Reyna slowly extracted her camera from her bag and stared at the pair through the zoomed-in lens of her camera. She snapped picture after continuous picture of the fight, trying to see what Everett saw.
Then it happened in a flash.
The smaller guy smirked. That was all Reyna needed. She took that picture and knew it was going to be a brilliant one for her collection. The guy was toying with his opponent. He wanted to make it look like he was going to lose, keep the odds against him, so when he was victorious it was even more exceptional.
“He’s playing cat and mouse,” she whispered.
“Yes,” Everett agreed. “You can tell in his footwork.”
“No. In his eyes and in his smile.”
She zoomed back out and took a picture of the crowd, the venue, the sense of desperation in the room. She was focused in on one woman’s angry cries when everyone roared their disapproval. Her eyes flew to the stage and the bigger guy was laid out flat on his stomach, blood pouring from his face. The other guy hadn’t stopped. He just kept pummeling until they hauled him off.
The crowd surged forward, and Reyna almost lost grip of her camera. She stuffed it back into her bag as Everett clamped his hand down on her elbow.
“What’s going on?” she cried.
“People lost a lot of money. We have to get you out of here.”
Her eyes searched for her bodyguard, but he was too far away. She made up her mind to get to safety with Everett and let him drag her through the mob. She lost sight of the guard, lost sight of everything, just held on to Everett for dear life. Fights broke out all around them. People angry that they had lost more of their precious little income to a gambling debt. The noise grew unbearable and suddenly guards rushed down with batons, Tasers, and guns to keep the crowd in line.
She and Everett burst through an unguarded door that she had assumed went outside, but it led to a flight of stairs. Everett didn’t hesitate as he took the stairs two at a time. She had no choice but to follow him. She was breathing hard when they finally got to a landing with a long hallway.
“Where are we?”
“I think this is just office space,” Everett said. “Let’s find a room to wait this out.”
“My guard is going to be freaking out,” she said.
Everett shrugged. “Isn’t it a little freeing?” He smiled back at her, and she couldn’t stop from laughing. She had been afraid running through the crowd and now she released all her nerves.
“Yeah. It kind of is.” She pushed open the first door. “How about this one?”
She stepped in the first room and fumbled for the light. Her mouth dropped open.
“What the hell?”
“Whoa!” Everett said, following her into the room.
“What is all of this?” Reyna mused aloud.
The room was stark white and as clean as the Visage hospital she had first been tested in. One wall was full of gray containers stacked waist-high, filled with packets of blood. The other wall had blood hooked up to some kind of strange system. A blood packet dripped into another packet and then into a third packet from the ceiling to the floor. The room hummed softly with the machinery directing the operations.
“I heard rumors of this, but I didn’t think it was true,” he whispered.
“Thought what was true?”
He turned to look at Reyna with a drawn expression on his face. “Black market blood banks.”
Her mouth dropped open. “That’s a thing?”
She lifted her camera back out of the bag. She would surely never remember what this room looked like exactly if she didn’t take a picture. She wouldn’t post them. Not knowing that people were watching her images now. She would keep these for herself.
“A rumor. I didn’t think it was possible that they would be doing this.”
“They who?” she asked, suddenly scared. She pulled her camera down to look at him.
“Anyone. Visage has a monopoly on blood for vampires. These people must be against them to have all this blood. This could be an Elle operation.”
Reyna paled. “Then we should leave. I don’t want to be part of anything, even if by accident. Someone could be watching.”
Her eyes searched the room for some kind of recording device, but it was difficult to see anything through the rows of blood drips. She didn’t like being here anyway. It gave her the creeps. Blood meant needles.
“I don’t want to be here anymore,” she said.
“All right. Let’s find our way back out.”
Reyna stashed her camera again and they backtracked into the hallway. A man in a white coat and two nurses came out of an adjoining room.
“Hey!” the man yelled. “You two aren’t supposed to be here.”
“Sorry, we got turned around,” Everett said, trying to be placating.