“Indeed,” Beckham agreed. “I’m certain everyone here wants to know how I am not dead.”

The room went silent except for the scraping of chairs as everyone sat.

“William did not kill me but he did fracture my neck that day. He rendered me unconscious. I healed because I had fed before going to the New Year’s Eve party and was informed when I awoke that Reyna had given me her own blood as well.”

Reyna leaned forward, but it was Washington who spoke. “Reyna is your blood match. It would make perfect sense that her blood would help you heal.”

Beckham’s head whipped toward Reyna. He clearly already knew that term, but she had never had the chance to tell him that fateful night. “Is this true?”

She nodded, her heart expanding at the intensity in his gaze.

“Uh, I’m gathering a blood match is something special?” Jodie asked from the other side of the table.

“A perfect pairing of the blood composition. Beyond blood type itself but down to its very foundation. A one-to-one match,” Washington explained.

The room fell silent again as they stared at Beckham and Reyna. As they saw how unique they were to be in one place. To have discovered each other.

“Well, that explains much,” Beckham concluded.

“It could explain everything,” Washington said.

Beckham nodded. He processed the information and seemed to sort it into what had happened before continuing. “I remember nothing after William hurt me until I woke up in a morgue. I was in a metal container, on the docket to be incinerated that afternoon. I escaped the confines of the metal tube and found a blubbering Penelope. She had been watching over me. Mourning, I suppose, in her own way.”

Reyna cursed. Bitch.

“I was weakened, but I managed to use my last bit of energy to overpower her and discover what had happened. After the chaos of New Year’s, Harrington had had my and Cassandra’s bodies taken to a morgue to be incinerated. Penelope had insisted on going with me. In fact, I likely would have already been incinerated before I woke up if not for Penelope’s presence. I should have killed her then. I had the advantage.” He shook his head. “But the damage had been severe—most would not have been able to come back from it. Once I got the information I needed, I gathered what strength I could, knocked Penelope out, and fled the facility.”

“Did she tell you anything else?” Tye asked greedily, starved for more intel. “Any information about what Harrington is planning?”

Beckham turned his attention to Tye, who shrank back a little at the full force of Beckham’s terrifying visage. “No. She’s not important enough to have that information. Just what happened after they believed I was dead.”

“Damn,” Tye grumbled.

“I managed to get to a safe house where I could get in contact with Gerard.” He gestured to the man Reyna had only ever known as Beckham’s driver. “We have known each other for…a very long time. He helped me out of the…vulnerable position I was in.”

Reyna cringed at that. She didn’t want to know what it must have been like for him to be so weakened. Or what he had to do to feel better.

“We stayed in the safe house until I was back to full strength.” Something in Beckham’s expression said that he still wasn’t at capacity. That he was pushing himself beyond his limitations a mere week after his “death.” But he would never acknowledge it here. “Then I came to help.”

At that moment the flaming-haired Katarina and Reyna’s former bodyguard, Philippé, entered the hall. Everyone’s eyes raked over the newcomers.

“This is my inner circle.” Beckham gestured to the menacing group.

It was the black woman, Zoya, who spoke up first, a wry expression on her face. “It was time to get the band back together.”

Katarina snorted and twirled one of her twin blades in her hand. “I’ll take the drums, please.”

Zoya rolled her eyes. “You would.”

“Is that because you like to wail on things?” Philippé asked with a straight face.

“She likes to use both hands, if you know what I mean,” Gerard added.

Beckham coughed and all four members of his inner circle straightened. They went from camaraderie to deadly calm in a split second.

“The band,” Beckham said, amused by his company. “Gerard is my second. Philippé is my muscle. Katarina is…”

She beamed before he even said her particular skill. Her flaming red hair stark against her alabaster skin. Her blades whirling in her hands.

“A show-off,” Beckham finished.

Katarina laughed unabashedly. “That I am. I’m also the best weapon’s master you’ll ever have, and a trained assassin, to boot.”

“Zoya,” Beckham continued as if Katarina hadn’t just tooted her own horn, “is my strategist. They’ll be helpful moving forward.”

“Are you assembling your army again?” Washington asked quietly.

“I am doing what I must.”

“A-army?” Meghan asked. “What army?”

“Elle has failed,” Beckham said evenly. “It’s clear that a petty rebellion doesn’t have the capabilities to stop Visage. They are too strong. I know because I helped Harrington build the company. As much as I wanted to believe in Sydney’s vision, it’s gone. The vision is dead. I am a vampire lord. I once had an army so deadly that I conquered this city in five years. We will do it again, starting today.”

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