“I don’t,” Beckham said with finality. “But I do not want Harrington to have the same access I am privy to. I do not want anyone who has tasted her blood to have the same reaction.”
“Well, we could have someone else drink her blood and see if it works,” Washington said simply.
Beckham growled. Actually growled.
“Or…we could try something else,” Washington said hastily, taking a step back.
Reyna could see the death in Beckham’s eyes at the suggestion. She placed her hand on his sleeve. “It would be okay.”
“It would not.”
“I was merely suggesting the simplest test,” Washington added.
“Reyna’s blood is not for feeding,” Beckham snarled. “No one else will taste her. Not ever.”
“Becks,” she whispered.
“If her blood does allow the ability to sense her, then another vampire will have claim on her. I won’t allow it.”
“I have heard of this sort of thing before,” Washington said, obviously trying to redirect the subject. “But it’s been many years. Long before we had the technology that we do now. Might I be able to take a sample of your blood to run some tests?”
Reyna nodded. Washington glanced at Beckham, who nodded as well. All three of them moved out of his office and into a lab.
Reyna took a seat and tried not to think about the needle by focusing on her breathing. In through her nose, out through her mouth. Beckham came to stand next to her.
“Hey, look at me.” She slowly did as he asked. “This will be over soon.”
She didn’t nod or do anything. She just stared at him and waited. Not watching usually helped some. She didn’t anticipate it. But it didn’t lessen the fear. It was like waiting for someone to jump out at you in a haunted house.
The prick of the needle happened. Beckham inhaled deeply. His hand clenched on the chair. But he never broke eye contact. She could see him retreating deep into himself, fighting for control. Could see the hunger buried there. Then as quickly as it happened, it was over.
“There we go,” Washington said. He cleaned up her arm, put a Band-Aid on it, and then swept the blood vials up and onto the counter. “That was interesting. Your blood smells very sweet.”
“I’ve heard that before,” Reyna said. “Do you know what that means?”
“Well, all blood smells differently. Especially to vampires with our more enhanced sense of smell. But I personally only know of one other person who has ever smelled like that.”
“I’ve never smelled anything like it,” Beckham said, still in a bit of a trance.
“You were not even born yet when I discovered this woman.” Washington finished with the rest of his work and then came to stand before them. “One of the lords had a favorite who smelled similarly.”
Reyna head swam. “Lords?”
Washington gave her an apologetic look. “I am afraid that vampires were not as we described when Visage took power.”
“Not all were as described,” Beckham clarified.
“I don’t understand.”
“Not all vampires were animalistic, crazed monsters,” Washington told her. “We spun that tale to make it more palatable for the humans when Visage rose up from the ashes of the depression.”
Reyna felt like her entire world had been flipped upside down. “But…there were mass killings. People couldn’t go out after dark except in well-lit places, and even then it wasn’t advised.”
“That’s true. Vampires committed atrocities you could not even imagine. But they were just the masses,” Beckham told her. “However, we were on an elevated plane.”
Reyna blinked up at him.
“But…everyone said that you were so fearsome. You yourself said that you were the deadliest of them all,” she breathed, lapping up this bit of his history.
Beckham frowned as if realizing how much he was giving away. “Yes, we were worse.”
“Regardless,” Washington said, “this woman’s blood was incredibly enticing. It was clear that had she not found someone to protect her she would have been dead long ago.”
Reyna let that settle between her and Beckham. The same could be said for her.
“What happened to her?” Reyna asked.
Washington frowned, clearly not liking where his own story had turned. “He sucked her dry and remade her. He wanted her to be at his side forever.”
“So, he made her a vampire?”
“He tried,” Washington said wistfully. “But…she did not survive the change.”
“Survive?” Reyna gasped.
“Not all do,” Beckham said.
“You mean that some people try to become vampires and are killed?” How had no one ever told her that? She’d never even heard of that happening to someone. Was it very rare or more common and they just covered up the truth? The thought made her feel a little sick.
“A shockingly large number actually,” Washington informed her. He seemed oblivious to her discomfort about the subject. “Vampirism itself is sort of like a virus. A human must drink a vampire’s blood and be completely drained of their own blood. They effectively ‘die’ and are remade. The vampire virus latches onto the host and restarts the heart, producing vampire blood to refill the arteries. The new blood helps with the increased strength and speed. It makes our eyes naturally better adapted to the darkness and prolongs our life far beyond a normal human’s. Thus, with all the changes that occur, it would make sense that not all humans are sufficient hosts for vampirism.”