The room shook around Helena as she grasped the towel off the rack and struggled to wrap it around her trembling form. Frustrated with the wasted time, she scrambled out of the bathroom in search of her phone.
Her eyes scanned the bedroom, but she couldn’t find it, and her already racing heart kicked into another gear.
“Where is it?” she hissed and ran towards the bed, finding the small device buried between the pillows. Diving into the sheets, she caught it and pressed the home button to activate the screen. It took her a few tries to awaken it since mashing the button had the opposite effect of what she wanted. Her fingers tapped the smooth, glass surface of the phone as she dialled the number she knew off by heart.
She managed to press the call button and raised the phone to her ear. “Mum, pick up!” she screamed into the receiver.
With every dial tone, her agitation rose tenfold. She nibbled on her lower lip. An almost silent click came from the other end, and her mother’s detached voicemail followed it.
The door burst open, and both hunters rushed in. Maya got to her first. “We heard you shouting, are you alright?”
Crestfallen, she shook her head and redialled the number, but the result was the same. Fear choked sobs out of her. Her tears blurred her vision as she repeated the procedure three more times.
Maya yanked the phone out of her hand and forced Helena to get off the bed and look at her. “Tell us what’s wrong.”
Helena reached for the phone with a quivering hand.
Maya scowled and hid it behind her back. “What’s the matter, Helena?”
“He took her! He took my mother. I need to find her. I need to call her!” she yelled, grabbing for the phone.
Ben grasped her shoulders and shook her enough to knock some sense into her panicked state. Although it was hard, Helena sucked in a deep breath that did nothing to soothe the need to hear her mother’s voice.
“Who took her? You’re not making any sense,” he said.
“The demon came to me in the mirror and said he’s taken someone important to me.” Her legs were failing to keep her upright, so she sat on the edge of the bed and swayed back and forth.
Maya cursed and handed her the phone. “Keep calling her and get changed. We should check every location to make sure that’s what happened.”
Ben brushed past Alexander who strode into the room, eyeing the commotion.
“Did that saint bring a demon into my home?” Alexander asked.
“Not the saint. Our demon has taken someone, and Helena thinks it’s her mother,” Maya replied.
Helena grabbed spare clothes out of her bag without looking and ran into the bathroom where she changed as she dialled the same number relentlessly. The result remained the same—all calls went to voicemail.
Once she emerged from the bathroom, Alexander had his phone out and was barking orders into it.
Maya ran to her and gave her a small smile. “The vampire is going to send his men to see if your step-father is okay while we head over to your home.”
Helena’s body was stiff. She didn’t know what to do if her mother or Richard had become involved in this mess. How was she going to explain to them about the vampires and the demons? A throbbing headache emerged, and she massaged her temples to push it back.
Alexander shoved his phone into his pocket. “My men are on their way, and Tanya has opened an investigation. You should get going. The faster we cover more ground, the better.”
Genuine concern reflected in Alexander’s grey eyes. He had never seemed like the type to worry about her. Yet, seeing his worry for her parents made him almost human. Whatever the cause of this change was, she wasn’t about to question or waste it.
“Thank you, Alexander,” Helena said and scampered out of the room with Maya hot on her trail.
All the way to her parents’ place, she kept dialling the same numbers. She was unable to stop churning out terrible outcomes. If Lazarus had taken her mother, what would happen to the baby? She couldn’t—no—wouldn’t lose them both.
She glanced out the window of Maya’s Jeep and frowned. Why can’t this piece of crap move any faster?
“Helena, you must stay calm. I can feel your agitation from all the way here,” Maya said.
Helena snapped her head to the driver’s seat. “Are you telling me you weren’t a tad bit agitated when your family died?”
Maya smacked the steering wheel. “That was uncalled for.”
“I’m sorry…” She bowed her head in shame when her phone beeped. It was running out of juice. She buried her face in her hands. The panic and anticipation were getting to her. And, if Lazarus did take her mother, she would hunt him down to the depths of the Demon Realm if she had to.
Maya nudged her shoulder. “We’re here.”
As the car pulled to a stop, Helena undid her seatbelt and launched out of the car. She ran until her fist connected with the hard wood of the front door. Like a battering ram, she pounded on its rough surface. The action almost muffled the shaking of the tiny glass window.
A silhouette appeared from the living room. Helena held her breath. The shadows came away from the figure, and her mother emerged with a scowl as light flooded the hallway.
Sasha opened the door and eyed Helena like she had sprouted horns.
“What’s wrong, Helena? Is your place on fire?” her mother asked half-jokingly. When Helena said nothing, Sasha’s eyes bulged. “It’s not, is it?”
Too busy re-learning how to operate her lungs, Helena pushed past and embraced her mother.
“You are squishing the life out of me. What’s wrong?” Sasha asked, patting Helena’s back.
“You’re okay. Nothing happened, right? You and Richard are okay…” Helena trailed off and scanned the hallway for her step-father. He wasn’t there.
Sasha drew away and held her at arm’s length. “What’s gotten into you?”
Maya peered around the corner and waved at them with an awkward smile. “Hi, I’m Helena’s friend. She wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.”
Sasha motioned for the girl to come in as she assessed Maya from head to toe. “Another hair dye lover?”
Red stained Helena’s cheeks as she remembered her rebellious purple hair. “Mum!”
Maya let out a loud laugh. She took Helena’s hand and pulled her outside. “It seems we were worried for nothing.”
“Lazarus doesn’t joke around. He must have taken someone, but who?”
“We can wait here or head back. What do you want to do?”
Helena couldn’t shake the worry that added new boulders to her stomach as seconds ticked by. She rubbed her gut better, mulling over what to do next.
“Are you going to stay outside till morning?” Sasha called from the house. “Since you came here, stay for tea.”
Maya grinned, looped her arm through Helena’s, and led the way back to the house.
Once they settled on the chairs in the dining room, Helena waited for her mother to be out of the earshot in the kitchen. “I’m so sorry about this.”
Maya waved her comment away. “Don’t worry about it. It’s nice to see a normal family once in a while. Makes me remember why I do what I do.”
Helena frowned. “Hunting vampires is not exactly a career choice I would make.”
“You would if your family became their meal.” Maya crossed her arms, careful not to press too hard on her bandages.
There was no way to dispute her words. If the demon nabbed her family as he had threatened, Helena would have gone after him without a doubt. Would I become a monster who seeks nothing more than revenge?
Her mother emerged from the kitchen with two steaming mugs of tea and lowered them before the girls onto matching, striped coasters. She promptly took her seat at the head of the table, her expression betraying her inner worry. “Mind explaining to me why you rushed here like a headless chicken?”
Helena glanced at Maya who was already avoiding the conversation by sipping her tea like there was no tomorrow. “I wanted to see you and Richard. When is he coming home?”
Sasha glanced at the owl-shaped, maple clock on the wall. “In about an hour. He’s been coming home late from the lab these past two weeks since getting a research grant for his project.”
“I didn’t hear anything about that…” Helena replied.
“Of course not, you were nowhere to be found. I called Laura, and she said something about you going abroad.” Her mother raised a questioning brow.
Helena jumped out of her seat, spilling the tea in her mug on the table. “You got through to Laura? When?”
“Oh, look at what you’ve done!” her mother snapped, rising from her seat.
Helena grasped her wrist. “Mum, when did you talk to Laura?”
Sasha stared at her wrist with disapproval. “You are turning into your grandmother, always crazy and on edge.”
“We should leave…” Maya offered and took hold of Helena’s shoulder, “…the sooner the better.”
“Grandma wasn’t crazy, Mum. She had her reasons.”
Her mother’s eyes watched her with an intensity that Helena had never witnessed before. The room seemed to grow smaller as if zeroing in on the two of them. Helena’s hand fell away.
“Let’s not broach the past. So, go. Listen to your friend and cool your head.” Sasha picked up the dripping cup off the table and retreated to the kitchen.
“Let’s go.” Maya tugged on her shoulder.
Helena stormed out of the house. It pained her to know that her mother did not understand what happened to her grandmother. Buried deep, she had memories of the time she lived with her. She faintly remembered the older woman, who raised her for six years, to be kind and loving.
Next to the car, Helena studied the ground. Whatever the demon’s game was, she had to end it. Living in soul-chilling fear on a daily basis had kept her from piecing her life together. She rolled her eyes. There was no life left to salvage. Her parents were the only thing left untouched by the darkness. However long that would last—she wasn’t sure.
What if something happened to Lucious? She closed her eyes, seeking to visualise the link when Maya poked her in the side.
“Do you always act like that with your mother? You should be nicer,” Maya said, nudging her towards the Jeep. “Now, let’s get back and figure out who the demon has taken.”