A Gate of Night / Page 7

Page 7


“Why now? Why do all these Elders want to come now after all these years?”

Corrine shrugged. “Your brother found the cure. That cure has been the greatest threat to their presence here on earth. If that cure has the potential to eradicate all vampires…”

I stared at Corrine, unable to breathe. I couldn’t help but feel like her very existence had been a lie. I’d thought that she had become an ally to us, but I should’ve known that it was a mistake to ever trust a witch.

Derek trusted Cora and he paid dearly for it.

“Do you really think for one moment, Corrine, that the Elder isn’t going to find another way to activate that portal—with or without Derek as a bargaining chip? If this war is—”

My sentence was cut off because a vision flashed right in front of me—a vision so vivid I dropped to the ground. I was known as the Seer of The Shade for a reason but never before had I seen a vision so disturbing.

The sky was a deep crimson red. Deafening thunder rolled overhead. Torrents of hot rain poured from the clouds, soaking the blood-stained ground. Giant winged creatures and immortal vampires were in full-on war. The earth was their battleground, humans their casualties.

By the time the vision was over, I was trembling uncontrollably. When I came to, Xavier’s arm was around me and Corrine was kneeling right in front of me.

“What did you see?” she asked.

“War. Violent… bloody… too many deaths…”

“That’s what’s going to happen if the portal is opened.”

“The portal will be opened, Corrine. The real question here is whether or not my brother will be alive when it does. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go through that war with an ally like him.”

Something sparked in Corrine’s eyes. “Vivienne… I don’t know…”

I opened my mouth but Aiden cleared his throat, interrupting us. “I understand the discussion on whether or not to save Derek, but you forget his number one weakness. My daughter. In the rush of your discussion, you ignore one key thing. What are they going to do with the immunes? What are they going to do with Sofia?”

Chapter 11: Sofia

Derek was trying to keep a brave face, but he was in agony. I was barely able to sleep because he kept stirring on my lap, moaning. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the pain or because of the nightmare he seemed to be having. Abby remained snuggled beside me and my body was beginning to feel the strain caused by their weight leaning against me, my back aching, the hard concrete wall behind me not helping.

The Elder’s children had us and I had no idea what they wanted from us. I didn’t have the heart to pry information out of my Derek. He’d already been through enough. I could only imagine the trauma he was going through now that he’d been tortured as a human being and not a powerful vampire.

I wanted to help him, but what was there to do? I actually missed the days when all it had taken was a cut on my wrist and a few uncomfortable moments feeling him drink my blood. Neither of us were fans of the whole thing, but at least it had healed him. Now, I’m helpless to do anything. I’ve ruined him. I’ve ruined Derek Novak.

The door swung open. Abby took a short intake of breath before burying her face against my arm. I looked up, squinting at the light that streamed inside the cell.

“We’re starving. Are you ever going to feed us?” I hadn’t even been conscious of how hungry I was until I said the words out loud. My stomach grumbled in agreement.

Kiev stepped inside the cell, his red eyes first falling on my face. He smirked at the sight of me. He then looked at Derek and his face fell. His brows met. “How is it possible…”

I looked down at my husband and was washed with complete relief. I had no idea how it had happened, but his face—which I’d barely recognised right after he was brought into the cell—was almost healed save for a few scrapes and scratches.

“What did you do?” Kiev glared at me.

I smiled before shrugging. I caressed my husband’s cheek with my fingers, hoping that he looked less disturbed and more at peace. “It’s not easy to break a man like Derek Novak.”

To my dismay, however, Kiev had already recovered from the shock. His chuckle grated at my nerves. “Maybe you’re right, but I always did love a challenge. I see surprise in your eyes, Mrs. Novak. That says a lot about what you know… or more appropriately, what you don’t know.”

Before I could respond, another figure appeared behind him. Clara.

“Really, Kiev? Chit-chatting with the redhead? I always knew you had the hots for her. Why don’t you just go ahead? Take her right here if you want. It’s not like her husband can stop you.”

I’d already experienced being prey to conscienceless predators like Lucas Novak and Borys Maslen. I was certain that they were no match for the red-eyed monster named Kiev. Still, I kept a brave face.

You can’t let them faze you, Sofia, much less break you. Derek needs you now more than ever.

“You disgust me, Clara.” Kiev said the words like she was the most despicable thing he’d ever laid eyes on.

She laughed—high-pitched and irritating to the ear. “Right. Please, Kiev, I see right through you. We both know the truth anyway. She’s just a pastime. What you really want is me.” She pressed her body against her brother’s back, her lips touching his jaw.

Kiev looked like he was about to throw up. I, on the other hand, was confused, not to mention disgusted. I sat up straight, hoping to cover Abby’s eyes.

Derek stirred on my lap. I was relieved that he didn’t wake. Should Kiev try to take me, Derek would put up a fight, and as miraculous as his healing was, Derek was still no match for the Elder’s children.

Clara looked at the little girl affectionately. “Hello, Abby. Did you miss me?”

To my surprise, Abby responded, “Yes, ma’am.”

“Very good. Come with me then. We have a lot to talk about.”

Kiev’s lip twitched when Abby inched away from me, stood up and obediently walked toward Clara.

“Abby?” I frowned. “What’s going on?”

Abby gave me an apologetic gaze—one that seemed to displease Clara, because she grabbed Abby’s jaw and made the child look her in the eye. “Whose side are you on, Abby? Mine or hers?”

Tears streamed down the little girl’s face. “Yours, ma’am.”

“Good girl.” Clara didn’t miss out on the opportunity to give me a smug grin.

My heart dropped. She’s going to make Abby tell her everything Derek and I talked about. I desperately tried to recall if Derek and I had discussed anything that could lead us or Abby into trouble, but my mind was blanked by panic and concern for a child I treasured deeply.

Clara held Abby’s hand and tugged at the little girl to follow her. They began to walk away, but not before Clara placed a peck on her brother’s lips.

Kiev’s nose wrinkled, his stance tensed and his fists balled, but he didn’t stop the vampire from doing as she pleased. He actually sighed with relief the moment Clara disappeared.

He caught me staring at him in question.

“You and her?” I asked, wondering if I had found his weak spot. “That’s repulsive.”

His jaw tightened. I saw a glimpse of humanity in him when he said, “My thoughts exactly.”

“Then why do you let her get away with it? Can you not take her down? Put her in her place? If you hate it so much, why let it happen? Maybe you like it. You actually like it when your sister comes on to you.”

“Shut your mouth before I shut it for you. Clara is not my sister. We’re the Elder’s children, but Clara… Emilia… all his spawns… none of them are my family.”

“Then who is?”

“Whoever I want”—red eyes traveled from the top of my head to the tips of my toes—“for the moment.”

I suppressed a shudder, fighting to maintain composure. You’ve been around all sorts of disgusting creatures before, Sofia. You can handle this. I stared at him, slightly mortified, but keeping my head held high, increasingly intrigued. I returned the favor and began to peruse him. Strong, muscled, virile…

My eyes met his and based on the way he was glaring at me, he didn’t seem to appreciate the way I was studying him. To retaliate, he began hitting me where it hurt.

He set his eyes on Derek.

“You should’ve heard him scream in pain when I ran the knife against his flesh. Oh, and when the beasts came at him…” Kiev chuckled, delight sparking in his eyes.

I didn’t even want to ask what beasts were.

Kiev’s voice took on an almost nostalgic tone. “I never thought I’d see it myself… the fall of a legend. I honestly thought that Emilia was going to be his downfall, but he survived even that. I’ve got to admit that I like this better.” He lightly kicked Derek’s leg. “I like being the hand that brings him to his knees.”

I’d gotten to him when I’d taunted him about Clara. His defenses had dropped. Now he was launching a counterattack. I managed to just smirk at him before nudging Derek. Why aren’t you waking up at all this commotion? You’re not normally a heavy sleeper. “Derek?” I muttered.

“He’s fine.”

I looked up to find Kiev rolling his eyes.

“He’s not dead, if that’s what you’re worried about. So, enough of your moping, Lady Novak. Get up.”

“No.” I shook my head. “I’m not going to leave him here. I’m not going anywhere with you.”

I was barely able to comprehend what happened next. Within seconds, his one hand was fisted over a clump of my hair, gripping it painfully. His other hand pressed against my back, pushing me against a wall, my cheek against the rough stone.

“My orders aren’t requests, sweet queen. They’re commands, which you are to immediately obey.”

I tried to hit him with my free hands, but he grabbed one arm and twisted it until I yelped with pain.

“I wouldn’t exert myself too much if I were you. Not in this condition.”

I had no time to wonder what he meant because he flipped me in one swift motion so that I was facing him, my back against the wall. His face was way too close to mine.

“Let go of me,” I hissed at him.

“You’re queen of The Shade, Sofia. Not queen of The Blood Keep. Your commands mean nothing here.”

“What do you want from me?”

“I want you to come with me.”

Derek lay motionless on the ground. He was clearly still breathing, but to still remain asleep even after his head had hit the ground when Kiev pulled me from beneath him was completely unlike him.

“Why isn’t he waking up?”

“Damn it, I could snap you in half and still it’s him you’re worried about.”

I slammed both my palms against Kiev’s chest. “Why isn’t he waking up?”

“I don’t know, okay? Maybe his body is trying to cope with the torture he went through. I don’t give a damn! I just know that I don’t want to be here when he does, so you better come with me right now, Sofia, or I am going to make you regret it.”

I froze. The threats meant nothing to me. What resounded in my mind was his slip-up. I don’t want to be here when he does. Was I just fooling myself or did it seem like he was still afraid of Derek?

I didn’t have time to ask because he began dragging me outside the cell.

“Let go of me!” I tried to pull away, but he was holding me by the wrist with such an iron grip I was sure my bones would break. “Let go of me, Kiev. I refuse to be treated like some child throwing a tantrum, being dragged to whatever hell you want to take me to.”

Kiev stopped in his tracks, right outside the dungeon, his grip on my wrist tightening. “You want me to stop treating you like a child? Stop acting like one. I am lord of this castle—your lord. You will do as I say without resistance.”

“Then get off me.” I wriggled my wrist away from his grasp. “It’s not like I can run away from you without you catching me. We both know that in both speed and strength, you overpower me.”

He reached past me. I flinched when the cell door slammed shut behind us. I hated leaving Derek there.

“Promise me that nothing will happen to him in my absence.”

“You are in no position to demand promises from me, Sofia.” Kiev tipped my chin up with his curved forefinger. “But I must say, you are stunning when you exert your authority as queen of The Shade. Too bad that fact doesn’t have that much pull here.”

“Promise me and I will cooperate with you.”

“I can force your cooperation and you know it. I might even enjoy your fighting back more.”

I stood on my spot and just stared, raising a brow at him, bluffing confidence.

To my surprise, he said, “Fine. As long as you’re with me, he won’t be harmed.”

I didn’t like the sound of his preamble, but I was going to take whatever I could get.

“Very well then. Where are you taking me?”

He placed his hand on the small of my back and gently pushed me forward. “Follow me.”

We walked through hallways with high ceilings and imposing pillars. Heavy velvet curtains coated with dust and cobwebs hung closed by every window. Everything about the castle was dark, foreboding and imbued with fear. Kiev led me into a room that looked like a laboratory of sorts.

“What is this place?” I grimaced, half-expecting Dr. Frankenstein to show up somewhere.

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