A Gate of Night / Page 23

Page 23


Xavier pulled his lips away from me. I looked at him and all I saw was the monster that he now was.

He backhanded me in the face. I was thrown on the ground several feet away. It was only then that I realized that I was already unchained and that Sam was already at the arena, being dealt his first blow from the Elder who possessed Ashley.

Xavier grabbed a fistful of my hair and made me focus on the fight. “Watch, Vivienne. Watch your friends bleed.”

To my surprise, Sam fought back, pushing Ashley to the ground with one massive upper cut.

My heart sank. What has become of us? They’re turning us into them. Only then did I realize that maybe that was their intention all along. They wanted us to become just like them. That’s why they spent hundreds of years turning humans into vampires. But why?

Xavier gasped with seeming delight as Ashley rose to her feet.. “This just got interesting. I knew it all along. Your love is weak. None of you have the kind of love Derek and Sofia had for each other. But don’t get me wrong, princess. If they were in your situation, they wouldn’t be able to fight this either.”

I recalled how Derek had been able to break Emilia’s hold over him. Desperate to stop the madness, I rose to my feet, pressed my body against Xavier’s and whispered into his ear, “Please. Drink my blood.”

I hoped that as Sofia’s blood running into his veins had jolted my brother out of Emilia’s curse, my blood running into Xavier’s might have the same effect. I wasn’t human nor was I an immune like Sofia, but I had to try.

Just as Xavier’s fangs were about to sink under my skin, my brother’s voice boomed across the cavernous walls of the Catacombs.

“Stop this madness right now!”

Chapter 33: Sofia

“What’s bothering you, Sofia?” Kiev tucked a loose strand of my hair beneath my ear.

We were in my bedroom. I was on the bed, sitting with my back against the headboard. He had taken the liberty of resting his head on my lap before, after hours of telling me one morbid story about his past after another, he knelt on the bed, facing me, and asked me that question.

“Nothing,” I lied. “Why would you think that something’s bothering me?”

“I don’t know. You haven’t spoken much for the past hour or so.”

That’s because you’re doing all the talking. Frankly, I wish I could unhear the things you just told me. Hearing stories from a vampire who’d spent hundreds of years serving the evil that was the Elder didn’t exactly make for a peaceful night’s sleep.

I shrugged. “I just don’t have much to say. That’s all.”

“I appreciate that you listened.”

He was being kind. It was terrifying to be around this version of him. I was always on my toes, wondering when he was about to burst out in fury over the slightest mistake.

To worsen my already bundled-up nerves, he began rubbing my belly. “Are you excited to meet them? Have you decided on names?”

During our honeymoon Derek and I had playfully talked about the children we were going to have. We’d always fought over what to name our child should we have a girl, but we’d both agreed on what we would name our son. Benjamin.

There was no questioning that. Ben deserved that honor.

Not knowing what had become of Abby, and having been strictly ordered never to inquire about her again, I said the first thing that came to mind. “Ben and Abby, I guess.” I was bothered by how curious Kiev seemed to be when it came to my children. Since his plan for escape, he’d been fawning over me almost as if he were the father of the children I was bearing.

Though it unnerved me, I had to run with it if I were to have any chance of compromise with my captor.

So, whenever he was in one of these moods, I plastered a smile on my face, pretending that I was flattered—even delighted—by his attention.

Kiev stared at me. “Ben and Abby? That’s sweet, but just so you know, it would be an honor if you named your son after my father. Serghei.”

I gave him a look, wondering if he was joking. “His name is Ben.”

A flash of anger crossed his face, but he reeled it in.

What is going on? I wanted to believe that this was a sign of goodness in him, but I’d never felt more unsettled by him than I did at that moment.

“Kiev…” I spoke up tentatively. “Are you really going to help me escape?”

His eyes darkened to a bloody crimson. I could sense his suspicions rising. “Why do you ask?”

“I’m in my third trimester. I would really like to not have to bear my children here at The Blood Keep and you mentioned that you would…”

“Just be ready. I don’t need to tell you about my plans. You just have to go along with what you are told to do and everything will be okay.”

“Can you not give me a hint or something? Anything? I just really want to be able to hold on to some sort of assurance that…”

He grabbed my jaw and forced me to look into his eyes. “I’m your assurance. Drop this subject, Sofia. Or I will make you bleed.”

I nodded. “Fine,” was my curt reply.

He let go of my jaw, took a deep breath, stared into blank space for a few seconds then began caressing my hair gently. “You’re going to be all right.”

He’s a madman. Eli is right. How can I ever trust him? His mood swings were so erratic, I couldn’t keep up with them.

Silence took over the room. I asked myself what I would’ve done had I been with Derek. I remembered how I’d coped through everything at The Shade.

I did it through laughter. All those times I’d spent with Derek, cutting through the tension between us by making him watch movies or pulling him to the music room and charming him to play me some music.

I was intrigued by whether the approach I’d used on Derek would work on Kiev. I was sick of always feeling like I was at the edge of my nerves when around Kiev.

If there’s any hope of Kiev ever coming to the light, of ever embracing goodness, then this has got to work.

Without thinking things through, I moved over the edge of the bed and got on my feet. Facing him, I took both his hands in mine and met his questioning gaze with as joyful an expression as I could conjure.

“Dance with me, Kiev.”


“Come on, don’t you miss dancing?”

“Seeing as I’ve never danced in my entire life, no. I don’t miss it.”

“Seriously?” My eyes widened. “You’re what, fifteen thousand years old?” I teased him. “And you don’t know how to dance?”

“Why would I ever want to dance?”

I should’ve known that Kiev’s sense of humor would leave much to be desired. I rolled my eyes. “Why are you so devoid of joy?” He lives at The Blood Keep, Sofia. What’s there to be joyful about?

“How is dancing supposed to give joy? Only fools find pleasure in flailing their arms around, swaying to music and acting like complete fools.”

“Were you always like this? I mean, even before you became the Elder’s spawn?”

Kiev seemed bothered by the question. “I’m not going to dance. You shouldn’t be dancing either. You’re going to give birth anytime.”

“Way to dampen the mood, vampire.” I rolled my eyes. I walked away from him and toward the large grilled windows in my bedroom. I leaned against one of the windows and drew the curtains back. I found myself staring at the dark night sky. “I need sunlight. There’s barely any light in this place.” There’s barely any light in you. I’m not even sure if you have any!

“We give you plenty of vitamins to make up for the lack of it.”

“I need my husband.” I bit my lip. I was gearing myself up for a rough hand gripping a fistful of my hair or perhaps even a slap in the face, but this time, Kiev didn’t seem angry at all.

It was beyond me why he seemed fine with me mentioning my need for Derek when all the other times I talked about my husband, it drove him to a frenzy. He was perhaps in another one of those mood swings of his and that particular moment, he was more considerate than freakish. He almost looked sorry for me, as if he sympathized with my plight.

“I see it, you know.”

“See what?”

“How you brought light into his life… how you were able to do the impossible and influence the notorious Derek Novak for good.”

His kindness was more unnerving than his acts of terror and I tried to keep the tremble from my voice when I coyly asked, “Oh yeah? How?”

“You are light itself.”

“Right,” I scoffed. “I don’t seem to be lighting you up, do I?”

“Maybe I’m too soaked in darkness to ever be consumed by light.”

I shook my head. Truth be told, I doubted I had any light left in me. Nights still terrorized me. Considering all the dark thoughts I’d entertained lately, I was always fearful that the Elder would come to me.

Just talking about Derek felt like healing to my longing soul.

“Derek had the light inside of him all along. I never told him before, but he brought light into my life just as much as he says I brought light to his. He just needed convincing that he still had good in him. You are who you choose to be. No matter how much light is shed upon you, if you still choose to remain in darkness, that’s your doing, not anyone else’s.”

I felt like a hypocrite saying the words. I needed to follow my own advice, but I justified my situation. Who can blame me? No light has been shed upon me at all since I was last with Derek. I missed him so much, the pain was almost unbearable. I don’t deserve this.

Kiev rose to his feet and stood behind me. His hand brushed through my hair. His touch gave me goose bumps, sending shivers down my spine. He wrapped his arms around me and began stroking my belly, I could feel him press his face against the back of my neck, breathing my scent in.

I hated when he touched me. He didn’t have the right to. It should be Derek with me right now, holding me.

“I hate that I ever got to know you, Sofia.”

The feeling’s mutual.

“I hate that you gave me something I never should’ve had.”

That he would think that I’d freely given him anything sickened me. “And what’s that, Kiev? What did I give you exactly?”


That was when I realized for certain how embittered I was by the months I’d spent at The Blood Keep. I felt nothing for Kiev. Instead, I hated him. I hated him for taking me away from Derek. The Blood Keep had changed me and inside, there existed a darkness I’d never known I could possess.

“You are light, Sofia, and I rue the day when that will be ruined. I’m sorry for what you’re about to go through.”

My heart stopped. He was a man of riddles. When he was speaking good, it still felt like the words were laced with an underlying wickedness. I never quite knew what to expect with him and that was both thrilling and fearsome to me. “What are you talking about, Kiev?”

He shook his head as he clung to me tightly, pushing my back against his chest. “I can’t tell you, Sofia, but when it happens, know that there’s nothing I could do to stop it.”

A mixture of indignation, desperation and anger came over me as I broke away from his grasp, shaking my head. “No. Hell, no.” I stepped away from him and spun around so he could see how enraged I was. “Nonsense. You have a choice. There is always a choice. If what’s about to happen to me is so awful, you can help stop it. Don’t tell me that you can’t. You want to know how Derek turned to light? He stopped playing the part of a victim and began taking responsibility for his own actions! That’s how. He owned up to his choices instead of cowering away from them.”

Kiev stared back at me coolly. He seemed to be unmoved by my outburst. In fact, he seemed amused. “Interesting,” he noted. “We’re going to escape, Sofia. Soon. Just be ready.” His stare went from my face to my belly and I could swear I saw hunger spark in his eyes.

I shuddered, wondering what on earth he had in mind. I couldn’t figure him out. I felt like a toy whenever I was around him, and it seemed he never tired of playing games with me. Now, however, seeing the way he was staring at my stomach, as if he could see my unborn children, I knew that I would be a fool to trust him.

“Is all this just a game to you?” I hissed.

He shrugged. “What if it is?”

I remembered the first night I’d spent at The Shade when Vivienne had told me that I was just a pawn. That memory was quickly followed by another one with Vivienne telling me that I wasn’t a pawn after all. I was the queen.

Neither matters. Pawn or queen, they’re just pieces to be yanked around by whoever is playing the game.

I was tired of feeling so powerless. Aside from Eli, there were only two people I encountered on a daily basis at The Blood Keep: Kiev and the servant girl. I’d taken note after note of their every move. I didn’t understand either of them fully, but the little I knew, I had to use to my advantage.

It might seem like Kiev was the one in control, but he was just a piece in the game like me.

There is always a choice, I’d screamed at Kiev only moments ago. It was time I lived up to my own ideology.

In an upsurge of bravado, I determined to myself that I was no longer going to be played. By anyone. I made a decision to take control.

Kiev was right. What if life is just a game?

I gave Kiev my sweetest smile, and answered his question with a wink. “I’m wondering if you could teach me how to play.”

He was intrigued. I saw it in his face, but at the same time, he stayed true to his character. He was taking on the role of a player. I’d just made my move. Now, he was about to make his.

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