Two weeks went by without a word from her parents or Lucious. The only good news she had received were that Nora and Nadine managed to get away. And even that didn’t bring her much joy. Not after Nadine and Horus forced Madeline through the gate. Those events haunted Helena every night as did the memories she had forgotten—no—memories locked away by Michael.
She entered Alexander’s office on the second floor. Buried in paperwork, he stretched in his office chair and sighed. “I called you here because I have found your parents. Your step-father and his wife were in New York at a conference, apparently. They will be collected from the airport. I asked Tanya to bring them to a hotel where we will meet with them shortly.” He rubbed his tired eyes and riffled through a pile of papers to his left. His hand emerged with a small white envelope he placed atop the stack. “And this came from Vincent today.”
Helena picked up the sealed envelope. Her name was beautifully written in calligraphy on the front and dread built inside of her. What does Vincent want from me?
“Did you read this?” Helena asked.
Alexander raised a brow. “Do I look like someone who has nothing better to do?” After a minute, he snorted and shook his head. “You have such a low opinion of me… No, I did not take a peek. Tempted though I was, I am waiting for you to tell me what it is Vincent wants from you.”
That was more than she was going to get out of him, so she tore open the side of the envelope and took out a letter written in the same gorgeous handwriting that read:
It is with much grief I received the news about Madeline’s departure from this realm. She was a woman who made me smile, and I wished she would remain with us longer to bring more light into this world. It was her choice to help you with your problem. Therefore, I blame no one.
Madeline has a six-year-old daughter. Her name is Cullodena. I did not expect it, but Madeline’s Circle has invited you to come to her funeral service to say a few words about her last moments. You may decline this invitation if you want. My wish is that you would attend the service as a courtesy to her daughter and her family.
If you are willing to come, the service will take place on the July 5 in Aberdeen. Contact me to confirm the location.
“By the look on your face, I can tell it is not a letter of execution,” Alexander said.
Helena blinked away the tears. Madeline was such a caring woman. Taking her from her daughter made the witch’s death rest heavier on Helena’s heart. She folded the letter and tucked it into her jeans’ pocket. If going to the service would bring closure to some, she would do so. This way, she would be able to tell her final goodbye to Madeline and apologise.
Alexander’s phone buzzed on the table, and he answered. “Yes, Tanya? Already there? Good. I’ll see you in twenty minutes… Yes, keep them busy.” He waved a hand to get her attention. “Your parents have arrived. Are you certain you want to do this?”
Alexander stood and motioned towards the door. “Then, ladies first.”
They arrived at the luxurious hotel in the heart of the city. Helena ignored the crystal chandeliers that hung above their heads, the marble flooring, and the occasional soft red carpet beneath her feet. Her mind was focused on one thing and one thing only. It was to keep her family safe. And, if it meant she had to separate from them, she would do so. She did not want to repeat Maya’s history and return to a home full of dead bodies.
Alexander announced his presence to the preppy brunette at the hotel’s reception, and she beamed at him. She grabbed something from under the desk, and her hips did their own thing as she bounced ahead of them.
Helena spared Alexander a glance. What surprised her was the fact that he wasn’t checking her out. He seemed more interested in the artwork lining the walls.
The woman guided them to a lift where she pressed the button for the top floor. In the mirrored walls of the metal trap, Helena noticed the woman stealing glanced at Alexander. If only she knew what he was… Yet, that titbit did not deter any of his previous conquests.
They finally arrived in front of a white door with curving golden letters spelling out ‘Royal Suite’.
The woman handed him a key card. “The other guests are already inside.”
Alexander shot her his business smile. “Thank you, beautiful.” He moved past her and swiped the card through the mechanism. The door clicked open.
Helena shook her head as she passed the woman who was fanning herself. Any moment now and this girl would need an ambulance. Whatever women saw in him, she could never figure it out. Alexander had athletic built, naturally platinum hair, or, at least, she had never seen it change colour. Was it the suits? The confidence he carried himself with everywhere he went? Helena pushed her assessment to the back of her mind and trailed behind him into the suite.
Her parents sat on one of the plush velvet sofas, and Tanya had the most bored look on her face as she studied her manicure by the pale green wall.
“At last, you showed up, Alexander. I thought these two would bore me to death with their questions,” Tanya said.
“Helena, what is the meaning of this?” her mother asked, turning in her seat. “She told us you were sick and that we had to come here to see you.”
Helena nibbled on her lower lip and forced her limbs to move. With a few quick steps, she sat on the sofa opposite her parents and waited for Alexander to accompany her.
“Please tell me this man didn’t get you pregnant!” Sasha said, covering her mouth.
Alexander’s chuckle turned into a cough, and Helena gaped at her mother.
“There is nothing to fear when it comes to my sire,” Tanya replied. “He takes good care of his women.” Helena shot Tanya a glare, but the vampire ignored her by adding, “Too bad she’s not Alexander’s type.”
“If you’re not pregnant, why were we dragged here from the airport? And why are we in a hotel and not discussing these things at home?” Sasha asked, her voice rising.
Richard took his wife’s hand and massaged her knuckles with his thumb. “Let her talk, Sasha.”
Her mother pressed her lips together and indicated for Helena to talk with her free hand.
“You can’t return home, Mum. There are certain…people after me and they might be after you, too.”
Sasha’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “Did you get into drugs? Is that why we can’t go to the police with this matter?”
“I knew something was off when you came home with that strange neon-head!” Sasha interrupted her. “Helena, how could you do it? Did this man make you? If he did, I will claw his eyes out!”
Richard draped his arm around Sasha’s shoulders. “Helena, tell us why we can’t go home. Who are these people?”
Helena licked her lips as Alexander planted his elbows on his knees. He clasped his hands together, saying, “We are not a drug cartel. We are the ones protecting your daughter, so I would appreciate less verbal abuse, madam.”
Sasha was about to say something, but Richard beat her to it. “My question remains. Who are you?”
“They’re vampires, Richard,” Helena said, defeated.
Both of her parents stared at her for a long moment. Sasha cleared her throat and burst out laughing. “Is this your idea of a joke? You have managed to scare the pregnant lady, well done, Helena. Now, let’s go home.”
Helena’s exhaustion showed on her face. Her shoulders dropped. “It’s not a joke, Mum. You won’t believe me even if I try to explain everything in detail. This is why I want you and Richard to move away from here. Go to America and start a new life there.”
Alexander resumed where she left off. “I have already purchased a nice property in the sunny Florida for you and your husband. There is nothing you will need to worry about. The local university is also keen to work with you, sir.”
Sasha interrupted Alexander with a death glare. “I am not moving to Florida or anywhere else for that matter until I know everything that’s happening with my daughter.”
“I see you get your emotional outbursts from your mother,” Alexander said.
Helena’s expression turned serious. “Mum, you’re going to stress yourself out. Think of the baby.”
Richard snaked his arm around his wife’s shoulders. “I must agree with your mother, Helena. We cannot simply leave for God-knows-where without a proper explanation.”
Helena’s heart skipped nervously in her chest. “I got my memories back of the fire. How? I was hunted by a demon that grandmother tried to protect us from. Dad is dead, too. He failed in trying to kill the demon. Unlike what you’ve told me, he didn’t run out on us without a reason.” She tucked her shaking hands under her thighs. “I am also bound to a vampire.” She pointed to Alexander. “Not this vampire. Another. You’ve met Lucious during my birthday dinner. Andrew is currently a vampire, too. He is healing after our trip to the Demon Realm for which we needed help from a siren, a saint, and a witch. Not all of us made it back and, right now, I want you to know that I love you. So, please listen and go to America.”
Both of her parents had their mouths hanging open, which didn’t surprise her.
“I don’t know whether you need a shrink or a white padded cell at this point,” Sasha said.
Tanya snorted and ambled to the coffee table. She peeled back the sleeve of her blue cashmere sweater and sank her pointed red nail into her skin. Blood oozed out of the wound. With her clenched jaw, Tanya moved her nail upwards, causing the cut to expand, and Richard covered Sasha’s eyes.
“What are you doing?” Richard demanded.
“Watch.” Tanya directed her wrist towards Helena’s parents.
Richard watched in horror and amazement as the wound on Tanya’s wrist stitched itself together.
Sasha slapped her husband’s hand away and paled at the proceedings.
“That’s an impressive healing ability,” Richard commented.
Helena could already tell his brain was working out ways he could replicate it in the lab.
“I also do not have a heartbeat and have been dead since 1889,” Tanya replied smartly.
“May I?” Richard asked, reaching for her wrist.
Tanya sighed and offered it to him.
His fingers skimmed the surface over the healed flesh. He poked it a couple of times then searched for a pulse. His eyes bulged as he withdrew. “You have no pulse…”
“Since I don’t want to stick around, Alexander, could you take care of the rest? I feel like a lab rat for some reason,” Tanya said with a mock shudder.
Alexander gave her a nod, and Tanya waltzed out of the room with her heels clicking on the hardwood flooring.
“Now will you agree to go?” Helena asked.
“We are not going anywhere without you,” her step-father said. “You are part of the family. How could we leave you here with these…people.”
Alexander glanced at Helena. “Can I wipe their memories and be done with this farce?”
Helena was beginning to agree with Alexander. If there was no way to convince them to leave, she would have no choice but to ask him for help. Deep down, she truly wanted them to leave without vampiric persuasion.
“I will move to Florida with you after I go to a funeral. It is important to me that I attend. Will that do?” Helena looked between her parents for confirmation.
Sasha scoffed. “And whose funeral are you attending? How do we know you are not trying to send us away?”
Helena’s hands formed fists under her thighs at the lack of trust in her mother’s tone. They were the ones who had kept the truth from her for over a decade. How could they be questioning her honesty now?
“Alright,” Richard said. “We will go to America as you ask. I know you wouldn’t make us change continents out of baseless fears. But, I do expect you to join us in a month’s time. If not, I’m coming back to get you. Will that do?”
Tension left Helena’s stiff shoulders, and she nodded.