A Gate of Night / Page 11

Page 11


“And us?” Zinnia asked.

Vivienne looked her over from head to foot. “Where’s Arron? I don’t care what you do, idiot. Just prove yourself worth something more than empty threats.”

I almost felt sorry for Zinnia as she looked around in search of her boss while the ground shook beneath us. I, too, was curious over where the head hunter could’ve gone, but I didn’t have time to mull much over it, because Xavier had already grabbed me by the shoulders in order to speed our way to the Sanctuary.

We arrived at the Sanctuary just in time to see Corrine walking out of the temple, fists clenched, eyes blazing fire.

“Who the hell did this?” she screamed, casting a glare at all of us.

“I don’t know,” Vivienne responded. “I think it’s the Elder’s vampires attacking. Who could’ve told them?”

“Natalie hasn’t moved an inch. It couldn’t have been her.” Corrine stopped between the two round pillars in front of the whitewashed edifice.

“Where is the portal, Corrine?” I asked, growing impatient.

Corrine hesitated to answer. I could understand that, considering how any of us could be the traitor.

“We want to protect the portal, Corrine. You have to trust us.” Vivienne sounded desperate.

“It’s…” Corrine took another step forward only to fly back, landing on the ground with a thud.

“What was that?” Xavier ran toward the building only to be thrown back just like Corrine.

“It’s a force field,” Vivienne blurted out as she looked at the Sanctuary in horror. “Only Emilia was powerful enough to do this.”

“My sister had many tricks up her sleeve. After spending hundreds of years with her, I managed to learn more than a few of them.” A red-eyed vampire appeared from behind the Sanctuary, a grin on his face.

Corrine’s eyes widened in horror. “Kiev,” she hissed.

He grinned, cocking his head to the side. “You know me.” He seemed delighted.

“You’re notorious amongst the witches and you know it.”

He chuckled before turning his gaze toward me. “Your daughter’s fine, Claremont. You need not worry about her. I’ll take very good care of her… during her pregnancy.”

My heart stopped. Before thinking it through, I drew my gun and shot him, trusting in my accuracy. The bullet hit the force field and boomeranged towards us, grazing Ashley in the arm. The young vampire began swearing loudly.

I couldn’t think straight. “If you ever do anything to hurt Sofia…” I choked, unable to imagine what it was like for her being under the Elder’s captivity while pregnant. I wondered if Derek even knew that she was having a baby. I wondered if she knew.

I knew for a fact that she hadn’t slept with Derek until after their wedding. She can’t be far enough into her pregnancy to already have symptoms.

“I told you. She’s precious to us. She’s carrying the spawn of a vampire-turned-human and an immune… Worth far more than father and mother combined.”

Vivienne’s moistened eyes met mine. We were both helpless and we knew it.

While Kiev was busy taunting us, Corrine was whispering something beneath her breath. Within minutes, a whirlwind began to form from the sky, forming a funnel whose end was about to suck Kiev in.

Kiev looked up, laughed and snapped his fingers. The whirlwind immediately disappeared. “Nice try, baby witch, but very amateur. You should’ve just agreed to the trade.”

Corrine smirked. “We both know a trade isn’t possible.”

Kiev flinched. “Really now?”

“You don’t fool me, Kiev. Stop trying.”

The expression on his face told us all that Corrine knew far more about him than any of us did. Vivienne’s face hardened. I could tell that the same question that was running through my mind was running through hers. What is Corrine talking about? Clearly, she knew far more than any of us did.

“Corrine?” Vivienne croaked through choked breath. “What’s going on?”

Corrine had a wild-eyed, almost manic, reaction in her face as she stared at Kiev. “You ruined Cora. If it weren’t for you, she never would’ve become Emilia. I’m sorry, Vivienne, but this was the only way I saw to get this monster here and still keep the portal safe.”

Kiev snickered. “Corrine, you really are like your ancestor. A naïve little fool.”

I had no idea what was going on—especially with the witch the vampires seemed to trust with their lives. One thing, however, was clear. Everyone had an agenda of their own.

All this was made even clearer when Ian arrived, out of breath. He went straight for Vivienne.

“Arron’s gone.” he announced. “He abandoned the hunters.”

I had no idea who Kiev, the red-eyed vampire, was, but he couldn’t have been more right when he cast Corrine then Vivienne an amused look. “All hell’s about to break loose, princess.”

Chapter 17: Sofia

Five months later...

Five months. I haven’t seen Derek in five months.

I stared up at the night sky, my arms spread wide on either side of me, so that my palms could reach past the embroidered blanket spread beneath me and touch the smooth grass. I wondered what it would be like to have Derek by my side, what it would be like to have his arms around me.

Over the past few months, I’d begun to love full moons. Those were the nights when the sky seemed to shine brightest. Those nights were no substitute for sunlight, but they were the closest thing to light that I had in a place like The Blood Keep.

Blood Keep. I grimaced at how appropriately named the Elder’s territory was. Even the name makes my skin crawl.

I shifted on the blanket and rested my head on a satin-covered pillow. I was still a prisoner at The Blood Keep, but I was treated far better than Derek had been during our first days of capture. I recalled the last time I’d seen him, held him in my arms, kissed him. I missed him so much, and yet the thought that he wasn’t in The Blood Keep, held against his will, ready to be tortured at the whim of our captors, gave me hope.

I recalled the night I’d found out that Derek was no longer at The Blood Keep.

“What have you done to Derek? Where is he? What have you done to him?” I pounded against Kiev’s chest with all my might. I struck him, hit him, pushed him. He didn’t budge. He just looked at me with that infuriating smirk on his face. “You promised me he wouldn’t be harmed,” I sobbed as I finally exhausted myself, my shoulders sagging in defeat.

“You done, Sofia?” Kiev asked.

I raised my eyes to meet his. I had every intention of showing him my defiance, but though it might have worked with the likes of Derek, I learned that night that the same thing wouldn’t always work with Kiev.

Kiev was as unpredictable as anyone could get.

When our eyes met, Kiev struck me in the face so hard, I was thrown to the ground at least a couple of feet away from him.

“Mention his name again, Sofia, and I will make you bleed.” The tone was almost seductive. He gripped me by the head so hard I screamed, my scalp burning with pain.

He was asking the impossible of me. How could I possibly last without speaking about Derek? “I want to see Derek,” I insisted. “Now.”

“Shut up!” He struck me again. And again. And again.

I thought he was going to kill me, but as he was about to deliver the fifth blow, the servant standing by the door took a step forward.

“Master,” she breathed out.

“Stay out of this, Olga,” Kiev hissed, his fist up in the air, ready to deal another blow.

She was young and beautiful. She reminded me of a porcelain doll, her eyes bright, her voice thin and almost baby-like.

“I’m only worried that you might cause her to…” Olga hesitated, fidgeting with her dress.

Clarity came over Kiev’s blood-red eyes. He looked at me like I was dust turned into a precious diamond.

He dropped his hand and nodded. “You’re right.”

I was about to sigh with relief, but Kiev was far from finished. Instead he flexed his arms and cracked his knuckles. “Still, Olga, sweetheart, you know that someone has to pay for all the trouble Derek Novak put me through…” He turned to the young woman and before I could comprehend what was going on, he hit her.

“Kiev! Stop it!” I screamed.

He didn’t stop until she was beaten to a bloody pulp. Kiev cuffed me to the bed when I tried to hit him on the head with the first object I could get a hold of.

When he was satisfied, he stood and pointed at Olga. “I can’t hurt you, Sofia. What you carry inside you is too precious. Be thankful for that. Thus, whenever you displease me, it is Olga who will feel my wrath. And you’ll know that you’re responsible for her pain. Do you understand?”

“You’re a monster,” was all I could respond with, my mind reeling at what he was implying.

He chuckled, and then in a split second, his mood completely changed, as if the word ‘monster’ had triggered something in him. He began to cry and when he saw Olga’s unconscious form on the ground, he gasped. “What have I done? Olga…”

He knelt beside her and forced her to drink his blood so that she would heal.

“Please don’t cross me again,” he pleaded and for a moment, I actually believed that he meant it, but I was confused by how he could be this violent man one minute and this whimpering child the very next.

I learned several things about my stay at The Blood Keep that night. Derek was no longer at The Blood Keep. That he had escaped was a hope I latched on to, something that Olga eventually verified. I also began to wrap my mind around the possibility that I was pregnant and that this was the reason I was so important to them. They wanted my child.

It didn’t take long before nature verified this fearsome possibility for me. I was indeed bearing Derek’s child.

Finally, I realized that Kiev wasn’t just evil. He was stark crazy, and neither I nor anyone else was safe around him.

I knew then that I had to find a way to escape like Derek had, because I didn’t want him to have to come back to The Blood Keep. Ever.

Five months into my stay at The Blood Keep, I was getting nowhere in my attempt to escape. Only recently had Kiev allowed me outside the bedroom he’d kept me in for the first few months of my captivity at the castle. All that time, I was heavily guarded. By a beast. Beasts, the vampires called them, but I’d been at The Blood Keep long enough to know what they really were—dogs turned into blood-sucking vampires. The dogs fed only on blood. They were twice their original size and they had the keenest senses an animal could possibly have.

One was always tailing me wherever I went. The only places I was allowed to go to were the gardens and my bedroom. All my meals were served in either of the two places. I couldn’t get too far away without the giant, bloodthirsty mutt snarling at me.

Still, as far as I was concerned, an animal was an animal and the one that kept following me seemed likeable enough—if I ignored the fact that one wrong move I made would cause it to go berserk and drink my blood. I called him Shadow.

I looked around and found Shadow pacing the ground a few feet behind me. He didn’t seem to be in a good mood.

“Hey, boy…” I nodded his way. He growled fiercely at me in response, reminding me of what had happened when I had dared approach the Keep’s border. I’d ventured past the gardens and through the woods to the boundary line where the witch’s spell of eternal night stopped, and day began. Shadow had tackled me to the ground as soon as I had got within fifteen feet of the border, first biting my shoulder, then aiming for my neck. If Kiev hadn’t arrived to hold the beast back, I was certain it would have eaten me alive.

I rolled my eyes at the beast. “You’re never in a good mood.” I took a deep breath. For crying out loud, I’m actually having a conversation with a dog. I must be getting desperate.

The only people I was allowed to converse with were Olga and Kiev, although I could hardly call him a person. Olga was cordial enough, but she always acted like she was walking on eggshells around me. I couldn’t blame her. Any mistake I made and she would pay. I wasn’t exactly a safe ally for her at The Blood Keep.

I was often allowed to roam the castle’s gardens, well-trimmed and beautiful. The gardens looked completely out of place in the Keep. Beauty didn’t belong in such a place.

I flipped over so that I was lying on my stomach and propped my upper body up with my elbows. I watched Shadow pace like the brooding vampire that he was before he stopped to face me, his eyes hateful and full of hunger.

“So, Shadow, do you know where Derek is? Is he safe? Olga told me that he escaped. I have to believe that’s true, that he’s somewhere out there, doing everything he can to get to me.”

Shadow’s deafening growl told me that he was getting agitated by my friendliness. When he poised himself for attack, I backed down. “Fine. You don’t want to talk. You don’t have to be mad about it.”

I felt the pressure to do for Derek what I hoped he was doing for me, to find him, but there wasn’t much I could do at The Blood Keep. I was at the mercy of one person: Kiev, a man I could not understand at all.

Not wanting to think about Kiev, I sat up and retrieved the sketchbook I kept on my person at all times. I began thumbing through it. Every sketch it contained made my heart ache with longing. Every single one was of Derek.

I felt movement in my growing belly. I smiled as I began to stroke my stomach.

“Hello, little one. You’re getting heavier every day.” I trusted that my child could understand. Kiev had forbidden me to even mention my husband’s name, but nothing could stop me from talking about Derek to my unborn child. “Your daddy would’ve loved nights like these. Stargazing. I’m looking at sketches I made of him. It helps me keep his face, his smile fresh in my mind. I miss him so much. I can’t help but wonder what his reaction would be if he found out that you’re coming. I bet he’d be really excited. I know he’s always dreamed of having you.”

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