“I know,” she finally said. “I just want the truth.”

“And you’re willing to give it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Going to have to give to get, sister,” Jodie said, flicking a lock of hair out of her eye. “You want him to be open, you have to be prepared to open up about what happened.”

Reyna knew that she was right. Hated that she was right. Couldn’t she forget those eight weeks and move on? Couldn’t she forget that anything had ever happened to her?

“I could tell him, but he’s not going to be happy.”

“Are you happy about the little you know about your eight-week absence? No? And you know what…it’s simple. If you open up and he still doesn’t or if he tells you it’s him and that bitch now…you dump his ass.”

As if it were that simple.

Beckham was imprinted on her heart.

Never for a second had she seriously considered him leaving. She had sent him away to give herself some distance, but she didn’t actually want distance. She wanted to be with him. Exorcise the demons inside him and just be Reyna and Beckham again.

“I probably should have done things differently,” Reyna said.

“Well, that’s obvious.”

“I was just…so upset. Between the escape, finding out about the engagement, and then that Beckham knew about my blood type. I don’t know. It didn’t help that I was coming down from the venom and had a massive headache.”

“Yeah, plus probably PTSD,” Jodie said flippantly. As if it wasn’t this crazy scary mental condition that they both may never heal from.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” she whispered.

“Meghan mentioned it. That’s why we’re both sleeping so much and acting all crazy. It’s why she wants us to go to a therapist.” Jodie rolled her eyes. “As if I’m going to spill my guts to some stranger.”

“I’m spilling mine to you.”

“Yeah. What’s with that shit, huh?”

“I don’t know. I kind of feel like you’re the only person who really understands what it was like.”

Jodie nodded. An understanding passed between them. Solidarity.

Then Meghan bounced into the room. Her red hair was down in waves past her shoulders and she smiled brightly at the pair of them.

“There you are!” she gushed. “God, I’ve been looking all over for you. We have to get going. Sydney requested your presence.”

“Really?” Reyna asked. The head honcho wanted to see her? Maybe this was good. Maybe this was the opportunity she needed to be a part of something here at Elle. With everything up in the air with Beckham, it would be better for her to focus on something. Plus, she had always wanted to make a difference. No better place to start than the top.

“Yes! Sydney was the one who authorized your escape. She’s the reason you’re here and not still with Harrington. I’m sure you have a lot of questions for her.”

“I do,” Reyna admitted. “Plus, I’m sure she has a lot of questions for me.”

“Great. Let’s go,” Meghan said,.

“I’ll see you later,” Reyna said to Jodie on her way out. Then she turned to Meghan when they were out in the hallway. “So, what’s Sydney like?”

Meghan bit her lip and considered. “She’s amazing. Ex–military officer and a brilliant strategist. She expects and commands respect from everyone. Smarting off to her is not something that I’d suggest.”

“How do you talk to her, then?”

“Carefully,” she said with a quick grin. “But really…be careful.”

“Why do I feel like I should be afraid of walking in there?”

“Not afraid, cautious. She’s gotten ahead for a reason. Everyone who succeeds gets ahead for a reason,” she told her. “She’s not the kind of person whose bad side you want to be on.”

“Okay. Anything else I should know?”

“Sydney is an amazing leader. She is the only reason we have survived this long. But…don’t let her see any weaknesses. Be strong and confident. You’ve got this.”

Reyna didn’t respond. All she could think was that Sydney sounded a hell of a lot like Harrington. Lock down her emotions. Show no weakness. Control her reactions. Don’t get on her bad side. It all felt too familiar. Uneasiness settled in her bones.

Meghan stopped in front of a steel door reminiscent of the one holding B back at Visage. The tech was about the same to access it.

“This is intense,” Reyna muttered.

“Situation room. This is where everything happens.” Meghan tapped in a code and then did a retinal scan. The door popped open. “Good to go.”

“Aren’t you coming in with me?”

Meghan shook her head. “Just you, but don’t worry. Everything will be fine. Chin up.”

Reyna took her advice before pushing forward into the situation room. It was about the size of a large conference room with a table taking up the center of the room and a wall of television screens showing a loop of all the major news networks.

Her eyes landed on three figures standing on a platform on the other side of the room. She recognized the two men immediately but from completely different worlds. One wore a white doctor’s coat. He was tall and disheveled in his middle years—though she knew he was a vampire and thus likely much, much older. He had been the doctor to hand her over to Beckham that fateful first day at Visage. The other was much smaller and human. He was slight but fit, built even. A fighter’s body. Someone who had crawled his way up from the streets to make something of himself. His eyes were haunted but his smile was light, almost inviting when he found her standing in the open doorway. She had once photographed him when he had been in an underground fighting ring at the Ferrier House.

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