A Gate of Night / Page 12

Page 12


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I choked as I tried to suppress the tears, wondering what life would’ve been like had we lived a normal one. Get it together, Sofia. You’re bearing his child. You can’t go through the whole thing depressed. I knew little about pregnancy or children, but I had it in my head that my emotions affected my child. Having had Ingrid Maslen as my mother—I’d sworn early in life that I was going to be a good mother to my children. I determined to start as early as I could.


I began to hum a tune to my unborn child. The same tune Derek had hummed to me countless times. Our song.


Never had I wished for normalcy more. I was a pregnant teenager. I wasn’t supposed to go through this alone. I needed my husband. I needed my family.


But this was the life I’d signed up for when I married Derek, and I could blame no one for that choice. Daily, I drew hope that I would be with him again, that this life within me was going to know how strong, loving, and wonderful a father Derek could be.


For now, I just need to keep myself together, stay alert and try to remain on Kiev’s good side… for Olga’s sake.


“Enjoying the breeze?”


Kiev’s voice made my heart beat faster. I caught my breath. Chills shot up my spine. He induced sheer terror in me, but I wasn’t about to show him that.


He sat beside me and shifted his attention to my stomach. “How’s the pregnancy going? I trust the fresh air has been helping. Are you not getting cold?”


Based on the smile on his face and the uppity tone of his voice, he seemed to be in a cordial mood—a good sign.


“You seem rather pleased with yourself,” I commented, maintaining a flat, civil tone with him.


“Hello to you too, Sofia. How was your day?”


“Devoid of sunlight. Yours?”


Just like The Shade, The Blood Keep was under an eternal night. No mornings. No sunshine. As much as I loved The Shade, I couldn’t imagine raising my child never seeing sunlight. Suddenly, the house Derek and I had checked out back in California seemed like heaven.


“You didn’t seem to mind the lack of sunlight when you were at The Shade.” He grabbed the picnic basket I had with me. Olga had prepared the food inside the basket. Kiev thumbed through the food there. “This looks healthy. You haven’t even touched it.”


I wasn’t thrilled about having him around, but it didn’t look like he was going to give me a choice. “The Shade was home.” It was enough that Derek was there.


“The Blood Keep is your home now.”


Never.


He threw me a bag of sliced apples. “Eat.”


I didn’t want to irk him, so I took the bag and took a bite from one of the slices.


Most of the time, Kiev was kind to me—or at least he tried to be. I never did understand why. At first, I’d thought it was because of an attraction toward me, but he had made no advances on me since he’d arrived from The Shade.


I was dying to know what had happened at The Shade and what had happened to my husband—but the island and Derek were topics that were not to be broached if I wanted to remain unhurt, unscathed.


“Those sketches…” Kiev eyed the sketchbook I had on my lap. “They’re all of him?”


I took another bite from the apple and chewed silently. My silence was enough of an answer.


“Why do you torture yourself this way, Sofia?” He reached for the sketchbook and began looking at the sketches. He seemed to get annoyed by it, because he eventually tossed the book back to me. “Forget him.”


“That’s never going to happen, Kiev, and you know it. Derek’s not going to stop looking for me. He’ll destroy this whole place if he has to.”


Kiev’s eyes flickered with anger. He grabbed me by the jaw. He gripped hard, enough to make me yelp in pain. “I would think that you already know better than that, Sofia. Your husband wasn’t what he once was, and even at the height of his power, he was a slave to this place. Just like you are now,” he said through gritted teeth. “Don’t irk me further by talking about these daydreams of yours.”


I glared at him, my sense of defiance and independence rising over my fear of him. Just to annoy him further, I looked him straight in the eye, and continued to talk about Derek. “He’s going to come for me and you know it. He’s going to hold my child in his arms and he’s going to be a great father. He already managed to escape this place, didn’t he? What makes you think he won’t know how to return?”


Kiev frowned, his grip tightening. For a minute, I thought he was going to hit me, but then I was reminded of who was going to suffer for what I did.


“I’m sorry,” I quickly breathed out. “I just… I’m sorry, Kiev.”


“Olga’s going to have a rough night thanks to you.” He didn’t seem pleased with the prospect, his fists clenching.


I wondered whether he was clenching them to defend Olga or to punish her. With him, I never knew. Most of the time, he seemed to really care about the young girl. I even thought it hurt him more to cause her pain than it did me.


“Don’t hurt her. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again.”


He pushed my face away, my head jerking backwards. “Olga told me that you asked her where the food you’re being given comes from. I want to know why.”


I answered with a shrug. “I’m just curious. I have no idea where this place is. I was just wondering where The Blood Keep gets its food.”


“Really? You’re just wondering? You’re not snooping around trying to figure out an exit from this place?”


I swallowed hard. “Like that’s possible.” I wrinkled my nose as I eyed the guard dog following me everywhere.


Kiev snapped his fingers and Shadow approached.


Shadow growled and snarled as he stepped toward Kiev. The animal wasn’t that much of a fan of Kiev either. Kiev didn’t seem to care. He bared his claws and dug their pointed ends into Shadow’s fur, making the creature whimper, but to my surprise, it neither attacked nor cowered away from Kiev.


“Escape is not possible,” Kiev said, “and we both know it, but I think you’re crazy enough to try.”


I grimaced, uncomfortable at seeing Shadow in pain. “Then you have nothing to worry about, do you?”


“You feel sorry for the beast?” Kiev’s eyes sparked with curiosity.


“It has done you no wrong.”


“If only you knew what it did to your husband when he was still here.”


“So you admit it. Derek isn’t here anymore? He was actually able to escape?”


Kiev just chuckled. “Don’t get any ideas into that pretty little head of yours, Sofia. Olga’s like a daughter to me, but I wouldn’t hesitate to kill her should you even attempt an escape.”


Like a daughter. I had to wonder what kind of relationship Kiev had with Olga. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, but it was perhaps one of the most demented, unhealthy relationships I’d ever seen. This beats even Claudia’s crazy. Still, Olga meant something to him.


“You miss The Shade, don’t you?”


“My heart aches just thinking of everything I left behind there.”


“It may not be as you remember it. I don’t see what you love so much about the place. It didn’t look all that great to me last time I paid a visit.”


Paid a visit? Is that all you did? I had a bad feeling about the state of The Shade at that point. “It’s not the place that makes it home, Kiev. It’s the people there… people I love.”


I glanced his way. I was desperate for an ally, a companion, someone I could talk to who wasn’t going to scare the life out of me—like Kiev—or wasn’t trembling at the thought of speaking to me—like Olga.


“I’m about to give birth to my first child, Kiev. This is my first pregnancy. Would it be so bad if you brought someone from home to help me through this?”


“Am I not enough for you, Sofia?”


No, you’re not. “Kiev, please…”


“Who do you have in mind?”


My heart leapt at the thought that he might be considering it. My first instinct was to request Corrine, but I highly doubted that Kiev would ever agree to bring a witch into The Blood Keep. She was simply too much of a threat. The next person who came to mind was Eli Lazaroff. Surely with all the knowledge he accumulated, he’d know a thing or two about pregnancies. Also, considering how pale and lanky he appeared, he wasn’t much of a threat to anyone.


“I’m thinking of Eli Lazaroff.” Of course, he’s also smart. Maybe he can figure out a way for us to get out of here. “He could be a huge asset here, you know.” I had to choose my words carefully. “Eli can help with my pregnancy. I’d feel so much more at ease with him around.”


“You really want this, don’t you?”


“Kiev, I need this.”


“Just eat.”


I took the last of the apple slices and bit into it. I was trying not to place any of my hopes on the possibility that Kiev would agree to bringing Eli into The Blood Keep. Come on, Sofia. Why would you even want to endanger Eli this way? I began to wonder if I had made a mistake even suggesting that Eli be brought to The Blood Keep. I doubt he’ll be very thrilled by the idea of being held captive here with me.


“How did you know?” Kiev asked after I’d eaten my last bite—his eyes never leaving me while I was absent-mindedly finishing my meal.


“Know what?”


“That he had good in him?”


For someone who wanted me to forget Derek, I was surprised that Kiev would bring Derek up as a topic of conversation. He seemed strangely interested in how Derek had turned away from darkness and come to light. We’d had this talk before. I wasn’t in the mood to answer, because talking about my love story with Derek only made me miss him more. Missing him more made me want to ask Kiev questions that made the red-eyed vampire want to hurt me. As much as I wanted to speak about Derek, conversations that involved him never ended without a bruise or two from Kiev.


I tilted my head to the side and drawled out my own question. “How did you know?”


His lips tightened. “Are we going to go at this again, Sofia? This questioning? Can you not answer my question like a normal person?”


Annoyed, I just stared at him and repeated my question. “How did you know, Kiev?”


“You stubborn little minx.”


Stubborn little minx. I smiled, remembering all the times Derek had referred to me that way.


Seeing that I wasn’t about to play this game on his terms, Kiev relented. “Fine. I’ll play,” he spat out. “How do I know what, Sofia?”


“How did you know I was pregnant? You seemed to know even before you took Derek and me here.”


“We’ve had our eye on you ever since you left The Shade for your honeymoon. Your children… they’re important to us.”


“Children?”


“Twins. A boy and a girl.”


“How do you know?”


“It’s one of the things I learned from Emilia. How to tell if a woman is pregnant, what the child is going to be. It’s always useful to know.”


“Why?” The smirk on his face told me that I wasn’t going to like the answer to that question.


“Let’s just say that a pregnant woman is quite a scrumptious delicacy to our kind. I’m surprised the Elder hasn’t tried to take your blood.”


I’m surprised you haven’t recently. I’d seen countless times the way he would lick his lips as he stared at the nook of my neck as if he was a man starving for months.


As if he could read my mind, he chuckled. “Don’t think I haven’t been tempted to drink from you, Sofia. The further along your pregnancy is, the more tempting it is to drink, but I can’t give in, because I won’t be able to restrain myself from bleeding you dry.”


It’s so strange how hearing that has become so commonplace to me. I thought back to the time when life had been simple and I was a teenager trying to cope with everyday normal things. Ben’s face—his smile—came to mind. I hadn’t seen Abby since Clara took her from the dungeon. I kept asking where she was but I wasn’t given an answer.


Instead, I was told to relax and take care of myself. Relax. The idea sickened me. Relax while I’m constantly afraid that you might have killed my husband. Relax, while Abby, who is practically my little sister, is in the hands of one of the most capricious and cruel vampires I’ve ever met. Relax while I bear two children who are in danger the moment I give birth to them.


Relax while everything I love and live for is slipping away from me. Relax while I lose all control of my life. Relax, while I sit here trying to avoid a conversation with this red-eyed monster, who just confessed to craving my blood more and more every day.


Relax, Sofia. I repeated the words to myself over and over again. The only thing that got me through each day at The Blood Keep was the conviction: Derek is coming.


If not, I will find a way to get to him.


To my delight, when I opened my eyes after a long night’s sleep, I found a familiar man sitting on a chair near my bed, waiting for me to wake up.


“Hello, my queen. I was told you requested my presence.”


Eli Lazaroff.


Chapter 18: Derek


Five months. I’d been at The Sanctuary for five months. I knew nothing about what was happening back home at The Shade. Even worse, I knew nothing about what had happened to my wife at The Blood Keep.


During my time at The Sanctuary, I was given spacious living quarters on the top floor of what seemed like the tallest building in the city, where servants sought after my needs. I tried to converse with some of them, but none of them ever spoke to me. I didn’t even know their names. Whenever I addressed them, they ignored me. They seemed to hate me, though I wasn’t sure why.


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