“Brian?” she whispered.
“Get out of here,” Brian said, his voice low and deadly. Not the voice of her overprotective, caring brother. The voice of a killer.
“It might be harder for him to face you than us,” Beckham warned her.
“Brian, it’s me, Rey,” she whispered.
“I know who you are,” he said into the mug. “I said…get out.”
Reyna’s eyes met Beckham’s. He gestured for her to take another step forward.
“Are you…are you feeling better?” she continued. “Drinking again?”
“I’ve been well fed,” he snarled.
“That’s good. You need to keep your strength up. You lost a lot of weight. I didn’t want to see you die.”
Brian’s eyes snapped up to hers. “I already died and now I’m in Hell.”
Reyna swallowed. “You’re not in Hell. You’re at Washington’s home. Beckham and I brought you here. Do you…do you remember us bringing you here?”
“I remember slaughtering all those people, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Reyna winced. “That wasn’t you.”
“Who was it, then? I was there. I drank their blood. I killed them. I am a murderer.”
“That was the beast…the beast within. They starved you on purpose and let the virus ravage your body. You weren’t in control of yourself.”
Beckham put his hand on her back. She sank into that embrace as if it was a life raft in the ocean.
“Just leave me,” Brian snarled. He bared his fangs at her threateningly. He threw his mug across the room. It smashed against the wall and splashed the blood all over the room and onto both Reyna and Beckham. Reyna screamed at the outburst and took a step back.
“I said get out of here!” Brian yelled at her. “I don’t ever want to see your face again.”
“No, I won’t accept that. I won’t abandon you. Drew and Laura are still alive! You’re going to be a father!”
“I’m nothing,” Brian said. He wrenched against his chains. His teeth snapped together. “Tell them I’m dead.”
Reyna swallowed back the tears that were threatening and then she turned and ran out of the room. She shouldn’t have come. He wasn’t ready yet. She should have waited until he was a hundred percent better. Until he wasn’t so savage still. But she just had been so excited to see any progress.
She threw open the door to the room she shared with Beckham and headed immediately to the walk-in shower. She stripped out of her blood-soaked clothes, dropping them onto the floor with a squelch. Then she turned the shower to the hottest setting and stepped into the spray. She scrubbed at her skin to get the blood off of her. No matter how hard she scrubbed—until she was pink and aching—still she felt dirty.
Beckham appeared at the shower door. He removed his many layers of clothes and then entered the shower.
“I can’t get clean,” she gasped.
“Let me.” He took the loofah from her hand and ran it gently down her back, over her shoulders, and down her arms.
She threw her arms around him and finally the tears fell hard and uncontrollably. Her body shook with the force of it. Heat flooded her chest and cheeks as her sobs took over. Her wet hair clung to her face. She felt ravaged from the inside out.
All the while, he stroked her back and held her firmly against him.
“Is he ever going to want to look at me again?” she blubbered through the tears.
“I don’t know.”
“Oh God,” she said. “What will I tell Drew and Laura?”
He tucked the wet hair back from her face. “The truth.”
“What if I can’t?”
“You can. They love him as much as you and will want to know.”
“It’ll break them.”
“No. It will help you all to share the pain.” Beckham tilted her face up to his. “Share it with me. I can handle it.”
Her eyes, bloodshot, stared up into his as her emotions exploded outward. He clutched her harder as the pain hit him fresh. But in the process, she felt his resolve to help her. To love and care for her. And for the first time, she wondered if maybe she hadn’t dreamed his conversation with Katarina.
“Grieve for the dead, not the living,” Beckham said. “This is not the end. It is just the beginning.”
* * *
The next day, Gabe finally called to be picked up. And as much as Reyna wanted to stay behind, it had been five days since they’d found Brian. Drew and Laura had the right to know that she’d found him.
They met Gabe a couple blocks away from Ferrier House. He hopped into the backseat and slammed the door shut.
“How was Hell?” Reyna asked, using the nickname for his nightclub.
“Some fuck is trying to take over and all hell broke loose when I was gone. I had to put a few people to fucking ground while I was there. Jesus Christ, you’d think it’d be easy enough to just intimidate the fuckers. But no, they want to come at me like I’m fucking new here,” Gabe barked.