smirked. “She’s my secretary, Orlaith. Alexander helped me hire her to keep my schedule in order. She knows what we are.”
Helena grasped her mug with her hands. The warmth of it didn’t take away the gnawing concerns that Andrew was becoming a complete stranger or a more worrying being—Alexander.
“Look, I’ll deal with this and, afterwards, we have to talk about everything,” Andrew added and followed his secretary out of the room.
Helena noticed the small skip in the woman’s step when he was next to her. Beyond the sorrow and death around them, people somehow found the time to have a crush on someone. She finished her coffee and searched the cupboards of the bar, coming upon a mini-fridge stocked with fresh fruit. She took two bananas with her and returned to her seat at the bar.
“Are you destroying my fruit supply for the cocktails?” Alexander’s voice came from behind her.
She didn’t bother turning. Instead, she peeled the banana and took her first bite out of it.
Alexander walked around the bar. He skilfully extracted a crystal glass from the counter, added a few cubes of ice, and poured some whisky on the frozen rocks. Once he finished making his drink, he stopped in front of her with a smirk on his face. “I take it the reunion with Andrew went well?”
Helena swallowed her food. “Why do you care about how it went?”
“It is high time for you to move on and accept his affection for you.”
She set her banana on the table and crossed her arms. “Why are you so keen on separating me and Lucious? Is Zafira’s vision the only thing driving you or is it something else?”
Alexander’s smirk wilted and his expression morphed into a schooled poker face. For what seemed like forever, he didn’t answer. He raised his glass to his lips and took a tentative sip. The simple action made the ice inside clink.
“I will answer your question if you tell me how you escaped from Reaver,” he said, looming over her as he leant on the counter. “Lucious wouldn’t tell me, and I doubt it is because he is withholding information. He, too, doesn’t seem to know the precise details of your miraculous getaway.”
Helena tried leaving her seat, but Alexander grasped her forearm, forcing her back down.
“Running away will not help any of us when the demon comes knocking on our mental shields. I felt its energy consuming Lucious, and I do not want to repeat the process.”
She shot out of her seat, forgetting Alexander’s fingers that dug into her skin and muscle. She was too shocked to notice the pain building in her arm. “Lazarus got to Lucious?”
Alexander’s hand retreated. He finished his drink while her heart hammered away in her chest. If the demon reached Lucious, they had little time left to deal with the monster.
The vampire’s tired grey eyes focused on her, and he searched her face for something. What? She didn’t know.
His words pierced her like the sharpest blade. “You are nothing more than a child who meddles with powers unknown. The more I look at you, the more I see you as an obstacle. Yet, your luck with men amazes me. Two men I respect seem fond of you. Why?”
“Do you want the long or the short answer?”
“Please, do enlighten me with either explanation for their delusion.”
She rolled her eyes. This was not the time to commence an argument. Every fibre in her being wished for her hands to lock around his extended neck and to squeeze the life out of him. She stomped down her budding anger, and her eyes focused on her bracelets. They were almost black, and her chest hurt with worry. She had to purify them before Lazarus could get to her.
“I am awaiting an answer.”
“What do you expect me to say? That I put a spell on them or that I’m some kind of monster who attracts people to me? To be honest, I would trade places with a normal person if given the chance,” she snapped. “I want a normal life, normal friends. I want to go to college like normal people, Alexander. This—” She waved to emphasise the luxurious décor. “I don’t want this.”
Instead of waiting for a response, she hurried to the lift. She had to find Laura and see if she was alright. Being alone at a time like this was the worst possible situation for her friend. If her parents were dead, she would want comfort, too.
“Where are you going?” Alexander called from the bar.
“Out!” Helena entered the lift and mashed the ground floor button.
Their eyes locked in a silent battle, and she mentally dared him to try stopping her. After everything she went through, he had no right to trap her in his home.
Thankfully, he remained in place as the doors closed.