Footsteps in the hallway made her stop her pacing and stare at her door. She could hear Beckham stop on the other side. What the hell was he doing out there?
He didn’t knock. He didn’t say anything. He just stood there. They both just stood there. Neither of them willing to make the first move. She didn’t care if that made her stubborn. He had kissed her, treated her poorly, and on top of all that was dating someone else. She had no reason to talk to him.
After a few minutes, she heard him walk away from her room, the telltale ding of the elevator, and then she was alone.
“Finally,” she breathed.
Reyna yanked the tight pink dress over her head and tossed it into a discarded pile on the floor. She walked into her closet, found her stash of normal clothes, and grabbed stuff for her to wear. Once she was clothed in a loose cotton T-shirt, a pair of jeans, and her Converse sneakers, she brushed her hair out and threw the baseball cap on her head, low over her eyes. Her camera went into a plain black bag that she hoisted over her shoulder before leaving the apartment.
She texted Beckham’s driver to let him know she would need a ride. Her bodyguard, Philippé, was always waiting for her in the car whenever he was needed. Beckham must pay a lot of money for these two men to do nothing but wait for one of them to leave the building.
When she got to the front, the car had pulled up for her to get into, but she stopped when she saw Everett. His eyes widened at her clothing.
“Reyna?” he asked.
He hadn’t been on duty the past couple times she had snuck out in regular clothing. She had been glad he didn’t know about her double life. He was clearly so traumatized by what had happened that he could barely look at her. She didn’t want to involve him in anything else that could get him hurt.
“Oh…hey,” she said. “I have to get going…”
She started toward the car, but he followed her. “Hey, are you avoiding me now or what?”
“I…what? No. Of course not.” She looked up at him tentatively. “I thought you were avoiding me.”
“I’ve barely seen you. How could I avoid you?”
“Well, you were all serious that first day back. You called me Miss Carpenter. I thought maybe you…blamed me still. Or agreed with your friends.”
“Sorry about that. My manager was on duty. He’s been around a lot more since my attack. I think he thinks I’m fragile and going to fall apart or something. But…I just got off work if you want to hang. I’d love to find out what you’re doing in those clothes. Are those Beckham approved?”
Reyna made a face. “He’d probably have my head if he knew I was wearing this.”
“I hope not literally.”
She laughed and it felt good. “No. Not literally.”
“So, what are you up to?”
“Just…occupying my time.” She dug into her bag and pulled out the camera. “Trying to see the city from a different perspective.”
“Cool. Can I come with?”
She looked down at his valet outfit—white button-up, black vest, slacks, and dress shoes. “No offense, but you’ll kind of stand out where I’m going.”
“Well, now I’m definitely intrigued. I have a change of clothes in my car, around back.”
Reyna considered it for a second. She knew that Beckham didn’t want anyone to know that her pictures were connected to her, but she didn’t think it hurt anything to take Everett along. Who was he going to tell? He was a valet for her apartment building.
“Sure. Why not?”
Reyna tapped on the glass of the front passenger window. It rolled down slowly. “Yes?”
“I’m going to go around the back with my friend. Will you meet me there in a couple minutes to pick us up?”
“You aren’t going to leave without us, are you?”
Reyna rolled her eyes. “I agreed not to. We’ll be in the completely lit back parking lot.”
“Five minutes,” he said and then rolled the window back up.
“Charming,” she muttered, following Everett around to the back.
“So, what got you interested in photography?” Everett asked.
“The attack actually,” she said softly. She stared hard at the ground. “I already had a bad image of the streets, but that magnified it. Beckham gave me the camera as a hobby, I think to keep me from getting bored, and I decided that I wanted to see the streets through the eyes of the suffering. People like me.”
“People like you were…”
“Just because I live up there right now doesn’t mean I’m any less like you or your friends or anyone else. I don’t belong there, and I want my pictures to show that. Show what no one at Visage or in politics or in the upper class really see with their eyes.”