“Reyna…”

“Don’t.” She held up her hand.


“Reyna,” he said, his voice harsher, trying to fight for control. She didn’t care that it was slipping away from him. If he was engaged to Penelope, then none of it fucking mattered.

“I don’t want to hear you evading my questions.” Her eyes were wide and fierce. Her head held high as she faced him down. She’d had to be strong with him from the start. It was only fitting that she had to be strong while he was breaking her. “I don’t want to be treated with kid gloves. I want the truth. You said once that you would tell me all of your secrets.”

“That was nine weeks ago.”

She shook her head. “Even Harrington told me the truth. Even the truth I didn’t want to hear.”

Beckham didn’t so much as blink at her slap in the face. But she could see him straighten. See the tension build in his shoulders. She could see the damage it had inflicted. She’d meant the words. Harrington, though a monster, was at least an honest one.

“I have told you before and I will tell you again, Reyna, that I am a ruthless vampire. I am not a man. I have not gotten to the position that I am in without doing things that would make your blood run cold.” He stepped forward, bridging that gap between them. “I hold on to control by a thread. If you continue to test me, I will snap.”

“At least then you’d show some emotion.”

His finger moved to her chin, tilting her head up to look at him. “You called me a monster,” he said, his voice low. “You were not wrong. That is what I am.”

“No,” she breathed. Understanding at last. He thought that those words were her truth. But they had been spoken in fear and the first dizzying side effects of the bite. She’d never meant them. “You’re not.”

“Yes, I am. You were right when you ran. You trusted me to stop and I didn’t. You trusted me and I failed.”

Remorse shone bright in his eyes. Those obsidian orbs shattering to finally reveal the man she had known. Deep self-loathing radiated from him. He felt he was in the wrong. He felt he was nothing more than the beast within. She could see it painted across his face as if it were a canvas.

“I did not deserve your trust,” he said. “I do not deserve it now.”

“Please,” she whispered. She didn’t know if she was begging for him to stop or to continue. For him to slip just a bit closer. For his lips to graze hers. For this distance to shatter into oblivion.

He moved her head to bare her neck to him. Her breathing hitched as memories assaulted her. Beckham buried deep inside of her. His fangs grazing the artery on her inner thigh. The pleasure mingling with the pain as he sank his fangs into her neck. The shudder of adrenaline as she came.

She was so angry with him. So uncertain about their future. And yet…she still wanted this. She wanted all of him if he would open himself up to her.

“There are no bite marks,” he finally said.

“No,” she breathed, swallowing at the inspection.

“No scars.”

“No.”

“All this time…”

Their eyes met. “He never…”

Her body pulsed at his nearness. No matter that they’d been arguing seconds ago. That she was still uncertain about everything. That she had no concrete answers to any of her questions. Having the sole attention of Beckham Anderson was terrifying. Like a mouse caught in a trap. And yet…her core clenched at his nearness. Her mind went blank at his touch. The lacy panties stood no chance.

“Your smell.” His voice was indulgent.

Her body only ached more, bowing toward him. Her insides taut like a strung arrow.

“Becks,” she breathed.

“…is different,” he finished.

Her eyes locked on his in confusion. “Different?”

“If there was no bite, then he’s been giving you an injection?”

She nodded mutely.

Beckham growled low. “Then he has owned you.”

“No one owns me,” she said defiantly.

“The bite is possession,” he told her. “The saliva in the injection says as much that you are his. That you belong to him.”

Reyna shook her head. “I belong to no one. Least of all William Harrington.”

His eyes probed her, searching out the meaning in her words. She wanted to tell him everything that had happened. Lay her soul bare. But it was so fresh and there was this gap between them that she thought they had finally torn down. But the wall was back. Bigger and taller than ever. She had broken it down once, but it seemed impossible now.

Whatever he saw in her gaze made him shift forward. His lips landed on her forehead and she shivered from head to toe. This was what she wanted. This man. Though he didn’t consider himself one. She’d ached for him for weeks. Now he was here, he was touching her, and she was unable to move.

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