Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Working Together pt. 3

Helena felt his hands on her even after they parted. She wanted to remain in his protective arms and forget this whole nightmare. With reality crashing down, she knew she couldn’t. Andrew needed to be saved, and they had no choice other than to play the game the demon had devised for them. What she knew for certain was that everyone was nervous. Would the Arcanae Mortum work? Would this whole scheme bring them a step closer to the grave? The questions were there, on everyone’s sullen faces when she returned.

When she came to a stop, she found the group’s attention on her and Lucious.

Alexander put his phone away and said, “We can stay at a small inn near the gate. Tanya has already made the reservations, and I forwarded the details to Reaver.”

“Is it such a good idea to associate with the siren?” Lucious asked.

Helena was growing tired of hearing that question. It was a dangerous gamble because no one knew what Nora was capable of. Their choices were limited by haste.

“We decided to give it a try,” Alexander said, breaking the awkward silence.

Ben, who had been quietly standing by the wall, collected his and Maya’s backpacks. “Let’s not waste any more time.”

Everyone shuffled to reclaim their belongings, and Helena grabbed her duffel bag off the floor which Lucious took from her a second later. She looked at him in surprise, and he added, “Any gentleman would do the same.”

Alexander snorted as he passed them. Lucious went after him, his long strides eating the distance between him and the door.

Someone tapped Helena on the shoulder, and she nearly climbed out of her skin.

“It’s only me,” Nadine said. “You seem to have a lot of strange friends, Helena. Vampires, hunters, witches…even a siren. My only advice to you would be not to hold any expectations for any of those species. They are prone to lies and deceit. Trust only in yourself.”

“Are you included in that list?”

Nadine cast her gaze downwards. “There were times when lies kept me safe.” The saint gave her shoulder a squeeze and followed after Maya and Ben.

Seeing them together, Helena found it impossible to flesh out Nadine’s words in her mind. They were working towards a single goal. Couldn’t everyone get along with ease? Why did they have to fight over prejudices that had been formed centuries ago?

Helena clambered out of her seat and closed the door to Alexander’s rented car. She studied the cheap-looking four-storey accommodation with large glass windows and light-brown brick exterior. One glance over her shoulder told her this was the correct place since Alexander was out of the driver’s seat. He headed for the glass door ahead, the brown frame of which contrasted with the white windows.

“Is something wrong?” Lucious asked her.

“Does Alexander know this isn’t a five-star hotel?”

Lucious chuckled and draped his free arm around her waist, leading her forwards. “Alexander grew up as a servant of a nobleman. That old man could not care less as to what had happened to him and his mother. This accommodation is better than what he had to use in the past, I am certain.”

“Oh,” was all she managed to say. She expected Alexander to be part of a royal family or a noble one like Lucious’. Hearing about his past made her understand why Alexander always complained about wasting money.

Their group was split into three double rooms. Alexander and Lucious were in one, Maya and Ben shuffled to the room across the way, and Helena and Nadine were left with the room down the hall.

When Helena dropped her bag on the ground, Nadine sat on a cheap armchair that faced the window. She pulled back the sun-faded curtain. The blue from it had bled out and turned greenish. Outside, thick dark clouds gravitated together for a stormy night above the colourful houses.

“Do you love him?” Nadine asked.

“Excuse me?”

“Do you love the vampire who keeps touching you?” Nadine repeated, looking out the window.

Helena took a seat on the edge of the bed. “Would it change anything if I had feelings for him?”

“No. I am here to help you because you’ve helped me. I was simply curious.”

Reclining to rest on her elbows, Helena asked, “Do you have anyone you love?”

Nadine whispered, “Long ago.”

“What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?”

The curtain fell back into place. Appearing displeased, the saint adjusted her baby blue blouse. “He died.”

“I’m sorry…”

“No need to apologise. You did not cause his death. It was his fault.”

Unable to understand how Nadine could remain unaffected by the death of a loved one, Helena looked around and noted that it was past 3 a.m. She pointed at the bed and feigned a yawn. “Let’s get some sleep, I’m tired.”

Remaining seated, Nadine returned to her assessment of the coming storm.

With the sun filtering into the room through the thin white curtains, Helena rubbed her eyes. An odd sensation of something heavy resting on her legs drew her attention. She frowned and searched under the quilt for what it was and found smooth skin. Alert, she jerked into a sitting position.

Next to her, Nadine let out a soft moan of complaint before removing her leg and rolling over to one side.

Helena scratched her head and climbed out of bed, careful not to disturb the girl. She stumbled into the bathroom where she brushed her teeth and took a quick shower.

When she came out, Maya was already sprawled out on her bed, and Nadine was nibbling on a piece of toast.

“The redheaded witch has arrived and is currently chatting with the vampires,” Maya said.

Alexander had mentioned Madeline’s involvement and willingness to help on the flight over. But, Helena’s mind was too preoccupied with the task at hand, and she had forgotten the witch was due to show up.

“I’ll go check on Madeline.” Helena rushed out of the room. She ran down the corridor and knocked on the door.

Lucious opened it with an annoyed look on his face. His damp hair had a few clear water drops clinging to the ends.

She fought the desire to brush his hair aside as he said, “I do hope you’ve come here to entertain the witch because I cannot take her ramblings about witches and their Circles much longer.”

Helena rolled her eyes and brushed past him into an identical room to the one she stayed in. The bathroom was on her left and directly ahead was a large double bed with a desk across from it and two armchairs next to the window. Madeline sat in one of them with her rich, coppery hair splayed around her shoulders. Morning sunlight bathed her hair with a majestic glow.

She hasn’t changed one bit.

When Madeline spied Helena, she erupted from her seat. Two long arms wound around Helena, and she was squeezed against Madeline’s warm body. “How are you, dear?”

Lucious cleared his throat and motioned for everyone to take a seat. When no one moved, he sighed. “Could you please take a seat, madam?”

“Madam?” Helena asked, looking at them in confusion.

Madeline let out a giggle. “Oh, he calls me that ever since he got an earful from Vincent.”

Helena imagined the scenario in her mind and released a chuckle.

The witch took her hand and led her to the seats. “I am pleased you are in high spirits. There is much darkness on the other side, so being cheerful now is for the best.” She turned to study Helena again. “Someone put a spell on you.”

Lucious moved to stand behind Helena. “Is it dangerous?”

After taking hold of Helena’s palm, Madeline assessed it. “Not dangerous as such...”

“Who would put a spell on me?” Helena’s brows knotted together.

“Have you been in contact with any powerful witches?”

Lucious cursed. “Reaver did this!”

Helena glanced at him. He wore a schooled mask, hiding any emotion she could have read from his face. The link appeared stable, meaning he didn’t want her knowing what he was going through. He had cut himself off from her. She faced Madeline. “Can we remove it?”

“I am sure it is something minor and will vanish unless it is recast. There’s little you need to worry about in regard to that. For now, focus on the demon and his trap.” Madeline retook her seat.

“I am going to find Alexander,” Lucious said, leaving them alone in the room.

Madeline gave Helena a reassuring smile and whispered, “I didn’t know if you wanted the vampire to know this, but it is a powerful suppression spell.”

“Why would Reaver cast a suppression spell on me?”

“You tell me, child.”

Helena curled her fingers in her lap. Her memory of the ritual Nora performed never came back. It was a complete blank. Did Nora erase my memories?

A hammering headache built, and she massaged her temples.

“Do not force it,” Madeline said. “Like I have said before, the spell will wear off in time. What I’m curious about is what the spell is suppressing.”

“You and me both.”

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