Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Bittersweet Memories pt. 2

Helena had been pacing around her living room ever since she woke up. The sun was already filling the room with its radiance, but it did not provide her with any comfort.

Perri, in her pink and yellow pyjamas, sat on the sofa, watching Helena wearing the wooden flooring down. She stifled a yawn. “Helena, what’s bothering you? You’ve been like this for hours.”

She paused mid-step. “I’m thinking, or I hope I am.”

Frowning, Perri tucked her knees closer to her chest. “Did something happen? Should I call Hans?”

“No, I have to go see someone.”

“Do you want me to come with you?”

She dropped on the sofa and buried her face in her hands. “Oh, I don’t know.”

Perri scooted over and hugged Helena. “It’ll be okay. We’ll find a way to fix…whatever the problem is.”

No words were going to fix her situation. Lazarus wouldn’t stop even if she begged him to. Whether she liked it or not, she needed help. But, everyone in her immediate vicinity was either human or vampire, and neither knew much about demons. For some reason, Nadine came to the forefront of her mind. She was certain the creatures in her dream were the same ones Nadine had shown her a vision of at college.

The loud banging on the front door startled her. She pushed away from Perri whose eyes were teeming with unspoken questions.

The two of them stared at each other in silent panic.

“Helena, open up. I forgot my keys again,” Laura shouted.

They let out a breath, and Helena scooted off the sofa. She cautiously opened the door to find Laura and Nadine standing there. Nadine was clutching a medium-sized plush panda with a pink bow placed decoratively on top of the toy’s head.

Laura grinned. “Found her in front of the building. She wouldn’t come up until I dragged her here. Also, happy belated birthday!” She revealed a white square box she was hiding behind her back. “I brought cake.”

Stunned, Helena had no idea what to do or say. Her body wouldn’t move for some reason. Luckily, Perri came to her rescue and pushed them into the apartment.

“I will make us some tea,” Perri announced.

After giving Helena a quizzical look, Nadine handed her the toy and followed everyone into the living area. An awkward smile played at Nadine’s lips as she took a seat on the couch, next to Laura. They couldn’t be more different. Laura had her long strawberry-blonde hair tied up into a high ponytail. Her make-up was expertly done, and, although she was only wearing a sleeveless denim shirt and jeans, she looked stunning. Nadine was her polar opposite. She wore a knee-length white summer dress that covered most of her body. Her pixie-like dark-brown hair had a petite white bow clipped to the side of her head.

“Who wants what?” Perri asked, busying herself in the kitchen.

“White coffee,” Laura said.

“Green tea, please, or any tea will do,” Nadine replied with a slight bob of her head.

Perri looked expectantly at Helena.

“Black coffee,” she called out, trying to sound cheerful. She sat across from Laura who was already animatedly nattering about her family trips to Hawaii and South America she had returned from.

Nadine was already preparing for their next year by reading ahead on the material which seemed mundane.

Helena was thankful she could finish her year at college with Hans’ assistance. He helped convince Helena’s lecturers to give her the winter break to study for her resits since she missed most of her first semester.

Once they finished a slice of cake each, her link trembled from Lucious’ proximity. Amidst their enthusiastic chatter, she hadn’t noticed the time go by. She glanced at Perri, and the girl nodded.

When she rose from her seat, everyone’s eyes were on her. Helena swallowed. “I’ll be right back.” She wiped her clammy palms on her grey jeans.

Perri studied her with caution. The remnants of panic from the demon’s attack remained. She, too, feared that Lazarus would come knocking on her door a second time. Nonetheless, Helena rushed to the front door and swung it open. The surprise on Lucious’ face brought a glimmer of satisfaction to her.

“I expected the Council’s dog, not you,” he said flatly.

“I knew you were getting close, so I opened the door.”

“Is he your boyfriend? I think I remember him from somewhere…” Laura squealed behind her.

Helena waved her hands in the air. “No, of course not! He’s a—”

“Monster,” Nadine said.

Everyone glanced at Nadine. Her usually warm brown eyes were colder than the Arctic. She stared Lucious down. Her small body advanced towards them with rigid movements. Nadine grasped Helena by the wrist and dragged her past Lucious, heading for the lift.

Helena glanced over her shoulder to find Lucious following suit.

Laura and Perri stared at them from the doorway, their expressions a mixture of shock and confusion.

“Er—where are we going?” Helena asked.

Nadine didn’t say anything, and Helena yanked her hand out of her hold. “What’s wrong?”

This time, Nadine’s cold eyes focused past Helena’s shoulder. “We must talk about this. In private.”

“She’s going nowhere without me,” Lucious added.

Nadine ignored him and took Helena’s hand again. Her touch was softer than before. “Is there anywhere we won’t bother your friends?”

“The roof will do,” Helena suggested and pressed the metal button to summon the lift. When she stepped inside, she selected the roof. Her body shivered at the memory of the attack.

On the top floor of the apartment complex, they filed out into the cool breeze. The sun was now hidden behind heavy, grey clouds that promised rain.

Nadine faced them both. Her eyes occasionally darted to where Lucious stood. “I warned you not to get involved with this creature. This abomination should not walk among us.”

“Sounds an awful lot like someone we both know,” Lucious grumbled.

Nadine lifted her hand, her flattened palm aimed at him. The energy in the air changed as if Nadine was charging a weapon of some kind.

“What are you doing?” Helena demanded.

“I will get rid of this thing from your side. One day, you will thank me.”

The surrounding air thickened, and Helena glanced at Lucious. His eyes were glowing bright blue and his fangs extended.

He took a menacing step towards the girl. “What are you?”

“A vampire’s worst nightmare,” Nadine replied.

The surrounding breeze halted its assault. Helena’s gut clenched, and she jumped in front of Lucious, blocking them both from doing something they would regret later. She hugged him to prevent him from getting any closer to the girl.

“Don’t hurt her!” Helena yelled.

“She is a threat. Can you not feel the power contained in this being?”

Nadine lowered her arm. Her words were like frosted daggers being stabbed into Helena’s heart. “You would willingly try to protect such a vile creature? It’s as I’ve feared… He already began controlling your mind.”

Helena pushed Lucious further away from Nadine. She whirled on the spot and grabbed Nadine’s arms. “I don’t know what you know or what you are, but he can’t control me. He and I share a bond.”

Nadine grimaced. “I hope you aren’t thinking about fornicating with this thing.”

Lucious chuckled. “Where do you meet such people?”

She, too, wanted to know the answer to his question. The few humans she was close to could be counted on one hand. Most were in her apartment right now, probably debating what happened to them. She met Nadine’s stern gaze. “Not like that. Things happened and our souls are now bound. If you hurt him, you would be hurting me as well since I’ll end up suffering his pain.”

Nadine visibly paled and stumbled backwards. Her eyes turned to large saucers. After a second, she turned her head to one side as if listening to someone they couldn’t see. “I have to go.”

She tried pushing past them, but Lucious grasped her by the arm and jerked her back.

“Not until you tell us everything,” he said.

“Get your filthy hands off me!”

The air stirred again, and Lucious hissed in pain. His skin started to smoke where he touched Nadine, and he retracted it.

Helena’s palm burned as if someone lit a match under it. Hissing in pain, she doubled over, cradling it close to her chest. “It hurts!”

“I’m sorry,” Nadine said and ran for the staircase.

Helena reached out for his injured hand, but Lucious hid it behind his back.

“I will catch her before she escapes,” he said.

“Don’t! Just, please…leave her alone.”

“Why are you protecting her? She could be dangerous.”

“Enough!” she shouted. “Let it go.”

“I will wait at the apartment.” He fleeted out of sight.

Left alone, she stood on the rooftop. She lifted her eyes to the sky. Thick, heavy clouds did not only take away the beautiful view, they also seemed to shroud her mind. A hint of disappointment and worry washed over her as the first drop of rain fell on her cheek. The storm was brewing and too many lives were at stake.

She returned to the apartment to find Lucious gone. “He wouldn’t have…” Inside, she knew full well he went after Nadine.

“I’ll be right back,” Helena told everyone. Although she was certain only Perri paid attention to what she had said.

Her heart sped as if it was on a race track, competing against her breathing. As she got into the lift, her mind was in a whirl. What would she do if Lucious hurt Nadine? To take her mind off the matter, she focused on the decreasing numbers above her head. The second they hit zero, she nearly flew out of the cramped metal space and ran outside.

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