A Gate of Night / Page 6

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Abby finally arrived by Sofia’s side, snuggling against her. Small hands began to brush through my hair. “They hurt you really bad, Mr. Derek.”


“They did, didn’t they?” I groaned, her statement reminding me of the dull ache I felt all over my body. I was desperately trying to make light of the situation, perhaps draw a laugh from my wife. I was afraid that we only had a few moments left with each other, and I would’ve rather seen her smile than her tears.


“I thought Sofia was going to marry Ben. I saw them kissing a lot.”


I could already see the blush on Sofia’s face without having to look at her. I grinned, remembering how jealous I’d been of Sofia’s best friend. At that time, I’d lost all hope that I could ever be with her. How was I going to compete with all those years of history? Now she was my wife. A wife you’re about to lose.


I swallowed hard. I would’ve shaken my head, but it would be too painful so I just shut my eyes and bit my lip, trying to regain hope that both Sofia and I were going to get out of this mess in one piece.


“Sofia.” I spoke up. “I need you to listen to me. We’re being held captive by the Elder and his children. The vampires who took us at the hotel—they’re his children. The red-eyed one is Kiev. The brunette is his sister, Clara. I think they want to kill me.”


“Derek, don’t…”


“Listen to me.” I cut her off. “There’s little chance we can get away from this, Sofia. I’ll be honest with you. Even as a vampire, I was already vulnerable against them. Right now…” I tried to choose my words carefully, to assure her that I wasn’t blaming her for what I was now, that I adored her for finding the cure and making me feel like normalcy was a possibility. “Sofia, whatever they ask you to do, don’t give in.”


“Of course. I would never—”


“Even if they threaten to kill me.”


Her breath hitched. I could almost see the wheels turning furiously in her mind. I knew then that no matter what she said, even if she promised me that she wouldn’t risk her life or everything we worked for to save me, she wouldn’t be able to help herself.


I wondered then if the prophecy that we were strongest together and weakest apart was true, because I had become Sofia’s greatest weakness and she had become mine.


I would do anything to keep from losing Sofia and from the looks of it, the same was true of her.


Chapter 10: Vivienne


Aiden Claremont had knocked me to my senses. Our confrontation had shaken me and the full reality of what was happening sank in.


Derek and Sofia aren’t going to return soon enough to spare you. Get it together.


The moment Aiden and I arrived at the Sanctuary, I resolved to just suck all my fears and weaknesses in and channel as much Derek Novak as I could. My twin brother had a way of silencing people with the full force of his presence. I wondered if I could do the same thing with the calmness of mine.


We arrived at the Sanctuary to find Zinnia and Xavier standing face to face, fists clenched, both warriors geared up for a fight. Aiden took a step forward, about to say something. I raised my hand to silence him.


I walked forward, stopping between my old-time friend and the petite hunter. I glanced Xavier’s way, flicked my head to the side. He knew the gesture all too well already. He’d seen it many times over the centuries that we’d been working side-by-side. He followed me as I continued to walk forward, ignoring Zinnia. She didn’t like that.


“Hey. I have a score to settle with your man.”


I spun around and glared at her. “I suggest you be silent, little girl. I don’t care how many wooden stakes you have or how many UV-ray guns you wield, trust me when I say that I can take you. Say another word that irks me and you will have a score to settle, but not with my man, as you so aptly put it. The score you’re going to settle will be with me.”


The fool actually smirked. “Like you’ve ever been a threat to someone like me.”


Within seconds, my hand was coiled around her neck, her petite body raised two feet above the ground, her back against a marble pillar. She retrieved a wooden stake with one hand. I used my free hand to knock the weapon out of hers. I let go of her neck and quickly pinned her wrists above her head, using my own legs to keep her from kicking at me.


“I know your moves. I spent enough time at your headquarters to observe your training. Don’t mess with me.”


“We broke you,” she mocked.


“Oh, yes, you did. All the more reason for me to break you now. Revenge, that’s what you want, right? We both know how defenseless you are against me right now. Perhaps I should do it. Take revenge. That’s what you would do, right?” My fangs appeared. The act was painful in itself, considering that my fangs were removed at hunters’ headquarters, but back at The Shade, without the suppressing chemicals that the hunters had injected me with, the fangs had been growing back. I hadn’t used them yet, but at that moment, I couldn’t think of a better way to use them.


It seemed like poetic justice. Truth be told, I wanted to do it. Teach her a lesson. Sink my teeth into her neck and show her that we weren’t to be messed with. But I knew that all I could do was threaten her. It was a bluff, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew it.


“Go ahead,” she challenged. “Do it. Go against what your king told you. Let’s not play around. We all know you’re just your brother’s pawn.”


“Maybe so, if he was here, but he isn’t, is he?” I pressed my teeth into her neck and she gasped. I don’t think she’s ever actually had a vampire suck her blood before.


“Vivienne…” Aiden spoke up. “Don’t. We have other things to take care of.”


I guess the bluff is working. I stepped back and stared Zinnia down. Rage flashed in her eyes and for a moment, I could have sworn that she would be foolish enough to try and fight back.


“Don’t be a fool, Zinnia.” Aiden spoke up.


“Listen to your boss, baby hunter.”


Her eyes darted across the room. Save for Aiden, who was more on our side now than hers, she was the only hunter present. She had to choose her words and actions carefully if she wanted to survive.


Her shoulders sagged. Even though she was clearly attempting to reel back her temper, her fists clenched so tightly her knuckles had already grown white.


I smirked at her before glancing over at Aiden. He had a serious expression on his face, although I thought I saw a hint of amusement—perhaps even pride—behind his gaze. He nodded my way. I found myself missing my own father. It was probably wishful thinking on my part but I could swear that there was a trace of Gregor Novak in him. I turned toward Xavier.


The look Xavier was giving me knocked my breath away. His eyes bore into me with an intensity I’d never quite seen from him before. It was as if he saw me for the first time that day, his eyes moist with tears.


I gave him a curt nod even though I wanted to do so much more. I made a mental note to have a long, meaningful talk with him. He deserved that.


“Let’s go meet Natalie.” I broke the silence, trying to put my focus on work. I walked past Xavier, my arm brushing against his. The contact sent shivers down my spine. Dear heavens, Vivienne, what is happening to you? Get a grip.


As I walked on, ignoring the fact that I was keenly aware of his presence right behind me, I tried to push away the same truth I’d been denying for the past five centuries.


Xavier Vaughn had always had that effect on me.


We arrived at the room where Corrine was keeping Natalie. The rogue vampire was still unconscious. The Shade’s witch was sitting on a couch, cross-legged, sipping a warm drink. She made it look like everything in the world was just as it should be, which was the farthest thing from the truth.


“Corrine,” I acknowledged her.


“Princess,” she responded, eyeing me from head to foot before gazing at Xavier who was standing right behind me.


I could practically feel his eyes settled behind my neck.


Corrine smirked. “Tense, your highness?” She always had a way of making the title seem like an insult.


I kept my cool and perused her the same way she had me. “Hello to you too, Corrine. It’s nice to see someone here at The Shade can afford to remain relaxed.” I looked toward Natalie. “When will she wake?”


“Something’s different about you.” Corrine cocked her head to the side. “Your old fire… it’s back.”


I didn’t know how to respond so I just made my way toward Natalie, standing by her bedside. “Come on, Natalie,” I whispered. “Wake up.”


As if on cue, Natalie stirred on the bed. I drew in my breath when she slowly opened her eyes, blinking several times to get a clear look at me. “Viv…”


“What happened to you? Do you know if Derek and Sofia are doing well?”


For the first time since I’d met Natalie, I saw terror in her eyes.


“They’re opening the gates, Vivienne. The Elder is opening the gates.”


I had no idea what she was talking about, but anything that involved the Elder couldn’t possibly be good.


Corrine stood, her knuckles growing white as she gripped the cup between her hands so hard it seemed she intended to break it.


“That’s impossible.” The witch shook her head, her brown locks wildly swaying behind her.


“What’s going on? What is she talking about?” I directed my eyes toward Natalie. “What does all this have to do with my brother?”


“I don’t know.” Natalie shook her head. “But I was there when Kiev and Clara wiped out an entire vampire coven because they chose to side with Derek. The Elder seems to have quite a vendetta against your brother, the cure being a threat and all.”


My knees weakened, and I leaned against Xavier, who had already taken my side for support.


“What coven are you referring to?” he asked.


“The Underground,” Natalie managed to rasp out before breaking into coughs.


“Kiev and Clara.” Corrine said the words with utter spite. “The Elder’s children.”


I asked the question I was dreading the answer to. “Do they have my brother, Natalie?”


She nodded. “I tried to stop it, but Kiev and Clara… they’re powerful. I didn’t stand a chance. They have both Derek and Sofia.”


My stomach turned. My brother was mortal. How on earth was he going to protect himself? “What would they want with…”


“They’re after Sofia,” Corrine announced. “They’re after the immunes.”


Aiden’s hands balled into tight fists, a muscle on his jaw twitching. Behind him, Zinnia stood, arms crossed over her chest, leaning against the wall, seemingly enjoying everything that was happening.


I tried to ignore how irritated I was by the little brat. “And my brother?” I was afraid for his life. They only wanted Sofia. That meant Derek, especially now that he was a human, was dispensable.


“They told me to tell you that they would return Derek alive in exchange for one thing. They want The Shade’s side of the portal activated. The Shade’s gate.”


“No. Never.” Corrine shook her head violently.


“What?” I blurted out. “What is going on, Corrine? What portal? What gate?”


“We can’t have that, Vivienne. Trust me. We can’t allow something like that to happen. The stakes are too high.”


Collect yourself, Vivienne. I breathed a deep sigh. “Something like what, Corrine?” I said through gritted teeth. “Make it clear to me what’s so important about this portal that you are willing to exchange my brother’s life for it.”


“Surely they wouldn’t kill Derek,” Corrine muttered.


“Why wouldn’t they?” Natalie said. “Derek has been a pain in their ass since he woke up. Now is the best time to get rid of him. As a human, he’s the weakest he’s ever been in centuries.”


“If they wanted him dead, they would’ve killed him when he was in their territory—when Emilia was madly in love with him.”


“There’s no Emilia now to protect him, is there?” I added. “Corrine, what is this gate?”


“I can’t tell you.” Corrine shook her head. “But it’s the only reason I ever agreed to come here, Vivienne. I need to protect that gate. It can never be opened.”


“I’m getting my brother back, witch. I will strike a deal with the Elder himself if I have to.”


“You know that I’m powerful enough to stop you.”


“Then do it. You’ll have to kill me, because that’s what it will take.”


Seeing the witch so alarmed daunted me. Corrine was so much better at keeping a calm and collected exterior than I was. We’d never been friends, but we’d always had an understanding—we were on the same side. Until now. Staring at her, I wondered if Corrine would go as far as killing me to prevent that gate from getting opened.


She eyed me, her inner conflict evident in the heave of her chest and the firmness of her expression. “There are three gates that will open a portal to Cruor, the realm of the original vampires, the Elders. And yes, there is more than one Elder. One gate is in The Blood Keep, one is here at The Shade, one is at The Underground. From what Natalie said, they already have control of The Underground. The only one left is The Shade.”


“What does that mean? Why should it matter to me that the portal be opened?”


“You have no idea what the original vampires are like. Elders. They are nothing like you. Your kind are their creation, a mere mutation of the original. Should they come to earth, then those of the other supernatural realms will come too. That means war, Vivienne. A war of supernaturals. Do we really want to be a catalyst of that?”


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