“Whatever happens, Reyna, stay here.”
“What are you doing to do?” she demanded, her eyes wide with fear and already itching from the smoke.
“I have to get through to Penny.”
“How?” she demanded, her mouth agape. “Go walk into the flames? They could kill you! Be reasonable.”
“Penny is in there, and I won’t leave her there to die,” he said, wrenching the door open farther. She could see his hands were blistered and bleeding from the exertion. For it to do that to a vampire, the heat must be outstanding. “If that’s unreasonable, then fine, but she wasn’t even supposed to be here tonight. I won’t let her die because of me.”
Finally, the door came off the hinges to a loud clattering. Vampires and humans streamed out of the hole, bloodied and coughing, trying to expel the toxins from their lungs.
Beckham shouldered past the first wave of people, and Reyna followed him. She grabbed onto his hand and tugged.
“Please stop,” she cried.
“Stay back, Reyna. I can’t worry about both of you right now.”
“Come back to me,” she pleaded. No matter how furious she had been with him tonight, watching him walk into that fire was like teetering on her own brand of madness. The flames engulfed her heart as surely as they were about to consume his body.
Without warning, he crushed his lips to hers in a fierce, possessive kiss. “I will.”
And then he disappeared into the burning building.
Reyna rushed back out with the evacuees and stood in a location where she could watch and wait for Beckham to return. She couldn’t believe he was risking his life for Penelope. And yet, at the same time, she completely understood it. He had feelings for Penelope, but Reyna wanted to believe it went beyond that. Beckham valued human life, and he was proving it more than ever with this rescue. He could have, like Rowland likely would have, abandoned the building to the fire. Even if Rowland had gotten a door open, it only would have been for his fellow vampires. But when Beckham had told the man to call 911, he had said otherwise a lot of people would die. People not vampires.
So she waited anxiously for him to come out…but Beckham didn’t show.
“That’s it!” a man called. “That’s everyone we could get. The main room collapsed and killed dozens. There’s no hope for the others.”
“No!” Reyna yelled desperately. “He couldn’t have gone in there for nothing.”
The distant ring of an ambulance and fire truck announced their arrival. News crews and police showed up on the scene shortly thereafter and started wrangling the victims and trying to get statements. Reyna was oblivious to everything but the opening to the brothel. This was not the end. He had not gone in there to his death.
“Ma’am, are you all right? Can you tell us what happened?” a camerawoman asked, sticking a microphone in her face.
“No. Leave me alone,” she said, shouldering her out of the way.
It had been too long. He had gone in after Penelope on a fool’s mission. He was a vampire, but that didn’t make him invincible.
Tears ran down her face like black rivulets, but still she refused to turn away from the doorway. Even when her eyes itched and her throat grew scratchy, she couldn’t step away. Even when a medic approached her to check her health and a policeman tried to reason with her.
“Miss, you need to back up. We need to clear this area.”
“No,” she sobbed. “He’s still in there. He swore he’d come back to me.”
“Ma’am, we have firefighters inside right now trying to look at the rest of the rubble. Why don’t you tell me who to look for and where they might be? We’ll relay the information to the people heading inside.”
“He swore he’d come back,” she repeated like an anthem.
“Please, let me help you.” The policeman snapped his fingers at a couple of medics, trying to get them to come help.
She just shook her head and repeated the same thing over and over again. “He said he’d come back to me.”
“No one has come out of the door alive in fifteen minutes,” he said, touching her hand softly. He probably thought she was going to faint.
“No. He’ll be back. He promised.”
Then out of the smoke came a figure in black, carrying a small woman with her head lolling to the side.
“Holy…” the police officer cried in horror.
“Beckham!” Reyna pushed past the policeman, who tried to grab for her, and rushed to Beckham. “You came back.”
Beckham had a haunted look on his face, but when he saw Reyna, he seemed to breathe in new life. “We need to get her to a hospital immediately.”
“Ambulances are here,” she assured him.
As if on cue, two paramedics appeared with a stretcher. Beckham placed Penelope on it, and they went to work trying to revive her. Once she was out of his hands, Reyna threw her arms around his soot-stained suit.