A Gate of Night / Page 3

Page 3


Derek looked at me. I shrugged. “Why not?”

The smile on Derek’s face said that he loved the idea of exploring homes with me. He turned toward Monica and said, “Do you have any beachfront homes available?”

Monica’s shoulders perked up. “Yes, actually… however, I have to warn you that most of those homes are outside the budget range you gave me in our initial conversation…”

That charming grin I loved so much appeared on Derek’s face. “Let’s just say our finances have improved.”

Monica looked as if she’d just hit the jackpot.

Chapter 4: Derek

The six-bedroom oceanfront villa was situated on the edge of a cliff and had one of the most breathtaking views I’d ever seen. The home was already fully furnished and I could see myself building a life and starting a family here.

“You like it, don’t you?” Sofia asked as she took a step into the master bedroom’s terrace with me.

It was the third home that Monica had brought us to, not counting the Hudsons’ house, and so far, this was my favorite. I nodded enthusiastically. “Don’t you?”

Sofia gave me a smile as she breathed a deep sigh and nodded. “I do. I love it actually. It’s bigger than what I’m used to, especially for just the two of us, but…”

I smiled at her suggestively. “Well, it’s not going to be just the two of us forever, is it, Sofia? I can see our kids running all over this place.”

“Oh really?” She blushed.

I gave her a nod as I placed my hands over her waist and pulled her slim form against me before claiming her lips with mine. After all this time, I still wasn’t used to how fragile she felt in my arms, like I could snap her in two if I wanted to. Even without being of a vampire, I was still a lot stronger than she was. Yet, in so many other ways, she was stronger than I was.

When she pulled away from me, her milky skin was flushed red and her lips were swollen. I can see why Ben called her Rose Red.

“Derek,” Sofia muttered, motioning to our guide.

Monica cleared her throat. I suspected she was starting to think that she was wasting her time with us. After all, Sofia and I looked like two teenagers way in over our heads when we’d decided to get married at such a young age.

So, without thinking it through, I decided to ease her doubts. “We’re going to buy the house, Monica.”

Her face lit up with delight. When she told us the price of the property, Sofia’s jaw dropped. “Derek, what are you doing? How on earth are we going to afford this?”

I couldn’t help but smile at Sofia’s naïveté. “Sofia, do you really think we could run a place like The Shade if we didn’t have money? Besides, your father told me to look at houses if the chance presented itself. In case you have forgotten, your father is a multi-millionaire.”

Sofia’s face was priceless. Queen of The Shade or not, she was one wealthy young woman.

“When shall we discuss payment, Mr. Miller?” Monica asked.

“It’s Novak. The name is Derek Novak, and this is my wife, Sofia. We have no idea who the Millers are. For all we know, they showed up at the house wondering why their agent didn’t show up.”

Monica looked taken aback, but then said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. I’m just honestly relieved to make a sale today!”

“Uhm… Could we give you a call tomorrow?” Sofia stepped forward. “I’d like to talk it over with my husband first.”

“I thought you said you liked the house, Sofia.”

“I do, but Derek…” She gave me a sharp look before muttering beneath her breath. “I don’t understand why we’re buying the home. What for? Our home is The Shade, isn’t it?”

The truth was that I wanted this. I wanted to forget The Shade and live a life with her. I wanted to be the father of her children and to see them grow up to have normal lives, away from hunters and vampires. I was exhausted. I’d been bearing the weight of being the ruler and savior of The Shade for centuries. Now we had found the cure, wasn’t my role done? I had brought my kind to true sanctuary.

Wasn’t it time to find a sanctuary of my own?

Chapter 5: Sofia

Back in our hotel room, I snuggled against Derek on the king-sized bed. His fingers brushed over my bare shoulders.

“Don’t you want that, Sofia? A home, a family, a safe place for our kids to grow up in? Away from all the wars and…”

“Derek, do you honestly believe that we can get away from all that? My father tried to give me a shot at normalcy, and look where I ended up. And we can’t abandon The Shade. This time away has been wonderful, but people we care about are back at that island, and as much as I’ve tried not to worry, I’m anxious over what’s going on back there. Aren’t you wondering?”

“Of course I am, but…” Derek heaved a sigh. “Sofia, we’ve done it. We brought the vampires to true sanctuary. We found the cure. Maybe it’s time someone else took over the burden of ruling The Shade.”

“And who would do that, Derek? Would you abandon Vivienne? She’s still trying to pull herself together after what the hunters put her through. She needs a life of her own too.” Sitting on his lap, I looked him straight in the eye. “I know you, Derek. You care about The Shade. You care about everyone there. Don’t even deny it. No matter how much we both want to start a family together, we can’t just turn our backs on The Shade.”

It was so unlike him to even think of running from the responsibility of ruling The Shade. I adored him for wanting to build a family with me, and I wanted to dream right along with him, but I also knew that running away from everything… it wasn’t him. It wasn’t us.

“You dream, you know. Every night since we left The Shade. You begin mumbling stuff about the island. What’s going on, Derek? This isn’t you.”

His face softened as his eyes glistened. “I guess I’m just tired, Sofia. I feel like we’re going to return to complete chaos, and… I’m human now. Ruling The Shade as a powerful vampire was difficult enough. Stepping up to that responsibility as a human… it feels like I’m just putting myself, you and our future children in danger.”

I swallowed hard. I’d never thought about it that way. In my eyes, Derek was just as powerful as a human as he had been as a vampire.

He sat up, leaning back against the headboard. He ran his hands over my thighs and let them settle over my hips. “I don’t know if this is a risk I want to take.”

It didn’t take a genius to know that we had trouble ahead. I wouldn’t be surprised if trouble was already happening back home at The Shade as we were gallivanting around the globe on our honeymoon. The one month we’d asked for was already selfish. Still, I never would’ve imagined that Derek could entertain the idea of abandoning the island entirely.

“Tell me about the dreams you’ve been having, Derek. What do you think is up ahead?”

He pried his eyes away from me and let them settle on my kneecap while his hand slid down from my thigh to my knees. A mischievous grin appeared on his face and he began tickling me.

He was trying to distract me and it was working. I screeched and tried to get away from him. Of course, that was futile, considering his strong grip. By the time he was done, I was lying on my back on the bed, unable to control my laughter. He was kneeling on the bed, looming over me.

“Hey!” I squealed. “You can’t just do that to avoid a conversation, Derek.”

He responded by slipping his hand beneath my shirt and tickling my ribs.

“No!” I screamed. “Enough! Please… Derek, enough! Have mercy!” I was practically in tears.

He chuckled. “You’re my wife. I can do whatever I want.”

“No, you can’t!”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “You’re objecting?” His fingers once again threatened to knock the breath right out of me.

“No! I’m not,” I conceded. “You win, you win.”

A self-satisfied smile appeared on his face. “No one ever said this marriage was going to be fair, Sofia.”

He might have known my weakness, but I sure knew his. I gave him a naughty grin. “That is so true.” All I had to do was unbutton the first three buttons of my shirt and he was putty in my hands. When I was sure that he was pining for me, I slapped his hands away just as he was about to pull at my underwear. It was my turn to smile. I fluttered my eyelashes. “Only if you promise that you will tell me about these dreams you’ve been having. If not today, tomorrow.”

His eyes went from roaming my body to giving me a glare. “Sofia, that’s not fair.”

I grinned. “No one said this marriage was going to be fair.”

“You win.” He rolled his eyes.

“Perfect.” I reached out and planted a kiss on his lips.

Derek was the first and only man I’d ever made love to. When he’d still been a vampire, he’d spent a lot of energy just trying to maintain control whenever we slept together.

The first time we’d made love after he turned human was the best I could remember. It was perhaps because of his abandon. He wasn’t busy trying to restrain his cravings and appetites. He was enjoying every moment of it.

“I’m hungry,” Derek confessed after we both rolled over on our backs, breathless. “Why am I always hungry?”

I chuckled and rubbed his stomach. “Weren’t you the same when you were a vampire?”

“True,” he admitted. “Let’s go get something to eat.”

One of the things I enjoyed most about our honeymoon was introducing him to new delicacies. In fact, the first time he’d begun to crave food, he’d asked if people were still making salted pork and ale. It had been a pleasure watching the delight in his eyes whenever he tasted something new.

So my eyes lit up and I sat up on the bed. “I think this would be a great time to introduce you to ice cream. I can’t believe I totally forgot about ice cream. Let’s go.” I tried to think back to the last time I’d had it. My stomach turned. Ben. He was the only person who knew what my favorite ice cream flavor was.

“Uh, Sofia… What’s wrong?”

“What? Oh, it’s nothing.” I shook my head. “Let’s go get you your first taste of ice cream.”

The reaction on Derek’s face was priceless as he tasted his third flavor of ice cream. “This is delicious. Aren’t you going to have more?”

“I already had a second serving,” I told him. “That might go straight to my hips. We’re going to get some exercise now.”

“Exercise?” He wrinkled his nose.

“As a vampire, you never needed it.” I smiled. “Now, you do.”

He took a huge bite from his ice cream cone. “Well, let me just finish this first.”

I enjoyed watching him. He had a childlike delight at everything we saw during our honeymoon. He found pleasure in the things I took for granted—vending machines, phones, bells, food… Derek loved every second of being human, of being alive. He embraced every new experience he encountered.

Or at least it seemed that way to me. I remembered what he’d told me about his apprehensions, and I had to face the fact that as strong and as virile as he still was, he was no longer the most powerful vampire there was. As Derek Novak the human, he was vulnerable and so was I.

I’d never thought that he could have misgivings about being human again, but when the reality of the situation began to sink in, I found myself battling with fear.

Derek was prophesied to bring his kind true sanctuary. I was prophesied to help him do just that. Both of us were convinced that true sanctuary was the cure to vampirism, but by discovering that cure, we’d created enemies. Our lives were in danger and I knew it. Derek knew it.

As I stared at him, trying to make light of each moment we spent on our honeymoon, trying to just enjoy the temporary reprieve we’d been given, I caught myself wondering… How could this possibly be true sanctuary?

Chapter 6: Derek

“Woman, why would you do this to me?” I groaned at Sofia, who gave me a grin as she wiped the sweat off her brow and grabbed a towel to wipe away mine.

We’d been “exercising” for the past hour and a half and every muscle and bone in my body was screaming in agony.

“I’ve trained at the Crimson Fortress’ battle grounds for hours every day for weeks. I never ached like this.”

“Welcome to being mortal, Derek. You’re flesh and blood just like the rest of us. You need to get used to experiencing pain in order to get what you want.”

“And what exactly do I want? Remind me again why I’m doing this.”

She smiled at me as she slipped her hands under my shirt and over my lower torso. “We want to keep those abs of yours, Derek. That’s what we want.”

“No.” I shook my head. “That’s what you want.”

“Maybe so, but as my husband, you’re supposed to make sure that I get what I want.”

“Oh, is that so? I never thought you could be so selfish…”

“And yet you’re still madly in love with me.” She stepped forward and gave me a peck on the cheek.

“The things I let you get away with…” I heaved the duffel bag containing our belongings over my shoulder. “Could we get something to eat? I’m famished.”

“Again?” She wrinkled her nose.

She managed to convince me to settle for a salad—something she was easily able to do with a few suggestive quips and gestures. I wolfed down my dinner. I couldn’t wait to get Sofia back to our hotel room. I already had her on the bed and was about to undress her when I heard quick footsteps and a voice I was sure I’d already heard somewhere before saying, “Find them.”

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