She mixed it to perfection and then handed it over. Reyna sidled up next to the oven, where all the heat was emanating from. She drank the scalding coffee despite the temperature and let it heat her up from the inside out.

“I appreciate all that you’re doing, but why are you doing it?”

Genevieve’s eyes twinkled. “I enjoy it. Taking care of house and home was my calling long before I was turned and it has remained my calling long after my kids withered and died their normal human lives.”

Reyna’s heart broke for her. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like to live as a vampire for what would seem to be an immortal life and watch the ones you love die.

“How did you meet Washington?”

Genevieve laughed. “I grew up in this village. In my time, there were few vampires. They were still in the darkness. To many, including myself, they were myth and legends. Things to scare the children, you understand. I only discovered they were not myths the night that I was made. The vampire left me alone to starve or murder my own village from hunger. Washington found me. He taught me his ways. He kept me from destroying the family I loved so dearly. He’s a good man.”

“Did he know Harrington then?”

“Master William? Of course. He was always in and out of Washington’s life. They were the closest of friends.”

Reyna’s stomach turned at the fondness with which Genevieve spoke of Harrington. “Was he always as he is now?”

“How so, dear?”

“Insane? Obsessive compulsive and calculating and a murderous bastard set out to take over the world and leave humans subjugated to vampires forever?” she asked, unable to keep her vociferous hatred of the man from her speech.

“Hmm, he was always a passionate man. Fixated on cleanliness and a proper place for things. His mind was beyond reproach. I never saw an ounce of insanity in him. But he did have a way of looking at the world,” Genevieve mused. “He saw things like no other. As if the world was one of his precious chessboards. I know he has killed. All of us vampires have unfortunately. But he never went out of his way to do it. It wasn’t his nature any more than Washington’s. He didn’t like to get his hands dirty, figuratively and literally.”

Reyna thought over what Genevieve had said as she went about preparing plates of breakfast for everyone in the house who didn’t sustain on blood. Reyna knew that she was blinded by her hatred when it came to Harrington. She couldn’t see past what he had done to her, what he was doing to all the people she loved, and the direction he was taking Visage. She would never forgive what he had attempted to do to Beckham. In that instant, he sealed his fate.

But maybe she needed to look at Harrington from another angle. If she ever wanted to destroy him, then she had to understand him. Know him like Washington and Genevieve had known him, how Beckham had known him, not just how she hated him.

“Genevieve,” Reyna said, turning back to face her, “do you think you could tell me more stories about Harrington? From before Visage?”

Genevieve cocked her head to the side, but nodded. “Of course. If you wish.”

“Thank you.”

* * *

Later, Reyna found Beckham standing stoically on the front porch. She wrapped herself up to the gills and followed him out onto the icy stone path. He looked pensive. This was one of those moments where she wished that she could read his mind. The more she got to know the man beneath the stark mask, the more she realized that she knew so little. He’d had a life she could hardly fathom. She’d never known the real monster deep within. But she still loved him. Hopelessly loved him. Even with the monster chomping at the bit to be released again.

If she cared even a fraction less, then she wouldn’t have fought so damn hard to keep him. She would be blissfully stupid in a warehouse outside of the city, dealing with everyday complications that meant the world to her then and hardly anything to her now.

But she hadn’t loved Beckham any less. Not a modicum.

Even when he stood in the freezing cold as snow blanketed the earth and brooded like the broody brooder he was.

“Are you going to tell me what you’re thinking or should I guess?”

Beckham didn’t respond.

“Oh, I should get creative, then. Friday afternoon after work, heading to the bar with your friends and drinking yourself stupid. No, summer days lying out in the sun and getting a tan.” She chuckled at the idea of Beckham with a tan. Yeah, right. “Daydreaming about taking me to an exotic beach and never seeing the snow again. Or anything but the bedroom.”

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