The nurse hurried forward to clean and bandage the wounds. She elevated Reyna’s arms to help clotting, but Reyna ignored her, still staring after Harrington. He’d moved to the sink and was sterilizing his hands as if that one drop of blood he’d gotten on his finger was contagious in some way. He was adamant in his cleanliness. Obsessive-compulsive even.
Her arms throbbed. She couldn’t believe she’d lost her cool. This meant that she’d probably need to have another IV at a later date to get the venom to replenish the blood. Reyna had to close her eyes at that thought. She couldn’t handle this another time. She couldn’t handle being here another day. She was clinging to survival. Today felt like the first day she was finally cracking under the weight of it all.
“Let’s go,” Harrington said.
“Go?” Reyna asked, opening her dark eyes to stare up at him.
“Yes. Now. I have something to show you.”
Reyna stood on shaky legs. She hated to admit that she was frightened. To let Harrington see her fear. But it was all over her. Oozing out of her pores and filling the room.
She straightened her spine and forced herself to walk toward him. She might fear him, but she wouldn’t cower. He wanted her fear. And she only had her defiance left to hold on to.
“I’m ready,” she said with all the power still left in her body.
Harrington nodded and then opened the sliding door. She took one last look over her shoulder at the nurse. Her face was a mask, but Reyna saw the terror mirrored in her eyes too. It was reassuring in a way she hadn’t expected. The woman wasn’t immovable. Maybe she didn’t want to be working here any more than Reyna had.
Reyna had decided to work for Visage out of necessity. Her brothers had been working doubles at the factory in the Warehouse District an hour outside of the city. She couldn’t get a job without a college degree and she couldn’t go to college because they didn’t have any money. So, she had been just another helpless mouth to feed. In desperation, she had joined Visage to help her brothers.
When she had started, she’d expected it to be more like…well, this. Prison. Degrading humiliating work that she should be ashamed of. Instead, she’d gotten Beckham.
She closed her eyes for a second against the name as it crushed her heart. No, she couldn’t think about him right now.
She needed to be on. Harrington was offering her an opportunity. He just didn’t know it yet.
With her head held high, Reyna exited the sterile room and followed on Harrington’s heels. She marked every turn that they made through the winding corridors. She had no clue where she was exactly. Having only seen two rooms in the entire facility, she couldn’t have even told you that it was this sprawling. But the space must have been the size of several large warehouses. What the hell did he keep here?
Besides her, of course.
Harrington didn’t say anything as he slowed to a stop in front of a giant steel door. One hand was behind his back as he swung that insufferable cane in a circle. His suit was crisp and presentable. He had taken some care with his appearance today. She wondered if that meant there was an event going on. What could be happening in the outside world to have him pay attention to himself? Not that he was a slob by any stretch of the imagination, but he wasn’t a pampered sort either.
“Here we are,” he said, clomping the cane down noisily. “This is a special ward. I like to keep interesting projects here.”
Interesting. Projects. Oh no. This wasn’t going to be good.
“Would you like to see my project?”
Reyna stood frozen, because of course she didn’t want to see his project. But he expected her to say no. So she couldn’t.
He laughed when he saw the indecision written on her face. “Ah, my little queen, it’s not a trick question.” Her nickname was back in the building. “Let’s take a look.”
Harrington entered a fifteen-digit code in a blur then put his eye to a retinal scanner, pressed his fingerprint onto a pad, and had to be identified with facial recognition software before the door opened. Talk about secure.
A long hallway was revealed and lights flickered on one at a time down the row. Reyna stepped in after Harrington and the door closed behind them. He stepped up to the first door on the right and typed in a different sequence. The wall that had been standing before them suddenly turned into a window. She couldn’t help it; she gasped.
“Tinted one-way glass,” Harrington explained. “We can see in, but she can’t see out.”
“She?” Reyna whispered.
“Meet B,” Harrington said.
Reyna’s eyes lifted and she saw the woman in the room. She was tall, very tall for a woman. Her hair was short and black, chopped haphazardly with no care for appearance. She had on a black bodysuit that showed off her fit body. She was standing in the corner, staring at the ceiling. Like actually staring at it. Her hands were at her sides and she seemed to be talking to herself.