That was the moment Beckham appeared in the doorway like a storm cloud.

Reyna straightened in her seat at the expression on his face. He walked across the room like a tightly coiled spring ready to explode.


“Ah Beckham, there you are,” Harrington said.

“Excuse me, William. I need to speak with Reyna. Alone.”

She hastened out of her seat and followed him around the corner. He tugged her straight through the kitchens, out the back door, down a corridor, and into a dead end. Then her back was slammed against the brick wall. His fist connected with the wall behind her, and she felt the wall shudder. Debris floated onto her shoulders.

“You left,” he growled.

“I…”

“No.” He pressed his finger to her lips roughly. She stopped breathing and just stared up into his eyes as dark as night. Her body trembled under the feral stare. “You left without me.”

The silence was weighted. All she could do was stand with their bodies nearly touching. His finger on her mouth. Her mind wandering to hellacious places.

“You are my Subject. Can you imagine what it was like when I found you missing? When you turned up with three of my kind?” She shook her head minutely. He bared his teeth to her, and she shrank back. “These are meant to drink your blood. To drink you dry until there is nothing left of your body but a dry corpse. We are killers. We don’t hesitate. Just because we’re wearing suits and seem more like you…does not mean we are like you. We are not like you. They especially are not like you. The only way you get to the top of Visage is to be fucking ruthless, Reyna. Do you understand?”

“You’re…scaring me,” she whispered.

“Good.”

He pulled away and ran his hands back through his hair, trying to pull himself together.

“What happened while I was gone? Tell me everything.”

She explained what happened in the car with Cassandra and then the conversation about the Blood Census and rare blood types with Harrington.

He growled low in his throat and looked ready to punch something all over again. “I told you not to say anything.”

“I know,” she whispered. “But a Blood Census and a blood antidote…those sound really serious. Does anyone else know about that?”

“No. And no one else needs to know.”

“I don’t have anyone to tell,” she murmured. “Becks?”

“Another question? You wear on my nerves.”

She bit her lip. “If you didn’t agree with the Permanent program, why did you get a Permanent Subject?”

“Does it matter?”

“You won’t drink from me. You don’t trust your colleagues. You disagree with the work Visage is doing, yet you’re at the top of the totem pole. I’m just trying to understand you…”

His eyes found hers again for a quick moment, a reckless abandon as he beheld her. “It would be better if you didn’t.”

Chapter 12

The rest of the afternoon went better than expected. While Beckham and his associates each had a cocktail and discussed the company, Reyna ate a completely normal lunch. But after that Beckham kept Reyna on a tight leash. Whatever had him spooked after she left Visage without him carried over to their everyday life. She didn’t leave the penthouse without him, which meant she never left. Her world had become one big routine, and it was nothing like how she thought it would be.

What stood out most was that after nearly six days with Beckham he hadn’t drank from her once. She honestly had no clue how he was still functioning. A week was max time in between meals without feeling sick and irritable. And while Beckham honestly couldn’t get any more irritable than he already was…he certainly wasn’t sick.

She didn’t know what that meant, but after Cassandra’s display at Visage, she wasn’t keen on asking him about it.

Reyna occupied her spare time browsing the Internet. Ever since talking to Harrington, she had taken an interest in the Blood Census development and research on antidotes. Rumors floated around out there that Visage had bought the Blood Census from the government for some secret mission. Reyna wished she could tell people how true that statement really was. But of course she couldn’t. She couldn’t do anything to risk the money to her family.

As another day rolled around, filled with utter boredom and endless surfing of the Internet, she remembered that she had Everett’s business card in her purse. She dragged it out of the bag and dialed the number.

After two rings, Everett answered, “Hello?”

“Everett! It’s me, Reyna,” she said enthusiastically. She knew it was crazy to be this excited about speaking to someone, but she hadn’t left the house and she was going a bit stir crazy.

“Ah, Miss Carpenter,” he said. “Have you decided to join us?”

“Am I still welcome?”

“Of course. Where should I pick you up?”

“Oh…um, I’m still at Beck—Mr. Anderson’s,” she explained. She had never felt more awkward.

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