“I knew you were at the ball,” he confided.
He frowned and glanced away. “It sounds outrageous.”
“You looked at me.”
He dragged his eyes back to her. “I could sense you somehow. It was like something in my veins just knew that you were there.”
“My blood?” she asked in confusion.
“No. I don’t know. It was as if you were calling out to me and I was the only one who could hear your cries.”
“I thought it was impossible. When you looked right at me, I didn’t think you actually knew I was there. I thought I’d imagined the whole thing.”
He nodded. “It made no sense to me at the time. Now it feels right. Also, if you saw me that night then I understand more your frustration with Penelope.”
“Yeah,” she whispered. She didn’t want to talk about Penelope right now. She had just discovered that their connection was so acute he could sense her across a crowded ballroom when he couldn’t even see her. Her heart lurched at the thought.
“It is complicated, but she does not hold my heart,” he said fervently.
“Are you…together?” she asked carefully.
He breathed out. “In public. A cover, as we always were.”
She swallowed, taking a step backward to prepare herself for the rest. “And in private?”
“No,” he said at once. He reached out and took her hand. “Penelope knows that it is for the cameras. That it is our cover to be the Saint and the Martyr after her injuries and with her becoming mayor.”
“Does she know that?”
Beckham’s eyes slipped over her distraught features. “I will remind her if that will put your mind at ease.”
Reyna swallowed the words that she wanted to say. That she would never be at ease with Penelope anywhere near him. But she understood what he wasn’t saying. That his cover was more important than ever. He couldn’t bring suspicion down on himself as that might compromise everything. It was easier to have Penny as his public image even if they were not truly together. But at least it was a cover. They weren’t really engaged. They weren’t really together. She felt as if they were moving back in the right direction. Back to where they had been before the kidnapping.
“What happened with you and Harrington after I was kidnapped? Obviously, if you retain your cover with Penelope, he doesn’t suspect you?”
“He does suspect me. I was investigated after your disappearance. The penthouse was raided. But after I found out what happened, I knew that I would have to go to Harrington and tell him that you’d run away. He said that he’d heard from one of his contacts, Everett obviously, that something had gone wrong. I told him that I’d been drinking from Penelope and so I never knew that you weren’t my blood-type match. He wanted to pin something on me about your disappearance, but he couldn’t exactly tell me that he had you in his clutches. And since I came forward immediately, he had to go on as if nothing had happened. The investigation wasn’t fruitful.” Beckham shrugged. “He might still believe that I’m part of Elle, but I have been careful about my involvement. It was the reason that I couldn’t come to you right away. I needed to be seen out in public when you escaped so I had an alibi. It killed me to wait.”
Reyna’s heart wrenched at the words. At what he’d gone through in her absence. “So, what does this mean for us?”
Beckham responded by moving back into her personal space. His frame was huge and he dwarfed her small body. But his hands were surprisingly gentle as they slid into her dark hair, tilting her head up to him. Her body responded on instinct, melding against his. His body was hard and solid and strong. Then he brought his mouth down to cover hers and the world slipped away.
As everything with Beckham, he was not gentle or submissive. Once his lips were on hers, he commanded the kiss. His tongue breached the seam of her lips, opening her to him. She gasped as their tongues touched. He was coaxing and delving for more and more and she gave him all that she had.
Her head was light and dizzy. Her heart was pounding in her chest. Nothing else existed outside of this moment. Not the rebellion or Penny or consequences to their actions. She wanted nothing in the world more than this man. He was responding in kind and she was not going to let him get away this time.
He started to pull back and she reached for him, holding him close again. He growled low in his throat. His hands skimmed down her neck, over her shoulders, down the curve of her waist, and to her hips. He dug his fingers into her skin, pulling her tight against his body. He backed her up into the footboard of the bed and everything ignited in her core at the thought of how they could use that bed.