Bittersweet Memories pt. 3
Lucious caught up with Helena’s acquaintance in no time and trailed behind her. The hissing rain fell around them, and he ignored it. She could not be normal. No human can distinguish a vampire from a mortal with a single look.
When she turned the corner, he waited until she was near enough for him to grab her by the shoulders and pull her into the darkness. To his surprise, she didn’t scream nor did she fight him.
The girl wrapped her hands around his. Her touch singed his skin.
Studying the burns, he stumbled backwards. “What was that?”
Nadine tilted her head upwards to meet his gaze. With an utter look of disgust, she relaxed against the wall. Her relaxed posture unnerved him.
“I told you not to touch me, vampire. Leave Helena and find other prey to stalk.”
Lucious wasn’t going to start fearing the small girl in front of him. Even though this creature was Helena’s friend, she didn’t need to know about this intervention.
“I won’t lay a hand on you if you answer my questions.”
Nadine chuckled. “Or what? You will attack me? Take my blood like the blood-sucking leech that you are?”
“If you want to go that far…” His ears picked up footsteps nearing their location. The link trembled, informing him it was Helena. To his dismay, the link worked both ways, he could find her, and she could locate him with ease. He cursed under his breath.
Her head peered around the corner. He could hear her heart beating as fast as her breaths came. Lucious stayed in place, although the link was telling him to get closer, to touch her.
Helena took in the scene before her and glared at him. “Did you hurt her?”
“I did nothing of the sort.”
She rushed to Nadine’s side, scanning her friend from head to toe. “Thank God, you’re okay.”
“When you want to speak with me, come to this address.” Nadine gave Helena a piece of paper from her tiny purse. “We have much to discuss when this thing is not around.”
Lucious drew Helena away from Nadine and pressed her back to his chest. The warmth radiating through her spread to him as she unconsciously leant into his touch. The string between them hummed with excitement. He fought the urge to close his eyes and revel in the peace their closeness brought. To clear his mind, he moved, so their bodies were an inch apart.
“I have said this before, she’s not going anywhere with you alone.”
“I know you may not like me, but, I agree,” Helena said. “We need to talk.”
“I do like you, Helena. You are my first friend in this world, and I wish to keep it that way if I can.”
Lucious contemplated using force on this creature. But, ultimately, he decided against it. Helena would not forgive him for such actions, and he needed to be near her to protect her.
“Nadine?” Helena asked.
“I will speak with Horus and see if there is a way to relieve you of your link.”
Helena frowned. “Who is Horus?”
Nadine gave her a sad smile. “You won’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try us,” Lucious interjected.
Her smile faded. “He’s my guardian angel.”
Lucious burst out laughing. “Has every human got one these days?”
Nadine tilted her head to one side. “What do you mean?”
“I had one until recently,” Helena replied with a sheepish smile.
“I don’t understand. An angel doesn’t leave his post till the saint dies. And no two saints occupy—” Nadine covered her mouth. “I must leave. I have to return home.”
Lucious moved to stop her, but Helena caught his sleeve. If he wanted to, he could have easily broken free of her grasp. He didn’t.
The mysterious woman gave Helena a quick hug and elegantly ambled away from them as if nothing in the world scared her.
Helena poked her finger at his chest. Her hazel eyes were full of accusations he knew she wanted to hurl at him. To his surprise, she turned on her heel and marched back to the apartment building with rain seeping into her clothes.
Helena slammed the front door after she returned home and mumbled an excuse to retire for the night to her room. Perri was too engrossed in the book she was reading on the sofa, and Laura must have gone to bed early. She stomped up the stairs. Entering her bedroom, she found that Lucious was following her. Why couldn’t he leave me alone?
She turned on the spot as he quietly closed the door behind him. “How dare you go after her?”
He traced his tongue over his lower lip in a slow and deliberate manner. She couldn’t look away from it. She felt like a balloon. Her anger inflated her one moment and the next she was small again, distracted by him and his overpowering presence.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” she whispered.
Her body started to tremble. She was tired, mentally and physically. Her worries hacked away at her stability. Could she trust vampires when Michael and Nadine seemed opposed to their existence? Were her friends safe from Lazarus and his schemes? What about her family?
Her vision doubled and her legs gave in. Strong arms steadied her. She became weightless as he pressed her to his chest.
“Helena, are you alright?” Lucious’ worried face hovered above hers, and her vision returned to normal.
He gently laid her on the bed. “I’ll get you something to drink.” As he moved his hands away, and she caught one of them.
She had given up trying to appear strong. She just wanted someone to hold her, to take away the nightmares haunting her dreams. Her eyes widened at what she was asking. “I’m sorry… I’m alright.”
Lucious raised her hand to his lips and planted a soft kiss on her palm. “You need to rest.”
Helena blushed, knowing she couldn’t sleep even if she desperately wanted to. Every time she closed her eyes, visions of Lazarus and those creatures resurfaced. Their red, starving eyes sized her up and their bony claws pursued her to every corner of that foreign wasteland.
“Why aren’t you relaxing?”
She didn’t know what to say, so she remained silent.
He sat on the edge of the bed. “If you would like it, I can watch over you.”
Helena turned her face away. He couldn’t protect her from Lazarus. He was a demon—an entity that plagued her dreams and reality. What can one vampire do?
A warm hand rested on her shoulder, and she glanced at it.
“Tell me what’s wrong? I can’t protect you if you don’t tell me anything.”
Warmth spread through her, but she couldn’t figure him out. Why was he being nice? She tried hard not to notice the excitement the link was buzzing with. The stupid thing had a mind of its own.
Sitting up, she said, “You can’t protect me, Lucious. No one can. With Michael gone, I’m a sitting duck, waiting to be picked off. He haunts my dreams, making sure I don’t rest. Every time I close my eyes, he’s there, waiting…” A single tear had escaped and left a wet trail down her cheek.
Lucious went silent for a minute. “My sire, Anna, taught me many things during my visit. One of them was a way to shield you but for it to work we need to be close.” He lay on the bed next to her, and she scooted away.
“What are you doing?” she demanded, eyeing him with suspicion.
Lucious opened his arms in a form of an invitation. “Come here.”
She shook her head. “No way. I don’t trust you.”
He smiled and spoke as if to a child, “We must be touching if you want to get some rest. You have my word. We will not be engaging in anything sexual tonight if that is what you are worried about.”
Her cheeks burned. She didn’t know where to look as she rolled closer to the edge of the bed and, before she knew it, she was falling.
Lucious caught her arms and propelled her into his arms. In an instant, her shields were engulfed by his, putting uncomfortable pressure on her weak mental barriers.
“Relax,” he murmured into her hair.
Reluctant, she did as she was told. Helena snuggled up to him, burying her face in his chest. He wrapped his arms around her. She should have felt suffocated, but her body kept telling her this was where she wanted to be. Her heart thudded in her chest. Is it loud enough for him to hear?
His energy covered her shields until her discomfort vanished. With her eyes closed, she visualised standing inside of her mental barriers. Her lips parted when she noticed another layer snugly cloaking them.
“You’re shielding me like Michael did?” she said, lifting her heavy eyelids.
“This is the best I can do. Your guardian was most skilled at protecting you from a distance. It took me many months to be able to shield another being.”
A spark of jealousy surged through her. His words meant that, in the meantime, he was embracing his sire. Helena could scarcely remember her features, but she was certain Anna was beautiful. She hid her face again in his damp shirt that smelt of him. Maybe she was wrong.
“You did this with Anna for five months?”
His chest vibrated with a chuckle. “Are you jealous of my sire?”
“No, I’m not!”
“Alright, I will take your word for it. Get some sleep,” he ordered and patted her head.
Helena didn’t know if she would be able to sleep with him being near her, but, once she closed her eyes, the choice was made for her. The exhaustion had caught up with her, and she slipped into a dreamless slumber.