“So?” She narrowed her eyes. “Do you think that absolves you from your part in my kidnapping?”
“Reyna, I didn’t even know that was going to happen to you. I called in the bite as it was out of character for Beckham,” he informed her. “I thought this would result in Beckham’s arrest finally. Even though I was spying on Beckham, Harrington somehow trusted him against all reason. Until you…”
“Yeah, well, he didn’t come for Beckham. He came for me.”
“And now you’re out,” he said breezily. As if this whole thing had been a walk in the park.
Reyna jumped up from her chair and kicked it to the side. She stormed toward him, grabbed him by the collar, and bent down low into his face. “Do not ever talk so flippantly about what happened to me. You have no idea what I went through. The fact that I’m out doesn’t make it better. Nothing is better.”
Everett’s eyes widened in shock at her aggression. If he thought that he was going to get the doe-eyed, manic pixie dreamgirl she had once been, he was sorely mistaken. He’d played his cards wrong. She might have once been that girl, but now she’d grown teeth.
He held up his hands in supplication. “What did they do to you?”
She threw him away like a piece of trash. “Ripped away my innocence.”
She prowled back to her overturned chair. She righted it, adjusted her dark hair, and then took a seat. “Now…about that information?”
“They have someone that I love too.”
Reyna wanted to not care. But between her and Jodie, she didn’t have it in her. “Who?”
“My brother, Edmond. We were in the same program. He washed out and they kept him as my collateral. I haven’t heard from him in three years.”
“I truly am sorry. When I called it in, I thought it was for Beckham. When they said they were coming to get you, I didn’t know where they were taking you. I just knew I was protecting my brother.”
“I really don’t want to hear your tale. It seems everyone has someone. This world hasn’t been kind. But it didn’t turn us all into sniveling snitches.”
“No, but it seems to have done the best to harden even the best of us.”
Reyna ignored his comment. Was she harder? Sure. She had to be. But part of that was his fucking fault. If she hadn’t gone through what she had at Visage, she might have still been that daydreamer. She might still be looking for the good in everyone. Hoping that they could right the world through her photography and helpful programs for the poor. Visage was a last resort for a lot of people, including her. She knew that there should be some other way. She didn’t know if she believed it was possible any longer.
“Why did you want to talk to me?” she asked.
“Because you know me.”
She scoffed. “Yeah. Okay.”
“I thought you would understand.”
“No, you thought I’d be an idiot. When you saw me at Ferrier House, you saw the same frightened girl that you always knew. I was so shocked to see you that I freaked out. I’m not afraid anymore and I’m not an idiot. So, if we’re going to keep going around in circles, then I’ll leave.” She flung her hand toward the door. “There’s someone else out there who will be happy to get the information in a different way. I’d think it’d be much less pleasant, but hey, that’s your call.”
Everett’s eyes dropped to the floor. It was as if all the bluster and bravado slipped right off of him. She saw him for exactly who he was and not the person he had always appeared to be. Broken. Kicked down by the system just as she was.
Her heart went out to him. She had seen that same expression from Jodie time and time again. From everyone that Visage had hurt. Even herself.
Yet, she guarded herself against it. Everett was a spy. It was his actual job to manipulate people like this. His first tactic hadn’t worked. Maybe this one would.
“You do realize I’m risking Edmond by telling you this.” His eyes slid up to hers, piercing and terrified. Eyes of someone who was putting their life on the line…and the life of everyone they cared about.
“You haven’t told us anything yet.”
“I’m risking it all just by being here. By talking to you and admitting there’s even something to talk about.”
“Then why are you here?”
A chill ran through her at the haunted look in his eyes. As if he’d just seen a ghost pass before his very eyes. “Because I couldn’t ignore what I discovered.”
“Then spit it out.”
He shook his head. “I need some assurances.”
“What kind of assurances?”
His eyes shifted to her chest, where the microphone lay against her bra strap. It was as if he knew it was there even though there was no way he could see it. “Did they get that? I want assurances for my safety. That I’m not going to be killed off as soon as they get what they want. That they’ll look into Edmond too.”