That rare unabashed laugh burst out of him. “Watch it, Little One.”
“Or what?” she teased. She flipped over, shooting him a sultry look.
“Or I’ll have to tie you to this bed until you remember who is in charge here,” he said with a dangerous glint in his eye.
Unfortunately it only turned her on more.
“I think you like that I took charge,” she told him defiantly, pushing his buttons. “I think you like that I’m as strong as you. I’m not a delicate little flower, a porcelain doll.”
He dragged his tongue along his teeth. Then he moved so fast she could barely register it before he was pressing her backward in the bed. “I am not emasculated by your leadership,” he told her. “But you are still fragile and I will always protect you with everything that I am.”
“As long as it doesn’t interfere with me saving the world, then that kind of turns me on.”
His black eyes danced. “Kind of?”
A knock sounded on the door. Beckham groaned and leaned his head into the crook of her neck.
“What?” he snapped.
“Got a lead, boss,” Katarina’s musical voice rang from the other side of the door.
They dressed hastily, and he opened the door for Reyna.
“So…this inner circle business. We can trust them?” she asked.
“With my life.”
“I didn’t know Gerard and Philippé were that important when you had them acting as my driver and bodyguard.”
“I only sent the best with you. They understood your significance. Plus, it was an easy way to have them close at all times.”
“And…Gerard only became your second after Bronwyn?” Reyna asked.
It was Beckham’s turn to freeze. He clenched his fists. “I wouldn’t mention that name in present company.”
Reyna frowned. She had had the unfortunate experience of meeting his sister, Bronwyn, who she had known as B, when she had been a prisoner in Visage. His sister had been Beckham’s second-in-command and supposedly she had been killed. But really, Harrington had kidnapped her in an effort to get Beckham to work for him.
Beckham continued forward without answering her question. She decided not to press it. He’d only found out that Bronwyn was alive a week ago. The wound had to be too fresh to touch.
Together they marched into the sitting area, where his inner circle sprawled.
Next to Tye, Zoya was tinkering with some technical equipment. Katarina had her dual blades out and was whirling them back and forth in her hands. Philippé stood like a statue, facing the entrance, his arms crossed over his chest. Gerard lounged in a chair, holding a small book open, seemingly oblivious to everything else going on around him.
“What do you have?” Beckham asked as soon as he entered the room.
Zoya jumped to her feet. “Found a few possible locations of Elle safe houses. I looked into the phone numbers for the burner phones distributed and did a backward check into the system…”
Beckham held up his hand. “I trust you. You have locations?”
“Three,” she said with a curt nod. “Working on the others with Tye.”
Tye grinned at her like a lovesick puppy. As was his MO.
“Good,” Beckham said.
Reyna was buzzing with excitement. “Three locations? We should get teams together and go check them out.”
“I’ve already got Meghan and Gabe packing for the city,” Tye told her with a grin.
Reyna broke into a smile. “When do we leave?”
Beckham shook his head. “You’re staying here.”
“Like hell I am.”
“No. I’m not sitting on the sidelines anymore.” She turned away from him as if that was the end of the discussion. From the look in his eyes, it was clear he didn’t agree. “Let’s get moving. We’re wasting daylight.”
Reyna grabbed a jacket and went in search of Meghan and Gabe, to help where she could. On the way outside, she ran into Jodie.
“Hey, I was looking for you,” Jodie said.
“What’s up? We’re heading out to check on a lead on the safe houses. You want to come along?”
“That’s great, but I think I’m going to stay here and maybe…work with Washington.”
“Seriously?” Reyna asked, her eyes bugging in confusion.
“Being on the streets, I don’t know, it changed me. Gave me perspective. I realized that I’m really lucky. I could have had it worse. I could have had the life June led.” Jodie shrugged. “What Washington did was wrong, and he acknowledges that. I won’t forget what he did to me, but I can…forgive him. With time. Everyone’s doing their part…I thought it was time I did mine.”
“Better than being useless.”
“Commendable,” Beckham said, appearing behind them.
“Thanks,” Jodie said with a smile. “Time to face my fears, I guess. Good luck today!” Then she turned and trudged down the stairs into the basement below. Jodie had come a long way. Reyna was proud of her.
* * *
Beckham wasn’t pleased that Reyna wouldn’t relent on going to look at the safe houses.
“Just because it’s called a safe house doesn’t mean it’s actually safe,” he said with crossed arms. He was observing her strapping a gun to her thigh.