“Okay,” she said, trying to regulate her breathing. “Apartment 4B.” She started down the hallway. “F, G, E, D, C…and B.”
She stood before a nondescript doorframe with 4B in gold letters on the front. The peephole was covered. But a light came from a crack by the door.
Reyna nodded her head toward the light and arched an eyebrow as if to say Someone’s home. Beckham steadied himself, preparing himself for a fight. The only thing Reyna wanted to prepare for was seeing her brother.
She took a deep breath and then knocked on the door. “Hello, anyone there?”
“I don’t like this,” she whispered.
“Me either.” He moved between her and the door. “Stand back.”
His hand went to the doorknob—ready to break the lock and burst through the door. As if anything could be more suspicious. But as he wiggled the handle, it moved freely. Their eyes met with mirror images of concern. The door opened.
It wasn’t supposed to be open. No one from Elle would be careless enough to leave the door unlocked.
Beckham moved forward into the room, and before Reyna could follow, a sharp hiss escaped Beckham. “Reyna, don’t.”
But she forced herself to follow him. She wouldn’t abandon Beckham. No matter how he wanted to protect her.
She stepped inside. Her hand flew to her mouth. A strangled gasp escaped her lips. Her stomach rose to her throat and she gagged.
“No,” she moaned.
A dozen bodies were scattered around the room. Blank eyes, mouths twisted into the beginning of a scream, blood everywhere. Discarded. It was the only way to describe the bodies…no, people. Whoever had done this hadn’t cared about the mass murder implications. They’d drained their blood or broken their necks and simply discarded them like used tissues. Trash.
Her stomach rolled again at the imagery. Of all the dead Elle members. All of the people she hadn’t been able to save.
“Oh my God. Drew,” she gasped. “What if it’s Drew? Or Laura?”
“I didn’t see them, but I will check for you.” Beckham stood in front of her to block her view. But even he wasn’t big enough to cover it all. Or to scrub it from her memory. “Keep breathing, Little One. In through your nose and out through your mouth.”
“How could someone do this?”
Beckham didn’t respond. He just rubbed her back as she retreated into herself at the sight of the carnage. Her stomach twisted and no amount of careful breathing could change it. She turned away from Beckham and vomited up everything in her stomach. She coughed until her eyes watered and tears rolled down her cheeks. Her eyes burned, her heart ached, and she was burning up. She threw up again and again until she had nothing left.
This was the world she lived in.
Vampires massacred a dozen innocent people for shits and giggles.
Or worse…just to send a message.
“We should get you out of here. Why don’t you wait outside? I’ll check for your brother and comb through to see if anything was left behind.”
“Becks,” she whispered. Her red-rimmed eyes stared up at him in horror. Such senseless murder.
“I know. We’ll stop him.”
Reyna nodded and then teetered out of the room. She felt like a coward for leaving him in there alone, for not being able to face it. But the day that she was okay with what was in that room was the day she lost her humanity.
She leaned her back against the wall in the hallway and waited. A minute later a crackle sounded in the empty hall. Reyna nearly jumped out of her skin before grabbing for the two-way radio in her jacket pocket. She fumbled it out with shaky hands and pressed the button.
“Reyna, here. What’s up?”
“Reyna!” Meghan’s muffled voice shouted into the speaker. “Reyna, is that you?”
“Yes, Meghan. What’s going on? Everything okay?”
“No. You need to get here now! Ooph!”
Reyna’s eyes widened as she stared down at the speaker, willing it to say more. But the line was filled with static.
“Meghan? Are you okay? Tell me what happened.” No response. “Meghan? Tye? Anyone? Answer me.”
Panic set in.
Beckham appeared in the hallway, yanking the door closed behind him. “We need to leave. Now.”
“Meghan and Tye are in trouble.”
“I heard.” He gestured for her to move.
“What about the bodies?” Reyna whispered nervously. “Drew? Laura?”
Beckham shook his head. “They weren’t there.”
Static cut through whatever else he had been about to say. Then one word from Meghan broke through the line.
Reyna ran for the stairs.
Everett was alive. He was at one of the safe houses. He was there with Meghan and Tye. This was a disaster. A massacre and the spy returned from the dead.
When she had last seen Everett, he had been comfortably housed in one of Elle’s more secure rooms with an around-the-clock guard. He’d turned her in to Harrington the day that she’d been kidnapped. When she’d escaped, he’d admitted that he was a spy for Visage and had been researching Beckham for over a year to keep track of him for the enemy. He had delivered pertinent information about the reconnaissance mission her brother Brian had been on though. Information that could have stopped Brian from being captured and MIA. Everett had claimed he’d done all of this because they had his brother, Edmond, as collateral. She understood that, but it didn’t make it okay. And it made his next move unpredictable.