Reyna brought the binoculars up to her eyes and watched Penelope walk onto the stage erected in front of City Hall. Rowland followed behind her and took a seat to her right. A few people she didn’t know or recognize filed in. To her surprise, Harrington was absent.
“Where is he?” she muttered.
Reyna looked and looked and looked. But it was useless. If he was going to be there, then he would be front and center next to Penelope. He wasn’t the type to stand in the shadows and let someone else take the credit. Which begged the question—where was Harrington if not here?
Someone introduced the mayor to the crowd, which cheered at her introduction. Reyna returned her binoculars to Penelope’s long, lithe body. She was dressed in a sensible black pantsuit. Her dark hair was glossy and expertly curled. There were no longer any traces of the fire that had ravaged her body. No signs of the weeks of reconstructive surgery she had undergone to try to rectify the damage. Just smooth skin and perfectly puckered pink lips and shining blue eyes. Reyna had always thought she was the most beautiful human she had ever seen in her life. As a vampire, she was dazzling.
If only she wasn’t rotten to her core. A two-faced bitch who had attempted to claim Beckham, and when she had lost, had done anything necessary to try to fix it. Even becoming a vampire and blowing up their entire operation on New Year’s Eve by turning coat, all because Beckham didn’t want her. Whatever pity Reyna had felt for her had evaporated. The gunshot to Penny’s heart that night had been less than she deserved.
“Thank you. Thank you,” Penelope said into a microphone, holding up a gloved hand. “Thank you all so much for coming out today in the midst of this cataclysmic weather. First, I would like to remind everyone to prepare adequately for the storm. It’s not like anything we’ve seen in a long time. Probably since before I was born.”
She let out her little tinkling laugh that endeared everyone to her. Then she suddenly sobered.
“Now to address the other occurrences around the city. I’m not immune to the death and destruction happening. As you know, there was a spree of murders on New Year’s Eve and I was targeted. Luckily, I was spared from certain death…again. I can’t say the same for Cassandra Dressla, a top official in Visage and a close personal friend.”
Reyna rolled her eyes. Yeah, right.
“Couple that tragedy with the blood disease sweeping the city, we are in dire times. Humans are unknowingly being affected and passing it on to vampires through their blood. There the disease rampages the vampires’ systems and turns them into starving monsters. These rogue vampires go mad and try to kill everything in their wake. We have identified this as cogitare anemia.”
Reyna drew in a sharp breath. Washington had told her about this before everything had gone south. They both suspected that Visage had been the one to unleash this deadly disease onto the population. If treated quickly, the vampire could survive, but the longer they went, the worse they got. And from Penelope’s speech it sounded like things were getting a lot worse.
“Because of the rebellious terrorist groups and this blood disease, we have come up with a solution.”
She could feel Beckham tense next to her.
“With the full support of the government, the city is going to work with Visage to secure human safety housing. Anyone who believes that they may be infected or would like to be moved to safer housing in the midst of this, you are welcome. The housing is completely free. The only thing we ask is that you help us fix this problem in our city. Together we can eradicate this illness and bring peace back on the streets.”
A cheer rose up from the crowd.
Reyna couldn’t understand why. Her stomach had sunk all the way to the floor. Free housing. Trying to cure a disease that Visage had unleashed. This sounded way too fishy to her.
“The city is providing our bus service to take people from specific locations to these designated areas. All costs will be covered. For more information regarding the new housing, stay tuned for a Visage representative.”
Penelope flashed a brilliant smile. But for a second, Reyna thought she saw something else in it. Fear. Distaste. It was only there for a second before it disappeared
“Thank you all so much!” Penelope waved her hand and the crowd cheered even louder for her. They loved her. She quickly departed, anxious to get off that stage. A woman who had just delivered a death sentence with a candy bar.
The Visage representative moved to the microphone and started to drone on about protocol, effectively losing the crowd. Reyna moved her binoculars to where Rowland stood and approached Penny. She visibly flinched away from him. Oh, yeah, she was not enjoying her new role in this. Finally, she was getting what she deserved.