Reyna didn’t reply. She shoved out of the bed and headed for the shower. Hospital rooms. More hospital rooms. It was bad enough that she had to get dosed one more time or that Meghan thought she was a blood whore fiending for her next hit. She hated that her body was reacting this way. She just wanted it to be over.

* * *

Meghan forced Reyna to eat something before they entered Elle’s medical wing. She wasn’t hungry but she ate anyway. Jodie showed up in the mess hall as they were finishing and agreed to join them, with the caveat that she was in no way being checked out.

Reyna would have liked to have told Meghan the same thing, but she was practical. She didn’t want the venom, but if it helped, then she’d do it. Giving blood was a whole other scenario though.

They followed Meghan out of the mess hall and into the main corridor.

“No time for the official tour, but this is the workout room.” She pointed into a room. “Here we have a weight room.” Another room was passed. She kept yammering on as they went past three more rooms before stopping in front of a giant one. “Oh, and this is everyone’s favorite. The rec room.” She gestured to the open door.

Reyna peeked her head inside to find a giant room with everything from Ping-Pong to air hockey to cards to Monopoly. A projector took up one side of the wall, displaying six different shows at once. Someone was arguing which one should have sound for the room, though it looked like a couple people wore headphones for the show they wanted to watch. Everyone looked so happy and carefree.

“Wow,” Jodie breathed behind Reyna.

“Yeah. It’s…something.”

“Overwhelming?” she offered.


“Awesome,” Meghan added.

They looked at her and shrugged.

“It’s a lot just yet,” Jodie offered.

Someone must have finally wrestled the remote to change it to the news, which was playing in the center left of the screen.

“The news,” Reyna whispered.

“Ugh, don’t watch it,” Meghan grumbled. “All they do is lie.”

“Well, at least nothing has really changed,” Jodie said.

“I’d like to know what I’ve missed though.”

“You won’t get it from there. Harrington bought out most of the news stations. If you want to hear the reality, you have to tune in to the underground networks and listen on the radio frequencies. This bullshit runs 24/7 and it’s all nonsense. They focus on celebrity gossip in the midst of the world falling apart. Anything to deflect from reality.”

“I bet,” Reyna said.

Reyna was about to turn away from the rec room when her eyes narrowed in on the figures in the news frame.

She gasped.

“What?” Meghan asked, then went pale when she looked up at the screen.

“What am I missing?” Jodie asked.

Reyna took a few steps into the room, ignoring the now blatant stares from the other people inside. The screen was filled with Beckham and Penelope’s smiling faces. Underneath it read, “The Engagement We’ve All Been Waiting For.”

Reyna’s hand flew to her mouth.



Beckham and Penelope were engaged.

Her stomach heaved and she thought at any minute her peanut butter and jelly sandwich was going to come up. Her eyes were blurry and she couldn’t hear a word that the news reporter was saying. All she could see was the fuzzy picture of Beckham and Penny. What the fuck?

“Reyna, come on. Don’t look at that,” Meghan said.

“He’s engaged,” she whispered.

“Let’s get out of here, okay?” Meghan said, using her nurse voice.

“He’s…he’s engaged.”

“Come on, buttercup. Let’s move it.”

Reyna wasn’t seeing or hearing a thing. Her world was spinning. She was upside down.

Meghan reached for Reyna’s arm and tugged her toward the entrance. Reyna took one last look at the glowing faces of the people on the screen and then forced herself to turn away. She didn’t know what she was feeling right now. Sick and twisted up in disbelief. But also…angry. Beckham and Penelope were engaged? It wasn’t even possible. She had trusted him and believed in him. She had seen them together at the ball and believed the act. Had it been a reality? Was she an idiot? Or was this part of the act too? Could she even tell the difference between fiction and reality anymore?

She ground her teeth together and followed Meghan to the medical center.

“Look, it’s a trash news network,” Meghan said. “I told you from the start that everything they post is a lie.”

“You think they’re not together?” Reyna asked her pointedly.

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that, but it looks like a con.”

Jodie snorted next to her as they finally came to a stop.

“What’s your problem?” Meghan asked.

“I’m just saying that I got a good look at that girl. No one is forcing a man to be with her.”

“You’re right. No one is forcing Beckham to be with Penelope,” Reyna said. No one could force Beckham to do anything. If they were engaged, it was of his own volition. “Can we just get this over with? I don’t want to talk about him anymore.”