“Watch what you say about her,” Beckham said, low and dangerous. He wasn’t even frazzled. In fact, although Rowland was holding Beckham down, he was also the one who looked out of control.
“And you defend her. After all of this. You gave up everything for one fragile human.”
“Are we going to fight or do you want to keep running your mouth?”
Rowland snarled in his face. “I should kill you right now.”
Beckham knocked Rowland’s hand away from his throat. “But you can’t.”
“You’re not my hit.”
“Still following daddy’s orders, I see.”
Rowland straightened. His face was a mask of fury. Gone was the civilized and dignified Frenchman who had tried to seduce her. In his place was a monster. Beckham was pushing him to the edge. He was trying to get a rise out of him. He wanted the fight.
“You are a disgrace to your kind. Humans are food. She is food,” Rowland said, pointing at Reyna. “A sweet delicacy, sure, but nothing more. When did you forget that? The moment she spread her legs for you?”
Beckham’s fangs flashed dangerously. “Tell me why you are here or let’s get this over with. I tire of you.”
“How could you throw your lot in with theirs?”
For the first time, Reyna realized that Rowland might actually be offended. If it was possible for someone so vile to be hurt, this would be what it looked like. Despite their differences, Rowland had believed that Beckham was on his side. They’d spent years working together. Their word was their honor. Rowland felt betrayed.
“You have arrived alone with orders not to kill me on sight,” Beckham said, ignoring his question. “You either want something or you have a death wish. Which is it?”
“A truce,” Rowland said. Beckham arched an eyebrow. “An alliance, then.”
“And what would give you the idea that I would want to ally myself with you?”
“Think about it.” Rowland straightened. This was the part he must have prepared himself for. The rehearsed address. “You and I spent years circling each other. Harrington brought us together with a vision of a better future. That future is now. Let’s grasp it. Together.”
“Depose Harrington. Take back what we had and rule as we once did. Not just lords but kings!”
Reyna’s head swiveled in terror between the two vampires. She could imagine the world Rowland was foreseeing. Vampires had once ruled with ultimate power. As far from equality between vampires and humans as possible. Reyna could never condone a world in which Rowland ruled. Harrington may be horrible, calculating, and sadistic, but Rowland was crude, base, and cruel. A close second to the devil.
Beckham released a laugh. Both she and Rowland snapped their heads to look at him. It was such an unusual sound. She heard it so rarely. She doubted Rowland ever had.
“No,” Beckham said plainly.
“Harrington is holed up! You will never get to him without me.”
“You don’t know what you’re refusing.”
Beckham laughed again. “Oh, I do. And the answer is still no.”
Then he grabbed Rowland by the front of his jacket and threw him into the brick wall as he had done on New Year’s Eve. Reyna shuddered at the impact.
“Coward,” he spat over Rowland’s crumpled body, and then held his hand out for Reyna. “Shall we?”
“You’re not going to kill him?” she asked in surprise.
“He wasn’t here to kill me. I do have some honor.”
Her eyes were wide as she stared at the deadly man she had fallen in love with. There was no fear in her when she looked at him. She would do whatever it took to stop the trajectory Visage was on. She couldn’t fault Beckham for who and what he was for wanting to do the same. And she loved that by stopping just short of killing Rowland, it proved what she had always said—Beckham wasn’t a monster.
She placed her hand in his.
Beckham and Reyna were off of Rowland’s radar by the time Philippé and Katarina sprinted toward them.
“We received your call of distress,” Katarina got out. She was actually breathing a little heavy. “Why…do you not seem in distress?”
Beckham’s eyes moved to Reyna. She shrugged one shoulder. They had been in distress when she’d made the call.
“I had it covered.”
Reyna rolled her eyes. “Well, when Rowland had you against the brick wall by the throat, I wasn’t so sure.”
“Rowland was here?” Katarina gasped. “And you were alone.”
“I can handle Rowland.”
“Right. What did he want?”
“We’ll discuss it later.”
Katarina fell into step beside them and Philippé took the rear. “So…is he still smoking hot?”
Reyna’s head whipped to the side. “He’s disgusting.”
“Well, yeah. I was kind of into that for a while.”
“Katarina has interesting sexual tastes,” Beckham said with a smirk.
“What can I say? I like the kink.”
Reyna laughed. “I’m going to assume that you don’t know this from personal experience.”
“Beckham’s walked in on me tied up a time or two,” Katarina said with a wink. “But do you see this red hair? It’s like mosquito repellant for him.”