Yet, she couldn’t tear her eyes away. She drank him in like a person lost in the desert, seeing a mirage, and drinking the sand to satisfy an impossible, unquenchable thirst.
Beckham was even more than she had remembered. Her dreams, though tempting, didn’t even come close to doing him justice.
He took over the space. Shadowed the entire ballroom. He was menacing and terrifying and threatening in one glance. And the next he was devastatingly handsome. He could snap a neck in the blink of an eye and then cradle her in his arms in a loving embrace. She didn’t deny that he was vicious, that he may have done horrible things before her, before the rebellion, but she could see through the terror and past his mask, to the tortured soul beneath.
She wanted to reach out and end this atrocity. But he couldn’t see her. He couldn’t hear her. He couldn’t feel her. He didn’t even know that she was here.
He wrapped an arm around Penelope’s waist. He was there…with her.
Reyna felt like vomiting. This couldn’t be her reality. This couldn’t possibly be what he had been doing while she had been suffering all these weeks. Parading around with Penelope and playing their parts for the crowd as the Saint and the Martyr, the nicknames the press had given them when Beckham had carried Penelope out of the fires. He couldn’t be at her side. He just couldn’t be.
Reyna closed her eyes against the blurry vision before her. This was a trick. It was a plot, a con, a setup.
Harrington had done this on purpose.
He fucking knew.
She had been able to hold a lot back from Harrington. The real reason that Becks had never drank from her, only that he had still been drinking from Penelope. The extent of their relationship. Everything that Beckham had told her about the rebellion and his involvement with it. She had never betrayed him. But she couldn’t completely hide her feelings for him.
And he had wanted her to see Beckham tonight. He wanted her to see that he looked happy and prosperous and had moved on. He wanted her doubt and her unease. If he had those things then he could use them against her. He could make her realize that she was better off with him than Beckham. She’d be better living a life of luxury rather than miserable waiting around for something that could never be.
She forced herself to look down at the stage. To see Beckham there with Penelope fucking Sky of all people. To accept his happiness. To know what was really happening.
This was a mask. The one he had shown her over and over and over again while she had lived with him. He was showing Visage and his colleagues and the entire city that he was the same person he’d ever been. Showing them exactly what they wanted to see.
This meant one very important thing: his cover wasn’t blown.
No one knew that he was secretly part of Elle, the rebellion surge against Visage. No one knew that Penelope had gotten him involved with it in the first place. No one knew that he had been complicit in the underground fires or secretly working with the group to take down the company he worked for from the inside out. Everett turning Reyna over to Harrington hadn’t ruined everything that Beckham had been working toward. Even if it meant losing her.
Logically, Reyna knew all of this. She saw it for what it was. She trusted and believed in Beckham beyond reason, beyond thought, beyond her very existence. But that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt to see him down there.
Even if miraculously she was able to make her escape plan work, she could never be with him like that.
Down there, he and Penelope looked like the perfect couple. A power couple. A blending of Visage and the government.
How could Reyna compare? She was a warehouse rat from the wrong side of the tracks who had stumbled into all of this. She was nothing and no one. She never had been. She valued her own life and the life she had created with her brothers and Beckham but she would never belong. Not like Penny. Not even like Becks.
It broke her heart. Even as she saw the trick and knew that Harrington had done this all on purpose, it still broke her heart.
Just as she had given up and been about to look away and say enough was enough, something miraculous happened. Beckham tilted his head and looked directly at her.
It was impossible.
His head turned. His eyes lifted. His body tensed. A muscle in his jaw feathered. And then he was staring up into her eyes.
He couldn’t see her. He had no way of knowing that she was there. Nothing about it made sense. And yet…it happened.