Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Too Much Loss pt. 4

How long Helena stared at the white wall in Alexander’s warehouse, she didn’t know. Her mind was a complete blank. People’s voices were nothing more than buzzing of flies while her brain tried to assemble the events of that night.

Maya was dead. Lazarus was dead. Madeline was dead. Nadine and Reaver were missing. Lucious was nowhere to be found. She killed her grandmother, and her entire life was a lie. Although her head was hurting as if someone was taking a hammer to it, she could only blink and stare. There were no more tears she could shed. Her tear ducts had dried up since she was pushed into this seat by Alexander.

“What do you mean you cannot find him?” Alexander shouted into the phone as he strode into the room. “And what about my place, could you salvage anything from the fire?” He let out a loud groan and ran his fingers through his tousled hair. “Were any of the staff harmed? Good… No, I will contact you later.”

He leant against the wall in front of her and crossed his arms. “Are you not going to say anything? It’s been two days, and your hunter friend chose to burn down my home. There is a witch hunt on the vampires in the city. The hunter numbers are growing to strengthen their chances of success. Your family—”

Helena’s eyes narrowed at the mention of ‘family’. She didn’t want to hear anything about those who had kept her in the dark.

“You may not care right this instant, but I could not locate them. Both, your mother and step-father have gone missing,” Alexander finished, and she erupted from her seat.

“What did you say?” she asked in a hoarse voice which she hadn’t used in days.

Alexander sighed and looked her right in the eye. “I have sent my men to check on them, and they were already gone. I could not trace their location. The hunters may—”

“Did Ben take my parents from me?” The haze around her mind cleared and her legs gave way. I can’t lose any more people in my life.

Suddenly, she was suffocating. There was not enough air in the room. She clasped her hand over her throat and gasped for air.

“It’s not confirmed. They may have gone on a holiday somewhere since their house is in pristine condition. No sign of forced entry. Nothing,” he added in a soothing tone, squatting in front of her. He patted her shoulder. “I’ll find them, Helena. Breathe. Try to concentrate on that.”

She bobbed her head while trying to make sense of his words that bounced around her head like pinballs. Doing as she was told, she concentrated on taking in a deep breath and releasing it slowly. It helped keep the panic at bay, but it didn’t take away the cold that made the fine hairs on her arms stand.

Alexander helped her back into the seat. “I do hope Lucious returns soon. I am worried about him…”

Helena scanned his concerned face and whispered, “How is Andrew?”

“The wounds made by a demon heal slower than those made by silver. He’s in a lot of pain right now which is why he is bedridden. I cannot feed him too much blood either because of the threat of descent.”

She stood on her shaky legs. They felt as if someone had taken out her bones and replaced them with cotton candy.

When she swayed, Alexander caught her by the arms. “Do you want to see him?”

With the energy gone from her, she barely managed a nod.

Alexander awkwardly wrapped his arm around her and led her out of the room, through the makeshift living room, and over to a set of metal stairs that reminded her of the apartment she used to live in. The world was so peaceful in the past. Her friends were by her side. No demons were after her. Her guardian angel wasn’t a liar, and her family was intact. How much more of her life did she need to sacrifice to the supernatural?

They arrived on the first floor, and Alexander guided her to the third room on the left. He opened the door for her.

On top of a double bed lay Andrew with a single linen sheet draped across his hips. He turned his head and gave Helena a grand smile.

“I was deliberating when Alexander will let visitors come here. I have to admit, I expected you sooner,” he teased.

Her eyes roamed his tortured body. Large chunks of skin were missing on his thighs as if someone decided to shred them with a cheese grater. His arms had deep lacerations, and the skin seemed swollen around them. His abdomen was as badly cut up as his legs. The sight of raw muscle made her empty stomach churn.

Andrew gave her a sheepish smile. “Sorry. I am a bit underdressed.”

Helena covered her mouth with her hand, restraining a sob. She desperately wanted to keep her emotions in check, but when it came to Andrew, she couldn’t. She stumbled to the unfolded chair beside his bed. She fell into it and gingerly took his hand.

“Thorn, don’t make that face. You’ll scare off potential dates…”

Her lips twitched upwards, but the smile vanished as fast as it came when guilt consumed her. “Does it hurt?”

“I have to get some work done. Call me if you need me,” Alexander said and left the room.

Once the door closed with a soft click, Andrew squeezed her hand. “If I was human, I’d be dead. The fact that I’m able to make micro movements is a miracle in itself. Helena, stop blaming yourself for this. You saved me…twice.”

The words seemed alien to her when so many people had died because of the choices she made. Helena withdrew her hand.

Wincing, he lifted his arm and flicked her on the forehead. “What did I tell you about looking sullen in front of me?” He dropped his trembling arm and added, “Whatever happens, as a friend, I will always be there for you. And, if you find yourself lonely at night, I can always keep you company.”

Helena swatted his shoulder, and he burst into a fit of laughter mixed with stifled groans.

“You’re killing me, Thorn… I take it back…”

With her decision made, she said, “I’m going to stay by your side until you get better.”

“You don’t—”

“Please let me do this.”

Andrew searched her face with his forest-green eyes. “Alright, you can stick around. Remember, I expect a full nurse outfit.”

Helena rolled her eyes. “I’m going to get a massive syringe, too, because I know how much you love injections.”

Fear flickered behind his eyes. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“It’s a must with the nurse role, wouldn’t you agree?”

Once she left Andrew’s room, she retraced her steps to the bedroom and lay on the bed. Staring at the white ceiling, she couldn’t help trying to recall how often the rooms she spent her nights in changed, how many places she had been to, and how many nightmares she had faced.

The world remained a dark place where no one was safe. With her whole heart, she wished for those around her to be protected. Alexander’s words rang in the back of her head. She was too naive. Trusting the hunters may have been a mistake, but the pain on Ben’s face when he didn’t find Maya with them was what was etched in her memory. She didn’t get to pass on Maya’s final words either.

She rolled onto her side and ran her palm over the black linen sheets that reminded her of Lucious. Why hadn’t he come to see her afterwards?

Did the hunters capture him as well? Closing her eyes, she focused on the link between them. When she sent him a message, no response came. His shields were shut with such firmness, she couldn’t feel a single shred of emotion coming from his end.

“Wherever you are, Lucious, please be okay…”

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