A Gate of Night / Page 26

Page 26


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Vivienne said the same reassurances I kept telling myself, but still, it didn’t seem enough.


“You’ve made it through so much already, Derek. Both of you can still make it through this.”


“How? We don’t even know where The Blood Keep is.”


“I think Corrine knows. Wasn’t it the witches who got you out of The Blood Keep to begin with?”


Hope surged within me. Still, an unshakable dread had settled over me. “What if she’s already given birth? What are they going to do to our child? What are they going to do to her? Vivienne, what if…”


“Stop tormenting yourself, Derek. You’re having a child! There was a time in your life when you never even imagined that you could ever fall in love, much less sire a child, and now you have that. Sofia is resilient and strong. You know that. Forget the dreams.”


“How can you say that? You’re the Seer of The Shade. You live by the dreams and visions that you see.”


“And I’ve also seen many die by them. Maybe my visions have been accurate because I allowed them to be. All the war and bloodshed at The Shade, it all happened. I saw it beforehand, all that darkness. What I didn’t see was all the light. I didn’t see how Sofia would influence you to light. I didn’t see the cure. I didn’t see myself falling in love with Xavier. I am a seer, yes, but I am also so blind to many things.”


I had to interrupt. “You and Xavier? Finally?”


A strange mixture of delight and sadness crossed her lovely countenance. “You knew?”


“Of course I did.”


“And now he’s a vessel, used by the Elders for whatever purposes they wish.” Her voice broke and she began sobbing.


I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t used to seeing Vivienne break down, so I just ran my hand across her back, like I did to Sofia whenever she seemed down. Vivienne sobbed into my chest for a couple of minutes before getting a hold of herself.


“We’re going to get Xavier back,” I promised her. “We’re going to find a way.” For centuries, my twin had been fighting for me to fulfill my destiny. She’d never asked for anything in return. Now, she was about to lose the love of her life. I wasn’t about to let that happen.


“You’re going to help me, aren’t you?” she asked, almost as if she wasn’t certain if I would bother.


I cupped her face between my palms. “Of course I will. You know I will. We’re going to find a way to save all of them—Sofia, Xavier, Liana, Yuri and Ashley. They’re our family. We are family.”


There were so few of us left surviving. Never had I said words regarding the men and women loyal to me with as much conviction as I did then.


That was all it took for Vivienne to calm down. A promise from me that everything was going to be all right.


Once she gathered herself together, she gave me a curt nod, and looked me straight in the eye, “That’s it then, Derek. Forget those ugly nightmares you have of Sofia.”


My heart sank. “How can I? My dreams have a way of coming true.”


“Whatever we see in dreams or visions, those images are merely part of a story—and they are rarely the end of the story. Should your nightmare of Sofia come true, you can trust that it’s only a snippet of what is to come. If there’s anything I’ve learned watching you and Sofia blossom into the couple that you have become, it’s that we hold our fate in our hands. We always have a choice. Don’t settle for less than the future that you dream of with her.”


I couldn’t help but smile inwardly at the words my sister expressed. “Thank you.” I walked away from her and toward the phone installed on my bedside table. I dialed a number that had been etched in my head since Sofia and I had visited those homes in California. “Monica Andrews, please?”


A couple of minutes of conversation and I had just agreed to buy my first house. Not because I wanted to abandon The Shade, but because the house, to me, had become a symbol of the family I wanted with Sofia. That house—and seeing my wife and children live and grow up inside of it—was a future that I had always dreamed of.


That afternoon, it became the future that I was going to fight for no matter what came our way.


Chapter 38: Kiev


The night sky was starless, the moon absent. The evening was as dark as night could be, yet nothing could keep Sofia from her regular evening stroll with the genius of The Shade. I watched from a distance, the beast not far away from them, lurking, paying attention to my captive’s every move.


Olga sat on my lap as she fed me blood from her wrist. I drank deep even as my eyes centered on the redhead who had captured my attention from the very moment I first heard of her.


Are you foolish enough to actually want to escape with this man, Sofia? I sensed jealousy over their closeness. I hated that Sofia had found a confidante in anyone other than me, but having him around had been good for her pregnancy. I stared at her belly, swallowing a large gulp of Olga’s blood at the thought of the wonderful creatures it contained—morsels for the taking.


Eyes set on the wiry man who towered over her, I flinched when Eli ran his hand over her back several times as if to comfort her.


I pulled my lips away from Olga’s wrist, quickly wiping blood away from the corners of my lips. “I hate that he’s touching her.”


Olga glanced at her wrist before pulling out a bandage. She began to tend to her wound, oblivious to my outburst.


“She’s mine.”


I sensed the amusement in my servant’s countenance. “What is it about her that has got all you vampires so wrapped up in her dainty little fingers? The legendary Derek Novak, you… who else has been cast under her spell?”


I pushed her away from me, annoyed. “Do you think she’s planning to escape with him?”


“I’m sure of it.” Olga said.


“Well, I’m already offering to help her escape.”


“And you think she’d just trust you? After that last encounter she had with you?”


My stomach knotted at the recollection of her smile, of her sweet laughter as she tried to convince me to dance with her.


I hated her. I hated that moment. I hated that it could make me feel so hopeless, knowing that the light I saw in her could never be mine.


Or maybe it still could.


The voice came unbidden, like a whisper of a conscience I’d long ago shut out.


I pushed the thought away, shaking my head.


Olga knelt at my feet, absent-mindedly running her fingers over my kneecaps. She was comfortable around me in a way that only she was capable of. “Why do you want to help her anyway?”


“Help who?”


I tensed at the familiar, grating voice behind me. Clara.


I dared not turn around. I didn’t want to see her face. If there was one person I hated more than anybody in the world, it was Clara. Of all the vampires the Elder had sired, she was decidedly the worst. She was his favorite. She was the one who actually enjoyed his torture. She was the one who was most like the Elder. I shuddered to think of the consequences should she find out that I was planning to escape The Blood Keep with Sofia.


I did my best to keep my voice calm and cool. “Sofia,” I responded, even as Clara’s hand brushed over my hair.


We had once had a competition—a sick game the Elder had played at our expense. Clara had won. As a reward, I was given to her. A pet for her to toy with. She was allowed to do with me whatever she pleased and I was not to retaliate in any way. Clara had placed me in more degrading positions than I could think of just because of this loss. I was hers for a hundred years. We’d barely even gotten to twenty.


Clara pushed Olga away and perched herself on my lap. “I missed you, brother,” she whispered.


Disgust came over me at the mention of me being her brother. I wanted to push her away but knew that I couldn’t. I knew what torment under the Elder’s hands meant. I did not want to go through that again.


Clara’s lips found mine. I tensed. It seemed to me that she loved it when she saw my disgust over her advances.


“I’ve always wanted you,” she whispered to my ear.


The amusement was unmistakable.


“It’s too bad Father doesn’t allow you to come with me on the missions he sends me on. You should’ve been at The Shade when the Elders arrived, Kiev. It was quite a sight to see how Vivienne Novak trembled when she stood before the vampire one of the Elders possessed. Her beloved himself, Xavier Vaughn. I didn’t want to leave, especially when they made the vampires fight some of the vessels. There was an arena and everything, but of course, Father had to drag me back here.”


“Oh? Why’s that?” Of all my brothers and sisters, Clara was the only one who seemed to find pleasure in calling the Elder her father. Sick conniving bitch.


“He’s worried about you. He says you spend too much of your time mooning over our lovely captive. Are you actually falling for her? Have you fallen under her spell? What, did you lie with her? Did you finally give in to your longing to have what Derek Novak had? I know you want to.”


I stared at her, unwilling to address her taunts, hating every bit of her, revolted by her touch.


“What are you helping the queen of The Shade with, Kiev?”


“Her pregnancy. Isn’t that my task?”


“Don’t play me for a fool, Kiev,” Clara purred.


I fought the urge to gag. She always did that, almost like she thought it was cute.


“Look. I don’t know what you’re up to, brother, but I must say that I’m not pleased to see you mooning over an immune—especially one as tainted as she.”


“Tainted?”


She wrinkled her nose as she spun her head to catch a glimpse of Sofia. “She has an ex-vampire’s spawns growing inside of her. She is and will always be tainted with light. That makes her the enemy, Kiev. Always.”


I can’t wait for the day I see you die, Clara.


“Well, anyway, whatever you’re thinking of helping her with, I’m here now. Father told me to keep my eye on you, and I’m going to do just that, Kiev.” She pressed her palms on either side of my cheeks. “I’m going to love every minute of it. Aren’t you glad I’m back?” She was so close, her lips were pressing against mine as she spoke.


All I could respond with was, “You’re disgusting.”


She slapped me across the face with the back of her hand. She chuckled. “Good. I’d like to know how revolted you are by me once I come to your bed tonight. Be ready.”


I glared at her. I was about to speak against her but her lips crashed against mine. Crushing. Demeaning. Wicked in every way.


By the time she left me, I had one thought ruling in my mind. I need to escape from this hell hole. It’s the only way I can get away from Clara. It’s the only way I can kill her.


Escape was easy. Being safe from the Elder’s rule once I was gone was a whole different thing. My eyes once again wandered back to Sofia.


She really is my only way out.


Chapter 39: Derek


Not long after the conversation I had with Vivienne, I took a quick shower and we were off to breakfast with Arron in a dimly lit room with no windows, as a way of protecting my sister from the sunlight.


Breakfast consisted of pancakes, butter and maple syrup. I was starving, so the moment food was served, I had no inhibitions in wolfing my breakfast down.


Aiden, who seemed to be satisfied with his cup of coffee, stared at me like I had somehow gone mad. Vivienne watched curiously while Arron had his typically deadpan expression on his face as he stirred a cup of tea for himself.


“I see the king’s being human has made him appreciate our delicacies more than the delicacies enjoyed by vampires such as yourself, princess,” Arron said.


Vivienne just shrugged a shoulder. “I can’t deny that I envy him. It’s been centuries since I last enjoyed a meal.”


“Ah, yes… you’re one of the rare few who never killed a human for his blood. I admire that about you, Miss Novak.”


Vivienne seemed ill at ease.


I couldn’t have cared less. I hadn’t eaten since I left The Sanctuary and I knew that if I didn’t enjoy the spread we were given now, there was a big possibility I wouldn’t be able to wolf down a meal anytime soon. Unlike when I was a vampire, I could only last so long without food as a human. I bit into my last slice of pancake and took a gulp from my orange juice.


I swallowed then laid my palms on the table in front of me. “Let’s get to business, shall we?”


“About time.”


“I’m not going to play around with you, Arron. I know who you work for and I know why this organization is so hell bent on ending vampires. But we both know that it’s not this earth’s vampires that you really want to end. You just want to win this war you have with the Elders. We humans are just caught in between.”


“I see the witches have been talking about us while you were in their realm.”


“They have. Now, what must we do to secure your help in rescuing my wife and all the other citizens of The Shade whom the Elders held captive?”


“First of all, you’re going to speak to me with respect, boy. I don’t care how old you are. I am an immortal and you will address me as such.”


I noticed the spark of interest in both Vivienne and Aiden’s faces.


“An immortal? You?” I challenged. “See, I don’t even know what you are. Why on earth should I speak to you with respect?”


“Because it’s my help that you need.”


“Really? So the fact that I was able to kill at least a dozen Elders doesn’t matter to you?”


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