She covered her embarrassment by wandering farther into the living room. Her eyes were drawn to the photographs on the walls of the apartment. They showcased dark city landscapes; an up-close shot of a pretty woman drinking coffee at a café; a cloudy skyline; a view of a square block from on high; a collection of people walking down the streets, their faces and movements blurred; and on and on. All of them were mesmerizing. Such a dark and gloomy version of the city…yet still striking in its own way.

“I love these,” she said, her fingers running along the black frames.


When Beckham didn’t say anything, she turned back to him. He was staring down at his phone and completely ignoring her. She waited another minute for him to say something. Anything really.

Finally, he finished whatever he was doing and tucked his phone into the pocket of his suit. She felt his eyes on her and balled her hands into fists at her sides, determined not to look away again. She didn’t want to fear him.

“Well, this is my place. You’ll be staying here…indefinitely. So, get used to it.”

She wanted to laugh. Get used to it? Was he for real?

“I have some ground rules that I would like you to adhere to while you are living here.”

“Okay,” she said apprehensively.

“First, no outside guests of any kind at any time.”

“Wait, what? Really?” she asked in surprise. She couldn’t ever bring anyone to the new place she was living? That seemed unrealistic if she had to live here basically forever.

He glared at her. “Was I unclear?”

“No, but why can’t I bring anyone over?”

“I wasn’t aware that I needed to explain myself to you, Miss Carpenter. As your employer, you will follow my rules or you will leave empty-handed. Am I understood?”

She swallowed down her anger. Not that she had ever intended on bringing anyone else here. The only other people she knew were an hour drive from the city and didn’t have cars. But it would have been nice to have the option in case she made friends. Hopefully she’d make some friends…

“Yes. You’re understood,” Reyna said.

“Fantastic. Second, you must stay here every single night.”

Reyna furrowed her brows. “Where else would I stay?”

He crossed his arms stiffly and stared at her with an all-knowing look on his face. She blushed at the insinuation in that look. Oh, sex. Right.

“Do I have a curfew too?” she asked sarcastically.

He didn’t even justify that with an answer.

“Third, I want to be able to get ahold of you at all times. So, you will need this.” He produced a phone from his pocket and handed it over to her. It had a long shiny display and felt odd and clunky in her small hand. She’d never had one of these. Never even held one before.

“Um…how does it work?”

He sighed, exasperated, and showed her the basic mechanics of the phone. After a short introduction, she knew how to turn it on, make a phone call, send a text message, and access the Internet. What the hell she would do with all of these new functions was beyond her.

“You need to have this with you at all times. If I try to reach you and cannot get ahold of you, I will be very displeased,” he said.

By the look on his face, she gathered that displeased meant that once he found her, he would tear her apart limb from limb.

“Okay. Got it.” She slid the phone into her jean pocket. She hoped she remembered all of that.

“A few final things—your room is down the hall to the right.”

He pointed behind her.

“And where is yours?” she asked.

As soon as the words left her mouth, she wished she could take them back. She couldn’t believe she had just asked that. It made it seem like she was interested in being in his bedroom, which was not the case. She knew that some of the people who started working for Visage ended up giving up more than their blood, but she wasn’t here to have sex with anyone. She was here to give her blood and make some money.

That was it. She wasn’t a whore.

“My room is none of your concern, Miss Carpenter.”

“Of course,” she mumbled, looking away. “I didn’t mean…I just…never mind.”

“As I was saying, your room is down the hall. The refrigerator is completely stocked, but if there is something specific you like, you have access to my butler, who will get you anything you like.”

“I’m sorry…did you just say butler?”

“His line is programmed in your phone,” Beckham explained.

“So, really anything?”

“Within reason, of course. Now, that is all the time I have for you today. I must get back to work.” He turned and began walking away from her.

“Wait!” she called, reaching her hand out. When he turned and looked at her as if she were the biggest nuisance he had ever seen, she let her hand drop. “I just want to make sure I understand the rules. I can leave?”

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