She drew up short, not wanting to get any closer to the intimidating trio. Beckham stood two steps ahead of her, and she tried to remember to heed his advice.

“Hello, Beckham,” Harrington said.

“Harrington,” Beckham acknowledged.

Harrington steepled his fingers in front of him and leaned forward slightly in his chair. “I’m glad you’re here. How fares your dear Penelope?”

“She’s stable, but she will never be the same. She will begin reconstructive surgery on her face as soon as she is able. The mayor has already said he will take every measure.”

“How unfortunate,” Harrington said.

“Yes,” Cassandra agreed. “We always love a pretty face.”

Beckham bristled at the trite tone and the implied meaning that they liked their food to be pretty. “Yes, it is very unfortunate, but we’re all just glad that she is alive.”


Thus far, Rowland had remained silent, but Reyna felt his gaze on her. She refused to make eye contact with him. She would not give in to his ruthless and ridiculous behavior.

“At least Reyna wasn’t harmed,” Rowland spoke up finally.

“Yes. Luckily, we were outside before the fires began,” Beckham said, staring Rowland down hard.

“I wouldn’t exactly say she wasn’t harmed,” Cassandra singsonged. She sniffed and turned her nose up. “She looks as if she has just rolled around in the dirt, and honestly, what is that outfit?”

“We were in the midst of the crowd at city hall,” Beckham said as explanation.

Reyna should have known someone would say something about her state of dress. They were so bent on dressing their Permanent Subjects up like dolls. The whole thing sat with her wrong. At least Beckham didn’t try to justify anything. He gave a reason for her state of dress and nothing more.

“So, you did make it,” Rowland said, seemingly pleased with himself.

Beckham didn’t bat an eyelash. “That was a brilliant performance out there. It’s nice to know we’re finally getting somewhere with the government.”

Reyna reined in her frustration. She knew this was politics, but it was the opposite of how she felt about the situation. Granted, she didn’t know how Beckham felt about the whole thing. She just couldn’t believe that he would be okay with it all. He hadn’t seemed okay with it anyway.

“I told you he would think so,” Harrington said to Rowland.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Beckham asked. “It’s exactly what we wanted. Glad the fires made it so you could push it through.”

“Indeed,” Harrington said. “Unfortunately, we have some unpleasant news to discuss now that you’re here.”

“What unpleasantness?”

“I knew you were busy with Penelope this weekend, which is why we didn’t include you in the discussions ahead of time, but you should know, Beckham, I trust you implicitly,” Harrington said.

Beckham tensed. “As you should.”

“However,” Harrington said, “we cannot overlook Reyna.”

“Me?” she asked, confused.

Beckham gave her a fierce look, and she clamped her mouth shut.

“What unpleasantness is there regarding Reyna?”

“Show him,” Harrington directed.

Rowland reached down and retrieved a large black camera out of a bag. “Can you explain this?”

“That’s my camera!” she cried. She couldn’t help herself. How had he gotten her camera?

“Well, there’s her admission,” Rowland drawled.

“Admission?” she cried. “Admission to what?”

Beckham placed his hand on her arm. “For what exactly? What is she being accused of?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Rowland asked. He stood smoothly from his chair and walked around the desk. He still held the camera in his hand. “She’s part of Elle.”

“What?” she asked in disbelief.

They thought she was a rebel. What was on her camera that made them think that? When was the last time she’d had it? It had been a tumultuous weekend, to say the least, and she hadn’t had time to work with her images since…the rooftop? No, the park.

Oh shit! Rowland had filched the camera from her when they had left the restaurant for lunch. That was the only explanation. She was certain that she had removed all the images from her camera that were on her website. Nothing on there should have connected them to her or incriminated her, but still it was terrifying.

“She’s been feeding the rebels information about us since she arrived. She’s a plant.”

“That’s insane!” Reyna said.

“I’d have to agree with Reyna,” Beckham said, sticking up for her. “I’m with her all the time. I’ve even been with her while she’s been out shooting. What images make you think she’s part of Elle?”

“The images themselves don’t show rebel activity,” Rowland said carefully. “However, the style of the pictures taken match an Elle website we’ve been monitoring.”

“The one that has been causing all the trouble in the news? Perspective?” Beckham asked.

“Yes,” Rowland said.

“And you’re sure they match them. You have exact matches?” Beckham asked.

“Stylistically, yes.”

“That’s bullshit!” Reyna cried. She couldn’t hold back any longer. Even if the images were hers, there was no way she was going down as a rebel just because of the images on a website. She could be a voice without being part of the Elle alliance. “My images are my own. They’re not on some website. If there’s no exact matches between them, then you have nothing but speculation.”