“Only one,” he said fondly.
“You needed a good assassin. I was dying. And anyway, you’re not saving this boy for your own sake. You’re saving him for hers. Do you truly love her?”
Katarina sounded so confused by the question. Though not hesitant to ask it. She respected him but wasn’t afraid of him.
Reyna felt Beckham’s eyes on her. “I do.”
“What does it feel like?”
“Like indescribable pain…and wonder.” Beckham paused. “She’s a weakness. I’ve never allowed myself to have one before. She’s so…fragile.”
“She’s not that fragile. She has steel for a backbone and she’s as stubborn as you are. Stop treating her like she’s going to break. She needs your strength not your fear.”
Beckham growled low at the comment. “I have to protect her.”
“She doesn’t want me to.”
“You’ll do your best.”
“I’d die a thousand deaths for her. No matter the cost…you protect her first.”
Katarina sighed. “Okay.”
Beckham moved his fingers from Reyna’s hair and gently lifted her in his arms. She snuggled against his chest and promptly fell back asleep. Her brain convincing her that it had all been a dream.
Days passed and Brian got no better.
Genevieve brought more and more blood. Beckham and his inner circle spent endless hours locked in the room with Brian. Reyna learned not to ask how it was going. The answer was always a grim look and a shake of the head. Not good.
“What do I do if he doesn’t recover?” Reyna asked Jodie one afternoon. They’d locked themselves in Washington’s lab. He hated having them there chatting while he was working, but he relented when it came to Brian.
“He’ll recover,” Jodie assured her.
“Washington, are you sure there’s nothing you can do?”
“I’ve already told you that this is beyond the matters of medicine. Brian has undergone a severe form of torture. It has reduced him to a wild animal. You are attempting to tame the beast within. Under normal circumstances the correct type of blood is sufficient to regain strength and mental cognition. This is not a normal case. He may never be the same again. I’m sorry, Reyna.”
“I know,” she said.
Jodie turned the computer to her. “My pictures aren’t as pretty as yours, but Perspective is sure to make a splash now, huh?”
“Looks good,” Reyna said.
On the computer was the website that Beckham had designed for her when he had first given her a camera. He’d wanted her to have a secure place to put the images she had taken and Perspective had been born.
Reyna scrolled through the images. Most of them were of the secure compounds Harrington had built. It showed the around-the-clock guards and barbed-wire fencing to keep people in rather than out. Someone had gotten close enough to see the holding facility inside, where it looked like any other picture-perfect apartment building/office space. They’d talked to a few people about the place and everyone made it seem like a dream. Except that the people who went in never came out.
“We’re going to need to go in there,” Reyna said, glad to have something to take her mind off Brian. “Discreetly. We need pictures of the inside.”
“Yeah. One problem.”
“I know. If we send a human in, then they won’t ever come out. I’m working on it.”
“We could see if anyone wanted to volunteer.”
Reyna groaned. “I can’t ask someone to do that.”
“You wouldn’t be asking.”
“What we need is someone who Visage doesn’t know, who will slip us information somehow. But…I don’t know who that would be.”
“Or perhaps you could send in a vampire to feed,” Washington said from the corner.
“A vampire Harrington doesn’t know? Who the hell would that be?”
“Or one he does know…like Penelope.”
Reyna cursed. “She double-crossed us!”
“What she did was horrible,” Washington agreed. “But I think given a second chance…she would make a different decision. It wouldn’t hurt to send someone persuasive to ask.”
“Beckham?” Reyna asked.
“She may be petty and opportunistic, but she has a soft spot for him.”
Jodie held her hands up to prevent Reyna from venting. “Let’s put bitchface Penny on the list. A backup, last resort, if the world is burning and she’s the only double-crossing slutbag left. Fair?”
“Fine,” Reyna said. Though she didn’t agree even a little bit.
The door to the basement cracked open. Philippé’s stoic face appeared at the top of the steps. He grunted and gestured upstairs. Reyna was on her feet running as fast as they would carry her. Her heart pounded in her chest as she came to a stop in front of Brian’s door.
Her eyes adjusted to the low lighting almost immediately. And there was Brian seated in the same chair, with chains wrapped around his body. He held a dark mug in his hand, looking normal, and not like the monster who had flung blood all over the room, stained and shredded his clothes, and cut chains so deep into his wrists and ankles that he was bleeding from the sores.