“This won’t hurt a bit.”

“You’re out of your mind.” Reyna clawed at her, but she might as well have been trying to move a mountain, for all the good it did.


“Stay still,” she snapped.

“Get away from her,” Reyna heard behind her. She sighed with relief. Beckham. “She’s mine.”

The woman glanced over Reyna’s shoulder and then released her. It was clear that even in the midst of all the madness going on around them, fighting with a senior official of Visage would draw attention. Not to mention, there was no way she would win.

“Fine. She’s yours. But she does taste amazing.”

Beckham glared at her. “You tasted her?”

“Just a drop,” she said with a wink.

“Get out of here before I remove your head from your shoulders.”

Her eyes widened at the threat, and then she scampered off into the crowd.

“Reyna, I’m so glad you’re all right,” Beckham said. He grabbed her and pulled her close to him. Her heart was beating fiercely, and in that moment, she was just happy that he was there and had stopped the woman before anything terrible had happened.

When he pulled back, he inspected the cut on her forehead. “It’s minor. Hold this to it.” He offered her a handkerchief, because of course he had one, and she held it to her head.

“You found me,” she breathed.

“I’ll always find you.” He kissed the top of her head, and then reached down for her hand. “Let’s get out of here. I don’t want another close encounter.”

Beckham tightened his grip on her hand and then shouldered his way through the crowd. It took forever before they finally reached a city block that had thinned out. By then she had a headache. Her clothes were rumpled and one of her sleeves was torn. Nothing she could do about that right now.

“This way,” Beckham said, directing them back toward the center of the city.

“How did you find me?”

“I could smell you,” he told her. “Your blood.”

“Oh.”

She removed the handkerchief and stared down at her own dried blood. The cut had stopped bleeding already. It had been small to begin with, but still that vampire had been able to smell her. Beckham had been able to smell her.

“Here.” She offered the handkerchief back to Beckham.

He frowned, taking the handkerchief from her. “We should burn that.”

“Burn it?” she asked in confusion. “Beckham, what is going on? That woman had the same reaction to my blood the vampire had outside of the club, but you claimed it didn’t smell any different. Does it?”

Beckham was silent for a few more blocks. She was starting to wonder if he was going to answer. This was the treatment she was used to having from him after all. She had known it was too good to be true for him to start telling her everything like he had promised. He was used to his secrets. Perhaps he had too many to divulge them all.

“Yes,” he finally said. “Your blood smells…I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. Sweet. But not sweet. Powerful and enticing. It draws you in.”

“So, I smell like a steak?”

Beckham laughed the most beautiful laugh. “I suppose you do, but a hundred times more desirable.”

“Is that…uncommon? I mean, doesn’t other blood smell good? I don’t think all our food smells the same. I really don’t know how any of this works.”

“It does all smell different. Some is more or less potent. If it’s tainted by drugs, alcohol, disease, death…each has its own smell, besides the human pheromones attached to it. But you…” His eyes cut over to her and she saw hunger written all through them. “You have the most amazing smell in the world. It’s alluring and hypnotic. Which is exactly why we need to burn this handkerchief and get you cleaned up. I don’t want anyone else to smell you. If they smell you, they will want to taste you.”

“But not you?” she asked, thinking of all the times he had smelled her blood and not been tempted.

He inhaled deeply. “I couldn’t imagine what you taste like.”

Reyna tried to hide her smile, but failed. “You could…if you wanted.”

“Don’t dangle temptations in front of me, Reyna. I have very little control.”

She snorted. “I disagree.”

“I lost count of the number of lives I took because I lost control or didn’t want to stop.”

“I think those two things are really different,” she told him. “Before the cure…you didn’t want to stop. That was the animal in you. Now you have control in spades, I might add, and you wouldn’t do it again. I’d bet you haven’t done it since the cure.”

He shrugged. “I don’t like to take chances. It’s easier.”

“Well, you’re taking a chance with me, and I trust that you won’t lose control.”

He didn’t respond, but he didn’t have to. She wasn’t frightened, because she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. He was doing everything he could to protect her at this point. If he ever drank from her, she was sure he would find this control he claimed to lack.

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