“After you,” he said, gesturing inside.
Meghan clearly noticed how good he looked, but hastily slipped into the backseat without a word.
“You clean up nice,” Reyna said.
“I could say the same about you,” he said with a characteristic wink.
She knew it was to lighten the mood and she appreciated it. She gave him a small smile before pulling the folds of her dress in and entering the limo. Gabe slid inside last. Reyna hated that Beckham had had to arrive at the party without her, but they couldn’t exactly show up together.
The door slammed shut. Then they were off.
No one spoke on the drive. Even Gabe’s normal chatter was absent as fear clogged the car.
Reyna was glad for the anonymity the masks provided. She worried for Meghan. Her face certainly had been on the cameras the day that she had broken Reyna out of Visage. And Gabe. If Everett had guessed that he knew Reyna, would Harrington know that the Irish mobster Gabriel O’Connor and the rebel Gabe were one and the same? These were questions she didn’t have answers to. Like would Harrington be able to sense her? Washington said no, but still he wasn’t sure.
She bit her lip and tried not to think about it. There was nothing that could be done now. What would be would be.
Traffic stilted their limo at every turn. New Year’s Eve in the city was a nightmare. People had started to line up outside at the earliest hours of the morning. Penelope had told Sydney it would be awful getting everyone in, but she had originally intended for this to be something different than what her late father had done. She still intended to activate the midnight ceremony live on television, but she wanted something for her special guests earlier in the evening.
Eventually they made it through. Gabe insisted that the crowd would help them. It gave them cover if anything happened. But Reyna just saw the mass of people as a barrier. She remembered what it had been like to get caught in a riot outside City Hall. She shuddered.
As planned, Reyna and Meghan latched onto either side of Gabe and approached the ball as his eye candy for the night.
“Invitation?” a man said, standing outside of the ballroom.
Gabe produced the invite from his jacket pocket and handed it over.
“Mr. O’Connor,” the man, said tipping his head, “welcome to Mayor Sky’s New Year’s Eve masked extravaganza. Proceed through the ID scanner and enjoy your evening.”
“Will do,” he said.
This was the part Reyna was afraid of. None of them had real ID bracelets. They just had to trust that Tony had programmed them well enough with their information that no one would know the difference. Because if they failed here, everything would be for naught.
They approached a woman holding a small electronic device in her hand. Gabe went first. He held his hand out to her, looking as bored as ever. Then he started chatting the woman up. She scanned the bracelet, but her attention was on him. Gabe was a charmer that was for sure.
“Mr. O’Connor, A positive.”
“That’s me, ma’am.”
Gabe didn’t move though. He kept talking to her as she scanned Meghan’s wrist. Meghan Donoghue, B negative. Cleared.
And then it was Reyna’s turn. She tried to look as blasé as Meghan had when she held out her wrist. As if it were a supreme inconvenience that anyone was even doing this. She wasn’t sure she quite managed it.
The woman scanned her wrist. It pinged. It hadn’t pinged for anyone else.
Reyna started to sweat. This was the end. They were caught. She’d be dragged to Harrington or kicked out of the party. They’d know it was a fake. They’d know.
“Oh, this damn machine,” the woman said. She hit it twice with her hand. “I’m so sorry, miss. Sometimes new technology is such a pain.”
“Isn’t it?” Reyna managed to get out through her fear.
“Let me try one more time.”
Reyna held her wrist out to the woman. She had no decorum left. Her fear pricked too high.
“Rachel Murphy, O negative.” The woman smiled brightly at her.
“Yes,” she squeaked.
“Sorry for the delay. You’re cleared.”
Reyna tried to contain her sigh of relief. Gabe thanked the woman profusely and then he took both of their arms once more and walked them inside.
“That was close,” Reyna ground out.
“We’re fine,” Meghan whispered.
They stepped over the threshold and into the ballroom.
“Showtime,” Gabe muttered.
The ballroom glittered from floor to ceiling. Balloons were encased in netting overhead, preparing to be dropped at midnight. Waiters meandered through the crowd in slim-cut tuxedos with flaps. The waitresses wore faux tuxedos with tiny skirts and high heels. They all carried champagne and little hors d’oeuvres. Some even had trays of blood in tiny shot glasses that were organized by blood type.
Reyna covered her mouth to keep from gagging at the sight. Meghan’s sharp look had her remembering her role. She dropped her arm, fawned over Gabe, and let her eyes roam the crowd.