He eyed her curiously. “Only the best for our Visage clients.”

“Oh. Well…do you mind me asking you how much it is?”


God, she felt stupid for asking, but she wasn’t sure she could afford a Town Car for such a long drive in and out of the city.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” he asked, smiling politely. He didn’t look at her like she was an idiot at all. It was nice to have someone treat her kindly after tiptoeing around Beckham.

“Yes,” she breathed. “Is it that obvious?”

“Just a bit. I’m Everett.”

“Reyna.” They shook hands, and she breathed a sigh of relief for finding an ounce of humanity in this situation.

“Well, don’t worry about the cab. It’s all billed to your room. You have a card?” She produced the black card, and he whistled low.

“What?”

“Those are unlimited cards.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

He frowned at her apologetically. “A black card. It means you have unlimited funds.”

Her eyes widened, and she blinked rapidly a few times. That couldn’t be right. No way. She was getting paid for this. She wasn’t just being given access to Beckham’s immense wealth.

“I think you’re mistaken.”

His smile returned. “You’re probably right.”

But she knew he was lying.

“After you.” He opened the door for her, and she yanked her skirt down as she sat into the leather interior.

“Thanks.”

He smiled again. “Nice to meet you, Reyna.”

“You too, Everett.”

“Where to, miss?” the driver asked.

“Warehouse District, fifty-four Boulevard East.”

His eyebrows rose at the address. He was obviously wondering why a woman leaving this residence, dressed to the nines, was going to a run-down suburb.

“Just tap your card on the screen and we’ll begin.”

She removed the black card, wondering all the while if what Everett said was true. She stared at the computer display in the back of the Town Car, and then did as instructed. Once her card hit the monitor, it lit up.

Beckham Anderson

Reyna Carpenter

Visage Incorporated

Unlimited

Her jaw went slack.

And then the numbers started ticking up. She watched as the cost for the ride increased dramatically. More money than she or her brothers had seen in a lifetime was now being used for one car ride out of the city. Unbelievable.

She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the screen as the city disappeared behind them and they rolled up to her neighborhood. It had only been a day and already it felt like a lifetime. The driver pulled up to the Warehouse District slowly…almost cautiously. Being away in Beckham’s immaculately clean apartment made a stark contrast to her home.

It was filthy.

Filthy was an understatement. It was black. Soot. Pollution.

It was the opposite of Visage.

Ironic that her home would be darker and more eerie than a place filled with vampires who had been known to crave the night, thrive in the night.

“Fifty-four Boulevard East. What building?” the driver asked.

She pointed to a ramshackle apartment building five stories high. Half of the roof had blown off a couple of years back during a bad storm, and so it looked even more dilapidated than the surrounding buildings. Her brothers lived on the third floor in a drafty little hole in the wall.

“I’m just going to see if anyone is home. Will you wait?” she asked.

“Miss, I wouldn’t recommend someone like yourself going up there alone.”

One day away from home and already I don’t belong.

“I’ll be fine. Just wait for me right here.”

As she opened the door, she shivered slightly. Her nude wedges touched the sooty earth. For some reason, the first thought in her mind was that Beckham would never let her keep these shoes now.

She made it up to the third-floor landing uninterrupted. Not even crazy Mrs. Lowry was sitting with her door open ready to yell at anyone who passed. The door to her apartment was never locked, because there was nothing to steal, and she walked right inside.

“Brian! Drew!” she called.

No return reply came. She walked into the one bedroom and found it empty, just three sad pallets on the floor. Her brothers must be at work. She should have gone there first, but she’d wanted to check the apartment just in case.

Hurrying down the stairs, she nearly ran into Gary Forman, the resident pervert. He grabbed her arm roughly. “Can you spare some change? A pretty young thing like yourself is sure to have a little something extra for a poor man like myself.”

“Gary, it’s me, Reyna. Let me go.”

“Reyna?” His eyes bulged, but he didn’t let go of her arm. “Nah. Reyna left yesterday. Her brothers are looking all over for her.”

“Well, I came back,” she snapped. “Will you tell them I’m going to the warehouses if they come looking for me here?”

She yanked her arm free and scurried away as fast as she could. When she sank down mercifully into the backseat again, her stomach was in knots. And she realized with a sigh that she had a black handprint on her otherwise clean skin. No wonder she had never felt clean before.

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