A Gate of Night / Page 19

Page 19


I knew her so well, but for some reason, I was never quite able to wrap my mind around the idea that she knew me just as much as I did her. In fact, she knew me better than anyone else—apart from the Elder—did at that castle.

Olga knew that even though she was my lesser in terms of station at the castle, we were both just captives of the Elder. I was the Elder’s so-called son, but I was not much different than every other slave and prisoner he kept at The Blood Keep. I didn’t have a will of my own.

I slapped Olga across the face for her insolence. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I was lying, and I could see in her stoic face that she knew it. I let go of her and she turned away from me and once again began pushing the food cart forward. Her long brown hair sashayed over her waist, her hips swaying as she walked along the castle’s dark corridors.

Still, as we neared Sofia’s chambers, Olga’s words haunted me. The idea of Sofia “losing it” bothered me. Have I allowed her to get to me? That can’t happen. Remember what happened to the last girl you took a genuine liking to, Kiev.

Natalie had been the love of my life. The rogue vampire herself. We’d planned to elope, to find a place in the world where the Elder wouldn’t be able to find us. We were such fools—Natalie and I.

I shuddered at the memory of the things the Elder had made me do to her. I’d ruined the girl I loved. Those nights tormenting Natalie were the worst nights of my life. It was the Elder’s way of showing me that the darkness inside me was far greater than the light, because I couldn’t say no. I did to Natalie what the Elder pleased. After we released Natalie, I knew she would never be able to forgive me.

I’d lost her.

Back at The Shade, when we’d found her inside the Sanctuary, I’d seen how she looked at me. Natalie was the vampires’ ultimate diplomat for a reason. She was peace-loving and cordial. She never hated anybody. She was on no one’s side. She was the middle ground, but at that moment, as our eyes met, I knew that she hated me. I couldn’t bear it.

Her hatred had caused me more pain than I could imagine a heart could handle, so I did what any child of the Elder would do. I punished her.

Natalie Borgia, the woman I loved, had died in my hands, because I was a sick, sick bastard, who would forever be a prisoner to darkness.

Natalie’s face was still etched on my mind when I entered Sofia’s bedroom. Though her lovely countenance would forever haunt me, I felt nothing over her loss. Years under the Elder’s power had done that to me. I was forever numb. Or at least I thought so.

All callousness dissolved when I saw Sofia’s bloodstained bed. I couldn’t even explain what I felt. The sense of deep, deep loss came over me like a flood and I had no idea how to handle it.

Did she miscarry? I walked toward the empty bed. That’s too much blood. I scanned the room to look for the redhead and found no sign of her or the beast I’d assigned to guard her. Stupid mutt. Olga ran towards the bathroom to check if Sofia was there, and I followed suit.

Olga’s gasp confirmed that Sofia was indeed there. I was already thinking the worst so I actually sighed with relief when I saw that Sofia was on her feet, pulling a dress over her shoulders, shocked by the unannounced intrusion. Sitting beside her, licking his own fur, was the beast.

My claws came out. “You good-for-nothing monster!” The beast yelped when my claws cut through its flesh the first time, but within minutes of the abuse, it was snarling and growling at me, poised to attack.

I grinned, ready to take on the beast’s challenge. I had every intention of killing the dog.

“Kiev, please. The dog didn’t do anything to me.”

I creased my brows in surprise, wondering why on earth she would come to the defense of the beast. “What happened then?” I asked her.

She withdrew from any attempt to defend herself or the animal and just stared back at me, no word of explanation coming out of those lips. She’d clearly been crying, but it wasn’t sorrow that I was seeing in her eyes. It was anger—not just that, it was hatred. I found it unbecoming for someone like her.

“Did the beast hurt you?”

She shook her head.

I had half a mind that she might have been trying to escape and the beast must’ve sensed it. I was losing my patience with my lovely captive. “Then why is there blood all over the bed, Sofia?”

Again, she didn’t respond to me. At least not in words. Instead, she turned around and slightly pulled her unzipped dress down her shoulders, exposing her bare back to us. The stripes on her back were too familiar for me not to recognize.

“The Elder came to you.”

Her voice was so raspy, so soft, I barely made out the words. “What is he?”

A monster. I swallowed hard. The fact that the Elder was able to do this to her meant that she’d allowed darkness in. The months of captivity had relentlessly chipped away at her resolve, covering up anything good about her.

“Leave us,” I instructed Olga. The servant quickly complied. She knew better than to be around something like this. “Your children?”

“They’re unharmed.” Sofia pulled her dress over her shoulders once again and placed her hands over her belly. “At least I think so,” she added, her voice coming out as a soft croak.

I marveled at her strength. Another woman would’ve crumpled in a corner and felt sorry for themselves. I retrieved a dagger tucked beneath my belt and cut a gash over my palm. I walked towards Sofia. “Drink.”

She took one look at the blood and shook her head adamantly. “Never.”

“You would rather remain in pain?”

“I can bear it.”

“Don’t be a fool, Sofia. You have your children to think of.”

“Maybe it’s better that they never become a part of this sick, sick world, Kiev.”

“Suit yourself.” I shrugged. If she was looking for someone to talk her out of her insanity, then she was speaking to the wrong person. I stared at my bleeding palm. The gash was about to close. “I’m not going to cut myself again. Are you going to drink or not?”

I noticed then how pale she was. She’s lost a lot of blood. If she doesn’t drink, we’re going to lose the children for sure—even her perhaps. I could see the wheels in her mind turning. She drew a short intake of breath before grabbing my wrist and drinking from my palm. She was only able to take a couple of sips since the gash was already closing. I wasn’t sure if it was enough so I none too gently grabbed her and yanked her to one side so that I could see her back.

The lashes healed.

“I never thought I’d see the day when the Elder had enough power to get to you, Sofia.”

“I need Derek.”

“Well, he isn’t here, is he?” I began running my fingers over her spine, enjoying the feel of her bare flesh under my skin.

“What will it take for you to help me, Kiev? There must be something you want from me. You’ve been kinder to me than you ought to be.”

I chuckled. “Have I? Or has the Elder’s attack just made you delusional? Tell me, what exactly did you do to get him to pay you such a violent visit?”

“How am I supposed to know what’s going on inside your father’s twisted mind?”

I didn’t get a full grasp of the darkness that had already consumed our beautiful captive until she spun around and looked up at me with a heated gaze. I knew then that she was true to her word. She would do anything for me to help her. All the wicked possibilities ran through my mind. I was with Sofia Novak at her most vulnerable and every part of me was screaming to take advantage of that fact.

“So how about it, Kiev? What exactly do you want from me? What do I have to do…”

I wanted her in my bed. Every part of my being wanted to experience what Derek experienced with Sofia. I laid her on the bed and allowed my eyes to ravish her lovely form.

Then I saw her eyes. The tears, the fear… I didn’t know why, of all the many times that I had taken advantage of other people, my conscience decided to make itself known at that particular moment. I stared down at Sofia and saw her trembling and I knew that if I went ahead and took what she was offering, not only would I completely destroy any hope of her ever going back to the light, I would also destroy any chance that I had to do the same.

You’re going to regret this, Kiev, I chastised myself as I looked at the beauty beneath me. Sofia was far from willing, she was just desperate. I wanted to believe that I was still capable of light.

“Don’t worry. I don’t want to do this with you. Not like this. Not while I know that you belong to him.” I knew I was going to pay for those words, that there was no way the Elder wouldn’t find out that I’d had the chance to make Sofia Novak completely mine. I was going to get severely punished, but for reasons even I couldn’t completely understand, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t destroy Sofia.

I rose to my feet and tried to gather myself together.

Sofia was still shaking when she sat up on the bed. “Kiev?”

“I had no idea darkness has already consumed so much of you, Sofia. You’re right. We need to get you out of here.”

“Why? Why would you help me? I have trouble believing that it’s simply out of the goodness of your heart that you want to suddenly assist me.”

Despite the fact that she was shaking like a leaf, Sofia still had that fight in her. It seemed she always did. I doubted anything could kill the embers of this little spitfire.

“Why do you care what my reasons are, Sofia? I’ll help you escape. That’s all you need to know.”

“You must want something in exchange, Kiev.”

“Perhaps I do.” I shrugged. “What I want, Sofia, you’ll know in due time. Let’s just say for now that you owe me one.”

I could see the apprehension on her face, but considering what she’d been willing to do just moments before, I doubted she had it in her to object.

Why indeed am I helping Sofia Novak? Is it her? Is there something about Sofia that just makes people want to be good around her?

For the first time in a long time, I dug deep within me, scouring my memories for an answer. Then there it was. A memory I’d desperately longed to forget resurfaced. I found my answer, and every fiber of my being wished that I hadn’t.

Gruesome memories of a past I’d buried deep into my subconscious came to the forefront of my thoughts and as much as I tried to keep it from happening, I actually shuddered. I had plenty of reasons to want to rescue Sofia from the Elder’s grasp. Should those reasons be examined, it would be quite clear that none of them had anything to do with light.

Every reason I could think of for wanting to help the young woman was born out of selfishness. My identity had never become clearer than it did at that moment.

I was a child of the darkness and nothing I did could ever change that.

Chapter 28: Vivienne

“No… What have you done to Xavier? Where is he?” I could hardly breathe. I stood frozen trying to comprehend what had just happened.

“He’s right here, my sweet. I can hear his screams and demands to get out. Annoying really, but it pleases me to use him as a vessel. I hear the taste of human blood is exquisite when enjoyed through the flesh of our mutations.”

Mutations. We are mere mutations of the Elders.

“What do you want?”

“What’s your name?”

“No.” I shook my head. “I refuse to tell.”

He laughed—a sound that didn’t seem to have any true pleasure in it. “Well, I was only trying to heed your customs as humans. It doesn’t matter if you don’t tell me, princess. We all know who you are. You and your brother did us Elders proud for so long. That is until your brother decided to fall in love with that little redheaded worm. You betrayed us, child.”

I stepped away from him. I was having trouble hearing those words through the voice of Xavier. He had been my rock for hundreds of years. To see him this way, with eyes empty… I trembled, more out of fear of losing him than fear of what they had in store for me.

The Elder noticed the way I shook. “You fear me. Good. It means you know your place. You may be princess to our mutations, but you are nothing but a slave to the Elders.” He stepped forward and pressed his lips against mine, firm hands holding my waist and pulling me against him.

I squirmed away from him, knowing that it was someone else who was holding me, not Xavier. Of course, there was little I could do to keep him from having what he wanted.

When our lips parted, I looked at him for a sign of whether or not he even took any pleasure in what he’d just done. He seemed so empty of emotion. “Take me to the humans.”

I tensed at the thought of what they wanted the humans for.

The Catacombs.

Out of breath, I didn’t have time to think it through. My immediate thought was to get to the Catacombs before the Elders could use the vampires there to devour the humans we were trying to protect. I sped to the caves, hoping to leave the Elder behind.

It took but seconds before the visiting Elder gripped the back of my head painfully. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?”

“Please, these humans… they’re our friends.”

“Friends?” White eyes turned red.

I doubted I’d ever been more terrified than I was at that moment. I stared up at Xavier, his handsome face distorted by veins coming out of his skin, as if his body was straining to contain the unwanted invasion of the dark force inside him.

“You make friends of these worms? They’re good for nothing but their blood.” He grabbed my wrists and squeezed tight. “Has your nature taught you nothing?”

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