“You ready?” Meghan asked.

“Never.”


“I had a needle phobia once.” She swabbed Reyna’s arm and prepped her for the IV.

“You did?”

“Oh yeah. Just the thought of them going into my vein gave me the creeps. I’d throw up before donating blood. I was awful. Anything to get out of it.”

Reyna glanced up at her face. At how animated she was as she talked.

“Then one day I said to myself, why do I fear this tiny little thing? It helps millions of people and save lives and prevents diseases and keeps the population healthy. For some people, it even gets them high.”

Reyna laughed unexpectedly then winced. Meghan had put the needle in and Reyna hadn’t even been paying attention. She’d been so focused on Meghan’s story that the prick hadn’t even been a thing.

“See, that wasn’t so bad.”

“Well, it’s the second needle that gets me high,” Reyna said. “Have another story up your sleeve?”

“Why don’t you tell me one?” Meghan suggested, moving to the other arm.

Reyna clammed up. What the hell could she tell her? Nothing about Beckham or her life before. Nothing Visage could use. Nothing to incriminate her.

She shrugged. “No story.”

“Guess we do it the old-fashioned way.”

Meghan started to count to three, but stuck her with the needle when she got to two. Reyna winced, but it hadn’t been the worst she’d ever experienced.

They were almost finished with the blood when the door clicked. Reyna shuddered but when Meghan raised an eyebrow, she straightened her spine and prepared herself for what was to come.

Harrington stepped into the room. His cane was under his arm again and he surveyed Reyna in the same manner he’d looked at the crowd at the ball. Reyna could practically feel Meghan tense next to her. Well, at least she wasn’t immune to his presence. Reyna didn’t want her to do anything stupid to jeopardize herself.

“My little queen,” Harrington said with a feral grin, “how are we this morning?”

Reyna washed the glare from her face. “I’m being stuck with needles.”

“Ah, yes. Occupational hazard,” he said, sliding effortlessly into the chair. He crossed his legs and laced his fingers together in front of him. His eyes drifted to the chessboard and then he tsked. “You exposed your queen.”

“I…what?”

Harrington moved a piece and collected her queen. He grinned. “Never leave your queen unguarded,” he said pointedly. “Check.”

Reyna gnashed her teeth together and focused on what Meghan was doing. It was better than seeing Harrington’s triumphant face again.

“Well, what did you think of the rest of the ball?” Harrington asked, smoothly changing the subject. “I regret that I wasn’t able to see you afterward.”

Yeah. Regret. That was a word.

“If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all,” Reyna said with a nonchalance.

Harrington shot her an amused expression. His lips quirked up at the corners. “I’m certain that is true. I wondered if you had thought more about my proposition.”

Reyna swallowed. “I…thought about it.”

“And?”

“I don’t know.”

Lie. She definitely knew. She knew that she couldn’t stay here. That she was so desperate to leave. That she couldn’t go insane. She’d rather die than suffer at the hands of B again. But…she couldn’t live this pampered life of luxury either. It felt too much like giving in. And she wasn’t ready to give up all hope. Not when Beckham was still out there. Not when he could be trying to rescue her.

“My indecisive mouse,” he teased. She tried to ignore the bite in his voice. Her eyes glanced over to Meghan, who was dutifully ignoring the entire exchange. At least she’d gotten that part of the job correct.

“I need more time,” she finally blurted out.

“Was I not convincing enough?” He leaned his chin into his hand. A dangerous glint appeared in his eyes and his next words cut deep. “Perhaps there was something Beckham was providing that I am not offering.”

Reyna tried to remain placid. She refused to think about what Beckham had offered her. She cared for him so desperately and his absence was horrific.

“I could probably provide you sexual satisfaction too,” he said so casually she nearly choked.

Oh God. Disgust crawled through her stomach. And somehow he had made it worse.

“Um…no.”

“Not me, of course. Sometimes I partake with women, but usually because my lovers like it.”

Reyna wanted a black hole to open up underneath her and enclose her body. She never ever wanted to have this conversation with Harrington. Not in this lifetime or the next.

“That’s a…generous offer,” she made herself say. She feared him enough not to unleash on him again.

“But not enough to sway you?”

“I need more time.”

“I don’t like to be kept waiting,” he growled.

No.

She wanted to scream it in his face. She wanted to rage. She wanted to fight until her last breath. But could anyone fault her for wanting to survive? She didn’t think so. Still it felt like a betrayal even considering it. Her prison cell was already cushy, if a little boring. She didn’t want it to get worse and she didn’t want it to get better. She wanted to get out.

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