Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Peace Never Lasts pt. 2

By the time Helena crawled her way back to Alexander’s home—Ben decided to use the emergency stairs instead of the lift—a nice, hot shower was the only thing on her mind. When her eyes focused on the rearranged living room, her mouth unhinged at the sight of the blue gym mats on the floor. To the side of the makeshift gymnasium, Maya sat on the sofa, propped up by a massive pillow and with what appeared to be a smoothie in one hand.

Maya waved at them and eyed Helena with a probing look. She scowled. “Where’s the food?”

Helena swatted her damp forehead with her wet palm. Whether it was sweat or rainwater, she couldn’t tell and didn’t care. Drink, shower, and rest were the only things she wanted.

“I forgot,” Helena said, aiming for her room.

“Come back here after you’re done changing. You’re going to do some sparring with Ben!” Maya called after her.

Helena slowed her pace to that of a sloth. Maybe, as more time passed, Maya would forget the outrageous idea of turning her into a fit human being.

Although she wasn’t eager to continue the training, she skipped the shower, changed her clothes, and met up with the others in the living room. Maya remained in the same place, but her drink was gone.

Ben sat next to her with bandages resting on his lap. He lifted Maya’s tank top and studied her blood-stained dressing with a stern face. “You’ve been moving around too much. Do I have to tie you to a bed to make you stop?”

Maya gave him a sheepish smile. “You know me. I can’t sit still.”

“That’s precisely why I never take you to recon,” he mumbled and undid her bandages.

“Helena, you’re here!” Maya shouted.

Helena nodded. Now that she knew what Ben was planning to do after they got rid of the demon, the thought of Maya’s disappointment tugged at her heartstrings. She didn’t want to see her friend troubled. Nevertheless, she would prepare the tubs of ice cream if necessary. Deciding that silence was the best course of action, she waited for Ben to finish dressing Maya’s scabbing wound.

“How did you move the furniture?” Helena asked.

Maya pointed behind Helena, and she turned around, as Andrew strode into the room. The sleeves of his white shirt were rolled up to his elbows, revealing lean muscle beneath.

He seemed busy, nattering on the phone, so Helena raised a brow at Maya. “You got Andrew to lift things for you?”

“Your vampire friend seemed eager to accommodate me once he found out you were the one who stabbed me.”

Helena cringed inwardly. She was about to unleash her apologies when Maya raised her hand. “Sorry, it slipped out.”

Helena’s knees grew weak, and she sat on the mat, waiting for Andrew to finish his phone call.

When he noticed that the others in the room were staring at him, Andrew mumbled something and hung up. “When do we start?”

“We?” Helena and Maya asked in unison.

Ben pointed at the vampire. “He will be Helena’s sparring partner for today. She needs to get used to the speed of the opponent since you have already taught her the basics. Once she has a better grasp on them, I will teach her more advanced techniques.”

Maya accepted his words, and Andrew offered Helena a hand.

Grateful, she took it, and he asked with a grin. “When did you start exercising, Thorn?”

Helena elbowed him in the side.

He bent over in mock agony. “You’ve wounded me! Who is going to pay for my medical bills?”

Maya burst out laughing and cried out in pain as she clutched her middle.

Ben shook his head and bopped Maya on the back of her head as if it was the natural thing to do. “You never learn.”

“And you never let me off the hook,” Maya complained.

Ben joined Helena on the mat. “We may as well begin.” He gripped Andrew’s shoulder and led him to the other end of the mat, making him face her. “You will do as your nature tells you, vampire. You will attack her and pin her to the ground. Understood?”

“I’ve got a name, you know.”

“Noted. Now, Helena, your eyes will be useless to you in this.” He retrieved a long strip of black material from his pocket which he crumpled and tossed to her. “It’s a blindfold. Put it on.”

“I’m going to spar with Andrew blindfolded?”

“Your eyes will only hinder you. With vampires, you must listen out for the movement. Once you learn this on a subconscious level, you may train with your eyes open.”

Uncertain, she put on the blindfold, tying the rough material behind her head. Darkness claimed her vision. She didn’t like it. This reminded her too much of the demon. She was waiting for him to spring out of nowhere and offer another deal.

A hand landed on her shoulder, and she jumped on the spot.

Next to her, Ben said, “Listen out for the movement on the mat and try to lodge this into the vampire’s chest.”

An object was placed in her hand, and she used her other hand to feel the item. It appeared to be some kind of a wooden blade.

“Will it hurt him?” she asked in a wavering voice.

“He’s a vampire. Unless it’s silver, he’ll recover fast,” Ben replied.

“So it will hurt him!” she snapped and was ready to pull off the blindfold when Andrew added, “Let it go, Thorn. I’m not about to let you lay a hand on me.”

Not convinced, she loosely held on to the weapon and waited until Ben walked her to what she believed to be the centre of the mat. The shuffling of his feet informed her he had stepped away.

“Begin,” Ben ordered.

As the word finished leaving the hunter’s lips, Helena’s world spun. Her back collided with something soft with enough force to knock the air out of her lungs. She gasped, and Andrew’s laughter followed along with the clanking of her weapon as it skidded across Alexander’s hardwood flooring.

Hands grasped her under her arms and guided her back into a standing position while she attempted to get her bearings back. Fighting normally was one thing, but trying to fight blindfolded and winded was another.

“Helena, use your senses. You’ll get nowhere if you keep standing there like the Eiffel Tower,” Maya complained.

The vein in her forehead started to throb in annoyance. She took the stance Maya had drilled into her: feet apart, shoulders forward, knees slightly bent. Now that she was a smaller target, Ben placed the weapon back into her hand, and she gripped the handle.

“You look serious, Thorn. Don’t worry, you’ll always land safely on your behind,” Andrew mocked.

Helena mentally rolled her eyes. “Bring it on!”

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