A Gate of Night / Page 8

Page 8


Kiev propped me on top of a desk. “Don’t do anything stupid, Sofia. Sit still.”

Within minutes, he was drawing blood from me through a syringe.

“What are you going to use my blood for?”

“You’ll know soon enough.”

“Where is Abby? Why would you take a child like her? What could you possibly want from her?”

Kiev eyed me for a moment, as if debating whether or not he should answer the question. To my relief, he did. “She’s an immune. Just like you.”

I felt the blood drain from my face. “How would you even know that? That only means that you…”

“Clara tried to turn her.”

“She’s just a child.”

“As if Clara cares. Truth be told, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s drinking the child’s blood now.”

“And you don’t care that this is happening? Is there no humanity left in you?”

He began to chuckle. “Humanity? In me?” He pouted to mock me. “Is that what you’re looking for, sweet Lady Novak? Are you actually trying to find some good in me? I’ll show you what’s good about me.” He pressed his lips against mine. Invading. Intruding. Violating.

I tried to pull away from him but my struggles did me little good. When our lips parted, I gasped for breath—something he mistook as a gasp of pleasure. This can’t be happening to me. Not again.

He gave me a smug smirk. “Good enough for you? You know, Sofia, if you ever tire of your mortal, remember that I’m waiting for you to give yourself to me. After all, without his power, Derek might be a lot less appealing to a young woman like you.”

The idea that he was actually into me was sickening. I didn’t know if I had it in me to fend off another Lucas or another Borys. “You disgust me,” I spat at him. “I will always be Derek’s. Always.”

“Ah, yes.” He smiled with genuine pleasure. “I must say it’s beautiful to see the eternal love of Derek and Sofia Novak playing right in front of me. Riveting really. But I hate to say it, sweetheart. I doubt he’ll want you after we’re finished with you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I think it’s time I start asking the questions. Don’t you agree?”

“What are you going to do to me?”

“Why did you fall in love with him?”

“What does it matter to you?”

“Come on, tell me, Sofia. What exactly did you see in him?”

“Why are you such a monster?”

He seemed to tire of our questioning game, because he tilted his head to the side, ran a hand through my hair before grinning. “Mrs. Novak, believe me when I say that you haven’t got the slightest clue just how much of a monster I am.”

The moment the words left his lips, his fangs appeared and sank into my neck. At the same moment, he stuck a syringe into my arm, causing me to lose all consciousness.

Chapter 12: Derek

Nothing was left of The Shade. Nothing. War raged all around me as I stood at the center of a bloody battlefield. I couldn’t make out the creatures that were fighting. Phantoms, all of them, but I was seeing my comrades fall one at a time.

First, Cameron, then Claudia, then Xavier… then Vivienne…

I wanted to scream when I saw her fall, but I couldn’t. The pain built up inside of me until it balled into a magnificent force that caused fire to spark from my palms.

Anger. Fury. Rage.

I was unstoppable.

I hit anyone who came into contact with me. Someone had to pay for my sister’s death. I was on a rampage, destroying everything in my path—indiscriminate and violent. I no longer knew who my allies were, so I determined to ruin them all.

Then I saw her.

My Sofia.

Beautiful as always.


Covered in a thick black liquid, she smiled.

I couldn’t think of anything more horrifying than seeing my innocent Sofia standing amidst a battlefield of phantoms, the liquid dripping from her head to her toes, flashing that eerie, delighted smile.

For a moment, I hesitated. Then I shook my head.

I said words more horrifying than the scene that surrounded me.

“She isn’t my Sofia.”

My eyes shot open, waking me from the nightmare. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. The nightmare had been plaguing me since our honeymoon began. A cold breeze swept across the dungeon. I was alone. I was terrified.

What are they going to do to her? I felt like I was about to lose my wife.

I took a long gasp for breath, refilling my lungs with air before jolting up in a sitting position. The cell was empty. My heart doubled its beat. My stomach twisted.

“Sofia!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. My voice bounced across the room in a mocking echo. “Sofia,” I sobbed.

The idea that she could be going through what Kiev had put me through inside that torture chamber haunted me.

“What were you thinking, Novak? Why would you willingly become human again? Become weak again?” he taunted me as he ran the edge of the knife beneath my skin.

I shouted through the gag he’d stuffed into my mouth as I lay flat on my back on the steel platform he had me chained to. This was after he’d let loose the mutts. I didn’t know what those creatures were, but they’d torn at my flesh before gulping generous amounts of my blood. I’d thought Kiev was going to let me die under their mercy, but he had other plans. Once he was satisfied watching the strange dogs maul me, he’d brought me to a dimly lit chamber where he took pleasure in taunting me as he tortured me.

His taunts escalated even as his methods became more torturous.

“What did you think was going to happen? You killed Emilia, crossed my father more times than can be counted, then you find the cure that would threaten our kind’s existence in this world, and then you turn human. Did you really think you were going to get away with all that? Did you really think we would just let you live happily ever after with your precious redhead? What were you going to do? Buy a house with a white picket fence? Have children? Be normal?”

He grinned when he saw in my eyes that this was exactly what I’d wanted. It was what I’d always wanted—even before I turned into a vampire. Fall in love with a girl, raise children with her, live a happy, normal life. Instead, what I’d gotten was centuries of being a creature I detested.

“Why didn’t you just kill her? Being around her, sensing how sweet her blood is, how could you have not bled Sofia dry? Where did you find the will?”

I glared daggers at him. A multitude of threats ran through my mind at the very thought of him ever laying hands on my wife.

“If you die, do you think she’ll ever love again?” He stared at the dagger he was about to gut me with. He had a sparkle in his bloody red eyes—almost as if he wished Sofia would love him.

All I could do was snicker. The attempt made me groan with pain.

“Relax, Novak. Stop exerting yourself. I don’t want you to die just yet.”

I lay as still as I could, attempting to focus on Sofia, knowing that I had to survive that night. I couldn’t afford to die. I couldn’t afford to leave my wife behind. I had to protect her.

As I lay there, however, I knew that I wasn’t who I used to be. The hours of torture Kiev put me through proved me weak. At the end of it all, I was convinced that I was completely useless to my wife.

I’m just too weak, I told myself. I’m powerless to defend her.

Those same words haunted me as I sat up inside the cell, terrified by the thought of what Sofia could be going through. I resented the words because I couldn’t deny it. I stared at my palms, hating how weak I felt at that moment.

“What have I done?” I muttered, before realizing something was amiss.

I felt absolutely no pain. None. I checked my body, my arms, my legs. I ran my hands against my face. No wounds. Nothing.

How is that possible?

Lost in my confusion, I was completely stunned when a beautiful woman appeared inside the dungeon. She wore a white velvet robe with fur lining over a snowy blue gown. With silver hair and amber-gold eyes, she stared down at me.

It took several minutes before her presence fully registered in my mind. “W-who…?” I creased my brows and looked at the cell around me. “How?”

She gave no introductions or explanations. There wasn’t even a greeting. All she said was, “You’re coming with me.”

I stood up, thankful that I was healed but mystified by it nonetheless. I shook my head. “Who are you?”

“I’m the Ageless, mother witch of The Sanctuary, and you’re coming with me, Derek Novak.”

“Wha… How do I know I can trust you?”

“You don’t.”

I frowned, taken aback by the bluntness. “What do you want from me? Why would you want to help me? What is The Sanctuary?”

“I came to get you out of here. I don’t want to help you. I just know that I have to. You’ll discover what The Sanctuary is if you come with me.”

“I’m not leaving without my wife.”

“You have to. If you stay here, mark my words, child, you will die. They won’t harm Sofia. They need her. You, on the other hand…”

I wasn’t used to being called a child, but if she was as her name implied, a five-hundred-year-old man was indeed a child compared to her.

“I can’t leave Sofia here.”

“You have a better chance of helping her outside of The Blood Keep than inside where they can torture you and make your powers regress.”

“Huh? Powers?” My breath hitched as I tried to comprehend the words she was speaking.

“Your ignorance is astounding.” She huffed impatiently. “Are you coming or not?”

“Where are we going?”

“The Sanctuary.”

I only knew of one Sanctuary—the witch’s temple back at our island kingdom. I definitely saw the benefit of returning there, where I had forces to command to free Sofia from the Elder’s grasp.

“Sanctuary? You mean at The Shade?”

She scoffed at the notion. “No, child. The true Sanctuary.”

I saw no other choice. Kiev would end my life if I stayed there. I was more useful to Sofia alive, though weak, than dead.

The moment I nodded, the Ageless grabbed my hand and within seconds, I was no longer at The Blood Keep.

I opened my eyes only to be blinded by a radiant sun. Once I had adjusted to the sudden change of lighting, I realized I was situated on the top floor of a towering building, standing on a broad white-marble verandah, overlooking a magnificent—almost ethereal—city.

A gentle breeze brought with it the fragrance of exotic flowers. For as far as my eye could travel, pure white architecture sprawled beneath me, with domed roofs studded with gems, glistening in the sunlight. The buildings were surrounded by lakes and green pastures. Not far in the distance came the crash of water. My gaze fell upon the crown of a waterfall, gushing down into a lush valley. An elegantly crafted bridge hung across the basin, allowing for passage.

One look at my surroundings and I could understand why anyone would call it true sanctuary.

Chapter 13: Aiden

Tense and irritated, I stood on one side of the large room they kept the rogue vampire in. I was infuriated that the witch and the vampire princess could go on and on about Derek with little thought to my daughter.

It’s not that they don’t care about Sofia. Stop taking things too personally, a voice of reason said, while the greater part of me was screaming, How can I not take it personally? This is my only daughter whose life is on the line!

Vivienne began tapping her foot on the marble floor in an attempt to control her temper. “Corrine said that they want the immunes. Sofia’s life is not in immediate danger. Derek’s is.”

“We don’t know what they want her for, Vivienne! Who knows what they can do to her?”

She glared at me and I began to wonder if I preferred this feisty leader to the mousy and pliable version of her that had existed not long ago. “I understand that, Aiden, but what would you have me do?” She spoke the words slowly, as if she was speaking to a child.

“Don’t patronize me, Novak. We both know that you do not scare me one bit. So don’t try to intimidate me either.” I groaned. “We’re getting nowhere. We’re on the same side, are we not?”

“What do you think we should do about Derek? Do you agree to a trade?” Xavier butted in.

I mulled it over before shaking my head. “Opening the portal to a realm of original vampires seems like welcoming more trouble than we can handle. I think our best option is to ignore their trade proposal and just try to get both Derek and Sofia back. Of course, it’s likely these Elders will try to open the portal anyway—with or without my daughter and son-in-law as bargaining chips.”

“I agree with Aiden.”

Arron. He was standing in the open doorway, looking more relaxed than all of us combined.

“There will be no trade. We cannot allow for the portal to be opened so easily.” Arron said the words with a finality that was hard to ignore. “We’re going to have to rescue Derek and Sofia from The Blood Keep. That’s our only option.”

“Are you mad?” Xavier eyed Arron from head to foot, wrinkling his nose in disgust. “We don’t even know where The Blood Keep is!”

“Why would we even bother, Arron?” Zinnia stood up, her pretty face twisting with confusion. “Why should we care what happens to them? With Derek and Sofia taken, The Shade is without its ruler. We can do whatever we want with it.”

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