Once the driver pulled up in front of their apartment once more, they piled out of the car. When she saw the total cost for her drive, her body froze. No way was there enough money to cover that. Rising fuel prices had made public transportation a necessity, and in most places people just walked. She had walked all the way to Visage hospitals after all.
“Would you like me to wait, Miss Carpenter?”
“Is it going to cost me a small fortune for you to do so?”
He laughed. “I’m afraid so, but I doubt Mr. Anderson would mind.”
She sighed. She couldn’t live off of his charity like that. She would find another way back. “No. I’ll call for another cab. There’s a number for that on the Internet, right?”
The man gave her an amused look. “Everything is on the Internet.”
“Oh, good. Then you can go.”
“Are you certain? I don’t mind staying.”
“No, it’s okay.”
Shutting the door behind her, she followed her brothers up to the third floor of their building and then into their tiny one bedroom again. When she had been in here in a hurry earlier, she hadn’t truly noticed the extent of the difference between her home and Beckham’s penthouse. One day and it already felt too small, cramped.
But at the same time, it felt…homey. Lived in.
Beckham’s place in comparison was stale. There was no love there. All the money in the world couldn’t make a house feel like a home.
“We’re here,” Brian said. “Now talk. Where have you been? Why are you dressed like that? How did you get a car like that?”
Drew frowned and looked away from her. It was as if he already knew the answer. Brian didn’t want to believe it. He had to hear it from her before it could be true.
“I went to Visage yesterday.”
“What?” Brian cried. “No!”
“I put in an application weeks ago. My number was called. I went to the hospital, went through testing, and was placed with a Sponsor.”
Her brothers looked horrified. Utterly horrified.
“You didn’t,” Brian said softly.
Seeing his pain made her confidence waver, but she couldn’t go back on it now.
“I was placed with a high-ranking Visage official, Beckham Anderson.”
“We don’t care what his name is,” Drew spat. “We care that he’s made a blood whore of our sister.”
Reyna flinched as if he had slapped her. “He hasn’t…well, I guess not yet.”
“How could you do this?” Brian asked.
“Stop looking at me like that,” Reyna said, pointing her finger at her brothers. “You two work day in and day out to make scraps, and for what? This one bedroom apartment? Barely enough food to feed ourselves? Half the time we don’t have electricity or running water. You work too hard for too little, and I couldn’t just sit around and let it happen any longer.”
“So, you decided to feed those bloodsucking bastards?” Brian yelled.
“I looked for work. You both know I looked everywhere for work. But no one would hire me.” She threw her arms out wide. “I’m nobody. I’m nothing. I’ve no education. No skills. There was no other choice.”
“There’s always a choice. And you knew it was the wrong one, which is why you didn’t tell us,” Brian said.
“Don’t judge me, Brian!” she snapped. She had made her decision and she was sticking to it. “I did what I had to do. And better yet I got put into a system where I make double the average employee.”
“Call it what it is, Rey. Blood escort,” Drew said.
She couldn’t look him in the eye. She was too ashamed of that word. Steven had made her feel like a whore, and she had offered herself to Beckham last night like a whore. Maybe he was right.
“Why are you making double?” Brian demanded. His arms were crossed and he looked pissed. This wasn’t the happy reunion she had been hoping for.
This was the part she had been dreading. Most Visage employees rotated monthly, with time off with family when they weren’t needed. Her situation was different. And she knew that her brothers were going to hate it.
“Because I signed up for a new position. One of the doctors has been developing a new match system,” she said carefully.
“Isn’t it just done by blood type? How can it be new?” Brian asked.
“Well, they’re trying to find individuals who are interested in a longer term position.”
Brian furrowed his brow. “How much longer?”
Drew stalked away from her. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“They want to keep you as a feeder forever?”
She shuddered. She couldn’t be with Beckham forever. There was no way she could do this forever. “No! It’s just a permanent living situation. Once I have enough money, I’ll come back home. We’ll be able to afford a better place. I could go to college. We could make something of ourselves.”
“You think those bloodsuckers are going to let you leave once they have you trapped in their system?” Brian asked. His eyes were steely.