Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Demon Wastelands pt. 2

Once they reached a line of lifeless, naked trees, Helena’s legs were beginning to hurt, and she wasn’t even moving them. Lucious had been lugging them around for over twenty minutes. Although she didn’t want to interrupt his speed that made her hair whip around her face, she said, “Stop, Lucious. I know you’re in pain.”

He halted, and his hurt expression made her heart ache. “I did not realise I was letting it slip past my shields…”

Maya separated from him with her brows pinched together. The hunter didn’t trust him, and Helena had no idea how she could get them to work together.

After Lucious helped Helena stand, he bent over and massaged his legs. One glance at him told her he was suffering. He tried to keep a blank face, but a few micro-expressions of pain peeked through the facade. He clenched his jaw with each step, and his eyes were tense around the edges.

Helena grasped his shoulder. “Take a seat and rest. There are lots of trees here. If we stay low enough, we won’t get noticed.”

Maya mumbled something like ‘weakling’, and Helena glared at her.

“What?” Maya asked.

Lucious plopped on the ground and relaxed against the rough tree bark. He took hold of Helena’s hand and pulled her onto his lap then buried his face in her neck.

She stiffened. Is he going to bite me? After all, he had used a lot of energy and was becoming tired, fast.

He didn’t do anything other than wrap his arms around her and inhale her scent with his eyes closed.

“I’d prefer not having to watch you two get it on. I’m going to keep a lookout around the perimeter,” Maya said and marched away.

Helena shifted in his lap and ran her fingers through his damp hair, pushing stray locks away from his sweaty forehead. She whispered, “Are you unwell?”

He shook his head. “I will be fine. Allow me to rest for a while, and I shall be as good as a new Bentley.”

“I didn’t know you were into cars.”

“I’m not. That was something I said to take my mind off the pain.”

It hurt too much to see him like this. He had undergone a descent not too long ago. Who knows what effect it had on him?

She peeled back the sleeve of her jacket and offered her wrist to him. “Drink. It will help you heal, right?”

Lucious diverted his face. “Move your hand away. I am not weak enough to need your blood.”

“Is it because of what Maya said?”

“No. It is not because of that,” he snapped and his grip around her middle changed to bruising. His fingers slipped under her jacket and T-shirt and sank into her skin. “It is because I might drain you before I can stop myself. So, I beg you to spare me and move it away.”

Helena covered her wrist. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

He closed his eyes, and his hold on her loosened. “It has been a tough month, my dear. I never imagined I would fall prey to the descent. I never came close to it until I met you.”

“Are you saying it’s my fault?”

“Not at all. I am the one to blame for this. I cannot drink human blood anymore.”

“What do you mean?” she demanded, her voice rising.

He clamped his hand over her mouth, trapping any further words inside. “Let us first deal with the matter at hand. I will talk about this problem once you are safe at home.”

After leaving a soft peck on her cheek, Lucious nudged her to get off, and she complied. She scanned the area for Maya while he climbed back to his feet with a low grunt. A quick glance at his posture told her he was favouring his right leg. He had to be hurt and would not share the pain with her.

Dressed in black, Maya almost merged with the dead treeline as she looked on to where the gate would have been if they could still see it. Helena couldn’t begin to guess the worry her friend was undergoing. She, too, couldn’t stop being concerned about Ben’s well-being from popping into her head. If it was Lucious who was left behind to deal with that massive demon, she would also want to go back, even if the odds weren’t in their favour.

She jogged to Maya. “We should get going.”

Maya spared one last glance towards the gate and sighed. “When this is over, I’m buying a truckload of ice cream and drowning my sorrows in it.”

“And I’ll help you, so you don’t have to gain weight by yourself,” Helena added.

Maya struggled to keep a straight face, and her lips tugged into a smile. “We will have to run for miles to lose it. You sure you’re up for the task?”

“Why not? We’re family.” Helena smiled back.

Draping her arm over Helena’s shoulders, Maya gave her a light squeeze. They lumbered past Lucious in the direction of the mountain.

The soles of Helena’s feet ached and her thighs were numb. As they plodded through what appeared to be an eternal treeline, she grumbled her complaints and kicked a tiny rock. It skipped along the dirt and collided with an exposed root of a tree.

“How much longer do we have to walk for?” she asked. The dusty air tickled her throat, and she coughed.

“Judging by the distance we’ve covered and how far we have yet to go, a really long way,” Maya said and slid the backpack off her shoulder. She pulled out a bottle of water. After unscrewing the plastic cap, she took an appreciative mouthful.

Helena’s dry mouth watered as she looked on longingly at the drink. She should have guessed it wouldn’t be an easy trip and prepared. Since Ben had the other half of their supplies, they didn’t have much food left either. She sighed.

Maya tossed the bottle her way, making Helena almost miss it. The plastic was warm in her hands. She swallowed a couple of mouthfuls and offered it to Lucious.

With a smile, he accepted it and finished what was left. He handed Maya the empty container.

“What do you need to drink for?” Maya asked and violently stuffed the bottle back into her bag.

“I do not only drink blood, hunter,” Lucious replied with annoyance underlining his words.

Maya clicked her tongue. “Yeah, but I have one more bottle left so, no more for you.”

“Noted,” he retorted and strode on ahead.

Helena shook her head. If they didn’t find Lazarus soon, these two would be at each other’s throats until one of them died.

Why couldn’t the mountain be any closer?

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