A Gate of Night / Page 20

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I yelped when he pulled me against him before raising my wrist up. Claws popped out of Xavier’s fingers, cutting my wrist and letting blood flow.


Red eyes turned back to white. A smile crept into the corners of Xavier’s lips.


I could practically sense the Elder’s hunger. Since I’d become a vampire, I hadn’t known what it was like to be a prey being hunted by a predator—to be the morsel being craved. Nothing prepared me for when the Elder bit into my wrist and drank deep.


By the time he was done, I felt weak and in need of blood myself. I wondered then if it was actually possible to bleed a vampire dry.


The Elder threw my wrist aside, blood dripping from the corners of his mouth as he straightened to his full height. “Not as sweet as a human, but it will have to do for now.”


Screams began to fill the atmosphere. The sound was coming from the Catacombs. My heart dropped. The thought of suffering any more loss than we already had was tearing me apart.


“Please.”


I wasn’t given a moment to speak. Instead, I was yanked toward the sounds of death.


Chapter 29: Aiden


Claudia’s face twisted in horror when Yuri’s eyes turned a shade of blood before he began devouring the first girl he got a hold of.


“Get out of here! Now!” She pointed at Gavin, who, along with Zinnia, and Craig, one of the hunters, was already running toward a dark corridor inside the cave system. I didn’t bother to look around me.


I was never the kind of person who ran away. I preferred to stay and fight. Had it been just the vampires or the strange giant dogs that came with them, I would’ve stayed, but invisible monsters that took over the bodies of friends… I had no idea how to battle against something like that. The only recourse was escape. That way, we could figure out what to do.


I took one last look at Yuri, a man whom—even though he was hundreds of years older than me—was almost like a son. My heart fell when he held a young woman who’d grown up at the Catacombs and bled her dry. Claudia tried to pull him away from the girl, but with one blow, the blonde vampire was thrown several feet away from him.


I stepped forward to help the beautiful blonde only to have Gavin hold me back. “Aiden, there’s nothing we can do to help. All we can do right now is save ourselves.”


Despite my inclination to stay behind, Gavin was telling the truth. I would’ve been a fool to remain, so I ended up following Gavin into a series of tunnels I’d never even known existed at the Catacombs.


“Where are we going? Where are you taking us?”


Since I met her, Zinnia had never been the picture of sanity, but as Ian led us through narrow tunnels that led out of the Catacombs with only a flashlight to shed light before us, she was insufferable in her delusion that she was still in control.


“Shut her up,” Gavin seethed through gritted teeth.


“I demand to know where we’re going!”


“Be silent, Zinnia,” I reprimanded her. “If you want to come with us, then it’s in your best interest to keep those lips sealed.”


Gavin, who was ahead of the pack, stopped. He began moving the torch from one side to another, the light flickering with the motion.


Several unsavory curses flowed out of the lips of Craig. “What the hell is this? It’s a dead end.”


“Shut up,” was the only explanation any of us got from Gavin, who began feeling along one side of the wall. “This passage will lead us to the Port. From there, you guys can do whatever you want. Right now, just shut up.”


The screams behind us escalated right before several piercing howls echoed in the corridor behind us. Rabid monsters began barking, their growls getting louder and louder.


“They’re coming!” I announced. “Gavin, what’s going on?”


Gavin remained silent, feeling through the wall for a couple of seconds—more serene than any of us were.


I pulled my gun out. I looked at Zinnia and Craig, who began retrieving their own weapons. “We’re better off putting up a fight.”


Right when I said it, one of their mutant dogs appeared, bright yellow eyes betraying its hunger and ruthlessness. Zinnia shot at it with the gun, bullets tainted with ultraviolet rays, designed to kill vampires. It hit the dog in the leg. The animal whimpered in pain, but unlike the effect one of those bullets would’ve had on vampires, the dog quickly recovered and pounced right on me.


Before I knew it, I’d been tackled to the ground, with the dog’s sharp fangs biting into my neck. Craig and Zinnia fired more shots. I heard more growls. My vision began to blur. With whatever strength I had left in me, I stabbed the dog on top of me with my dagger. I twisted the knife inside it and threw it away from me. I struggled to my feet. That was when I realized that there had been no other dogs on its tail. All shots had been fired at the animal that had tackled me.


What on earth? I was beginning to feel dizzy. I wondered what the dog bite would cost me.


Zinnia’s eyes were wide with horror. “We kept firing at it. It wouldn’t die.”


“What is it?” Craig hissed.


“Are you all right?” Zinnia checked on the wound on my neck.


I nodded, pressing my palm over my neck. “I’m fine. How’s it going over there, Gavin?”


“I got it!” Gavin pressed against what appeared to be a well-hidden panel. There was a rumble within the narrow tunnel and before we knew it, an opening appeared where there was once a dead end.


“How are you so sure that this leads to the Port?” I asked.


Gavin grimaced as he looked at my wound. “I grew up here, remember? We have our secrets. Anyway, can you even make it? We’re going to have to crawl through this.”


I nodded curtly at him. “Let’s go.”


This time, they made me go right after Gavin with Craig taking up the rear end of the group. It felt like hours before we were able to finally reach the end of the tunnel.


When Gavin finally crawled out of the tunnel we were crouched in, my heart dropped when he gasped. I thought for sure that we had crawled right to our deaths. Dread washed over me even as I battled to keep my consciousness, suffering from the blood loss caused by the attack from the Elders’ pet.


When I finally dragged myself out of that tunnel, I drew a sigh of relief when I saw welcome comrades standing before me.


Derek and Corrine.


“Aiden?” Derek creased his brows. “What happened to you?”


“Where’s Sofia?” was all I could think about to ask. “Where’s my daughter?”


Sorrow came over my son-in-law’s face. “You need some rest. Corrine, get him into one of the rooms.”


The worst possible scenario swept over me. “No.” I shook my head. “Sofia… Derek, where’s Sofia?” I didn’t know whether it was the blood loss or the fact that Derek was standing in front of me without my daughter, but I was losing control. I tried to lunge for Derek, but my knees gave way beneath me, and my consciousness gave way to a memory.


I sat comfortably at the back of the black limousine, a safe distance away from the playground where my little girl was soon going to be. It’d been a year since I last saw her. The longing was almost unbearable.


It felt like hours before the bell rang for their lunch period and she appeared amidst a flurry of children her age. She walked beside Lyle’s son, Ben, a fine young man by my estimation.


The first thing I noticed was how lackluster her eyes were. That was unlike the Sofia I knew. My little girl had bright curious eyes. My eyes. She was always looking for adventure. She looked at the world like she believed that she could conquer it if only she could explore all its secrets. From the moment she could walk, it’d been difficult to keep her in one place.


This time, however, while Ben hung out with the other boys from their class, she sought a quiet corner and brought out the items from her lunch bag. She ate her sandwich quietly, not minding anyone around her. She had an air of disinterest, detachment. She seemed disconnected from reality and I couldn’t really blame her.


“What have I done to her?” I found myself saying out loud.


“Sir?” the driver asked.


“Nothing. I was just speaking my thoughts.”


Sofia was no longer where I last saw her. I scanned the playground and saw her running toward the far right side of the school building—toward the sandbox.


My heart skipped a beat when I saw her face. She was clearly agitated. Ben and two other boys surrounded a much smaller boy who was trembling and retrieving from his pocket an inhaler. One of the boys pushed him to the ground.


Sofia came just when Ben was about to reach down and get the kid’s lunch box. She didn’t say anything. Instead, she planted her hands on her waist and just stared at Ben. No words, not even a single action. Just her presence.


I couldn’t help but think about how beautiful she was, standing up to those boys. She helped the little boy up and shook her head disapprovingly at her best friend, who seemed truly sorry for his actions.


Ben caught up with her, clearly trying to explain himself, while the other two boys followed them, heads hung low.


“Your daughter has leadership.”


I drew a short intake of breath when I realized that Arron was leaning on the limo, right by the window. He had his arms crossed over his chest.


He looked my way and without a hint of any expression said, “I think she takes after you.”


“Sir… What are you doing here?”


He tapped on the car door. “Let me in.”


I gulped as I opened the door, embarrassed that I was caught watching Sofia.


He took a seat beside me and shut the door. “What do you think you’re doing?”


“I had to see her again.”


“I thought you made your choice. She is a thing of the past.”


“She’s my daughter.”


“You only torment yourself and endanger her if you keep doing this. If you can’t stand being away from her, then take her back and raise her up as a hunter.”


“I can’t do that. She deserves a better life than the one we’re living.”


“Then leave her in your past. It’s for her own good.”


I wanted to object, to spout out all the reasons I couldn’t be away from Sofia, but there was truth in what Arron was telling me, so all I ended up saying was, “Don’t worry. This won’t happen again. I just wanted to see her one last time.” The confession slipped out of my mouth. “I really just want to see her eyes brighten up again.”


All I got was a scoff from my superior.


“Let’s just drive, shall we? We have a lot of business to see to today.”


As the limousine began to move forward, I took one last look at my beautiful daughter, proud of her. Still, Sofia’s eyes were void of life and I blamed myself for it.


I didn’t know then that it would be years and years later before I would see my daughter’s green eyes brighten once again—not until the first time I saw her look at Derek Novak.


Chapter 30: Derek


“You have to keep your calm, Derek.” Corrine reminded me of the same thing Ibrahim had been telling me over and over again during my stay at the witches’ Sanctuary. “You don’t want to blow the Port up.”


Aiden had been brought to one of the cells at the Port. Corrine had taken care of his neck wound and left the two hunters, Zinnia and Craig, to look after their former boss. I had half a mind to feed him my blood only to be reminded that I was no longer a vampire. Reminded of how I’d healed back at the dungeon at The Blood Keep, I wondered if it were at all possible that I retained my healing abilities. Given my tempestuous struggle with fire, however, I decided that I wasn’t about to experiment on my father-in-law.


Seated around a circular table, feeling helpless despite the power I contained within me, I felt the heat rising up to my palms as I tried to wrap my mind around everything that Gavin reported to me.


Fear took hold of me at the thought of the dangers my people were facing. How on earth can we even attempt to rescue Sofia when we’re in so much chaos ourselves?


“And you weren’t able to rescue anyone else?”


“It was chaos, Derek. There wasn’t much we could do,” Gavin explained. “Your sister had a plan to get all women and children to the Chilling chambers, to hide them from the Elders, but the Elders found out where they were and they…” The redhead’s face drained of all color.


I didn’t even want to ask about the details. I doubted I’d be able to control the fire burning within me. “Where’s Vivienne?”


“I haven’t seen her at all. I’m not sure where she is.”


“What happened to Aiden?”


He visibly shuddered. “The Elders came with these dogs. I’ve never seen anything like them before. One followed us to the tunnels. We couldn’t kill them even with the guns. It was only when Aiden stabbed the dog that it stopped, but the dog had already bitten into his neck.”


My brows rose. Eli had mentioned not long after I woke up from my slumber that he’d done some work with The Underground. Something about turning stray dogs into vampires. It didn’t quite work out the way they’d expected. The dogs had the same bloodlust and heightened senses that vampires had, but killing them was another thing. Ending them required silver. “They must’ve taken the beasts when they attacked The Underground. Eli would know how to control these things. Do you have any idea where he is?”


“They took him to The Blood Keep several months ago. No explanations. They just said that he was needed at the Elder’s castle.”


Somehow, it gave me relief to know that Sofia wasn’t alone at The Blood Keep, that Eli was there with her.


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